Employee Engagement

HR Transform Innovation Showcase [EVENT RECAP]

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas - but we couldn’t help but bring back our favorite learnings from the HR Transform conference last week. Read on for our must-read insights, inspired by awesome speakers from companies like Uber, Square, Upwork and Slack (just to name a few)...

We discovered new ways to address culture for high-growth companies, tips for a mindful and effective diversity and inclusion program, and trends affecting the future of work - strategies that empower employees and transform the traditional ways of HR thinking.

Which learnings are most interesting to you, or which are you already adopting? Share with us in our comments section below.

1. Stop apologizing for being the “HR person”

One of our favorite quotes came from Dawn Sharifan at Slack, who spoke on a panel of people leaders who were addressing scaling their companies. Dawn shared that “HR transformation will come when we no longer have to apologize for being ‘HR People’”.

Now is the time for HR leaders to grab their seat in the boardroom, and get cozy in the C-suite. As HR teams get more comfortable crafting stories through meaningful data and insights, your value will spread through the organization, meaning that you no longer have to apologize for suggesting workplace changes or new tools, processes - you’ll have the data, confidence and the brains to backup your recommendations.

2. Why ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) are worth the investment when mapping out Diversity and Inclusion budgets

On Day 2, the conference was gifted with a guest star surprise of Bernard C. Coleman III, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Uber, who drove in from Palm Springs overnight to join a fireside chat with thought-leader Freada Klein. They held an intense, real-talk convo around diversity and inclusion efforts, revealing how much wasteis coming from this function, because let’s be honest, HR leaders just don’t know yet how to effectively tackle D&I.

Bernard shared that while D&I is a continued work in progress at Uber, something that is working really well for them is increased investment in Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), aka employee- or company-led groups to bond together employees from different ethnic groups, demographics, hobbies or personal passions. ERGs not only enable employees to bond with their peers, but also through company investment gain access to additional resources (like speakers, training, and coaching) to further their own needs and development paths within the company, leading to a more productive and motivated employee base.

Bernard claimed that 1 in 3 Uber employees are actively engaged in ERGs (which is wayyyy above average), and that his D&I investments are not only producing more positive engagement scores, but also influencing Uber’s retention rates. Sign us up.

3. Your culture, house rules and company values should honestly reflect your workforce demographics, especially when your workforce is remote!

There were quite a few sessions dedicated to managing remote workforces, which makes sense, because according to Gallup, 43% of employeesclaimed to spend some (or all) of their time working remotely this past year, with the trend scheduled to surpass 50% of US employees working remotely by 2020.

A few tips for building culture even when employees are remote, from Meray Soto-Saunders, VP of People at Andela, and Shelby Wolpa, VP People Operations at InVision (whose company is 100% remote, by design):

  • Set high standards for emotional intelligence amongst managers- this means that all people managers should be trained to build EQ skills so that they can connect more authentically with their direct reports who might be on camera a thousand miles away. Emotional intelligence skill-building helps to open the door for vulnerable conversations that more rapidly resolve conflict, and help ensure remote employee’s needs are met from a career development perspective.

  • Set house rules for technology- this means for every team meeting where you’re dialed in through video, turn those Zoom cameras on! Showing video means that meeting leaders can track engagement (aka no multi-tasking), and enable teammates to more clearly express their opinions and likes/dislikes than over the conference line.

  • Ensure all tools are frictionless- this means that remote teammates aren’t excluded because the WiFi is poor, the Zoom link didn’t work, or because local teams opted to meet in-person over coffee vs. heading to a room with a tech setup. Encourage managers to build inclusivity and awareness of remote workers’ needs into their team culture, and help support this from the top-down as executives host company-wide events.

Additionally, make sure your core company values are adapted to support remote teammates. Peter Louis Johnston, CEO of Kalo, shared two of their company values crafted in direct support of their majority-remote workforce:

  • Go Together: this value encourages conversations to never be siloed, whether happening in a conference room, video chat, or Slack. Employees are reminded to include all teammates needed to form a decision so that conversations move quickly, and everyone has the chance to weigh in. Shall we go together?

  • 100 💯:primarily relevant for conversations that originate on Slack or other text-based communication tools, Kalo employees use the “100” emoji to easily mark their agreement on a subject or topic being aired so that stakeholders know when 100% agreement is in place. Similarly to Go Together, this value ensures that all relevant teammates are heard and included before closing out a conversation topic online.

4. Why the fourth Industrial Revolution should be embraced, and how to prepare your people teams for the future of work

“AI will take over the brains, robots the muscle, but the heart and drive will always stay with your people.” - a catchy and share-worthy quote from Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork, during his session on the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

As technology advancements bring us artificial intelligence, smart robotics, self-driving cars and enhanced remote communications tools, Stephane reinforces the pivotal role of HR leaders during this time of change - we are the heart. HR will always own the pulse of the organization, the vibe of the culture, and have the opportunity through data empowerment to effectively champion for the needs of the organization. When our talent wins, through innovations in career development, workplace flexibility, and mobility, or through more authentic and personal inter-office connections, the company wins.

Putting these strategies to work

So let’s start applying these workplace strategies to your HR programs and plans:

Consider investing in Employee Resource Groups to elevate Diversity & Inclusion programs, focus efforts on creating a strong remote workplace culture, and embrace the future of tech. Utilize these HR strategies to amplify your company culture and think about HR in a different way.

Are you ready to take the next steps towards transformative HR strategies? We’re ready to chat all-things engagement and recognition, it just takes one simple step - click Request Demo above to connect with our Blueboard team. We want to learn about your employee recognition goals and talk to you about what our catalog of experiential gifts for employees can offer.

Until next time,

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