The Importance of Human Resources in Successful Event Management
Human resources play a crucial role in the planning of an event or conference, no matter how big or small the attendance is.
This specific department are the go-to team for organisation and support on a number of elements that all contribute to the smooth-running and success of an event.
Many debate the importance of budgeting for a dedicated HR team when it comes to an event, they assume it’s a job that can be managed by one person or responsibilities can be delegated throughout other departments – but that simply isn’t how it works.
The market is healthy — meaning more hiring for more companies
We at events management company have been responsible for the management of a number of successful events throughout the UK and from our years of experience, we absolutely value the need for dedicated HR before, during and after events have taken place.
For example, let’s imagine that you work for a conference centre that has admin, sales, marketing and an events team all on site.
It’s the HR professional’s responsibility to ensure that all of the named departments have the right support, training and facilities needed to perform in a safe environment which all contribute to the smooth-running of an event. It’s useful to use a virtual project management tool for scheduling, allocating work, tracking time, and handling finances. This frees up time for critical tasks like building relationships and holding training sessions, especially in the initial stages which are often so important.
What is the Role of HR in Event & Conference Planning?
Whilst the basic functions of a HR team will always exist for event planners, there are a number of specific aspects that only apply to event and conference management.
Having worked with a number of HR professionals, we decided to make it easy and list what we deem to be the most important duties that human resources contribute The top 10 responsibilities that apply to HR in this industry include:
> Developing Job Descriptions
Creating accurate job descriptions is an imperative part of recruiting either permanent, contract or voluntary staff for an upcoming event.
A job description holds many purposes which include:
- Helping people to understand the job role being advertised
- Providing the correct objectives and guidance needed for the people who take on the work
- Ensuring consistency in performance for people who take on the job
- Helping the event managers to find the right person for the role
But that’s not all.
Depending on the type of staff required and the type of work being offered (permanent, voluntary etc) the descriptions many need to be altered significantly each time, which will help to speed up the applicant process, especially when being assisted by third-party recruitment.
In a competitive hiring market, recruiters are facing a talent shortage
The typical sections of a job description would include:
- The type of employment being offered i.e. full time, part time
- Transparency in relationships e.g. applicant would report to the events coordinator
- The purpose and objectives of the job role
- The main duties involved in the job
- Criteria that will be used to assess successful applicants
> Advertising New Positions
The human resources team recruit applicants for open positions and help find the right employees for a given position.
According to a survey of 1,600 recruitment and HR professionals, 65% claim the biggest issue in hiring new staff is the lack of talent available, which adds more pressure to HR professionals to not only find the right candidate but to be creative in doing so.
Only 10% of recruiters say their companies plan to automate jobs in the next 2-3 years
A few examples include:
- Financial incentives for current employees who can recommend a successful candidate
- Inviting the help of current industry friends and contacts
- Eye-catching social media advertising (think a whacky 30 second YouTube video)
Most human resources teams will invite the expertise of a recruitment agency to widen the chances of finding the right candidate, but this option is often avoided for the events industry as budgets will vary depending on the size and structure of your event.
> Conducting Interviews
Once the HR team have collected a number of potential candidates for the job(s) being advertised, it’s now up to them to arrange and conduct a number of interviews.
Many jobs in the events industry require both specific skill sets and experience in a number of areas.
To hire the best people, recruiters are changing their ways
For example, if you’re hiring a sound technician for a music event, it’s important that specific questions are asked and this would involve quoting specific equipment, which would mean the HR team having to brief the events coordinator first and almost having to educate themselves in some cases (depending on time limits and the size of the department).
A key area for all HR professionals is providing the right training for the correct employees. Basic introduction courses (think health and safety) are to be handled by the department.
Job seekers aren’t off the hook, though — especially when it comes to soft skills and social media
What about the roles that require a specific set of skills? Perhaps the event taking place requires more volunteers than usual?
In these cases, it’s the job of human resources to organise that an expert in this field or a person of experience conducts the training.
> Work Allocation
Many assume that the event management team will allocate the work, but human resources often work very closely with coordinators to ensure that:
- The budgets allocated for third party involvement aren’t exceeded
- Departments are aware of their objectives leading up to the event
- Tasks are allocated to the right employees
Not to take any credit away from event organisers, but without HR staff, the smooth running of an event before, during and after is never 100% guaranteed – which is why experience always pays off.
> Managing Performance & Expectations
We touched upon it very briefly in the last section, but managing both the performance and expectations of employees is crucial to a winning event.
It doesn’t matter if the event involves 50 members of staff or 500; the HR department have to make sure they work together with other relevant figures to ensure that performance levels are managed correctly.
Talent is the lifeblood of every organization
In order for a lighting technician to improve upon setting up times or to ensure that the head of catering is properly managing their team, performance needs to be monitored realistic expectations need to be set.
HR professionals are the ones that plan and maintain performance management along with working closely with employees and their authorities to create expectations that are challenging and that will help them to further their skill sets and enhance their experience within the events industry.
HR management software is fast becoming one of the most popular ways of managing the performance of employees, setting new goals, managing employee leave and much more.
> Payment & Rewards
Although research by the Harvard Business Review states that the majority of employees are not money driven, ensuring that employees or contract workers are paid fairly for the work they produce at events is important for a number of reasons.
The reputation of the event, the company associated and the reputation of sponsors could be tainted if employees aren’t paid on time or with the correct amount.
The association between salary and job satisfaction is very weak
HR professionals therefore have to work closely with an internal finance department or third-party to monitor that employees are being paid the amounts they’ve been quoted.
For permanent employees of a company, rewards are often used as a way of acknowledging and thanking team members for their hard work.
Human resources are counted on for creating the right prizes for the right departments, using their judgement based on employee interests.
> Time Keeping
Often events are allocated a very strict time allowance, depending on the venue or the nature of the gathering.
This means that schedules and patterns are created for employees to make it clear where they need to be and the tasks to be carried out at given times.
In order for this to be a successful process, labour laws have to be adhered to which includes:
- The limitation of hours that employees are allowed to work
- Any overtime requirements for staff members
If hours are not correctly delegated and regulated, the company in charge of the event could face legal action either a.) Working employees for too long or b.) Not giving them the appropriate compensation.
> Event Safety
Safety at en event is particularly important and takes careful consideration and months of planning.
For examples, the use of heavy equipment and large displays are often utilised during events, which could mean the need for forklifts or other forms of transport to move equipment to different locations.
Event statistics show that there were 66,000 reported injuries at events in Europe within 8 years due to crowd safety failures, which makes it just as important to be on top of the expected attendee numbers.
If an event is likely to be overcrowded, using ticketing has become a popular way of monitoring the progress of sales, which in turn makes it easier for HR professionals to hire the right amount of security and first aid staff (in case of an emergency).
Crowd safety failures (2002-2010): 2,321 deaths confirmed, 66,000 injuries reported
Issues like these raise several safety concerns that have to be reduced to ensure employees are safe and free from harm on the job.
The HR team are heavily involved in creating a number of safety processes and handling risk assessments to ensure that injuries aren’t incurred during an event, for participating staff and event goers alike.
To summarise, this article has been created to give a greater insight into the important role that human resources play in the successful running of events and conferences along with what their overall role entails.
- Developing accurate job descriptions for permanent, contract and voluntary staff
- Advertising new job positions with 100% creativity
- Arranging and conducting interviews with potential employees
- Providing or organising training in key areas for all departments across the business
- Allocating work to employees and coordinating progress
- Managing employee performance whilst setting realistic goals
- Ensuring workers are paid accordingly and on time
- Devising work schedules and patterns that safeguard time allowances
- Producing concise safety processes that protect both employee and attendee
Clare Jones is an experienced marketing executive for team building and corporate event management specialists, Maximillion, based in Edinburgh, Scotland.
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