People Insights & HR Tech Trends from HR Transform 2019

Last week, the Hone team traveled to glitzy and glamorous Las Vegas. No – we weren’t mounting a show (that’s our next trip). Instead, we headed to the desert to attend HR Transform. This amazing conference brings together some of the most prominent HR executives and innovators from around the globe to address the latest industry trends and the future of corporate organization. We had the opportunity to mingle with representatives from a wide range of companies including Reddit, Salesforce, Chipotle, Indeed, Electronic Arts (EA), Quicken Loans, Pinterest, Viacom, FitBit and Slate!   

In case you missed it, here’s a recap of the conference breaking down the trends and insights from this year! 

How to Reshape Teamwork with Recruiting, Onboarding, and Culture

On the main stage, our CEO Tom Griffiths had the pleasure of moderating a panel titled “Reshaping Teamwork.” The discussion was centered around the challenges of working with distributed teams. And the illustrious panelists included: Merritt Anderson (Former VP, Experience and Engagement for Github), Leah Sutton (VP, Global Human Resources for Elastic), and Shelby Wolpa (VP of People Operations for Invision).

The talk addressed three major hubs – recruiting, onboarding and culture. These three components, critical to any HR job, must be re-examined as companies begin to embrace the idea of distributed teams. Here were the key tips and insights on reshaping teamwork.

Recruiting: Optimizing Questions for Remote Work Positions

Our panelists highlighted the fact that, as soon as you begin recruiting for remote positions, you must adjust your questions and criteria. Beyond simply assessing a candidate’s actual skill-sets, you need to ensure that they completely understand the nature of remote work. Will they be comfortable in this situation? Can they handle working alone? Are they physically equipped for it? How will they deal with being in a different time zone than their colleagues? The panelists all noted that questions like these should be built into your recruiting process.

Onboarding: Building Strong Distributed Team Relationships with Face-to-Face

Of course, the challenges don’t end with recruitment. Changes must be made to your onboarding processes as well. You might need to use different tools to get new hires into your system and up to speed. Shelby recommended Sapling for example. Additionally, Merritt noted that some companies like Github opt to fly in employees for a week so they can meet their new colleagues face-to-face. And Leah added that Elastic builds volunteer experiences into their onboarding plans. This also serves as a great way to forge bonds and strong relationships, which are arguably more difficult to do with distributed teams.

Culture: Inspiring Team Engagement with Tools and Perks

Finally, it’s critical to take remote workers into consideration when thinking about company culture. According to the panelists, this means assessing everything from modes of communication to benefits offered. For example, you need to ensure the language you use is inclusive and reinforces a team mentality. The panel also suggested employing tools like Donut and Zoom which make it easier to interact in real time. And they note that, when deciding on company perks, it’s critical to think about what will appeal across all locations. In other words, don’t just offer a gym membership that’s really only accessible to employees who work at the company headquarters. This will only serve to make remote workers feel like they’re missing out.  

How to Engage and Develop Teams in a Distributed Workplace

Not content to simply moderate one great discussion, our intrepid CEO Tom also held a talk with Ciara Lakhani (Chief People Officer at Dashlane). Tom and Ciara began by offering the audience an overview of how the workforce has evolved over the last three decades, and what this means for team engagement in the modern-day workplace. Here’s a look at the evolution discussed, and how teams can build effective, engaged teams.

Understanding the Evolution & Preferences of the Modern-Day Workforce

The talk noted that back in the ancient times we lovingly refer to as the 1990s, our ideas of how and when to work were far more rigid. Cubicles were all the rage and most business had to be conducted in-person.  As we moved into the 21st century, offices starting evolving from cubes to open floor plans. Now, we’re shifting once again to distributed teams. In fact, over 70% of today’s workforce now works remotely at least one day a week. What’s more – a whopping 96% of employees have expressed a desire for flexibility and the option to work from home. They feel this is necessary to achieve a better work-life balance.

Embracing and Leveraging the Remote Work Trend

Importantly, Tom and Ciara also noted that the benefits of distributed teams extend to the companies themselves. After all, businesses that embrace the notion of remote work are able to access a much larger talent pool as their recruitment isn’t restrained by location. It’s also cost effective since corporations can save on office space. Even better, their employees are more productive because they face fewer distractions. Finally, turnover is typically reduced by an impressive 25%.

Starting and Ending with Purpose

While allowing for remote work is a great step towards engaging and strengthening your workforce, you can’t stop there. Modern-day employees are also seeking jobs that have purpose and positions that offer the opportunity for development. Workers want to feel that their job matters. And they also want to ensure they’re growing. If they view themselves (and their employer by extension) as stagnant, they’ll start looking for the exit.

Harnessing Honesty and Passion to Drive Team Success

Fortunately, we were able to have a little fun ourselves and attend a few additional workshops. In a talk by Jill Katz (Founder & Chief Change Officer of AssembleHR), we explored the 3Cs of fostering a culture of honest feedback — candor, courage, and care. Another dynamic discussion with Jeff Diana (CEO, Advising for Impact) took a look at the core elements HR executives can establish to ensure consistent performance through rapid growth and expansion. And another captivating talk, “Green Captains: Matching People with Purpose” with Brianna Borin (SVP of People Resources, Snooze an A.M. Eatery), took a closer look at how businesses can tap into employees’ passions and encourage them to incorporate and apply those interests and strengths to their daily office routine.

Overall, HR Transform is a fantastic way of keeping a finger on the pulse of HR tech, and this year was no exception. Until next year, HR Transform!

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