With over 680,000 people employed full-time, and thousands part-time, the exhibition industry offers a vast array of career opportunities with something for everyone. Whether you’re into Public Relations, Operations or Sales, the sky is the limit. Working in the sector also gives you the chance to learn about the variety of industries that make up the exhibition world. The versatility of the industry means that every day is different – just as every trade show is different. This versatility is characteristic of the business-to-business sector. Whether its construction, healthcare, education or logistics, every trade show is unique because every market that you’re connecting with is unique. The different dynamics makes the industry appealing – there is potential in any role you have.
That’s why I would encourage everybody to take a look. The industry is particularly attractive for young professionals, as it encourages them to take on different roles and responsibilities and to find solutions by using various tools adapted to the market. Some of the amazing brains in this industry are seasoned ‘exhibition professionals’. However, the industry is always looking for fresh ideas and new talent. Creative young people can drive change and innovation and add so much value. So, do women enjoy equal status in the workplace? The “Women in the exhibition industry” research is a joint project between UFI and its media partner m+a, which provides insights into the perception of women’s and men’s skills in the workplace.
It also explores the potential for progression for women in the industry and highlights the various female career drivers. According to the research, a staggering 82% of respondents highly appreciate working in the exhibition industry and love their jobs.
As exhibition industry professionals, we need to boast the merits of this industry, it offers so much. You get to know many different people, build some genuinely amazing relationships, work anywhere in the world, and shape your career to achieve your long-term goals. How to say no to such opportunities! Kai Hattendorf Managing Director / CEO, UFI
The Role of HR in An Organisation
HR has evolved remarkably over the years. With constantly changing dynamics and technologies, it became imperative for HR to upgrade and embrace a wide range of roles and responsibilities. Since every organization’s goal is – survival, making profits, gaining market share or gaining recognition, it posed a great challenge for HR departments to meet these expectations while continuously innovating and reforming the traditional practices. In attaining these goals, the HR interventions today are focused towards building a client base, revenue retention, and healthy client’s portfolio/balance sheet. Gone are the days when HR was reckoned only as a personnel manager. Today, HR can safely be quoted as a revenue generator. HR in true spirit lives in the soul of wealth creation by attracting the talent. It is the outcome of investments that an organization makes in enabling the people and resources together to accomplish work. This defines the character of the organization and the stability of which, over a period of time becomes difficult for the competitors to emulate. The onus rests with the HR and its alliance with the management in establishing this strategy. There has been a substantial and dramatic evolution in the past decade, shaped by factors like technological advances and a new generation of workers with a zest of competitiveness, resulting in placing HR from insignificance to imperative role.
HR has moved from back seat of transactional support to the business enabler and strategic partner. The paradigm shift dictates that HR must first clearly understand the purpose of the organization and then work towards defining the culture. An identifiable culture attracts employees, gives them a sense of purpose and offers a basis for participation in decision-making. HR is one department that collaborates with other company departments to drive overall growth and directly align with business objectives.
In today’s world, communication and collaboration is core to HR functions. Mostly HR drove initiatives directly concerns with employees at large and their retention, development, hiring and employer branding. With robust strategies and goals, HR functions not only attract and retain best talent but also drive performance. Since employees are the brand ambassador and spokesperson of organizations. HR now invests time in building a culture of values, a culture of learning and culture of engagement.
HR success has to be best measured by working on best returns connecting with organizational goals. KPI’s have to be quantifiable by means of showing results. All KPI’s which connect to bigger and smaller organizational vision is useful viz. Employee productivity, Employee turnover, Employee engagement level, time and cost to hire and ROI of L&D programs. The most significant contribution one has to do in an HR role is to change the thought process, ensure focused vision, standardize the process, delegate, trust and accept other’s decision because now entrepreneurs don’t want to go with system-centric approach only, rather prefer people-centric approach. Usually, non-adherence of policy/ SOP, solo decisions without consultation of HR, escalation of an issue at any hierarchy, performance measurement, rewards and recognition, employee relations are some common issues that pop up from other departments. Hence, HR must ensure a good working environment that dispenses clarity of role and goal, promotion and progression, rewards, safe and hygiene workplace condition, cultural blending, trustful leadership, training and development of people, etc. To achieve organizational goals, HR can start developing PDPs/ IDPs for key roles.
It is possible only when a company understands and formulates a vision that employees are key assets of an organization and by developing their personal ability, an organization can lead them towards professional and organizational goals. The HR leader now needs to work both within the HR group and with the organizational leaders to reshape everyone’s expectations of what HR can and will deliver. The success of the change will depend upon HR’s ability to meet the real needs of the organization and the credibility it develops. One of the ways that HR can provide value is to understand how changing environmental, organizational, and workforce factors will likely influence the business, anticipate the associated HR needs, and be prepared to deliver appropriate solutions to meet those needs. By maintaining a focus on workplace trends, HR can prepare to evaluate the impact that particular changes are likely to have on an organization’s people and processes and be prepared to work with the business leaders to decide how to respond by being ahead of the curve.
Performance Review and Appraisal
Human Resources are a complex world within the corporate structure with many positive and negative experiences of employees in rife who deal with the HR department on a regular basis. But, the HR department has always played a key role in retaining a company’s employees, be it private or government. Using the company’s strategic objectives, policies and systems to maximize the management and employee productivity, the HR department works to optimize the performance.
With a surge in the number of companies in the recent years, companies are experiencing a trend where dissatisfied employees, instead of trying to work out terms and conditions with the management, tend to move to a new organization at the first sign of trouble or conflict. Their dissatisfaction heightens during appraisals as employees find it the most stressful period of the year. The need to perform par excellence becomes a necessity and there is a feeling of being constantly watched. It’s rare to encounter a satisfied employee post appraisal. Following are few grievances of employees:
- Being incorrectly assessed
- Being assessed by the wrong person in an unsatisfactory way
- Immediate poor performances overshadowing good track record of the past
- Personal relationships impacting official performances
- Personal prejudices of caste, color, gender, religious, regional affecting the appraisal
Employees narrate stories of their trysts with the HR department. One such case is as follows: Mr. ABC (name not disclosed to protect privacy) reports that HR appraisal time has been the most stressful time for him in his organization. Performance of the current quarter tends to overshadow the entire year’s hard work. Just before the quarterly appraisal, Mr. ABC had an argument with his boss. He feels that his performance was misjudged and the management, including the HR, was partial in their review process, leading to him resigning from his job.
Key Metrics Every HR Must Measure
Time to Productivity – The longer it takes for them to get going and be able to work on their own, the more it will cost you as a company because of training and because of reduced productivity.
Candidate Dropout Rate – There’s nothing more frustrating than losing a perfect candidate after a long and involved hiring process and making an offer. The candidate dropout rate needs to be measured in order to determine where problems exist.
Total Cost of Ownership
Measuring the total cost of ownership that is to bring candidates on board, prior to paying a salary, is another crucial metric. Depending upon the acquisition goals and strategy, it could include branding costs, advertising and marketing costs, travel costs, lunch and dinner meetings, various pre-employment workshops, and most importantly the amount of time spent by various teams within an organization.
Quality of Hiring
Study after study has shown that hiring “top quality” talent is the #1 priority for talent acquisition teams and CEOs across the world. Too often we have seen that companies lower the bar because they are not getting candidates that meet their standards or requirements. It may be a big mistake to lower your standards as this is a slippery slope and quite damaging to your organization in the long run.
New Employee Engagement and Embracing of Culture and Position
New employees should also be engaging within the company and embracing both the culture as well as the position. When an employee joins your firm even with a 15 years of experience, it is a still a big change and it is extremely important to ensure the engagement within the first 90-180 days and make sure he/she embraces your culture.
Millennials: The Job-Hopping Generation
Millennials have a reputation for job-hopping. Unattached to organizations and institutions, people from this generation — born between 1980 and 1996-are said to move freely from company to company, more so than any other generation. A recent study reveals that over 27% of millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year, which is more than three times the number of non-millennials who report the same.
Millennials also show less willingness to stay in their current jobs. Half of millennials-compared with 60% of non-millennials-strongly agree that they plan to be working at their company one year from now. For businesses, this suggests that half of their millennial workforce doesn’t see a future with them. Since many millennials don’t plan on staying in their jobs, it makes sense that they are hunting for new positions. A study reveals that 60% of millennials say they are open to a different job opportunity. Employers once ruled the market with the privilege of being able to hook the best candidates with an attractive compensation package and upgrade in title. Today, the priorities have changed to focus more on development, transparency and work-life balance. Many companies are struggling to adapt and are facing a loss in top talent. If businesses want to remain competitive in their industry, they have to redesign their business from the bottom up with a focus on the internal culture.
Here are the five ways millennials are shaking up the workforce:
Culture Built on Emotional Intelligence – Soft skills have been slow to gain momentum in business as hard skills are easier to measure and identify. In recent years, businesses are refocusing their priorities from a “leave your personal life at home” mentality to understanding how to become more self-aware of their own emotions as well as their employees. When employees feel valued and cared for, their motivation and job performance increases and retention decreases.
Authentic Transparency – The thick walls that separate each layer of the hierarchy are now used as the foundation to support a flat organization where communication is open and everyone interacts on the same playing field. According to a recent article in Forbes, “millennials will only interact with brands that are open and transparent, stand for more than their bottom line, and address environmental and socioeconomic issues in the community.”
Strong Professional and Personal Balance – With India being the most overworked country in the world, it has a long way to go in terms of achieving work-life balance compared to the European countries such as Switzerland, Denmark, Norway or the Netherlands. The typical culture has employees taking work home with them, long hours of overtime and working over the weekend. It is time that organisations re-evaluate their benefit offerings with a strong focus on work-life harmony.
Savvy High-Tech Influence – As the tech boom spreads globally, companies are shifting away from traditional paper trail methods instead focusing on enhancing their systems and equipment to increase speed and efficiency. The new generation is more flexible, open to change and willing to get hands-on to discover new techniques.
Millennials are getting hired differently – Millennials have different ways to get discovered online by potential employers more than any other generations before. With the advent of social media, job boards and online review sites, millennials are conducting research into a potential employer’s business values, culture and salaries before applying to a position. Mobile devices have now become an integral part of the job seeking process. A report states that around 55% percent of job seekers say that they use their cell phones to search jobs at least once a day. If a company fails to create an easy, mobile apply process, they can expect millennial job seekers to search elsewhere.
The millennials are a highly intelligent lot with a relatively short attention-span. This generation has been exposed to traditional marketing mediums at a very early age and to grab their attention is a highly complex and challenging task. However, since they are highly driven and result-oriented, they are caught-up with the potential of trade fairs. To appease and reach out to this demographic, we need to communicate with them through means that appeal to them. Messe Muenchen India’s USP is its team. MMI is an employee centric company. Our mantra has always been ‘People before strategy”. Providing room, opportunities and a conducive environment for the employees to grow and learn is among our prime agendas. Our open door policy, gives ample scope to employees to engage their managers in a healthy discussion. Dynamic communication boosts the inflow of creative ideas and out-of-the-box concepts. Bhupinder Singh CEO, Messe Muenchen India
Millennials are the largest generation in the workforce right now. By 2025, millennials will account for as much as three-quarters of the global workforce, states a report by EY. Millennials are changing the way industries, businesses, and governments are run, the trade industry is no different. Millennials look forward to trade shows as they want an experience with learning, entertainment, marketing, aesthetics and networking. They seek an experience-centric approach like product demonstration and interaction with booth staffs, they also look for giveaways. They are constantly looking for high impact memorable experiences as they are engaging with others in their networks. According to a study, the highest ranked responses at an average of 4.44, Millennials are significantly motivated to participate in meetings and events for the purposes of career networking and job opportunities. In response to the question about how Millennials prefer to communicate, the most preferrAed method was face-to-face, ranked at 4.28 which means Millennials want to actively participate and just not listen. Millennials are helping the industry to grow because they truly live in the digital world. Technology is no longer just nice to have; it is a necessity. Because of millennials, trade shows are coming up with out-of-the box ideas to promote and engage with the audience in order to achieve higher footfalls. Yogesh Mudras MD, Informa Markets India
The Indian exhibition industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in India, especially since 2014. This industry not only provides employment to a large number of skilled and semi-skilled workforce but also acts as a backbone for plethora of other industries as well. Indian exhibition industry size is about INR 34 billion in 2018 and it is one of the fastest growing in the world. Over the years, India has also emerged as the third largest trade-fair market after China and Japan in Asia. This certainly augurs well as our industry is people centric and hence the industry needs to attract and retain the right set of people to propel its growth forward. We need to have good HR policies and sound mechanisms to ensure that our industry as a whole, becomes an employer of choice and people desire to be a part of it.
Exhibition Showcase interacted with some exhibition industry players in India and understood their views about HR and their ways of managing employees in their organizations. Excerpts of our interviews with Mr. SUNIL MORE Director, FairAct Exhibitions & Events LLP, Mr. NAVEEN SETH Director, Exhibitions PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Mr. GAURAV JUNEJA Director – Mex Exhibitions
ES. How is the career progression defined in your organisation?
Sunil More – First of all, let me mention that we are a small growing progressive company aiming at improving our delivery & services to our clients through sheer dedication and sincerity. Though being small, we have developed our own procedures and processes to define career progression. The advantage of being small is that the management knows each employee personally and hence can develop Their career path by enthusing and encouraging them to take larger responsibilities. We have processes to measure efficiency and fulfillment of set targets.
Naveen Seth – Career progression in our organization is defined by the skill sets possessed by an individual. We believe in capacity creation in an individual. Any individual who is able to think laterally and has a problem solving approach progresses well within our organization.
Gaurav Juneja – We are very focused on imparting training to our people. People are asset to an organization. If you have good people with you then you can do wonders. Regular training programmers are undertaken on routine basis. We try to give them other benefits too whatever deemed necessary. An open door policy is practiced here and in terms of the career growth, candidate’s calibre is taken as yard stick. Here. A girl who used to work in front office now working in sales designated as Manager. So, as I said it depends on the calibre of the candidate and the quality which he or she deserve.
ES. What does your organisation do to become the employer of choice?
Sunil – Leading from the front by management team motivates employees to excel. We have not reached there yet, but strive to be employer of choice through creating feeling of a family, rejuvenation of employees apart from the proven ways of increments, incentives and promotions.
Naveen – Our organisation empowers our employees to take decisions and inculcates a sense of ownership towards the job responsibilities assigned to them. Working at PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry results in the overall development of an employee. Apart from this we are an extremely people friendly organization. Our Policies and framework of the organization are very strongly aligned towards the welfare of the employees.
Gaurav – Apart from offering them lucrative packages, incentives, perks and other benefits along with competitive policies, we also celebrate birthday and wedding anniversaries of employees to make them feel like a family. We help them maintain work life balance by offering them flexible timings, shifts as per their convenience and work from home provision, if imperative. Recognizing and rewarding employees’ achievement by doing monthly R&R such as achiever reward, employee of the month etc.
Doing activities on industry level along with other organizations and celebrating Exhibition day makes us a recognizable name in the industry, Conducting CSR activities for employees to connect with society. Also, offering them the platform to have maximum on the job exposure on International level. Also we have open door policy to keep transparency in the organization at all levels.
ES. What is male to female ratio in your organization?
Suni – We are presently having a male to female ratio of 50-50 though the selection on entrants is purely on the basis of his or her capability without any gender bias.
Naveen – We are an equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of Caste, Creed, Sex or any other parameter. We have an equitable male to female ratio in our organization. In fact we have a women Empowerment Committee that does a lot of policy advocacy within the internal and external diaphragm.
Gaurav – About 40 percent of employees in our organization are female. So we have women power in our company.
“Women play an important role in the exhibition industry in a variety of roles. Working in the exhibition industry is a great career option for women. Exhibitions are places where markets meet and new products and technologies are unravelled. Working in the exhibition industry gives women an opportunity to work in diverse teams, travel, meet new people, do networking and cement relationships, and gain expertise in handling digital tools. Women leaders bring special abilities to the exhibition industry. Overall the exhibition industry will immensely benefit from women leaders as they are creative, good in people handling and have effective communication skills. A balanced combination in lead roles will offer more insights and opinions on a variety of decisions which can help influence people across all levels.” Anbu V, Director General, IMTMA & CEO, BIEC
ES. What does your organisation do to upgrade the skills of its employees?
Sunil – Exhibition management is mostly learnt through ‘hands on experience’ by professionals. To formalise their ideas and learnings and also to enhance their skills, we are regularly sending our employees to the presently only recognised training course ‘Certified Exhibition Manager’ organised by UFI through IEIA. We also undertake some initiatives like monthly meetings to exchange ideas, learned from other and discuss ways of improvement.
Naveen – Our organization believes in empowering the employees. We empower our employees towards decision making in the day to day functioning of the organization.
Apart from this we also have regular training programmes for our employees. We also have on the job training programme for our employees. Our HR department also develops training modules which have a quantifiable matrix to judge the change management in each employee. Each of our employees have to undergo a fixed quantum of training programmes in each calendar year. Our appraisal system has a strong weightage towards the training programme attended by the employees.
Gaurav – By encouraging professional development and creating development plan, aligning employees with mentors, giving them the challenging assignments. Also identifying the training needs and arranging classroom & on the job training for employees-skill wise, department wise & role wise such as technical training, quality training, soft skill training, managerial training etc. Also we hire freshes and train them to grow in the organization.
ES. How do you hire employees from competing organizations?
Gaurav – It’s not that we hire only from competing organization. We train people coming to work with us from different industries. People are joining from the hospitality industry, publication industry; finance background depending on the requirement of work.
Sunil – Most of our employees are fresh entrants in the exhibition industry and we train them to our requirements. We also hire employees based on their skills and seldom consider if they come from competing organisations. However, I must add here that we are ‘incubators’ for many of our employees who have joined other organisations and we are happy for them.
Naveen – Yes, We do hire employees from competing organization but that is not the only criterion for hiring an employee.
“We at Informa Markets India always boost the energy of our employees and make sure they keep in mind the industry is meant for you! At Informa Markets India we solve the retention problem by appealing to employee’s desire to learn on the job and know more. After an exhaustive process of recruitment, new entrants undergo a plethora of training modules. The exhaustive orientation programme helps them comprehend the matrix of the company in India and their role within it. Simultaneously, these employees are also on-boarded to an online platform that links all Informa Markets India employees worldwide where they can connect with their peers in other regions and feel an invaluable part of the global corporation. Mandatory completion of e-learning modules on workplace safety, systems and processes, and workplace harassment trains the new employee to always do the right thing. These modules nurture the Ownership Mindset in the employee, and he/she experiences the autonomy to be creative, strategies, execute and drive results. Depending on the nature of an employee’s responsibility, a consistent framework of training is used to enhance his/her competencies, attitude and knowledge, to keep pace with the constantly evolving expo business. Employees, including those from the HR, are periodically sent for executive and corporate training programmes, seminars and forums, while industry experts are regularly invited to hone the knowledge of the team in special events and sessions. We have recently introduced onsite inductions to show a glimpse of the sector and to enable industry as well as non industry professionals to know what it takes to deliver a show. Performance coaching is also something we look forward to this year that will help managers drive performance of their teams. That apart, practices that encourage team bonding and collaborative culture outside the realm of work has to be encouraged. As opposed to past hierarchical norms, an open-door practice by which all employees can discuss their issues freely with the senior management is gaining currently.” Yogesh Mudras, MD, Informa Markets India.
ES. What perks this industry has in its store?
Sunil – What we have experienced is that the youth joining this industry is mostly driven by passion though a few may be here due to other compulsions. We have even motivated women to handle ‘onsite work’ and I am proud to say that they are delivering to our and most importantly client’s satisfaction.
Naveen – The industry has a huge potential in India. Unfortunately, the Industry has not been tapped to its full potential in India. The industry can make a huge impact on trade and commerce of the country. I urge upon the youth of the country to take this as a carrier opportunity and infuse its creativity in the development of this sector. The industry can make a remarkable impact if there are relevant and new trade platform which encourages trade interaction. This industry can provide vital stimulus towards job creation in the Business to Business Domain. The MSME Sector stands to gain the most from this industry.
Gaurav – See it’s a very vibrant industry. If you have interest, if you have zest to meet new people, to accept new challenges then, this industrial has definitely a lot to return you. This industry has a lot to offer to youth as they get to try their hand in almost everything since multitasking is one of the traits one has to have. This industry has different departments such as Operations, PR, Sales, and Database etc for candidates to opt as per their interest and skills. Also amalgamation of variety of roles helps them achieve their goals and grow within the organization. Also networking is vast in this industry to give them a lot more opportunities to connect with people.
ES. What are the challenges faced by this industry in terms of HR and the growth of people?
Sunil – I believe challenges are common and similar to other industries. Actually the challenges faced by smaller organisations are similar which include, formal training, attrition and emoluments.
Naveen – The biggest challenge faced by the industry in terms of HR and the growth of people is non acceptance of this sector as a carrier option for youth in the country. HR needs to motivate youth to choose this sector as a carrier option.
ES. What provisions you have for incentives and rejuvenation?
Sunil – Annual increments and promotions are routine provisions for employee retention but we also inculcate feeling of a ‘family’ in them by celebrating their birthdays, encouraging good work done by them, participation in social activities, annual outings etc.
Naveen – We do have financial incentives for our employees. Reward and Recognition is an integral part of the work culture of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industries. If an employee fulfills all his KRA’s as per the satisfaction of his Line Manager, it adds weightage to his appraisals. We encourage all our employees to exhaust their leaves during a calendar year to rejuvenate them, thus enhancing their work output. We also have exclusive tie-ups with Travel Agencies for availing attractive tour packages to make the best use of their leaves.
Gaurav – Depends, it’s on different packages, different scales and different profiles. For sales we have monthly and project wise incentive schemes and for other departments also we do have project wise incentives. We do have reward and recognition in place that brings both tangible and intangible incentives for employees. Also we regularly do employee engagement activities, team building activities, birthday celebrations, festive celebrations and off-sites to keep people rejuvenated.
ES. Do you have some hiring arrangements with any colleges?
Sunil – No, at present we do not have bandwidth to hire students from colleges.
Gaurav – We do not have any hiring arrangements with any college yet but I think selection from institutions like Amity and also campus hiring from several colleges including from specialized event campuses are undertaken on regular interval. We do hire interns also. As I said earlier we look for skill sets rather than background of an individual. We are open to talent irrespective of his background.
ES. What practices do you adopt for employee retention and staff motivation?
Sunil – As mentioned above, personal rapport, family feelings, and leadership by example are few practices adopted apart from routine ways and means of retention.
Naveen – As I said earlier reward and recognition is an integral part of the work culture of PHD Chamber and Commerce and Industries. Reward and Recognition is used as a vital tool for employee retention and staff motivation. We also have a system of Internal Job Posting by which an employee can climb the professional ladder quickly and fulfill his professional aspiration.
Gaurav – Retaining talent is quite challenging. Finding out the motivation driver for employees and implementing strategies according to that work really well. Also offering them utmost exposure by doing role enhancement also is something that keeps them on their toes.
ES. What are the challenges faced by this industry in terms of HR and the growth of people?
Sunil – I believe challenges are common and similar to other industries. Actually the challenges faced by smaller organisations are similar which include, formal training, attritions and emoluments.
Naveen – The biggest challenge faced by the industry in terms of HR and the growth of people is non acceptance of this sector as a carrier option for youth in the country. HR needs to motivate youth to choose this sector as a carrier option. HR also needs to chart out a growth plan for the young people choosing to opt a carrier in this industry. HR also needs to adopt favorable employee friendly policies to retain the employees thus checking the attrition of employees. The event industry also needs to come together and draw up a cohesive plan to encourage youth to take Business Events as a professional carrier.
Gaurav – Recruitment comes across as a challenge since it’s a niche industry, also traits required for different roles are also not easily available. There are not many colleges that offer specialized courses specifically for this industry hence hiring freshers and training them for specific roles can sometimes get challenging however that brings diversity in talent. Preparing people for further growth and retention is something that needs utmost attention.
ES. Do you make use of any internal or external employee training programs?
Sunil – We have already sent our employees to CEM programmes as well as some 1-day programmes and conferences.
Naveen – Yes, we do use internal and external employee training programers. Our HR department keeps developing programme for imparting specialized training programmes to our employees. We also have a very strong inbuilt system of measuring the impact of the training programme attended by the employee to check the effectiveness of the training programme.
Gaurav – Yes, we undertake training programs. Every year, an international training program is organised for the capacity building of staffs. Quarterly, Domestic Training programs are organized. We also send our employees for specialized programs like CEM.