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4 Lessons on the Future of Work from UNLEASH America 2018

4 Lessons on the Future of Work from UNLEASH America 2018

4 Lessons on the Future of Work from UNLEASH America 2018
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By Tamara Rosin

After two days of talks by some of the nation’s leading talent experts, the curtains have closed on UNLEASH America 2018.

The conference took place May 15 and 16 in Las Vegas. It drew over 2,000 attendees, including CEOs, CIOs, CHROs, and other decision makers from leading global enterprises.

UNLEASH, previously HR Tech World, is the largest corporate network focused on the future of work. The organization and its latest event zeroed in on the relationships between people, companies, and technology.

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Who spoke at UNLEASH America 2018?

 

speakers unleash americaAn esteemed panel of speakers, 77 to be exact, covered a variety of topics. The presentations focused on HR tech, recruitment, well-being and inclusion, talent management, and training and development.

Among the notable speakers were:

  • Rachel Botsman: Author, Lecturer, and Research at the University of Oxford
  • Sjoerd Gehring: Global VP, Talent Acquisition & Employee Experience at Johnson & Johnson
  • Amy Schwenck-Lewis: Director of Enterprise Talent Solutions at Avature
  • Gary Hamel: Co-Founder of The Management Lab & the Management Information eXchange, Author, and Professor at the London Business School
  • Josh Bersin: Principal and Founder of Bersin by Deloitte

Here are four useful takeaways from UNLEASH America on tech, talent, and how they work together.

1. Trust matters more now than ever before

trust in business

The collapse of trust in business threatens every action, relationship, and transaction that is fundamental to a company’s success, Rachel Botsman said during her presentation.

Botsman’s talk aligned with the results from the latest Edelman Trust Barometer, which found trust in business dropped to 48% in 2018, a 10 percentage point decline from 2017.

Although distrust in business comes from a variety of factors, the proliferation of advanced technology triggers customers’ deepest fears, according to Botsman. Data breaches, misinformation, and the like raise skepticism and can kill customer loyalty overnight.

On the other hand, trust increases customer retention and facilitates innovation.

 

 

Botsman argued rebuilding trust must be a leadership priority. However, it’s not as simple as increasing transparency. There are four main traits companies must demonstrate to hold on to their customers’ trust:

  • Competence
  • Reliability
  • Integrity
  • Benevolence

 

2. A poor hiring process affects more than just candidates

Sjoerd Gehring, Global VP, Talent Acquisition & Employee Experience at Johnson & Johnson, spoke at UNLEASH America about candidate concerns and frustrations with the hiring process.

Gehring presented insights gained from the feedback of hundreds of thousands of candidates. During the hiring process, candidates want:

  • Transparency
  • Regular status updates
  • Helpful content
  • Real-time support

In a similar presentation about creating the perfect candidate journey, Amy Schwenck-Lewis, Director of Enterprise Talent Solutions at Avature, talked about the marketing potential of a stellar hiring process.

Talent acquisition teams can use the hiring process to tell genuine stories about the company and help bolster the companies brand within relevant talent pools.

However, recruiting teams must begin taking a holistic view of the hiring experience. Otherwise, broken processes, siloed data, and poor experiences will continue to afflict the talent acquisition process.

3. Companies must adopt new technology to improve talent management

human resources management

Josh Bersin, Principal and Founder of Bersin by Deloitte, delivered a much anticipated presentation. His talk was jam-packed with facts and statistics about the current state of the American workplace, and how companies can use emerging tech to improve.

The statistics Bersin presented painted a bleak picture of the current work environment:

  • More than 80% of all companies rate their business as “highly complex” or “complex” for employees.
  • Fewer than 16% of companies have a program to “simplify work” or help employees deal with stress.
  • 40% of the U.S. population believes it’s impossible to succeed at work and have a balanced family life.

More effective talent management and development is essential to creating a better future for employees.

According to Bersin, emerging HR tech, particularly those driven by AI and data analytics, can be used to promote greater engagement, optimize productivity, and provide personalized support to help improve employees’ work lives.

Such tools also enable continuous sensing, or constantly checking on and addressing employee needs. This is in stark contrast to outdated employee experience metrics, such as once annual employee engagement surveys.

4. Continue to prioritize “humanocracy”

UNLEASH America is a conference about HR tech. But Gary Hamel, Author and Professor at the London School of Business, reminded attendees that it’s humans that truly enable companies to flourish, not just the shiny new toys they invest in.

Technology like AI promises to revolutionize the way we do business. But leaders must remember it’s employees who contribute skills like creativity, problem solving, and social and emotional reasoning, not machines.

The winners of tomorrow will be those who encourage employees to adopt a collaborative, iterative, and experimental approach to change, he said.

Despite corporations’ fascination with “disruption,” Hamel argued the real challenge facing businesses isn’t producing more entrepreneurial enclaves, but rather giving employees enough support to embrace innovation as a core value.

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Tamara Rosin
Tamara is a former healthcare reporter turned content marketer. In addition to co-creating and strategizing WalkMe’s content, her writing interests span from high-tech to organizational learning to fiction.