How do you inspire change? Sometimes by simply telling a powerful story to send the message home. This is what Sam Neo, founder and Chief People Officer of Singapore based People Mentality Inc, a Human Resources (HR) and Employer Branding consultancy firm set out to advocate a people-first mindset to help organizations become an employer of choice, aimed to do. By using the power of authentic and compelling stories, Sam seeks to work with organizations to build a strong employer brand from within.
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Sam shares his vision of People Mentality and how organizations can engage the millennial and multi-generational workforce and become an employer of choice.
What was the tipping point for creating People Mentality? What were the challenges you were trying to address?
I was facing a "quarter-life crisis" back in 2016 because of how comfortable I was in a corporate job. After seeking out mentors and with loads of self-reflection, I realized that what I really wanted to achieve in life was to make a true difference and add value to the society at large rather than simply going for a fancy title or fat pay cheque.
As such, I founded People Mentality in hope of creating more workplaces that provide a positive experience for their employees while working towards showcasing the value of HR, which is often seen as mere support and administrative function.
And one key approach towards that is to tell the stories of organizations and interesting lessons across the globe to inspire change.
Could you describe in layman’s terms how People Mentality helps organizations in engaging the millennial and multi-generational workforce and become an employer of choice?
At People Mentality, we work with organizations to help them identify the unique strengths that they can leverage on in the competitive talent market. By understanding the available resources they possess, we then work closely with the team to position itself in an authentic manner to attract and engage not just the best, but best-fit talent.
To get the core messages across, we focus a lot on storytelling. By utilizing stories, we help organizations connect with their internal employees and external candidates both at the rational and emotional level which is often the winning formula when creating a meaningful connection.
As a millennial myself with loads of experience working with people across generations, countries, professions, and industries, I also utilize my expertise to be a bridge for the organizations with the younger candidates and employees while helping them connect better with the other age profiles.
What are some of the challenges being faced by organizations today on engaging a multi-generational workforce?
One key challenge observed is the communication breakdown or at times, lack of willingness to openly communicate, between the various generations. Very often, the older generation is still complaining how they are finding it hard to understand the younger employees while the younger ones are getting frustrated with how their seniors are not being flexible when working with them.
From an HR point of view, the challenge is then to build a communication bridge that can help clear up misunderstandings which are necessary to bring out the best in the organization. By allowing a better understanding of where each group is coming from and helping them to play to their strengths- that is how the organization can truly tap on the full potential of their human capital.
How has the traction been for People Mentality ever since inception? What are your future expansion plans?
Since its inception in 2017, we have grown our team of employees and partners whom we call HR Avengers, as well as the portfolio of clients in both the MNC and SME/Startup space across the region. In addition, we have been invited to conferences across the region to spread our beliefs and share stories as well as progressive HR practices with my counterparts in the HR field.
In terms of a future expansion plan, we believe that enabling our growth through technology is definitely the way to go. Therefore, we are in the midst of building an online content platform that will leapfrog into the next phase of People Mentality's advocacy journey. Keeping this a secret for now but more updates will be shared come Mar/Apr 2019 so stay tuned!
What are some of the key trends you foresee in the organizational structure of tomorrow with more gig workers joining the economy?
Interestingly, this was a conversation that I had with a senior HR leader recently.
There will be an increasing need to manage co-employment risk because of the changing nature of the workforce mix.
In particular, Asian organizations are not that familiar with such a concept as compared to our western counterparts and thus, creating more awareness and understanding what it takes to mitigate unnecessary risk will be a key moving forward.
Another trend is the growing need to integrate gig workers with full-time employees. Ultimately, all employees, regardless of contractual status are delivering value to grow the organization. It is important to ensure that they feel safe, empowered and valued while integrating them cohesively to leverage on the full potential of the entire workforce.
How do you think organizations need to look at their EVP in order to attract, engage, and retain a multi-generational workforce?
Organizations need to adopt an inside-out approach where they first look inward to identify what their core strengths and leverages are.
Only by understanding what they can work with will they be able to build a solid and authentic proposition that is increasingly important in today's digital age where there are noises everywhere.
When looking at EVP, it's also critical to understand their target audience. It's not always about what you can give but also, what's of high perceived value to your target group. To cater to the multi-generational workforce with varying needs due to the different phase of life, it is also essential to build in some flexibility in the offering e.g. flexible benefits.