Spanish consultant Begoña Viña, author of Observatorio de Empleo and specialist in talent management and corporate communication, in an interview with PDA International, commented on the differences among generations regarding work, millennials and the role of women at work. She also highlighted the need for the Human Resources department to become company leaders.

Much is said about the different generations and their characteristics. In one of your articles you refer to millennial loyalty regarding work, and whether it’s absurd or a reality. What do you think is the reason for people to have such opposing views of them?

I think in part it comes from people’s behaviour, because we frequently classify or label others according to the special features they share. This labelling is done according to the generation people belong to, and what hasn’t been quite determined yet is the years that each generation covers, though we do know in which range each of them can be found.
This isn’t something that’s happened recently. The first to mention this was a German sociologist in his book The problem with generations, in which he discussed how for those generational classifications different factors such as culture, historical events, demographics and social structure played a significant role.
Generational groups are defined by a sociohistorical context which is limited by age and cultural and geographical similarities.

What are the most in-demand skills when recruiting, and what are, in your experience, the most important ones?

As I said in the article for MovingHR, “There are certain sectors and positions that require specialised skills and studies. There’s a series of general skills that are fundamental to attain professional success and which employers would like their employees to have.”

– Communication skills have to do with your ability to express your ideas and also to listen to others.
– Teamwork: The success of any organisation depends on a team of people who work together towards a common goal.
– Leadership.
– Resilience has to do with how we face setbacks and changes at work.
– Trust: Employers want to see you trust yourself and your skills.
– Organisation: It’s important because it allows you to manage and prioritise the workload.
– Influence over others.
– Problem solving.
– Positive thinking.

“Being comfortable isn’t the same as being satisfied.” What are the strategies you would propose to keep an employee motivated?

Organisations know perfectly well that it’s important to have motivated and committed employees, but the responsibility to achieve this isn’t placed on the leader, when in my opinion, it should.

I’m not the only one who believes this, though. Gallup published an article that said that 70% of an employee’s motivation comes from the manager’s influence or that of the person who is assuming the management of the performed task. As such, people don’t leave their job, they leave their bosses. An unmotivated employee doesn’t perform well and at the first opportunity will leave the organisation they’re working at.

Strategies to keep employees motivated:

– We all know the golden rule that comes from the phrase “treat others as you want to be treated”, but for me it’s not entirely effective, because it implies that everyone wants to be treated in the same way or that everyone is motivated by the same things, when in truth this might not be the case. Some people like public recognition, while others prefer to go unnoticed. A good manager with a sixth sense will read their employees and adopt a behaviour and style that suits each of them.

– Communication must be a two-way street. There are great executives who are great communicators, but that communication only goes one way. Many say that their office is open for everything but listening to their employees’ ideas is not part of their vocabulary. Others don’t give their opinion, don’t set goals, which doesn’t contribute to creating an environment proper for what it’s being asked of employees, and many times they don’t know if they’re going to be promoted or fired.
– Humility and transparency. If you’re told what the company’s goals, expectations and plans are, you’ll feel you’re part of it, which as a result will increase your motivation and feeling of belonging.
– Work-life balance. Nothing burns good employees out more than working too much.

A study from the IBM Institute revealed this year that only 18% of management positions in the world are held by women. And 67% of the organisations surveyed said that while it’s important to have policies to promote the participation of women, it’s not a priority. What do you think about this?

My opinion on this subject comes from something pretty simple and separate from an organisational perspective but rather close to a more personal one, and it’s that a social change nneds to take place. This social change is a substantial modification of values, norms and traditions in any society. In this sense, we need to work on three areas:

– The political area, not such much as to the political offices but rather the context of decision-making.
– Education, which will allow women to be empowered and decide about their professional and personal lives.
– Being able to be part of the workforce, because this will lead to us having personal autonomy.

For me, this topic is a matter of the self, because in the end organisations will be in contact and reflect the society we live in. I think that from the self, from what we are as a person, we must do something; it’s in our hands.

Talent management trends are increasingly more relevant within organisations. Do you think it’s possible that in the future HR will become one of the most important departments?

I think HR is already one of the most important departments. It’s changed from being an expense to being an investment, because people and the knowledge they offer are the ADDED VALUE of an organisation.

The HR area must be working at the same level as the senior executives and share their strategic view. The policies that are articulated must go in this direction.
We’re not a global area anymore, we’re company leaders and we need to have a full view of the organisation, knowing the rest of the areas of the company, such as management, marketing and corporate communication.