shilo. Co-Founder and CEO Ilona Charles (interviewee) sat down with Kage Spatz (interviewer) from Authority Magazine to discuss the critical techniques to attract and retain top talent.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! First, please tell us what brought you to this specific career path?

My path to HR wasn’t particularly traditional! I started my career as an occupational therapist. This led me to doing a rehabilitation coordinator role with ANZ and this team was part of the broader employee relations function. My transition from there was into ER and HR roles at NAB where I spent a significant portion of my career. In hindsight, it all sounds logical but when I tell people I started as an OT, it usually comes as a bit of a shock!

Can you share the most interesting or funny story that happened to you since you started this career and what lesson you learned from that?

Wow…I’m not sure about funny. But I was pretty ambitious in my late 20’s and it was suggested that perhaps I should try a remuneration consultant role. It was a promotion and I thought ‘why not?’ I did this role for 9 months, made some amazing friends, and learned a lot. I’m not sure taking this role only on the basis of promotion without really understanding what was required was the right thing in hindsight, however I learned a lot and I now encourage HR professionals to at least have some time working in the rem. space. It is highly specialised and some knowledge of why and how things are done in remuneration is extremely helpful as you move into more senior HR roles.

Are you working on any exciting new projects at your company? How is this helping people?

Shilo is a relatively new business, a start-up. We felt that the world of HR, particularly in Australia, needed a bit of a shake-up and wanted to disrupt and challenge the traditional ways of ‘doing’ HR. In the 18 months we have been running we have helped many clients with the HR needs by providing them with exceptional HR consultants on short to medium term secondments. We take all the stress away from HR leaders and teams and we know in this current environment this is really important.

Wonderful. Now let’s jump into the main focus of our series. Hiring can be very time-consuming and difficult. Can you share 5 techniques that you use to identify the talent that would be best suited for the job you want to fill? Please share an example for each idea.

  1. Right job ad and messaging. We get a lot of great feedback from candidates who are well suited to our roles that our job ad and success profile are fresh, engaging, and different from others they have seen. We make it very clear regarding the type of consultants we are looking for, specifically their attributes. The right job ad can make all the difference in attracting the right candidates.
  2. Attitude and capabilities. Through each stage of our process, we look for and assess their attitude, what we call our human capabilities. Adaptive, resourceful, innovative, connector, lead with insight, and establish trust (this is critical). We focus on the quality of their answers to our behavioural questions and the insights around their style and approach we get from their answers, not so much whether the structure of their answer is correct.
  3. Learning mindset. Are they genuinely curious and focused on their own continuously learning?
  4. Seeking and receiving feedback. How do they seek feedback, how do they react to, and reflect on, feedback and what they do with this feedback once received? Continuing to grow and develop and a person is vital.
  5. Ask them how others describe them. This provides insight into how self-aware they are.

With so much noise and competition out there, what are your top 3 ways to attract and engage the best talent in an industry when they haven’t already reached out to you?

  1. Ensuring a strong brand awareness and demonstrating what you stand for as an organisation. People are much more focused on purpose and the value and contribution they can bring to an organisation. What is your point of difference — why you? And what can you do for them?
  2. Proactive and strategic sourcing. Don’t just rely on putting out an ad. Proactive sourcing might include attending industry events, showcasing what your organisation does (for example, case studies on client and consultant experiences) or organising ‘meet ups’ where people can mingle and discuss topics of interest and relevance with current employees.
  3. Ensure that every employee &/or client that engages with your business or leaves your business is an advocate. Referrals and word of mouth should never be underestimated.

What are the 3 most effective strategies you use to retain employees?

The environment we have been living in over the last 18 months has seen a shift in what is most important to employees. Some of the most effective strategies we use to retain employees include:

  1. Strong and empathetic leadership. Be kind and demonstrate humility and genuine care for your employee’s wellbeing.
  2. Ensure your culture focuses on people as ‘whole’ human beings — recognise employees are people, not just resources. Have an employee-first focus, focusing on them and the role they are performing, the role they play in their family, community, and their interest and hobbies
  3. Encouraging a real focus on professional development with a genuine commitment to their personal and professional growth. This may include involving them in new or exciting projects and initiatives aligned to their development and career aspirations

In your experience, is it important for HR to keep up with the latest trends? If so, please share an example of what this might look like.

Yes, it is vitally important. Digital technologies and disruption are the new norm. Digital transformation is about people, the transformation of work, and the skills required for the future (it is not about technology). HR must take the lead as this is about the ability of the workforce to adapt and evolve quickly to changing environment around them. Some of these trends are illustrated below:

Changes in today’s work environment:

  1. Who does work? From workers to people
  2. Where work fits? From work to life
  3. Why employees work for us? From Features to feelings
  4. An employee to human deal — radical flexibility, personal growth, holistic well-being, shared purpose, deeper connections

The future of work — moving to:

  1. Collaboration to co-creation
  2. Employee engagement to employee experience
  3. Set hours and locations to flexibility
  4. Static workforce to dynamic workforce
  5. One workspace to spectrum of workspaces

What are some creative ways to increase the value provided to employees without breaking the bank?

Most people want to enjoy going to work. After all, most of us spend significant hours of our life at work. It is important to create an environment where people want to go to work not have to go to work.

  • Flexibility is paramount. Provide hybrid ways of working and let employees have a choice in how and where they work.
  • Create a culture of trust, collaboration, and agility (you don’t have to be in an office to achieve this).

Evidence suggests this increases productivity and engagement. Some other things to consider enabling people to feel connected, valued, and heard might be:

  • Run brainstorming sessions on topics of interest
  • Run knowledge-sharing sessions.
  • Dedicate certain days to inventive/creative days with no meetings or video calls.
  • Taking on projects or tasks of interest (but being mindful of taking something off to put something on their to-do list).
  • Ask them what they want out of work!

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

A movement of care. Caring about each other and ourselves. There is a lot of anger in the world right now. Anger, distress, and self-interest. There is also a lot of good, but this tends to go somewhat unnoticed.

What is your favourite “Life Lesson Quote” and how has it been relevant to you in your life?

There are two for me. Both of these draw on that inner strength that we all have. The fact that I am in control of who I am and how I behave. No-one else. In times of stress or difficulty, I draw on this belief and it enables me to push through and keep going.

  • “With realisation of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability one can build a better world” — Dalai Lama
  • “Do or do not. There is no try” — Yoda

We are very blessed to have some of the biggest names in Business, VC, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private lunch with, and why?

I think I’m going to have to go with Daniel Ricciardo. I love the F1, and it’s been really sad we’ve had two years of cancellations in Australia. I think he would be great fun and it would be worth it just for that huge smile and laugh of his!

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your valuable insights with us!

Featured in Authority Magazine (August, 2021), authority magazine