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Recognizing People: A Recap of the WorkHuman Conference

Sometimes you come home from an industry conference having learned a new thing or two, sometimes you meet new connections in the industry, sometimes you come back with a to-do list of ways to improve your organization. Usually you come home to a full inbox of emails and, if you’re lucky, you feel inspired about your choice in your career. Having just returned from the WorkHuman conference in Phoenix, I can honestly say that all of the above apply. So what were some of the key themes that surfaced?

Becoming the Organization of Tomorrow, With People

Not surprisingly, there was a lot of focus on the human and employee experience at the WorkHuman conference. A number of presenters shared projects that had impact on employee experience within their organizations. While not overtly defined, they used employee experience to describe recognizing whole individuals to engage and motivate them, coaching and enabling people to perform at their best, seeking culture adds rather than culture fits, and creating a more interactive workplace with continuous feedback and communication.

With these whole people in mind, one theme that ran throughout the conference addressed the best ways to become the organization of tomorrow, while respecting people today and tomorrow. Josh Bersin, of Bersin by Deloitte, urged HR professionals to embrace automation and jump into the fray. HR has the know-how to build jobs and identify the new skills necessary to dovetail humans with technology. So as we begin to automate certain roles, HR should be at the table driving the discussion and defining new roles.

Eric Mosley, CEO of Globoforce, laid out five future trends, including: replacing performance management with continuous feedback, individualized rewards and pay, team management, the role of the coach, and HR as a culture facilitator. He talked about the innovative move enabled by technology, to more networked, agile organizations rather than slower hierarchical ones.

Using a Portfolio of Rewards

Globoforce, the company behind WorkHuman, is a recognition company so the topic featured fairly prominently. Prior to the conference, I knew I valued humans – after all, we talk about being whole people at PayScale often – but I wasn’t a firm believer in the value of recognition itself. After hearing the likes of Accenture, LinkedIn, Bank of America, NBCUniversal, and several major hospitals talk about their successes with using recognition to improve employee experience, I started to become a convert. But I wasn’t convinced by stories alone; many shared cold hard facts:

  • The magic of recognition isn’t with the first appreciation, it really amplifies once it gets up to 3+ recognitions. At 3+ rewards 54 percent of employees saw a year-over-year improvement in performance. (LinkedIn)
  • 83 percent who have received recognition believe they’ve had a positive employee experience. With a positive employee experience 52 percent of employees are less likely to leave and 73 percent are more likely to go above and beyond. (Globoforce)
  • Spending 1 percent of the comp and benefit budget on crowd-sourced micro awards makes you two times more likely to retain talent. (Globoforce)

That said, talk of recognition didn’t exist in a vacuum. It was often fleshed out further with the full suite of rewards options. Tamra Chandler of PeopleFirm talked about using the whole portfolio of rewards, including base pay, variable and/or equity, experience, and recognition.

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PayScale’s Dovetailing Interests

One of the rewarding parts of getting out to conferences is the ability to see PayScale customers. Attending WorkHuman was no different as I was again able to connect with a number of our people. It turns out that the messages we share at PayScale about the importance of transparency, training your managers, paying your workforce fairly, and preparing for the workforce of the future are all messages that fit quite nicely with the key themes from the WorkHuman conference.

In his ending Keynote, Eric Mosley said, “this is the next generation of HR conferences… you are all innovators.” I certainly felt surrounded by a group of differently-minded professionals trying to address tomorrow’s challenges. In October, PayScale plans to bring together a group of dedicated compensation innovators at our own #Compference17, where we’ll explore the links among compensation and culture, imagine compensation plans that retain real people, and geek out on the technology that enables smarter comp.

Oh, did I mention that I got to share the room with Michelle Obama?


Tell us what you think

What’s the best conference you’ve been to? What made it the best? Comment below or join the discussion on Twitter.

Mykkah Herner
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Ashish Saxena
Ashish Saxena

Wow! So, what insights could you garner from Michelle?

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