Reflections from the CIPD Festival of Work

by | Jun 29, 2023

DE&I | Employee Experience and Engagement | Future of Work
Home 5 Workplace 5 Reflections from the CIPD Festival of Work

Reflections from the CIPD Festival of Work

In this week’s blog we hear from our very own Chris Horton, who tell us about the highlights and insights from the CIPD Festival of work. Buzzing with energy and ideas, not to mention quite a lot of people on a warm London day, there were approximately 10,000 attendees at London Kensington Olympia on June 7-8, 2023. 

The festival had a strong focus on wellbeing, employee experience, and – you guessed it – the world of flexible and hybrid working. AI seamlessly weaved its way through the event, intermingling with and sometimes adjacent to a range of other people-related topics. If you’re interested, you can check out the extensive number of topics and speakers on the festival’s website



Wellbeing – self and boundaries

One of the leading themes of the festival was wellbeing. From the main stage to the dedicated wellbeing area and numerous vendors, the importance of physical, mental, and financial wellbeing was highlighted across the festival. On top of the informative speeches and discussions there was massage, yoga and puppies to pat. It was great to witness the emphasis placed on self-care and the significance of defining boundaries to ensure a healthy and thriving workplace. 

During the festival, Fearne Cotton, (DJ and TV presenter), delivered an interesting keynote speech alongside Peter Cheese. Fearne stressed the value of resilience and encouraged us not to fear mistakes or challenging times, as they often lead to personal growth. She shared invaluable insights on focusing on self-care and the importance of setting boundaries, reminding us of the critical role this can play in our overall wellbeing. 

At LACE Partners, we embrace the significance of holistic health and happiness. In today’s ever-changing world, nurturing and supporting the wellbeing of employees is not just a nicety but an absolute necessity for creating a vibrant culture and successful company. 

Focusing on wellbeing brings significant benefits. A positive work environment that genuinely cares about employee wellbeing breeds heightened engagement and satisfaction. When individuals feel valued and supported in their overall wellbeing, they become more motivated, productive, and inspired by their roles. This, in turn, cultivates a sense of loyalty and reduces turnover rates, creating a stable and productive workforce. Wellbeing becomes a virtuous circle. 

Moreover, placing a spotlight on employee wellbeing directly impacts performance and productivity. When employees are physically and mentally healthy, they possess the vitality, focus, and resilience necessary to overcome challenges and meet professional demands head-on. By investing in comprehensive wellness programmes, companies see a decrease in absenteeism, a reduction in burnout rates, and an upsurge in creativity and innovation. 

Furthermore, employee wellbeing showcases an unwavering commitment to ethical and socially responsible practices. In today’s era, job seekers want to understand company values and practices. By prioritising employee wellbeing, companies can position themselves as employers of choice, attracting and retaining top talent. Prospective employees seek employers who focus on work-life balance, mental health support, and a positive work environment – all of which are key components of our approach at LACE partners. 

In summary, the elevated focus on workplace wellbeing lies at the core of fostering a flourishing, engaged, and high-performing workforce. At LACE Partners, we advocate for companies to invest in employee wellbeing, resulting in a positive work environment, enhanced productivity, work-life harmony, and the ability to attract and retain exceptional talent. Recognising the pivotal role of employee wellbeing is not just a passing fad, it is one of the key pillars of building a growing company. 


Humour and the workplace 

Katherine Ryan – Embracing equality, diversity and empowering yourself. 

On day two of the festival Katherine Ryan, comedian and author, shared her views on the intersection of self-care and humour. She said humour was important at work. However, it could also play an additional role. Katherine spoke about the importance of defining acceptable ways of working through humour. She said humour has a place at work, although it can be a ‘gamble in an office setting’, as you really don’t want to offend anyone in the office. So, as long as you’re very clear about what’s acceptable, what’s not going to be divisive, [then] you won’t make anyone feel marginalised or picked on.” 

Humour, when used appropriately, can be a valuable tool for defining boundaries at work. Here are some ways in which humour can aid in establishing and maintaining boundaries within a professional setting: 

  • Icebreaker and tension reliever 
  • Reinforcing norms and expectations 
  • Creating a shared understanding 
  • Setting a positive tone 
  • Diffusing conflicts

Despite the potential benefits, it is crucial to use humour judiciously and considerately. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Respect individual differences 
  • Be mindful of appropriateness 
  • Gauge the audience 
  • Know when to draw the line

Incorporating humour to define boundaries at work can be beneficial, promoting a positive and respectful workplace culture. However, it is essential to exercise sensitivity, awareness, and discretion to ensure that humour remains a unifying and constructive force within the professional environment. 


The importance of diversity for underprivileged groups

The third speech that I wanted to highlight was by Kanya King CBE Founder & CEO, MOBO Group: Importance of diversity and supporting underprivileged and underrepresented groups. Kanya shared several key messages at the CIPD Festival of Work. These included: 

  • The importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. King said that diversity is not just about having a workforce that reflects the wider population, but also about creating a culture where everyone feels welcome and valued. 
  • The need to support underprivileged groups in the workplace. King spoke about the importance of providing opportunities for people from disadvantaged backgrounds and said that businesses have a responsibility to help break down the barriers that prevent these people from reaching their full potential. 
  • The power of music to change lives. King said that music has the power to bring people together and to inspire change, and she called on businesses to use their platforms to support music and musicians.


Some key ideas to think about in this space:

  • Representation: Ensure diverse representation at all levels of the organisation, including leadership positions. Actively seek to hire and promote individuals from minority groups to provide a diverse range of perspectives and experiences.  
  • Equal opportunities: Provide equal opportunities for career development, advancement, and training to all employees, regardless of their background.  
  • Employee Resource groups (ERGs): Establish and support Employee Resource Groups that focus on specific minority groups within the company. 
  • Mentorship and Sponsorship programmes: Implement formal mentorship and sponsorship programs that pair individuals from minority groups with experienced leaders within the company.  
  • Diversity training and education: Offer diversity training programs to increase awareness, sensitivity, and understanding of different cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives.  
  • Inclusive policies and practices: Review and revise existing policies, practices, and procedures to ensure they are inclusive and equitable.  
  • Employee feedback and engagement: Create avenues for open and transparent communication, allowing employees from minority groups to voice their opinions, concerns, and suggestions. 
  • External partnerships and community engagement: Collaborate with external companies and community groups that focus on diversity and inclusion. 



Some other great sessions included:

  • Bias in AI – how do we reconcile and overcome the inherent bias in AI 
  • Four-day week – is this the holy grail of work? 
  • Flexibility for non-office workers – consistency in experience across different employee groups 
  • Flexibility for workers in front line and customer facing roles – different options for workers in front-line and customer-facing roles that can enable greater flexibility 
  • How to collect and interpret meaningful people data 
  • Should ESG be part of HR?

Overall, it was a great event and I’ll be happy to see you there next year. If you have questions on the content or want to know how LACE can help you with any HR or payroll transformation project, just reach out via the form below:

Got a question? Need some support? Contact us today and we'll be happy to help.