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The 2021 Festival of Knowledge Roundup

Sharing knowledge doesn’t dilute it.

This saying is something we champion passionately at Phase 3. Our two day Festival of Knowledge brought together the best thought leaders in HR and Payroll, to share their insights and experiences at the cutting edge of Human Resources.

The festival took place across the 12th and 13th of October 2021 and we had speakers from Sage, Ceridian, Unit4 as well as keynote speeches from Paul McGee and Dean Forbes.

If you registered for the festival, you can re-watch all the sessions using this link here. If you didn’t register, you can still access the videos by registering here and following the links in your email.

Everyone in attendance had a great time with questions coming in from the audience over both days. We uncovered some amazing insights from our many breakout rooms, group sessions and Q&As too.

It’d be impossible for us to round up 15 hours of talks in this article, but we’ll distil the key learning and takeaways gained from the festival below.

If you’d like to watch or re-watch any session, you can use this link here to access the video recordings from both days of the festival.

The Festival of Knowledge event round up – key themes

Employees have more choice. They have more choice about where they want to work, who they want to work with and how they want to work.

The above statement summarises the main focus of this year’s Festival of Knowledge. The majority of the sessions focused on employee experience. We looked at the ‘War for Talent’ and the ‘Great Resignation’ and asked how companies can retain their best staff in an ever-increasing candidate-driven market.

The festival shined a light on some interesting HR statistics that leaders will need to prepare for as the pandemic recedes and companies begin to adapt to life in this new normal.

33% of employees are potentially looking to leave their organisation because the pandemic has created new roles in more appealing sectors and pushed people away from others.

This, combined with the fact that there are currently over 1 million job vacancies in the UK, means candidates have a lot of choice over where they work and who they work with.

This means retaining employees will become especially important for companies as they move through 2021 and beyond. The best way organisations can reduce employee turnover is with great benefit packages, offering the best employee experiences and the best processes and technology.

Key Theme – As the hiring market becomes more candidate-driven, so must companies to make sure they’re remaining competitive. Placing the employee experience at the heart of your HR function is vital if you want your company to thrive.

HR and Payroll professionals know where they want to be in regards to technological innovation, but there is still a way to go to get there.

Furlough and remote working have expedited the move towards a digitalised HR and Payroll department. Most teams were currently in the process of digitising their processes, but the pandemic gave those transformation projects a huge boost.

The fact that many HR and Payroll teams were already undergoing some form of digital transformation pre-2021 tells us that, as a sector, Human Resources is far more tech savvy than many people believe.

In fact, we’re now seeing the first wave of employees enter the sector who are 100% digital nomads. They’ve always lived with a smartphone, apps have been the primary way they’ve engaged with technology, they’ve barely used a PC and email moves too slow for them.

This means as a sector, HR and Payroll are happily moving towards a more digitised, cloud-based way of working.

But HR and Payroll clients are still experiencing the same issues when it comes to tech. Essentially they know they need it, and they want to use it. But understanding what ‘good’ looks like in a software solution, deciding which system would work best for their needs or visualising an end goal for an HR tech transformation is still really difficult for a lot of HR and Payroll teams.

Overcoming this hurdle regarding technology was a key theme of the festival.

Key Theme – HR and Payroll teams love technology and want to implement it effectively in their department. Figuring out how to do that effectively is a big stumbling block a lot of teams are facing.

We’ll see a big difference in the companies that are reactive and proactive in relation to the War for Talent, as the War for Talent and Great Resignation kick in.

Companies need to be proactive in regard to the War for Talent. As the job market becomes more candidate-driven, companies which have taken a proactive approach to the lack of candidates on the market will fare much better.

Companies should be constantly listening to their employees, sending out regular surveys to gauge employee satisfaction and they should be asking whether team members feel valued at work.

It’s only through this proactive approach to employee experience can companies reduce turnover in their business. Great employee experience can also be one of the key ways you attract the best talent in a candidate-driven market. When your current employees become evangelists for your culture, attracting passive candidates becomes much easier.

Remember, 33% of staff are likely to leave your organisation post-pandemic. Being proactive in the War for Talent gives you the best chance of filling those vacancies quickly and with higher calibre team members.

Key Theme – Companies and HR teams can’t rest on their laurels in regards to hiring. Being proactive in your search for candidates must be the bare minimum you do to be successful in 2021 and beyond.

Key learning points from the event

At the end of the festival our Director of Consulting & Services, James Proctor, ran through the key learning from our two day event, we’ve listed them below:

  • The HR and Payroll systems world is busier than ever before. The industry has had an incredibly difficult two years. Furlough, remote working and the pandemic shook many businesses to their core and forced new ways of working. Now the dust has settled, businesses are figuring out how they adapt and continue post-pandemic. This has prompted businesses to look again at their processes and decide what they want to keep long term. Remote working? Flexible working? Tools that were at first used to bridge the gap between both sides of the pandemic are now getting onboarded on a permanent basis.
  • The word ‘unprecedented’ was used a lot to describe the pandemic but we prefer the word ‘extraordinary’ as it perfectly sums up the volume of change happening in the industry. It’s a real time for disruption and instead of viewing the post-pandemic world as the Great Resignation we should view it as the ‘great reset’. If 30% of your workforce is predicted to leave your company there’s no better time to fill those vacancies with happier, more productive staff. The ‘great reset’ is a chance to help certain staff amicably leave your company and fill those positions with people who can take your business to the next level.
  • The increased reliance on technology over the pandemic has expedited the rate of change in organisations and many have succumbed to change fatigue. This has been common across sectors but we hope that most businesses are past the pain point in Kubler-Ross’s change curve and are now meaningfully experimenting with better ways to run their business.

Do you want to re-watch any of the 2021 Festival of Knowledge?

If you couldn’t catch the Festival of Knowledge live, you can rewatch any of the sessions here. As we said at the beginning of this round up, sharing knowledge doesn’t dilute it, and Phase 3 is proud to support HR and Payroll teams and communities across the UK.

We’re a HR and Payroll technology consultancy and work with clients to improve their HR and Payroll processes. If you’d like to work with us, you can contact us using this page.

If you’d like to watch the Festival of Knowledge sessions, but didn’t register for the event, you can register here now and get access to all our sessions.

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