17. June 2024

5 emerging trends from the CIPD’s Festival of Work 2024

personio CIPD

Over 11,000 HR professionals made the trip to CIPD’s Festival of Work 2024 in London — including the Personio team! We were excited to be there to take in the talks, speak with practitioners in the field and enjoy the great sessions and conversations. 

But what exactly did we learn at this year’s event? Since it was a two-day whirlwind, packed with insightful talks and inspiring speakers, we’ve prepared the five key trends we’ll be keeping an eye on in the months ahead...

1. Give permission to play with AI 

Much has been made about the role of AI in HR. Many of the talks at this year’s event centred around the topic. Interestingly, there’s been a distinct evolution in how HR is being asked to approach AI to help improve how people work. 

Earlier in the year, there was a lot of discussion about simply embedding AI into processes. Many organisations focused on establishing a baseline for AI in their work, but this also made the topic inherently intimidating for some teams. 

In a panel discussion entitled “AI is transforming work - how do we support people and enhance work?” panellists like Andy Headworth, talent acquisition director at HMRC, detailed how they’ve encouraged their teams to experiment with AI.

One example was to simply give teams room to “play” with AI. This would mean giving them a blank slate and allowing them to see how it could work for them. If you’re looking for a place to start, take a look at our whitepaper on AI in HR work

2.  Put an end to working while on holiday

There’s a good reason why an entire stage at the Festival of Work was dedicated to the topic of wellbeing. More than a matter of pure interest, wellbeing has become a strategic initiative for many HR teams that goes beyond tracking overtime or offering resources. 

In fact, many speakers and panellists discussed how wellbeing should be about addressing the causes (and not simply the symptoms) that organisations may be struggling with.  These are the causes that can lead to dwindling engagement or higher rates of burnout. 

One example is the rise of presenteeism and working while on holiday. Organisations need to think through what these mean for their workforce, their culture and what they are asking employees to prioritise (and what it means for their health).

An often-proposed solution was more assessment processes from day one with employees. These include stress assessments or things like energy check-ins to see how your people are doing and intervening early on. They should be baked right into your organisational infrastructure. 

3. Prepare for post-election changes ahead 

Many speakers, panellists and attendees had the upcoming election top of mind. More specifically, they were focused on what it might mean for changing employment laws. 

One talk focused specifically on this matter was entitled: “What the general election could mean for employment law?”. That said, there were plenty of mentions about the election in other discussions, as well as a dedicated employment law drop-in clinic for attendees. 

A change in government would likely result in a host of changes, many already proposed and publicly available. But, this trend isn’t limited to changes in matters of law, compliance or government policy. 

4.  Understand the value of  internal communication

Speaking of communication, Alexandra Head, Head of Talent and Resourcing at University of Southampton and Alyssa Jaffer, Senior Manager, Global Rider Communications and Co-Chair of L&D Committee at Deliveroo spoke on the value of leveraging internal communication to communicate core values

They sketched out a pivotal role that HR can play in organisational culture. They suggested leveraging internal communications to better develop, ideate and iterate on core values that reflect a culture that is more fitting of a company’s goals. 

This role of HR as advocate and communicator in an organisation is a huge one. It is also part and parcel of a larger discussion of HR and people teams as messengers, advocates and strategic partners for both employees and organisation). 

5. Give employees what they want (and need)

We’d be remiss to not mention the sheer amount of conversations revolving around employee experience and expectations in 2024. We saw a distinct uptick in the amount of conversations around expanding reward strategies . 

Initiatives like salary sacrifice schemes have added to a conversation that already includes things like:

  • Flexible working arrangements

  • Four day workweeks 

  • Employee ownership and stock options 

This is in addition to baseline measures like employee recognition, training and feedback. All of these come together to paint a rich tapestry of how employees want to be rewarded and how organisations can meet those needs. 

For us, that means added focus on developing coherent and compelling rewards strategies that attract, engage and retain your talented employees. 

The CIPD’s Festival of Work 2024 was jam-packed with amazing insights and fantastic talks. These are just some of the trends that we saw taking shape, and we’ll be excited to track them over time. 

If you want to stay up to date with how these (and many more) trends develop, we’d recommend signing up for our LinkedIn newsletter. Each week, we dissect the latest and what they could mean for your work.

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