4 insights from day 3 of the HR Tech Conference

Implementing tech doesn’t mean HR has to lose the human touch. From DEI to employee resilience, use tech and data to improve talent management.
By: | October 29, 2020 • 2 min read

Day three of the virtual HR Technology Conference & Exposition explored how the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with protests and social unrest, are affecting the workforce.

But keynoters and core sessions throughout the day shared how innovative tech and big data can help employers improve company culture and drive business goals despite everything 2020 has thrown at HR.

  1. Diversity & inclusion

Dr. Tolonda Tolbert speaks during her keynote on Thursday, Oct. 29, during the virtual HR Technology Conference & Exposition.

DEI is one of the few horizontals in a corporate world of siloed verticals, and it influences the whole employee lifecycle and organizational culture, Dr. Tolonda Tolbert, co-founder and head of strategy and culture at Eskalera, said during her afternoon keynote presentation.

“It impacts every process, practice and product,” she said, “therefore it should be approached from an integrated perspective.”

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Tech can help integrate core HR data systems like recruiting, payroll, performance management and professional development, giving employers a window into how employees are being recruited, onboarded, motivated, developed and advanced throughout their employment and how that intersects with demographics.

But representation is just one piece of the puzzle, and while Tolbert noted most organizations keep good measurements on this, just having a diverse staff does not ensure equity of process or inclusive practices.

Employers are mostly playing only with the data at the aggregated level and regard capturing that DEI data more as an obligation than an opportunity.

She advised that employers get more specific and granular with their data so they can gain valuable insight into not only the institutional issues of systemic bias and discrimination from the top-down but also into their manifestation in workplace culture from the bottom up.

  1. Resilience & engagement

New York Times bestselling author and business consultant Marcus Buckingham shared how employers can measure the resilience and engagement of their workforce.

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Although not the only questions to ask, seeking insights into such ideas as “I have all the freedom I need to decide how to get my work done” and “my team leader tells me what I need to know before I need to know it” can help measure an employee’s ability to bounce back from a tough situation.

“Resilience,” Buckingham said during his keynote, “is created through, hopefully, a really positive ecosystem of your own understanding of what you can control in your life, what your team leader does for you … and the role of the senior leader.”

  1. The now of work

COVID-19 has provided HR with an opportune time to make a digital transformation, Leapgen CEO Jason Averbook said about the pandemic’s instantaneous impact on how employees approach work.

“COVID-19 accelerated companies’ digital communications strategies by an average of six years,” he said, “while 97% of enterprise decision-makers believe the pandemic sped up their company’s digital transformation.”

The multiple pandemics in 2020 (social unrest, inclusion and COVID-19) have helped make us more human and more real, he said.

“It is time to infuse humanity and reality and what really matters into everything we do as a function, and that’s the mindset we need to go into this with,” he said.

  1. Creating the employee experience

Ultimate Kronos Group’s Executive Director Chris Mullen shared how technology and AI can aid in improving an employee’s experience within an organization.

“Technology can truly be the difference between frustration and elation,” he said.

For example, vacation requests. What does it look like to request time off from an employee’s perspective? If a worker has to take a form around to supervisors and colleagues before getting approved and miss a great deal on a flight, that could result in a negative experience.

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An automated system that could verify any other requests and instantly approve a PTO request would be a simple solution.

“We need to be able now to think about a people-focused experience,” he said.

The HR Tech Conference will feature free, virtual content through Oct. 30. There is still time to register. For more information, click HERE.

Nick Otto is HRE’s senior digital editor. He is a professional communicator with more than a decade of demonstrated accomplishments in newspaper and trade publishing. He has spent the past five years covering the employee benefits space and holds bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida. He can be reached at notto@lrp.com or follow him on twitter @Ottografs.