Archive | November, 2015

Wellbeing at Work – some practical ideas from #CIPD15

5 Nov

I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that the opening keynote of such a big event as #cipd15 was around ‘Mental capital and Wellbeing at work’. Professor Cary Cooper’s session was extremely engaging and gave us some shocking ROIs to think about and take to our CFOs. It also highlighted the issue of presenteeism that is just as bad in the UK, if not worse than absenteeism. Find great summaries of the session from Ian Pettigrew and Gemma Reucroft.

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Above all, the session left me wondering what each and every one of us can do to put wellbeing in practice in their workplace?

The clear theme for me is to be brave enough to challenge the culture of the organisation. Start by giving some seeds and start with your teams and with you. Small steps = more steps. Do you manage a team? Show them that you take your break every day. Go for a walk! Leaving the office at lunch will stretch your spine and muscles, releasing pressure and eliminating discomfort. Plus, you’ll trade that sickly florescent lighting and stale office air for sunshine (if you’re not in Manchester!) and a refreshing breeze.

Do you let your team leave early if they have worked hard? Do you send emails early/late?

Working in a different space and environment does help, so have you tried having a team meeting in the park? Or a walking meeting? What would work for you and your company that would make you and your team happy and ultimately healthier and more productive?

I realise that one size does not fit all, but I know I haven’t tried or been successful at keeping up some of the above. Cary Cooper’s session reminded me just how important it is.

Many managers are working way in excess of their contracted hours; 11% of people work in excess of 60 hours a week. 70% of people work over 40 hours a week. Studies show that long hours does not equate to being effective. If you consistently work long hours, you simply will get ill. Survey results from people show the clear impact of excessive working – the negative impact on wellbeing, on families, and on productivity. How much does mental health related absence cost the UK each year? £70bn, the equivalent to 4.5% of our GDP.

Take some personal ownership and responsibility for your wellbeing and lead by example. Challenge the behaviour around email laziness. Go and speak to people and stop sending an email to people close to you! Challenge the culture, introduce small initiatives that have a positive effect on the organisation and will promote different behaviours.

I loved the idea of promoting the ‘curious coffee’ initiative that Penguin Random House have implemented. Two colleagues are selected randomly to meet over a coffee and have a chat. Not only this bridges gaps, improves internal communications and creates meaningful connections in the business, but it also encourages a break and a chat over emails.

These are some of the practical ideas inspired by #cipd15 and mainly the reminder that small changes can initiate a tidal sea of changes in order to help us shape a healthy workplace.


The Power of Values at

4 Nov

I love attending conferences as it is an opportunity not only to learn more, but to realise how much more knowledge and confidence you have around the HR/L&D/OD and Recruitment topics that are being discussed.

The CIPD Annual conference has always been a great opportunity for me to do this. I can look at my progression and knowledge each year and each year learn something new or cement even further what I already know.

At all the HR events I attended in the last couple of years I heard the words ‘values’ and ‘culture’ a lot and was always fascinated by the stories around these. However, until recently, I did not understand how powerful these concepts would be for me and for my organisation.

I was involved in helping articulate its values and we did it in an ‘anything but ordinary’ way. We launched a week-long event called V-Festival (V for Values) in order to involve as many colleagues as possible in a number of different activities to get meaningful feedback and data. If you heard our People Director Ryan Cheyne speak at #cipd15students on 3rd November 2015 you will know all about the bunting and the activities, however if you have missed it, have a look at this interview.

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It was a truly historic moment for and thanks to an interactive format, live music and by having lots of fun, we discovered what truly glues us together, our DNA and what makes us act like we do. Having those defined will make us work on an even better culture.

But what is culture?

Ryan defined it as something hard to nail down. Something that you can’t touch, but you can definitely feel. Culture is also about the stories. Some might not be true, but they help build the culture of businesses. If you want to learn about a culture, listen to the stories. If you want to change the culture, change the stories.

Culture is ingrained and developed over time and of course what made so successful over the past 10 years is still important, therefore involving the team in articulating our values and culture was an essential exercise in order to include the past, present and future of Rentalcars. Over 1000 colleagues (out of 1200) took part in the events. Themes were pulled out and by involving everyone in recognising the company’s past and getting excited about our future aspirations. we started our journey to drive cultural change.

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10 years ago was founded and some ‘long for those days’, but the majority look back at the journey with a smile on their face and a sense of achievement. Most see that without the stories and the past we wouldn’t be where we are and we can progress even further by using the same principles, the same ‘know how’ that led us to where we are.

What will keep us on the right track, what will remind us of ‘how we do things around here’ are the values. Values that were relevant then, are relevant now and will be relevant in the future. However much we change, we expand, we grow, values are the glue that will hold us together and allows us to feel as one company. Embedding them now, showing how important they are and how they led us to our success, will make us even more successful and unique.

Our values will make us remember where we have come from, live the present, launch us into the next step of our exciting journey and help us build the right culture to create an amazing place to work.


3 Nov

I was very lucky to be able to attend a great event today ahead of the #CIPD15. It is the first time that CIPD organises a Student Event so close to the Annual Conference, but I believe that this was a success in terms of quality of speakers and general engagement.

CIPD have supported me as a student and throughout my career, so it was great to see so many students taking advantage of the great resources on offer.

Peter Cheese’s welcome was perfectly apt. The students in the room will have the responsibility to try and influence the world of work. There are many challenges ahead, but Peter believes that there’s never been a more exciting time to be in HR.

peter chee

Demographic changes, growing skills gap, and vast changing nature of jobs. It’s not ‘job for life’ it’s now ‘a life of jobs’. According to Oxford researchers Fray and Osborne, 2/3 of jobs that kids in school now are going to be doing have yet to be invented.

Topical at the moment is the enormous shifts on corporate culture and corporate behaviour. We have seen recently the corporate misalignment with VW, but this is one of the many number of recent scandals. There is far too much focus on short term profit delivery. Financial stakeholders are important, but our own employees, customers, suppliers, communities and environment need to be at the forefront too.


How do we create more responsible businesses? How are we recruiting differently? The government at the minute is thinking of adapting name blind recruitment as there is still so much unconscious bias in recruitment. Take that test, it is eye opening! Unfortunately, most people whether consciously or unconsciously recruit someone similar to them. When have you last recruited someone scary/different?

How do we support the ‘gig economy’? People will want to do short projects and work independently. How do we deal with contingent workforce? How do people want to work? Recruitment is undergoing a great transformation. Do we outsource? Do we redesign jobs? We need to focus on the kind of jobs we are creating. We need to be at the heart of that debate. We need to design jobs that have progression in them and that engage our employees.

Are our processes fit for purpose? First of all, performance manager. A lot of organisations challenge if PM has delivered what it was meant to do. Has it improved performance? We need to challenge our processes and policies. When we are attempting to shape corporate culture and we are trying to make employees understand responsibilities, adding more rules won’t help. We have known that you can fundamentally alter people’s behaviour by creating rules, but not always in a positive way. Either you try and break them, or you follow them blindly, which isn’t great for creativity and innovation.

Principles driving good business: ethics and not short term profit. Our HR agenda has never been clearer. It is a huge agenda, but now more than ever we are engaging with it. Sometimes we still don’t have that confidence to challenge corporate practices that are compromising long term positive culture and we need to start doing it more often.

Of course we understand that the economic system we live in is all about wealth creation and profit before people, but there are things that we can influence and we can give meaningful future and opportunity to our people.

What a great way to kick off #cipd15students – have a look at the rest of the day through this Storify.