CIPD Annual Conference 2018: Highlights from day one

From introducing new technology to thinking outside the L&D box – People Management's essential round-up of events in Manchester

This year's CIPD Annual Conference kicked off with a deep dive into the issue of trust from Rachel Botsman, lecturer at Oxford University's Saïd Business School and author of Who Can You Trust? . 

Here's what you might have missed from day one.

Be clear on your cocktail sausage

Hannelie Meintjies (pictured left), director of L&D at SYKES Global Services, offered an L&D analogy concerning Louie, her bassett hound, who only does what he's told when there's a clear incentive – in his case, a cocktail sausage. L&D is much the same, explained Meintjies: "People will ask 'what's in it for me?' – the value should be personal to them."

Sharing what the organisation has learned from deploying a culture change initiative, Meintjies advocated the use of informal learning channels like enterprise social media as well as encouraging employees to take their learning offline, adding that if employees are "forced down an avenue of learning, they will resist".

Chester Zoo's director of HR, Jane Hubbard (pictured right), told delegates about the organisation's effective leadership programme, implemented in advance of the zoo's expansion. "Operational staff weren't clear on the strategy and some even felt their contributions weren't valued," she said. More than 300 staff have now completed the course, and it has spawned a similar – and equally successful – future leaders programme for young employees.

Make sure new technology "feels authentic"

Rebecca Martin-Cortez, head of resourcing at home improvement retailer Travis Perkins, told delegates to try not to be swayed by the newest innovations. Instead, they should make sure any new HR-related technology should "feel authentic". 

"It's about taking the time to understand what is the right technology for you," Martin-Cortez said. "But don't be afraid to experiment with new technology. Give yourself permission to play with innovations and refine them for your needs."

By introducing technology to the recruitment process, Travis Perkins saw its application rates increase from 1,000 to 15,000 per month. 

Simon Halkyard, Shop Direct’s talent acquisition partner, shared his experience using new technology to recruit software developers and data scientists from a “non-existent” talent pool in the north. 

He explained his recruitment strategy was a journey to “create a digital process for a digital business”. The business used events, video interviews and a new CRM system to encourage a more proactive approach to candidate engagement.

He added jobseekers did not want to see “sugary content”. Candidates were more interested in the issues the business and its employees face, and Shop Direct used new technology to bring bespoke content to individuals. 

Don't rely on insular leaders

Businesses need leaders who "look out of the window”, according to Arturo Bris, professor of finance at IMD business school. The biggest risks firms face today are both global and external, meaning HR needs to have the right people in critical roles. “We need people who have unbounded rationality, who are able to think outside of the box,” he said.

“Whether you are operating in Argentina or Indonesia is going to be much more important than the personality of your CEO. [But] one of the reasons leaders matter is the extent that they can understand global phenomena [means] they are going to be more successful.”

Bris added risk was often a problem because people tended not to consider it rationally. He said the use of “nudges” would become more important to change behaviours. For example, Bris once visited a copper mine in Poland that had a low bar just before the elevator to encourage people to put their helmets on. “Nudges are how you incentivise people without penalties or rewards. You motivate by just changing the environment,” he said.