CIPD Scotland Annual Conference 2021: Highlights from the morning

30 Mar 2021 By PM Editorial

People Management takes a look at some of the key topics discussed at the virtual conference so far

People professionals from across Scotland and beyond are meeting virtually today to discuss and share best practice on the pressing issues affecting businesses and their workforces. As part of CIPD Scotland’s Annual Conference, delegates are hearing about a range of topics across a packed agenda, from how coronavirus is affecting wellbeing to the changing responsibilities of line managers.

People Management rounded up some of the highlights of the conference so far.

Coronavirus is teaching employers to trust

Opening the virtual conference, Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said the coronavirus pandemic had given businesses a real opportunity to reverse the trend of longer hours and increasing presenteeism. “One of the most profound things I think we’ve learned is to trust people,” he said.

“When we think about work and we think about what managers do and how they manage people, so often it’s been about judging people by the hours that they spend at their desk. Now we have a chance to change some of those things and see this as the biggest stimulus for real change in working patterns.”

Cheese said now was an opportunity to innovate with different types of working – not just remote working, but also other flexible ways of working, including job sharing or working on different schedules – which would not only be good for people, but also good for inclusion.

Wellbeing is now a ‘strategic issue’

As businesses look towards reopening offices and adopting new ways of working, keynote speaker Professor Sir Cary Cooper (pictured) highlighted that one thing the pandemic has highlighted is the need for a culture change and why wellbeing is “now a strategic issue”.

The majority of those in service-based industries will be looking at the so-called hybrid model of working and relationships will be “fundamental” going forward, with line managers being the “linchpin of a good environment”, he said.

According to Cooper, working from home has shown how important it is for managers to have natural emotional intelligence and ask people how they are coping, rather than simply talk about the job. He noted that when it comes to hiring line managers in the future, there will be a “parity between people skills and technical skills”.

Line managers also need to be people managers

Jacqui Jones, HR director at NHS National Services Scotland, explained how work done to embed the people management element of the line manager’s role helped her organisation adapt to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. The organisation’s chief executive was “absolutely convinced that line managers had to be people managers as well as manage our services”, said Jones.

Part of this approach meant identifying managers who had high potential and introducing specialised support for them – including the creation of networks to help them build their contacts and expertise. When the pandemic hit, the organisation was mobilised to support NHS Scotland in its response. 

“Our leaders and managers then had to rally all of their teams around working at an absolutely exceptional pace to deliver,” said Jones. “So there was some real key work around working as a team, relationships, and using contacts and networks to deliver that.

“It’s been a very interesting year, but by goodness are we glad that we went on that journey of investing in those managers.” 

Read Jones’s recent interview with People Management here.

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