Conversations about different ways of working

Education publisher Pearson is looking to change the way it works by engaging a broad swathe of its employees in a conversation about future working.

woman with hand to ear


It has launched The Way We Work, a series of conversations with colleagues around the world. Around 5,000 Pearson employees in 40 countries registered to take part in October’s conversation which was about returning to work. The topic was dealt with from a variety of perspectives and included blogs and contributions from, for instance, a dad who had taken Shared Parental Leave, a woman returning from maternity leave, someone returning from a secondment abroad and people returning from illness or a bereavement. “We wanted to address it from a non gender stereotyped perspective,” said senior HR manager Kevin Lyons, “and look at the key challenges people face and the opportunities for action.”

The dad returning from SPL said all the older male colleagues he spoke to on his return said they wished they had been able to take SPL. Much of the fear around taking SPL is around how peers will view it.

Lyons says the conversations generated through live chat provided by IBM, blogs and face to face workshops generated enough material for seven novels. Employees can suggest topics for conversations and comment on work trends. IBM then distils the comments and provides a summary to Pearson executives.

Next month the focus is on agile and flexible working. That includes job sharing and a range of different ways of working. Pearson has a very busy period over the summer for its summer exam series leading up to the publication of exam certificates. In this period some of its 32,000 strong workforce work overtime, often doing seven-day weeks. It can be exhausting, says Lyons. The conversation will address some of the issues and possible solutions, such as job shares.

“The conversation series is a sophisticated way of combining old fashioned face to face conversation with modern technology to get the widest engagement and as many perspectives as possible,” says Lyons.

*Sharon Hague from Pearson will be taking part in the Q & A panel at this year’s’s Top Employer Awards next week.

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