HR Tech Fest 2018 Review

HR Tech Fest 2018 cranked it up a notch, thanks to the self deprecating humour of Master of Ceremonies(this may or may not be a throwback YouTube clip). As he said, if you are under 30 (and Australian) you will probably ask ‘who?’ and if you are over 30 you will say ‘what happened to you?’. Anyway, it set the tone for a fun, fast paced and relaxed conference.

Running through the conference were 3 meta-themes – Happiness, Diversity and Inclusion and HR in the Flow of Work. Ok, the last one, is a term Josh Bersin has been speaking about this last conference season, but regulars to the conference circuit will see that that this idea has been percolating around the edges for a number of years – we just didn’t know what to call it! Thanks Josh!

HR Technology and Innovation Festival 2018 was jam packed with amazing speakers, great exhibitors and terrific networking. I cannot possibly mention everyone, but here is what inspired me the most.

Alexander Kjerulf kicked us off in fine style giving us his take on happiness at work and how it is THE most important thing we should consider. Who doesn’t want to be happy? At work OR at home? The Happiness theme appeared in a number of presentations under the guise of ‘employee engagement’ and ‘employee experience’. It is great to see Happiness being elevated to a keynote speech, supported by science and data.

Not normally a topic consider at a Technology conference, but I was super pleased to hear so many people (both on and off stage) talking about Diversity and Inclusion. And not in a tokenistic ‘we need to do this to hit our numbers’ way. The conversations were real, heartfelt and accompanied by actionable takeaways. My favourite was Carin Taylor, Chief Diversity Officer at Workday. She moved me to to tears with her stories and the way in which D & I is lived and breathed at Workday. I am cynical about these things, but if Workday are doing even a tenth of what they say they are – then there is hope for us all yet. She showed this video, grab a tissue. Good job!

Bill Boorman, a regular speaker in Australia (and the rest of the world) on all things Talent Acquisition, also spoke about Diversity & Inclusion and how it is time for HR to take the ball and run with it.

Now on to the Flavour of the Month (year perhaps). Productivity with Purpose or HR in the Flow of Work is not a new concept, we have known about it for a while (indeed Jason Averbook has been skirting around the edges of this in his own way – ‘frictionless experience’). Josh and his team have articulated it brilliantly – backing the ideas up with easy to understand graphics and explanations. If you were not at the conference, you can go to his website (link below) and you will find the presentation. You will need a few cups of tea (or glasses of champagne) to read it, digest it and read it again.

And the  presentations that inspired me the most:

Dr Amantha Amber from Inventium had us all wanting to implement Innovation Teams and strategies NOW! I have been a regular reader and fan of Amantha’s for a number of years. Innovation Thinking is the Next Big Thing. Start reading about it, and practicing it now – you will be glad you did in 10 years time (you are welcome).

Andrew Culleton and Dom Price are both doing fabulous things for HR and Innovation in Australia. They are world class professionals with amazing stories to tell of the work in their respective organisations CBA and Atlassian.

Andrew gave us an update on HR Sidekick which we first saw at TechFest 3 years ago. Andrew manages to finance this amazing bespoke technology from within his own budget, by demonstrating the cost savings of the technology. I loved his work then, and I still love it.

Dom Price regularly speaks (hilariously and peppered with the F word) and writes about the Future of Work. Unlike some, he is actually practicing what he is preaching. The great thing about Atlassian and what Dom showcased, is the Team Rater is all open source. Thanks Atlassian!

One of the great things about The Eventful Group shows, is they have speakers that operate on the fringes of the industry the conference is marketed to. Natalie Peters from Telstra is one of those people. She spoke about a massive change program she is leading. She is dynamic, smart and willing to try something different to get the job done. Look out for some changes coming your way from Telstra!

In conversation with Bill Boorman, we agreed that those of us who are lucky enough (privileged even) to attend the conferences that we do – it is our job to keep pushing the conversations into areas such as D & I, Happiness and HR in the Flow of Work. It is our job to pass on information, thoughts and knowledge to our friends and colleagues who are not able to get along to Tech Fest – to keep educating our community and raising the bar. Thanks again to The Eventful Group for a brilliant conference. We look forward to next year!

Find out more (or do your own google search):

Andrew Daddo (his real website)

Josh Bersin

Carin Taylor

Alexander Kjerulf

Natalie Peters

Dom Price

Dr Amantha Amber