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Achievers ACE 2018 Conference Toronto Key Takeaways

ACE 2018: Key Highlights and Takeaways

“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!

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About the Author 
Darren SavageDarren 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.

 

 

 

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HR thought leaders

Words of Advice from 7 HR Thought Leaders

We have some stellar thinkers in the HR field today, so we decided to present a sampling of their pithy advice. Each of the people profiled below have their own unique take on managing your human capital, and you may even find a favorite or two whom you want to follow.

“You can’t prevent attrition if your organization doesn’t attend to employee experience.”

Meghan M. Biro is the founder and CEO of TalentCulture and an in-demand HR analyst.

In a recent Forbes article, Biro writes about the urgent need of focusing on the employee experience. She points out the disconnect that occurs in many organizations, where human capital is given lip service but no top-level executive is in charge of overseeing the well-being of workers. “Do you have a senior people manager?” she asks, “And if so, are they in the C-Suite?” Biro is a big fan of HR tech, but in her Forbes piece she observes that technology won’t solve problems unless it’s guided by a strategic vision. And that vision has to focus on what it’s like to be an employee.

“Don’t underestimate the power of recognition and how vital it is to create a positive work environment.”

David Novak is founder and CEO of oGoLead, a leadership development program.

In his recent commentary on CNBC, Novak describes the crisis brought about by toxic leadership. He observes that “actively disengaged workers are costing the U.S. as much as $600 billion in lost productivity” and that the cost of millennial turnover may be as much as $30 billion. He points out that “everyone likes to be appreciated for their contributions” and that employee rewards should be offered along the way, whenever you see great work. That way, momentum stays strong and your people will feel personally invested in the company’s mission.

“Managers need to stop telling people how to get better when they can’t provide enough staffing, training, tools or information for their people to succeed.”

Shane Green is the author of “Culture Hacker” and the founder and president of SGEI.

When providing informal feedback to employees, Green reminds managers that they have to start off by being fair. Informal feedback, provided immediately after a particular employee action, needs to include a listening component. He points out, “Do not deliver a lecture. Staff tune out managers when all they do is give a speech.” When you listen to your people and empower them with the tools that they need, you may find that performance issues resolve themselves.

“Most of us work for a reason: we want to spend our time contributing to others and creating something bigger than ourselves.”

Founder and principal at Bersin by Deloitte, Josh Bersin is a global HR analyst.

Bersin writes about the concept of meaningful work as a necessary foundation for employee engagement. He unpacks the concept of “meaningful” in the context of a job that can often feel routine. A meaningful job has four characteristics:

  • Autonomy: Workers need the freedom to accomplish tasks in their own style.
  • Selection for Fit: Managers should match tasks and employee skills.
  • Small Teams: Human beings perform most effectively in groups where they know each other.
  • Time for Slack: Workers need a chance to reflect and compare notes.

“Ensuring employees remain interested in their work creates a greater sense of purpose and deeper connection to their tasks and the company as a whole.”

Natalie Baumgartner is Chief Workforce Scientist at Achievers and she has spent her career translating engagement and culture research into software that enhances the employee experience.

In her recent Chief Executive Magazine article, Baumgartner points out that it’s important to remember humans are beings of change. Employees’ passions, interests and entire lives evolve over time. It is a costly retention error to believe talent who started their journey enthusiastically will always remain so. She shares, “While change is obviously a natural process, it’s important to catch dips in passion before employees start looking for new jobs. Use daily polls or pulse surveys to gauge interest, engagement, and overall job experiences. These frequent check-ins open the door for ongoing discussions about their future opportunities with the company.”

“I am starting to think of chatbots as your newest HR team member, one that allows employees to easily retrieve answers to frequently asked questions.”

Jeanne Meister is the founder of HR advisory firm Future Workplace and author of the 2017 book “The Future Workplace Experience.”

Meister works at the cutting edge of HR tech, and she maintains a vision of the direction that human resources is headed in. She promotes artificial intelligence as the source of solutions that make management more responsive to employee needs. When workers perceive the HR department as being their ally, performance will improve throughout the organization. Meister points out that some 75 percent of workplaces will use chatbots for some part of their HR solutions by 2020, and she notes that this technology will help HR leaders to create an employee experience “that mirrors their best customer service experience.”

“The best jobs turn coworkers into friends.”

Laurie Ruettiman is an HR leader turned writer, speaker and entrepreneur. She’s also the founder of HRBooks.

In a blog entry about the recent tax cut, Ruettiman writes about how this infusion of cash offers companies an opportunity to invest in social recognition. “I’d spend the money on a strategy that shores up your culture,” she advises, and then goes on to point out that “social recognition is a proven management practice that unlocks the full potential of people by providing purpose, meaning, and appreciation for the work they do every day.”

Fostering employee engagement is an art and a science, and HR leaders approach it from a wide variety of disciplines. Their insight can provide you with the tools you need to create a positive, productive culture in your company. To learn more, download our white paper “The True Cost of Disengagement.”

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Do you want to engage your employees? Start with social recognition. Access Achievers’ report “Building a Business Case for Social Recognition” to get started.

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ACE 2017 Key Takeaways

ACE 2017: Key Highlights and Takeaways

There really is no place quite like it…

New Orleans was treated to an eclectic mix of HR professionals as customers from across the globe flocked to the Big Easy for ACE 2017.

The 8th annual Achievers Customer Experience conference was an unparalleled success, as clients and prospective customers exchanged ideas with independent HR thought leaders and decision makers representing some of the world’s most recognizable brands.

Day 1 of the conference kicked off with a series of lively and engaging speakers who introduced the various themes that were weaved throughout the rest of the talks. From the intersection of technology and personalization to navigating organizational change with an aligned workforce, the introductory speeches laid the foundation for a series of thought-provoking breakout sessions aimed at changing the way the world works! Major announcements were made during the event, including Achievers revealing the 2017 Top Category Winners for the Most Engaged Workplaces Awards and the release of Achievers Listen, a suite of tools that is taking employee engagement to the next level.

From the grand ballroom of the majestic Royal Sonesta Hotel, attendees were introduced to some of the developing trends in the employee engagement work space and various success stories from members of the Achievers family:

Achievers’ Chief Technology Officer, Aris Zakinthinos, introduced CHRISTUS St. Michael, who discussed how the implementation of their employee success platform in 2012 had a monumental impact on their business objectives, including a significant increase in recognitions given and leadership engagement as well as a remarkable decrease in their turnover rate, down to 6.4%, well below the industry standard of 19.4%. To read more about Christus Health’s success, click here.

Next up was Blackhawk Network CEO Talbott Roche, who discussed how to use the Achievers platform to drive innovation within your organization. Drawing on first-hand experience, Ms. Roche outlined the benefits of creating an engaged workforce and how recognizing and rewarding their creative potential yields great returns to your bottom line. Ms. Roche went on to highlight some of the success other members of the Achievers family were having with their respective programs.

One of the more recent success stories comes out of Michigan, home to Meijer Inc., a supercenter chain with stores across the United States.

From President and CEO Rick Keyes and Recognition and Engagement Manager, Randi Roehling, we heard about the monumental impact their focus on employee engagement has had since they launched late last year. Discussing how they laid the groundwork for a successful launch of their M-Team program, the duo illustrated the importance of executive buy-in, highlighting the amazing 12,000 recognitions sent out by Mr. Keyes in a few short months.

Next came Achievers’ very own Vice President of Product Development, Egan Cheung, who proudly announced the launch of the much-anticipated Achievers Listen tool. Achievers Listen is a suite of tools that empowers employees to give continuous feedback on what’s working well and what needs to be improved. It provides managers with recommended actions based on their team‘s unique values and culture. We know that every employee is different and to engage your entire workforce, we must avoid a “one size fits all” approach. Achievers new functionality allows you to do just that.

Closing out the morning discussions was an incredible speech from one of the most inspiring young women many in the crowd had the privilege to see. Hannah Alper capped off the introduction to ACE 2017 with a discussion on how minor actions can lead to big change, leaving the crowd both humbled and inspired, ready to springboard into a trio of speaking tracks which individually focused on thought leadership within the HR space (Aspire), best practices for running successful programs (Achieve) and the exciting product functionality and releases from Achievers (Accelerate).

The first day closed out with an amazing event hosted by Achievers. Nearly 300 conference attendees joined a traditional second line parade and enjoyed a lively march through Bourbon Street. The end destination was B.B. King’s Blues Club, where all were treated to some of the best cuisine and music New Orleans has to offer.

After an unforgettable night in the Big Easy, the crowd gathered on Day 2 for a rousing and humorous presentation on Fearless Leadership from Cary Lohrenz, a celebrated author and leader who became the first female fighter pilot in the US Navy. Her experience navigating the inherent challenges of breaking down barriers and shifting individual perspectives prompted unique insights into strategic leadership and diversity training, topics that significantly influence any business’s bottom line.

Closing out the conference was none other than David Novak, author and former CEO of YUM Brands (parent company to Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut). Voted the “2012 CEO of the year”, Mr. Novak knows how to build powerful and diverse organizations. As the leader of over 1.5 million employees, he understands the awesome power of recognition. In his own words, he succinctly drove home what much of the conference covered: “Everyone brings value, worth, and individualism. You need to bring your team together. When you give people respect, appreciation and let them know that they count, they’re going to go to the moon for you.”

With that, ACE 2017 wrapped up. From keynote speakers to customer success stories, the conference illustrated the importance employee engagement and how to get the most of out of your workforce. With the sights, sounds and flavours of New Orleans still fresh on their minds, participants will be able to apply fresh ideas to their programs and drive success within their organizations.

Achievers would like to thank all speakers and every client, partner and friend for their participation in this year’s events. Stay tuned for more information on ACE 2018 in Toronto. Check out photos from ACE 2017 here.

Want to learn more about what was discussed at ACE 2017? Check out 4 Strategic Drivers of General Motors’ Adoption of Recognition Technology, which was written by ACE 2017 attendee and analyst Ben Eubanks.

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Also, while you’re at it, make sure to check out ACE 2017 attendee Coralie Sawruk’s blog post covering her ACE 2017 experience and why she is an advocate for employee recognition.

About the Author 
Darren SavageDarren 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.