WorkHuman: Still on My A-List for Conferences

by Jennifer Miller on June 5, 2017

in Human Resources, Leadership, Workplace Issues

WorkHuman 2017 is now a memory. I’ve traveled home from Phoenix and had a few days to digest the benefits of this conference. I’m happy to report all of the observations from my first WorkHuman still apply. Now in its third year, the WorkHuman conference continues to help HR and business leaders can bring humanity back to the workplace.

Want a two-minute tour of the conference? Check out this wrap video:




The second time around, the event was less of a blur for me, and my recap thoughts flowed pretty easily. Here goes:

The number of Humans in attendance grows. It’s an annual tradition that the Derek Irvine, emcee of WorkHuman, opens with “Good morning, Humans!” And we in the audience respond, “Good morning, Humans!” Conference organizer Globoforce has seen its conference take flight. In 2015, there were 300 attendees; in 2016 there were 700. This year, the numbers swelled to 1,700. So far, the growing size of the group hasn’t impacted the ability to interact on a more “human” level. It will be interesting to see how continued growth in attendance affects the overall experience.

Nice variety of job functions represented. The event continues to attract both the HR community and business leaders. This year, I was impressed with the number of business leaders (with non-HR titles) that chose to attend. For example, I met a college admissions advisor, a film production operations manager and a tech company supervisor. Many of the business leaders I chatted with mentioned that WorkHuman allows them the opportunity to think about work in a unique way—and to do so outside the constraints of their functional area of expertise.

Celebrities as Humans. When I first read about the inaugural WorkHuman in 2015, my initial reaction to the “celebrity” guest Rob Lowe was that it was a shameless ploy to attract the conference’s target demographic of middle-aged females. Now, after attending two WorkHumans, I see it differently. Yes, there is a certain draw when a celebrity’s name is announced. However, Globoforce’s choice of celebrity reflects a careful vetting process; so far, their celebrities have been incredibly down-to-earth folks. Another benefit of hearing from actors, activists, and former first ladies: they stretch your thinking about the meaning of “work” in ways that one might not experience at a typical business conference.

 A Genuine Focus on Making Workplaces Better. It probably comes as no surprise that WorkHuman is a no-asshole zone. After all, who is going to pay money to attend a conference devoted to concepts such as, “Your Whole Self,” and “The Human Visionaries” if they don’t want to make a positive difference in their workplace? Having said that, I have found that the conference vibe stops just short of a hokey love-fest. Yes, Globoforce CEO Eric Mosley likes to joke that “WorkHuman is Woodstock for HR folks.” But someone pointed out to me that Woodstock was about much more than smoking weed and free love—it was about coming together with a common purpose to make the world a better place. And there is a sense that the majority of attendees share in that aspiration.

So that’s my recap of the Globoforce’s third go with the WorkHuman conference. If you want to learn more (including how you can attend regional WorkHuman events), opt-in to their site here (scroll to the “become an insider” section), or join the WorkHuman LinkedIn community.

The bottom line: Hands down, WorkHuman is still on my “A” list of conferences.

See you at WorkHuman 2018 in Austin?

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.


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