Workshop submissions call open for #UHR24

06 November 2023      Martin Higgs, Communications Officer

The UHR 2024 Conference will run online from 14 to 16 May 2024 and once more we look forward to welcoming 2000+ delegates from UK universities and beyond to our conversations. Our theme for #UHR24 is ‘Future Imperfect: Thinking Ahead’ and today we are opening the submissions process for workshops, business and legal sessions. There is a deadline of 29 November for your responses.

We welcome submissions on a wide variety of current HR themes, but why not use this text below, in which we explain our chosen theme, to steer you? We welcome workshop submissions from business large and small, from UHR members and universities, and we are particularly keen to see under-represented groups feature in the biggest showcase for HE/HR in the country.

Our 2024 Theme: ‘Future Imperfect: Thinking Ahead’

In every workplace, including in HR teams in universities across the country, we find colleagues that have not known life before the smartphone sitting alongside those who can remember the fax. The pace of technological change during the forty years that divides those closer to retirement from those brand new to the workforce has been extraordinary, and every generation is challenged by the constant change we have to deal with. We are used to the idea that a level of technology that perhaps we don’t quite understand governs much about how we experience the world, and particularly our online and working lives. ‘Cookies’, ‘the algorithm’, ‘chatbots’ and similar can surprise, delight or frustrate us – and these are things we know about now. As we stand on the edge of a world where AI systems are becoming deeply entwined with everything we do, from shopping to banking to healthcare and indeed to ‘everyday HR’ too, where is the latest technology taking us as HR professionals?

How can we ensure we remain ‘human’ organisations, and ‘human’ HR teams, when the underpinning systems behind our activities are increasingly automated or even explicitly non-human in their action? What can the different generations teach each other about the world of work – what to embrace fully, and what not to lose in the cacophony of change? How can we ensure guard rails exist, so that opportunities can be seized, whilst we avoid the potential pitfalls?

At #UHR24, ‘Future Imperfect: Thinking Ahead’ (online - 14 to 16 May 2024) we’ll be looking at the coming world of HR in our universities. We’ll be thinking about technology, but also at the human response to technology, and looking at ‘next generation HR’ in everyday tasks from pensions management to recruitment. We’ll be looking at productivity, the four-day week, creativity and innovation. We’ll be thinking about the extraordinary possibilities of AI, but also at the necessity of ensuring our values and beliefs – from our focus on equality and inclusion to the ever-growing need for universities to be sustainable in everything they do – are right at the heart of the technologies we use. We’ll be looking at what we can learn from the coming generation, and the attitudes and behaviours of the newest members of our teams. They are ever more ethically focused, and less willing to put up with compromises on ‘values’ issues. They know they are starting careers where many of the jobs of the future haven’t even been imagined yet, but which may be only just around the corner. They are interested in the psychological contract in employment, and fostering mental and physical wellbeing; and they may well consider themselves as ‘digital natives’, able to work anytime and anywhere, and perhaps reluctant to see great value in the traditional office-based 9 to 5.

As always at a UHR Conference we’ll be learning together, and adapting together. And in 2024 we’ll be staying human in the face of the machine. We hope you’ll join us.

You know that we do our best to reflect the entire HR/HE landscape at the UHR Conference, so workshop submissions are welcome across the entire HR remit including engagement and employee experience, cost of living, reward, hybrid and flexible working, partnering with TUs, communication of total reward, wellbeing, onboarding, multi-generational workforces, inclusion, OD and more. You may find that reflecting in some way within your submission on the Future Imperfect: Thinking Ahead theme helps focus your efforts. In addition, for the first time, we are hoping to have one or two workshops delivered by UHR members who are neurodivergent. The lived experience of atypical staff in HR is therefore a specific topic on which we welcome submissions from individual HR staff, supported by their HR Director. For these workshops, UHR staff are available, if requested, to give support in preparation and delivery.

What next?

Please note four ways below to get involved in delivering content at #UHR24.

Please use the forms downloadable below, and note the ongoing contact information within each form to guide your submission. The deadline for workshop submissions is 29 November. We look forward to hearing from you.

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