CIPD MAP Student Conference 2018 #CIPD18Students

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of speaking at this years’ CIPD Student Conference at Aston University in Birmingham, where the theme was “develop yourself, develop your HR career”.

The day was incredibly inspiring and it was fantastic to see so many people from all different career backgrounds, getting excited about the future of their careers.

The day was full of fantastic speakers, Ian Turner from Specsavers gave an overview on his career but also why HR should focus upon culture, this was supported by a staggering figure that 68% of employees do not feel that their business is actively supporting a positive culture. This is an opportunity for HR to really add value where it really matters.

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#CIPDACE17 Embracing The New World of Work


Today is day one of the 70th CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition or ACE for short which is taking place in the beautiful city of Manchester. Here is a brief summary of what we can expect from his years’ conference and don’t forget, you can follow all the activity in real time via Twitter!

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Hip Hip Hurray – My Blog Turns Two Today!

Birthday Cake

Wow, where did those two years go?

This post is short and sweet but filled with nothing but gratitude.

I could never have imagined the opportunities I’ve been offered, connections I have made and support that I have received as a result of creating this little blog.

Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t all been plain sailing, there has been a fair share of clouds, but there has always been that silver lining and for that I am truly grateful.

On reflection, the highlights for me have been my appearance in People Management magazine, being part of the Blog Squad at the CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition in 2016, a feature in the CIPD’s “The Power of One” campaign and my ultimate achievement to date; HR Acts of Kindness. It would not have been possible without this blog.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my followers, colleagues, friends and family who have supported me over the past couple of years; I wouldn’t be at this stage of my journey without you.

Here’s to the next two years, now let’s cut the cake!


World Mental Health Day 2017

“Just because you are struggling doesn’t mean you’re failing.”

At least one in six workers experiences common mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. Research conducted by leading charity Mind, shows that 55% of employees surveyed said that work is the biggest cause of stress in their lives, more so than debt or financial problems.

Mental ill-health costs the UK economy £26 billion each year, this is through 91 million lost working days, staff turnover and lower productivity. With such staggering figures, it is within every organisations interest to establish ways to tackle the problem. What is really concerning is not just the prevalence of stress and mental health problems at work, but that employees don’t feel supported to be able to deal with these pressures.

The main causes of mental ill health at work are excessive workload, frustration with poor management, lack of support and unrealistic targets. Stress at work is also effecting people’s personal lives. One in five employees said that it puts a strain on their relationships, while 11% have missed important events such as birthdays due to work related stress.

Prince Harry has spoken publicly about the importance of mental health awareness amongst the armed forces; not just post career but has actively campaigned for mental health to become an active part throughout their career. This has lead to a review and implementation of new training methods and support mechanisms will also be rolled out to reservists, veterans and civil servants.

The starting point can be seen as difficult, but it does not need to be. Simply taking the time to speak to a colleague or manager to tell them how you are feeling and what your concerns are can help take that first step to improving mental health. It’s the little things that make the big difference, so if you are an employee reading this, your manager needs to know that you are struggling, if it is pressures with workload, they may be able to offer a solution. Likewise, if you are a manager yourself reading this, then you need to do the same, just because you have a more senior title it does not mean that you shouldn’t be able to address your concerns.

We must always keep in mind that mental ill health does not discriminate and affects nearly everyone at some point in their lives, this is why it is so important that we start these conversations to try and remove the stigma that is associated with mental ill health.

Mental health may be a hot topic but it is a very fluid subject, one critical point is to ensure that individual cases are treated as exactly that, as an individual. Just because one person has a condition, it does not mean that the remedies and supporting tools are the same. There is no one size fits all approach and therefore businesses cannot just roll out a wellbeing initiative hoping that it will work, the subject of mental health is ongoing and will be evolving at a fast pace for many years to come.

Mind has a fantastic guide to help support employers who want to promote positive mental health within their organisations; to access the guide, please click here.


The future workforce (it’s not robots, it’s humans!) #CIPDMAP17

“The future of work is brighter than conventional wisdom suggestions it is not going to be humans v machines”

There is a spotlight on the future of the world of work and a large part of this relates to the world of education and it is anything but child’s play!

This truly inspiring session was delivered by Matthew Crawford and Sarah Armitage from the Federation of Schools.

Take yourself back to your 6 year old self; what did you want to be when you grew up? We watched a fantastic interview with children telling us what skills they thought they needed for the profession they desired; traditional answers were there, police officer and doctor were mentioned and team work was something they thought was particularly important to those roles.

The future workforce and what we know about it is purely guesswork, we have no idea what it looks like so it places even more importance upon how we act now which will in turn shape the future workforce and our organisations.

The challenge is shaping this to be able to work for us, technology is playing a pivotal role in the direction it takes which is already visible within the automotive industry. Expectations, accountability, innovation, flexibility and lifelong learning were words frequently heard around the room as we discussed which parts employers and future employees both have a part to play on.

Key skills that are foreseen as a requirement were discussed at length again with technology having a significant part to play; communication away from a screen was a popular point alongside programming, cyber security, analytics and emotional intelligence were also seen as desirable requirements in the future world of work. The emphasis upon ownership of our own development and teaching people how to learn independently.

The links of vision and values are equally important in the education sector as they are in a traditional corporate environment despite preconceptions. The changing environment means that our schools are having to react faster to maintain pace in order to remain relevant, whilst many would see this as a never-ending story; Matthew and Sarah positively presented it as an opportunity, simply keeping the vision and values at the heart as opposed to them being a tick box.

By living their core beliefs and values, they are able to provide children the opportunity to not only learn but also to aspire and to fully experience life outside of the classroom which enables them to succeed.

When it comes to the team and motivating employees; it is all about collaboration. Supplying  a 10 year career plan, continuing CPD and wellbeing are focus points to ensure they get the best from their people thus providing the best possible education to their pupils.

There is the need for businesses and education to work hand in hand, as Sarah rightly points out, we are all in this together. There are transferrable skills that we can all use that will help support bridging the gap between education and the world of work, with different generations comes different expectations. Self belief and confidence have a huge impact across all of those so forming good relationships and setting expectations are critical.

I will leave you with the highlight of my day so far, during the video interview with the children, the question “Will robots ever replace teachers?” was asked to two young pupils, a young girl speaks directly to the camera and wisely says “no, robots don’t have the way to inspire people like humans can” demonstrating that even little people understand the importance of the need to remain human.

So what could you do? Get in touch with your local schools and see where you can add value, we all have relevant skills to share, we can all help shape the future.