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What did you take away from the Future Talent Conference? Clare Haynes of Wildfire reveals her key takeaways from the event for “people people”.

Where would you like to work?

Maybe somewhere feeling more ‘play’ than ‘work,’ full of variety, energy, infectious goings-on, interested and interesting people who take real pride in their work? Somewhere doing a bad job isn’t conceivable, because the environment and culture breeds doing well?

At the Future Talent Conference I wanted to hear what’s new in HR. Inclusion, individualism, flexibility, introspection, individual values, emotion, emotional intelligence and psychology all featured heavily.

And who’s leading? Gurnek Bains (YSC) talked global leaders’ strengths with being connected internally an essential. Clare Moncrieff (CEB) highlighted how women leaders stay longer and get better financial results. Millennials will occupy 50% of leadership roles by 2020. Millennials want variety and to know how they compare to their peers (who doesn’t?!). Let’s hope these leaders create simple, strong processes and variety for followers.

“Emotion is the fuel of organisational energy.” said Christine Deputy (Aviva) who drove change to cut £400 million in costs alongside boosting culture. Aviva sets company values last – once they understand what employees are saying.

Emotions or data?

Dr Alan Watkins, CEO and Founder of Complete Coherence, said we need to understand our emotional ‘planets,’ to control our responses and be responsible. Society and its rules push us back to being nine year-olds. Peter Cheese (CIPD) added that rules don’t change behaviour and that we need more trust to elicit care and reason.

It’s not all ‘soft’: Meaningful data is important. Hayley Tatum (Asda) said we should get out to see in the flesh what it means for people in the multi-generational workforce. There, flexibility comes in the form of a trial of self-scheduling, borrowed from parent company, Walmart.

Kursty Groves (Headspace) told us how productivity goes up 32% when people are included in workplace design. With more face-to-face time the stronger digital communication becomes – and ditching the Clear Desk Policy raises productivity by 17%! Freedom and injecting personality; individualism seems key.

Christine Deputy said: “Never rest – it’s not about being OK with the status quo”. We know change is permanent, but we have to treat people appropriately. Atif Sheik (Business 3.0) championed against communications per se: “People need conversations, not communications.”

Let’s escape everyday admin and processes and listen. Listen to ourselves, listen to colleagues, listen to customers – to create somewhere everyone wants to be and expects good to come from. As Piers Linney’s (Outsourcery) mantra goes: ‘Do well! Do good!”

In a workplace exhibiting these concepts surely it’s hard not to be inspired, high-performing and productive? Choice, input, respect and openness seem natural wants so logic follows that, when given them, we perform highly for employers.”It’s about putting the human back into HR,” as Peter Cheese of the CIPD said.

How can HR implement change?

If we know to do it, it seems we’re not doing it fast enough, simple enough or in conjunction with people enough – both at the top and at the coal face.

Robert Bolton (KPMG) believes that unlike finance, “HR has no universally accepted model.” To me, that sounds like an opportunity! So what are we waiting for? Permission within rules that don’t perhaps exist?

I’ll leave you with the words of philosopher Alain Botton, who said: “Focus groups are an excuse for people who don’t want to be introspective”. We need to look hard and ask ourselves and each other what we want and make it happen. Someone has to start creating the places we can do great work, so who better placed than HR: the people people.

Written by Clare Haynes

Clare Haynes specialises in people skills and productivity, supporting teams to perform better. She runs Wildfire: Twitter: @wildfirespark

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