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London Business Matters

36 Your business February 2017 The future of HR One of the best things about working for an innovation centre is the chance to see the future of a wide range of different industries emerging before your very eyes. I was reminded of this towards the end of 2016, when Sussex Innovation Croydon hosted its first special interest group – Innovating HR. A group of senior HR professionals were invited to a morning session packed with new ideas, discussion and debate. The aim was to bring together innovators with specialists in this field, to share knowledge and create new business opportunities together. The session would feature presentations from four of Sussex Innovation’s members, who each brought their own unique perspectives on employee wellbeing and development. Influential The keynote speech was delivered by Clodagh O’Reilly of IBM who was recently voted the fifth most influential person in the future of HR by Node XL. She introduced the topic of emerging technologies through the prism of the famous William Gibson quote: “the future is already here; it’s just not evenly distributed.” “None of the topics we explore today are radical,” she said, “but we as HR professionals have work to do in order to make them universal – to stop them from feeling like science fiction.” The stage was set for four innovators to talk about the workplace challenges that their companies are addressing to help organisations attract and retain better skilled and more motivated staff. Development Mark Arneill, director of learning transfer software company Lentum, discussed the need for better tools to track employees’ professional development and continuously appraise their skills and strengths. Mark highlighted the statistic that “currently, only 10-20 per cent of employees’ learning and development ends up being applied in the workplace,” and suggested that this is often due to training programmes being poorly communicated between line managers and their teams. Essential Ravi Daswani, director of Genie Teams, described his journey from running sales teams at Facebook to co-founding a company dedicated to helping teams work more effectively. Pointing out that “understanding personalities is the most essential component of building successful teams,” Ravi explained how Genie Teams’ platform maps the psychological strengths and weaknesses of individuals onto specific project requirements. Luke Fisher, director of Thanksbox, emphasised that large organisations could be doing more to unlock the potential of their employees to deliver recognition programmes and idea generation. His company’s suite of workplace communication tools is designed to nurture a positive culture of employee engagement, “curating lots of small ideas from your workforce to deliver big improvements”. Finally, Frank Mukahanana explained why he has moved on from the successful peer-to-peer lending platform he founded to launch Savvney, a consultancy delivering workplace personal finance education. Describing personal finance as “the next frontier for workplace wellbeing”, Frank explained that financial stress is something that many people are too embarrassed to bring up at work, but which causes 46 per cent of us to worry, and one in five to lose sleep. Crucial I believe that these kinds of emerging approaches to hiring, retaining and developing staff will begin to have a serious impact on the bottom line. In an evolving workforce with increasing numbers of digital natives, managing people is becoming more crucial to the success of businesses than ever before. Clodagh O’Reilly says: “Millennials expect to have access to better information, they expect greater transparency, and they expect more crossover between their work and their life as a whole. This is why finding meaningful work that suits their abilities and aptitudes is so important to them. If their company can’t give them that, they’ll go somewhere else.” Ben Holt is director of Sussex Innovation Croydon, a business incubation network for entrepreneurs, start-ups, scale-ups and corporate innovators. www.sinc.co.uk by Ben Holt Why it’s important to innovate HR practices • 75 per cent of people quit their boss, not their job - a culture of recognition builds relationships and highlights problems before it’s too late • £30,000 is the average cost to replace a member of staff • 78 per cent of job seekers say that recognition and sense of purpose and achievement are more important to them than salary. “Millennials expect to have access to better information, they expect greater transparency, and they expect more crossover between their work and their life as a whole.”


London Business Matters
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