Maximising the Performance Potential of Your Workforce

Gemma Tetlow, FT Economics Correspondent was joined by Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman, John Lewis Partnership and Dame Fiona Kendrick, Chairman, Nestlé UK & Ireland.

Productivity growth in the UK has been disappointing in recent years, falling behind other leading economies such as the US and Germany. The economy has suffered as a result. One reason for this may be the decision to leave the European Union which has created a new period of uncertainty for businesses. The government has a role to play but business must take on greater responsibility in tackling the problem. Maximising the performance potential of your employees is key to maximising profit and investing in the company’s and country’s future. Workplaces are key, employees achieve peak productivity when managers support and enable them.

This session focused on business performance: the role played by managers and leaders in identifying the problems, what business practices work and how to deliver improvements from the perspectives of two leaders of major organisations and the leader of Be the Business, a business-led initiative to help UK companies improve their performance.

"Productivity is a very important topic for businesses currently - getting some practical ideas was enormously helpful."

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Political Risk in the Age of Brexit and Trump

Roula Khalaf, FT Deputy Editor chaired an all-FT panel with Gideon Rachman, FT Chief Foreign Affairs Commentator, Rana Foroohar, FT Global Business Columnist and Chris Giles, FT Economics Editor.

Rarely has the geo-political outlook been so uncertain. Britain is coming to terms with the monumental legislative exercise known as Brexit. The US is trying to fathom its most unpredictable president in generations. The global economy remains fragile a decade after the start of the financial crisis. And the rest of the world is transfixed by the rise of China and the rapid shift of power towards Asia, a process described by Gideon Rachman as Easternisation. This panel of FT experts discussed how these changes are likely to play out over the next few years and affect the prospects for global business.

"It was a fantastic opportunity to hear from experts at the FT about the current political climate. They provided some very interesting insights, and it inspired me to keep more up-to-date on the current situation in the rest of Europe, along with giving me further thought as to how Brexit may impact my industry."

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Strategy Live: Why Some Products Fly and Others Flop

Andrew Hill, FT Management chaired this workshop-style session with Allyson Stewart-Allen, founder and chief executive of International Marketing Partners, and Gareth Dunsmore, Nissan’s European Director for Electric Vehicles. They took live examples of brands or products that failed to fly - and a few that soared - as the starting point for a wider audience discussion about what companies can do to increase the chances of taking promising innovations through development to launch in the market. How important is the geographical or market context for the product? When should executives urge innovators on and when should they pull the plug? And how far should they persist with products and brands that do not meet early expectations of success?

“Dynamic, interesting, engaging, a real chance to connect with the table group as well as the participants.”

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Creating a High-Performance Culture Within Your Business

Culture plays a critical but often over-looked role in a company's success. Organisations that set aligned values and processes consistently outperform those that can’t. Leaders are responsible for establishing the culture, communicating it and building teams that help meet their company's goals. High-performing teams that innovate and collaborate well are critical to an organisation's competitive advantage. Pilita Clark, FT Associate Editor and Business Columnist was joined by John Amaechi OBE, Organisational Psychologist and Elizabeth Jenkin, Chief Broking Officer EMEA, AON Credit International and discussed: how to build the best teams and how to reinforce behaviour that helps, rather than hinders, the culture you’re trying to build.

"I found the topic itself highly relevant to the challenges I face in my day-to-day work."

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Chief HR Officers’ Network Lunch - The Gender Pay Gap: How to Close It

Sarah Gordon, FT Business Editor, was joined by Sheila Flavell, Chief Operating Officer of FDM, and Emily Cox, Director of Public Affairs, Virgin Money, providing practical guidance on what effective measures employers can take to close their gender pay gap.

This lunch came at a critical moment for diversity policy in the workplace. By the beginning of April, all employers with 250 or more staff, had to report their gender pay gap on the government's portal. The reporting requirements, introduced for the first time last year, encouraged companies to look more closely at the composition of their workforce. Many, though, were frustrated at the lack of progress they have made, despite introducing policies such as mentorship programmes which are meant to help close the gap.

Sarah Gordon, FT Business Editor, was joined by Sheila Flavell, Chief Operating Officer of FDM, which has a zero percent gender pay gap, and Emily Cox, Director of Public Affairs, Virgin Money, providing practical guidance on what effective measures employers can take to close their gender pay gap.

“It was very topical - great to hear from journalists and other organisations as to how they are approaching Gender Pay Gap.”

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Facebook’s Role in Building a Global Community

Last year, Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a letter that the greatest challenges society faces today – like ending terrorism, fighting climate change, and preventing pandemics – required people to come together not just as cities or nations, but as a global community, and he argued that Facebook had an important role to play in this.

Nicola Mendelsohn CBE, Vice President of Facebook for Europe, the Middle East and Africa since 2013, spoke to Sarah Gordon, the FT’s business editor, about how Facebook is attempting to play this role and the kinds of communities it is seeing emerge and grow on the platform. With people across the world challenging globalisation and rejecting global connections, she was asked whether anyone can build a community that works for everyone, and what it will achieve.

Sarah and Nicola enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation and topics included Facebook’s mission, its approach to Brexit and practical advice for career women.

“Nicola was fantastic, an inspiration. She was very open and honest.”

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