Imagine This - Soft skills are hard skills

Samantha Gadd, founder of employee experience consultancy Humankind shares her journey and how changing things up made all the difference.

In episode two, employee experience consultancy Humankind founder Samantha Gadd discusses her vision over the “old school” days where workers were treated as units of labour, the importance of mentor/peer learning, how business leaders must get brave and have tough conversations and the formula for hiring the right staff.

Samantha first established Humankind 10 years ago as an HR consultancy, but her passion for the employee experience has seen the business transform into what she now calls an employee experience consultancy.

“HR often spends time focusing on the key moments in an employee's lifecycle, like when they start a new job or when they get a pay rise, whereas employee experience is every single day - it's in the moments that employees are just getting on and doing their jobs, how can we improve their everyday experience to enable them to be better.

“The impact of that is huge - first of all, employees are far happier and their work, they feel like they've been treated like individual, unique humans, and they'll stay longer and work harder.”

The employee experience focus hasn’t been a hard sell, Humankind working with small and fast-growth companies through to large public sector organisations on projects where they put their employees at the centre. It hasn’t all been plain sailing either– there have been financial challenges and the rebranding process she went through a few years back was tough.

“Rebranding was one of the most awesome decisions, and also one of the hardest times - rebranding was not just changing our name, but ultimately changing everything about the business.  

“Most of my team decided that it wasn't for them, the future wasn't going to be for them, it was very hard - when you're the business owner, and decisions that you make aren’t always popular, and I felt really quite alone.”

Today, Samantha has herself surrounded by an “unbelievable” team, which she says is the result of the successful formula of employing hungry, humble and smart people.

Mentors and peer learning have also been fundamental in her journey, as has learning to have those hard conversations while showing vulnerability.

“The soft skills are the hard skills - businesses will not succeed unless they learn those soft skills, and so many businesses don't prioritise them, it’s something that New Zealand businesses could do a lot better.”

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