#WorkHuman Day 2: Organization of the Future

by Jennifer Miller on May 31, 2017

in Human Resources, Leadership

WorkHuman Day 2 just wrapped. Here’s how the day went down.

HR Executive Panel

Derek Irvine of Globoforce leads a panel discussion with HR Executives on how to make work more human.

Derek Irvine, Globoforce’s VP, Client Strategy & Consulting, moderated a three-person panel of senior leaders in the HR role. The topics were wide-ranging, covering many aspects of the employee experience: recognition, performance management and the role of employee citizenship and charitable works on employee engagement scores.

Panelists were:

  • Rahul Varma, global head of talent & learning, Accenture
  • Kimberly Bors, SVP of HR, Schneider Electric
  • Vicki Williams, SVP of compensation, benefits, and HRIS, NBC Universal

My take-aways from the session:

  • There is no one-size-fits-all solution for performance management. Some of the panelist companies have completely eliminated rankings/ratings for performance management; others haven’t
  • Employees whose companies give them paid PTO to perform monthly acts of service/charitable work have engagement scores that are 5 points higher than those who don’t partake
  • Employees are hungry to recognize one another’s achievements. Williams, of NBC, recounted a story of how, during the Orlando night-club shootings, many of the journalists and support crew had to work overtime in a very tense and trying situation (as often happens in the broadcast media’s line of work.) She said their company’s online recognition system “lit up” with numerous accolades and statements of gratitude.

Then it was time to check out some of the “extras” offered at the event . . .such as the bookstore featuring books by the speakers and other titles that help employees bring their best selves to work.

. . . and the Humanifesto wall, in which you can use different-colored string to illustrate your commitment to working human – for yourself, your family, your company or the world.

While roaming WorkHuman Central (the main thoroughfare of the conference space) after lunch, I ran into Adam Grant*, the morning keynote speaker. He obliged me with a selfie.


A taste of how funny and engaging Grant is as a speaker—he closed his session with this video, which is meant to demonstrate how important it is for leaders to receive feedback, even when it’s “mean.” Grant says it’s the best way to encourage people to speak up. The video, which features his fellow Wharton professors reading “mean” feedback is a sly take on this stance.

In the afternoon, I was treated to six thought leaders’ ideas on The Organization of the Future. A quick snapshot follows.

Employee Experience in the Cognitive Era

Sheri Feinzig & Jenna Shapiro walked us through the latest research from a joint venture with the WorkHuman Research Institute and IBM’s Smarter Workforce Institute on what it means to be an employee in the “cognitive era” – which is a workplace in which cognitive systems understand language, imagery and other unstructured data like humans do.

Key take-away: the data supports that employee recognition improves employee engagement. The task now is deciding the frequency of rewards and the monetary value of the rewards.


How to Reboot Your Culture with Human-Centered Performance Management

Tamra Chandler led us through a comprehensive road map for companies who want to “reboot” their performance management processes. It’s clear that Chandler has deep technical expertise in performance management systems, and her book How Performance Management Is Killing Performance—and What to Do About It provides all the “how-to’s” for companies seeking to overhaul their performance management practices.

Key take-away: check out http://peoplefirm.com/sketchbook/ to receive a free template for how to redesign your performance management system.


The Employee Experience Is The Future Of Work: How HR Leaders Can Prepare For The New World Of Work

Jeanne Meister, whose organization Future Workplace, investigates emerging trends in HR and the workplace, shared insights into the ever-changing world of work. Jeanne casts her net wide to look at unexpected societal, economic and technological trends that will affect the HR role, such as artificial intelligence, real estate planning, and the gig economy.

Key take-away: in an interesting twist, Jeanne believes that we can use technology to make work even more human.


Leading Across the Optimism & Resilience Gap

Dean Becker walked us through the human side of change management, helping us understand why people resist change.  He recapped work that’s an outgrowth of Martin Seligman’s “Explanatory Style” of habitual thinking.

Key take-away: Check out the WorkHuman slides and references that Becker provided on his company website, including a free resilience inventory.


Rewriting the Rules: Engaging People in the Digital Age

Josh Bersin is a long-time Human Capital Management analyst who now runs Bersin by Deloitte. He shared with us reams of information from Deloitte’s huge white paper Engaging People in the Digital age. He had a tough gig – going on as the last speaker of the day. It’s a testament to his deep knowledge and engaging style that people actually stayed after the allotted time to do a Q&A session.

Key take-away: it’s time to stop talking about “employee engagement.” It was an important concept in its day, but now the conversation has shifted to “employee experience.”

Whew! It was a long day. Thanks for hanging in there and reading about WorkHuman.

More tomorrow . . . for the third (and final day) of the conference.

*Later this week, I’ll devote one entire blog post to the keynoters. They were amazing.

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