With ExChange, the employee experience event, landing in the City of London on May 24th, we sat down with Ruth Dance and Grace Burton, our hosts for the day to learn a little more about what to expect.
Can you both tell us a little bit about yourselves?
RD: I’m passionate about people. That might sound a little strange… but meeting people, learning about people, understanding what makes us tick, helping others find meaning and purpose – that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning (and 1 year old son, Theo!)
Before becoming MD of The Employee Engagement Alliance I spent 12 years working in people development. From running the week-long induction programmes across the European auction houses of Christie’s to leading the management development at publishers of The Times, The Sunday Times & The Sun at News UK. I’ve aligned my passion for people with everything I’ve done. When I later moved into a people-focussed role reporting into a Customer Experience division everything just ‘clicked’ and that’s where I truly started to understand and see the benefits of concentrating on the experience.
GB: Like Ruth, I’m utterly fascinated by learning why people do what they do. It was Benefex’s focus on people which made me want to join them initially, and I jumped at the opportunity to move into a role focused on researching employee experience last year. I’ve found myself growing more and more interesting in how rapidly we’re seeing society adapt and evolve around technology. So I spend most of my days thinking about employee experience, tech or some combination of the two. My nose is usually in a few books at any given time. And if anyone asks – it’s research!
What’s ExChange all about?
GB: At Benefex we’re lucky to work with some of the best employers in the world, and we’ve seen the role of employee experience specialists and entire EX strategies really grow within those organisations. In talking to these people – employee experience managers and directors – they were telling us that they didn’t feel like they had a community outside of their organisations so that’s what we want to deliver with ExChange; a space for those people making strategic people decisions to really think about what the future holds for them.
There’s been a huge shift towards thinking about employee experience, why do you think this is?
RD: Organisations are now starting to see the business results from focusing on the inside first. From re-allocating budgets to their people focus to having clear measurable outcomes internally and externally on engagement and the links to business success. The more we’re hearing about these inspiring case studies the more companies are following suit. For me, it’s the employee experience that’s imperative and the starting point to this cultural shift. Applying learnings that have been demonstrated in customer experience during the last 10 years and translating these to our people is having huge benefits.
GB: I don’t think you can really understand the movement towards employee experience without thinking about the broader preference for experience we’re now seeing across society. I’m delighted that James Wallman is joining us for ExChange because he’s one of the leading voices in this. We’re placing access and convenience above ownership in a way that I think is crucial for employers to grasp. Combine this with the consequences of the age of transparency we’re now in, and we’re finally seeing organisations live and die by the way they treat their people. I hope this doesn’t seem scary, because really there’s an incredible amount of opportunity for our organisations become workplaces which do the best by their employees – and get the best out of them in return.
What do you think will be different about the workplace of the future?
RD: Terms such as employee engagement, employee wellbeing, diversity & inclusion, flexible working – the list goes on – will no longer be something we’re aiming for but something that’s completely expected. We’re a long way off that right now however I think with the next generation entering the workplace who are more attuned to their own needs of authenticity, customisation and meaningful connections they’re going to be shaping the future sooner than we might be prepared for.
GB: As we live longer and healthier lives, something must change fundamentally about the way we think about work. The concept of a job for life is dead for people in my generation, and I don’t think that’s as simple as being either a good or a bad thing – but it absolutely comes with a lot of challenges for everyone involved. We’re already seeing more people have a much more fluid relationship with work and a different concept of employment. I’m expecting to see everything from workspaces to employee-employer relationships shift entirely during my lifetime.
Which part of ExChange are you most excited about?
RD: The line-up of speakers is nothing short of incredible. I’m particularly excited to hear from the experts on their research, thoughts and opinions on what the workplace is going to look like in the short to medium term and the tangible actions we can to take to not only be prepared but lead the way.
GB: Without meaning to sound like an echo; the calibre of our speakers is exceptional. Having been in the audience at other events they’ve spoken at, it’s going to be such a privilege to bring them to ExChange. I’m also so excited to spend the day in a room full of people who get that there’s seismic changes underfoot in the world of work.
What are you reading/watching at the moment?
RD: I’m spending more and more time on LinkedIn lately. This hasn’t been a conscious decision I’ve made, but with being mum to a toddler and running The EEA, finding my inspiration in small digestible chunks in the form of posts, videos, blogs and articles whilst on the go is really working for me. Although I’ll admit – I should probably reduce my screen time.
I’ve started watching The Assassination of Gianni Versace on BBC. My husband took a bit of convincing to start it but now we’re hooked – we tend to binge watch series’ and the anticipation of what’s coming next each week is exciting!
GB: On my desk at work I’ve got Hippo by Pete Trainor and the Future of Work by Richard Donkin, and at home I’m reading Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge which I can’t recommend enough. I’m watching Altered Carbon on the recommendation of Matt Macri-Waller, one of our speakers. The concept of digitising our consciousness is fascinating and terrifying in equal measure.
What’s your most used app?
RD: The calendar on my iPhone. Juggling family life, networking events, toddler nursery pick-ups, learning events, international travel, calls and planning time requires a constantly synchronised diary at all times. ‘Fail to plan, plan to fail’ – and when my phone is out action it certainly feels like crisis!
GB: So with two phones, on my personal phone I keep in touch with my friends through WhatsApp and Snapchat. On my work phone I’ve become hooked on our OneHub Recognition app, probably because it’s really social and I’m fascinated by seeing the thanks and praise that people across our business give each other.
We’re busy people – why should we spend the day at ExChange?
RD: Businesses don’t just need to survive today but be prepared to thrive in the future. The world is changing, fast.
Research suggests that the big organisations cannot rely on their brand name or great office locations alone to attract the future talent anymore. It’s becoming so much deeper than that. The need for authenticity, building trust, having clear purpose driven experiences both on the inside and outside is what’s going to stand you apart and help your business to thrive. As a leader of people, investing one day out of your schedules to hear from the world’s leading experts on this subject, share with peers and be truly motivated to make a real difference in your business is a small investment to make for a long-term gain.
GB: We’ll be bringing a great combination of world-class employers and leading thinkers to not only give you those valuable lessons from other organisations but crucially, an insight into the challenges and opportunities that the future of work holds. It’s going to be a day for people who are happy to have their assumptions challenged.
ExChange is a day for the people who design and deliver exceptional employee experiences, and for those who know that the way we work is changing beyond all recognition.
More information and tickets are available at https://the-eea.com/exchange
***Get 25% off your ticket with EARLYBIRD until March 31st***