It’s time to be radical: Global HR leaders discuss workplace of the future at annual roundtable

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HR leaders from global brands across STEM and related industries met recently to discuss some of the biggest challenges and opportunities facing employers today, at an annual roundtable hosted by organisational development firm, h2h.

Attended by 25 HR and business leaders from global brands with a combined workforce of more than 20,000 people, the private event included talks from industry experts and practical sessions for delegates to debate their key organisational development issues.

One of the main themes was an emerging crisis among first-line leaders, who are facing overwhelm and under-recognition. They are typically responsible for 80% of the workforce despite often having little-to-no previous management experience or development for the role.

Susan Binnersley, Managing Director of h2h, said: “Our annual roundtable provides an opportunity for our customers and partners to discuss their challenges anonymously in an open and transparent environment, helping to find solutions and share best practice. It was incredible to see so many delegates representing some of the biggest names in manufacturing and engineering come together to share their experiences.

“During this year’s event there was a mutual recognition that first-line leaders are struggling more than ever before, yet they are the lifeblood of industry and play a crucial role. Rather than criticise these talented employees, we need to shift the narrative and consider how to play to their strengths. It is time to be radical. We must rethink the workplace structure to create a more agile environment that promotes wellbeing and allows people across all levels to thrive.”

Delegates also reflected on intergenerational leadership and a growing demographic of employees aged over 50, as well as how to navigate the increasingly flat organisational structure.

Looking ahead to 2024 and beyond, the attendees discussed the workplace of the future and the impact of new technology, as well as environmental, political and social megatrends that will shape the world of work in the next decade.

When asked about the biggest challenges facing businesses today, responses included:

“There are workforce gaps but not necessarily gaps in skills. As we move to the future, technology is more advanced therefore it needs investment for our people to be competent in its use.”

“There is a fight for resource at the shop-floor level and for diverse engineers.  A range of actions are needed to attract externally and retain internally.”

“We have to get more innovative in manufacturing, where flexibility options are not as obvious.  Also technology is moving fast, but requires resource and capital to really move with the times and to take advantage.”

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