Big thinkers

The latest round-up of inspiring ideas for HR professionals

The pressure on businesses to 'do the right thing' could lead to the rise of more 'employee-centric' relationships, suggests Dr Linda Holbeche. In her new book Influencing Organizational Effectiveness, she says this idea could translate to employers being more up front with new recruits and employing everyone on reasonable terms, rather than giving financial rewards to the top talent while putting others on casual contracts.

So many initiatives around diversity still ignore bias, rendering most of them ineffective and possibly even counterproductive, according to Stephen Frost, former head of diversity at the 2012 Olympics, and talent expert Danny Kalman. In their new book, Inclusive Talent Management, they argue that organisations don't need to sugarcoat policies or programmes to achieve change: "It's as much about the barriers you remove, as about the decorations you add."

While many people expect learning to be as simple as watching YouTube, corporate learning management systems remain slow, hard to use and difficult to maintain, says Josh Bersin, founder of Bersin & Associates (now Bersin by Deloitte) in a blog. However, the problem can't just be solved by designing better programmes or upgrading learning platforms: there is "a need to totally rethink corporate L&D, to shift the focus to design thinking and the employee experience," he says. "In today's always-on, distracting work environment, people simply don't take the time to learn unless it feels relevant and it's embedded in the work."

A recent global study by Oxford Economics found that companies that get digital leadership right perform better in the marketplace and have happier and more engaged employees. Commenting on its Leaders 2020 report, Edward Cone, deputy director of Thought Leadership at Oxford Economics, says the findings should serve as a wake-up call: "Your employees, your younger executives and your financial results are all sending you a clear message about the importance of updating and upgrading leadership skills for the digital age. It's time to listen and lead - or get out of the way."

Most of us consider play at work a distraction - think bowling, volleyball and meditation in Google's offices, for example - but what if the opposite of play isn't work, but boredom, asks communication and workplace strategist Michelle Burke. "We have made assumptions over the years that play doesn't belong during work hours," she writes in a recent blog. But for organisations looking to boost employee engagement and create a more positive and energised workforce, "I believe play is the vital missing solution."