Rethinking our vision of the future of work

Change is a fundamental part of our lives and our approach to work needs to become more agile, flexible and personalised as we move ahead.

Dame Kelly Holmes
Dame Kelly Holmes was interviewed by REBA’s Debi O’Donovan in the final session of yesterday’s Congress. If you missed her interview you can watch the recording on the Employee Wellbeing Congress platform in the video library.

The third day of the Employee Wellbeing Congress once again saw hundreds of reward and employee benefits professionals come together to learn from some of the most forward thinking organisations in the UK. With case studies, academics, sports professionals and lots of sponsor insight, there was something for everyone.

Individuals can be the change

We began the day with a thought-provoking session with Julia Hobsbawm, social health academic, and Riel Miller, head of futures literacy at UNESCO, who challenged us to live in the present and to take individual responsibility to effect change.

They highlighted that the pandemic has given us the opportunity to rethink the way we do things and to reimagine what the future may look like. They suggested that our working relationships are changing in fundamental ways and we need to use these connections to our advantage. Perhaps most importantly, we need to harness our creativity to be confident in the present, which in turn will drive change in the future.

At a time when many people are concerned about what the future may hold, Hobsbawm said that we cannot accept the status quo and we have individual responsibility to drive collective change.

Our differences are more visible

With so much uncertainty at the moment, our differences have become increasingly visible. How employers support these different individuals – be it with benefits or a sense of inclusion and belonging – will be fundamental to the success of organisations going forward.

We have often written about the importance of personalisation and how there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’, but yesterday’s sessions truly demonstrated that employers have to move away from preconceived ideas of the ‘average employee’.

Related to this is the need to share experiences. All of the morning’s case studies – from NatWest Group, Simplyhealth and Tideway London – emphasised the value in sharing employees’ wellbeing stories. Whether coming from a senior leader or someone working in a retail environment, sharing stories about mental health, financial wellbeing or physical wellbeing, helped to encourage further conversations to break down barriers and promote greater engagement with wellbeing initiatives.

Just because a senior leader seems to have it all together, does not mean that they cannot suffer from depression – examples like these help to humanise the workplace and make us all more compassionate towards one another.

A more human workplace

A theme that has reoccurred time and again during the Employee Wellbeing Congress is the rise of compassionate and human workplaces. Once again, the need to change our mindsets and our reward and benefits strategies to become more personalised, flexible and agile to support the varying needs of employees was emphasised.

Vish Buldawoo, VP – global benefits and wellbeing at Centrica, was one of our panellists. He explained that they are currently working towards the idea of bringing ‘peace of mind’ to every employee. This idea encompasses the value of human and compassionate workplaces that cater for the varying needs of each individual, rather than a blanket catch-all approach.

We ended the day with a fantastic, uplifting session with Dame Kelly Holmes MBE who talked about her own experiences and how they have influenced her approach to life. She believes that being accepting of change is really important to our wellbeing and that goal setting is a great way to focus on the future. But perhaps most importantly, we should all seek help if we need it as there is lots of support available if we ask.

More to come

Yesterday was the third of REBA’s four-day Employee Wellbeing Congress, which will conclude on Wednesday 30th September with REBA’s Big Conversation. 

In a different format to the previous three days, next Wednesday will include a keynote panel, focusing on the need to create inclusion and equality for all, followed by a series of employer-led discussion groups on a range of topics from productivity and sustainability, to responsible reward and organisational resilience.

Take a look at next week’s agenda and register here to watch the keynote debate and take part in the discussion groups.

The author is Dawn Lewis, content editor at REBA.

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