HR to lead with purpose
Setting the tone for the two-day event, CIPD CEO Peter Cheese’s keynote focused on the theme of leading with purpose.
He told delegates: “When I think about the future of work it’s so much about the principles that are important to us.”
As a period of ongoing change, where the pandemic aftermath, cost of living crisis, mental health and sustainability meet, he said HR professionals won’t have all the answers.
The solution therefore, will be how they adapt, and engage all stakeholders across the supply chain.
He added: “We should not be afraid of experimentation. We need to be agile.
“We all have agency. It’s what we do together to create a positive future of work.”
Sustainability lessons from Domestic & General and Trainline
Sustainability is high on the business agenda and people teams have to work to ensure it is embedded across the workforce.
Domestic & General director of innovation and sustainability Will Ashton-Smith said transparency is the core of the service and maintenance company’s approach.
Speaking on a panel on the environmental, social and governance (ESG) stage, he said: “It’s about balancing the good and the bad - be clear about things you’re proud about and doing but also being open about the things you aren’t so proud about and are working on.”
Jo McClintock, VP of brand at rail ticket vendor Trainline, agreed with Aston-Smith’s approach. She added: ”Sustainability is very much part of what we do, and a huge attraction for talent.”
Working sustainability into the employee lifecycle for McClintock has included an innovative approach to reward: as travelling by train is more environmentally friendly than by plane or car, Trainline employees can earn extra holiday allowance when they travel by train as part of their annual leave.
She said: “We all get holiday allowance – ultimately, we want people to use their holiday to travel by train rather than plane. How do we enable our employees to walk the talk?”
The initiative links to the wider multi-million-pound marketing campaign from the firm, I Came by Train, which aims to encourage the public, and eventually other businesses, to opt for rail as a more sustainable means of travel.
McClintock added: “It’s about driving pride in making that choice and the impact of making that choice.
“It’s been really important for employees. It showed we backed what we’re saying and doing.”
HR need to use data to improve their reputation
As conversations about HR's seat at the top table continue, it's clear the the perceived value of HR teams is still a challenge for the profession.
Rebecca Teasdale, delivery lead at Fluido, said data can help leadership teams understand the work HR does.
She said: "Data helps sell the culture HR are trying to create to teams and managers. They need to understand why you're doing what you're doing.
"HR also needs the numbers to show their worth and the results of their initiatives."
However, Teasdale added leadership needs to invest in tools that help HR measure their success.
"If the C-suite, think HR aren't good at their PR, ask why and ask if they're helping enough.
"I speak to so many clients who have to beg, borrow and steal to get the data gathering systems they need in place. And that's because C-suite don't think they're valuable enough to invest on those systems in the first place."
Remote work has democratised global recruitment
Recruiting the best talent across the globe used to be the reserve of large multinational companies. However Barry Rudden, global third-party director at business technology company Globalisation Partners, argued remote work has levelled the playing field for small businesses.
"Now, instead of people moving for opportunity, opportunity moves for them," he said. "This is a democratisation of opportunity and feeds into the trend of attracting the best talent no matter where they're located, even for smaller organisations."
Rudden said international recruitment also increases diversity, allowing companies access to new experiences and ways of working.
"Lots of studies show more diverse studies outperform their less diverse counterparts," he said. "That's probably down to the intake of language skills, varied viewpoints and cultural know how."