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Key Takeaways from LHH’s New York City Talent Conversation Series Event on Leadership, Culture, and AI

LHH recently hosted industry leaders for a panel discussion as they explored the future of HR in a New York City Talent Conversation Series event. Highlights included key strategies for leadership, culture, and navigating the AI revolution to empower and engage workforces.

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Posted On Jun 20, 2024 

LHH recently hosted our North American Talent Conversation Series at the LHH Headquarters in New York City. We had the privilege of convening a panel of industry experts to discuss the current opportunities within the Human Relations (HR) industry.


Titled "Navigating the Great Potential: Strategies for Leadership, Culture, and the AI Revolution," this session provided an excellent platform to connect with peers in the HR and talent industry, foster networking opportunities and gain insights from successful leaders at renowned global organizations.


Our esteemed panel of leaders, each an expert in their respective field, included:


  • Jason H. O'Briant, the President of O'Briant HR Advisory and Consulting Services
  • Brian McQuade, Chief Administrative Officer at Daiwa Capital Markets America Inc.
  • Natasha Bondwalker, Founder of People Ops Strategies
  • Stacey Jaffe Wachtfogel, Chief People Officer at Kernel Foods Inc.
  • Matthew Santarpia, Human Resources Director at Purolator International


During this session, the panelists discussed the needs of the current workforce and the imperative for companies to invest in their talent. The key message? Despite the current global uncertainty that is causing many workers to stay put, a significant portion of the workforce is open to new opportunities and ready to make career changes. From this, a passive talent pool is emerging, waiting for the right moment to take action on career changes—a crucial insight for HR professionals and business leaders to stay ahead of the curve.


According to the panel, employees' desire for stability is retaining talent within organizations, yet the prospect of a higher salary could prompt their departure. However, simply increasing pay is not the remedy for growing an engaged workforce. While salary may be a primary factor in job transitions, employees also value empowerment, fulfillment, and opportunities for career growth in their roles. So, when organizations and recruiters aim to appeal to this group, they should offer more than just the same job with an incremental salary boost—businesses that focus on culture, skill investment, and mobility will be the ones to gain a competitive edge as labor conditions improve.


Matthew Santarpia shares his thoughts on keeping employees abreast of economic challenges: “These external factors certainly play a role in people's well-being at work, in terms of economic conditions. I don’t think a day goes by where I don’t start a meeting by saying, ‘We’re in a challenging economy,’ so if something does go south, I want to make sure I’m slowly dripping information to the team so it’s not a shock if anything does happen.”


Workers feel less control over their careers due to external factors like the economic climate, international conflicts, and technological advancements (such as AI), and this feeling of instability is leading employees to prioritize job stability and upskilling over any immediate job changes. Companies should be taking advantage of these needs by offering programs directly tied to learning opportunities.


Uncertainty is causing a buzz in the labor market, where workers are becoming eager to learn new skills and find new opportunities (around 72% of workers contemplate their future plans, such as finding a new job or reskilling) but are waiting for the right moment to do so. As discussed during “Navigating the Great Potential,” companies must invest in their talent now, to avoid disengaged employees and prepare for their business's future. The best place to start is by developing stronger leadership, offering skills training, providing opportunities for internal mobility and nonlinear career paths—and being transparent about where the company is positioned—above all else.


Natasha Bondwalker, Founder of People Ops Strategies notes, “A lot of the issues that employees have during times of uncertainty is not knowing what’s going on, so strong communication and making sure the employees know where the company is makes a big difference. It makes them happy when they know what’s going on and feel like they’re a part of it.”


Employees expect their employers to help them understand the changing nature of jobs and ensure that their skills remain relevant. Many workers emphasize the importance of career advancement and continuous upskilling, especially in a time of rapidly advancing technology. Brian McQuade, Chief Administrative Officer at Daiwa Capital Markets America, highlights the scarcity of new technological skill sets, such as AI expertise, underscoring the need for companies to invest in the educational development of their employees.


“We’re seeing a huge investment in AI and digitalization because they see that as a way to run their business more cost-effectively. But that's a very new skill set, and everyone is struggling to find people with those backgrounds.” An effective talent strategy is the company investment that will pay dividends – especially as AI continues to rapidly grow. Both companies and employees are eager for skills that can prepare them for future success alongside these new tools. Investing in skills development then, is the most impactful way to do so. Employers will need to stay ahead of changing roles in the workplace and ensure that their staff feel supported as they navigate the future of work.


The LHH conversation series offers a valuable platform for professionals to connect, network, and learn about the latest developments in their respective industries. If you wish to attend in the future, watch for upcoming events in your area and explore the “Great Potential, Global Workforce of the Future” report for more insights into these trends.