How to attract talent and build future-ready teams

Hybrid work models and actively addressing employee wellbeing will help rebuild teams flattened by the pandemic.

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The events industry is an "expanding metaverse", with experts encouraging industry professionals to "think about events as more than just in person experiences". Photo Credit:Getty Images/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

The events industry was one of the sectors hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic. With in-person events wiped out overnight and off the agenda for months worldwide, many in the industry had to adapt to digital ways of working, saw their jobs disappear or left the sector altogether. 

Post-pandemic, agency Invnt has recruited from other verticals like tech, broadcast, gaming, and beyond. Laura Roberts, managing director for Invnt APAC, said that event management teams need to be nimble and nuanced, driving innovation.

“New skills and knowledge should include digital, social media, gaming, broadcast and a curiosity and understanding of the expanding metaverse,” she said. “It’s crucial to think about events as more than just in person experiences, by adding in all the other layers.”

Invnt APAC MD Laura Roberts and BCD ME COO Bruce Morgan believe people are still excited to be a part of the events industry, which brings people together.
Invnt APAC MD Laura Roberts and BCD ME COO Bruce Morgan believe people are still excited to be a part of the events industry, which brings people together.

Going forward, Roberts believes that making meetings safe and ‘sexy’ is about engaging more of the senses while ensuring that participants have an experience they can enjoy at their own comfort level, whether in person or virtually 

New ways of working

 

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) has also invested in digital, automation and design thinking but is also focusing on the increased benefits of flexibility to individuals, teams and the wider business. In line with this thinking, it has re-invigorated its flexible working arrangements policy.

“We know that people work better when they’re feeling happy and healthy, and we want to empower our employees to thrive in their job by allowing them to work in a way that best fits their lives,” said Amanda Wilson, MCEC’s head of people and culture. “Flexible working options include working compressed weeks or fortnights, working from home, during transit and the introduction of new personal leave options including pet carer’s leave and a ‘healthie’ day.”

MCEC has also transformed its leadership to a ‘servant-led’ model, which Fuller said allows greater autonomy for employees, giving them time to innovate and try new concepts without the red tape of hierarchy. As a venue, making meetings safe is paramount, with MCEC having appointed a dedicated Health & Wellbeing Advisor to lead large-scale and targeted health and wellbeing projects with an integrated mental health offering.

Sanjay Seth, MD Asia Pacific at BCD Meetings & Events, and Amanda Wilson, MCEC’s head of people and culture.
Sanjay Seth, MD Asia Pacific at BCD Meetings & Events, and Amanda Wilson, MCEC’s head of people and culture.

Sanjay Seth, managing director Asia Pacific at BCD Meetings & Events, said that with the focus on ‘omni-channel’ events in the last couple of years, there has been interest in recruiting non-traditional ‘in-house’ skill sets at agencies, such as data scientists, content strategists, platform developers and broadcast media professionals. 

The agency also recently achieved a Safe Events certification locally (in Singapore), which Seth compared to an ISO-certification by third-party auditors.

“This helps not just with customers but with the industry overall,” he said. “We are confident about designing memorable experiences in conducive settings, with safety and security for both our attendees and our operations teams.”

BCD ME also believes that the industry is facing a headwind on two fronts when it comes to talent acquisition and retention. Its COO Bruce Morgan said: “On the one hand we have a highly competitive talent marketplace in many regions, with the whole new dynamic of work from home being embraced by various industries and verticals that have never done so before. On top of that we have a challenge specific to our industry/sector – with individuals wondering if this is still a viable, attractive and competitive sector for a career.”

Yet as Morgan pointed out, the fact that events is an industry that brings people together is playing to its advantage post-pandemic, with people excited to be a part of such an environment. It’s a view shared by Invnt, which said a desire to connect in real life is more important now than ever, helping to compensate for the brain drain over the last 18 months.

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“[Virtual and hybrid meetings] are still new to many people, so good communication skills are much needed to explain the operations procedure with clients," says Marcel Holman, managing director of The Langham in Hong Kong.

Employee engagement


There is also an opportunity for the industry to create new innovations in employee engagement, according to Allan Fair, chief culture officer at consultancy Meaning.

“Leaders who develop actionable strategies to address common headwinds when leading hybrid teams will be the new pioneers of organisational culture,” he said. [It’s about] approaching key topics such as ‘onboarding’, ‘employee wellbeing’, and ‘recognition’ through a hybrid lens.”

For hotels, the emphasis has very much been on ensuring staff have enhanced communications skills and a sound knowledge of health and safety. Marcel Holman, managing director of The Langham in Hong Kong, said the hotel has adapted to changing times by updating its equipment and technology, re-training its event team with knowledge of the latest restrictions and providing flexibility to guests.

“Hybrid or virtual meetings have been the only way to cope with the situation during the pandemic period, so our venue management team must have adequate knowledge of the latest online meeting/conference solutions,” he said. “This format is still new to many people, so good communication skills are much needed, to explain the operations procedure with clients, or to troubleshoot any crisis.”



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