Damian Stancombe is a Partner at Barnett Waddingham. He was recently named ‘Personality of the Year’ at the Pensions Age Awards 2020…
Q. Tell us about your company, products and services.
A. Barnett Waddingham is one of the UK’s leading independent professional services consultancies. We work with a wide range of clients in both the private and public sectors – this includes almost 25% of FTSE 100 companies. Our Employer Consulting team provides expertise in a number of areas, including employee communication and benefit services, workplace wellbeing consultancy and support with pension schemes.
Q. What are the key trends for the HR industry?
A. People have been asking that question a lot recently, and that’s understandable. These are anxious times. My view is that we’ll be left with a workplace landscape that looks quite different. More people working from home means more people will continue to want to do so. Of course, not all jobs can be done at home but for those that can, this change will become unstoppable.
There’s already been a strong, continual push for greater work flexibility, moving away from traditional working practices. The coronavirus outbreak has simply fast forwarded that trend. Why would you want to anchor yourself back to an office and lose all the benefits you’ve just enjoyed, such as greater freedom and flexibility? Organisations will therefore need to adapt.
Q. What about other trends?
A. Well, it stands to reason that if you have more people working from home, you’ll have more empty offices. Will companies want workplaces to lie empty for long periods of time? That’s unlikely, given the costs involved. One big positive could therefore be a reduction in our carbon footprint. With offices and the like being less occupied, and less people commuting to them, our energy use will be cut.
Q. What technology is going to have the biggest impact this year?
A. If you look back to just a few years ago, technology has come a long way to make working away from the office easy. There’s not much you can’t do at home that you can do in the office. I guess the real challenge then is to make technology — the way you interact with people, systems and processes — as human and engaging as possible.
People are social animals and they crave connection. So can technology, which is logical and rational, be made warmer and more emotional? For example, I really like the way Drumroll, our creative agency, is pioneering the use of technology to help employers communicate with employees in a much more personal and empowering way.
Q. What’s the most exciting thing about your job?
A. We live in a world that is changing so quickly. Technology advances rapidly so that it can meet the demands of consumers. I’m lucky. It’s a massive privilege to be able to take a step back and explore how we can use cutting-edge innovation to support our clients. That could involve digital benefits services that aim to really empower employees or interactive pension dashboards to make it easy (and fun!) for people to plan for their retirement. The important thing, however, is to make sure that technology appeals to us as human beings. That’s when technology can deliver the most value.
Q. Any other thoughts about the future?
A. We’re living through a difficult time and, as I said, the way people work is likely to look quite different. More people will be working from home and will want to continue doing so. But, surely, this will also have implications for other things, such as where people live. Why live in London or a pricey town in the South East when you can live anywhere? What effect then does that have on house prices and urban areas in currently affluent areas?
You’ve also got to consider how the nature of employment may change. Will less people be directly employed by organisations and more offered contract work that matches their particular skills and expertise? Given the trend in working from home, employers will have a much wider geographical area to recruit from — not just in the UK, but across the world!
Q. And finally . . . what do you prefer, a book or a film?
A. Oh a book, definitely. Books let you imagine what’s happening in the story. Movies just tell you what’s happening!
To speak to Damian about any of the topics discussed, or for your employee communications, employee benefits and pension scheme requirements, call 020 7776 2240 or email firstname.lastname@example.org