Why the Festival was such a success

Fiona Murchie reflects on the themes of this year’s Festival of Global People and looks ahead to the opportunities and challenges of supporting the global workforce of the future.

Festival of Global People 2019 Fiona Murchie Relocate Global
Relocate magazine summer 2019 issue
This article is taken from the latest issue of Relocate magazine.
– the must read for HR, global managers and relocation professionals.Never before have businesses faced so many challenges thanks to technology, economic and political changes, talent shortages and globalisation. In this environment of rapid change and uncertainty, it can be easy to forget that it is your people – your employees and your best talent – who will help define and decide the future of your business.

Watch highlights from the Festival:

Staff who feel valued, motivated and supported are more likely to contribute innovative ideas, engage with the vision of the company and stay loyal even in difficult times. The Festival is about supporting global people, so that they can flourish in their chosen environment. For this reason, the themes of our Festival this year were engagement, leadership, diversity and inclusion, and education.

Managing the need for change while maintaining trust

Speaking on Change, trust & engagement – squaring the circle, Dr Linda Holbeche, author in leadership and HR, consultant and researcher, and author of The Agile Organisation, discussed how to balance the need for change with the need to maintain trust. “We are now in a situation where organisations have to keep on changing,” she said in her keynote speech. “How do we reconcile the need for change with the need to maintain trust? Unless you have trust between employee and workers, you are not going to get engagement.”In order to support a global workforce, those companies managing global teams or dealing with staff internationally have a huge responsibility around compliance. There are the issues of tax, immigration, social security, duty of care, risk to reputation and to people and property, and there is a growing emphasis on the need for good governance and trust. Often, this falls under the remit of HR staff and mobility specialists. In smaller companies, there may not be a member of staff to deal with the complexity of mobility and so it becomes the responsibility of the finance director or a project team lead.

Putting people first

Every industry sector is going through a rapid process of change. We are now in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, with that comes all the changes that technology and AI are making to the way we work – and the way work will be in the future. There's also environmental concerns and sustainability, something that companies, employees and customers are increasingly aware of.The Millennial workforce has different priorities and attitudes, and employers need to be aware of these in order to to improve recruitment and retention. This is against the backdrop of a global talent shortage and the growing debate around the importance of inclusion and diversity.Relocate Festival of Global People 2019

Diversity makes business sense

One important solution to the scarcity of talent is to recruit from a wider variety of sources. Dr Susan Shortland, professor emerita at London Metropolitan University, gave a presentation on diversity and how it has become an issue that needs to be incorporated into global mobility. Her speech described how diversity has moved from a legislative imperative to business sense, and how An inclusive workplace is a high-performance workplace. She added that making your organisation more appealing to women and minority groups is not just good practice – it also refreshes the culture and the working atmosphere in a positive way.Earlier this year Relocate Global celebrated International Women’s Day and discussed how simple measures such as better communication and introducing flexible working to enable inclusivity and diversity, can really make a difference in organisations. Customers are diverse and so having a real diversity of thinking helps companies to flourish and innovate in a competitive and changing environment.

Creating an inclusive culture

On this theme, Teresa Boughey, author of Closing the Gap and CEO of Jungle HR, talked about how to achieve this vision using a model that everyone can apply within their organisation. When you understand how to take the right approach, you can help people within your organisation to get started on this journey.Boughey opened the first day of the Festival with a keynote speech on Creating an inclusive culture. It’s not about having one person trying to change the culture of an organisation, she said. “Inclusion is the role and responsibility of everyone at an organisation,” she explained. Boughey urged businesses to take stock of their current position and look at gender pay data, where talent is recruited from, and whether the selection panel is diverse.Companies are having to look a long way into the future as they adjust their business models in the light of tech and AI, but they are also struggling with the current demands of their workforce. There may be four or five generations of people employed in an organisation at any one time. The workforce may be remote, in a variety of different countries and teams may communicate more by electronic means than face to face. How best can these different needs be met?

Read an overview of Day 1 and Day 2 at the Festival of Global People

Peer-to-peer support

One emerging tool to support staff on their global assignment is Peer-to-Peer support – something that more companies are now looking at. Theresa Hafner and Lindsay Lydon of InterNations Business Solutions talked about the importance of Peer-to-peer empowerment: a win-win for expats, partners and employers. Speaking from personal experience, Lydon explained how she had found the transition from being a working mother to becoming an expat living in Munich and supporting her husband’s career to be more difficult than she had anticipated.Running through the conference was a focus on education – how to help and support families with school-age children. How to assist your clients or assignees in choosing the best school and how a bespoke approach is essential, as this can make the difference between a successful assignment and one that doesn’t work out for the relocating family. This becomes even more important when talent is short. Your best people may be reluctant to move if it is going to impact their children’s education.

UK brands building overseas schools

Jitin Sethi, partner at global education practice, L.E.K. Consulting, gave a fascinating insight into the huge growth and variety of school provision that is available to relocating families. In his speech, Growth Market – International Schools and why they matter, he looked at how some of the most famous UK brands are building schools overseas and how relatively new brands are creating well-resourced and diverse education offerings in developing countries.On the subject of schools in the UK, Angela Middleton, MBE, of MiddletonMurray and author of Bridge That Gap, gave a keynote speech on on How employers can support schools, young people and their career ambitions. She talked about the gap between leaving school and gaining a first job, and how schools and employers can make the transition into the workplace a better experience.

The role of positive leadership

So how do organisations change? While it is the responsibility of everyone to adapt to our changing workplace, real culture change is unable to happen if the people at the top are not modelling inclusive and purposeful leadership. Ben Renshaw, executive coach and author of Purpose, talked about Leading with Purpose. Old leadership styles of command and control may not fit with the future workplace, he said. Meaningful leadership is authentic and true to your purpose – and to achieve that you need to have a clear sense of what truly motivates you. In a panel discussion with Dr Holbeche, Renshaw discussed the challenges of toxic leadership and how to keep employees feeling engaged.Often, it can be difficult to make these changes on your own, and the Festival featured insights from a number of different coaches whose mission was to help people develop professionally and personally. As there is a greater focus on well-being and employee health, taking care of your employees makes sense for business.

Looking to the future

At a time when global companies are competing for talent in the UK, US, Europe and the Far East, and change is taking place across all industry sectors, the Festival of Global People is a forum for the exchange of ideas and innovations, and discussion of best practice.Our vision is to help build a community of global people who feel supported and motivated, wherever they are in the world. In the coming months, we’ll be hosting forums for Think Women – examining the roles and opportunities for female leadership, a Family Focus Network, Work & Living Network, Think Diversity & Inclusion and an Agility Forum complemented by coaching to support individuals in a fast-changing world. We’ll be adding to our resources on the Think Global People website – and we’ll be publishing thought-leadership articles on issues such as recruitment and retention, what the supply chain will look like for organisations in the future, and how industry sectors are adapting to global change.Now is the time to open up the conversation – what is the purpose of global mobility?At the heart of our agenda, though, are people. The people you work with, support, advise and lead.

What they said about the Festival of Global People 2019

“It’s really about sharing knowledge, sharing information and that’s really important. I really like that.”Camila Bolen, NYC Navigator.“Coming to the Festival of Global People gives people the opportunity to step back and focus on what’s important to them.”Ben Renshaw, executive coach and author of Purpose.“I have certainly walked away already with a good couple of ideas as a result of the questions and I can see people buzzing in there with new ideas.”Angela Middleton, MBE, of MiddletonMurray.“I’ve met the most fascinating people and we’ve had the best conversations.”Fiona McKenzie, Carfax Education Group.“Conferences like this are extremely important to get a different perspective. You can’t do this enough. It has extreme value.”Simon Johnston, Icon Relocation.

Festival Sponsors:
Festival of Global People sponsor the four seasons
Icon Relocation Festival Sponsor
NYC Navigator

ikan relocations
internations business solutions
Room Service by Cort

Festival Supporters:
Association of Relocation Professionals

Learn more about the 2019 Festival of Global People and the Relocate Awards

Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory

Related Articles