Mon, 14 November 2016
We explore the people strategy Adidas has been implementing with chief HR officer, Karen Parkin, and we talk about how things might be changing in the world of work.
Karen Parkin is the chief HR officer at Adidas, a global sporting goods company headquartered in Germany. Parkin has been with the company for 20 years and with her background in sales she has been able to bring a unique perspective to the company’s new people strategy.
Adidas has been going through a lot of changes including the arrival of a new CEO, which will bring about a change in culture and strategy in itself. Another change that has been taking place is in the company’s people strategy. Adidas understands the importance of evolving with the ever changing world of work and the importance of employee experience and engagement. Parkin says, “to be successful we need the best people sitting in the right seats”, so when they were developing their new people strategy they had four pillars in mind. These four pillars dealt with attracting and retaining people, inspiring role models, fresh and diverse perspectives and creating the right environment for employee talent.
Adidas recognizes that the world of work is changing and they knew they needed to develop a strategy that allowed them to adapt over time. They also feel that diversity in the workplace is very important and that welcoming in the new generations while still respecting the generations that are already in the company is essential. Adidas acknowledges that the competitor landscape has changed and they are no longer just competing with other sporting companies such as Puma or Nike, but they are in competition with all large global companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon. As Parkin states, “the war for talent is over”. Companies cannot afford to just sit back and assume people will want to come work for them. In this day and age Companies have to work hard to attract and retain talent.
Adidas traditionally conducted surveys every 2-3 years to look at employee engagement, however they are now bringing the focus to new management and a feedback culture where they can measure the experience employees are having everyday. Parkin brings a fresh look to these measurements as her background is not in HR, but in sales. She believes it is important to measure from a brand perspective, asking employees on a quarterly basis about how likely they would be to refer the company to peers, friends, coworkers and family. Parkin is constantly thinking about what her consumers want, need and think. She believes “people are the heart of the company, and HR is the head”.
Another change Adidas has implemented is “moments that matter”. Parkin believes that in today’s workplace there is no longer a one size fits all model. The experience that one employee has is going to be completely different from someone sitting right next to them. Adidas brought a diverse group of employees into room and HR led an interview process where they asked the employees what moments mattered the most to them. From there Parkin and her team plotted several different employee experiences to see what the key moments would be.
Some key moments that are common across the board to all employees would be the recruitment process and what the first conversation with Adidas looks like. Another key moment would be the first day in a new position. Some moments that matter that are not necessarily common to all people would be someone that wants to take a sabbatical, someone who wants to start a family or someone who wants to leave the company to work for another. All of these moments matter to employees and they are moments that Adidas is focusing in on to make sure they are great, memorable experiences.
While keeping up with the changes in the world of work, It is important to be sure that your company is not just following any and every trend that pops up. Companies should understand their goals, culture and employees and make sure the trends work with their overall big picture before implementing any changes. The key, as Parkin puts it, is for leadership to understand that “people, products and brands matter equally”.
According to Parkin, one of the most fundamental changes in the world of work is that it is “about the people, and it starts with the people”. The new role of HR needs to be the “table where the changes begin and a voice on behalf of the people”; HR is about people.
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