“When we support better employees, we also support better parents, better community members” – Pam Holloway.
If there was a theme at the this years #DisruptHR Dallas, it was the context of the whole employee. Speakers presented a variety of ideas on how HR can become better stewards of the entire employee experience, to not only improve our businesses but the very lives of the employees under our care.
The Whole Employee
Pam Holloway‘s talk, “Asshole Management is Not Inevitable”, made the case that when you support better employees, your also supporting better parents, better community members. Higher engagement, less stress leads to better health and happier life in general. It’s taking a holistic view beyond your company’s borders to true “life engagement”.
Your job can literally kill you: Upwards of $3 billion is spent each year to help employees deal with stress and the ailments that come with it. Pam contrasted “asshole management” principles of Frederick Taylor, who assumed that humans can’t be trusted and must be micro-managed, with those of Abraham Maslow, who believed that people are essentially good, capable, trustworthy. The disruptor? Nurture, trust and give autonomy. Money only meets Maslow Level 1 needs – safety. One of the most powerful things HR can do is equip leaders with the skills to recognize and leverage strengths, give autonomy, communicate and involve, give psychological and spiritual support.
The Workforce of the Future
Craig Lewis gave a very engaging talk, “The Gig Economy – the Future of Work”, and how power is shifting from the employer to the employee. Today there is more work than there are jobs and 1/3 (55 million) of the workforce is some sort of gig worker – freelance, contract, etc. who are paid for results only. This is expected to grow to almost half of the total workforce in the next few years. These employees are free agents for many different reasons, some by choice and others by need, but they are able to do work tailored to their skillset. A key question for HR is how to manage this growing workforce. (There are platforms emerging to do this – see SHRM article from Josh Bersin.)
Lois Melbourne had the strongest call-to-action of the night in her talk, “Where is the Future Workforce Today?”, urging companies to stop complaining that recent grads don’t have needed skills but go to where the future workforce is today – in school. A growing trend is for organizations to partner with universities and public schools to help prepare our youth for the future. In addition, some organizations are inviting kids to come once a month to their organization to explore different careers in a real-world environment. Many organizations need volunteers:
- Education Open Doors equips students, starting as early as middle school, with a Roadmap to Success Program and needs tutors.
- Junior Achievement has K-12 programs to foster work-readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills, and use experiential learning to inspire students to dream big and reach their potential – made possible with volunteers.
- The Girl Scouts of America has an amazing STE center.
- Skills USA provide educational programs, events and competitions that support career and technical education (CTE) in the nation’s classrooms.
- Mentor Room matches students with mentors.
Lance Shipp urged succession planning in his talk, “In the Hole, On the Bucket, Who’s Got Next? If You Don’t Know You Can’t Grow!” Lance used several colorful analogies from sports to talk about the importance of preparing for the future – essentially, “who’s up next?” You can’t win the game unless you have plan. Lance urged making an org chart and using tools such as the 9-box grid to identify and begin developing your future workforce today.
Technology and the AI – the “Mother of all Disruptions”
Ross Melbourne, in his talk “AI – The Mother of All Disruptions”, urged companies to consider outplacement and training for those “you leave behind”, and discussed the idea of a universal basic income. It is inevitable that some will become unemployed and possibly unemployable.
James Hoard discussed “5 Tech Trends Transforming HR”.
- Digital Transformation – why not have what we do shape what we do? Netflix, Amazon and others use our behavior and past choices to tailor offerings. Corporate learning will need to shift to the the paradigm of the learner as consumer; we no longer want to be offered a stale set of eLearning modules but want choices based on preference, role, career aspirations, etc.
- Rethinking Performance Management – many are ditching the annual performance review in favor a real-time, regular feedback from managers and peers to create a performance experience. A powerful benefit from this is the ability to predict employee agility.
- Rising Employee Engagement – Employees use technology every day to be more productive, engage with their friends, co-workers, etc. and are demanding the same at work. Companies need to provide these type of social engagement tools and lose the fear of what employees will say, because they’re saying it anyway in multiple places. Harness and utilize that power. Bud Browne echoed this in his talk, “The Real Generational Gap” in that how we get together has changed, from the local bar (boomers) to online (digital natives).
- Predictive Analytics – HR is moving from disparate tools to fully integrated talent systems that provide powerful predictive analytics that give HR a more prominent seat at the table.
- Diversity and Inclusion – Orgs are seeking diverse talent to drive new and different thinking and avoid “groupthink”. This trend drives the other 4 trends.
Harnessing the Wisdom of the Crowd
Metsy Corter gave a powerful talk on the power of gaming to change behavior in “human focused design in her talk, “3 Gamification Examples that Will Save the World”.
- Using a ‘conformity anchor’ – We don’t want to keep up with the Joneses – we want to outperform them. A power company provides customers with a consumption comparison to that of their neighbors, the ‘conformity anchor’ drove a savings of 2.6 terra-watts in 16 million households.
- Foldit to solve a 15-year old problem – Scientists were stumped for more than 15 years on an AIDS solution. They used the online gaming platform Foldit to present the problem. More than 240,000 signed up to play and solved it in 10 days.
- Gaming to help children manage the pain of cancer – Doctors need daily, consistent information from kids in pain. The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto created “Pain Squad” – an iPhone app that has children keep a pain journal in the form of a ‘pain recording mission’ that also included encouraging videos, badges that had more than 90% compliance.
Don’t Leave Branding to Marketing!
Tina Young talked about the importance of branding in her talk, “Branding is Too Important to Leave to Marketing”, for it’s really about culture, leadership, and purpose. Today’s workforce wants to work for an organization with a clear purpose and values. She urged orgs to have a consistent message that is not just words on your website but evident everywhere – in your office space – what does it say about you? On your intranet – does your intranet inspire pride and engagement, or is it just a place to go for benefits? She urged giving careful thought to your brand and ensuring your message is clear.
Engagement and Return on Energy
Michael Rose said ‘return on energy’ is the answer to the question: “How was your day?” ROE powers ROI – when we have the right people in the right role and Vision, Strategy and Tactics are aligned, ROI is a natural outcome. Mike has a terrific book on this I highly encourage everyone to read – ROI Powers ROE: The Ultimate Way to Think and Communicate for Ridiculous Results.
DisruptHR takes place in cities across the US. Stay tuned for information about the spring version of DisruptHR Dallas!