Investors in People conference: Four ways to make work better

The event was headlined by podcaster and investor, Steven Bartlett.

Investors in People’s Make Work Better conference yesterday (20 September) was headlined by the serial investor and Diary of a CEO podcaster, Steven Bartlett and included insight from British Airways and Lloyds Banking Group. Here are four key takeaways on how to improve work.

1. Correlate culture with mission

Bartlett said company culture is the single most important factor to improving employee experience. However, leaders must build a culture that aligns with their company's mission to make sure it is genuinely and widely implemented.

He said: “The way you create company culture is by reverse engineering it from the company's mission. Ask ‘what do we need to do?’

“From there you can look at the values and philosophies that would be required to drive those behaviours and what you can do to incentivise that mindset. That way you’ll create a good, sustainable culture that everyone you employ can get on board with.”

Bartlett added that company culture needs to become strong enough that it is instantly recognisable to the team.

He added: “At my podcast culture has become an adjective. When people spot a lack of empathy or a lack of innovation they say that’s not very 'Diary of a CEO'.”

Read more: How to create a culture that works for everyone


2. Use apprenticeships to increase diversity

Apprenticeships can be used to bring more diverse talent into the business.

Kathryn Marshall, senior manager of apprenticeships at Lloyds Banking Group said: “When recruiting for our apprenticeships, we target people from socially disadvantaged backgrounds who may think they wouldn’t fit in. We talk to schools, especially in London, and we don’t require GCSEs or UCAS points. 

“It’s also about getting to the parents and making them see that apprenticeships are a viable option.”

Ricky Leaves, senior apprenticeship manager at British Airways, said since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy and the cost of living crisis, there are more middle-class apprenticeship applicants. 

He added: “British Airways has historically been perceived as a white middle class company, however we are always looking at ways to make improvements and focussing on how we can improve inclusion and diversity across our apprenticeship schemes. We recruit for potential, rather than the finished article."


3. Encourage working fathers by ‘parenting out loud’ 

Even when favourable paternity policies are put in place, staff will not use them unless senior leadership set an example, according to Elliott Rae, founder of fatherhood platform MusicFootballFatherhood.

Rae said: “It’s hard to encourage dads to take enough parental leave and lean into parenting if senior leaders won't. They need to become role models so other feel safe to take parental leave without worrying it will affect their career progression or how others see them.”

Rae said employers need to create cultures where staff can be open about the responsibilities and struggles of fatherhood.

He added: “Leaders need to ‘parent out loud'. They need to talk about their fatherhood responsibilities and put them in their calendars, creating a culture which encourages working flexibly around those responsibilities. 

“This is the sort of thing that will help men understand that their definition of success does not need to be entirely dedicated to work. Men who are actively engaged in their families have better mental health and are at lower risk of suicide. This is really important.”

Read more: Fathers can't afford paternity leave, finds TUC


4. Gamify ESG to drive staff engagement

Sanjay Lobo, CEO of volunteering app OnHand, said 200 million hours of volunteering hours that employers offer go unused every year.

However, charity and environmental work is a key way to create a sense of belonging and appeal to the socially conscious Gen-Z cohort.

He said: “The obstacles are always that people are too busy and don’t have time to volunteer. But what if we create micro opportunities, rather than full days off, like taking half an hour to give an isolated older person a call or drop food off at a food bank?

“We need to give staff local opportunities that are easy to get involved in.”

He also said HR can work at incentivising good deeds through gamification, creating competitions and setting targets.

“We’ve seen great effects from using workers’ competitive nature to incentivise them to do good, or save carbon emissions, for example through a company-wide leaderboard. Companies are start to create ESG goals for each employee in their annual reviews, and I think this will become the norm over the next five years.”