Why I’m Looking Forward to #CIPD14

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It looks like I’m finally going to have to crack. I’ve been blogging now for nearly 10 months, and in that time I’ve resisted writing a blog about blogging. But in less than two weeks I’ll be living every HR blogger’s dream by taking my place on the Blog Squad for the CIPD Annual Conference 2014!

Just over a year ago things couldn’t have been more different for me. I was still on maternity leave and never imagined that another social media site would pull me away from the addictive clutches of Pinterest. Apologies to those followers who enjoyed the cake decorating tips I used to share as once I’d discovered Twitter I didn’t look back!

A few months later I decided to combine my love of writing with my passion for my career and started my blog. Now here I am – feeling very honoured and little nervous, but mainly excited! Here’s why:

1. Blogging
Blogging to me is like the introvert’s version of standing up and giving a presentation to a room full of people. Writing is a skill that’s often underestimated, and yet it’s essential. The written word is a powerful reminder of an idea or an inspiration and there’s going to be plenty of those at #CIPD14.

2. Networking
Networking is still such an essential business skill but if you’re the type of person who dreads doing the rounds churning out small talk, social media is a godsend. I enjoy connecting with people on an individual level, and I’m really looking forward to meeting those people who are part of my online professional networks face to face.

3. Learning
I’m constantly thinking, searching for new information and analysing it against my work context as HR and Business Strategy Manager at livin housing. The sessions I’m particularly looking forward to are focussed on strategy, agility and wider challenges – can’t wait!

I hope to see you there – please say hi!

The Apprentice

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I’m pretty sure most of us dread those team building events employers tend to force us to participate in every once in while. Icebreaker style activities are definitely not my bag. I’ve sellotaped balloons together to make the tallest tower. I’ve drawn portraits, described myself as a biscuit and answered many many quiz questions. It was kind of fun, but none of it ever affected team dynamics in any way. Continue reading “The Apprentice”

Good grief

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A colleague once told me that the best thing about their former employer was that they offered unlimited bereavement leave. This made me think. Someone close to you has to die before they become a good employer? That’s pretty sad.

I’m not sure unlimited leave is the answer, but no doubt there was some sympathetic intent behind the policy. A recognition that grief is a very personal thing. I like the fluidness of this in contrast to the rigid lists of the number of days you’re allowed in proportion to how close you were to the person who’s passed away. I’m sure those lists are unnecessary. You’d have to be a pretty pathetic person to use death as an excuse just to score a few days off work.

Death is something that many adults have had to cope with, and yet it’s little talked about. I’m not unique in having lived through the terminal diagnosis, deterioration and then death of a parent. Yet even with that experience behind me, knowing that bottling feelings up was the worst thing to do, talking about death is awkward. I think it’s a cultural taboo and therefore difficult to break.

That’s why I find Acas’ New bereavement guidance quite refreshing, even though it’s written in their traditional style. It forces grief out in the open and reminds us there’s no shame in it. It recognises one thing that I’m sure no existing policy does – that grief continues a long time after the event.

However there is a key thing in the guidance I disagree with – that grief does not have predicted stages and phases. When my mother died I was given some information about the 5 stages of grief. I didn’t pay much attention at the time but looking back a few years later I realised I was a textbook case. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – I’d experienced them all. I think just spelling out those feelings as normal was helpful, and the guidance is lacking without them.

However, hidden amongst the wordy pages is the perfect description of grief – adjusting to life without the person who is lost. It’s about closing a gaping hole left by a loved one and finding a new normal. I think we’ve always recognised that work is an important part of finding that place, but we need to change attitudes towards talking about death and grief openly. Hopefully Acas has got the ball rolling on that.

Download the guidance here