Our FutureWorks event this year was an attempt to answer the question facing all employers: what does the future of work look like? We explored how employers can better navigate many of the uncertainties facing them today. We took a look at some foundational themes like the what and how of better work, and how employers can put this into action.

FutureWorks objectives

What are some of the long-term objectives of holding local FutureWorks events? We seek to connect with industry leaders and build ongoing relationships with them. We help connect local talent leaders with those on the global level.

We aim to provide the following core pillars to business leaders:

  • Defining better: inspiration and context
  • Leading better: guidance and insights
  • Building better: ideas and actions.

The idea, then, is to provide better context for some of the issues that business leaders are facing in the hiring landscape today, providing key insights backed up by data and research, and providing actions and inspirations on the basis of this. 

What we explored in this year’s FutureWorks London

We designed FutureWorks this year with the intention of exploring how employers can create actionable steps towards building a better workplace. 

Held at the Science Museum in London, FutureWorks is a space where diverse thinkers, inspirational leaders, and global peers could unite to discuss the future of work. Our framework therefore goes well beyond the limitations of a conference, becoming instead an ideas exchange. During our FutureWorks London event this year, we covered a broad range of topics such as:

  • Client panel discussions on AI and innovation in hiring
  • Keynote sessions on employer branding and equality in the workplace
  • Insight into the latest UK market trends 
  • A fireside chat hosted by celebrated sports journalist Kirsty Gallacher who interviewed one of the UK’s most successful athletes, Nicola Adams OBE

Below, we’ll provide a small overview of each session, so you can see what we covered during each one.

Client panel discussions on AI and innovation in hiring

During our panel discussion on AI and innovation in hiring, we asked the question: ‘will AI take your job?’ This was held by Matt Burney (Senior Talent Strategy Advisor) Toby Culshaw (Global Head of Talent Intelligence – Worldwide Amazon Stores), Hung Lee (Curator – Recruiting Brainfood), and Poppy Nijjar (Global Research and Intelligence Leader, Executive Search, NBCUniversal). They opened the discussion by looking at which jobs are likely to be affected by the rise of AI, such as those in the legal industry. 

Our AI panel also looked at whether it’s possible to tell which jobs are to be affected the most by AI, and whether talent acquisition could be done by AI instead of a human team. They also debated automation in hiring, such as whether ChatGPT models are even able to write better job descriptions, adverts, and selecting the best candidates. 

Looking for a deeper dive into AI and automation? In Are ChatGPT and automation the future of recruiting? we also explore the compliance issues surrounding feeding AI datasets, as well as whether to rule out candidates who use AI for applications. And in What AI can do for your recruitment – and what it can’t, we look at whether AI can fact-check information, and whether it can replace the ‘human’ in human resources. 

Keynote session on employer branding

With Becky Williams (Indeed’s Talent Strategy Advisor) and Anna Steele (Indeed’s Global Product Solutions Lead), we explored the topic ‘Is employer branding still relevant?’ In this discussion, the two industry leaders spoke about why it’s important to ask this question. Since 1996, when the term was coined, employer branding as a concept has shown itself to be a tool in attracting and retaining talent. 

In the last five years, however, economic instability and the cost of living crisis have fundamentally changed the way we work, and how we want to work. New types of working like hybrid work and flexibility have also meant the world of work has shifted. So what role does employer branding still play in the new ‘race to talent’ in this context? In this session, Steele argues that the turbulent hiring market means that businesses need to offer a multidimensional prospect that targets both the personal and the professional. 

Keynote session on equality in the workplace

Tackling the subject of ‘A more equitable future – Diversity, inclusion and belonging in the UK workplace?’, keynote speaker Danny Stacy, Indeed’s Senior Manager in Talent Intelligence, looks at how intersectionality can be used to find out how different groups of people are experiencing a modern UK workplace – including what they want and what they need. 

Through research applied to survey data, Stacy explains that the employees least likely to be comfortable being themselves at work were either LGBTQ+, from disadvantaged backgrounds, or had a disability. This means that employers still have to reckon with the challenge of discrimination within their workplace. 

While unconscious bias training is the most common diversity and inclusion offering made by HR decision makers, Stacy explores other approaches that businesses are currently strongly lacking, such as diversity hiring quotas, allyship programmes, inspirational speaker series, and a dedicated diversity and inclusion lead. 

Insight into the latest UK market trends 

In ‘What do the latest labour market trends mean for you?’ Indeed Hiring Lab’s Senior Economist Jack Kennedy and Novo Constare (VP and GM Staffing Solutions, Indeed & CEO, Indeed Flex) analyse the current labour market context. Labour demand is slowing, they find, but it remains high – above the historical average over the last 20 years. 

Workers have an increased ability to move between jobs as a result of high vacancies, which peaked in the first quarter of 2022. The tight labour market also supports high wage growth, and employees are seeking higher pay in order to help them weather the cost of living crisis. 

Kennedy also highlights what’s known as the inactivity gap – there’s a continuing challenge to engage those who are neither in employment, nor actively seeking work. This is very much due to long-term sickness following the pandemic, but partially offset by those coming back into the labour market after studying. While there has been some improvement over the last few months, the inactivity gap is still greater than before the pandemic hit the UK economy. While the government has tried to incentivise workers to rejoin the labour market, employers are facing increasing pressure to develop a hiring strategy that meets these new demands. 

Constare looks at how staffing platforms can be used to better match temporary workers with the right jobs, and how companies can leverage data on candidates in order to improve matching. With the instant ability to verify skill sets and work history, companies are able to make hiring decisions much more quickly. 

How FutureWorks ties in with the bigger picture

FutureWorks focuses on many topics that we have been covering in the past year, such as our series on the future of AI in HR and recruitment. As Indeed & Glassdoor’s Hiring and Workplace Trends Report 2023 found, hiring challenges still persist for recruiters, and responding to these with innovation is crucial. The same report also found that diversity and inclusion is still a top priority for candidates – our keynote sessions on employer branding and equality looked at some solutions to this as well. 

The future of work is a hot topic in 2023, and as we’ve found, there’s a changing power relationship between employers and employees. While employees have greater freedom, flexibility and choice, they’re expecting employers to take more actions towards making their workplaces equitable, and strengthen their value proposition. 

FutureWorks London as a local event for talent leaders

Our London FutureWorks event is part of our initiative to bring FutureWorks to a more local level – therefore tapping into concerns that are more relevant to local markets. While our main FutureWorks event is held every year in Atlanta (as well as virtually), our aim is to share excerpts from this marquee event with a deeper, more local relevance. As a local event, we brought in local speakers and locally relevant products and data points. It makes a lot of sense to do so, considering the UK’s hiring landscape has its own specific issues which need addressing – many employees are looking for pay raises to help them cope with the cost of living crisis, for example.

What the future of work means for you

While the future may feel uncertain for many employers facing hiring challenges in 2023, FutureWorks addressed future of work trends and what employers can do to ensure they are meeting today's challenges, using the latest market trends. We will also look at what employers can glean from these trends, and how to approach some of the challenges these trends create.