Talks, panels, hugs and light-up shoes: What happened at Summit London 2024

uploaded on 21 May 2024

In mid-May, just as the long British winter was finally giving way to a mild spring day, Reward Gateway | Edenred held Summit London 2024. It was the seventh event we’ve held, and the theme this year was based around our recent marketing campaign launch - the power of appreciation.

The day was colourfully kicked off (literally) by Reward Gateway | Edenred’s Mid-market Account Manager Hannah Power and Lead Enterprise Consultant Ollie Munday, who took to the stage wearing coordinated suits and matching light-up trainers. Their energy and enthusiasm set the tone for the event as they introduced Reward Gateway | Edenred CEO Nick Burns.

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Nick took us through the big picture of appreciation, and why it is so important. He challenged all business leaders present to reflect on a question: “Is the brand that you send out externally, mirrored internally at your workplace?”

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This big question gave the room a moment of self-reflection, but our brains would be truly worked to their limit by the next speaker.

The science of appreciation

Mark South, Chief Marketing Officer at Reward Gateway | Edenred, interviewed neuroscientist and author Amy Brann about the science of appreciation, and between them they didn’t shy away from a tough subject that looked at business success through an intellectual lens.

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Amy pointed out how workers must be looked at as humans first, and that to consider them different people depending on whether they are at work or at home isn’t a route to success.

“We only have one brain,” she said. “That brain goes with us everywhere. The idea that it ends when we get to work and we become ‘workers’ is nuts! This is why appreciation is as important at work as it is, for example, with your family.”

Put effort in to your gratitude

After a quick break we were invited to watch another fascinating conversation, this time between Reward Gateway | Edenred’s Head of Community Connections, Charlotte Neal, and Lydia Hatley, the Engagement and Culture Development Director at Holland & Barrett.

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Lydia told us why it’s important to look deeply into the methods of appreciation, exemplified by this simple idea on making your words of thanks more genuine.

She said, “Put effort into ‘thank yous’. Don’t just say the words, be specific and tell someone what difference their work has made and how much everyone appreciates them.”

She also reminded the audience to not just recognise good work, but to also recognise people for who they are. Using recent examples from her own business, she showed us how something as simple as recognising a national holiday for a colleague can work towards making them feel appreciated.

Getting buy-in

One of the most anticipated speakers of the Summit was Nebel Crowhurst, and that might be because of her unique job title – she’s the world’s first Chief Appreciation Officer!

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Nebel took the audience through the true economic value of human resources, and gave some tips on getting buy-in from the Senior Leadership Team when it comes to workforce appreciation strategies.

It can be a tough sell, but Nebel highlighted the connection between a happy workforce and a high-performing organisation, proving that a company that invests in its people will soon reap the rewards.

She said: “You need to make the correlation between the people initiative and business performance clear for all to see.”

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‘Hug the person next to you!’

Following a well-earned lunch break, we were treated to a fascinating panel discussion between Chris Britton (People Experience Director at Reward Gateway | Edenred), Rashree Chhatrisha (Reward Director, Pensions and Benefits at SAGA), Ralph Tribe (Chief People Officer and Managing Director at B-People), Greg Phillips (CEO at Dee Set Group) and Nick Rumble (Head of Pay and Reward at HC-One).

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The panel kicked things off in a slightly different way – Chris Britton asked everyone in the audience to turn to the person next to them and tell them how much they appreciate them. He then dared us to go one step further and even hug the person next to us. Many of the audience rose to the challenge and for a moment the conference was filled with friends, colleagues and even strangers embracing.

Moving on from human contact, the discussion focused on ‘the future of the people leader’ with each participant offering some great insights into what drives success in this area.

The panel agreed that using a trusted HR platform can benefit an organisation hugely, but that innovation was also required in HR teams to make sure they are constantly learning about their staff and the changing world of human resources.

Director of Happiness

The day was finished off by an incredible talk from the keynote speaker, Silvia Garcia. Silvia’s job title alone piqued the interest of the audience – she is the former Global Director of Happiness, Marketing and Communication, at Coca-Cola.

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Silvia told us about the nerve-wracking meeting with the Coca-Cola president that led to her running their happiness programme, and in her speech she quickly showed us why she was the perfect person for the job.

She took us through the difference between internal competition and collaboration (no prizes for guessing which one is better for the business). Silvia also pointed out that bonuses may seem like a fantastic employee benefit, but in certain cases they can actually have a damaging impact on the workplace. Why? Because they can build a sense of competition between colleagues.

This competition can reduce collaboration, meaning employees are only focused on out-performing their colleagues, not collaborating and reaching a shared goal together.

The Summit space

While the day was packed full of incredible speakers, the layout of the event was a strong testament to the idea of appreciation. The ‘theatre-in-the-round’ set up, which allowed the audience sit in a full circle around the stage, allowed each speaker to address the entire room, both giving and receiving appreciation whichever way they faced.

Outside of the speaker events, the Summit space made for a great networking opportunity, meaning everyone present everyone left having made some connections and learning something new about appreciation in the workforce.

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