What is WorkHuman

wall of donuts

Second year running, WorkHuman is an HR conference presented by Globoforce (an employee recognition software company). Breaking out of the norm, WorkHuman gathers “human capital” professionals in one place and says “treat people like people.” A common sense concept that for some reason is brilliant. In sunny Orlando, the venue was fantastic and the amenities plenty. I’m often wary of attending conferences that are sales-pitchy but WorkHuman did a good job of keeping the content inspiring and applicable. Imo, they allowed the participant to be as interested or uninterested in their product as one chose to be. The content had a Ted-Talk-esque feel with big names in the world of organizational psychology and research.  With coloring stations, walls of food, and a hipster-modern feel it was definitely worth the expense. Overall, it felt like Broadway’s Hamilton – surprisingly entertaining, innovative, and everyone wishes they had tickets.

Paradigm Shift

coloring tables

If WorkHuman did anything it left me with hope for HR. With the rise of technology the HR of 20 years ago is dying dead. Younger thoughtful organizational leaders are focusing less on learning policy, procedure, and profit and more on culture. Being in an sea of problem solvers breeds collaboration and inspiration. Attendees are eager to challenge themselves and others and it shows. This next era of HR is exactly where I want to be. However, let’s trash the moniker HR from the vernacular and replace it with something cool like “Human Potential Director” or “Positive Work Environment Enforcer.”

humans treating humans as humans

Social Responsibility

remove bureaucracy

One thing became very clear to me as I sat in talk after talk on “human potential.” Give me all the ROI and growth statistics you want; employee engagement isn’t a strategy – it’s a social responsibility. Old school methods currently in place are nothing more than our outdated industrial-age procedures that still live within our system. As the world becomes more interconnected, as diversity becomes a requirement, as flexible work life is the norm, as we crave a symbiosis between our professional and personal life… it becomes more apparent to me that creating a professional environment that treats humans as humans isn’t something we do because it’ll increase revenue or create efficiency – we do it cause it’s morally right.

Full Potential
I’ve been attempting to reconcile going to a powerful, thought provoking conference and how I can make an impact on the world around me. Imagine being told by Michael J Fox that you can utilize your full talent and do what makes you happy  – cause that’s quite literally what happened. During the conference I found myself stretched between wanting to type up notes capturing every detail, to tweeting amazing quotes and factoids, to being present and mindful so I could fully experience the moment.

As a high-energy, critical thinking professional  human I left this conference feeling “less than.” Why aren’t I doing these things? Why haven’t I thought this way? Why aren’t I challenging the norm? It leaves me with a sense of guilt and shame that perhaps I’m not utilizing my talents in the best way to help serve the humans I work with and for. Am I using my full potential? And maybe that’s exactly where I need to be.

See you next year in Phoenix, WorkHumans.

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