HR Tech 2018: 5 Ways to Humanize Work

September 14, 2018 Dan Miller

HR Tech 2018 Jason Lauritsen Globoforce panel

The 21st edition of the annual HR Tech conference in Las Vegas had its obvious share of new features and functionality, but a powerful theme – the value of humans – dominated the discussion.

What are companies doing to allow their employees to celebrate their humanity in the workplace? How do businesses inspire employees to meet and exceed their goals, chase their aspirations, and realize their dreams?

Technology plays a role by simplifying how work gets done, but the real measure of success is the emotional and physical health of the humans using the tools.

From the keynotes to the breakouts, these five themes emerged as core drivers to inspire a healthy, happy, and productive workforce:

Create experiences 
While there’s no one advocating that Fortnite or escape rooms belong in the workplace, employees are increasingly looking to immerse themselves in their work to achieve fulfillment. They want their work to matter; they want to see results from what they created or contributed to; and they want a sense of connection and community through teamwork.

“Experience is not a user interface,” said Jason Averbook, CEO and founder of Leapgen, who articulated the differences between human apps and administrative apps. “You will never meet your employees’ needs by putting in a core HR system. What is going to make their time worthwhile are the things you do for them. The world known as HR technology has changed forever.”

“Employees want clarity and they want to be connected,” said Justin Thenutai, senior director of Global Talent Acquisition at Microsoft. “They want flexible, accessible experiences.”

Support big dreams
Successful companies are those that create a culture of empathy, courage, and personal resilience. “Dreams and goals matter,” said Jarik Conrad, senior director of Ultimate Software. “But you need to take the time to have these discussions, to know what each individual in your organization wants. Personal success is super important. It’s up to us – as HR leaders – to help people achieve their dreams.”

Mike Rowe, TV host of Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs,” told a funny story about censorship to make a point on finding a dream job. “We’re pixelating opportunities,” he told the audience in the conference’s opening keynote, referring to non-traditional blue-collar jobs. “Follow your passion. And take a job that excites you, that drives you, that makes you happy. A great job doesn’t always require a four-year degree.”

Rethink performance management

The pace of business has never been faster and employee expectations have never been greater. Today's workplace demands new, real-time performance strategies that support continuous growth for individuals and inspire great work across teams.

To support this notion, speaker and author Jason Lauritsen moderated a panel of Globoforce customers including Dave Bond, director of Talent Management and Total Rewards at the Minto Group; Chary Krout, senior VP of Human Resources at First Tech Federal Credit Union; Jennifer Lepird, senior director of Global Rewards & HRIM at Symantec; and Vikki Sly, VP of Talent Development at Qlik.

The panelists shared their journey into continuous performance development, concurring that in-the-moment, informal, and frequent crowdsourced feedback creates a trusted environment where employees feel empowered to take control of their own career development.

“In order to be agile, we have to change the people process,” said Vikki. “This is not an HR process – we are repositioning this as a value for employees.”

“Feedback is a spectrum,” said Dave. “And you learn the most from the people around you.”

The panel will continue to discuss their journey on rethinking performance management at WorkHuman 2019, in Nashville, March 18-21.

Find the pause button
With all the new technology that allows employees to connect professionally and personally, it’s easy to stay plugged in during every waking hour. With mobile capabilities for social apps and streaming communication, the lines of office hours and personal time are blurred.

It’s a challenge to unplug and find some white space to pause and reflect. But it’s the downtime that promotes good health, both mentally and physically. Great ideas need time to evolve and percolate, and don’t typically result from multitasking.

Ariana Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global and The Huffington Post, told a keynote audience we must stop burning out people. “You’ve got to focus on your people and the numbers will follow,” she said. Her comments were based on multiple reports that stress and burnout are costing businesses billions of dollars a year in lost productivity.

Embrace the future
With HR innovation accelerating and hundreds of new products flooding the market, the solutions that stand out will be the ones developed for markets that are still early stage. Randi Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media, confirmed this when she discussed the early days of Facebook.

“Don’t think about what you’re building as a solution for today – think about how it will be used 10-12 years from now,” she said. “So many of our early ideas like Facebook Live were seen as wild ideas but had a market we didn’t know existed.”

“If we continue to focus on traditional HR, that’s the wrong way to go,” said Jarik. “We have to be willing to make the changes that benefit us in the future.”

“We’re going to see more changes in the next 20 years than we had in the last 2,000,” said Bill Jensen, CEO of The Jensen Group. “We’ve never seen this acceleration of innovation. But it’s all about taking care of your people.”

Did you attend this year’s HR Tech conference? What were your key takeaways?

About the Author

Dan Miller

Dan Miller is the director of content marketing for Globoforce.

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