CIPD Exhibition: November 5th 2015 – The (Re)Birth of Humane Resources?

It was good to see a real recognition of the need for change at this year’s CIPD Conference Exhibition.  There were some good points made by a number of people, a lot coming up in more than one session, my summary and internalization of what I picked up:

  1. Neuroscience hugely important for HR, especially for L&D.  This includes the need to play with emotions and help people from their ‘comfort zone’ to be able to stretch via learning.  For example, when do we ever ask if people are happy approaching learning in a certain way?  How far is pushing people out of their comfort zone (for example making them do role plays when they don’t like them) acceptable?  Overall, we are emotional animals and L&D’s role is to tweak and nurture curiosity.  One thing to avoid is creating anxiety by suggesting certain things are difficult, for example, by insisting people find public speaking and other activities nerve wracking it makes the next generation think the same.  Dealing with anxiety is one of the many areas where ongoing, spaced, learning can help – not just about the forgetting curve.  As well as skills and knowledge development think about confidence too.  Stella Collins ran through 5 specific tips for L&D practice: Guessing is sticky/Curiosity is addictive/We ‘feel’ metaphors/Emotions are memorable/Context is king – just five of the areas where L&D practice is backed by science.
  2. Easy to use tech can start to make HR less annoying.  We all use mobile Apps to make life easier – time has come for internal processes to be as easy.  This includes a certain amount of automation, for example, around identify one’s own profile versus possible future roles.  Supposedly good ideas, such as keeping your workforce healthy, can be reinforced through the use of tech such as Fitbits and using that data to create leader-boards or other competitive elements.
  3. Motivation.  One presentation outlined this as a combination of beliefs, dreams and values.  Yet research (and common sense) enforces the importance of line manager on employee engagement.  The importance of managers living your values and acting consistently has never been greater.
  4. The blend of organizational design, commercial imperatives and people needs to shift.  Automation of boring work will help but HR needs to refocus on Humane Resources.  HR was originally designed, in the industrial age, to help the workers – although worker ‘welfare’ now has negative connotations.  HR needs to support efficiency through a better working environment.  Negative impacts of change can be seen to include online application processes and other HR process work that has been dehumanized.  Ultimately people think Google as a good place to work as it is seen, even if incorrectly, as fun.  If you are after the top talent then the need to consider the nature of work and the workplace is imperative.
  5. People now consider themselves parts of global groups by default – geographic boundaries are an artificial construct when globally connected.  This will only accelerate but doesn’t have to be negative, for example, Nestle have reverse mentoring where junior people support more senior people, including on tech topics.  RBS adoption of Facebook for Work example of implication in working practices for even the biggest organisations.
  6. Tech changes allow for individual voices to be louder.  However, we face major risks (such as global warming) and the collective voice needs to be harnessed better to lobby governments.  Scope here for fundamentally changing business – I’ve mentioned Holocracy before, but other models too.  Options in the future include the election of leadership teams based on actual people skills and representation of values, rather than length of experience or opaque targets/promotions.
  7. Don’t forget about some existing tools that can be used to drive real change, for example, well implemented 360 feedback can shift behaviors.  A lot of the success of this relies on push notifications to make activities routine – people expect these now, similar to notifications on mobile phones, etc.

Author: iangardnergb

My name is Ian Gardner and I am interested in various topics that can be seen as related to learning, technology and information. To see what I am reading elsewhere, follow me on The Old Reader ( and/or Twitter (@iangardnergb).

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