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Star Interview

Alex Ehmcke,
HR Director,

Has COVID changed your talent attraction models?

We’re actually in a strong place for growth; coronavirus hasn’t been easy for us, but we’ve adapted to the changes that have been presented to us. There has been the opportunity to grow. We’ve partnered with the University of Hertfordshire to source interns, we’ve also worked with the University of East London on its paid internship programme and we’re currently recruiting through them again. We’ve also run our PinkNews Futures event, which is our school leaver and graduate conference, which we’ve adapted to digital. We really value new talent and we’ve been working extremely hard throughout the pandemic to continue that, albeit digitally.

What do you think has been the biggest challenge HR has faced in this time?

I don’t know if challenge is the right word, but one thing that has needed reassessment is company-wide comms. It’s been essential to ensure that they’re regular, accurate and they communicate the right information at the right time. We did have a challenge at the start where we were having almost too much communication; we were having all-teams meetings every week, whereas before they were monthly. I think there was some fatigue over the repetition there. So working the appropriate frequency out has been essential.

What part has data played in finding solutions throughout COVID?

Data is essential. We’ve done regular team surveys to find out how everyone is feeling and what we can do to counteract the effects of COVID on initiatives such as working from home. Key issues sprung out of that, which I was able to deal with thanks to having that hard data from the teams. We’ve moved with the needs of our people – which everyone should be doing as things can easily get lost in team miscommunication when everyone is remote.

Is finding a balance between a roadmap and fluid reassessment a challenge for HR in this time?

Currently, with so many unknowns, it’s unwise to stick firmly to plans that may well be redundant in the long-term. I think for the moment it’s important to take it each week at a time. I strive to be as targeted as possible in the short-term on issues such as how people are feeling about remote working, communication and what other support people need in the moment by taking cues from the team. The long-term planning, right now, is a little more unknown, and so we have to concentrate on what we can do to help people now.

Do you have any key advice for other leaders who are struggling at the moment?

I’ve found that there is so much information out there that can be completely overwhelming and everyone is doing different things within their organisations, but every organisation is different, so what works for them may well not work for you. A phrase I use a lot is ‘comparison is the thief of joy’. You have to do what works for you and follow the mood of your own people. We take a lot of guidance from our team and I tailor our initiatives based on that.


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