How NOVA Entertainment fights (and wins) the battle for talent

Talent management has played a key role in the commercial success of NOVA Entertainment, according to its head of HR Alana Howe

Talent management has played a key role in the commercial success of NOVA Entertainment, according to its head of HR, who explained that a new capability framework has laid the foundations for acquiring, developing and retaining the right talent for the business.

NOVA Entertainment, which is Australia’s fastest growing entertainment company with broad interests across the media industry, competes fiercely for the best talent in the market, said Alana Howe, head of HR for Nova Entertainment.

“This is a crucial area for us,” said Howe.

The new capability framework involved consultation across the business to identify the key capabilities that make NOVA Entertainment successful.

“We identified a mix of creative, innovative, commercial and people-centric capabilities that we now use to recruit, promote and develop our people,” said Howe.

“This provided a transparent framework where our people could see what was required to progress their career and help them develop a plan to get there.”

These factors have also contributed to improved talent retention, according to Howe: “our annual turnover rate is 19 per cent which is well below media industry standard.”

NOVA Entertainment was recently accredited as a best employer in the Aon Hewitt Best Employer awards, and Howe said there was a favourable seven-point increase in its 2017 survey results about how people felt about the conversations their managers have with them about their career

“Our annual turnover rate is 19 per cent which is well below media industry standard”

Building the employee value proposition
Recruiting and promoting the right people has been a key talent focus for HR within NOVA Entertainment, and Howe said HR has “placed significant emphasis” on this over the past two years.

“We have defined our employee value proposition and have built a significant online presence for our employer brand particularly via social pages such as LinkedIn and Facebook,” she explained.

“We have seen significant increases in the level of engagement that candidates have with our brand in these channels, which has led to quicker and high-quality recruitment decisions.”

HR also implemented a completely automated online candidate experience, whereby new recruits receive a text message confirming their verbal employment offer and instantly receive a link to review, sign and return all their employment details.

“Within this experience, our newest recruits are also provided with company information to engage them in the culture they are about to join,” said Howe.

NOVA Entertainment is actively looking to diversify its business, and Howe said HR is playing a key role in ensuring that the business is structured and operating in a way that allows for innovation and growth.

“A key part of this is ensuring that our team structures are as flat and agile as possible and that managers are trained and enabled to empower their teams,” she said.

“In a fast-paced environment and one that is constantly pursuing ‘what’s next’ this is crucial in delivering our strategy.”

To further support an agile culture, HR is leading the implementation of process efficiency with aligned organisational structures to ensure teams are best equipped to deliver and help grow the business.

“We have an incredible culture, and one that is quite unique”

Keys to commercial success
NOVA Entertainment is wholly owned by Illyria Nominees Television (a private investment company of Lachlan Murdoch) and operates commercial radio networks in metropolitan and regional areas of Australia, a pay television station and mobile brands.

Focusing on its radio stations as “brands” – rather than just the pursuit of audience ratings, has been critical to the success of NOVA, said Cathy O’Connor, CEO of Nova Entertainment.

“NOVA and smooth as brands are more than radio – they are content across multiple digital platforms,” she said.

“This has allowed us to engage in more strategic conversations with advertisers in a changing media landscape.”

A focus on implementation has also been important to NOVA Entertainment’s success, and O’Connor said this is supported by an ability to execute large-scale creative ideas for clients.

“This is creativity with process behind it.; in turn we have built a strong reputation in delivering on what we promise,” she said.

“Our clients can rely on us to deliver results and that counts for a lot given the high accountability for ROI in marketing spends.”

Nova is also investing heavily in the diversification of its business, and this includes the expansion of digital offerings and investing in businesses that leverage its core competencies.

“We will also innovate around the core by building our credentials in marketing services and products that play NE beyond the radio advertising market,” said O’Connor.

“Things such as providing branded audio or podcasting to third parties, further building our events offering beyond our very successful Red Room are all part of that expansion.”

O’Connor added that the business is also looking to expand and extend its nova and smooth brands into new territories beyond metro Australia, as well as new models to drive or leverage growth from content, brands and expertise.

“The pursuit of high employee engagement is one that is owned and lead not only by every business leader, but also our CEO”

Where culture meets commercial success
A culture that makes creativity a fun, shared pursuit, yet ensures staff are accountable and responsible for commercial thinking, has also played an important role in NOVA’s success, Howe added.

“We have an incredible culture, and one that is quite unique,” she said.

“We receive consistent feedback (via the Aon Hewitt survey and other means) from our people that they love working here.”

Each year, Howe said the business has raised the bar on the types of initiatives and benefits available to its people, while providing increased development opportunities for talent and a transparent structure around its remuneration approach.

“Our company values, known as ‘The Bond’, are genuinely embedded in our business and we are proud to say that we live and breathe them,” she said.

“Not only are they embedded in our standard recruitment and performance approach, but we have also taken the step to embed them in our largest employee recognition piece.”

The NOVA Entertainment awards are peer-nominated awards where entrants are considered against its values as well as key business metrics.

This combination of strong cultural values and the celebration of successes contribute positively to the employee experience, Howe affirmed.

“These elements created a very solid basis by which to grow engagement levels to the point where we have been recognised as a best employer,” said Howe.

“Given our inherent people focus, we can implement a targeted HR strategy that supports business performance”

Leading engagement across the business
This is supported by the business’ leaders who take the engagement level of their people “very seriously” and who see this measure as a genuine business enabler.

“As a result, the pursuit of high employee engagement is one that is owned and lead not only by every business leader, but also our CEO,” she said.

“Given our inherent people focus, we can implement a targeted HR strategy that supports business performance.”

A key focus for the HR team over the past 18 months has been to implement NOVA’s first management training program.

This was designed to ensure that all people managers were equipped with the right capability to lead their teams.

In NOVA’s 2017 employee survey, Howe said there was an increase in 13 out of the 15 questions regarding manager effectiveness by an average of five percentage points.

“This is the first time we have seen a uniform increase in these measures which we believe is a result of this training approach and the increased coaching and HR business partnering across the company,” she said.

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