Thinqi at #FestivalOfWork 2019: Our Key Takeaways

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Nick Davies
Head of Sales
Thinqi at #FestivalOfWork 2019: Our Key Takeaways

The CIPD Festival Work brought together for the first time two unmissable CIPD events, the Learning & Development and HR Software & Recruitment shows – and added a brand-new dimension, the Future of Work. It was an event that promised to tackle challenges in L&D and HR head-on and equip delegates for the work revolution. 

So the key question is – did it deliver? 

The general consensus from feedback across various social media channels was overwhelmingly positive. Delegates enjoyed a wide range of topics in a packed schedule of conference panels and free seminars, and were particularly appreciative of the all-new ‘Wellbeing Village’. One thing that most people find when attending conferences and events is that it can be hard to take time to focus on self-care, forgoing any thinking time and breathing space to rush from session to session taking it all in. The Wellbeing Village offered mindfulness sessions, massages and even dogs to keep people feeling well-rested and at their best to get the most out of the show.

After having had so many engaging conversations with L&D practitioners, HR professionals and business leaders alike, we’ve compiled a round-up of key takeaways from the event surrounding hot topics in both fields – so if you missed it or just want a reminder, here’s what you need to know. 

1. We Need to Incorporate Learning Into the Workflow

Automation was a pertinent topic at this year’s Learning Technologies show and it continued to create discussion at Festival of Work. In a thought-provoking session, Brian Murphy (AstraZeneca), Alistair Cumming (Lidl), Stephanie Wheat (Highways England) and Thomas Bacon (McDonald’s) discussed the importance of making learning fit the modern business landscape that continues to speed up and evolve.

According to Brian Murphy, organisations will need to make a greater investment in L&D in order to reskill their employees to cope with the greater automation of manual tasks. He went on to note, however, that this must be done in a way that minimises time spent away from the job.

To deal with this and reduce the amount of time employees need to sit in front of a computer away from their work, Thomas Bacon is instead looking at a blended learning solution for McDonald’s, whereas Stephanie Wheat uses VR simulations to develop the skills of employees on the road. A blended approach enables learners to benefit from a mix of classroom and online based learning, with Alistair Cumming remarking that “there’s absolutely a place for the classroom. It helps with applying the knowledge…it’s a discussion place to enable people to make mistakes and learn from them.” Instead of replacing classroom learning completely, it instead needs to evolve as new technologies emerge.

Want to know how to make the leap from traditional to blended learning with maximum success? We’ve got a free expert guide to help you do just that.

2. The Work-Life Balance for Many UK Employees is a Problem That Needs Addressing

The event also saw the launch of CIPD’s second annual UK Working Lives report, a comprehensive assessment of UK job quality. According to the report, a worrying 60% of respondents said that they worked longer than they wanted to, which in turn has had a negative effect on both health and general wellbeing. 

“At its best, work gives people purpose, a sense of identity and achievement, and allows them to contribute to society,” said Peter Cheese, CEO of CIPD. He stated that employers needed to be offering a wider range of flexible working arrangements to counteract the detrimental effects of overwork. By putting people first, organisations can enjoy a more engaged and happier workforce with less sickness absence and better performance.

His words were a powerful reminder of a key message behind the event: that the future of work is human.  

3. The Future of Work is Human – Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Creativity Begins

“Don’t fear intelligent machines, work with them,” said Garry Kasparov, Chair of the Human Rights Foundation and former World Chess Champion in his opening keynote. Having ranked world No.1 from 1986 until his retirement in 2005, he was the first world champion to be beaten by a machine during a 1997 match with IBM supercomputer Deep Blue. Today, Garry is a thought leader on the subject of AI, exploring in depth the critical partnership between humans and machine intelligence.

Garry stated that not enough organisations today are embracing new technology and AI fast enough for the modern pace of work – which has left a missing link in the interface between humans and machines. “We all have to recognise that the role of humans in this relationship will continue to compensate for machines’ inefficiencies,” he said. “It will be to understand what this machine means for this specific task and how we can bring our unique human qualities into the game.”

According to Garry, we need not fear machines taking over anything but “zombie jobs” with robotic qualities. Instead, organisations need to be aware of the irreplaceable role of human creativity in the world of work and encourage people to work more closely with technology. As he noted, a human with a machine would always be far more powerful than a strong machine alone.

In Summary…

The main message was clearly woven throughout every aspect of the event – we needn’t fear technology, but we also should not overlook the wellbeing of our people. As our work becomes increasingly automated and processes become digitalised, robots are not going to steal our jobs and we are not about to lose our humanity – we must instead learn to use human skills such as creativity to complement it.

However, it’s key for us to remember that if we’re going to get the best out of our most our people – our most powerful assets – then we need to stop treating them as robots. Robots don’t need downtime. Robots do not have a sense of wellbeing which, when jeopardised, can have disastrous consequences both for employees’ own health as well as the organisation’s bottom-line. 

The future of work is human – and if we’re going to prepare ourselves for the workplace of tomorrow, we need to start putting our people first today.

If you would like some help overcoming some of these challenges, we’ve got the tools and expertise to help you succeed. Request a demo to arrange to speak to one of our experts.

We’re going to be exploring some of these trends further in coming weeks, so keep an eye on our blog and social media channels to see when these insights are published:

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Nick Davies
Head of Sales