The top five takeaways from REBA's Innovation Day

I know it’s a cliché to say that there were too many good bits to select just five…but in this case it’s true! And I say this with confidence having spoken with several attendees of REBA’s Innovation Day, all of whom struggled to pin down their favourite parts.

The top five takeaways from REBA's Innovation Day

However, I have committed to choosing five top things, so here are my best bits (with a couple of extras squeezed in).

1. Work with a purpose

A theme that threaded its way throughout Innovation Day was ‘purpose’ – work with purpose, organisations with purpose and technology with purpose.

The idea that employees want more than pay was repeatedly tabled. Employees want to know their work has wider meaning than just generating profit for shareholders, they also want to see their own purpose and development path laid out in an organisation.

As Leo Johnson, Presenter of BBC 4’s "Futureproofing" and Head of PWC’s disruption practice, believes: “Purpose eats strategy for breakfast”.

Johnson, whose session looked ahead at what technology developments will mean for the workforce of the future, also noted that society needs to decide what the purpose of technology will be. Is it there to solve the problems of technology or to solve the world’s problems?

“Purpose will become the new currency,” he says.

2. Thought-provoking keynote speakers

Johnson was not the only keynote speaker stirring up debate. Matthew Taylor CBE, Chief Executive – Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) and author of ‘Good work: the Taylor review of modern working practices’, also considered the role of technology.

“When we talk about technology we have to ground it in a vision of people having fantastic working lives,” he says.

He believes that technological change will be related to improving the quality of people’s lives, and that the concept of ‘good work’ has entered into the blood stream – if we care about social justice we should care about the quality of work.

This idea extends into the idea that employees want to see strategic leadership that is mission driven, a concept that clothing brand Patagonia has at its core.

Patagonia is an organisation with a purpose. It is one that is environmentally focused and actively encourages staff to protest against climate change.

Evelyn Doyle, HR director EMEA at Patagonia, explains that the organisation is not just extracting, it’s putting something back in.

“We’re moving from an industrial society to a life sustaining society,” she says.

As such, their policies, which include a bail policy for those who are arrested during environmental protests, are designed to give people the freedom to be who they are.

“People want jobs with a purpose. They want to know that their skills are used for a bigger purpose,” adds Doyle.

3. The latest innovations and thinking

This year there was a fantastic variety of suppliers demonstrating their latest products and technology innovations to delegates. The range of products on display covered everything from wellbeing solutions to recognition, pay and learning. As well as benefit platforms, consultancies and web-based solutions.

Not only were there some great product demonstrations and knowledgeable suppliers on hand to speak with, but there were some brilliant networking opportunities. It was wonderful to catch up with old contacts, as well as make some new ones. But the most valuable aspect was being able to share experiences and learn from others about their own reward and employee benefit projects.

4. Employer case studies

Learning from peers and understanding what other businesses are doing is not only enlightening but also reassuring. As one delegate told me; it’s good to know you’re not alone!

This year there were some fantastic stories to be told from Cisco Systems, Just Eat, Network Homes, William Hill, Frimley NHS Trust, Colt Technology Services, Mollie and FDM Group. Unfortunately it wasn’t possible to catch them all, but the recordings from their sessions will be available to view on the REBA website in a couple of weeks.

5. Panel discussions

Finally, the panel discussion – bringing together four reward professionals to debate how they are future-proofing their workplaces  was really interesting.

Together, the panel highlighted the challenge of making reward relevant to all employees and how the changing nature of the workforce was making it increasingly difficult to attract and retain the right skills.

Jane Humberstone, director, global reward and mobility at Jaguar Land Rover, acknowledged that companies could no longer rely on their brand name as a way of attracting and retaining staff, and nor was pay the only deciding factor for employees.

Flexibility, defined learning and career paths were also seen as key trends. In particular, they came back to the idea of clarity of purpose and opportunity for employees – this was often seen to be the reason why people left organisations, not because of the pay.

As Taylor says: “Every single job needs to be a learning job.”

If you were unable to attend REBA’s Innovation Day you will still be able to watch the sessions you missed. The videos from the sessions will be available on REBA’s website in the next couple of weeks. The slides from all of the sessions will also be available from early next week on the REBA Innovation Day website.

The author is Dawn Lewis, content editor at REBA.

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