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

HR Tech Fest 2018. Best Conference You Will Ever Attend.

Trust me.  I am in HR!

Starting a new job in HR technology about 5 years ago, I found out that it was lonely, hard and there were not that many people around I could talk to that understood what I was trying to do. God knows I tried, (large software company, I am looking at you) but no one would listen. Frustrating, right?

So I convinced my (very new) boss, that I had to go to HR Tech Fest to find out all the things we needed to know. 

HR Tech and Innovation Fest is now in it’s 5th year in Australia. This conference has something for everyone in HR, HR Technology, Talent Acquisition and now Learning!

Things I said yes to because 5 years ago I took a chance on a new conference in town.

  • Yes, I will speak at Tech Fest next year (did I just agree to that?)
  • Yes, I will speak at a conference in a different country (Best.Thing.Ever)
  • Yes, I would love to work in your start-up in the USA (A-maaazing experience)
  • Yes, let’s live in a beachside town and work remotely in HR Tech (True story!)

The world of HR Technology (and therefore HR) is maturing, particularly in Australia. The calibre of speakers and people you have the opportunity to speak to is of the highest quality (Have a chat with Bill Boorman, one of my speaking mentors).

One of the best things I ever did for my career, was attending the first HR Tech Fest. The people I met have been instrumental in advising me on my career. It was the best money and 2 days of my professional career I have ever spent. The opportunities it opened up were (and still are) endless.

If you want to come along, drop me a note so I can give you the code for a preferential rate, or email and mention me!

Hope to see you there. Get in touch if you want to connect or catch up at the conference.

We can swap HR war stories.

Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash

What on earth is EX, and why do organisations need to embrace it?

Working in the United States for 12 months was an eye opener as there is virtually no protection for employees. With the most complex labour and tax laws, and benefits systems and processes I have worked with, the Employee Experience (EX) is a way for HR departments to design customer centric processes.

What is Employee Experience?

Employee Experience is essentially what individual employees encounter, good or bad, through their work journey. It’s everything from being a candidate, to On-boarding, the interaction with colleagues and managers, to the systems and processes they use. It is an holistic and inclusive view of the employee journey that organisations should embed into their everyday business and management of employees. Using the concepts of design thinking, you can use this to build a digitally enabled experience for your employees.

Out of necessity, the Employee Experience, based on the Customer Experience, has been evolving as a point of difference for HR to improve the lives of their employees. Done well, a thoughtful, custom-designed and realistic Employee Experience can most definitely help to increase engagement, reduce turnover and generally make everyone’s work lives more enjoyable.

The US is typically 5 to 7 years ahead of Australia when it comes to trends and practices in technology and sometimes the edgier side of Human Resources. Designing your Employee Experience is one of the trends we need to get behind in Australia.

Before you launch headlong into it, here are some questions to get you thinking:

Bespoke or Cookie Cutter?

Design the Employee Experience to suit your organisation. You will hear about wonderful, amazing and innovative Experiences in On-boarding, for example. These companies may have spent lots of time and money on implementation. But, this may not be the case for you; your high value Experience focus may be ‘seamlessly recording CPD points for accountants’. So, design what works for you. It might mean that you start with one experience – the one that you know can do better – CPD points. Once you have this under your belt, you have the confidence to tackle a more complex Experience, such as On-boarding.

How many employees do I need to have?

There are no minimum numbers. Of course, the more scale you have, the bigger the return on investment. But think about this, if you are a company of 100 people, and you have 5 people in your critical areas leave each year because their Experience at your company doesn’t meet their expectations, wouldn’t it make sense to redesign processes so employees want to stay? Even for an SME this is a lot of money and time saved.

I’ll be posting some more information on this in the coming weeks, but would love to chat in the meantime if you need some help or guidance.

Photo credit: Kevin Laminto at Unsplash

The Balance of Work Life

Recently my husband and I made a massive decision about our personal and professional lives. All based on the pretext of Work Life Balance. Although Work Life was the main driver.

Why? We’d both spent a number of years following the rule book about working in an office, for a corporate, with the 30min desk-based lunch break. But you know what? Rules are meant to be broken. So we did.

We have worked with some amazingly talented people who became friends, mentors, and future collaborators. Then there were the ‘challenging personalities’. And of course the Figjammers! Fortunately, these people were in the minority, but it’s amazing the way your thinking changes when you get damaged by a few of these people. You have a choice to make – stay on the corporate bus or ding the bell and get off at the next stop.

We recently spent time working in the US. The business model our respective employers had set up was a ‘remote’ one. It was good to work from home, but I missed the day to day interaction with people. I enjoyed not being exposed to the daily political cut and thrust of the office, but on the other hand, I missed having cake for no reason and a ready made social group.

We were living, and working in an apartment in Manhattan. Yes, both of us. Wife and husband, and two energetic dogs, 24/7 in a 2 bedroom apartment. Miraculously, we survived without killing each other!  We were ‘living the dream’. Literally.

When our time came to return to Australia, we took this experience and morphed it into something we wanted, not what the rule book said we should do. And we changed big time! The incessant noise of NYC (which we loved, by the way) was replaced with the constant crashing of waves as we moved to a small coastal town in Queensland. 2,500 people, 9 kilometres of beach at our back door and not even a set of traffic lights.

Friends and ex-colleagues challenged us – why, was the first thing everyone asked. The truth is, you cannot compete with New York. It’s an amazing, eclectic mix of fun and chaos. Working remotely in NY is far from remote work. If you need a break, you can grab the elevator to the lobby, and within 2 minutes have an array of distractions available to you. If the truth be known, probably too many distractions. To  get my fix of people watching, I would disappear into the city for a few hours at a time, coming home when I was too cold to go any further.

Could the major business centres in Australia offer us the life we craved? We felt they couldn’t, which pushed us into another major decision. What do we do for work? So we combined our collective experience and invented our own Work Life Balance.

It’s a risk, but apparently fortune favours the brave. Let’s hope it favours true balance of work and the life we hope to enjoy.

We should add, we are fortunate to be in the position of having flexibility in where we live and work. Many don’t have that option. But people can influence their own destiny, and we hope we can inspire friends and colleagues to break the rules!

Moving to the US was a 5 year plan in the making – so start planning now!

Photo credit: Sarah

It will glitter, but won’t always be gold

The music is mesmerising, the lighting subtle and relaxing. Plied with champagne and mini burgers, you see it across a crowded room. It is shiny, new and beautiful. It promises the most amazing experience and is adorned with the most gorgeous, fabulous and fashionable colours. The features are stunning. Showing off all the things you never imagined you would want, or want to buy.

You are IN LOVE. Now and forever. You are the answer to all my problems. Take my money NOW!

What? Wait.

Does this ‘suit my needs’? Do I have ‘the budget approved’? Does the Board know how much this will cost? What is your ‘return on investment’?

‘Building a business case’ sounds so boring and unnecessary when you see how beautiful the HR Technology solution is that will be the saviour of your HR department. But, that business case, is a critical, and often missed step in the journey to implementing your amazing new solution.

It starts with a KISS. That’s right. We don’t need to get too complicated, and here is a simple framework you can follow that will not only make you and your boss look fabulous but will also build the foundation for your project.

‘The easiest thing is to react. The second easiest thing is to respond. But the hardest thing is to initiate.’ Seth Godin

‘A rigorous discovery and interview process, ensures a business case is created that will help get your project approved.’

Investigate and gather information

Investigate and understand what your organisation needs. What sort of experience do you want for your employees? What is your budget? What do your stakeholders want? Build a picture of their expectations.

Build an impactful business case

Answer the most pressing questions in your business case. Quantify the return on investment. Showcase some of the beautiful pieces of the solution to your different audiences. Will your stakeholders be in love too? Build excitement.

Getting the seal of approval

Share your business case. Listen to what your stakeholders are telling you. What else do you need to include? Tell your story, as much as you can.

As we rocket through the ‘conference season’ in North America, followed closely by Europe and Australia/NZ, consider getting your business case approved (or at least started!) before you fall in love. In Australia it’s budget time, and if you haven’t missed the boat, get on board soon, otherwise that shiny new toy will be at least 2 years away.

Get in touch if we can help you with your business case.

Photo credit: Unsplash