Article: 'Flexibility of where, when, and how employees work is now a business requirement'


'Flexibility of where, when, and how employees work is now a business requirement'

Patti Clarke, the Global Chief Talent Officer for Havas Group, shares her take on leadership, new-age organizational cultures, and more, in an interaction with People Matters.
'Flexibility of where, when, and how employees work is now a business requirement'

Patti Clarke is Global Chief Talent Officer for the Havas Group, one of the world's largest global communications groups founded in 1835 in Paris and now part of Vivendi. She is responsible for leading all aspects of global human resources as well as talent and cultural strategy for the group’s 20,000+ employees in over 100 countries. 

Patti’s experience includes a 20-year career at Dun & Bradstreet, where she was Chief Human Resources Officer for nine years and also ran global internal communications. In a candid conversation with People Matters, Clarke shared her thoughts on the top talent trends in 2020, learning culture in the organization and her plans to make HR agile in 2020. 

You have spent over seven years at Havas Group. How has your journey been, and what were some of your major challenges? 

I was thrilled to join Havas and work in an environment filled with energetic people and amazing creativity. I love the dynamic nature of the advertising industry and the fact that it’s always changing and evolving. The journey at Havas has been great as our senior management has continuously been very supportive of our talent strategy and approach.

I’d say the biggest challenge is making sure that our offering supports the growth and development of all our 20,000+ employees, as our goal is for everyone to have a meaningful work experience at Havas.

Don't expect your leader to be a mind reader®talk to them about your aspirations and develop a plan together

What are the core values that define the culture at Havas Group?

Collaboration is at the core of our culture and business. We have over 60 villages across the globe where our clients benefit from a broad variety of capabilities—all under one roof, with people who truly enjoy working together. 

I love the fact that each village has its own unique culture and personality, but we’re all focused on one common vision: To make a meaningful difference to businesses, brands, and people. 

In terms of other values, I’d say we are entrepreneurial by nature, always looking for new ways to do things and also generous—in both sharing our time and talents, and in helping each other.

In January 2018, Havas Group launched 'Femmes Forward'. What leverage have women employees taken from this program? And what are the future plans for 'Femmes Forward'? 

‘Femmes Forward’ is a comprehensive six-month program focused on advancing women within the Havas Group networks. The program is a mix of skills-based training, leadership assessments, group coaching, networking and thought leadership. 

The first program launched in London in January 2018 and since then has run in New York, Paris, Madrid, Asia-Pacific. In addition, in APAC and the U.S, we’ve employed a regional approach by bringing together women from those markets. Over 125 women from 17 countries, including India, have participated in the program. The results are impressive in that 27 percent of all participants have been promoted, and for those who have been out of the program for a year, the promotion rate increases to 57 percent. In my recent visit to India, I met a lot of ambitious, career-oriented women and, as we continue our Femmes Forward programming in 2020, our focus will continue to be on developing and supporting them and other women throughout our network. 

What according to you were the top talent and HR trends of 2019 and why are they important for year 2020?

Flexibility of where, when, and how employees work is no longer a trend but rather a requirement if you want to be competitive in the market. There’s also been a lot more focus on family leave for everyone—not just mothers. 

There has also been an increased focus on mental health and wellness. I think 2020 will bring more offerings focused on the employee as an individual, requiring all of us to be adaptable because the “one size fits all” model is now something of the past. 

How is leadership changing in the wake of digital technologies? Do we have enough digital leaders to tackle future business challenges?

Today’s leaders have more tools at their fingertips to help them be more effective leaders for their teams. With that comes increased accountability around using these tools and insights properly. With the rapid pace of change in digital, we must constantly challenge ourselves to have talent that’s cutting edge/up-to-speed on those technologies. Digital capabilities are also at the forefront of our agency offerings and our acquisition strategy. Many agencies have specific digital teams and some even have innovation labs where they experiment, test, and learn around evolving technologies and how they can support our work. Organizations are creating leadership positions in the digital vertical to ensure that they are future-ready, disruptive in solutions, offer unique content, and digitally ahead of the curve. 

For someone who is looking to grow in Havas, what are the areas they should focus on? 

I had very meaningful interactions with our leaders and high potential team members and I’m impressed by the diverse talent pool and their eagerness to learn and grow beyond their own discipline.

My advice is to be proactive around your development. First, don’t expect your leader to be a mind reader—talk to them about your aspirations and develop a plan together. Second, while it is great to participate in a Havas talent development program or even attend a specific skills-based training program, there is a lot to be learned from each other in each village whether through collaborative initiatives or cross training—so don’t miss out on what’s right in front of you!

Do you have any plan for 2020 to make HR more agile?

I am a big believer in evaluating our HR processes relative to the impact on our employees. I don’t believe in extra steps or layers because it benefits HR. It’s our job, with our talent leaders, to create a meaningful experience for our employees and sometimes that means re-thinking an HR approach so that it’s a better user experience for our employees. 

As Global Chief Talent officer, what are the top things you do to create a learning culture in the organization? 

We have a global and local approach to learning. This means there are many programs offered in our villages, ranging from formal skills development, to “lunch and learn” knowledge sharing, to wellness education, and inspirational speaker series. We also have a range of global programs that focus on mobility, leadership development and career advancement. All our employees also have access to online training through our recently revamped Havas University platform. The courses range from soft-skills training to our proprietary programmatic and MBx media certifications; and of course, training on mandatory key compliance areas such as harassment, anti-corruption, etc. 

We also created our Agora knowledge platform as an internal content hub that all employees can leverage for research and learning.

What are some of the practices that Havas Group follows to align HR strategy with organization and business strategy?

Havas Group’s vision is to make a meaningful difference to brands, businesses and people. That carries through directly to how we support our people. They are the heart and soul of bringing this vision to life, and our talent strategy is committed to cultivating meaningful work experiences for them. 


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Topics: C-Suite, Strategic HR, #ExpertViews

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