Like anyone who has attended Workhuman® Live, I was heartbroken when the conference, scheduled for San Antonio, had to be canceled due to the pandemic. This transformative event – with past visionary speakers like Brené Brown, Kat Cole, Gary Hamel, Cy Wakeman, Shawn Achor, and Adam Grant – has changed me in ways I can’t begin to describe.
When life offers you lemons …
So it was exciting and uplifting to learn that this year, Workhuman would instead offer a livestreamed version of Workhuman Live. Sure, Workhuman® Livestream wouldn’t have the same face-to-face networking opportunities with thousands of our HR peers. But in just 90 minutes, Workhuman Livestream did what at first blush seemed impossible: It brought together thousands of the global Workhuman community in a celebration of our connections, commonalities, and humanity. And it delivered the same breakthrough content, customer perspectives, and star power – Trevor Noah and 2018 keynote Simon Sinek – that has made this annual celebration the catalyst of a worldwide movement.
Here are my seven top takeaways from the event:
- Eric Mosley was the perfect guide – in more ways than one.
Not only did Eric, co-founder and CEO of Workhuman®, masterfully fulfill his role as host – weaving us through the various segments and interviews with grace and humor – he infused the program with poignant and heartfelt personal emotions. Broadcasting alone from Workhuman’s now-deserted Boston office, I can only imagine the pain leaders like him must feel when they see their organizations diffused. Yet in the midst of it all, he offered an inspirational message of hope: “It’s times like these that show what life is all about. It’s about having a human connection. Human connection is life.”
- Recognition data is a veritable gold mine – especially now.
Workhuman now has a database of more than 50 million moments of gratitude and recognition, an incredible wealth of authentic human interactions, according to Dr. Jesse Harriott, Workhuman’s global head of analytics. Recognition data, he noted, is a breed apart from the HRIS or payroll systems that HR departments usually rely on. Instead, recognition data is about authentic moments of gratitude between humans as they collaborate.
It can tell us – with astounding precision – the relationship between gratitude and retention. And it can reveal how gender has differing dynamics: Men tend to be more direct and tactical, while women are more supportive and interpersonal. It also shows that while women are unfortunately paid less, they are – as Eric put it – “the social fabric, the backbone of a lot of companies.”
Jesse relayed how recognition data tracked closely to the emergence of the pandemic around the globe. We could watch its path in the words used in recognition moments, and how they morphed as the crisis progressed. “Gratitude is more important than ever as employees are holding each other up, helping each other during these times of stress,” observed Jesse.
- Trevor Noah is the real deal.
In his interview with Eric, Trevor stressed the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance during these times, making sure “work doesn’t become your home and your home doesn’t become your work.”
He has emerged as a leading voice during this crisis. But when asked whether he sees himself as a leader, he was quick to note that leadership takes many forms: parents, managers, or business owners, for instance. And while he acknowledged that he has a “sphere of leadership,” he quickly distinguished the magnitude of his leadership decisions from those political leaders have to make – especially in these times.
Among the lessons he will take away? “Coronavirus has exposed the fragility of people’s lives, especially when they live in places where there is rampant income inequality. I hope we look at the effects the crisis has had on underserved communities.”
- This is when you double down on gratitude and connectivity.
Successful companies find ways to inspire and engage employees in even the most tumultuous of times. That’s why we’ve seen many Workhuman customers use our solutions to redouble their commitment to building a culture of gratitude and connection during this crisis.
“We don’t want to lose the momentum that we’ve gained. Appreciation is a contagious thing. It’s engrained in our culture, and it’s something that’s really powerful for us,” noted Kevin Dalton, associate director of human resources at Workhuman customer P&G. He pointed out that P&G has kept its operations strong as it has implemented extensive safety protocols. They’ve made cash donations to healthcare organizations and first responders – and shifted to the manufacturing of masks and face shields to donate to heroes on the front lines.
Their Power of You social recognition program has become essential during this time. “Recognition has been a key pillar of our strategy,” Kevin explained. “It’s a big idea, it’s a big concept, and I think we’ve done a great job of recognizing people and making them feel valued – which is ultimately what we’re looking to do.”
Over at DENSO – a global automotive parts manufacturer – the company turned to Life Events® to further celebrate those moments that happen outside of work, according to Sarah Fox, Senior HR Generalist. New babies, marriages, running a marathon, buying a new home – they’ve all taken on a new meaning and poignancy during these difficult times.
For a now-remote workforce, celebrating Life Events has cemented and built connections between employees. “Thinking of those moments and how important they are for the individual and for their work story – that was what motivated us to move forward with this quickly,” Sarah noted.
“In my mind, an associate is going to be most effective when they still feel connected to the mission, the values, and their co-workers that they are used to seeing every day, but they can’t any longer.”
Sarah pointed out that as they make the transition from a task-focused mindset to one that supports employees as individuals, Workhuman solutions have been vital: “How can we help people bring their best selves to work? How can we really consider all their needs as a person? That’s what these types of programs really support.”
- Employees have a right to be heard.
“We want the world to know what’s really going on in their companies. And we believe that employees have a right to be heard.” With that declaration, Eric introduced Moodtracker™ ̶ a new employee pulse survey tool that empowers business and HR leaders to listen and act upon the voice of their employees. Best of all, it’s free. Forever.
What’s really amazing about Moodtracker is that it taps into more than 50 million recognition moments – unique to Workhuman. And it uses natural language processing to gain a deeper understanding of what employees are feeling. Survey results actually provide recommendations to improve an organization’s employee experience.
“When you think about Moodtracker, think bigger,” said Eric. “The global community that uses this tool will be able to benchmark themselves against a global dataset.”
- “Life goes on.”
“If you want to build a culture of togetherness, don’t ignore outside of work,” said Eric. “There is no such thing.” With that, he announced that a special edition of Life Events, part of Workhuman® Cloud, will be available for free through the end of next March.
As the pandemic has forced us to work remotely, humans crave connection with co-workers even more. Life Events enables employees throughout an organization to participate in and celebrate the personal joys of the entire work family: births, marriages, new pets – even an employee’s move to a new city. As he displayed a photo of a Workhuman newborn, Eric observed, “It’s almost impossible to communicate the raw power of this environment to lift people … Life Events creates community, intimacy, and connections.”
Likewise, Conversations® – a continuous performance management solution – enables managers to connect with team members through regular check-ins, priorities, and feedback. It too will be made available for free until the end of next March, to “help stressed employees and organizations weather this storm. They’re especially valuable in a decentralized, remote, work-from-home world.”
- Crisis is the great revealer.
Best-selling author and TED talk superstar Simon Sinek joined Eric for a lively and wide-ranging discussion. Simon – best known for his work helping organizations and humans understand their “why” – made clear that our current crisis doesn’t change that fundamental approach. “Your ‘why’ is like the foundation of a house,” he noted. “Even if the house burns down, the foundation is still there.”
Case in point: Simon’s own organization has had to reinvent how they do business – from live events to online learning – but the essence of what their mission is about hasn’t wavered. He believes that this crisis has been “a great revealer” – exposing those who got by doing little, while shining a light on those with previously unrecognized leadership skills.
The crisis has also revealed the importance of culture during times of stress. Simon points out that in weak cultures, employees are hunkered down, protecting themselves, while in great cultures, “people will show up and take risks together.”
Looking ahead, Simon believes that our isolation “underscores the importance and value of human connection.” In his view, face-to-face connection will always be an integral part of humanity.
So there you have it, some of my top takeaways from what proved to be a truly remarkable event – one you can watch again now. In the meantime, let’s look forward to better times ahead. I truly believe they’re coming. Even now, I can close my eyes and envision senior vice president Derek Irvine standing before thousands of HR and business leaders in San Antonio, issuing his clarion call to the worldwide Workhuman community:
See you May 24-27, 2021 in San Antonio.
About the AuthorMore Content by Aaron Kinne