Stories#094 Michael’s diverse recruitment

#094 Michael’s diverse recruitment

The story of Alberto’s mending mindset is a story of Michael’s diverse recruitment

Born in Rotterdam, child of Indonesian parents and Dutch-Indonesian grandparents, and a family tree with Portuguese, German, Belgian and Chinese roots. ‘I am diversity!’ concludes Michael Neys. And he’s a people person. That’s why he tells associate professor Alberto Martinetti (Maintenance Engineering, DPM) that he was born for the position of HR policy advisor in the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion team. It's great that Michael is so passionate about his profession, because Alberto turns out to be a curious interviewer who sets off immediately.

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Monday 31 october 2022 

You don't have to agree with each other’

Alberto: ‘Hey Michael, I'm going to dive right in, okay? How did you become an HR advisor?’

Michael: ‘My father worked in the financial sector and as a teenager, it made sense to follow in his footsteps. I studied bookkeeping, but soon discovered that I like dealing with people rather than numbers. My switch to Personnel & Labor was the right choice. Connecting with people, making sure that they can do their work under good terms and in fair, just conditions, contributing to their well-being and happiness at work, that’s a fantastic assignment.’

Alberto: ‘You haven't dropped the word policy yet. How’s that created?’

Michael: ‘At HR, our policy team works with three themes: talent, wellbeing, and HR basics. We do this on a project basis, in six-week sprints and with various teams, in which we also involve people from other departments. For example, I recently worked with an assistant professor and policy advisor Research from BMS, who had conducted research into inclusion within UT. Here, Internal research and policy making come together, and it’s very valuable and fun to translate these current insights into practice. Besides that we collect input ourselves. By doing employee satisfaction surveys and interviews, among other things. And conversations. Lots of conversations. HR policy isn’t a ‘fabrication’ of our department. Good policy starts with asking questions. What's going on? How do you experience that? What problems do you encounter? What do you need? We collect these answers in all sorts of ways from all ranks of UT. It isn’t until we have that input, that we can start writing. And then preferably no thick policy documents – they end up in a drawer anyway. No, it’s quality over quantity.’

“HR policy isn’t a ‘fabrication’ of our department. Good policy starts with asking questions”
Michael Neys

Alberto: ‘Hear, hear! Something else: are you familiar with Smart Industry or Industry 4.0?’

Michael: ‘No, tell me.’

Alberto: ‘Smart Industry is also known as the fourth industrial revolution. In a nutshell, it encompasses the far-reaching digitisation of devices, production resources, and organisations. Do you think HR can be a part of this too?’

Michael: ‘Interesting question. The first thing that comes to mind right now is the use of AI in recruitment and selection. I don't know enough about it, but in the light of inclusion, my HR focus area, AI could perhaps be used for an unbiased initial selection of candidates. This would contribute to a fair and transparent selection process. And by fully automating standardised HR processes, AI could take the work off our hands. After which the employee focuses more on the control and quality improvement of the work. Win-win in my eyes.’

Alberto: ‘I certainly see advantages, but also disadvantages. Because if you’re talking about recruitment and selection, a robot probably does a good job selecting on 'hard data' from the resume. But I personally think it’s just as important to find out how someone fits into the group. That’s also an important selection criterion, isn't it?’

Michael: ‘We don't have to choose, do we? You can personally talk to the candidates who get through the first selection. When making a choice, we should by all means continue to think for ourselves and remain empathetic, but a robot can lend a hand.’

Alberto: ‘I’m curious about the developments in this area. What are some current trends in recruitment and selection?’

Michael: ‘I’m not that interested in trends. I like to look at the specific context: who does the assignment come from, what’s the question, from which pond are we fishing, what’s the labor market like? Perhaps you’d like to receive a video or presentation from your applicants, while someone else prefers to delve into long application letters for that first impression. But regardless, you have to think carefully about what you ask of people and why. For the position of teacher, it’s not a bad idea to see how someone manages to present themselves on video. For an archivist, that skill is much less relevant. Are you going to have the second one record a video anyway?’

Alberto: ‘And how do you avoid falling into the trap of selecting people who are alike, who resemble you?’

Michael: ‘There are different ways to work on diversity. We have experts and the necessary tools available, so make use of them. But before that, you have to be aware of this mechanism. In a conversation, people often subconsciously look for similarities with the other – in background, humor, hobbies. While someone in whom you don’t directly recognize yourself can be the perfect addition to the team. Unity is nice, but doesn’t necessarily lead to critical reflection or new perspectives. Once your team is a bit more diverse, that’s beneficial to your next selection.’

“Unity is nice, but it doesn't necessarily lead to critical reflection or new perspectives”
Michael Neys

Alberto: ‘What can we do to stimulate diversity, equality, and inclusion at UT? What does that require of all of us?’

Michael: ‘Listening, really listening to what the other has to say, I think that's the most important thing. And that sounds easier than it is. Genuine curiosity about the other person helps. At least, realise that you don't always have to agree with each other. Try to be open and respectful to differences, different views, and opinions. That can be uncomfortable, sometimes you have to leave your comfort zone. You’ll have to show your own insecurity and it may lead to misunderstanding sometimes. But without effort, no result.’

Alberto: ‘No pain, no gain.’

Michael: ‘Exactly.’

Alberto: ‘Sounds like an athlete's slogan. Which brings me to my last question: what do you like to do in your spare time?’

Michael: ‘My wife, our two daughters, family, and my friends are important to me. I enjoy their company, especially when food is involved. I like to cook and have a nice long dinner. I also play guitar, I'm in a band, and I run two to three times a week to stay fit and clear my head.’

Alberto: ‘Sounds great! Do you happen to like good coffee, too?’

Michael: ‘Sure, let's meet on campus sometime!'

Michael Neys (1985)

has been HR policy advisor at the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion team of UT since mid-2021. Before that, he worked for almost twelve years as an organizational consultant at Manna. Michael studied HRM at Saxion University of Applied Sciences.

Dr. Alberto Martinetti (1985)

studied Mining Engineering at the Politecnico of Torino. He obtained his PhD in Occupational Safety and Health from the same university. After his doctoral research, Alberto had several jobs outside academia. He worked as Assistant Inspector at the Local Mining Inspectorates Authority of Turin Province and as Safety Engineer in a consultancy company. He then returned to academia. First as a research fellow at Politecnico di Torino. Later he joined UT’s Maintenance Engineering department as an Assistant Professor, and now as an Associate Professor. In his research, he focuses more and more on creating impact for society and for underserved communities through Humanitarian Engineering actions.