For DisruptHR NYC, innovators in human resources took the stage at Rise New York, Barclays experimental coworking space, to discuss how they’re pushing the boundaries of a rapidly changing discipline. Their five-minute PechaKucha presentations were reflective of a new model of HR that is iterative, fail-fast, and impactful.
The current transformation of HR is evidenced by a redefinition of many traditional HR practices, including performance management. As described by Anna Tavis, Clinical Associate Professor of Human Capital Management at New York University, and further reinforced in her Harvard Business Review article, the corporate appraisal system’s history lies in the merit-rating style of World War I that emphasized identifying poor performers for discharge. HR’s lineage from the industrial revolution is itself evidence of a need for disruption, a view shared by former Netflix Chief Talent Officer Patty McCord. In "How Netflix Reinvented HR," McCord reasons that as a society, we are “just beginning to learn how to run creative firms. Industrial firms thrive on reducing variation (manufacturing errors); creative firms thrive on increasing variation (innovation).”
With this increasing pressure to innovate while navigating myriad and rapid changes, organizations now have to compete for and engage top talent just as they do customers and investors. This competition has created exciting recruitment and attraction strategies that focus on employee experience and a "treat your employees like your customers" philosophy. From internal branding to workplace design, HR professionals are learning from the methods of user experience research and retail and hospitality design to attract top talent, improve employee performance, and enable human capital innovation.
In her DisruptHR NYC presentation, "Building a Healthy Workforce: Active Bodies, Active Minds," PLASTARC’s Melissa Marsh discussed how the physical workplace represents a critical opportunity to advance HR initiatives. She said that with increasing demand for each square foot of workspace to perform a variety of business and employee needs, an organization’s spatial experience must align with its culture, brand proposition, and HR initiatives. Similarly, with advances in self-quantification, social media, and workplace culture, the office is increasingly a ‘container,’ or physical manifestation, of organizational objectives. For instance, at a fast-growth start up, topics of proximity, shared space, and events and programming represent critical opportunities for knowledge sharing and onboarding between new and tenured employees. At an athleisure or wellness company, access to the staircase, natural light, and even yoga classes could help enable employees walk the talk of the brand experience. Furthermore, as top talent looks to better understand a potential employer, or as consumers look to make purchasing decisions by evaluating an organization’s authenticity and purpose, the workplace becomes the foremost stage for organizations to exemplify how they can delight their employees and customers alike.
In Susan Steele’s future-focused presentation on cognitive computing and HR analytics, the Global Chief HR Officer Advisor for IBM discussed how the marriage of data science and human capital initiatives represents an exciting future for the industry. These topics of social data and business performance will also be front and center in March 2017 at the annual Wharton People Analytics Conference at the University of Pennsylvania, where educational and professional collaborations are accelerating the connection between social data and organizational outcomes. PLASTARC will be there too!
In the meantime, DisruptHR’s events platform shines a light on the many ways the discipline is evolving. The range of topics and speaker backgrounds on display proves that learning from other industries—like creative consulting, software development, and user experience design—has exciting applications for advancing "people" initiatives in our rapidly changing business landscape.