HR Symposium 2021 in a Hybrid World

HR Symposium 2021 in a Hybrid World

One Year on from Lockdown: How do you gain high trust in a low touch environment?

Workplaces changed irrevocably when we went into lockdown in March 2020. They changed physically and culturally. And HR professionals, managers and employees have had to change with them.

No one sensible believes we will return to full time office working. It makes no sense to have employees arriving for work tired after sitting in traffic jams or squashed into public transport. It makes no sense for them to have to do it in reverse on the way back home.

On the other hand, full time working from home brings different problems – feelings of isolation, disconnection, loss of creativity, separation from organisational culture and values.

The obvious answer for most of us will be some form of hybrid working. It may be that some employees are in the workplace full time, some part time and some almost never. That mixture might be flexible and might suit many, but it brings different problems, such as the fear of missing out (FOMO) for those working from home, different levels of bonding for those in the workplace, and different levels of cultural buy-in.

And what of managers? They are required to use new technology, new engagement techniques, new guidelines. Have they been trained? Have you asked them how they feel, caught between the competing interests of flexibility and productivity?

Most of us have spent years developing organisational culture. None of the textbooks or gurus said it would work best if all of the employees avoided each other and never met in person.

For those who do return to the workplace, at least in part, we face massive change. Not just protocols for hand sanitising and social distancing. Many of us will return to find trusted colleagues missing – possibly redundant, possibly WFH, possibly very sick, burnt out or even dead. That’s a hard situation to be in, suffering from survivor’s guilt or PTSD-type symptoms. Are you equipped to deal with it? Are they?

There are many benefits and opportunities arising from working from home and digitisation and we will deal with those in this event. There are also risks, wherever we work, and we’ll also deal with those.

This online event on 4th March 2021, held in association with Eversheds Sutherland, and developed in conjunction with Caroline Hughes, provides practical advice, examples and options for all employers.

When and Where?

This event will take place online between 9.15 am and 4.30 pm on the 4 March 2021.

Register for your free place

To register for your free place please fill in the following form and a member of Legal Island's customer service team will be in touch with further information closer to the time of the event.

In association with:

Eversheds Sutherland


This a draft programme.




Meet the Chairs and Partners


Morning Keynote Presentation: Culture Change: How do you gain high trust in a low touch environment? Hybrid working at the very least is here to stay for many employees – it’s the least that is expected nowadays. Top talent is discerning and mobile in today’s market, regardless of C-19 and any recession. But there are team rituals that remote workers miss out on, rituals that build reassurance and trust, and encourage discretionary effort from employees. Caroline Hughes, Global Leadership & Talent Executive, discusses what is next for leadership development and how the current required leadership standards need to be aligned for a long-term culture change, if you want to be an employer of choice this decade. Where should the evolving roles of Chief People Officer, the HR profession – and jobs in general – develop as we move deeper into this decade?

NOTE: we won’t be taking questions for Caroline directly after this session. Rather, we ask delegates to use this session to inform your outlook in other sessions throughout the day.


Time to Choose: Delegates now have a choice of employment law updates from our partners at Eversheds Sutherland. Stream one features a round-up of recent employment law changes affecting employers based in the Republic of Ireland. Stream two features a round-up of recent employment law changes affecting employers based in Northern Ireland


In Brief: Eversheds Sutherland’s Annual Review of Employment Law Refresher Session: Republic of Ireland Developments with Partner Joanne Hyde and Julie Galbraith

Takeaway: Comprehensive notes and key points on the big employment law developments you need to know for employers in the Republic of Ireland. NOTE: Delegates may choose their preferred jurisdiction live on the day and will receive a link to videos for both sessions after the event.

In Brief: Eversheds Sutherland’s Annual Review of Employment Law Refresher Session: Northern Ireland Developments with Partner Lisa Bryson

Takeaway: Comprehensive notes and key points on the big employment law developments you need to know for employers in Northern Ireland. NOTE: Delegates may choose their preferred jurisdiction live on the day and will receive a link to videos for both sessions after the event.





Break and Networking


A Choice of Topics: We welcome delegates back for a choice of two streams. Stream One focuses on Engagement and Remote Working. Stream Two considers Practical Policies of Remote Working. Each stream features three short presentations from guest speakers, followed by a roundtable discussion with those guest speakers. Delegates will receive a link to videos for both streams after the event.


Stream One

Stream Two


HR Quick Wins 1: Maintaining Connections and Building Goodwill – How to maximise the benefits of employee alumni groups in the age of WFH and remote working. We set out what you need to create a successful network of former employees. Speaker TBC

HR Quick Wins 1: Ready to Resume Programme: Insurance giant Allstate has difficulty recruiting Software Developers. So, pre-lockdown, Allstate embarked on a trial process to recruit mainly female former programmers who had left the employment market. Jim Norris, Senior HRM Allstate NI, sets out their initial objectives, successful and less successful outcomes, and why he thinks it’s an experiment worth pursuing a second time, with appropriate tweaks to maximise success, especially in a WFH environment.


HR Quick Wins 2: Future-Proofing Your Workforce: Recruiting Millennial and post-Millennial Talent and Testing for Resilience, Creativity & Adaptability: A checklist of measures to attract and retain strategic employees and test their resilience, creativity and adaptability. Speaker TBC

HR Quick Wins 2: Are Your Reward Strategies Fit for Remote Workforces? A recent survey, conducted by Willis Towers Watson, found more than half of employers did not believe their current rewards strategy was fit for a more remote workforce. And despite many organisations expecting high levels of remote working to continue in the future, fewer than half (45 per cent) thought their current job architecture was suitable for a flexible workforce. So, what does a reward strategy that’s fit for remote workers actually contain? Kevin Empey, Founder, WorkMatters explains.


HR Quick Wins 3: Discover the Secrets of How to Remotely Connect with and Recruit the New Wave of Employees: Takeaway: Identify what Millennials and Generation Z are seeking and discover how to create communications that makes employees feel valued, informed and well connected in the new reality. Speaker: Marie Toft, CEO and Founder of emotionise and former RTÉ and BBC senior executive.


HR Quick Wins 3: Flexible Working Agreements that Work: NI Employees have a statutory right to request flexible working. Leo Varadkar has promised that the Irish Government will introduce a similar right this year. Even without legislative backing, it just makes sound business sense to allow a degree of flexible working – most of us have given employees a de facto right to work from home during the pandemic. Our speaker has surveyed a wide range of organisations on their flexible working policies and procedures and sets out the key themes and precedent wording that seem to work best.


Roundtable Discussion: Join our Chair and three speakers as they discuss your thoughts on engagement and remote working.

Roundtable Discussion: Join our Chair and three speakers as they discuss your thoughts on engagement and remote working.


Lunch and Networking


Five Courageous Wellbeing Conversations You Need to Have Now: The HR profession (and employers in general) has been faced with huge change and uncertainty since lockdown emerged a year ago. Some of us have had to make do. All of us have, we think, done our best to cope with that need for change and it’s probably not going too far to say that HR has been the glue that has held employers and employees together through WFH and the fears of working when there is a deadly virus about. Now is the time to take stock, make more permanent changes and have five courageous wellbeing conversations. Speaker: Alan Lyons, Partner and Business Psychologist, KinchLyons






What is the Culture in the Room after Lockdown? Takeaway: All delegates are offered a free TriMetrixDNA profile report (value €400) and can compare their individual profile with the average scores for peers in order to help them plan their career. So, what is the culture in this room of HR professionals? Are we aligned with the future trends set out in our first session? Speaker: Padraig Berry, CEO, TTI Success Insights Ireland




Afternoon Keynote PresentationPeople Profession 2030: A Collective View of Future Trends: Over eight days in August 2020, people professionals from across the world came together for the CIPD’s hackathon to answer the question – what will the people profession look like in 2030? Mary Connaughton, Director, CIPD Ireland explains the findings, which coalesce around five key areas:

  • Internal change
  • Technological and digital transformation
  • Changing demographics and D&I strategies
  • Diversity of employment relationships
  • Sustainability, purpose and responsible business

Takeaway: A summary of key findings to help you plan your HR strategy for the next decade.


Q&A, Takeaways and Closing Remarks





"Very good event with lots of valuable content"
Austin O'Sullivan, Director of Resources, WALK

"Extremely well planned out and excellent topics."
Bláthnaid Carolan, Head of HR, Liferay

"Very professionally run. A great variety of topics available. "
Caroline Dempsey, Administrative Officer, Offaly County Council

"Super event really well run and excellent speakers. I'd highly recommend it."
Gráinne Gibbons , HR Specialist, The Anne Sullivan Centre

"Found the event overall very informative Good choice of issues covered."
Moira Haslam, Admin Manager, Fórsa Trade Union



  • Caroline Hughes
    Caroline Hughes Global Executive, Coach and Mentor

    Caroline Hughes is a highly accomplished global talent and leadership executive and strong advocate of people development. She has specific capability in building and curating well-chosen professional development experiences and programmes to enable talent to progress within an organisation. Caroline is an experienced leader of global functions, having led both Global Leadership Development (teams in Dublin, Amsterdam, Atlanta) and global Inclusion and Diversity in CRH, Ireland’s largest PLC, a global building materials company with €27.7bn assets and 89,000 staff worldwide.

    Caroline has also held senior leadership roles and lead large-scale organisation transformation in Banking, Central Banking, and within the committee structure of the European Central Bank (ECB). She is well versed in organisation behaviour, people politics and how to navigate the variety of stakeholders needed to coalesce on a desired outcome.

  • Julie Galbraith
    Julie Galbraith Partner
    Eversheds Sutherland

    Julie is a Partner at Eversheds Sutherland who regularly advises clients on all aspects of the employment relationship from recruitment to termination. She works with public and private sector clients to draft employment contracts, service agreements and confidentiality agreements to best suit the needs of the organisation. 

  • Joanne Hyde
    Joanne Hyde Partner
    Eversheds Sutherland

    Joanne is a pragmatic and business-focused employment lawyer.
    Her experience as an in-house employment lawyer for Intel Corporation, one of Ireland’s leading multi-national employers has given her a strong insight into the HR concerns and complexities facing clients. In addition, Joanne has many years’ experience advising both international and indigenous clients on a wide range of employment and industrial relations issues. Her comprehensive experience includes advising on employment law challenges arising from commercial transactions, employment disputes and litigation as well as providing strategic and proactive advice on HR issues.

  • Lisa Bryson
    Lisa Bryson Partner
    Eversheds Sutherland

    Lisa is a partner in the employment and immigration team of Eversheds Sutherland.  Lisa trained and qualified with Eversheds LLP (as was then) in Nottingham and London before moving back ‘home’ in 2009.  She has led the employment and immigration practice in Northern Ireland since re-joining the firm in 2017.

    Lisa has considerable experience of providing contentious and non-contentious employment law advice to private and public sector clients.   She specialises in restructuring and TUPE work, major change programmes, executive matters and severances and Industrial and Fair Employment Tribunal litigation.  Lisa is an experienced Tribunal advocate and has appeared in numerous hearings both in Northern Ireland and England.  Lisa advises clients across a broad range of sectors with a particular interest in the financial and professional services, retail, media and telecommunications, transport and logistics and manufacturing sectors.

    The practice group works closely with businesses preparing for the immigration implications of Brexit and those businesses seeking to move their workforce around the globe and recruit new employees to ensure that all legal requirements are met.

  • Jim Norris
    Jim Norris Director of Human Resources
    Allstate Northern Ireland

    Jim Norris has over 20 years experience in Human Resources and a further 14 years working in manufacturing roles.  Jim has been with Allstate since 1999 in a variety of HR roles and currently is Senior HR manager with responsibility for the HR and Talent Acquisition function for Allstate’s Technology services with over 2,000 employees across three sites in Northern Ireland.

  • Marie Toft
    Marie Toft CEO/Content Creation Consultant

    Marie Toft is an award winning, multi-disciplined content creator and communications executive with over 20 years experience in flagship projects in broadcast, social and print media. She has worked at senior level across the world for several media organisations including RTE, BBC, TV3, Today FM and SBS Australia. As Executive and Series Producer with RTE, Marie’s key skills include creativity and co-ordination, along with training and mentoring staff. Marie has lectured in TV production and story-telling at Dublin City University and Cork Institute of Technology where she honed her presentation, training and development skills.

  • Padraig Berry
    Padraig Berry CEO
    TTI Success Insights Ireland

    Actively involved in business leadership positions across the globe for the last 35 years Padraig transitioned from the world of investment (he holds an M.B.A. from ESSEC Paris and ran Chuck Feeney’s Investment Company in Ireland) to ‘people’ in the mid-nineties when he realized that the key to organisational success is the right people in the right seats - that culture eats strategy for breakfast. 

    As CEO of TTI Success Insights Ireland Padraig works with 'Human Talent Professionals' who want credible, reliable, science-based tools to significantly improve results for themselves, their organisations and their clients. 

  • Kevin Empey
    Kevin Empey Director

    Kevin has specialised in organization development, leadership development and people strategy for over 25 years.

    With a background in technology and business development, Kevin developed an international career in people consulting and leadership development working across a wide range of organizations, sectors and geographies.

    Before establishing WorkMatters, he founded and led several start-up companies and was a Partner and Director in Willis Towers Watson where he led the firms HR and Talent consulting business in Ireland from 2002 to 2015. He also established the firm’s ‘Future of Work’ offering in Ireland.

  • Alan Lyons
    Alan Lyons Managing Partner

    Alan is a managing partner in KinchLyons – where psychology means business! He is a business psychologist and bestselling author who works internationally as a leadership coach, psychometrician, facilitator and keynote speaker. Alan is passionate about helping people to perform at their optimal level through leveraging emotional intelligence, clarifying purpose, disciplined execution and mental toughness. Building on the best positive psychology he created the acclaimed Solution Turbine™, a compelling framework that enables individual optimal functioning and unleashes leaders and their teams towards high performance. This is imperative as academic studies have shown that a positive mindset results in 31% higher levels of productivity. Alan is a chartered coaching psychologist and a founding member of the Society for Coaching Psychology.

  • Mary Connaughton
    Mary Connaughton Director
    CIPD Ireland

    Mary is the Director of CIPD Ireland where she works on the growth, development and contribution of the HR profession in Ireland. With 6,000 members in Ireland, CIPD works on championing better work and working lives in a complex changing world.  Mary represents the HR profession at the European Association of People Management and is on the Boards of the Public Appointments Service and the Retirement Planning Council. 

Event details


9.15am - 4.30pm


04 March 2021




To register for your free place: