Organisations need to adapt to the New Normal of recession and turbulence to survive, Keynote speakers told a conference on HR at Middlesex University on May 25.
The Conference, From Recession to Recovery: Maximising HR’s contribution, heard from both David Fairhurst, McDonald’s Chief People Officer and Jackie Orme, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD), about how HR can influence organisational survival and performance in turbulent times.
Jackie said: “I thought recession to recovery would be a good name for the conference when I was asked in January. Five months later I wouldn’t talk about recession to recovery, it doesn’t feel like we are in recovery yet, I spoke about the New Normal. The New Normal is lower levels of growth, higher tax and poorer levels of public provision.”
Among the topics Jackie tackled were the great gains made in working practices in the last 15 years in terms of flexible working and employee commitment, the risk these gains would start to slip because of the turbulent economy and how to address this issue.
Closing the conference with his Keynote speech, David said the New Normal was the turbulence of the past two years and talked about how HR practitioners could help organisations “survive and thrive” in this context.
David talked about the need for leaders to reconcile the needs of all sorts of groups, including the “silent stakeholder”, the environment, and, in the absence of any right answers, to identify the best answers with “speed and agility”, working collaboratively with staff.
The one-day conference, held jointly by Middlesex and the CIPD North London Branch, also included input from HR managers and experts from DEFRA, Cambridgeshire County Council and Nationwide. Middlesex professors added insights from their their research during the five seminars which focused on lessons from the public sector, new approaches to reward, managing talent more effectively, greening the organisation and engaging hearts and minds.
Susie Leigh, a senior lecturer at Middlesex and branch committee member who organised the conference said that the high calibre of the speakers was a major factor in making the conference so successful.