Our Rangam UK team had a blast at the CIPD Festival of Work in London Olympia earlier this month! In this blog, UK & Ireland Solutions Manager Emma Kearns reflects on her experience at the Festival of Work as a neurodivergent person and shares some key learnings she took away from the conference.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am an enthusiastic person who is in my element when attending events and conferences. So as Covid-19 restrictions lifted and the diary began to fill up with in-person events, you can imagine my excitement as we made our preparations for the CIPD Festival of Work!
As a woman with undiagnosed ADHD, these kinds of events can both bring out the best in me and also present some very acute challenges. One such issue, which I’m sure many neurodivergent people can relate to, is that I sometimes struggle to pace myself. I jump headlong into the first half of each day, giving it everything I’ve got and then before I know it, I hit a wall.
My reserves of energy are also impacted by the volume of interactions I participate in when at large-scale events. It can feel like I’m playing tug o’ war with my brain as I struggle to maintain focus in conversations and combat the misalignment between where my brain wants to go and where it needs to go in the moment.
This is nothing new for me and while it is more intense in conference scenarios, I face the same challenges, albeit on a smaller scale, in my everyday life. If you are reading this and have any tips or would like to share your own experiences with similar issues, please do get in touch as I would love to hear them!
Anyway, enough about me...
The Festival of Work was an amazing experience from start to finish and was exactly what it says on the tin in that it was a true festival of work, with lots of emphasis on topical talking points within the current HR landscape, such as employee engagement, wellbeing and retention.
As soon as the Festival of Work was announced for 2022, we knew we wanted to be there to let organisations know about what we do here at Rangam and how we can support their business in their journey towards accessibility and inclusivity.
We were lucky enough to secure a speaker slot where our SVP Lee Corless discussed how businesses can harness neurodivergent talent to overcome the Great Resignation. With no industry immune to the effects of the Great Resignation and a competitive market making it increasingly difficult to attract and retain talent, Lee refers to research indicating that Gen Z talent are now driven less by salary and more by culture, accessibility and the inclusive ethos of a prospective employer. This, Lee proposes, presents a powerful argument to invest in inclusive hiring and to tap into neurodivergent, Autistic and disabled talent.
Lee’s talk was very well-received in the main hall at Olympia, and now you can listen to it too! Clickhereto watch me deliver this talk online.
One of the other reasons I love these events is I am always eager to learn and receive new ideas on diverse and inclusive design. One of the areas I found and hadn’t previous considered when looking at workplace accessibility was the focus on financial wellbeing and how employers have a duty of care to improve their employees’ financial literacy. Financial literacy doesn’t just mean having the cognitive skills to process financial information, but also the ability to process financial information without feelings of anxiety. This really struck a chord with me as I have only started to recognise that my ADHD is a factor in the anxiety I sometimes feel around anything financial. When we discuss employee wellbeing, we must not ignore support and guidance around finances as in many cases, this is creating huge levels of anxiety amongst our workforce, impacting sleep and therefore having a detrimental impact on performance and confidence.
Overall, I found the Festival of Work an incredibly invigorating and educational experience and while it was not without its challenges (something that essentially goes hand-in-hand with being a neurodivergent person at a large-scale event), I left the venue full of ideas and excitement for what’s to come!