We talk to Russell Beck, HR, employment and career speaker.

24th Jun 2023

Russell Beck, HR, employment and career speaker chats with Jane Farnham, Director of Great British Speakers.

We learn from career speaker Russell Beck how he provides inspirational and analytical insight into moving any organisation forward.

Russell Beck, a renowned career speaker, is driven by the firm belief that people are the ultimate Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of any organization. As a thought leader in people and leadership, Russell combines his engineer’s thirst for knowledge, a curious appetite for evidence, and a passionate belief that things can be improved.

With an inspiring, charismatic, and thought-provoking style, Russell connects the dots in a way that informs and empowers organizations to take concrete actions. He helps them unlock the full potential and productivity of their most valuable asset—their people. Serving as a catalyst, he captivates audiences, motivating them to embrace new perspectives, instigating transformative change, and enabling them to surpass previous limits.

Russell’s blend of inspirational and analytical insights propels organizations forward, empowering them to make giant strides. Don’t miss the opportunity to have Russell, the esteemed career speaker, share his expertise and guide your organization to new heights. Contact us today to secure his services for your next event.

Contact Great British Speakers today to book HR, employment and career speaker Russell Beck for your next corporate event.

Here’s the full transcript of career speaker Russell Beck’s chat with Jane Farnham of Great British Speakers

00:00:08:15 – 00:00:16:13
Jane Farnham
Hi, I’m Jane Farnham, and I’m here today chatting to our expert on careers, employment and the wonderful world of work. It’s career speaker Russell Beck. Good morning, Russell.

00:00:16:38 – 00:00:19:04

Russell Beck

Hi, Jane. I hope you’re well, and thanks for having me today.

00:00:19:19 – 00:00:44:56
Jane Farnham
Oh, it’s lovely to speak to you. Now, by way of introduction, Russell’s experience includes being the global head of consulting for a People in Talent Strategy organisation, managing director of recruitment outsourcing, and also European head of talent for Yahoo! During his career, he has consulted with and supported leadership teams of companies of all sizes from SMEs, FTSE 100, and Fortune 500 organizations.
Russell – There are a few issues around the subject of work at the moment, of course, but firstly, let’s discuss what’s become known as the great resignation. Primarily, of course, as a result of COVID and the work from home guidance. So just give us some background to how big a deal this actually is for businesses.

00:01:02:06 – 00:01:31:42

Russell Beck

I think, thanks, Jane. I think it’s a massive deal. You only have to look at news headlines to see that the impact is real and causing some real problems. Ultimately, unemployment has been falling. People, therefore, have a choice. And the interesting comment on the great resignation is not, is it happening? But why did it take so long to happen? Because even before the pandemic, unemployment was at a 44 year low.

00:01:31:53 – 00:01:50:51

Russell Beck

And ultimately, and really simplistically, what that means is people have a choice. Anyone who has talent, who has a skill, is in demand, and they can choose who they work for. And with the advent of working from home being accepted, they can choose where they work for, from as well.

00:01:51:43 – 00:01:56:56
Jane Farnham
So what are some of the wide spectrum of effects due to this reset that we are actually seeing?

00:01:57:46 – 00:02:26:04

Russell Beck

I think the effects are quite profound in challenging organizations, how they think about work. It is a seller’s choice. If I have the talent I can choose, I am in demand and I can go and work wherever and however I want. So you’ll see tenure being reduced. People can take the job, see if they like it, and if they do, fantastic.

00:02:26:22 – 00:02:55:08

Russell Beck

And if they don’t, go somewhere else. And you’re seeing companies respond in classic ways. I think even last week, with this video recording, in the last week Pret increased their pay to £10 an hour, following fast on the footsteps of Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Morrisons et al, and pay absolutely motivates. But it’s an unsustainable solution because of course now the entry level for those roles is £10 an hour.

00:02:55:08 – 00:03:11:58

Russell Beck

So you’ve undifferentiated. And those jobs are the same as they were before. You’re just paying more. So the impact is quite hard and brutal. How do you attract and retain the staff that you need in order to survive and grow as an organization?

00:03:13:31 – 00:03:29:45
Jane Farnham
Now, I can think of many organizations where this could become a matter of success, particularly for companies who are coming in and finding their feet and but also a matter of complete failure entirely for maybe some larger corporations.

00:03:30:03 – 00:04:01:51

Russell Beck

Absolutely. And you’re seeing, already we saw news stories of the lack of haulage drivers and therefore is Christmas going to be cancelled. And there’s bigger impacts playing out there and Brexit et al. and so forth. We’re seeing shortage of skills in pretty much everything. In fact, interestingly, just as COVID hit, I did a lot of research on skills shortages in the UK and I looked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s list that if you have certain skills you can be accelerated and gainwork visas and permits, etc..

00:04:02:15 – 00:04:36:59

Russell Beck

Now I think maybe it’s 113 skills that were listed, and number 113 was librarian. If you consider what happened, you know, absolutely no disrespect at all meant to that role, but I don’t think anyone would have considered that the librarian, librarians would be in such short supply that you get accelerated visas to do it. And now, of course, you’ve got any role in digital, in technology, in healthcare, in services, in pickers and packers, in hospitality and so on and so forth.

00:04:37:19 – 00:05:08:36

Russell Beck

And so it is a life and death approach for organizations. If you need people to do things, then you have a challenge. And of course, the interesting conundrum with automation that sits in the background, it is an obvious response to this. If I can’t get people to do it, automate it. But of course, as you automate, the people you have left become more and more important to you and everyone’s trying to automate.

00:05:09:32 – 00:05:15:21

Russell Beck

So how do you attract, retain and engage the workforce to survive?

00:05:16:53 – 00:05:26:36
Jane Farnham
The million dollar question. So where does your expertise come in and how can you help an organization navigate its way through this tumultuous time?

00:05:27:55 – 00:05:52:06

Russell Beck

I think you pay motivates, of course. I’d love to get a pay rise, pay absolutely motivates. But if organizations, I suggest if organizations only focus on pay, you make work transactional. Now, if I’m going to sell 40 hours of my team to someone, then the only question left is how much? What is that worth to you?

00:05:52:39 – 00:06:10:26

Russell Beck

And so it’s a transactional relationship. Increasingly, and I think is what this COVID has caused a great change in how people view lots of aspects of their lives. Why do I live in a city? Why do I commute? Why don’t I go and live by the sea, do I have a better quality of life? Do I need a big house?

00:06:10:28 – 00:06:33:48

Russell Beck

All of those aspects come into play, and that’s causing us to think about work differently. And I think employees increasingly want to move from a transaction to an interaction. So they want work that is meaningful. There’s a point to it. There’s a cause that has a career, that has a community, that has culture. And we call these the four C’s.

00:06:34:08 – 00:06:46:15

Russell Beck

And this is where if you focus in these areas is how businesses, how leaders can build businesses that become sustainable and where people actually want to work.

00:06:48:05 – 00:07:06:54
Jane Farnham
Well, that’s a lovely way of looking at it. But believe it or not, I know the audience may not believe me now, but there are other issues which aren’t COVID related. Yes, they do exist. And we’re talking, probably about the generational approach to work, which I know you have a, you know, a great name for, what do you call it.

00:07:07:40 – 00:07:17:42

Russell Beck

The generation game, because that phrase will resonate with a cohort of the audience and a cohort of the audience will go, what does that mean?

00:07:18:05 – 00:07:18:50
Jane Farnham
What do you mean?

00:07:19:28 – 00:07:26:04

Russell Beck

And in a microcosm, that’s it. Because many of the response is wrong or right. 

00:07:27:19 – 00:07:41:45
Jane Farnham
It’s different. And we, you know, we all have different experiences. So how well are employers then, prepared for five generations in the workplace simultaneously? And can you name all five generations?

00:07:43:03 – 00:08:07:33

Russell Beck

The oldest end you have veterans pre 1945, you knew baby boomers, Gen X of which I am one. Although a little bit too close to the baby boomer to be comfortable for my liking. We then have the millennials also called Gen Y broadly interchangeable, millennials is an American term, and then Gen Z, the youngest generation under 25. I suggest the sixth generation, the next one.

00:08:07:33 – 00:08:25:19

Russell Beck

My daughter’s generation will probably be called Gen C, the obvious C being COVID and the second pretty obvious one being climate, because I think those are the two factors that have so heavily influenced that generation in the last two years and will continue to going forward.

00:08:25:19 – 00:08:37:04
Jane Farnham
So are some companies not recognizing the changing? What does it mean to have, you know five generations in the workplace? How does that, how does that cause problems? How can that present?

00:08:37:53 – 00:08:38:18

Russell Beck

Yeah, but.

00:08:38:28 – 00:08:41:52
Jane Farnham
Also not just problems. What are the opportunities that arise from that?

00:08:41:52 – 00:09:12:13

Russell Beck

And that’s the killer point because this isn’t wrong or right. As I said earlier, it is, and actually you need to understand the generations for some quite simple points. You know, they are our customers, they are our colleagues, they are our friends, There are relatives. So if we don’t understand or appreciate the difference, then actually how are you going to sell or motivate or engage or work with people?

00:09:13:16 – 00:09:43:37

Russell Beck

So some fundamental aspects therefore you need to consider. And the generations are different. We’ve lived through different experiences and of course you can spend a long time on this and I do, a simple one is communication. The baby boomers came into the workplace with typewriters. Yeah, so they’re very used to writing formally, to writing letters. Therefore it’s lengthy.

00:09:43:57 – 00:10:09:27

Russell Beck

It’s their, really long, stick it in the snail mail. Forget about it. Younger generations, it’s 140 characters and it’s now, it’s now, now, now, with instantaneous gratification. Take a photo of your lunch, stick it on Instagram. Don’t take a bite until you’ve had three likes. Yeah, that’s. And so younger generations will want feedback now, what’s going on here?

00:10:09:34 – 00:10:24:18

Russell Beck

How am I doing? What’s happening? Tell me, tell me, tell me. And baby boomers, veterans will be going, you want to know how you’re doing? Come back next January when the annual reviews are out, I’ve done it for brevity. But that’s an example of how.

00:10:25:28 – 00:10:35:27
Jane Farnham
Yeah. So how then do you help businesses create focus and direction to use these differences in a successful way?

00:10:36:41 – 00:11:08:16

Russell Beck

We use it, how we help is in a couple of ways and actually knowledge is useful, understanding what it is, having, being inspired and challenged as to the problem and potential ways of solving it are useful, but knowledge is never enough. And our company name, ImagineThinkDo, was very consciously chosen, helping you imagine what’s going on, how we think through the possibilities.

00:11:08:33 – 00:11:33:52

Russell Beck

But unless you take action, unless you do something, it actually, nice chat, nice talk. And so on. So actually helping organizations is first of all to realize that there is challenges and opportunities because the generations, the great resignation, all of these things bringing meaning purpose, all of those can bring massive opportunities for companies and organizations to differentiate themselves.

00:11:34:31 – 00:12:02:33

Russell Beck

So understanding it first of all, and then we can work with organizations to help them look at how they can embed that knowledge, how they can apply those learnings, and help them create organizations where people want to work, where they enjoy working, where they can be authentic to themselves and who and how they are, and deliver.

00:12:02:33 – 00:12:20:58
Jane Farnham
So looking at the issues, providing solutions that bring about a positive change so lots of great takeaways, I would imagine, for businesses when they invite you to come to talk to them. What does your ideal speaking booking look like Russell?

00:12:20:58 – 00:12:54:50

Russell Beck

I mean, the ideal one would be it’s, it’s great to obviously engage with the audience and impart ideas and knowledge, but the real ones are where we have an impact, where we create a step change for the audience, where we help the audience get to that aha, that realization moment that causes them to do something, to take action.

00:12:55:53 – 00:13:17:07

Russell Beck

As I say, knowledge is not enough, it’s the application of the knowledge. Unless we inspire or challenge or help organizations to apply the knowledge then we haven’t really done our job. This is what motivates you to do that. It was lovely that chap we got. So that’s the gigs that we really love doing.

00:13:17:43 – 00:13:41:27
Jane Farnham
The gigs that give you a bit of a buzz. So without giving too much away, are you able to share with us an example of a technique or something that can ensure that the business can take away and impart this change within the organization. Have you seen a, have you seen a business, an example of one key thing that really is great for companies to take on board?

00:13:41:27 – 00:14:19:16

Russell Beck

I think one thing to take on board is I’m a firm believer that people are the USP of any organization. You can have all the tech you want, but without the people to enable it and manage it, deliver it and make use of it, then it’s really a bit moot. On one level. I think the, the key is people are the differentiator and even pre-COVID, the World Economic Forum was saying that your people strategy is the most important part of your business strategy.

00:14:19:42 – 00:14:33:27

Russell Beck

And that’s 2019, today in the context of what we’ve been talking about, the great resignation and so on and so forth, that is truer than ever because it’s the people that make the difference.

00:14:34:44 – 00:14:49:01
Jane Farnham
So invest in your people. So talking about something, you know, just looking at the future, what excites you the most about all of the disruption that we’re seeing now? What, what’s the most exciting thing that comes from that or could come from.

00:14:49:01 – 00:15:14:20

Russell Beck

That most exciting thing for me is the opportunity. I think it’s the, the opportunities for individuals because now it’s accepted. We can work from home. We can pretty much work from everywhere. I think two years ago we would never allowed that. And that’s a classic generational trait and you can explain why. You can explain why baby boomers went [gasp]You’re working from home? Deary me, you’ve got to be in the office.

00:15:14:20 – 00:15:48:50

Russell Beck

And that links to the unemployment curve when they joined in the late seventies. So that opportunity for people to be and find what motivates them is really interesting. And I think therefore the response for organizations to create environments and cultures that really differentiates them is really interesting. And I think that’s where I think the future will be made and defined.

00:15:49:10 – 00:16:08:13

Russell Beck

Organizations knowing really what they are, what their offer is, and differentiating themselves to the extent that you don’t want everyone to work for you, you want the people who love what your offer is and what you do to work for you. That’s it.

00:16:09:37 – 00:16:20:04
Jane Farnham
So the key takeaway is that lots of opportunities moving forward if you take advantage of them. Well, Russell, it’s been so insightful chatting to you today. Thank you so much for your time.

00:16:20:31 – 00:16:22:25

Russell Beck

Absolute pleasure. Thank you, Jane and keep safe.

00:16:22:53 – 00:16:35:16
Jane Farnham
And if you’d like to book career speaker Russell to make a real change at your event, then simply contact myself or Steve at Great British Speakers on 01753439289 or you can email bookings at bookings@greatbritishtalent.com.

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Russell Beck, HR, employment and career speaker at Great British Speakers

Russell Beck, HR, employment and career speaker at Great British Speakers

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