They had me at “make work more human.”
I’ll admit it, I was already sold on Globoforce’s WorkHuman 2016 conference before I ever set foot in Orlando. Word of the inaugural event in 2015 had spread like wildfire in my HR community, with many of my conference-weary colleagues proclaiming this event one of the best—if not the best—conferences they ever attended. High praise indeed.
You might expect me to groove on a conference that exhorts leaders to “create work environments that allow people to do the best work of their lives.” After all, I’m a writer who covers leadership and workplace issues. I had a suspicion that many people besides freelance writers would benefit, so as I moved through the two and a half days of the event, I was continually assessing: would organizational leaders find value in this conference as well? I’m giving this conference a resounding “yes!” And not just for your HR leadership team; all members of your leadership team—from the front line to the senior team—would benefit.
Here are six reasons why:
It isn’t a cheesy love-fest.
For the skeptics out there, let’s get this out of the way right now: for all the talk of “being human” and “bring your best selves to work” this isn’t some woo woo gathering where people stand around with arms linked, singing Kumbaya. Yes the tone is light, with whimsical snacks such as the self-serve candy bar and the “wall of cookies.” And the speakers talk about things like happiness and optimism. Even so, this is a well-thought out conference and there is substance to the event.
The conference theme is universally appealing.
Unlike industry-specific conferences that cater to a very specific audience, this conference has broad appeal. What this means is that you will find attendees from all over the globe, in many different industries and domains of work. The attendee list does skew towards HR-related functions such as Organizational Development and Talent Management. Yet you’re also likely to meet mid-level managers seeking to better the way they lead. As one attendee (a manager for a tech start-up who had 30 employees reporting to her) told me, “I’ve got the IT side of my skill set down pat. Now it’s time to develop my skills in leading people. This conference seemed to speak to that.”
WorkHuman truly focuses on the whole human.
Conference organizers put their money where their mouth is when it comes to supporting the “whole human” conference experience. Before every session, our hosts took the stage and offered a hearty, “Hi, humans!” There were morning yoga sessions and walks.
If you needed to decompress, Gadadhara Pandit Dasa (aka the “Business Buddha”) was available for walk-in mindfulness and meditation sessions throughout the entire conference.
Our brains were stimulated by access to original drawings offered up by artist Nikki Kurt from Kingman Ink who did “live white boarding” during the keynotes.
It isn’t a three day sales pitch.
Given that this conference is organized by recognition software vendor Globoforce, you might think there would be a parade of testimonials and hard-sells. I was pleasantly surprised at how subtle the promotional aspect was. Yes, there were definitely sessions that talked about what Globoforce offers in the marketplace, the information shared went well beyond software “features and benefits.” Globoforce’s CEO Eric Mosley’s keynote on “The Power of Humanity at Work” certainly had broad appeal. Likewise, the Globoforce Customer Panel offered excellent insights into how companies—large and small—are leveraging the power of recognition to create a more engaged, connected workforce. I took copious notes at both sessions.
This is what first drew me in: the chance to see speakers who are at the top of their game. Shawn Achor, Amy Cuddy, and Gary Hamel are all luminaries in their respective fields. And then of course, there was the Super Keynote, which was Michael J. Fox. You may wonder what Marty McFly could possibly have to say about bringing humanity back to work. His message was so profound, that it’s going to get its own blog post. Suffice it to say that he delivered. As did all of the amazing keynote presenters.
Top-notch breakout sessions.
At any other conference, many of the presenters in the break-out sessions would be considered A-listers. Yes, the caliber of content was that good. As with all conference break-out sessions, I had to pick and choose, so I didn’t see every session. But for those I did attend—sessions on cultivating grit, developing mindfulness, and the leadership imperative for civility in the workplace—I was treated to well-organized, research-based and engaging sessions.
Bottom line: This is not just a conference for people in HR-related functions. Leaders from the business, government, educational, and non-profit sectors would benefit from attending. Because really, what is leadership, if not for helping people bring their best selves to work? I encourage you to check out Globoforce’s WorkHuman 2017 event in Phoenix. You will return to your work energized and ready to make a positive difference.
Disclosure: I attended the WorkHuman conference as an industry analyst/blogger. Globoforce, the sponsor of the event, provided me with a free pass to attend the conference.
Copyright: All images courtesy of People Equation, LLC, unless otherwise noted.