CIPD annual conference round-up: Day two

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What the HR magazine team learnt at the second day of the CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition

The HR magazine team has been at the CIPD annual conference in Manchester. As well as today’s top stories, here’s what else we learned on day two...

  • Head of digital learning at Royal Mail Donna McGrath shared some tips on getting a social, collaborative learning platform off the ground. She advised that it will need a lot of support to start with. “I thought I could just leave the groups and people would share things instinctively but they need support to begin with,” she said. “People need help getting beautiful content on there so others go into the group.” She said not to be alarmed if not everyone contributes. “People just lurking in a group is still good,” she explained. “They’re still finding out what’s going on, still learning.”
  • In the same session Pash Reddy, vice president of global digital learning at Allianz Global Investors, talked on how the role of the L&D professional had evolved in recent years. “We no longer need to create this content; it’s already created for us,” she said. “We need to put this information in front of our learners.” She added it was about combining digital with in-person learning: “We shouldn’t disregard the importance of that element as people still like learning from their peers face to face.”
  • Jane Graham, resourcing manager at Wiltshire Council, spoke on a recent rebrand of her council's social worker recruitment activities. Imagery has gone from generic pictures of Wiltshire landscapes to messaging that really connects with why social workers do the work they do, she said. “Wherever possible we use real people and real staff in advertising,” she said. “I would say my team are more like marketeers and that’s how we’ve got to think.”
  • Jon Dawson, former HR director at The London Edition and now HRD at The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London & One Hyde Park Residencies, described revamping Edition’s recruitment activities to attract staff from the worlds of fashion, art, music and entertainment. This was important as these are the sorts of guests the hotel wanted to attract, he explained. Activity involved holding a talent event in an art gallery in Fitzrovia and prioritising candidates' experience in the creative fields over experience working in hotels.
  • Organisations should carefully consider how to communicate their rewards strategy, according to Georgina Corbett, former group HR director of Dandara. "There's no substitute for a face-to-face talk," she said. "Being able to explain the details and benefits is very important. We've been able to target people when they have a lifestyle event – for example, when they have a child we can show them the benefits they might want to take up as a result."
  • Alex Edmans, a professor of finance at London Business School, challenged delegates to ask what their business exists for. "Is it to make a profit or to serve a purpose?" he asked. "Does it work for shareholders or for society? The answer is yes, because it's not a multiple choice question. It's both, not either or."
  • Director of people for Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police, Graham Smith talked about how the different functions worked together when the two forces decided to come together as a ‘strategic alliance’ in 2015. This year they have decided to explore formally merging. “When I went to try and find the evidence base [for how these kinds of mergers have worked in other organisations], it was there in spades. And the lessons always seem to be the same,” he said. “We were able to demonstrate from that evidence base that one of the key things going forward was we needed to look after the people.” His colleague, assistant chief constable Andy Boulting, added the importance of everyone involved being on the same page: “When professions come together the values and ethics they bring are vital. People have to come together with a shared vision and shared respect."
  • Speaking on the same panel, Gillian Quinton, executive director of resources at Buckinghamshire County Council, further clarified HR’s role in partnerships and mergers. “HR has a role to play as an organisational facilitator. If we don’t bring together all the different elements of an organisation to work together who else will do it? Focus on your strengths, play to them, and then bring others in from the organisation who have different strengths,” she advised.
  • “There are directions of travel but no silver bullet [when it comes to agile working],” said consultant, researcher and author Linda Holbeche. Increased levels of automation will lead to a complex regulatory and recruitment landscape that will “inevitably slow us down”. Holbeche said it’s about anticipating the future now and swiftly redesigning organisations. She warned of the distinction between agility and flexibility. “Agility is about recognising and responding. It’s about fundamentally changing what an organisation is doing to deliver what’s needed. Flexibility is about change within the existing paradigm. It doesn’t mean reinvention,” she said.
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