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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Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company’s growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company’s global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike’s tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.