“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but new eyes.” – Marcel Proust
They call it the Silicon Valley of the North. And with good reason.
Understanding that Toronto has been driving innovation and charting the future of tech, Achievers chose to host its ACE 2018 conference in the city it calls home. The Six, as it is affectionately called by residents, quietly emerged as the fastest-growing tech-jobs market in 2017. The boom has positioned the city as a worldwide leader in the tech scene, outpacing historically tech heavy cities such as San Francisco, Seattle and New York and emerging as fertile ground for the future of technological innovation.
In the shadow of the iconic CN Tower, HR professionals and a diverse range of thought leaders gathered to accelerate the conversation around employee engagement, recognition and how technology is shaping the future of human resources. Furthermore, Achievers announced the 2018 Top Category Winners for the Most Engaged Workplaces Award and the Elite 8: organizations that are pushing the boundaries of workplace engagement.
From the elegant and modern Delta Hotel by Marriott, the gathering kicked off with an important announcement from Achievers’ Chief Workforce Scientist Dr. Natalie Baumgartner, who unveiled the The Workforce Institute and its commitment to changing the way the world works through academic research and engagement science. Through the initiative, Achievers will source, curate, conduct and translate workforce science into simple, accessible content available to the public through research-driven institute studies and insight papers. As the world rapidly evolves and changes, the aim is to stay ahead of the curve with reliable sources and cutting-edge technology.
With an eye to the future, the ACE 2018 conference was graced with numerous thought leaders who outlined not only how drastically the HR space has changed in recent years, but also where it is going. To this end, the breakout sessions began with futurist and best-selling author Brian David Johnson highlighting the tectonic shifts in the workplace. The conversation was focused on what the forward-thinking companies of today can do to disrupt, mitigate and recover from the obstacles standing in the way of their unified success. Weaving together disparate stands from areas such as cultural history, social science and economics, Mr. Johnson fashioned a poignant and compelling argument for organizations to not just note the radical evolution of the workplace, but to embrace it. Through focused, strategic planning, the tech savvy company of today can harness the power of AI and focus on the new realities captivating the imaginations of the current great workforce: millennials.
Through this useful lens, various ACE 2018 keynote speakers identified and explained obstacles and strategies for us to enable employees to be both engaged and efficient. One crucial strategy is to improve communication within organizations. Communication and human nature expert Celeste Headlee focused on the science behind having better conversations in the workplace. All too often, the constant influx of external stimuli distracts and derails our conversations, creating costly instances of miscommunication. Furthermore, the inexorable wave of millennials entering the workforce has profoundly changed the way we communicate in business settings. Through active listening we, as small communities and large organizations, can find better ways to collaborate and engage in a positive way with the new workplace dynamics.
To that end, day two keynote speaker Neil Pasricha spoke of the power of positive psychology and the neuroscience that underpins it all. A combination of science-based research and humorous personal stories and anecdotes helped him foreground the importance of positive employees on your teams. Flipping the conventional wisdom that motivation leads to action, the discussion fleshed out that it is actually the other way around: action leads to motivation; positive work leads to happiness. Driving the point home, Mr. Pasricha highlighted that it is never too late to take action. Regardless of the barriers you imagine are in the way, taking the time to put happiness first, personally and professionally, will lead to positive action that will feed off itself and drive the changes you require.
Similarly, Tiffany Dufu spoke about the ever-evolving workplace and how female millennials are an underutilized cohort in our modern workplaces. In a poignant discussion relevant to all millennials (male, female, et al.) the organizations that are best equipped to leverage the success of the shift workplace are those who provide support for working families. From her best-selling book, Drop The Ball, Dufu focused on the importance of achieving more by doing less. Ambitious organizations and employees would do well to reevaluate their expectations and acknowledge that to have it all, we do not necessarily need to do it all. By embracing imperfection, we can focus on what we truly care about: achieving real goals and creating rich and rewarding lives.
All of this leads to one fundamental question shared by all attendees: How do we captivate the workforce of tomorrow? The answer revealed itself to be: By listening to what they have to say, today. Through this, we can prepare ourselves for the new realities of the future. Creating and embracing that future requires a beautiful confluence of reality and imagination. The 2018 Achievers Customer Experience managed to strike the perfect balance, exposing attendees to the evidenced-based reality we work within and the next generation of HR. In many ways, the conference embodied the future we all desire: one that is optimistic and ours for the making. The future is not some distant unobtainable entity beyond our comprehension. The future is right now. Today. The future is in our people.
Achievers would like to thank all speakers and every client, partner and friend for their participation in ACE 2018! Stay tuned for more information on ACE 2019 in Chicago!
About the Author
Darren Savage is currently a Customer Success Manager who works out of Achievers’ Toronto office. Prior to his arrival at Achievers, Darren was a journalist for various publications in the Greater Toronto Area. He left the profession to explore the world before transitioning into a sales role where he provided immersive educational experiences through travel for high school students. He now manages a diverse portfolio at Achievers where he helps his clients develop successful employee engagement programs.