Business culture will also become even more important in the coming years. Those that can showcase their culture and mission the best will attract and retain the best talent.
As a part of our interview series called “How Employers and Employees are Reworking Work Together,” we had the pleasure to interview Robert Bainbridge.
Rob is Chief People Officer at Decision Intelligence company, Peak. He joined the Manchester-based tech scale up in 2016, and has been pivotal in building an international team that now spans the UK, US and India.
On a mission to change how the world works, Peak places huge importance on its culture; the company is built on strong values of smart, curious, open, driven and responsible. Rob and his team have grown the global Peak team by 230% in the last three years to over 200 people internationally, and are responsible for scaling Peak’s culture. The team is focussed on developing a culture of sustainable high performance, and this year Peak received the Best Companies 3-star accreditation, which recognizes extraordinary levels of employee engagement. Not only that, but Peak has ranked among the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For the last two years in a row.
Rob has nearly two decades of experience in talent management and acquisition in the tech and finance sectors. He joined Peak from Sympatico Consulting, a specialist HR and Recruitment consultancy he founded, and was previously Head of Practice at Harvey Nash.
Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?
Coming from a family of farmers I spent a lot of time, especially over summers, growing up around large groups of friends and family — people from different backgrounds, with different views. I think this gave me an understanding, appreciation and interest in people from an early age. That, and accidentally finding myself in a recruitment role (when trying to pursue a career in politics) in my early 20’s were the defining experiences in my career.
What do you predict will be the same about work, the workforce and the workplace 10–15 years from now? What do you predict will be different?
I think advancements, such as the metaverse, will have a drastic impact on the workforce as we know it. The metaverse is just in the beginning stages of development and there is still so much to uncover. In-person offices, virtual meetings, and day-to-day work schedules will take a new form as companies begin buying “office space” in the metaverse.
But the need for the workplace to be people-centric will never change, and rightly so. People power businesses, and I think we’ll see more and more employers support initiatives that help their teams to achieve a meaningful work-life balance through focused productivity and a truly people centered culture.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
Innovate for people, those that work for and with you, as well as your customers. The most successful innovators are the ones who put people first.
What do you predict will be the biggest gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect as we move forward? And what strategies would you offer about how to reconcile those gaps?
Since the Great Resignation, employees have begun demanding more time and resources to develop both personally and professionally. They are constantly looking for a chance to reskill and upskill, setting themselves up to grow into the next position of their respective career. Employers who are unable to accommodate growing employee demands will find themselves unable to retain top talent and stay competitive in their industry. To help reconcile the gap and retain talent, employers should encourage employees to use a certain percentage of their day to pursue growth opportunities or a chance to learn a new skill they are passionate about. This could help foster a work environment where employees feel like they can bring their whole selves and creative ideas to work every day.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
After having the opportunity to work from home on flexible schedules, employees will be hesitant about returning to an office. Employers will need to get creative, offer hybrid work models, flexible work hours, amazing office space or the ability to work remotely to adapt to a new reality.
There will also be a larger emphasis on fostering work-life balance. Working from home caused high levels of burnout among employees, blurring the lines between work and private space. Moving forward, employers will need to start adopting methods to help them manage their stress and mental health, whatever work model they adopt.
We’ve all read the headlines about how the pandemic reshaped the workforce. What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support a future of work that works for everyone?
There will be changes across all aspects of society, I think we are already starting to see the education and learning sectors adapt. With online courses and tutelage, you could learn to be a software engineer and start a job without ever meeting anyone in person. Whether that is a good thing or not is another question!
We can already see changes in the housing markets with people moving from cities or looking for apartments that have dedicated work space.
I also hope that the future of work may help level the playing field for candidates from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. Remote and hybrid working could help remove some of the established barriers for these groups.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
That individuals will be able to find a working style and environment that allows them to work at their best. Done well, this could lead to increased productivity, wellbeing, and as mentioned earlier, diversity in the workplace.
Our collective mental health and wellbeing are now considered collateral as we consider the future of work. What innovative strategies do you see employers offering to help improve and optimize their employee’s mental health and wellbeing?
The pandemic has forced many people to reevaluate their priorities and employees are demanding more from their employers. It will definitely be interesting to see how policies develop as the fight for talent intensifies, but I think because this is talent led the onus will be on businesses to deliver meaningful initiatives — gimmicks like unlimited ice cream or a ping pong table in the office simply won’t cut it anymore.
At Peak, we focus on work life balance. Our benefit suite prioritizes physical and mental wellbeing benefits. We have a Clubhouse first model, with hybrid working and flexible working hours, as well as a work from anywhere for one month policy. Peakers also have free access to Peak’s fit club, Headspace app and talking therapy support.
It seems like there’s a new headline every day. ‘The Great Resignation’. ‘The Great Reconfiguration’. And now the ‘Great Reevaluation’. What are the most important messages leaders need to hear from these headlines? How do company cultures need to evolve?
The most important message leaders need to hear is that employees are unhappy with the current state of the workforce. It’s time for companies to step back, reevaluate and look to improve to meet employee expectations. Aside from allowing employees to upskill and reskill, company’s need to create cultures predicated on an environment of trust, psychological safety and clear communication. Having a certain level of trust and openness among employees creates an environment where they feel like they are being heard and are comfortable voicing an opinion.
Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”
1 — Businesses’ operating models will increasingly become a key consideration for candidates when choosing a new role. We will continue to see high attrition while businesses work out how they are going to operate (remote, hybrid, full office) and people explore what works best for them.
2 — Business culture will also become even more important in the coming years. Those that can showcase their culture and mission the best will attract and retain the best talent.
3 — HR and Talent professionals’ value (and salaries) will increase as leaders continue to recognize the skills to be able to retain and find top talent are worth top dollar. HR and Talent professionals will need to add talent marketing and data skills to their toolbox, those that do will be the most valuable.
4 — Remote first and hybrid companies will begin to look further and further afield for talent, new skills hubs will emerge.
5 — The duty of care and the benefits employers offer will continue to evolve, both as part of their culture and their ability to attract and retain the type of people they need will be reflected in their benefit suite. Fresh fruit on a Monday won’t cut it!
I keep quotes on my desk and on scraps of paper to stay inspired. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? And how has this quote shaped your perspective?
I always love the Gary Player classic, “The harder I practice, the luckier I get.” I think the quote speaks for itself! I don’t believe in leaving things to chance when it comes to people operations, I also firmly believe that practice and a growth/learning mindset can get you where you want to go. That and always saying “yes” to an opportunity to develop yourself!
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she, or they might just see this if we tag them.
Having just finished watching the Beatles Get Back documentary, I’d go for Paul McCartney — he should also have some good tips on breaking into the US market (our next big challenge at Peak)!
Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.