People walking in front of a Panasonic product display.
PHOTO: edkohler

The ever-changing and challenging role of the human resources professional enters another decade in a few short weeks. It’s a role charged with creating great employee experiences for the four generations now in the workforce. And it’s still challenging. In fact, according to the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2019 report (PDF), HR practitioners still struggle with things like ineffective recruiting technology (26%) and constructing an appealing job offer (25%).

Tina Slattery knows HR challenges well. She is the director of talent acquisition in North America for Panasonic, headquartered in Newark, NJ. Slattery and her HR colleagues are gearing up for 2020 in the areas of benefits, hiring, career planning, rewards packages and other critical focus areas. In the spirit of one of our editorial themes this month on the changing workforce, we caught up with Slattery about what’s top of mind as she and her team tries to create employee experiences for multiple generations. 

Working on Snackable Content

Slattery said in 2020 she sees fellow HR practitioners providing information about benefits and job responsibilities in more “snackable” ways, with micro learning opportunities available for new hires. No one’s painting any one generation with a broad brush on what they like or don’t like in terms of consuming content. Baby Boomers use phones, too. Gen Xers, believe it or not, like Instagram.

However, with more Generation Z employees (the young people) coming into Panasonic’s workforce — and elsewhere — Slattery and her HR team have begun to do more studies and research on that generation and have tailored how they deliver content in some cases. The goal? Make sure they are in line with what an employee needs. 

She sees the youngest generation as being able to multi-task, going from one app to the next app seamlessly and consuming shorter bites of content. “So as they learn anything, whether it's work-related, or whether it's news-related, or whether it's just about life, is typically on some sort of mobile device or on some sort of digital platform,” Slattery said. “So we look at how can we help teach our next generation in the workforce, whether it's learning Salesforce or learning about their emotional intelligence or whatever the thing that we're teaching them is. We're making sure that one, it’s user-friendly, but also that is not long,” Slattery said. “Spending an hour on a module could be pretty intense.”

Tina Slattery headshot
Tina Slattery

Improving Onboarding

The "snackable approach" is especially evident in onboarding. Panasonic’s HR team is “blowing up” its entire onboarding at the moment. “One of the things we're looking at doing is when you come in, there's so much information to learn about, and you really just get thrown a ton of stuff...,” Slattery said. “So we’re looking at building a new hire curriculum on different parts of our business.”

There’s the typical onboarding tasks: learning how to get set up on booking travel, learning how to do expense reporting. But there are also things like learning about Panasonic, what’s important about its core values, philosophy and the “DNA of our company.” 

"We’re making things short, simple and sweet," Slattery said. "We convolute things. We always try to make more words, more paper and more documents. For what? Just keep things simple. When you look at the simplicity, the snackable shorter pieces of content and learning tools will help you provide better content.”

Related Article: Why Employee Experience Is the New Customer Experience

Emphasizing Career Roadmaps

One of the important tasks for recruiting and welcoming new employees is to offer career frameworks. Signing an employee agreement and saying, "Go!" without much in the way of a career path is not optimal. Sure, not everyone will have a crystal-clear career roadmap, but it's nice to present future opportunities, Slattery said.

Employees often want a solid vision of where they are going in their careers. “I got a job, but what am I going to get out of it?” Slattery said. She predicts that in 2020, hiring for many HR teams will involve career planning from the very beginning, as younger members of the workforce want to have a clear vision of their career journey as soon as they get started.

“If I'm going to become a recruiting manager in six months, what does that mean?" Slattery said. "What might that look like? Can I jump in from a job, let's say, talent acquisition and go into an HR generalist role? And how can you enable me to get there as well as me performing to get there?” Those are the kinds of questions Slattery is trying to ensure her company is ready to address with employees.

Managers may not like to have these conversations because they are sometimes ambiguous. It’s not clear-cut to carve out a specific career path and predict movements a year or five years down the road, Slattery said. But while it can be a gray area — the career roadmap — having an “open and honest conversation” about it with employees can help. To that end, the HR teams at Panasonic work on career frameworks for specific roles and share that information and knowledge with employees from Day 1. “When you start building career frameworks, you can’t do it overnight,” Slattery said. “It takes a group of people.” Panasonic started with an engineering career framework and is building off that. They’ll continue building out frameworks for different functions.

Hiring Manager Plays Key Role

As great as a career framework may be, HR can’t control someone’s career, Slattery said. “We're just helping enable the hiring manager, and our managers are the ones who really can work with the employees and actually make that happen,” she said. 

If an engineer employee really wants to identify a career path, that is a conversation they should have with their manager. Each have to own it, Slattery said. It’s not a one-way street, for sure. The manager supports the path; the employee executes on the vision. “It has to be a partnership,” Slattery said. “And if it's mostly one way it will never be successful. Those who are managing these amazing people have to really help them understand what that framework looks like.”

The framework exists on Panasonic's intranet. The HR teams are constantly working on ways to make it more transparent with incoming and existing employees. “How do we continue to socialize that for the engineers?” Slattery said. “How can we use it in recruiting when we sell jobs, and when we sell the company, and how can we use that as a tool for potential new hires coming in?”

Related Article: 10 Traits to Look for in Your Next Leadership Candidate

Work-Life Balance Still Critical

When Slattery thinks about work-life balance and how her employees can benefit from it, it’s not so much just the remote-working policy. Flexible working is table stakes now. Is your company really embracing a work-life balance through making work valuable and meaningful? Those are the key questions to ask.

“Work-life balance is having a full immersion between life and work and being able to set the boundaries of where that is,” Slattery said. “I don't care where you sit or where you are — as long as you're doing your work, you're feeling good about it and you're engaged. If we’re making an impact on our organization, that’s great. … We’re always tailoring our work-life program to make it better.”