3 Core Themes from the HRPA Annual Conference 2018

February 5, 2018 Lauren Carroll

“Can HR change the world?” was a question posed at the recent HRPA Annual Conference and Trade Show, Canada’s largest HR event. This year’s theme – The Intelligence Revolution – featured telling images of a human hand interlocked with a robotic one. There was no shying away from the inevitable reality that how we operate at work will continue to evolve. Here are the three core themes from HRPA:

The Maturation of Disruptive Technology

The future of HR is not technology. This probably dismisses most of what you’ve read over the last few years. The future of HR is, in fact, an integrated model of technology and humanity. So yes, technology is an important component of HR, but does not tell the full story. During the first industrial revolution, Americans feared that jobs would disappear with new technology and machinery. The outcome was a shift in how workers did their jobs rather than a lack of opportunity to make a living. Fast-forward to present day where the concern is that robots will replace humans. We’re at the beginning stages of disruptive technology that will evolve from replacing repetitive time-consuming work to impacting high-level human decision-making.

“Discount the apocalyptic picture people are painting for you,” said Janice Gross Stein, political science professor at the University of Toronto, “but every single person will be working differently in five years.” The most recent industrial revolution will require us to upgrade our skills. For HR professionals, this means an added focus on learning and development to prepare employees for the future. A workplace culture of integrity, trust, and respect also needs to remain a priority. Strong human relationships and company values will allow organizations to adapt more frequently and effectively in a hyper-competitive and ever-changing landscape.

People & Culture

“What people are truly hungry for is a deeper and more authentic sense of humanity,” said Bill Taylor, author and co-founder of Fast Company. He shared the most prevalent quality found in the world’s most successful business leaders –  enthusiasts who truly believe they can make a difference in the world. This quality should be celebrated and reinforced within organizations. If you don’t have a workplace culture of positivity there are steps you can take to arrive there.

“Using Social Recognition to Nurture, Develop, and Retain Talent,” explored how to build a social infrastructure based on company values that is powered by peer-to-peer moments of appreciation and gratitude. “Take the governance of it and put the culture back in the hands of your employees,” said Chris French, VP of Customer success at Globoforce.

Dave Bond, director of talent management and total rewards at the Minto Group, credits his company’s social recognition program for not only reducing their attrition rate but rebuilding trust within the organization. When employees have a sense of physiological safety at work they are more willing to take risks and stand up for ideas and projects they’re passionate about.

Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion is a business imperative. But how can HR professionals ensure their processes are built to support it? Organizations can drive diversity through recruiting and promote inclusivity through culture.

“Workplace history and education does not predict future performance,” said Caitlin MacGregor, co-founder and CEO of the Plum Group. Psychometric testing measures cognitive ability and suitability for the role and reduces subjective bias during the hiring process. Companies can also target recruiting efforts of underrepresented groups to ensure that job openings are a call to action for people of all backgrounds.

Stefan Palios, co-founder of Venture Out, said, “Consult with anyone in the workplace who is impacted by a decision. Scale it by using a representative sample.” Companies can foster an inclusive environment through culture and developing programs to reinforce this behavior.

There’s no doubt the future of HR looks bright and innovative, connecting people and technology in ways that put the focus on creating a better human experience at work.


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