Category Archives: WorkHuman

The Woodstock For HR

The competitive world of HR Conferences may be changing forever. And that’s not a bad thing, in my opinion. Innovation is happening in this space – from stronger SHRM state conference offerings, to an additional HR technology-related conference (HR Tech World) being introduced in the U.S,, to other new entries – all designed to disrupt the usual HR conference offerings and deliver greater value to attendees.

The best example of this is the WorkHuman conference, held last month in Phoenix. With well over 1,700 attendees and almost no corporate sponsors (except for the organizer, Globoforce), the focus was on engaging, useful, envelope-edge pushing content and nurturing/inspiring attendee experiences. Described as “the Woodstock for HR” by Globoforce CEO, Eric Mosley, WorkHuman isn’t our parents’ HR conference. Heck, it isn’t even our HR conference.

Re-certification credit opportunities abounded, but the focus of WorkHuman – unlike many of the really large HR conferences – was on the attendee experience. From early morning yoga and runs or walks, to healthy snack breaks, to half-hour content blocks (how many one-hour sessions can you attend in a two-day conference?), to lobby-area snackable content presentations, to blockbuster keynote speakers:  this conference is changing how HR does conferences and I see its impact on almost every other HR-related conference I attend.

It’s true that I advised the organizers on their first two conferences, but I came as an attendee this year and was thrilled to see that, despite its rapid growth (year one:  300+ attendees; year two: 600+ attendees), its focus on engaging the full human attendee has not wavered. Any time you get more than 1,500 conference attendees, the organizers tend to focus on 1) logistics, 2) schedules, and 3) sponsors/exhibitors. The people who attend become “blocks” that need to be moved around, That hasn’t happened at WorkHuman. Attendees arrive as humans and leave as engaged and inspired humans.

  • Logistics

While the conference space was large, every thought was given to the humanity of the attendees. One didn’t need to walk far to get a drink of water. The signage was easily read. The venue provided rooms of appropriate size located in close proximity for the audiences – so that session sampling was possible. The “center aisle” held snack stations, a “spotlight” stage with indoor amphitheater seating for shorter more informal presentations, comfortable chairs for congregating and conversations, info stations, and cheerful, easily identified staff to answer questions and provide directions. It’s clear that the attendee was not relegated to “steerage” status at WorkHuman. They were front and center at all times.

  • Schedules

It’s true that activities started very early – but the early agenda entries were healthy and focused on strengthening the body as well as the mind, as opposed to cramming in more re-cert credits. Starting a conference day with yoga or a group run followed by a healthy breakfast seems a smart way to start a day of learning, regeneration, and inspiration.

  • Sponsors/exhibitors

The short description is that there weren’t any. Well, outside of Globoforce, the conference organizer. It’s a rather remarkable conference experience, to be focused on new ideas, on new connections, and new ways of leading rather than being sold by vendors at every step of the way. Don’t get me wrong:  I’m not anti-sponsor/exhibitor. This is just a new way of organizing. It is fitting for a conference focused on bringing humanity into our everyday organizational life to create an exhibitor-free experience. It makes sense. As the conference gets bigger and bigger, it may make business sense to bring on a few selected sponsors, but don’t look for a major exhibition hall any time soon. Attendees take away value far greater than cheap exhibitor tchotchkes at WorkHuman.

Globoforce upends the usual HR conference calculus. By investing in the WorkHuman movement, by engaging the most current speakers and content, by prioritizing the attendee experience as the most important component of an HR conference, the WorkHuman team has created – and strengthened – one of the most compelling business conference events currently available.

Next year’s conference will be in Austin, TX (April 3-5) and keynoter Brené Brown has already been announced. I hope I see you there!

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Recognition, Engagement, Globoforce, Humanity in the workplace, WorkHuman

Conference Attendance 301

In 2010 I wrote Conference Attendance 101, a post on my blog, Data Point Tuesday. It has been one of the most shared, re-posted, and quoted blog posts I’ve ever written.

Attending HR conferences successfully – getting the most out of the experience – really has taken careful planning and tons of time management. Some HR conferences are so big and have so much going on, that it can really feel like work to make sure you’re achieving an appropriate ROI for your employer.

But conferences have changed over the last 7 years. For one, there are a TON of HR-related conferences to choose from. Significantly more than 7 years ago. HR-related professional associations, HR products and services providers, publishers, networking organizations, research organizations – a whole host of organizations – all want a piece of HR professionals’ time to ply their wares and influence the direction of people policy making. They all provide re-certification credits from the HR certifiers of your choice and they promise you’ll learn everything you need to know (until the same time next year) to be successful HR leaders. It’s a booming business. But there are some new approaches to HR conferences – and their content and targeted attendees – that deserve your consideration.

I’ve been affiliated with Globoforce’s WorkHuman conference since its inception in 2015. Eric Mosely, Globoforce’s CEO, had a vision of turning his organization’s annual customer conference into a global force for good. A global force for taking 2 days each year to consider the value of humanity, the value of creating human cultures for our organizations, the value of truly focusing on human relationships to power organization success. And, in large part, his vision has come true:  at its core, WorkHuman is a global movement of people, purpose, and passion bringing more humanity to today’s modern workplace.

WorkHuman this year is May 30 – June 1 in Phoenix, Arizona. If you’ve attended, you already know it’s a conference experience unlike any other. If you haven’t attended, you should know that it aims to educate you on the value of creating a more human organization culture; to nourish your human spirit allowing you to do the same for your colleagues; and to connect you with like-minded individuals. The keynote speakers are not the usual HR fare (Michelle Obama, Susan Cain, Adam Grant, Chaz Bono, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and they all bring a particular point of view to the human organization experience. Breakout sessions – or Spotlight sessions as they are called at WorkHuman – bring additional academics, leaders, authors, and experts to help attendees get their arms – and hearts – around their humans.

In my earlier blog post, Conference 101, I suggested that pre-planning, networking, and smiling (as a way to be approachable) were time-tested ways to maximize conference attendance. At WorkHuman, I suggest that giving yourself permission to be human and being open to meet like-minded people are all you need for a successful and meaningful conference experience. Creating a human organization culture starts with allowing yourself to be human. And where better to begin that process than with thought leaders of all stripes, and attendees from all organization functions, all coming together to learn from each other the value of the human experience at work.

1 Comment

Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Globoforce, Humanity in the workplace, WorkHuman

I’m Not Your Mother!

data point tuesday_500

This is a popular post from a year ago. I was reminded of it at the WorkHuman conference earlier this month.

Some things are simple. Some things are complicated. And some things that seem simple are actually pretty complicated. For example, it seems like a simple observation that happy employees are better employees. And, in fact, data abound to prove that point. But how to get happy employees is a little more complicated.

Early in my career as a business leader I always believed that people were my critical competitive edge and that creating a strong, caring culture was my job. But happiness? Come on. I wasn’t my employees’ mother. The nature of the employer/employee relationship, I believed, was a commercial relationship. Employees come to work, do a good job and I pay them. The more I could remove obstacles from their ability to do good work, the more I could offer development and thanks for a job well done, the better they performed. It wasn’t rocket science. Treat people well and they’ll treat your employees well. I got that. But trying to make them happy? I didn’t think that was part of the deal. (And I was a pretty effective business leader.)

But as I matured as a leader, I did begin to wonder about this notion of working to create happiness at work. I spent some time at Zappos – a culture whose leader is all about making his workforce happy. And while the Zappos culture wouldn’t be a fit for me, it worked for them. And they were happy. Really happy. And their business results were such that they could sell the business to Amazon for over $1 billion.

And then I became CEO of the Great Place to Work Institute and was covered over in data that prove a direct line from employee well-being to financial performance. And so while early in my career the notion of employee happiness didn’t register as a leadership imperative, I now believe that creating a culture that, in Tony Hseih’s words, delivers happiness to employees is quite clearly a practical and effective way to achieve top line growth, profitability, customer loyalty and, most importantly, employee loyalty.

In preparation for the Globoforce WorkHuman Conference in a couple of weeks, I was reading up on employee happiness and ran across one of their white papers, The Science of Happiness. It’s a quick read and makes some rather simple but profound points backed up by reliable data.

Here are 6 reasons why you want happy employees based on research from the Wall Street Journal and the iOpener Institute. Happy employees:

  • Stay twice as long in their jobs as their least happy colleagues
  • Believe they are achieving their potential 2x as much
  • Spend 65% more time feeling energized
  • Are 58% more likely to go out of the way to help their colleagues
  • Identify 98% more strongly with the values of their organization
  • Are 186% more likely to recommend their organization to a friend

Download the paper. It’ll take you less than 10 minutes to read and will give you some simple ideas to begin to see the benefits of focusing on employee well-being and happiness. And then join me at the WorkHuman Conference next year and let’s talk about happiness, gratitude, culture, and employee and organization success.

Leave a comment

Filed under China Gorman, Conferences, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, Engagement, Globoforce, Gratitude, WorkHuman

Do Employees Give Leaders Points For Trying?

data point tuesday_500

In honor of next week’s WorkHuman Conference, I thought I’d draw your attention to this white paper:  The ROI of Recognition in Building a More Human Workplace.  It was published by the WorkHuman Research Institute at Globoforce, the social recognition solutions company. Because it is a white paper, it has a definite bias towards recognition, but it also has some very interesting insights to share about the larger question of the impact of culture on employee engagement.

The value of bringing humanity – a recognition that employees are more than 9-to-5 skillsets – into your culture, your policies, your practices, your leadership behavior is being documented in organizations of all sizes, in all industries and in all geographic locations. This white paper gives further insight into the attributes of “humanity” in the workplace through an analysis of a survey that was in the field from Nov 4-7, 2015 and had 828 randomly selected, full-time employees in the U.S.

The key findings of the survey analysis include:

  1. When employees believe leaders are striving to create a more human workplace, culture metrics improve.

  2. Recognition not only significantly improves engagement, but also creates a more human culture.

  3. Employees’ attitudes toward change and optimism for the future correlate with recognition efforts and efforts to build a more human workplace.

  4. Employees trust colleagues most, but it is trust for leaders that most impacts culture.

  5. Recognition and a human workplace are drivers of employee well-being and happiness.

I was very interested in findings #1 and #4 – the leadership focused findings.

Finding #1:  “When employees believe leaders are striving to create a more human workplace, culture metrics improve.”

This is fascinating. It implies that as long as leaders are trying to be more human, they get the benefit of the doubt. It would seem that employees give their leaders points for trying. Here’s a particularly informative graph from the report on this point:

ROI of Humanity 1

It seems clear that if employees believe the leaders of their organization care about them as a people – not as skillsets – they are willing to engage more across the board. Care. Not the usual word to describe the relationship between leaders and employees. But that seems to be changing. And that’s a good thing.

ROI of Humanity 2

Interesting connections.

Regarding finding #4, trust in leaders most impacts culture, I found the comparisons informative. Comparing the effects of trusting colleagues vs. trusting the boss vs. trusting leadership on various culture dynamics, the trends were clear. The impact on engagement was telling:

ROI of Humanity 3

Creating and maintaining trusting relationships with colleagues, bosses and leadership are, of course, hallmarks of more human-focused cultures. Most highly valued by employees are, interestingly, the relationship of trust with senior leaders. Many would have us believe that it’s all about the work unit, the close-in colleagues. The “best friend at work” syndrome. Others believe it’s all about the immediate boss.  I’ve long believed that trustworthy, authentic and approachable leaders – at every level – can overcome most any cultural issue – with trustworthiness being the key. And this data would agree with me. This report looks at several dimensions of trust that are quite interesting.

I like this white paper. It provides some thought provoking analysis that support the growing focus on creating more human workplaces. Workplaces that are more productive, more collaborative, more innovative and more engaging for employees. What business model couldn’t use more of all of those?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, Globoforce, WorkHuman

Millennials To Business: You’re Doing It Wrong!

data point tuesday_500

Deloitte’s 4th annual Millennial Survey sends a message from more than 7,800 degreed and employed Millennials from 29 countries around the world to employers: “Business should focus on people and purpose, not just products and profits.” It’s easy for the Gen Xer and Baby Boomer business leaders to respond to this message with the corporate equivalent of “Get off my lawn!” But that would be short sighted, since the Millennials are now officially the largest age group in the economy and we need them. And we need them pretty desperately.

In this world of Big Data one can find a survey analysis to prove any position. Pretty much. And I am generally wary of survey analyses that play up differences between the generations in the workplace because my go-to research from the Great Place to Work® Institute shows that – in the workplace, at least – every person, regardless of generation, wants 3 things:

  • Resepct – including appreciation and fairness
  • Work that gives meaning to their lives and makes them proud
  • Camaraderie with their workmates

These three dynamics in a culture power all kinds of good outcomes and they show little differentiation between age cohorts regardless of industry, geographic location or size of business.

So I take with a grain of salt the results of surveys like this and still recommend that you read them. They provide interesting insights that can add color to your own questions and planning. And the graphs show some interesting gaps in the perception of what Millennials believe “should be” in contrast to “what is.” These are useful insights.

“Today’s Millennials place less value on visible (19%), well-networked (17%), and technically-skilled (17%) leaders. Instead, they define true leaders as strategic thinkers (39%), inspirational (37%), personable (34%) and visionary (31%).”

Deloitte Millennial survey 1

That’s troublesome for celebrity CEOs but good news for the rest of us.

The last 15 pages of the report show graphs that depict Millennials’ takes on the purpose of business, business performance and employee satisfaction, leadership attributes, their skills, and the gender gap regarding leadership readiness and leadership aspirations. Interesting stuff.

But these data points also underscore the growing global focus on creating more human workplaces. The resounding success of the recent WorkHuman Conference produced by Globoforce, is another piece of this trend. My belief is that while all of us want a more human workplace: Millennials are just demanding it more than those of us who were socialized in a less human era. And they are voting with their careers.

The results of surveys like this one from Deloitte give us directional information to use when considering the challenges of growing our businesses, attracting the right talent, and developing and retaining the talent we need to succeed in our competitive marketplaces. And to make our workplace cultures more human.

2 Comments

Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Deloitte, Globoforce, HR Data, Leadership, Millennials, WorkHuman

I’m Not Your Mother!

data point tuesday_500Some things are simple. Some things are complicated. And some things that seem simple are actually pretty complicated. For example, it seems like a simple observation that happy employees are better employees. And, in fact, data abound to prove that point. But how to get happy employees is a little more complicated.

Early in my career as a business leader I always believed that people were my critical competitive edge and that creating a strong, caring culture was my job. But happiness? Come on. I wasn’t my employees’ mother. The nature of the employer/employee relationship, I believed, was a commercial relationship. Employees come to work, do a good job and I pay them. The more I could remove obstacles from their ability to do good work, the more I could offer development and thanks for a job well done, the better they performed. It wasn’t rocket science. Treat people well and they’ll treat your employees well. I got that. But trying to make them happy? I didn’t think that was part of the deal. (And I was a pretty effective business leader.)

But as I matured as a leader, I did begin to wonder about this notion of working to create happiness at work. I spent some time at Zappos – a culture whose leader is all about making his workforce happy. And while the Zappos culture wouldn’t be a fit for me, it worked for them. And they were happy. Really happy. And their business results were such that they could sell the business to Amazon for over $1 billion.

And then I became CEO of the Great Place to Work Institute and was covered over in data that prove a direct line from employee well-being to financial performance. And so while early in my career the notion of employee happiness didn’t register as a leadership imperative, I now believe that creating a culture that, in Tony Hseih’s words, delivers happiness to employees is quite clearly a practical and effective way to achieve top line growth, profitability, customer loyalty and, most importantly, employee loyalty.

In preparation for the Globoforce WorkHuman Conference in a couple of weeks, I was reading up on employee happiness and ran across one of their white papers, The Science of Happiness. It’s a quick read and makes some rather simple but profound points backed up by reliable data.

Here are 6 reasons why you want happy employees based on research from the Wall Street Journal and the iOpener Institute. Happy employees:

  • Stay twice as long in their jobs as their least happy colleagues

  • Believe they are achieving their potential 2x as much

  • Spend 65% more time feeling energized

  • Are 58% more likely to go out of the way to help their colleagues

  • Identify 98% more strongly with the values of their organization

  • Are 186% more likely to recommend their organization to a friend

Download the paper. It’ll take you less than 10 minutes to read and will give you some simple ideas to begin to see the benefits of focusing on employee well-being and happiness. And then join me at the WorkHuman Conference June 8-10 in Orlando and let’s talk about happiness, gratitude, culture, and employee and organization success.

2 Comments

Filed under China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Globoforce, WorkHuman, Zappos