Aitch Are Gives You...
Great session last Thursday - a joint International HR Forum / CHS Alliance “Building Bridges” session around the role of HR in managing all the change and disruption we have seen these past couple of years.
And 2022 is proving that there’s going to be no let-up.
A huge thanks to Angelique Slob from The Hello Monday Club, and the CIPD’s head of HR Georgina Powell, for anchoring this session with their experiences and insights.
And of course to to Gozel Baltaeva from the CHS Alliance for helping pull it all together
What were the key takeaways?
- Change is a constant.
- Disruptive change occurs because of an innovation or any other disruption that results in the need to change how an organization works.
- The role of HR is to understand where things are heading and anticipate disruption
- Some were able to see that the pandemic would have a global impact, and prepared for it.
- What else is coming up? Flexible working, 4-day week, activity based working, redefining the role of offices, transformed expectations re the role of a manager, increased employee activism, human rights, sustainability, climate change, DEI, global equality, AI, VR, etc. And what about the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? How can you prepare your org for these shifts?
What implications does all of this have for the capabilities of an HR leader? We need to be able to:
- Research trends and anticipate future disruptions.
- Lead strategic discussions.
- Embrace community learning.
- Develop critical thinking and vision.
- Have a challenging mindset.
- Learn and share.
- Create safe spaces for people to experiment and change.
- Shift business models from “command and control” to “enabling and empowering”.
- Understand the skills and capabilities needed for any business to thrive.
- Promote equality of experience and opportunity within a hybrid world.
- Engage in the conversations that matter.
And just like that, the hour was up. Doesn’t time fly when you’re talking about change?
Want to learn more? Connect with Angelique and George.
See you soon - take care, and be good.
A huge thanks for Anastasia Dedyukhina from Consciously Digital for popping in to the International HR Forum's virtual cafe last Thursday.
The topic was how to keep on top of digital wellbeing in a world where tech has become all-pervasive, and Covid has blurred home/work boundaries.
In a poll at the start of the call, 76% of attendees felt that they were "always on".
And something mirrored by Consciously Digital's detailed research, that indicates a number of trends amongst workers from tech companies that have accelerated during the pandemic:
- Increased screen time, given the proliferation of video calls, emails, collaboration tools, etc.
- Longer working hours. 69% said their working hours had increased when they had to work from home.
- Decreased tech/life balance.
- Less capacity to stay focused. Indeed the mere presence of a smart-phone impacts productivity.
- Less time to think and focus. 41% had less than 1 hour uninterrupted time per day.
- The volume of video calls. 71% have 5 or more a day.
- Increased multi-tasking. 87% do this whilst on video calls.
- More pressure to keep on top of emails. 95% have their email open whilst working.
- An increased blurring of the boundaries between work and home life. Only 18% felt that they put clear boundaries in place.
All of this had implications for the health and wellbeing amongst the respondents:
- 63% have no established breaks.
- 76% have meal breaks in front of their laptop or smartphone.
- 86% keep their device(s) in their bedroom at night.
- 73% check their device before getting up in the morning.
So what can be done about all of this?
Anastasia explored the three pillars of a healthy tech/life balance:
1. Focused work.
2. Rest and unplug.
3. Physical and mental wellbeing.
The challenge for HR practitioners is to not just to encourage digital wellbeing in the workplace, but also within the broader HR profession.
A number of ways to encourage wellbeing were explored.
- Regular physical activity.
- Looking after your eyes.
- Taking care of your posture.
- Healthy eating habits.
- Quality of rest, and sleep.
- Effective time management, and delineation between deep and shallow work.
- Thinking about your environment, and the impact this has on work, your relationships, etc.
- Taking time for self-recovery.
We covered off in an hour what could easily be a day's workshop. Thanks again to Anastasia for a thought-provoking and interactive session. It certainly got me thinking about things I can do to review digital wellbeing at my company, and also on a personal level as I must admit some bad habits have crept in over the past couple of years!
Digital wellbeing should be an area that is top of mind for any HR professional, and with that in mind please do connect with Anastasia:
- On Twitter @ConsciDigital
- On LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/anastasiadedyukhina/
- Via the website https://www.consciously-digital.com/
The good news is that my PCR test was negative, and what I have had this past week is what we used to call in the good ol’ days a “cold”. Remember them?
Anyhow, it’s been a long, long time since my last blog so it’s with a spring in my step, a song in my heart and a distinctly drier nose that I share with you my latest offering.
The topic? As Kurgan said in Highlander, “there can only be one”.
I hosted a “future of work / return to office” session last week, 20 intrepid leaders from my HR network pitched up to enjoy a virtual cuppa and sarnie, whilst talking to what they are experiencing within their businesses.
The key themes for companies with operations in EMEA and APAC were as follows:
Differences emerged with regard to offices in the US where, for example, some companies have:
And that was it - time caught up with us and it was off to the day-job once more.
Having had time to reflect on the discussions, here’s my top five tips:
Oops, that was 6 top tips, but who’s counting? And there’s probably more too...
Anyhow, that’s it from me. As ever, be good, stay safe and see you soon.
After a few weeks pondering the world of work in the face of the continuing pandemic, the International HR Forum switched gears to how companies can advance their approaches to diversity, equality and inclusion from "just talking about it" to practical frameworks and initiatives that can lead to tangible results.
It was great to welcome Toby Mildon to facilitate the conversation, given the depth of experience he has had in many organisations in advancing the DEI agenda.
First up was a conversation on the challenges participants on the call have been facing. These included the following:
- How to accommodate significant differences that exist from one country to another.
- The breadth of what it can encompass.
- Being able to attract diverse candidates for specialist roles from limited labour pools.
- Lack of data to help with decision-making.
- Measuring the effectiveness of any initiative.
- Lip-service from leadership teams.
- Seen as a compliance or tick-in-the-box exercise.
- Low, or no, budget.
- More of a marketing/PR exercise.
- Short-term knee-jerk reaction to an issue or incident (e.g. George Floyd).
- Lack of shared ownership, it typically falls into HR's remit.
Toby said that quite often, taking all these challenges into account, the biggest challenge of all is where to start!
He recommended a simple framework to help build a plan:
- Establish: clarity, culture.
- Evolve: change, colleague experience, cyber.
- Enhance: collaboration, celebration.
The business benefits of genuine DEI are well documented: better results, improved engagement and productivity, enhanced ability to attract and retain, etc... So find your "why", and build your business case together around the following "C's":
We then talked around the key issues that will arise as you create and drive a program:
- How to engage with senior leaders. Understand the audience, think about their style, balance logic (have data to hand) with emotion (paint a picture of what life could be), be ready to have challenging conversations.
- Data is key. Qualitative and quantitative. And there are various ways of getting this e.g. self declaration, focus groups, questionnaires,
- Respect, empowerment,
- Culture. What are the key behaviours to support DEI? Six signature traits of effective leaders. Awareness of biases and blindspots, curious, collaborative, courage, commitment, cultural intelligence.
- Having an approach to managing change that works for your business e.g. John Kotter's 8-step change model which focuses on creating the right climate, engaging and enabling the business, and then implementing and sustaining change.
- Take a human-centred approach. Look at all people management practices through the lens of the target audiences.
- Have DEI champions at all levels.
- Lead from the top.
- Be clear on your employee experience.
- Understand the business benefits of any DEI program.
- Develop a personalised plan for your company.
For more info around the above, then Toby's book "Inclusive Growth: Future Proof Your Business by Creating a Diverse Workplace" dives into the nitty-gritty, and is a must-read. Available from all good retailers :)
A huge thanks for Toby for giving up his valuable time, and for leading such a thought-provoking session.
Connect with him: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tobymildon/
Access his free resources: https://mildon.co.uk/media/
Book a free consultation with him: https://calendly.com/tobymildon/meeting-with-toby-mildon
My summer holiday in Gozo beckons...perhaps. I took a risk a few months ago in booking it, and thankfully Malta was added to the green list last week. The Maltese authorities however won't allow people to enter unless they have proof of double vaccination, which we all have, apart from my daughter who has just the one. Yikes... Complicated, isn't it?
Wishing you all a good summer too, whether you are able to get away or are staying closer to home.
Until August then - be good, and stay safe.
I've been following Chris Herd, CEO of Firstbase HQ, on Twitter for some time now. Not in a creepy, stalker-ish kind of way, I hasten to add, but more as a result of the challenge he has thrown out to employers around the remote-first response they should be adopting at this time. And beyond.
Chris is in the business of helping companies set up, scale and support remote workforces and has been one of the more vocal proponents of tapping into the shift away from office-based workforces, a shift that has been accelerated by Covid.
So it was great to have him along at our last weekly International HR Forum meeting to discuss his thoughts in this area. As an "HRD collective" much of our time these past few months has been comparing notes about how to support businesses and employees with the future world of work as we learn to live with Covid, and hopefully steer a course out of the pandemic.
What does Chris view as the benefits of a "remote-first" approach?
- It's a bridge to a higher quality of life. Less commuting, more time with family, etc.
- It is increasingly being seen as additional leverage to attract talent, given access to talent no longer needs to be constrained by location.
- Companies can save on real estate costs. Chris highlighted a recent survey that showed most orgs are looking to cut between 50 and 70% of their office footprint over the coming years.
- It promotes choice, and empowers people to have flexibility of where to work from e.g. home, office, coffee shop, on the go, or from a co-working space.
Chris did acknowledge that a remote-first approach does come with its challenges. Planned remote working in "normal" times would be very different from forced remote working during a pandemic, so to truly succeed in being a remote employer, companies will need to review their approach to:
- Thinking in terms of community as well as culture.
- Fully embracing remote working.
- Managing a distributed workforce.
- Addressing potential issues around burnout.
- Planning work such that it can be done from anywhere.
- Maximising the quality of any in-person time together.
- Ensuring equality of opportunity and participation (e.g. dialing in from where you're sitting rather than having some in a meeting room and others virtual).
- Async working.
- Knowledge sharing.
- Recalibrating what productivity means e.g. project work and stuff that requires deep thinking at home, in-person collaboration and relationship building at the office. It's all about what you do, not where you do it.
- Managing health and safety obligations in remote locations as well as offices.
- Leading through any "them and us" issues e.g. where head-office based staff can be remote, whilst others have no choice where they can work (e.g. in a factory, shop, hospital, etc).
Any transition will not be easy, as we haven't been here before. But plan, test, and try. See what works. Chris highlighted Spotify as a great case-study:
- We know what we think we should do.
- But we are going to ask our people.
- And we are going to listen to our people.
- And then we will give everyone want they feel they need to succeed.
- But give us time to get there.
- And be patient whilst we review how it's going.
Chris's parting comments were compelling:
- Ignoring remote working ignores the reality of what has happened to "office life" over the past 10 years - longer commutes, longer office hours, superficial relationships.
- Survey data is suggesting anything between 70-90% of people never want to work full-time from an office again, with the preference for being 1 or 2 days a week.
- Embrace remote. Or get left behind to those companies that do.
A huge thanks to Chris for a lively session! If you are grappling with issues in this area, or just want to see what's going on, then:
- Follow Chris on Twitter (@chris_herd)
- Connect with Chris on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrisherd/)
- Read Chris's summary following discussions he had had with over 1,000 companies (https://twitter.com/chris_herd/status/1402621502902738944)
Thanks for reading! Comments welcome. In the meantime, stay safe, and be good.
Thanks to all of those who attended the International HR Forum's working session last week to discuss approaches to take with any transition to a hybrid model of work!
What do you call a sad fruit and veg hybrid? Meloncauli.
OK, rubbish joke, and a poor introduction to an important topic, but "hybrid" is one of those terms that has sprung from nowhere to the forefront of business-speak in a relatively short space of time. Some like it, some don't. Some prefer "agile" to "hybrid". But let's not get hung up on the terminology. Let's look instead at how to make it all a reality.
What does "hybrid" actually mean?
- The ability for an employee to have more choice over where and when they work - the home, an office, on the move, etc.
- "What" employees do is more important than "where" and "when" they work.
- Org-wide, applicable to all.
- A considered re-evaluation of where people spend their time.
- "Where someone works is not the issue. The way you run your business is".
What sort of things do you need to work through to get there?
- Understand what your employees think about it, and what their preferences are.
- Reflect employee sentiment in what you do.
- Provide flexibility and choice. One size doesn't fit all...
- Trust your people. Resist the temptation to build heavy process around it as this may be a dis-incentive to return to an office.
- Manage expectations. Some roles may well be predominantly more office-based than others.
- The need to be more intentional around collaboration.
- Make sure inclusion in built into your arrangements.
- Give people the tools to be productive.
- Ensure managers have the ability to inspire dispersed teams.
- Rethink the role of an office. Less of a place where people work at a fixed place, more a space to collaborate, have customer experience centres, etc.
- Make sure people management practices are geared up to a hybrid world.
- Consider the impact of hybrid working on your culture.
- The contractual and tax implications of any change in location (home v. office v. dual).
- Providing some form of "freedom within a framework" to drive consistency.
- An opportunity to review working patterns e.g. compressed hours.
Potential areas of contention
- The degree to which any return to an office is mandated v. encouraged.
- How much do you allow people to move location/countries? And what is the process around this?
- The balance between employee-led v. manager-controlled when it comes to degrees of flex between home and office working. There was a feeling that execs were keener to see a broad return to office working, whereas employees wanted more freedom/flexibility.
- What the level playing field to ensure people are treated consistently and inclusively may look like.
- Real estate strategy. Maintain, downsize, close?
- Maintaining certain measures (social distancing, mask-wearing, etc) even if these restrictions are lifted.
That's all folks! Hope this is of use. Be good, stay safe, and see you soon.
Being "of a certain age", (full disclosure: yes, it may come as a surprise to some of you, but I am 21 and a bit!) I was looking forward to hearing from Lucy Standing from Brave Starts, a career transition not-for-profit aimed at helping those over 50 in the workplace, at our latest International HR Forum gathering.
Lucy's starting point was that although the proportion of over-50s is the fastest growing part of the workforce (it has doubled in size to 10.7m workers over the last 25 years, and this trend is accelerating), it was also one of the most neglected and under-funded.
So what are the issues?
- The over 50s have less opportunity in the job market, so current recruitment models are not cutting it in terms of attracting a broad, diverse skills-set.
- Job descriptions not reflecting the jobs that are being done.
- The career guidance market is crowded, with a lot of variable quality in there.
And what is the business case for supporting employees who are over 50?
- Anticipate and prepare for the increasing proportion of the workforce being over 50.
- It makes financial sense, as employers can defer the need to attract, ramp up, etc.
- This part of the workforce have a lot of built-in knowledge.
- They can act as role models for the younger demographics.
- It enables employers to demonstrate that they care for all employees.
- Jobs for life may have been a thing of the past, but engagement and retention is still key.
- Gain competitive advantage by doing something innovative with the fastest growing demographic.
- It is socially responsible, and combats ageism.
- Encourages people to continually evolve their skills-set.
- Tap into the high drive over 50s have re retaining a sense of purpose, and a desire to learn new things (per a survey of 4,100 over 50s).
- Covid is acting as an accelerator when it comes to accepting more flexible working patterns.
What factors prevent people from making a change?
- They may not be sure what to do next.
- They have experienced ageism, or think that they may do so.
- Financially trapped.
There is recognition that there may be some pressure from an employer perspective:
- There is a section of this demographic that will be wanting to plan for retirement over a period of time.
- This demographic may be higher paid than younger people who may be able to do similar things at a reduced cost.
Strategies to retain, or aid the transition, of the over 50s:
- Give time (paid, or unpaid) for people to explore and develop skills. For example, Monzo provide 30 days of unpaid leave.
- Provide opportunities for people to shadow other jobs (internally or externally) that may be of interest.
- Support building confidence into a new role.
- Enable access to online courses around career change.
- Facilitate introductions to other companies.
- Encourage mid-life financial MOTs.
Finally - check out and connect with Brave Starts:
- You can signal your support as an employer who supports ageing better simply by directing your employees to get membership with Brave Starts. There are two tiers: free and a £25 (excl VAT) per employee per year level. As a not for profit, all fees support the community. Brave Starts accepts no advertising and doesn’t sell data, so do please consider reading more here: https://www.bravestarts.com/corporate
- Might your employees be interested in becoming volunteers and raising money for charity in the process? You can email Lucy to discuss (there is no cost in doing this at all).
- Read more: https://www.bravestarts.com/
- Connect with Lucy: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lucystanding/ and @Brave_Starts
Thanks all - stay safe, be good and see you soon.
It's been quite the year, hasn't it?
And we still don't know whether Fulham will be relegated, but even I have got to admit it's not looking good.
But I digress...
As parts of the world have emerged from, or are starting to emerge from, the worst of Covid, one of the key areas companies have had to grapple with is the potential transition from an environment where people used to work predominantly from an office before the pandemic, to one where there will be more say over where and when they work. Most surveys that have been ran in this area consistently throw up a figure of anything between 65% and 80% of employees wanting to shift to a scenario where they will spend the majority of the working week from home, and using the office a couple of times a week.
The so-called "hybrid" model.
It was a pleasure to welcome James Carrier and Jane Stewart from the World of Work Project to our latest International HR Forum gathering to share what they are seeing as companies start to make this difficult transition.
The session covered the following:
Looking at the current state
- Leading remote teams differ from in-person teams. Trust matters more, and the role of the manager is more critical.
- What's changed since the pandemic? Increased disruption and uncertainty, more short-term outlook, societal shifts, individuals having different (negative and positive) experiences, etc.
- Diversity of aspirations about the future state of work.
Reviewing the importance of the role of the manager
- An intermediary... Connecting the org (strategy objectives, goals) and their people (thoughts, feelings, needs, performance).
- Forming and maintaining psychological contracts, managing expectations, etc.
Aligning on future ways of working
- There's been many positive and negative changes that have emerged during the pandemic.
- Much of this has been as a result of "drifting" into new or changed practices.
- Need to be more intentional around how we structure things moving forward.
- Co-create future ways of working (through 121s, team meetings, focus groups, surveys, etc).
- Equip managers with the tools and skills to manage remote teams (comms, engagement, difficult conversations, listening, creating "psychological safety", presenting a sense of purpose).
- Biggest issue is the "personalisation" of work, i.e. tailoring to individual needs and wants.
- Apply common-sense as we look to apply balance and equity.
And all too soon our hour was up! So much food for thought, and a large thanks to James and Jane for all the energy they brought to a complex issue.
Do connect with / follow James and Jane, and read/share their stuff:
- James Carrier: email@example.com, https://www.linkedin.com/in/james-carrier-74b0a115/, @jgcarrier
- Jane Stewart: firstname.lastname@example.org, https://www.linkedin.com/in/jane-stewart-87a63b2/, @Janie_S
- Podcasts: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Others
Have a good weekend! I will be looking forward to the Mighty Whites picking up 3 points from the Bridge tomorrow :)
As the days lengthen and warm up, and the Covid restrictions start to ease here in the UK, it's hard not to feel a sense of optimism once more.
There's much to do however, particularly with regard to the lurking wellbeing crisis that will need addressing after a difficult 12 months.
During this time, the world of work has been under the spotlight like never before. And now, as companies grapple with what life after Covid may look like, one area of particular interest is what future the role of the office will have, given the likelihood that an increased proportion of people are likely to adopt a more "hybrid" approach to working.
Mark Catchlove (https://www.linkedin.com/in/markcatchlove/, @markcatchlove) knows a thing or two about offices, given he is Director of the Insights team at Herman Miller, so who better to pop along to our last week's International HR Forum session to facilitate a discussion about this?
Anecdotally, taking members of the International HR Forum as a yardstick, we are seeing a range of approaches. Some companies are closing offices. Some are reducing their footprint. Others are repurposing what they use their offices for.
On a more scientific basis, the recent Leesman Index showed that 85% of people intend to either work from an office for only up to 1 day a week (37%), or 2-3 days a week (48%). On the face of it, this shift will have a profound impact on how companies operate.
However, Mark did highlight that in reality Covid has accelerated what was happening already. For example:
- The increased emphasis on collaboration in different ways in different settings.
- Moving away from a few large meeting rooms to an increased number of smaller spaces.
- Assigned desks moving way to shared work areas.
- Privacy (not being disturbed) on-demand (through quiet areas) rather than as a luxury.
- Creating "hubs" or "plazas" as a hub for the work community.
- The increased importance of collaboration zones and circulation spaces.
For all the positives that have emerged with increased working from home, Mark's view is that there will always be a role for an office, and that companies should take care in doing anything as a knee-jerk reaction to the employee experience during Covid. Research is key to look at how things were before Covid and during the pandemic before looking at any changes after Covid. Particularly in the light of the fundamental needs that any employee needs, such as:
- Physical and mental security.
- A sense of belonging, and connections with colleagues.
- Having a sense of purpose, and of achievement.
- Autonomy, freedom to choose.
Any shift in office strategy should therefore be careful and planned, with a purposeful approach to:
- Change management.
- Sorting out the IT to ensure the ability to participate on an equal footing.
- Employee welfare.
- Equipping managers to lead remote teams.
- Making sure the office environment is one that people will want to experience.
Mark's parting comment was that "the office is not dead, it is just becoming more fluid".
A large thanks to Mark for sharing his insights. This is very much top-of-mind for most companies, so it was a very timely session.
Here are the links to some of the info referenced by Mark during the session:
Fundamental human needs:
Leesman homeworking research:
Psychology of collaboration space:
Upcoming workplace webinars:
Herman Miller Insight YouTube channel:
And finally, an article recommended by IHRF member Cliff Taylor following the session:
Thanks all! Stay well, be good, and see you soon :)