Personalisation, trust, value and AI: four key takeaways from Access World 2018

Yesterday some of the WeThrive Team attended Access World 2018 in London. We set up camp in the HR stream for the afternoon sessions where we enjoyed some fantastic content from Lucy Adams of Disruptive HR, a variety of panellists including the CIPD, and our very own Piers Bishop. There were some great takeaways for all who attended, here’s what we learned.

Personalise the Employee Experience because there is no one size fits all when it comes to people

Lucy Adams from Disruptive HR highlighted that there are many old-fashioned and outdated practices used in the world of HR.  One of these is the annual employee engagement survey in its traditional form. If people are expected to perform better how would this be aided by an annual performance review where goals are set once a year and not revisited on a regular basis? This is not the way to create an agile, collaborative, productive and creative workforce.

On the subject on annual surveys, Piers argued that it isn’t beneficial to anyone to make these surveys anonymous. Not only should businesses be conducting them more often but they should also be hearing from the individuals themselves, because there really is no average person and this is the only way line managers will be able to address the needs of the individual. HR professionals can learn a lot from marketers in this sense because in the marketing world it’s all about using personalisation to target the consumer. Employees, like consumers, are becoming more savvy and what was acceptable from an employee perspective even five years ago, is just not going to cut it anymore. The emergence of Glassdoor is testament to this where the employee is being given a platform to act like a consumer on a review site.

Access Group presentation

Access Group audience

Trust your employees and give them autonomy and control

Adults in the workplace should not be treated in the same way as children are. Lucy argued that instead of dealing with individuals, lots of organisations make a rule that covers everyone and creates a passive and compliant workforce, rather than an environment which will enable employees to be innovative and question processes. As an adult you should be interested in how you’re performing and can seek out those conversations for yourself and own your career and performance. Therefore, in order to create greater employee engagement, businesses must move away from child-parent type relationships, towards adult-adult ones.

In Piers’ vision of how employee engagement will evolve he highlighted how he believes that eventually the employee survey will become a tool where employees are able to login for themselves and give feedback as and when they wish. They will become more responsible for the process and want to own it for themselves.

Rethink your benefits and rewards to make people feel valued

Shocking stat of the day came from the CIPD who recently found that:

80% of workforce were feeling insecure, felt unwanted and couldn’t engage with their workplace. More surprisingly 26% of UK nationals felt the same because of narrative around Brexit.

It is unsurprising that in the current political climate people are not feeling welcome. This leads to insecurity in the workforce making planning difficult for organisations. Louisa Hogarty, Group HR Director, commented on the challenges facing Noble Foods in these uncertain times. Louisa talked about the small things you can do to make staff feel valued. It was a theme that ran throughout the afternoon – it’s the little things, like saying thank you and remembering little bits of detail about your employees that make them feel really valued – not necessarily the annual bonus.

As far as Piers is concerned, benefits are sideshow. Businesses simply cannot throw benefits such as free fruit, gym memberships and pilates at people and expect them to be happier, because they won’t be; gratitude is far more important. If you keep giving benefits like these employees will just get used to them and want more and more and never be satisfied.

AI and the future of HR

There’s no doubt that there are many exciting developments to come in the world of HR and some of these were discussed on the Future of HR panel, however, and despite all the noise, it isn’t clear how organisations are really going to be using this type of technology in the future. And concerns such as are we going to be using AI to enable employees and improve productivity or is it that actually dis-enabling, were at the forefront of discussions.

Piers warned that there is a dark side of AI and it’s not as clever as people think it is. HR practitioners must remain people focussed in order to succeed and engage people in changing times.

Thanks Access Group, we had a great day, until next year!