HR Tech Digital Summit North America Recap


In case you missed it, HR Exchange Network hosted its third annual HR Tech Digital Summit for North America this week, welcoming seventeen speakers over the course of three days to discuss a variety of technology challenges that HR practitioners face today.

The speaker lineup featured end users and solution providers looking at how technology is impacting the HR space from recruitment to culture, remote work, analytics and more.

The Analytics Focus

Analytics is impacting every aspect of HR from recruiting to talent management and employee experience trends. Where we get our data and how we use it though is far from uniform and what insights are gained from it depend on our ability to read decipher meaning from what can be highly technical information.

With this in mind, there are important questions for those digging into HR analytics to answer and consider how they move forward with developing processes that feed them the necessary data to make decisions.

“How do you take something like an engagement survey and drill that into business intelligence?” asked Bradford Wilkins, VP of People at Collibra in his session titled Evidence is Everything – People Analytics to Drive Business Results. “When we start thinking about what are all my key metrics that I can feed into a model and I put that into a multivariate analysis, I can analyze, optimize and test and learn. It feels in intense, but you can do simple predictive intelligence even if you don’t have a data team.”

WATCH: All Sessions from HR Tech North America

Drilling down into the meaning of data was a big talking point from the analytics sector. For example, Wilkins looked at meta data as a key component in understanding various elements of the employee experience and how we can learn much more in remote environments than we could in traditional work settings.

“When people were in the office, you really didn’t know how they interact or what they think necessarily unless you have badges that track their movements and that can be a little big brother-y,” Wilkins said. “Now, we can use meta data from Slack, Microsoft 365, LMS systems, applicant tracking systems data and cluster all that data. You can look at it and see who are your connectors, whose the influencers talking to a lot of other employees and who is isolated? You can start to address a lack of dialogue across teams or information bottlenecks and create more connectivity between people.”

Some analytics efforts can be geared toward employee text communication. Brigitte Armon of Cox Enterprises shared insights into text analytics efforts within the company to find what employees are concerned about during COVID-19, all using free open source tools.

“We’ve been focusing on burnout because analysis has shown that’s what employees are most concerned about,” Armon said. “This has made us look closely at how we provide content to leadership and we’ve ramped up our focus on how we offer development. We’re going to be remote at least through the fall, so that is a big concern going forward.”

Armon’s look into text analytics can sound complicated and perhaps intimidate some less technically proficient HR teams. But she assured audience members that the challenge is not as grand as it may seem on the surface. She recommended a range of open source tools to become familiar with before jumping straight into text analytics.

“In an instance where I didn’t have my own HR analytics community I’d look for someone who is doing the type of analytics I’m looking to accomplish and talk to their leaders about doing some development. I think if you frame it as a development opportunity you’ll find receptivity from other teams,” Armon said.

Remote Work

With the pandemic pushing so many people into remote work environments, it’s only natural that this transition takes center stage in an event dedicated to technology. Gitlab’s Darren Murph looked at the culture of remote teams and offered up a plethora of publicly available resources to look at how to further your company culture in the remote setting.

“Being forced into remote is a bit of a disadvantage,” Murph said. “We’re now in a situation where everyone is out of the office and we have the ability to test a lot of things like tools and workflows and you can consider whether you have to do things the way you’ve always done them. But let’s be honest, this is crisis induced work from home as much as it is designed remote work, so ambiguity is okay. A lot of leaders struggle with that, but in this situation, it’s okay and it’s important to remind your teams of that.”

The nature of remote work highlights that everyone’s situation is different. But the truth is, we shouldn’t be as caught off guard by the move toward remote work as many have been. Murph’s Gitlab and Toptal, one of HR Tech’s sponsors are both entirely remote companies. As Christopher Lind noted in our opening session on delivering results through distributed work:

“The reality is that this stuff has been coming for a while. A lot of this has been building like a tidal wave, it’s just now hitting us at full force.”

Lind went on to provide pragmatic examples and guiding principles in keeping people engaged and focusing on outcomes.

On day two, Toptal’s VP of People, Michelle Labbe spoke about the development of a remote playbook that could serve as a resource for companies that are new to making the adjustment to remote work.

“As we started developing the playbook, we wanted to talk about the different aspects of how we operate from pulse surveys to direct, candid communication,” Labbe said. “We focused a lot on onboarding because we work hard to make sure that people can learn a lot about the company and that we use our LMS to drive that experience. We want them to come in and learn quickly how to build trust, how to be collaborative and how to use the tools that we have to help them do that.”

Over the course of the three days, there was a great deal of insight and learning on offer. We hope you’ll continue to enjoy the content that came out of this online event. All of the sessions can be watched on-demand, though live attendance is required to earn SHRM credits. Keep an eye out for more upcoming webinars and online events from the HR Exchange Network by clicking here.

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