I have always been a great believer in the importance of the workplace as a community where people feel valued and respected.
So I am always encouraged when I hear that many of the values of fairness and equality that I hold dear are being taken seriously by other businesses, not just here but around the world.
I have just come back from the World Economic Forum at Davos where I attended as part of a delegation of UK fintech companies hosted by Innovate UK, our trade body. The theme of the conference this year was Responsive and Responsible Leadership. There was much discussion about how employers can live up to their responsibilities to their employees as we enter what some are calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution. New technologies like Artificial Intelligence, robotics and advances in data processing are all coming together at the same time to offer us rich new possibilities for tackling everything from degenerative diseases to climate change, but will also ushering in dramatic changes in the way we work.
There was much agreement that we as employers need to reset our relationship with employees and look practically at how we can meet their aspirations and, where necessary, help them through the process of adjustment that is the inevitable corollary of innovation and change.
The new generation entering the workforce, the so-called millennials, are less motivated by money, security and status than their predecessors, and don’t expect, as their parents or grandparents did, to be doing the same job for life. They are more flexible, more adaptable but also demand more from the work place. They want work that means something. That isn’t just a job. That helps them grow as people. That is fulfilling, maybe even fun.
Employers are recognizing that with the decline of traditional patterns of work, they need to think seriously about how they can respond by making the work environment more attractive and rewarding in other ways.
I was also encouraged to hear from a leading tech investor that they are not looking for innovation for novelty’s sake but for applications that can make a real difference to people’s lives.
It is one of the reasons why we founded Neyber and are proud of what we have achieved. Looking around, I am pleased that I can see others who share a similar vision. Others who are finding ways of harnessing new technologies to make life easier and cheaper for ordinary people, whether they are borrowing, saving or paying bills.
I met founders of companies that have slashed the exorbitant cost of transferring money across borders, a major worry to those who are working hard to support families overseas. Other start-ups are providing banking services to those that conventional banks do not have the appetite to serve. This is the kind of innovation which we should all be proud of and support. It is these kinds of conversations that inspire me to go on and that give me confidence that we are on right track.