Reflections from #cipd15

When you have been conference blogging, it is customary to write a post a short while after the event, usually sharing a little of your reflections or learning.

Instead, this time, I’m handing over my blog to someone else to do this task.  Amelia joined my company a little under two months ago as an apprentice in all things people stuff.  She has just attended her very first CIPD ACE, and this is what she got up to while she was there and what she thought of it. 

Over to Amelia……

It was better than I expected, even though I wasn’t sure what to expect! I had been looking forward to it in advance, because I’d heard good things from the team, so I didn’t even mind getting a VERY early train.  As soon as we walked in I was handed a bag and a lanyard, which was the first of loads of cool free stuff – I have developed new muscles in my arms from carrying it all home.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I’d find it interesting or if most of it would go over my head, but I met lots of people who were all happy to chat and were interested in what I had to say too.

I went to some of the free learning sessions – the best was one about the power of thank you and making it personal for the individual and not the same for everyone.  I was introduced to lots of people by their Twitter handles, so I have no idea of their real names. I keep hearing that some people don’t like HR people, but everyone I met was really nice, including the people who let me into the members lounge for a coffee, even though I am not a member – yet!!

The best thing about the conference was winning a goodie bag with a hoody from Oracle, and meeting Peter Cheese and managing not to say anything embarrassing.  I’ve now got a desk full of conference goodies including some silver deely boppers that I stole from Gemma.  Oh, and plenty of emails coming through from people that I met on the day! I will definitely be back next year, and as Peter said he was sure Gemma would turn me into a blogger, I might even blog it next time.

 You can find Amelia on Twitter as @AmeliaTickle_

Amelia’s swag pile!

swag pile


Leadership Culture to Drive Change #CIPD15

How do you develop a leadership culture that can support organisational change?  Some might say this is the million dollar question for most organisations; change is part of the everyday for work and workers.

Here is what Inji Duducu of beneden health and William Hague (not that one) from HMRC have got to say on the subject, based on their own experiences.

William is Chief People Officer at HMRC.  First of all, great HR is an enabler of creating the right leadership culture for successful change.  I’m not going to argue with that.  At HMRC they have had big challenges.  A need to reduce  costs, be more efficient, transform service delivery, and at the same time, increase capability and use of digital services.  They needed leaders up for the challenge, with the ability to reach out last their traditional boundaries and collaborate.  Their starting point – what does good leadership in this context actually look like? Obvious, but important. For them it was three things: inspiring, confident, empowering.  ICE.  Easy to remember but also queues up a Vanilla Ice joke (one for the Gen Xers).

How did they tackle this? They had a leadership change model – building our future.  Went out to every leader face to face.  One narrative about the future to over 100,000 people. Significant investment in upskilling leaders.  A leadership academy is planned with five years of interventions, including virtual learning. Taking a long term approach.  Extensive engagement with their people.  Expected their managers to live this change.  Have used surveys regularly to see where they are.  They are not there yet, but are focused on continuous improvement in everything they do.  They have had many learnings.  Mainly – there is no silver bullet to tackle this stuff.  And finally, be ambitious.

Now over to Inji for her story.  Beneden started life as a mutual society, focused around public sector workers who bad contracted TB. Today, they provide healthcare solutions to enable people to access treatments faster than the NHS might be able to provide.  They were losing members.  It was a difficult product to explain and not enough people had heard of them or what they do.  A new CEO launched a ten year plan. The average length of service at Beneden is 20 years; many employees had simply never experienced any change at all.

Inji’s plan? It is a special place to work with a special culture.  Her aim is that at the end of the ten year plan, this has not changed even if it other things have.  One important focus – leadership visibility. People see where leaders spend their time.  It sends a message about what is considered important by the organisation.  Another quick win was celebration.  Celebrating what is going well, and organisational achievements.  Find stuff to celebrate – what gets recognised gets repeated.  They launched an online appreciation hub for people to send ecards to each other.  It has gone down a storm.  Provided a cultural boost but it is digital, which is the sort of business they want to be.

Inji also saw their values as generic.  They could have applied to anyone.  Needed to discover what their real values are.  Looked at the future and heritage to talk about what is their core – what makes them special.  They distilled down the feedback into four values that really summed up who they are.  They needed to tell a story about their future.  They took their behavioural framework and turned it into a programme for their leaders ‘leading the Beneden way’.  Challenging programme beginning with self awareness and self mastery.

Right now, the organisation is not only coping with that change but thriving. Her learnings – fundamental importance of communication.  Find the good news – give people reasons to be cheerful.  This will give you more capacity for change.

Inji’s story proves that change doesn’t have to be a scary thing that we liken to the emotions more usually prompted by bereavement.  It can be a positive experience for the people within it, if you manage and lead it well, as well reminding us of the fundamental role that HR can play in making it so.

Props to the speakers.

This is a live blog so please excuse any typos!

Mental Capital and Wellbeing at Work #CIPD15

I’m chuffed to be part of the official #CIPD15 blogsquad again this year. This year’s opening keynote is by Professor Gary Cooper.  Today, Professor Cooper is going to address CIPD conference delegates on the issue of mental capital and wellbeing at work; what are the causes and consequences of poor mental health and stress in the workplace and what re the bold HR solutions that will enhance mental capital.

Here is what we already know: mental health absence is a big problem in the workplace. 1 in 4 of us at some point in our lives will suffer from a mental health condition.   Absence surveys, including the CIPD’s own annual version, consistently shows mental health to be one of the top two drivers of absence from work, once you strip out the usual suspects like coughs, colds and stomach upsets.

At the same time, we are increasingly seeing wellbeing making its way onto the corporate agenda. According to the aforementioned CIPD absence survey, 1 in 5 organisations now have a wellbeing programme within their people strategy.  We have increasing interest too in topics like mindfulness and resilience and their application in the workplace.  So what does this all mean for HR?

Here is what Professor Cooper has to say:

Why is this issue so important?

We need an environment in which people want to go to work.  That they aren’t hoping for leaves on the line when they wake up in the morning

Mental health absence is a bottom line issue.  Presenteeism is a bigger issue to the UK economy than absenteeism.  Research shows that only one third of employees are healthy AND happy.

Mental health costs the UK £70bn per annum.  Only 2 in 5 employees working at peak performance. 15.2m sick days per annum due to stress, anxiety and depression.  A cost to employers of mental health absence of £1035 per employee per annum.

Fact.  If you consistently work long hours it will make you ill.  In the uk we work astronomical hours. Flexible working can help – for all, not just parents.  But women still apply much more than men, and men get turned down more than women.  We need to fix this. People are consistently working significantly longer than their contracted hours.  Plenty also don’t take their full holiday entitlement.  People who work more tha 45 hours a week see their children less than one hour a day.  Long hours also don’t make us productive.

Thousands of studies identify what makes you stressed.  Structure, climate, too much work, too little work, job insecurity, poor physical working conditions, time pressures and deadlines, too many decisions…… Relationships  – with boss, colleagues, subordinates.  Conflict

Emails are a huge problem.  People check them on the evenings and the weekends.  We have overload.  We talk about work life integration – but that often means work encroaching on personal time.

At the heart is management.  Do our managers and leaders have the right skills and training to mange people effectively? We select too often on technical skills still.  We need more socially skilled managers.  Relationships at work are fundmental, especially in a knowledge economy.

This is the key.  What can we do about this stuff?

Primary – deal with the stressors. EAPs.  They work.  But they don’t solve the problem or change the culture.

Secondary. Helping people to cope. Resilience training.  Evidence also shows this works.

Tertiary. Picking people back up – wellbeing interventions do work and can save you money.

My take? Of course managers are the key.  Of course we need more socially skilled leaders who understand this stuff.  We need interventions like EAPs and resilience training.  But if we know this and it is common sense why do we still have such an issue?   There is still a stigma around mental health.  There is still reluctance to talk about this stuff, go on resilience training, ring an EAP and ask for help.

Yes, managers are the key… But HR turns it in the lock.  We have to educate them, help them have the conversation, ensure that the dialogue of wellbeing is heard in our organisations.  Create the culture in everything that we do.


As this is a live blog, please excuse any typos!