Solutions Driven

Inside Secrets from our Talent Networking Session with Johnny Campbell

Johnny Campbell Networking Session Solutions Driven

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One of the best things to have come out of the last few months is collaboration. We’re really lucky at Solutions Driven that through our virtual HR/TA network sessions, we’ve been able to continue our discussion with some of the most talented people in the business. 

Now these are private sessions where everyone shares their highs, lows, positives, and frustrations, so we can’t tell you *exactly* what people said.

However, our latest session was so insightful we wanted to share some of the key takeaways.

Our latest session included leaders of HR and Talent teams from companies including Jabil, Flex, Sanmina, and Amphenol, along with a special guest, Johnny Campbell, CEO of Social Talent.

Social Talent is the world’s leading e-learning platform, providing everyone in the hiring process with the skills they need to find, hire, and develop great talent. Founded by former recruitment operations Manager and headhunting Director, Johnny, and his business partner, Vincent O’Donoghue, in 2010, they’ve now trained 100,000 recruiters, in 1000 organisations. Social Talent are trusted by some of the world’s most successful companies, including IBM, Hertz, Oracle, Axa, and Capita.

Johnny kicked off last week’s session by telling stories of his own experiences over the last few months. A globe-trotting CEO and regular keynote speaker in “normal” times, Johnny’s used to travelling regularly. So with business travel pretty much non-existent, surprisingly, he’s loved being at home, using the time to plan for the future. 

Johnny Campbell interview with Solutions Driven
Johnny Campbell, CEO Social Talent

In his opinion, this low (the pandemic, lockdown, and various resulting recessions) is a preparation for the boom times that must come at some point.

  • The Talent Acquisition role has been rapidly changing into a Talent Management role, taking on the non-administrative side of HR. (The fun side according to him…)
  • And secondly, the one we all know of; home working. 

Both of these form a huge part of a topic we just kept coming back to, central to most current employment conversations: flexibility.

And it wasn’t just about working from home or making flexible working possible, this session highlighted the importance of flexibility through every part of your organisation.

Hiring has changed 

One participant noted that her company had been forced into internal hiring during lockdown, due the impossibility of in-person interviews, business changes, and budget uncertainty. Now, they plan to continue using this strategy even when the pandemic is over. 

For some businesses, operations have changed completely, meaning they’ve needed their staff to be flexible about job roles.

Take Ikea, for instance. For a while, they required less checkout staff due to social distancing, but much more warehouse people dealing with online orders. Rather than furlough or lay off front of house staff, they redistributed them, moving them to the warehouse where they were needed.

We need to learn the importance of LQ – Learning Quotient

The situation at Ikea isn’t unique, and it’s one that will gain momentum going forward. As Johnny points out:

“There’s no point in trying to predict the future. Even without the pandemic, tech and the world of business now changes so fast we don’t know what will happen in five years.”

We do know that change will keep happening. And now, it’s happening fast. 

Roles you’re currently hiring for could be obsolete within a few years. Instead of hiring for the skills or the IQ someone possesses, businesses need to hire people for their LQ: their Learning Quotient. 

  • How well will this person adapt to a new role?
  • How quickly will they learn the skills needed?
  • How willing will they be to be flexible?

These should all be important considerations. 

This feeds into the idea of the Talent Acquisition role moving to a Talent Manager role. After all, if some skills will become redundant, you don’t necessarily want to lose the great people who previously worked in a role requiring them. A huge part of the Talent Manager role will be in learning and development, identifying what other roles would fit employees and how to develop them for these roles.

It’s an area that will require information, intelligence, and a process to be successful, not something that’s been vital previously.

The way we work needs to change

There have been thousands of articles and opinions on the issue of “Zoom fatigue”. Many of our participants agreed that most of us aren’t doing remote working properly, we’re trying to do what we did in an office from home. An important distinction.

Zoom fatigue in recruitment

In Johnny’s opinion, everyone in a company needs to get better at documenting what they do. Rather than jumping on a Zoom call to discuss an issue, we should be using shared documents for people to work on, only using virtual meetings when it’s really needed. 

This calls for better leadership and stronger KPIs, something  attendees felt has been lacking throughout the pandemic. While strong leaders have ensured productivity and employee satisfaction at a distance, the less able struggled without the office community to aid them.

With a July 2020 survey by FlexJobs and Mental Health America reporting that remote workers are currently 3x more likely to suffer from poor mental health, and that 42% say their stress levels are “high” or “very high”, it’s clear employees currently need leadership and support more than ever.   

Our environment needs to be flexible 

In the UK, the government is currently pushing for office workers to go back to work, worries surfacing that city centres will become ghost towns without workers. 

However, it was noted that it’s not as simple as just getting back to the office, shops, or depots. We now need to factor in social distancing and the habit of working from home; by the time most of us get back, almost a whole year will have passed. 

Ghost city centres

That means office spaces might need to be re-considered. With an increased focus on flexibility, staff could split their week between home and the office. We now have social distancing as the norm, making hot desking, bookable spaces, and meeting rooms more important.

And we need to consider the global ramifications.

In the West, where less adults share a house and the connection infrastructure is better, hybrid office environments could be the future. But what about in the East, where internet can be less reliable and there are typically more people per household? Global companies, especially, will need to factor this into plans. 

This will be a huge part of these new Talent Managers’ jobs: ensuring a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t implemented, and the positives outcomes from Covid are matched to individual needs. 

This level of flexibility is going to be needed across all aspects of all organisations. And it will be needed throughout the recruitment process too.

While we don’t know what the next few months and years are going to hold for the recruitment industry, we do know that things are going to change. Everyone involved in HR, recruitment, and talent will need to adapt to the “next normal” to thrive (and survive).

Before you go. If you’re interested in taking part in one of our upcoming private virtual networking sessions, please connect with our CEO Gavin Speirs on LinkedIn or by email at to get more details.

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