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CIPD ACE: The best of the rest

The HR magazine team spent the last few days at the CIPD's annual conference. Here's some of what we learned...

  • HR has a role to play in making sure no-one is left behind by the relentless march of technology, according to a panel discussion on the future of work. Valerie Todd, talent and resource director at Crossrail, said that technology and automation can “increase the divide between those who have and those who don’t have”. “Create inclusive work environments for everyone,” she added. Richard MacKinnon, insight director at the Future Work Centre, added that “just because technology exists, doesn’t mean it should exist in our organisations”. He urged HR professionals to be sceptical about the future of work. “What works for someone might not work for you,” he said. “HR needs to challenge fads and fashions that come up about the future of work. HR should be sceptical, awkward and keep asking questions.”
  • Rosalind Searle, professor of organisational behaviour and psychology at Coventry University and co-founder of the Centre for Trust, talked on the importance of trust in organisations. “We don’t seem to be doing it very well here in the UK,” she said. She explained how a deterioration of ‘affect-based’ trust (where a person feels they’re genuinely cared about) over recent years has contributed to people becoming ‘angry distrusters’ and ultimately potentially the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election. “Trust matters not just to your bottom line, but also to who you might be passing that person on to in terms of another organisation and passing that person on into wider society,” she said.
  • SIM card company GiffGaff presented on its innovative business model, where the word ‘customer’ is banned and the company operates through ‘members' who use GiffGaff SIM cards themselves and then gain £5 for every card passed on to a new member. People partner Alastair Gill talked on being brave as a company expands and choosing “option two” of trusting people rather than implementing lots of policy and procedure. “It’s easier to industrialise the process of work; we’ve all worked there, whereas things get more complicated where processes are put in, and what you get is it’s like industry,” he said. “But we need to be more like agriculture; so we create the environments for people to thrive.”
  • Group chief people officer at facilities management company Servest, CJ Green described her company’s decision to dispense with annual performance reviews to give managers the freedom to decide how best to conduct performance management. She described how surprisingly tough this has proved. “I expected some sort of Mexican wave as I walked into the room but actually what I found was quite a divided room,” she said. “Some found it quite usual not to have a HR-driven mandate.” Regarding the power of providing the tools and scope but ultimately letting people decide for themselves how best to do this, Green said: “We imagine there’s one way to accurately performance manage people and actually there isn’t.”
  • Want to get started with HR analytics? HR director at Aviva Nathan Adams offered some practical tips. “Get going, start small and build out,” he advised, adding that although it’s important to have good data at the start, trying to get it perfect can be counterproductive. “Data quality is important but you’re never going to get it perfect,” he said. “Get it good enough and start.” Adams also advised HRDs to look for analytics capability from other areas, bring people with data skills into HR, and emphasised the need to start with the business problem and align any HR analytics with wider business strategy. “Ask yourself: what is the business problem you are trying to solve? Keep asking: why are we doing this and is it helping?” he said.
  • CIPD CEO Peter Cheese told HR magazine that HR professionals must look for ways to restore trust, both in their business and within society. “We can’t go on in a world with trust diminishing like this,” he said. “We must find ways to restore it.” He pointed to Brexit and the US election as examples of a decline in trust in the establishment. “Who is big business acting in the interests of? We need to point business in a different direction. 2016 has been a seminal year, with changes we can’t ignore,” he added.
  • Recognition can be a highly effective reward, according to Jonathan Crookall, people director of Halfords. “For example, I carry a chequebook full of £20 cheques. If I see someone do something good I can write that cheque out for them, and it will be added to their pay cheque. We allow our staff to send each other postcards saying things like ‘thank you’ or ‘wow’ when they’ve been really helpful.” He stressed the importance that good service has on the business. “Service is in our DNA,” he said. “About 60% of sales in-store require a conversation before a purchase. Therefore recognising helpful behaviour is huge for us.”