WorkHuman: A Philosophy Worth Emulating

shutterstock_265384880The running joke on Twitter for Globoforce’s WorkHuman conference in Phoenix last week was to refer to the event as #HRWoodstock. It is an accurate depiction in that individual enlightenment was an important part of the event.

But there is a noticeable difference between viewing recognition (Globoforce’s purview) as an ROI question and seeing it as a force that benefits individuals. But bridging that gap is critical because of the growing number of employees who work from home or remotely. Their ability to feel personally connected has a big impact on engagement, retention, and performance. This is not to say that the individual is more important than the group, or that Globoforce is running a charity. But the idea that not everything is driven by profit, and that personal improvement and recognition are important in and of themselves, is enough of a departure to seem revolutionary.

There is also a strong move in the HCM market toward supporting teams, and it’s important to understand that supporting individuals and supporting teams should not be mutually exclusive. By working on what you can do individually, and improve not just as a productive worker, but as a human being, you also will work better in a team environment. Plus, this all goes toward the idea of well-being, which is a buzzword, but also speaks to a real movement that is tied to employee experience, which is something that nearly all companies acknowledge is an important part of any successful business model.

This core tenet that improving as a person is just as important as improving as a worker is part of what makes WorkHuman noticeably different from most other HCM software conferences. (In fact, I don’t think I’ve heard the term “HCM” used at WorkHuman in the three years I’ve attended). From the speakers selected, to the topics, and even to the physical space, WorkHuman emphasizes personal development and recognition over performance improvement.

Speaking of performance improvements, there was also discussion of new product offerings from Globoforce, which has a performance management product, although it’s not marketed as such. Staying true to its philosophy, Globoforce named the product, Conversations. This is a direct allusion to the continuous conversation model of performance management which, next to separating performance and merit pay discussions, is the most frequent change organizations made to their performance management process last year (2016 Brandon Hall Group Performance Management Study).

As with most trends in HR, this is really just a reflection of overall changes in the workforce. But that makes it no less important to address proactively, and that means finding ways to let people give and receive feedback in immediate, meaningful, and impactful ways. In a sense, Conversations as a feedback tool is just an offshoot of recognition, but structured in a way that more directly relates to specific goals and organizational initiatives.

WorkHuman as an event is distinct enough from Globoforce that it has become its own brand. The philosophy that drives WorkHuman reflects positively on the business philosophy of Globoforce and is something other providers, as well as corporations, would benefit from weaving into their own evolutionary journeys.

–Cliff Stevenson, Principal Analyst, Workforce Management, Brandon Hall Group

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