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ForceBrands hosted its inaugural HR Collective on November 14 in an intimate event that brought together HR professionals in the food, beverage, and beauty industries. The invitation-only event was hosted at Pier A Harbor House in lower Manhattan where thought leaders gathered to connect, educate, and share insights.

The theme of this year’s HR Collective was “The Modern Workplace,” which was reflected in a vibrant panel discussion that covered topics including attracting and retaining talent, building a team, training and development, technology and HR, and diversity and inclusion.

Josh Wand

The panel was moderated by ForceBrands’ CEO and Founder, Josh Wand, who welcomed the audience of about 40 attendees before introduced the panelists who included Cassie Nielsen, Vice President, Talent, VMG Partners; Kevin Stapp, Vice President, Human Resources, Shiseido Americas Corporation; Andrew Moss, Vice President, Talent Acquisition, Breakthru Beverage Group; Brian J. Bohling, Founder, Pine Valley Resources; Patrick J. Burlingham, HR Executive Consultant and Leadership Coach; and Tamarah Saif, Vice President of People, Green Chef.

The morning’s discussion touched upon topical issues like the New York City salary ban that went into effect at the end of October, prohibiting all New York City-based employers from inquiring about salary history during the hiring process. Bohling, who has experience coaching leadership teams at companies that have included Kraft, Tishman Construction, Kellogg’s, and Pepperidge Farm, said the ban will encourage employers to think more strategically about their hiring practices.

“Competition for talent is becoming harder and more fierce,” Bohling said. “The market will tell you what to pay for people, but compensation is going to become more individualized.”

The salary ban isn’t the only challenge affecting compensation procedures.

Moss addressed how the contingent workforce is problematic when it comes to meeting salary expectations and demands. Burlingham, who leads an HR consulting practice in New York City and works with early-stage, venture capital-backed businesses in periods of rapid growth, offered his solutions for managing a more contingent workforce.

“You have to think beyond the next quarter,” Burlingham said. “Think long-term hiring.”

Wand shifted the conversation to investing and coaching — a popular topic among leadership-hungry Millennials.

“Our employees want more learning and development — they want coaching,” Burlingham said. He cautioned that not all workplace problems can be solved with coaching. “I always ask, ‘Do you have a cancer in your organization that you’re trying to solve with green juice?’ Address issues head on — don’t try to cover it up with coaching. It takes time, but it’s a simple formula: new awareness plus new action equals new results.”

Stapp, who is responsible for leading people strategies across a diverse family of innovative brands that include bareMinerals, NARS Cosmetics, and Buxom, said that coaching the multi-generational workforce means “mentoring senior executives and making sure they’re digitally savvy.”

One of the hot button issues in “The Modern Workplace” is the topic of diversity and inclusion.

“Culture change takes a long time,” said Saif, who leads all areas of people management at an early stage, rapid growth hybrid food and tech company. “Invest in diverse leaders. We have to be open to relocating people to open up our candidate pool.”

When it came time to talk about technology and HR, Wand reminded the audience of the reality that “technology can replace everything” and emphasized the importance of maintaining a human connection during the whole process.

“You have to be careful as there is a lot of technology used to measure performance,” said Moss, who is responsible for the development of Breakthru’s U.S. and Canada workforce planning and sourcing strategies. “Invest in deploying what you have and getting the most out of it.”

Other panelists added to Moss’ insights.

“I’m a big proponent of using technology for assessments,” said Neilsen, who works intimately with founders and leaders of branded consumer product companies on their people strategies. “I care most about data integrity.”

When it came to preferred applicant tracking systems, Neilsen recommended Crelate as it’s “really agile, customizable, and focuses on networking.”

HR Collective

After the hour-long panel concluded, Wand opened up the conversation for audience questions before attendees participated in breakout sessions. During the question and answer segment, panelists talked about Millennials in the workforce.

“Millennials still want wisdom and they still want judgment,” Bohling said as he offered some insight on how to manage the multi-faceted Millennial generation.

Bohling urged the audience to hire strategically to avoid disconnects between generations in the workplace. He also reminded attendees that some of the most important qualities candidates can possess are also the most obvious ones.

“Kindness really counts. There’s a difference between someone who is a ‘know it all’ versus a ‘learn it all.'”

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