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3 Notable Trends Inspiring HR Executive Strategy

What’s keeping executives up at night? What exciting visions are being dreamt? Last month I was excited to attend the Talent Management Exchange facilitated by IQPC Worldwide, an organization that seeks to develop executive capability. This unique conference brings together a robust and exciting group of solution providers and Fortune 1000 executives for roundtable discussions and learning sessions, as well as exposure to cutting edge solutions. As we journeyed together, some common themes emerged during the conversations and presentations. Here are three trends that I believe inspire HR executive strategy today.

DSC02019#1: Data, Data, Data…But Not Just Big

Is Big Data the right concept applicable to HR? In one of the most discussed presentations of the conference, Michael Arena, Chief Talent Officer at General Motors, illuminated the difference between Big Data and Evidence Based HR, highlighting the importance of using data analytic solutions sensibly. He urged organizations to avoid the trap of becoming overly reliant on analytics for “The Answer”. For instance, in the world of recruiting, apps and algorithms are available that are intended to shorten the process by analyzing personality characteristics of prospective employees. While this information can be useful, it’s often tempting for organizations to use the recommendations verbatim, without due diligence or in some cases, even human contact.

On the other hand, leveraging Big Data to drive Evidence Based HR is smart, and can help organizations clarify objectives to implement the best solution. Analytics and Big Data can help with the following tasks:

  1. Visualize the Problem Problems within organizations are complex and Big Data can help in terms of visualizing the big picture and identifying pain points. The right analytics can provide an extensive graphic representation that includes a broader range of factors. For example, analytics can be used to construct a stronger talent pipeline or visualize the strength of organizational relationships.
  2. Interpret and Draw Conclusions Analytics alone cannot make decisions, but the right compilation of data can assist the process, making it easier to interpret findings and draw conclusions. After all, accurate interpretation of data is critical for implementing the best solution.


Understanding how to use data in the right way is a skills gap that both Millennials and Gen Z have displayed. New talent – particularly those from younger generations are more likely to use analytics exclusively, believing in its validity without question. Teaching incoming employees and new hires how to think critically and interpret results are essential and necessary steps in the process of analyzing information.

#2: One Size Does Not Fit All – Recognizing and Embracing Diversity and Self-Identification   

The second theme of the day centered around the concept of broad, organization-wide strategies. The “one size fits all” approach is outdated, and forward-thinking organizations understand that Inflexible policies of the past are incapable of sustaining the global nuance of the modern organization. Rather, choice is the name of the game. In today’s hyper-connected global climate, the business environment is defined by diversity on all fronts. This includes generational, ethnic, gender as well as geographic disparity. At Invati, we frequently talk about how the world is shifting from one focused on macro-diversity characteristics to one in which micro-diversity characteristics are more inclusive of personal preferences.

Whether the conversation is about performance management, leadership development, or compensation and benefits, the type of content that engages one audience may not engage another. Organizations were once much smaller and less connected, and the audience was less complex with needs that were easier to predict.

For organizations looking to stay ahead of the curve, allowing for self-identification is critical in developing solutions and strategy. A theme that resonates well with incoming talent, Millennials and Generation Z were raised with many choices. As a result, they are uniquely adept at tailoring and customizing nearly everything external to the work environment. For employers, the expectation that employees will be able to choose that which suits them best is growing. And providing options for them to choose individualized career paths, training programs, even benefits packages is proving to be highly  successful.

#3: Engaging Millennials and Promoting Women Leadership Development

Finally, HR executive strategy is accelerating the development of junior talent and placing more women in leadership roles.

Understanding the needs of these two distinct and large audiences is a complex matter I had the pleasure of speaking alongside three prominent female executives, Leslie Mays, VP of Global Talent Management & Inclusion from Avon, Sumita Banerjee, SVP of Talent Acquisition at L’Oreal, and Phyllis Gebhardt, VP of Global HR & Communications at Readers Digest.

Leslie shared the intensive work Avon has done towards addressing the diverse cultural needs of its female workforce. Based on data collected by region and locality, customized programs were designed to support women in diverse work cultures. This effort led to an innovative marketing strategy to renew the internal brand.

Sumita discussed the continued importance of focusing on pay equity while Phyllis, believes heavily in managerial courage and the idea that everyone has a role in supporting employees who are driven to become leaders. Making a statement around these issues, enrolling men in the discussion, but also, ensuring a healthy balance across all genders is key.

As part of a roundtable discussion on Millennials, we uncovered some reveling information around how companies fail to engage Millennials, the need for a common language and a strategy for resetting new hire expectations. Interestingly, the number one thing companies do to disengage employees is to use language that labels, judges, and excludes Millennials. Second, most Millennials dislike ‘waiting’, and companies need to reset expectations in terms of recognizing appropriate timeframes for promotions, raises and growth opportunities as well as define better ways of understanding why things are the way they are with this unique demographic.

Bottom Line

As executives seek to maximize their talent to drive profits, prioritizing these topics is key. Ensure the intention of data is understand. Create customized options to engage employees. Continue to develop junior talent and women. What is your organization doing in these areas? What is working well? What could use improvement?

Struggling to solve these generation-related challenges? That’s why we exist. As founder and principal at Invati, Crystal and her Millennial team drive engagement and productivity in today’s technology world by applying Millennial insight.

She is the creator of the Millennial Friendly Workplace Discovery and Generation Transition Readiness Discovery processes that intentionally and pragmatically transform the workplace for the next generation.

Crystal is a Huffington Post blogger, alumni of two TEDx Talks (Gen Y: Digital Coma or Powered? and Corporate Fail: Next Generation are Entrepreneurial), and award winner by the Association for Talent Development (formerly ASTD). She is a leader in driving practical application of next generation trends in the workplace.