HR and Learning & Development Forum

HR and Learning & Development Forum

Our most recent zoom call with people in HR, learning and talent development was another insightful discussion with lively debate and lots of ideas and challenges shared as firms continue to adapt to changing working lives and practices.

Key issues / challenges

  • Workload and resource priorities, managing alongside childcare / homeschooling
  • Return to office planning
  • Looking after the mental health and well being of our people
  • Supporting resilience for colleagues, managers and teams
  • Keeping people motivated and engaged
  • Keeping lines of communication open for all staff
  • Virtual design and delivery of training

Returning to the office planning

  • It was much easier to shut offices than open them back up again: LOCK DOWN – one size fits all, RETURN – everyone has unique needs and need to be treated individually
  • Some offices are not lending themselves to social distancing
  • People continue to cope very well working from home and plan to come back to the office when they can for 2/3 days per week
  • Mental and physical health – need to be considered in equal measure, especially as time goes on
  • Time scales for return, the majority haven’t returned yet and are planning on September  time –  why September? Linked to academic year?

Considerations re: return to the office

  • How they are going to manage the number of people in the office at any one time
  • There is a risk some people may get complacent
  • It isn’t just 1-2 metre rule, its sharing stationery, using photocopiers and printers. Everyone needs to be vigilant
  • Speaking up if others aren’t adhering to rules – all feel different about it
  • Fear levels vary – needs a good understanding of how people feel on a scale of 1 – 10
  • Disclosure levels need to be considered– some may not be comfortable sharing factors impacting return, such as health issues
  • Trust – really highlighting where people have this. Work used to go home, home is now coming to work. There used to be a happy separation of the two, this has become blurred.

The manager role

  • Highlighting that we require managers to be excellent at managing people
  • Some are struggling to have a basic conversation about how people are feeling
  • Important they are able to make decisions, on an individual basis
  • ‘New’ management – really digging down to understand the drivers, feelings, viewpoints and needs of individuals. Their physical and emotional needs. This will help to build deep trust.
  • Discussion around potential change to the manager role – to become purely responsible for supporting and driving performance, development and engagement.

Diversity and inclusion

  • It is often seen as a tick box exercise
  • Agreed EVERYONE should be responsible
  • Recent events have created the space for a conversation
  • One firm has a “more in common/inclusivity group”, with a member of the board who now participates
  • The Human Library was recommended – they talk to individuals / hear stories
  • Our survey of participants highlighted:
    • 80% said inclusiveness is rarely or never discussed at management meetings
    • 67% said sanctions are never given for conduct by senior management or partners that is not inclusive
    • 67% said no one has primary responsibility for the inclusiveness agenda at their firm

The next call takes place at 11am on Thursday 9 July. If you would like to join please drop an email to and we’ll send you a link! The agenda includes “New and emerging ways of working – practical tips to influence business / get over hurdles”

Previous call summaries can be found here.