On 28th October 2022, representatives of 10 organisations (public and private sector) spent the day with eight of our PrOPEL Hub colleagues discussing latest insights in people management.

The in-person event was a ‘hackathon’. Hackathon means any event where people come together to discuss and find ways to solve problems. It does not have to involve technology – our event was focused on people management topics.

It is called a hackathon because of the activity ‘hacking’ (thinking of solutions to problems) and it’s a bit like a marathon, because you cover so much ground in one day. Our ‘marathon’ element was offering four sessions one after the next on lots of different people management topics.

Our Hackathon involved a lively day of four sessions with presentations, activities and discussion that lived up to the ‘marathon’ element of the ‘hackathon’ name. Participants went away claiming to be ‘tired but inspired’, with access to multiple practical resources, a list of actions the day had inspired in them and new contacts.

Topics covered included:

  • Workplace Wellbeing – Dr Helen Fitzhugh and Professor Kevin Daniels offered sessions on how and why to improve workplace wellbeing, from strategic and practical points of view.
  • Conflict resolution – Professor Peter Urwin and Trudy Ward offered sessions on building managerial conflict competence.
  • Employee engagement and innovation – Professor Colin Lindsay and Carolina Marin-Cadavid offered insight into how job crafting can improve employee engagement and innovation.
  • Insight into individual and organizational performance – Professor Sara Connolly and Professor Martin McCracken offer sessions on the business case for workplace wellbeing for organizational performance and where next for individual performance management after COVID?

During the course of the day many participants remarked on the clear links between all of these topics and how being able to hear about them in close succession had made a strong impression of the need for dialogue and better understanding of management responsibilities in organisations. It is interesting to note that the ‘hackathon’ format seemed to prompt these associations in people’s minds and leave a strong impression.

As academics and knowledge exchange colleagues, we at PrOPEL Hub also felt we learned a great deal from the participating organisations, who always bring fresh ideas and challenges to the table (quite literally in the case of the hackathon, where participants moved to meet each colleague at their table!) Issues of implementation and overcoming barriers to what people know is ‘right’ to do (but organisational inertia sometimes blocks) were at the forefront of people’s minds.

This insight will continue to inform further PrOPEL Hub and partner university activity as we work not only on ‘what’ to do to improve workplace wellbeing, enagement and performance, but also learn together ‘how’ best to do it in different sectors and circumstances.