Growing our community and working together

Alexandra Carr, Community Lead, CIPD

Growing and enabling our communities is part of our organisational strategy at CIPD and is essential  to meet our objectives in championing better work and working lives. Bringing together our internal teams and our volunteers to work together allows us to share ideas, gather insights and views to collaboratively deliver our work.  By connecting like this we can ensure our development activity adds value for our members and places our customer at the centre of what we do, we can also live out our values: collaborative, innovative, expert, customer first and impactful. Working with us on projects and initiatives, our branches continue to make a difference in making our strategy become reality.

Working together connects our volunteers and CIPD teams to something bigger and can nurture a far greater sense of purpose: In a 2018 survey asking over 400 people why they volunteer at CIPD, 85%  said they felt a sense of contribution, 73% said they felt engaged with the people profession, 62% experience greater HR & L&D knowledge and 71% responded feeling a sense of belonging. This links to feedback on the development of greater resilience due to development of leadership skills, social and communication skills and increases in the sense of wellbeing through the forming of friendships within the volunteer community at CIPD.

The CIPD branch network is a member led community made up of over 800 HR, L&D and OD professionals who donate their time and energy to deliver member engagement activities though events and by creating local practitioner networks. Last year we invited our branch chairs and committee members to join some of our keys projects at CIPD recognising that never before has it been so important to stand shoulder to shoulder with our branches to support our members and the profession.

I’m always going to sing the praises of our branches, their work and their vibrant community as I get to see the impact of their work on a daily basis but don’t just take it from me, here’s what my colleagues at CIPD have shared from working with our branches and how it’s impacted their work and their overall experience:

Highlighting the value of branch contribution to our work Sarah Wood, Membership Projects Manager sees the branch as an essential link to our members:

‘Our branch volunteers provide us with an invaluable front-line connection to our members, giving  greater visibility and understanding of our member’s needs. Having such passionate, committed, and enthusiastic volunteers supporting us in providing membership value through events, peer to peer support and communication of membership benefits, makes the work they do key in contributing to the success of the CIPD. We know because our members tell us, that there is no stronger advocacy than that of another member – which is why branch volunteer voice and contribution is so important to us’

The voice 2025 framework builds on our mission and purpose enabling us to connect and serve the profession. Last year CIPD internal teams worked with some of our branches to tap into committee member insight and to link more closely with our member voice. CIPD teams experienced positive and impactful feedback from the branch community, finding their contribution invaluable and critical to the outcomes of their work.

Mel Green, Research Advisor, reflects on her experience of working with our branch committee members:

‘2020 saw the CIPD run a virtual Hackathon, with people professionals all around the world coming together and sharing their perspective on what the world of work and the people profession look like in 2030. Branch committee members and chairs played a huge role in testing our thinking and facilitating a successful hackathon, giving their time and support they were a huge part of making it so successful!’

Sue Heyes, Wessex Branch Chair, helped deliver the Hackathon and shares her experience:

‘Collaborating on events such as the Hackathon has enabled Branches to work with central CIPD teams on a range of projects including People Profession 2030.With the CIPD team guiding and sharing their expertise it's given opportunities for the Branch network to contribute to this exciting piece of work. Branches can build on that collaborative relationship as we support the wider community and communication to our CIPD members. 

Kerrisue Morrey-Clark, CIPD Communications Manager, explains that branches continue to support her work in shaping the People Profession piece:

‘Working with our branches has been invaluable as we shape our People Profession, now and for the future campaign. Acting as a critical friend their insight, enthusiasm and encouragement has helped us to deliver the virtual hackathon with participants from around the world coming together to discuss and debate the future of work and what role the people profession can play. This is just the starting point and we look forward to continuing this important work in collaboration with branch members throughout the year ahead.’

Rachel Burnham, Chair, Manchester explains how she has valued sharing and supporting member experience by being closely involved in our work:

‘During 2020 I was able to work alongside CIPD staff on a number of exciting digital projects that engaged our membership.   I had the opportunity to work as a learning champion to encourage conversation and reflection in the free new learning modules about the behaviours set out in the New Profession Map and I also contributed to the virtual Hackathon which took place in August 2020 and which gave members the opportunity share and develop ideas about the future of the profession.  It has been great to hear the opinions and experiences of members from many different organisations and locations.’  

As well as supporting our work directly like this, branch events and engagement with members recently emerged in the top three most valuable benefits in our 2020 survey and topline results show that approximately one in four members attended a branch event in the last 6 months. Of those that attended, the satisfaction rating is high, with a combined score of 68% rating the event excellent or very good.

Katherine Patel, Customer Insights Manager, collated these results as part of her work and commented:

‘Despite the challenges branches have faced through the pandemic, the results of this year’s survey show that many have worked hard to continue to support members through virtual support and events. Branch event awareness, attendance and satisfaction rating are all up on the previous results, indicating a strong need for maintaining these vital, and impactful local services and member to member connections’

These results and testimonials speak for themselves regarding the impact of the work of our branches and involving branches and volunteers directly in our work at CIPD. Working together like this can meaningfully connect us as a collaborative and supportive community. One of the things we can rely on during the challenges on the road ahead is the contribution from the branch community, who will continue to help us deliver and make the world of work a better place.

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