‘As I Said to the Board’ – Navigating this New World of Work - Energy & Utility Skills

‘As I Said to the Board’ – Navigating this New World of Work

The latest in the series of strategic roundtable events for utility HR Directors brought perspectives on managing through the pandemic, and preparing for what many believe will be a new world of work.

‘As I Said to the Board’ – Navigating this New World of Work

Expert contributors included the Chair of Black Isle Group, Atholl Duncan, and Managing Director of the Executive Network Group, Matt Ellis.

The ‘As I Said to the Board’ events are a partnership around human capital between Energy & Utility Skills, leading sector news team Utility Week and senior recruitment specialists Network HR. In the latest event attended by gas, power, water and waste management employers from across the UK and Channel Islands, delegates were challenged that there will not be a return to ‘old normal’ once the pandemic eases and businesses start to bring back their employees from home and furlough. Change is on its way and it will impact core corporate strategy as much as it changes how employees will need to work together.

Atholl Duncan is an experienced utility and media professional, who has authored a new book on the subject. It brings together interviews with global leaders from political, military and business backgrounds to establish their visions for future change as a direct result of the global lockdown. He talked the utilities through his experiences and the interview headlines, advising that from now on organisational “purpose will play a far greater role post Covid-19 for employees, customers and investors”. Referring to an interview he undertook with General Stan McChrystal, a senior military figure in the U.S.A, Atholl talked of the need for organisations to reflect quickly on the lessons from the pandemic to stay competitive. General McChrystal had advised “Leaders who are waiting to snap back to the way it was, must realise there is no going back because your competition is going to a better place.”

With the practicalities of operating a business after months of remote and home working, Atholl reflected that many leaders are now realising that remote working isn’t working well enough to offer itself as a permanent solution. “New approaches need to be developed with new skills for those who are leading”. Many employers are apparently already sensing that a mixture of days at home and days in the office will be the preference to the isolation of fully remote working and never getting companies and colleagues back in to gatherings again. A fuller summary of the ‘Leaders in Lockdown’ feedback from Atholl Duncan can be seen here.

The Managing Director of the Executive Network Group, Matt Ellis, focused on ways of filling the many skills gaps that still exist as lockdown eases, and reflected on the initial virtual collapse in recruitment that took place as the initial crisis unfolded. Matt advised “We are seeing green shoots again and day by day more and more employers are reopening their recruitment functions”. He then took the utility-based employers through the Network HR research and experience for moving to virtual ‘onboarding’ and for building trust and employee engagement through the distanced working period.  

Nick Ellins, Chief Executive of Energy & Utility Skills commented:

The ‘As I Said to the Board’ fora were designed to take on the key topics that will help our utility HR professionals increasing drive workforce resilience and the human assets on to the Boardroom agenda. Recovery from this global incident is understandably right at the top of the list, and many HR leaders are being expected to make strategic sense of great ambiguity and advise their Board and investors on the right way forward. Atholl and Matt have today helped the industry to look carefully at how it will emerge from the incident safely, and ready to work in ever more innovative ways with its people.”  

More details can be seen on the previous ‘As I Said to the Board’ events and the discussions held, including to build the value of human capital in the boardroom, and work with the growing institutional investor interest in human capital valuation.