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CIPD conference and exhibition: News round-up. By Annie Hayes and Lucie Benson

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‘Talent’ and ‘engagement’ were the buzzwords of this year’s CIPD annual conference and exhibition that marked 60 years of loyal attendance at the Harrogate venue. Freebies, including a silver birch tree, jostled for space alongside the habitual sweet delights being served by bare-chested waiters and suppliers with hats that would rival any at Ascot. And of course the Paxman interview with Greg Dyke and Gerry Robinson was not to be missed. See our at-a-glance round-up of the highlights.


  • Happy 60th birthday CIPD conference
    Around 5,000 HR professionals and 300 leading HR suppliers have been traipsing through the doors of the conference in Harrogate for 60 years. For many delegates the trip to Harrogate offers a chance to visit this wonderful place, a former spa town. The impressive architecture and grand hotels, together with beautiful gardens and tree-lined streets, provide a perfect backdrop for the conference. Harrogate can truly be referred to as the jewel of Yorkshire or, as one delegate aptly put it: “It is to Yorkshire what Salcombe is to Devon.”

    Of note this year, the conference has been moved from its traditional, less popular half-term slot to mid September.


  • Brisk HR sees Dyke tune in
    Sacked former director-general of the BBC Greg Dyke told quiz master Jeremy Paxman and delegates at the CIPD’s opening keynote address that he wished HR was ‘brisker’ and braver in identifying when the rules needed to be broken.

    The remarks came on the close of the first day of the CIPD’s annual conference and exhibition in which Paxman, tough-minded anchorman of Newsnight interviewed Dyke and Sir Gerry Robinson, presenter of the TV series I’ll Show Them Who’s Boss and Can Gerry Robinson Fix the NHS. Dyke told delegates that the secret of success is ‘clarity’ and that leadership in his mind is something that can be taught.


  • Room for improvement – ‘talent management’ fails to score top marks
    This is the conclusion of a year-long study by the CIPD into talent management. Victoria Winkler and Rebecca Clake from the CIPD said that progress could still be made with 65 per cent saying talent management efforts were effective or at best very effective.

    Spotting raw talent, said Dyke and Robinson, is one of the most important jobs of the HR function and one in which HR can truly add value.


  • HR director and CEO partnership is key
    Matthew Brearley, HR director at Vodafone UK, told delegates attending the ‘HR and the board’ seminar, that the relationship between the HR director and the chief executive is key to a successful, high performing organisation, so that you are both pushing in the right direction.

  • Increasing pressure means long hours for HR
    HR professionals are working longers hours than ever before, according to a new report. The survey of 6,000 HR professionals by Croner Reward, and in association with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), found that 56 per cent of respondents are now working 40 to 45 hours, which is a 20 per cent increase over the past two years.

  • Could do ‘more’ – bosses ignore alcohol and drug problems
    A new survey launched at the event exposes employers for failing to support employees with substance dependency problems. The Health and Safety Executive currently estimates that up to 14 million working days are lost each year to alcohol related problems at an estimated cost of £2 billion each year.

  • ’I told you so’: CIPD law briefing celebrates demise of statutory D&G procedures
    The ‘Ant’ and ‘Dec’ of the employment law world, Ian Smith and Dominic Regan, told delegates attending the legal briefing that the repeal of the failed statutory discipline and grievance procedures (D&G) is likely to take place in April 2009 but warned that a paper trail for dismissal is still the only defence.

  • CIPD qualification is not the Holy Grail
    Career-minded HR professionals gleaned the secrets of how to make it at a career seminar, where they learned that the CIPD qualification is not all that is required.

    Simon Howard, of Work Group plc, chaired the interactive ‘career’ seminar in which Mike Watts, professional development director for the CIPD, Mike Haffenden, founder of Strategic Dimensions, Alison Levy, director of HR at Crime Reduction Initiatives and Samantha Allen, managing director of Boyden UK Global Executive Search, shared their secrets of making it to the top of the HR tree.


  • HR struggling to become business partner
    Many HR professionals are still finding it difficult to make the move from traditional HR to strategic business partner. These are comments made by Shirley Dalziel, co-author of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) toolkit, ‘HR Business Partnering’.

  • HR ‘lacks strategic skills’
    The biggest challenge that HR departments face in their bid to become more strategic is a lack of skills, according to research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Institute of Employment Studies.

  • The best freebies:
    Tempting freebies were on offer at every twist and turn of the exhibition hall. The HR Zone team gathered a silver birch tree from mhl support ltd, a pot of honey from Busy Bees, a rugby ball from Crown Relocations, more sweets and chocolates than the dentist would like, the full CD box set from Paul McKenna and enjoyed a very lovely, relaxing on-site massage from energiseYou – all in the name of research you know. Also available for delegates to delight in were bottles of champagne to win, a caricature artist, a palm reader and a balloon sculptor.
  • We’d like to hear about the weird and wonderful goodies you collected, so please post your comments below.

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