Healthy Business

      Talking about the present, rather than the future of work - Interview with Hugo Perrier

      Talking about the present, rather than the future of work - Interview with Hugo Perrier
      Aurelie Fliedel
      Aurelie FliedelChief marketing officer
      Updated on
      12 October 2023
      Aurelie Fliedel
      Aurelie FliedelChief marketing officer
      Updated on
      12 October 2023
      Share this article

      Hugo Perrier has been working in HR for more than 10 years and is currently the Chief People Officer of Partoo, after having worked in large groups and tech companies. Passionate about the subject of training, he works on the implementation of innovative systems, such as the transmission of knowledge between employees. He is inspired by marketing techniques to create a differentiating employer brand and ensure a good "culture fit" with employees. This approach also helps him to go against the grain of "future of work" issues and to anticipate future changes.

      On the program: 

      • "The company must be proactive in terms of training."

      • Encourage employees to become trainers

      • Drawing on marketing methods for HR

      • "Having a differentiating, even segmenting, corporate culture is an asset."

      • "The "future of work" is prepared in our employee satisfaction surveys

      "The company must be proactive in terms of training."

      Aurélie Fliedel: Hello Hugo! To begin with, can you present your background? What are the events or people that have particularly inspired your vision of HR?

      Hugo Perrier : Hello Aurélie. Initially, I had in mind to become a conference interpreter. Technically, I am a certified translator and interpreter. I did a lot of internships that allowed me to discover HR, on the strategic side. I continued on this path and then studied labor law. 

      During my first job at L'Oréal, I met Anne-Clémence Sire. She was a very important manager for me. She worked a lot on the launch of the My Learning platform within the group. It was not a simple e-learning platform, where knowledge is shared in an impersonal way, but a very innovative solution based on blended learning. The idea was to modernize professional training by offering learning, but also experiences, according to the employees.

      We were only at the beginning of personalized training and the learning of transversal skills. It was very new to think that we could adapt training to the experiences and desires of our employees. 

      Thanks to this first experience, I understood that, in order to guarantee the good circulation of knowledge and to make employees progress, it was above all necessary to make them actors and to personalize the training as much as possible. 

      A.F: How do you apply these teachings to your current work?

      H.P : These experiences still inspire me today in many ways, especially on how knowledge should circulate within an organization and how it should be remembered.

      In my current company, one of the main challenges is to prioritize the continuous flow of new information. We are in a scaling phase where information is increasingly abundant for employees. To be honest, it's sometimes hard to keep up! 

      This brings me back to that first thought 13 years ago: how do you provide good granularity in the information? How do you guarantee each employee access to a common knowledge base and allow them to dig into the most relevant topics? 

      I think that everyone should be free to choose their own training, but the company must be proactive. We must be able to offer specific training to our employees because certain skills are (or will soon become) indispensable. 

      Also, an effort should be made to customize the training to be as close as possible to the needs. Not everyone needs to be an expert, but a basic knowledge may be necessary.

      A.F: In your opinion, how can the company facilitate and accelerate employee training?

      H.P : We absolutely have to talk about memorization. L'Oréal placed a great deal of emphasis on the transmission of knowledge between employees, the best way to ensure that learning is well remembered.

      I believe that employees who are experts in a field should be able to train their colleagues if they wish. My job is to find experts internally or, if we don't have any within the company, to look for them externally. 

      I also have to anticipate the future because I have to identify employees who are likely to become experts and support them so that they can become trainers in their turn. These are subjects that I am passionate about. 

      Encourage employees to become trainers

      A.F: How do you train your employees to become trainers?

      H.P : I'll use the example of L'Oréal again, which invested a lot in this type of program. 

      Creating training modules, leading a session, creating interaction... These are things that can be learned! We therefore offered coaching in this sense to employees who wanted it. Even though the Learning team obviously remained in support of organizational issues, the objective was really to give the keys to training to these internal experts. 

      After training them, the challenge was to turn these employees into ambassadors for the program. This created a virtuous circle: employees who had become trainers talked about the program, which in turn encouraged other employees to try it. 

      I still think about it a lot today. If L'Oréal was able to do it, it should make us ask ourselves as scale-ups: how do we set up this kind of program? How do we encourage our own employees to train our teams?

      A.F: Do you think that this approach can be an answer to the current budget cuts that we can see on training subjects?

      H.P : Yes, absolutely! I was recently talking with other HR managers about the budgets allocated to training in 2023. 

      Last year was a complicated one for many companies and caution is still the order of the day. All HR managers are obsessed with talent retention and their budgets. 

      This year, I've decided not to look at training through a budgetary lens. I prefer to rely on the bandwidth of the company's managers and my team to determine the time needed for our training efforts.

      This doesn't mean that I don't have a training budget, but instead of just thinking about expenses, I found it interesting to ask these questions: How many employees will I need to follow my training objectives? How much time will they need?

      I'm just at the beginning of this thought process, see how it evolves in the coming months! 

      A.F: Have you already identified some "champion" trainers at Partoo? How do you identify them?

      H.P : We are still in the early stages of development, but we have already identified a few champions who will be able to train our employees in management and business skills. 

      I set up a similar system at Cheerz, my previous company. We started with the needs expressed by the employees during the annual interviews, and then we looked for internal ambassadors.

      At one point, several teams expressed a desire to learn about agile methods. We identified an internal person who was very familiar with this subject, curious and willing to share knowledge. After discussing it with her manager, we discussed it with her to gauge her motivation and the time she was willing to devote to this project. This person was then able to train our teams with workshops that were very appreciated. 

      A.F: Do you give a "compensation" to the employees who invest in this type of program?

      H.P : At Cheerz, when an employee was very involved in training his peers, we suggested that he add a "training" objective to his individual performance indicators. This way, we could follow their progress and objectify them on work that was outside their traditional scope.  

      Drawing on marketing methods for HR

      A.F: What are the major HR trends that you are currently seeing? How are they challenges for you?

      H.P : In 2022, I saw that everyone was talking about "Talent Acquisition". One of the reasons for this was the strong acceleration of tech companies after the COVID-19 crisis. This year, the economic context is pushing companies to be more cautious and to reduce hiring. This is what emerges from a study conducted by Lattice on the priority topics for HR departments in 2023. 

      Instead of seeing it as a constraint, I see it as a real opportunity. Our company has the chance to open new positions this year, which is not the case for all tech companies. So we have a lot to live up to!

      Usually, we struggle because the industry is very competitive in terms of talent acquisition. So this year we are going to redouble our efforts in terms of Talent Acquisition to differentiate ourselves. 

      A.F: Why did you make this choice against the current?

      H.P. : I have noticed the tendency of HR to compensate for the hiring freeze by focusing heavily on retention and development programs. This makes sense, but I am convinced that attracting new people must be an ongoing process for all companies.

      The challenge will be to attract new candidates in an organic way. I think it's interesting to learn from marketing teams who invest a lot in employer branding during loyalty campaigns.

      For me, it is because of this philosophy and our employer branding efforts that we are able to attract candidates "naturally". 

      "Having a differentiating, even segmenting, corporate culture is an asset."

      A.F: On this point, how do you create a good employer brand?

      H.P : First of all, authenticity. The culture conveyed must above all be true for our employees who live it. Of course, we can invoke "aspirational" notions, but they must never encroach on the day-to-day life of our company. In this way, we can be sure that the people we recruit know what to expect when they join us, no matter how long they work for Partoo. 

      To do this, I worked a lot on Partoo's"employee value proposition" . It is a document that tells us about our activity, our values and how they translate into reality, the skills we are looking for, the opportunities we offer our employees (internal mobility, international...), our commitments...

      Even if we are sometimes "segmenting", I also think that having a differentiating corporate culture is an asset. It makes us more attractive and attracts candidates. For example, our culture is very team-oriented, which may not suit people who prefer to work more independently. This is a criterion that allows us to identify the talents that will feel good at Partoo.

      Finally, I believe that the company culture must be present at all levels of the company to be truly useful. The "employee value proposition" must be present everywhere: from our first exchanges with candidates, in the job offers published on Welcome to the Jungle, on our website, in our integration process, in our team events, in our office life... It's very important because the company culture allows us to talk about ourselves and to understand each other as a group.

      A.F: How did you articulate your corporate culture with your corporate mission at Cheerz and Partoo?

      H.P : Linking culture and corporate mission is an obsession for me! 

      At Cheerz, the link was quite simple. The entire corporate culture was built around the smile because the company accompanies its customers in moments of emotion, which they want to immortalize. In concrete terms, we translated this notion of "giving a smile" that was constantly recurring into a corporate value: enthusiasm. 

      Contrary to what one might think, enthusiasm can be a very professional value, especially in the transformation of difficulties into opportunities or in the ability of a manager to motivate his team before looking at the OKRs for example. It really made sense with the company's business. 

      At Partoo, our mission is to bring merchants and administrations closer to their end customers. These actors need to be in constant contact with their customers through information sharing, interactions via reviews and messages... Our goal is to make things that seem very distant, very clear and close to the consumer.

      It spoke to me immediately as an HR person! The brief for my role at Partoo was very clear: how do we create and maintain trusting relationships between the HR function and employees in all our actions? 

      A.F: Could you tell us about mistakes that have been formative for you?

      H.P : In the recruitment phase, I am very attached to diversity and culture fit. And, sometimes, reconciling the two is a real challenge. 

      I can think of two times when I recruited people who were out of step with our culture but whose personalities could really bring something to the company. I took this gamble because I believe that the company culture is strengthened when it is challenged.

      In the case of these two people, it was a failure. I think I didn't make it clear to them at the beginning: when you join us, you have to respect a contract and really want to be part of a collective adventure. Unfortunately, there was a dissonance because these people were not ready to invest in our culture. If I had been clearer, the outcome might have been different. 

      This raises a question that often comes up in conversations between HR: how to unify the uses in the company, while allowing everyone to keep their individuality? 

      Another mistake I can share is the development of our corporate culture at Cheerz. With one of the two founders, we were the only ones working on it for efficiency reasons. However, when we presented it to the employees, even though they agreed with 90% of the content, we realized that they were not yet full sponsors. What we had gained in efficiency, we had lost in buy-in. 

      So we reworked it, this time in co-construction. We organized interviews, workshops, internal surveys... That's when the employees really started to adhere to the proposed corporate culture. I learned that you can't impose values on employees without including them in the construction process.

      "The "future of work" is prepared in our employee satisfaction surveys

      A.F: How do you see the future changes brought by the "future of work" at Partoo?

      H.P : I prefer to talk about the "present of work" rather than the "future of work" ! I am aware that this is not very "sexy", but for me, the HR function must above all be at the service of others today, not tomorrow. That's why I do this job. 

      Sometimes I feel like we forget this notion of "serving our people, in the noble sense of the word". I tell my team this every day. HR must allow the organization to grow in a healthy way, to support managers and employees who must feel good to work well. 

      We need to identify all the weak signals, bring them up and provide answers according to their priority. This is how we will truly help our employees.

      Coming back to the "future of work", I love anticipating trends, but our employees are already telling us what will impact them tomorrow. So I look very carefully at the results of our internal surveys and our NPS, which I use as a compass. If I need more details on a particular point, I do workshops or interviews with employees. 

      For example, I regularly measure employee satisfaction with telecommuting. If I see that it is not progressing for several months, I think about the actions to be taken to improve it. This is where the "future of work " is being prepared, in my opinion. 

      Prior to COVID-19, our employees were asking for more telecommuting via surveys. Now we know how much telework is part of our lives! For me, this is proof that we can anticipate future changes by listening more carefully to employees.

      To analyze the data at my disposal, I use Reflect: a data studio that aggregates data from several HRIS (Human Resources Management Information System). It allows me to create dashboards that help me make decisions.

      My action plan is therefore based on surveys and our HR data, not on "future of work " studies, which are sometimes very interesting, but which are often limited to American organizations with a certain size and corporate culture.

      To be right, you have to look at what is happening in your own organization, because each company has a different history and specific needs.

      Published on 28/02/2023

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