An Approach To International HR

We had a chat with Nicolas Blier-Silvestri about the approach to the HR department in organizations across countries as well as successful hiring. According to Nicolas, a lot of countries can learn from Scandinavian attention and approach to employees’ wellbeing. Loose yourself in this article to get an insight on Nicolas’ experience and knowledge within HR.

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What made you start your own company and what were your thoughts behind Platypus?

Starting my own business was never really a plan. I have been really happy being part of building organizations like Trustpilot, Falcon, Unity, etc. However, over 15 years of working in recruitment and HR, I realized that there is a strong lack of data for assessing cultural alignment between individuals and organizations. 

In my own work, I needed a data-driven alternative that would go beyond my gut feeling about who might be a good fit for a particular organization or team, and not rely solely on company mission statements about what, as a company, we wished our culture would look like.  

I had an idea for a solution to that vital issue, talked about it with my co-founder Dan Bowen, and from there things went pretty fast. 15 months later we have a cultural talent management tool used by dozens of organizations on 3 continents! We have closed a solid round of funding and we are scaling. 

With the international background you have, what differences do you see within HR in different countries?

Great question! The idea – and scope – of HR is very different from one region to the other. The name itself is evolving: A lot of organizations are shifting focus towards People Operations or People & Culture. 

From my experience, HR in the Nordics has the widest scope: Ranging from the administrative tasks to engagement, Learning & Development, and culture. That is extensive. 

There are still a lot of countries where HR is perceived as policing employees rather than serving as a positive force within the organization.

Unfortunately there are still a lot of countries where HR is perceived as policing employees rather than serving as a positive force within the organization. 

HR is undergoing significant transformations becoming more data-driven on every sub-branch. Right now, it is the department within organizations, that is evolving at the fastest pace. 

And in relation to that, are there any areas where countries could learn from each other? 

I think most countries can learn from the Scandinavian attention and approach to employees’ wellbeing. On the other hand, the best recruitment engines I have seen build were based in either the UK or the US with a granular data-driven approach.

Overall I think all countries need to be moving from a Human Resources mindset to a Human Capital mindset – and matching that move with bigger budgets.  It is funny. EVERY organization always says: “Our people are our biggest asset” but the one department supporting those people and their managers, is systematically understaffed and under-budgeted! 

EVERY organization always says: “Our people are our biggest asset” but the one department supporting those people and their managers, is systematically understaffed and under-budgeted!

Having extensive experience within hiring, what would you say are the key aspects of creating a successful hiring plan?

I have hired more than 1500 people in my career, in multiple countries and organizations of all sizes, and I never saw anyone with a successful – one-size-fits-all – hiring plan. There are so many factors coming into play: number of hires, roles, locations, churn, time, prioritization, etc.

I do believe there are some basic guidelines. In my book the most important things to settle on are:

  • Structure of the Team: Should it include sourcers? How many recruiters do I need in order to reach my hiring goal? 
  • Processes: How many interviews should we do? Which technical tests do we need? Should we have a standardized procedure or AdHock per role?
  • Relevant tools: Which ATS? Do we need sourcing tools? Where do I post my roles?
  • How to tracking and report on KPIs: Time to Hire, Cost of hire, Quality of hire, Source of hire,. This is vital to fine-tuning the recruitment engine. 

Relating to the above, how do you ensure you are sourcing the right candidates? I.e. Quality vs Quantity 

I strongly believe that the current recruitment creed: “It is a number’s game”, needs to change. This comes down to the fundamental insight that it confronts  the possibility  of a great candidate experience. No one likes to be rejected.

Solid work on sourcing starts with a deep understanding of the role in question, the scope of the role, and what  it is likely that it will be in 6-12-18 months’ time. On top of that, it includes understanding the sub-culture of this specific team and considering whether it will be aligned with the candidate’s individual values.

All of this adds to the complexity of sourcing. But again: Time spent sourcing and selecting the right profile is an indispensable investment in reducing the risk of churn.

Finally, what would you say are the key characteristics of future talents? Are there any specific competencies that organizations should be aware of?

I can really talk only about HR talents. As I mentioned previously the scope of HR is changing, but one thing is very clear: It is a data-driven world.

Future talent that wants to work in HR will need to master data analytics. Not to the level of a data-scientist but still with a strong appreciation of the discipline. I would follow technology closely as well. We are still in the early days of what you can call a new era of HR!

Nicolas Blier-Silvestri is Co-Founder and CEO at Platypus. Through Platypus, he brings a new angle to a data-driven approach to organisation culture, so one will not have to rely on a gut feeling.

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