The 2017 Human Resource Executive 20th Annual HR Technology Conference takes place October 10-13 in Las Vegas. As a 2017 HR Technology Conference Insiders Blogger, I interviewed several human resources and technology experts to get their perspective on how technology and trends are impacting the HR profession.
Jason Lauritsen a keynote speaker, author, and advisor. He is an employee engagement and workplace culture expert who will challenge you to think differently. A former corporate Human Resources executive, Jason has dedicated his career to helping leaders build organizations that are good for both people and profits. Most recently, he led the research team for Quantum Workplace’s Best Places to Work program where he has studied the employee experience at thousands of companies to understand what the best workplaces in the world do differently than the rest. Jason is the co-author of the book, Social Gravity: Harnessing the Natural Laws of Relationships. Connect with Jason at www.JasonLauritsen.com
Q. There’s been an explosion in real-time and pulse feedback technology for performance and engagement. Why are these systems becoming a critical substructure for businesses in terms of talent management and retention?
These technologies are largely trying to address a lack of people management skills within our organizations. The idea of real-time feedback isn't new. In fact, I think most people would argue that being a good manager requires that you both give and solicit continuous real-time feedback. You don't need technology for that, but you do need skill in having conversations, asking good questions, and providing constructive coaching to employees. These skills are difficult and time-consuming to develop, so organizations are turning to technology in hopes of a quicker solution.
The problem is that if you don't also fix the management skill gap issue within your organization, these technologies are unlikely to be the solution you hope they will be.
Q. Can HR technology really drive employee engagement, or do they only reflect and report on what is happening with engagement?
Technology is a tool. Having the right tools is critical. But, tools aren't the solution. Hammers and saws don't build houses, people following detailed blueprints use tools to build houses. The same is true for employee engagement. If you don't have the right plans in the hands of skilled people, the tools aren't of much use.
Technology doesn't drive employee engagement. An engaging experience of work is what drives engagement. Smart leaders create an intentional strategy (the blueprint) and use tools like technology to shape the employee's experience in a positive way.
Q. With so many new technology products that promise to improve employee engagement, the seemingly endless options can be overwhelming. What advice can you share with HR for how to select engagement technology that’s right for them?
Before you buy any technology, you should first create an employee engagement strategy and plan for your organization. This should include how your organization defines engagement, why it matters to your organization's success, and how you'll measure progress. Once you clarify these things, you will be able to identify where you have gaps and opportunities that can be addressed using technology and other tools.
Said more simply, know first what kind of tool you need before you go tool shopping. Otherwise, you are likely to buy something you don't need.
Q. How are artificial intelligence, chatbots and machine learning impacting the evolution of employee engagement technology?
I am not sure they are at this point. These are definitely the buzzwords flying around in HR tech at the moment, but I don't know that I've seen anything of any substance yet as it relates to employee engagement. That doesn't mean that there won't be a host of vendors at HR Tech trying to convince us otherwise, but I think it's mostly marketing hype rather than true AI or machine learning.
As these technologies mature in the future, I'm sure that they will disrupt the work of employee engagement but it's not happening yet.
Q. You’ll be hosting the session titled “The HR Hacklab: What New HR Tech Solutions Are Needed Now?” with Joe Gerstandt. If you could design a “dream technology” for HR what would it look like?
I've long been a fan of Organizational Network Analysis(ONA) as an incredibly powerful tool for diagnosing and improving workplace engagement, innovation, and performance. The problem is that ONA is complex and labor intensive to apply. There's yet to be a technology tool to come to market to make ONA accessible to the average organization both in terms of simplicity and cost.
I hope that someday soon this will change. Making visible the internal network of relationships that reflect how work actually gets done and who is most important in that process is transformative.
Jason Lauritsen will speak at the 2017 HR Technology Conference & Expo on the following dates:
The Role of HR Technology in Driving Employee Engagement: Wednesday, October 11, 2017: 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
The HR Hacklab: What New HR Tech Solutions Are Needed Now?: Tuesday, October 10, 2017: 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM
Mega Session: HR Technology Conference Hackathon Reveal: Thursday, October 12, 2017: 1:45 PM - 3:00 PM