Unite 23: Wrapping up the biggest employee experience conference ever
We said Unite 23 would be an experience you wouldn’t want to miss, and now it’s all over, you know why. Big keynotes, huge ideas, parties that no one will forget - it all happened at Unite 23. Here are the moments that made it magic.
The biggest employee experience conference ever
It’s been called the employee experience conference of the year – and not just by us! Unite 23 was everything we hoped it would be: A landmark celebration of employee experience progress and the people pushing it forward. Attendees came from all over the world to join us in London for two days of networking, inspiration, and fun. This week, we reflect on what we achieved, not just as a team or company, but as a community.
"I’ve been to loads of conferences and industry events over the years and this was easily the best-run event I’ve ever attended. It was evident that the event team had thought through the attendee experience really well. That was clear in all clever little touches and details throughout the event. If you’ve designed and run events yourself, as I have, you notice these things. I also noticed how easy everything appeared – the event was seamless and everything flowed together really well, which is the hallmark of a well-prepared and well-rehearsed team. Damn I was impressed."
It was the first time since 2019, when we hosted Unite 19 in New York, that we'd be bringing our community back together in person. There's nothing quite like seeing a crowd of people united by a passion for creating the best places to work gathering in one space.
We knew we’d scored a killer venue, mind-blowing keynote speakers, and an agenda that would be difficult to match, but could we get EX leaders from around the world to show up? Answer: Yes! You didn’t just turn up; you SHOWED UP. In-person attendance hit a new record of 600 in-person employee experience rockstars, with hundreds more joining us online.
"There’s an energy here around employee engagement that you cannot bottle."
The moments that made Unite 23 MAGIC
It’s hard to condense two days of outstanding content and experiences into a short summary, but we’ll give it a go.
Day 1 started on a high as Stephen Fry took to the stage to share his thoughts on the future of work. If anyone was in doubt about what Fry – a man who admitted only half-jokingly that he’d never worked a day in his life – had to offer to a crowd of employee experience leaders, those doubts were quickly put to bed.
Starting with a sobering critique on the trajectory of AI (or Ai as he would prefer it), Fry’s speech was filled with anecdotes that will be etched into our psyches for years to come. The quote we keep coming back to is: “Technology is a verb, not a noun. It is always changing.” He reminded us that in times of dramatic change, we need visionaries who embrace the credo, “skate not to where the puck is, but where the puck will be.” As the AI revolution takes hold, it’s conversations like this that will help us move in the right direction, and we couldn’t be more pleased to have given this voice a platform.
"Sitting at my desk drinking a coffee, I'm reflecting on a great few days in London for Unily #Unite23. The keynotes from Steven Bartlett and Stephen Fry were superb and different things they said keep floating into my mind."
Next up to the stage was Grace Beverley – Gen Z CEO, influencer, and productivity guru. Grace had us all gripped as she tackled questions put forward by Unily’s Kaz Hassan. We quizzed her on everything from how to prime productivity and escape the procrastination roundabout™ to whether the corporate workplace is in need of a rebrand. The idea that stuck with us was the misconception that self-care and productivity are two separate things.
"When you look at productivity and self-care as two different things, you are already fighting a losing battle… We cannot see productivity and self-care as two different things. You cannot have one without the other… I don’t believe self-care is all about candles and baths and journaling. Self-care is also about making sure you’ve met your deadlines and making sure you are reaching the goals that you’ve set at the beginning of the year."
"I left Grace Beverley's session yesterday feeling motivated, so I'm excited for what today will bring and with my talk done, I'm looking forward to sitting back and enjoying the show."
Day 2 opened with a returning guest. Podcast extraordinaire, disruptive entrepreneur, and not to mention one of the nicest, most humble people we’ve ever met: The one and only Steven Bartlett. Could we top the conversation we had at Unite 22? It was tough odds, but we did it! Bartlett’s session was nothing short of awe-inspiring.
"I’ll admit it, I didn’t know much about Steven Bartlett until reading his bio on the #Unite23 agenda. 2 minutes into his Q&A with Kaz Hassan and I am hooked, podcast and audible downloaded. It’s so refreshing to hear someone talk about values and first principles to make sure that the company you work for is the right fit for you."
We talked Elon Musk, and how to toe the line between authenticity and disruption, the four pillars of great culture, the power of incremental gains, and, some might say most importantly, Kim or Kanye. The conversation was filled with soundbites we’ll be recycling for years to come, but one of our favorites is this:
"If you want to become the best in the world, you need to not think about hiring great people, or being smart yourself, you need a system to get to the right answer as fast as you possibly can, which is: How quickly is your team failing, how well is your team set up for failure, what is your teams' attitude to failure?"
Our final keynote was dedicated to unveiling the latest innovations in employee experience technology and how they will be pivitol to unlocking a new era characterized by a relentless focus on employee experience transformation. Unily's CEO Chris Ciauri, and CTO Sam Hassani took the stage to share Unily's vision for the next decade. We reflected on the last decade, which saw enterprises spend a cool $3tr on digitizing the customer experience, and the $8.8tr opportunity to do the same on the employee side of the equation. We looked at how AI will power the next iteration of EX tech evolution, and we got to see a practical example of AI in action in the form of Unily's soon-to-be-released AI Assistant.
"If the last decade was about customer experience, the next will be about employee experience. In the next decade, we believe the big conversation will be about employees, so for employee experience professionals like you, this is going to be your chance to have a seat at the table and make a difference on this incredibly important topic."
Alongside keynotes that left us spellbound, we also ran three breakout tracks across two days: Comms, Tech, and Deep Dive. In the Deep Dive room we heard from Unily SMEs on how to unleash the full power of Unily to support best-in-class employee experience strategies. Meanwhile, the Comms and Tech tracks played host to a mixture of panel discussions and inspiring case studies from enterprises at the forefront of the employee experience revolution. There was no shortage of inspiration no matter which room you found yourself in, making it difficult to pull out key highlights. But we like a challenge…
In the Tech track room, we have to shout out the future of digital employee experience panel, which pulled in such a crowd it became a standing room. Panellists Suzie Robinson of ClearBox, Sonya Poonian of simplycommunicate, Edward Taylor of Digital Workplace Group, and Sharon O’Dea of Lithos Partners were put to the test on topics from how we can prove the link between investment in digital employee experience and profit to how we can finally close the gap between CX and EX.
On the Comms track, highlights included our returning ask an internal comms expert panel, which saw panelists Kim England, Vice President of Global Employee Communications at Pearson, Joanna Parsons, Founder and Director at The Curious Route, Bryan Vermes, Director of Employee Experience and Communications at Mimecast, and Chris Andrews, Principle Head at Caburn Hope tackle questions from the audience. We also got to go behind-the-scenes with leading enterprises like National Grid, Kerzner, Pearson, WSP, Wipro, and more to hear how they’re transforming engagement with Unily. We’ll be breaking down the best of these sessions in content to come.
"I've been lucky enough to attend many events and conferences over the years, and looking back to last week, I have to say that #Unite23, run by Unily, is one of those which I really took a lot of personal benefit from."
We can't debrief on Unite 23 without talking about the nightly parties. Pre-event, our VIP ticket holders joined us on the rooftop of 100 Shoreditch for drinks and a splash of magic.
At the end of day 1, attendees convened at Eastcheap Records for a night of live music with the #1 Oasis tribute band, Noasis, a special appearance from a British icon, and specialty cocktails on tap.
Ending the conference the way we started it, we united attendees for a final farewell at The Libertine.
The event culminated with the Unite 23 awards; a celebration of the enterprises making an impact in workplaces around the world. Eight enterprises walked away with awards as follows:
Best Launch or Relaunch
- SMB winner: NewDay
- Enterprise winner: WSP
Internal Comms Impact
- SMB winner: Endo Pharmaceuticals
- Enterprise winner: British Airways
- SMB winner: ChampionX
- Enterprise winner: EY
- Winner: CVS Health
- Winner: Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
Congratulations to all our winners! Stay tuned for a run-down on what made the winning entries stand out.
Bring on Unite 24
Over the next few months, we’ll be bringing you more of the highlights from Unite 23. But our eyes are already turning to next year’s conference. Expect big things from Unite 24. Before we go, a final thanks to our speakers, attendees, and our outstanding events team – you made Unite 23 what it was. See you again next year, and, until then, stay inspired!
"What an amazing event today held by Unily for #Unite23. If you should be excited about anything right now, it’s employee experience."
"#Unite23 just gets better and better. Not only have I been able to connect with lots of different people on their daily challenges, wins and knowledge with regards to internal Comms and employee engagement, we got to be in the presence of Steven Bartlett who gave a talk on employee engagement lessons. Amazing couple of days! Thanks Unily"
"Unily's Unite 23 Event was a game-changer! 🚀✨ Grateful for the chance to connect and learn with fellow professionals. The event covered crucial topics like employee experience, AI advancements, company culture, intranet's future, and collaboration. The star-studded speaker lineup made a lasting impact. Stephen Fry's wisdom, Grace Beverley's entrepreneurial journey, and Steven Bartlett's insights into digital communication were highlights. We dug deep into enhancing employee experiences, leveraging AI for innovation, nurturing strong company cultures, and adapting to ever-evolving intranet and collaboration tools. Huge thanks to the Unily team for orchestrating this enlightening event. 🙏💼 Let's take what we've learned and make a positive difference in our organizations and communities. Together, we'll keep uniting, learning, and growing! 🌐"
"The best professional conference I've ever been to. We appreciate the hard work."
"This week was a career highlight. #Unite23 was a rollercoaster."
"I have the privilege of attending Unite and it's nothing short of amazing."
Catch up on the biggest employee experience conference EVER: Unite 23. 2 days of keynotes, breakouts, and panels live from London, now available on demand. Get inspired with keynotes from Stephen Fry, Steven Bartlett, and Grace Beverley. Discover how leading enterprises are transforming employee experience and internal comms with talks from Wipro, WSP, Kerzner, National Grid, Pearson, and more. Game on.