Keynote dispatches from the HR Tech World Congress

Adopting tech for business growth: the real impact on people

The fifth HR Tech World Congress in Paris last week brought powerful people insights to thousands of delegates. Everyone was there to learn how HR tech can fuel their business growth and to explore the huge range of technologies serving people and HR teams.

What was clear: there are big opportunities for those organizations that understand and address their people challenges as well as the potential of new technology capabilities and systems.

Here are my top takeaways from the event:

Experiences drive employee engagement levels

Employee engagement has long been a buzzword, but what does it mean in practice? Speakers challenged some common approaches and put the word out that companies need to look to the “everyday employee experience”.

Many companies are still missing the point that it’s these everyday experiences that drive engagement, not one-off events or rewards. It’s all about embracing diverse employee needs to create genuine inclusivity. When people feel they belong they become truly engaged.

Bureaucracy kills engagement

Many influencers and vendors, including some exciting start-ups, talked persuasively about the need to improve employee engagement. Yet according to Professor Gary Hamel, the main thing getting in the way of engagement is bureaucracy and that’s costing the world economy billions of dollars.

The single biggest positive impact on the global economy in the next few years will not be from headline grabbers like big data, robots, the genome or driverless cars – but from getting bureaucracy out of organizations. Companies need to take away the constraints on their employee entrepreneurs and natural leaders and give them room to flourish, so the business can grow and adapt to changing markets and challenges.

Scaling fast is hard

When growth is the priority, it’s crucial that the people you employ have the skills, motivation and resilience to handle a fast-expanding work environment. The potential rewards are exciting but the pressures are huge. Rapid growth is really hard to manage and for a small company to become a unicorn (bigger than $1 billion) is really difficult.

There’s a lot of pressure on everyone in the business. Roles and responsibilities continually change and everyone needs to step up fast as they do. Culture is king. You need energetic, highly skilled people who buy into the company DNA and care about the product enough to contribute to constantly improving it.

Technology is still driving disruption

Ambitious growth is fuelled by technology potential, in HR and in every area of business. There’s no getting away from it and we need to understand how it will affect our personal experience as employers and employees.

Ongoing technology disruption is inevitable because of the pace of change. It affects every industry – no one is immune. There will be a big and unpredictable impact in the next few years; jobs will be destroyed and new ones created. We’re all going to have to get used to being uncomfortable, or get comfortable with this as a fact.

So what was my biggest takeaway from the event? That it’s not just those elusive unicorn businesses that need adaptable people. Every successful organization needs to help its employees understand, embrace and be ready for this kind of change, because it will characterize all our future careers.

If you’ve found this article interesting, you might want to watch our talent leader roundtable on the state of talent and tech today and in the future.

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