Workforce of the Future with Hana Maalla

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Our guest, Hana Maalla is a seasoned human resource professional with a career spanning both the private and the public sectors, with a particular emphasis in the public sector workforce. 

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Introducing Hana Maalla

Kath Hume: 

Hana Maalla is a seasoned human resource professional with a career spanning both the private and the public sectors, with a particular emphasis in the public sector workforce. With a wealth of experience in recruitment and talent management, Hana strives to understand the intricacies and challenges of finding and retaining top talent. One of the hallmarks of Hannah’s approach is a visionary mindset, striving to think outside the box and envision the recruitment landscape of the future. Hannah’s creative and forward thinking nature asks for solutions that go beyond traditional recruitment practices. With a deep-rooted desire to transform the recruitment space, she constantly seeks opportunities to challenge the status quo and introduce new ideas. Hana firmly believes that the key to a thriving organisation lies in talent management, not only ensuring the right individuals are placed in the right roles, but that sufficient executive buy-in, creativity, flexibility and investment is necessary. Hana, welcome to the Reimagined Workforce podcast.

Hana Maalla: 

Thank you, Kath. Thanks so much for this and for your intro.

Kath Hume: 

I’m really glad that we’ve finally made this connection. I’ve been watching you for a very long time on LinkedIn and thinking I’d love to have Hana on the podcast and it’s great that we’re finally here.

Hana Maalla: 

Yeah, I’m happy to be here, thanks.

Kath Hume: 

So could I get you to start by providing a bit of context around what your career has been to date and what you’re currently doing, please?

 

Hana’s career journey to date

Hana Maalla: 

Yeah, so I feel like I’ve been on a really traditional kind of career projection. I went to uni, I finished, I was working in the private sector for a few years in the HR recruitment type space. So I was in an entry-level scheduling administrative type role and soon after that I entered the public sector. So most of my career is across the New South Wales public sector and I entered in an entry-level recruitment role and that’s really where my love for recruitment came in. So I was supporting other recruiters in a team and really just progressed from there, so really step-by-step into a team member, lateral movements within the same organisation and then eventually leading that team. I re-entered the private sector overseas. For a short period of time. I went to the UK workforce and did some more agency-type recruitment, but came home because of COVID, like a lot of people, and re-entered the public sector. Once I got back home and I had a really big achievement at that point in time when I returned I had a team and we led the resourcing for the COVID Contact Chasing Centre workforce in Sydney, which was a big achievement for us. There was a lot of work done but we were really proud of ourselves and of course, everyone who worked there. And then I just pivoted more recently, over the last few years, into a different agency and my work now is more HR generalist, but I do still kind of dip my toes into that talent management space because I’m so passionate about it. So, yeah, a really really traditional approach to my career to date and, yeah, I’m still there.

Kath Hume: 

What I really love about your posts on LinkedIn is that it really challenged my thinking, and they’re very thought-provoking. So I’m interested to know what inspires you to do that and what outcomes you’re trying to achieve from it.

 

The inspiration behind #hanastips

Hana Maalla: 

Yeah. So I guess what inspired me was that in the midst of my career, when I was kind of moving between recruitment and more generalist HR, as a lot of people might know, there’s a lot of policies and a lot of practices and legislation that kind of sits behind the work that we do, and I just found myself a little bit stuck in reading between the lines because, of course, the policies and the practices they’re there to guide you and keep you on a good path. But I just struggled a little bit with understanding boundaries and where to push them. And because every single situation is unique, so people are different, the situation is not going to be black and white. I felt that I really struggled with that and anytime I kind of looked for something or reached out for other things, there wasn’t a lot available. Sometimes it does come down to a bit of confidence. You know, reaching out to others in the workforce. So I felt that, using #hanastips on my LinkedIn posts, I hope that it shares knowledge with others and I feel that I really enjoy the collaboration and just giving others my opinion. You know, having a healthy debate and so forth. I think in 2024, I’ve really tried to amend that a little bit to make it more about predicting trends, because I do really feel strongly about that. I think we’ll get into that a little bit later. But yeah, basically the outcome is to share knowledge with others. You know, have a healthy debate, get some of the trends that I predict to come out there month to month I’ve been doing that and yeah, it’s just really a conversation starter.

Kath Hume: 

And I do love those trends, and there was one that you said the other day and I won’t jump into it too quickly. Because I think you might discuss it later but just around that the resume is dead and that whole concept is going to be quite mind boggling for people and to understand alright. So if that’s the case, then what is going to replace that? So I’ll be interested to explore that with you. But how do you think the concept of workforce has changed in recent years and what impact do you think that’s having on the recruitment process?

 

The changing concept of the workforce

Hana Maalla: 

So Kath, just in that last question I was telling you how traditional my approach to my career was, and really that comes from, for me, at least the last 10 to 15 years of the workforce is very traditional. So what that means is there was full-time work, part-time work, you were a frontline worker, a corporate worker, maybe, if you were lucky, you were a consultant or a contractor. And so over the last few years, because of a variety of influences, people are taking a different approach. 

So the workforce is way more agile, more flexible, more creative. There’s a variety of work, so all of the ones that I just mentioned. But now there’s fractional employment. There’s the gig economy. There’s remote workers. There’s just a whole range, job sharing. There’s so many things that people would have never really where. It was like a unicorn. It’s becoming way more popular these days, or way more common. At least you had someone on your podcast, I think, a couple of episodes ago. 

 

The increasing need for project work

I think it’s Kade Brown from RMIT, and when you asked him about what his reimagined workforce looked like, he said you know, the future of work is projects, and I totally agree, and it’s not about taking away the work that you do. It’s just that everything really should be treated as a project. So if you’re in talent management or you’re a recruiter, when you get a job to fill, that’s a campaign. You know that’s a mini project. You need to apply different things to that one recruitment process, I guess. So I think it’s changed dramatically. Diversity and inclusion is huge. AI is here. That’s going to really change the way we do things. Organisations and companies they’re marketing themselves like retailers. It was never like that before. You just wanted a job. You wanted to stay there forever. You wanted to retire,. You wanted all the entitlements. Where now people are just popping in and out of your industry. Granted that, not everywhere that could happen, but I think it’s definitely the future and it’s definitely going to impact the way we look for people.

 

Multi-stage careers

Kath Hume: 

One of the episodes I did in 2022 was with Alison Hernandez, and she works for HSM Advisory. And Linda Gratton, who is the CEO of that organisation, has written a book about the 100 year life. She talks about that, we now have multi-stage careers. So we’ve got phases where we will work for an organisation for a period of time and that might be in many ways that you’ve mentioned there. But then we might go on a sabbatical or we might change careers. But I think that project philosophy that you’re speaking about is coming through on both sides. So both the organisations need it, because change it is happening at a rapid pace and it’s accelerating all the time. So it doesn’t make sense very often to put someone into a role now and think that they’re going to be there for an extended period of time. So I really love what you’re saying and that whole concept of portfolio careers. And what I’m interested in and this is going a little bit off script but how we marry the individual need with the organisational need in those situations. Have you got any ideas about that?

Hana Maalla: 

Yeah, look, I’ve been thinking about it a lot because sometimes what I find, especially these days, everyone’s content creating, everyone’s putting trends out. There’s a lot of things going on, and it is difficult. It’s a challenge to apply individual needs to business needs. But what is happening now is individuals are looking for businesses who align with what they’re looking for. So, although there’s a lot of trends, it doesn’t mean that every trend applies to you. You really have to consider the internal and external factors, really engage that within your business or as a candidate, what you’re looking for. And so it’s not a one size fits all, and it’s never going to be, and that’s the reason that it needs to be flexible and agile and you need to adapt a little bit differently because you’re dealing with people and people change all the time and you need to get on board with that. That’s just the way it works.

Kath Hume: 

Yeah, and I really like that you called out the creativity and flexibility in your bio, because I do think that the changes in people are quick and rapid. I just think of what I wanted earlier in my career, compared to then, what I wanted when I had young children, to now what I’m doing, now that my kids are almost grown and don’t need me so much anymore. So you’re just moving and having the empathy and understanding and listening strategies to know what that workforce is seeking and then marrying it up with the organisational strategies and plans. So one of the things we’re going to talk about is this whole concept of hybrid working, remote working, the gig economy. Can you tell us your thoughts? Because I know this is quite it’s quite not necessarily controversial, but people are quite emotive about these conversations, so I’m really interested to hear what you’re thinking is on that.

 

Hana’s thoughts on the changing nature of work

Hana Maalla: 

Yeah, I think sometimes we fight it and it’s just one of those things that it doesn’t have to apply to you. Like I said, it doesn’t have to. You should be looking for what you want and companies. There’s going to be businesses out there that provide that to you. But what remote work and hybrid work in the gig economy does is it opens up that talent pool. There’s a global talent pool. There’s a lot more talent to choose from. You just need to kind of know where to look for it. The way that it impacts the way we kind of interact or find candidates that way or evaluate them. It’s not the traditional job board anymore, so it’s online platforms, it’s LinkedIn, it’s other social media avenues where you need to understand what role you’re trying to fill. And I think if I will give like a really simple hypothetical. A s a recruiter, internal agency doesn’t matter. You might have a discovery call or you might receive a brief to fill a vacancy and it could be a web developer making this much money. This is what I think I’m looking for. Once someone like me grabs that, we should be strategising right away. And all of the options should be on the table, even if you think it’s too far fetched. You need to start with something. So, okay, I’m looking for a web developer. Maybe the research is telling me that they prefer to work in isolation or remote. Or they like to stay home more. They don’t want to be in the office. So why am I going out there telling them that they need to be in the office five days a week? Not every job is going to be this way, but you really need to understand the factors that are infiltrating your industry at that moment in time. If you’re really looking for good talent, if that’s truly what you’re trying to do, you need to make sure that you’re ticking off all boxes on the other side of remote and gig economy and I think this might be where some of that anxiety comes into play you know you still have internal staff. So what’s your strategy with re-skilling, redeploying? I personally think redeployment is going to be normal. It’s not going to be something that is just before you’re made redundant. You know what I mean. It’s the way we’re going to be working, because if we think that projects are the future, will projects end, and so when am I going to put my talent. How am I going to complement their strengths? How am I going to develop their skill sets? So it’s a holistic approach and I think that that’s what I really try to get out there. There’s processes, like I said up front, there’s processes, there’s practices as legislation that puts you on a path. B ut it’s those factors where you need to be creative and strategic and proactive. So, yeah, it’s exciting. I mean I can understand where some of the anxiety comes from, for sure, but I think it’s as a candidate, it gives me a lot more opportunity and as a business, it allows me to adapt to what’s going on. And if I’m adapting, I’m creating that behavior of being agile. So I think it’s win win all round. You just need to figure out what’s right for you.

Kath Hume: 

I really like the call out about workforce redeployment that you made and I think that that concept that you’ve already got a workforce and that you can shape and shift that to achieve what you need and I think that really heightens that need for that strategic workforce planning that looks at what are the things that are happening in our environment? Where are we wanting to take this organisation? What workforce have we got now? What workforce do we need in the future? What are all the workforce strategies that we’ve got available to us to manipulate what we’ve got in a way that meets that mutual need between the individual and the organisation? And I also think one of the things you mentioned there about is understanding what you’re looking for, so not having you on niche. I know, as a small business owner, it’s all about finding niche, finding niche but I think we probably need to start to talk to people about that as well around how do you promote yourself and what’s your identity? What are you really wanting to progress with in your career, rather than being a bit scattergun and trying to just go with what opportunities become available? But I do think the more we do strategic workforce planning, the more those two will marry up a little bit.

 

Marrying individual preference and organisational needs

Hana Maalla: 

Yeah, and there’s something for everyone. Some people they’re not looking for redeployment, some people are not looking to reskill, and I think it’s also keeping that in mind, not pushing too many things on people who might not want it.

Kath Hume: 

Yeah, I can’t remember who I talked to, but I know it was Rebecca Leon’s episode around the enrolled nurse and she was saying that about the enrolled nurse. There’s a registered nurse in Australia and lots other countries countries have this. So that’s your qualified registered person. And then you’ve got an enrolled nurse who doesn’t have their authorisation to, in most cases, give medication and there’s things that they’re not able to do. But the enrolled nurse is a career in its own right and the enrolled nurse often gets the sense that people think that they’re an enrolled nurse because they want to become a registered nurse at some point. And that leads to a lot of frustration for them because they want to be seen for who they are and the value that they add, without feeling that they haven’t quite made it to that upper echelon of registered nurse. I think it’s really important what you’re saying is understanding who you’ve got, what they want to do and not assuming that everybody wants to climb the career ladder and that’s actually a good thing because they can just be really good technical specialists at what they’re doing.

 

Redeploying people to retain organisational knowledge

Hana Maalla: 

Yeah, and I think in saying that, there’s been historically a huge emphasis on corporate knowledge and if we’re talking about an evolving workforce and people moving around a lot, that’s going to get a bit lost. So people like that are your anchors, right, they want to stay there, they’re happy, that’s your corporate knowledge, that’s what you’re investing in. So it just goes back to just strategy knowing what you’re doing, knowing who you’ve got, who you are. Yeah, it’s really interesting.

Kath Hume: 

Yeah, and all those relationships in the workforce that come with that as well. Really critical, that’s right. What do you see the critical problems for the workforce at the moment for recruiters and how do you think that’s going to pan out over the next, say, 10 years?

Hana Maalla: 

I think at the moment, in my opinion, the industry is very turbulent. It’s been a candidate market. I t’s been an employer market. It’s been a hybrid workforce. It’s been a remote workforce. There’s so many changes and I think that’s really preparing us for the future. It’s preparing us to be more proactive, because it’s likely that these changes will just continue because, like I said, you’re dealing with people and you’re also dealing with internal and external factors. If you’re not conscious about what affects you, you’re going to be in real problems, right? So a couple of things I think over the next decade that you know they’re here as well, some of them might already be here is the skill shortage. So what are we going to do about the skill shortage? What does that even mean? I think some people think that it’s just that I don’t have digital skills or, you know, people need communication skills because everything’s online, etc. But I think it’s beyond that. I think it’s a fact that, across the world, half of our population is going to retire over the next 10 to 20 years. So what are we doing to make sure that the next generation is equipped? What are we doing to make sure that they’ve provided us those lessons, they’ve given us their insights. You know they’ve inspired us to be the next generation leaders. That’s a skill shortage. It’s beyond the mathematical or digital, or it’s holistic. Again, competition I mean competition has been here in terms of candidate competition. You know your competition for talent. That’s going to stay. That’s not going to change. I think we just need to get better at identifying who we’re looking for so we don’t apply trends to us that are not applicable and end up with a workforce that doesn’t really want to be there or they’re not equipped to be with us. Branding and marketing is going to be huge. If you’re not thinking about yourself as a retailer or you know a brand, then you’re going to be left behind for sure, and that’s applicable to recruiters themselves. People need to trust you to provide them with their workforce. Ai, of course, but it’s a funny one with AI because it’s going to be a problem, but it’s also going to be a saviour, right. So what that means is it’s going to, if you know, applied correctly, it’s going to really help us become more efficient. It’s going to give us that time to do other things, to be more strategic. Maybe we haven’t been as strategic because we’ve been time for you know, we don’t know yet. But also, who knows anything about AII? Where’s the talent? Who can build it? You know, we don’t know that yet. So a lot, of, a lot of things coming to play with a I, and I think people are just focusing on it’s going to take my job rather than I’ll. You know how can I make myself better with ai? But what links really closely to it, which I find really interesting and I’ve been thinking about over the last month or so, is diversity and inclusion and how it plays a part. And so what I mean by that is there’s a lot of talk about ai in recruitment processes being bias and being discriminatory, and of course, we’re going to need a whole governance framework around that. That’s a given. But what’s interesting is guess it started from us. And so if we can say that AI is bias and discriminatory, we’re talking about ourselves. That means set we haven’t et those frameworks in diversity and inclusion to ensure that we’re not biased and we’re not discriminatory. So it’s very interesting that people think it’s an a problem. I think it’s an us problem. So, yeah, just linking those two is changing labour laws. We just had the right to disconnect. You know pass? I don’t think it’s, I think it’s still in transition, but that’s just one example. There’s changing laws, the whole IR framework is just being redone. The generational differences how do we ensure that we’re all in harmony, and so forth. Succession planning and candidate experience and I know that’s been on the table for a long time. But if we’re talking about being a brand, if we’re talking about marketing ourselves, then the candidate experience is crucial to that, because I’m more likely to tell you about a bad experience than I am to tell you about a good experience. And so if you have a poor reputation, it doesn’t matter what trend you’re on. The reputation is born. You need to work on that. So, yeah, I think a whole range of things will come into play and you don’t know, it evolves so quickly that in five years we could have a totally different set of priorities.

Kath Hume: 

So as you list all of those changes off. It just makes me think how exceptional recruiters need to be to be competitive in this market. And you mentioned around the turbulence. I wonder how we’re going to resolve that. I think that’s a real issue because if you go back to the candidate experience, for example, I think two years ago the candidate experience would have been this is just my gut feel. B ut I think the candidate experience would have been very more favourable because people really were desperate for talent. And I think the world has changed. It’s becoming more of an employer’s market, and I wonder then if the candidate experience lessens because there’s not that desire to please everybody, because employers can be a little bit more picky and choosey. I think the same with well being. I think well being two years ago was on the top of everybody’s list of priorities. But I do worry that that’s not as high priority as as it was, and I think maybe tightening financial budgets is playing into that as well. Yeah, but I think I think this turbulence is short, sharp thinking, not having the resilience to withstand the fact that we’ve got a strategy, we’ve got a plan and we’re going to stick to it. Yes, be agile yes, be adaptable, but not be susceptible to the winds of change. That because what I think it means is for the workforce they are getting put through the washing machine and I just wonder what it does for culture in organisations. Anyway, I’m going on a little bit there. I think that there’s so many factors at play and I’m really going to go back through this and list them out and look at well, how can we create some sort of framework that says how do we address this? What are the priorities that we need to look at? So, what do you think you’re going to focus on this year to try and sift through all of that that you’ve just spoken about?

 

Follow only the relevant trends

Hana Maalla: 

Look, I think and it’s going to depend on what organisation somebody is a part of but really understanding, like I said, who are you as an organisation? Who are you? Why would someone come and work for you? What’s your brand identity? What are some of the things that we can leverage? Don’t hop on trends just because it’s a trend because it’s likely that it’s not applicable to you. In the environment that I work in, hybrid work is good. Work can be done remotely. But we don’t have the structure to tap into a global talent pool, so let’s not pretend that we can. That’s not a trend that we can jump on. Let’s focus on some of the things that we can. We can offer really meaningful work, so that’s going to be part of our brand identity. What are our frameworks? What do we believe in? Who are our people? And then look for people who want what we can provide them. 

If I talk about other examples, if you’re a company that does have the freedom and the frameworks to tap globally, then your priority should be figuring out for each role what style of work is best for this job. If you have that freedom, be strategic. I love to be creative and anyone that I work with listens to this. They’ll laugh at me because I do say I’m going to be outrageous reign me in. It’s fine, because if I’m not outrageous then you’re not going to hear something that you think is doable. Just tell me no, Hana, we can’t do that, that’s too much. We haven’t got the resourcing for that, whatever it is. But be outrageous, just be creative, be strategic. It’s going to change and it’s going to change quick. 

 

Forecasting the future

So pick what is your priority, what is something that changes? That you need to be on top of 2024 for me, is all about prediction. It’s all about forecasting, which includes data. So that means definitely AI is a priority for me. I think and I’ll be outrageous here but I think that if you predict trends, that’s going to take a long time to get right. So you try to long, you try your best, you try and understand the factors that infiltrate your industry and if you get better at it, you can become a market leader. It doesn’t become trends that you follow, it becomes trends that you have manifested. You know the trajectory of what’s going on because you’ve been on this journey of understanding what the future holds and I would love to be there and I would love to be ahead of the game and starting trends, because that’s how you’re going to get the best talent.

 

Attracting talent through visionary thinking

People are going to come and work for you because you’ve started it, you’re visionary, you’re creative, your strategy is there. It’s going to be really hard to mitigate the risk in changes. I think what you need to do is set up a culture of pivoting. Set up cultures where everything you do is agile, because that’s going to help you become adaptable, and where I work, I feel like we have that. We’ve really set up a culture of flexibility, and so we have traditional processes, but the way we implement them are quite modern and it’s just what works for you. It’s just what we’ve been saying. It’s not a one size fits all. We’re not in a traditional approach of anything anymore, so why do we have traditional systems? We don’t need that. But really understanding what your talent wants, what your workforce needs, and having your own identity so people recognise you.

Kath Hume: 

I really love the concept of outrageous, and that’s why I started the podcast, because I want to reimagine. I want to say, okay, if we were to have a blank slate, if we were to start again, what would that look like? So can I go back to a point that I mentioned earlier in the episode, around resume is dead, or the CV instead. Can you talk to me about what you’re seeing? So, because I see you, Hana, as someone who sees things before other people see them, and then that creativity, I think, comes through, and so what do we do about that? So I’m really, really interested to explore what you’re seeing and what you think both the employer and the employee can do with this scenario.

 

Why does Hana believe the CV is dead?

Hana Maalla: 

Yeah, look, I think it links back again to the CV. Look, I don’t even know how long the CV has been around. I’m going to say hundreds of years. If not just a hundred, but it’s part of the traditional approach. It’s part of the way that people found talent or evaluated or engaged with talent. So I don’t know about everyone else and if I’m reviewing CVs and some of them are amazing and they’re lovely, but they’re five pages long and it’s probably taken some of five hours to write or update, but I’m only looking at it for 30 seconds, a minute, if I’m just looking back to see. Am I correct? So why are we filtering through a little book for something that I’m only going to look at for 15 seconds? I think either the CV is totally dead or obsolete or if people get offended by that, that’s fine, but it’s definitely not the way to be assessing talent initially. There’s so many different things these days. How many times have you seen someone look at you on LinkedIn and you’re like, oh, I just applied for a job at that place. That’s what people are doing. So I get that there needs to be something. I just don’t think that, if that’s what it is, I think it’s a talent profile, and I did have someone on LinkedIn and this is what I love about. Sometimes when I post I did have someone challenge me on that, like, okay, well, how are you going to know what I do? Well, what do I need to know? Who you are? That’s debatable, even in a D&I environment, for example. But who you are, what’s your skill set? Do you have any qualifications? How long have you been in the industry and what are your achievements? I don’t need to know what your workplace did, what’s your day to day? I’m going to get to that. I’m going to get to that as part of the assessment process. So someone said, what about a cover letter? And I thought about it and I said, well, what does a cover letter have? What I just said, your achievements, where you worked, how long you were there, what’s your skill set? It just needs to be one A4 page. Keep me guessing. Invite me to invite you, because a lot of people are better face to face. They need to be able to tell you or show you what they’re doing. Leave the hard work for the assessment process and, if anything, it allows you to be more creative in the assessment process, because you really don’t know these people yet. So I think if I ever apply for another job again, I’m not submitting a CV, I’m going to test the talent profile and I’ll let you know if someone gives me a call. That’ll be very interesting.

Kath Hume: 

I’d like to hear that, although I don’t think you’ll need to do that anytime soon. I think we are out of time. Is there anything else you wanted to mention that we haven’t covered yet?

Hana Maalla: 

No, you know, Kath, just that I’ve really enjoyed having this session with you and I think you know it’s good to talk it out, because you’ve just given me things to think about that I hadn’t before and I just want to keep being inspired and really promote being creative in our HR and talent space.

Kath Hume: 

Yeah, well, you’re definitely doing that and I strongly recommend for anybody who’s listening to go out and, if you’re not already, connect with Hana, because she really does offer some beautiful thoughts that really make you sit down and think so. Thank you so much, Hana, and if people did want to get in contact with you is LinkedIn the best way to do that?

 

How to contact Hana

Hana Maalla: 

Yeah, LinkedIn is the best place to do that. You know I’m really active. Then I’d love to hear from you all.

Kath Hume: 

Excellent. Well, thank you, it’s been an awesome conversation and I’m really glad that we finally got here. And so thanks, so much.

Hana Maalla: 

Thanks Kath, see you.

Voiceover: 

Thanks for listening to the Reimagined Workforce podcast. We hope you’ve found some valuable ideas that you can apply to transform your own workforce today and tomorrow. Additional information and links can be found in the show notes for this episode at workforcetransformations. com.au/podcast. Please share this podcast with your community and leave us a rating to let us know what we can do better for you.

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