SHRMLab’s Better Workplace Challenge Cup HR Tech Winner! #SHRM22

This is the second annual Better Workplace Challenge Cup competition that SHRM has put on. The BWCC is an HR Technology Startup Competition that goes through three rounds of vetting over one hundred new HR Technology startups. The final four make it on stage at the SHRM Annual Conference and they get to pitch who they are and what they do, then an expert panel of judges decides a winner.

The winner receives a bunch of stuff including a $50,000 first-place prize! But honestly, the recognition and promotion alone of being the winner at SHRM is probably worth more than the $50,000! That means really, all of the final four are winners because they all get great exposure.

The 2022 Final Four are also unique in that all four were led by female founders! This seems appropriate given that 80% of HR professionals are female, we need more females developing the technology we use every day to help make our workplaces and our workforces better!

Let’s take a look at the Final Four:

Vinco (Your 2022 Winner!) – Lissy Giacomán, Founder and CEO based in Monterrey, Mexico.  

Vinco is an ed-tech company whose primary mission is to serve as a bridge between employers who wish to upskill, individuals who want to earn credentials, and institutions who want to drive their enrollment online. Vinco works to assist HR teams in upskilling their employees through connections at over 2,000 top educational programs.

Automation Workz – Ida Byrd-Hill, founder and CEO based in Detroit, MI (so you know I was rooting for Ida!)

The Automation Workz Life Culture Audit is a mobile app assisting HR professionals and corporate leaders to motivate front-line workers to digital career and training success. The Life Culture Audit reduces turnover and absenteeism by coaching front-liners through coding games and creation of their life vision so they realize they have the skills and potential success for new digital careers. 

Included – Laura Close, co-founder and chief business development officer

Included helps companies hire and retain a diverse workforce and drive measurable progress on diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) goals. The platform provides step-by-step guidance based on your own people data trends. Included makes sure you never miss an opportunity to hire the most qualified diverse talent. 

Inclusivv – Jenn Graham, founder and CEO

Inclusivv is a technology platform that brings people together for courageous conversations. Our conversation design process combines thorough research, psychology and the power of storytelling and follows a simple but powerful framework for hosting small group conversations: three big questions, one voice at a time, and equal time to share. 

Shoutout to the SHRMLabs team, led by Guillermo Corea, they have done an amazing job with this competition, but beyond that, they are truly bringing an in-depth focus to HR Technology that has never been at SHRM and it’s impressive.

Last year at SHRM Annual 2021, SHRM CEO Johnny Taylor, said he wants the entire HR profession to think of SHRM when they think about HR Technology and the SHRMLabs team is truly taking purposeful steps to make this happen.

The Two Things HR Is Most Concerned With @SHRM22 #CauseTheEffect

Okay, I’m officially one of the biggest HR nerds on the planet because I love talking shop to everyone! (Shout out to Lindsey from GoGo squeeZ who I trapped on my flight here and talked shop for two hours!) I’ve spent the last twelve hours talking shop to the point I’ve almost lost my voice before I need to speak tomorrow!

I spent time today at the SHRM Annual Conference in sessions, on the expo floor, at the SHRM store, in the hallways, etc. Basically, at SHRM Annual, you’re always about an arms reach away from someone in HR, if not closer, so, yeah, I’ve talked to some folks. What is on the minds of HR pros and leaders at SHRM 2022? Two things:

1. We need to hire more people.

2. We need to retain our people.

Number three is so far down the list, I’m not sure anyone even cares!

The cool thing about this, is I love these two concepts. The second cool thing about this is this is core HR at its finest. The business needs us to find talent and keep our talent. HR engaged!

This is what we do! We got the people’s side of our business. You need some more folks, okay. You need to keep the folks we have longer, okay. This is what we got into HR for! To increase the talent in our organizations. By bringing on great talent. Through developing the talent we have. By engaging the talent we have to keep them longer.

Our organizations are in crisis mode and it’s not sales-related or operations related or finance-related. It is simply HR related, and I’m here for it!

Of course, we still need to do all we do around learning, benefits, DEI, payroll, etc. We do what we do, and that doesn’t stop. But right now, our organizations are telling us they specifically have a problem that they need us to solve. That’s very cool!

Johnny Taylor, the CEO of SHRM, spoke about HR causing the effect. This is our time. And he’s right. At no other time in the history of the HR function have our organizations needed us more than today.

I always get energized being around HR pros who are trying to get better. Who are learning. Those who want to bring stuff back to their organizations that they can start doing immediately to have an impact. This is what the SHRM Annual conference is about for me. Like-minded pros, learning from each other, to raise our organizations and our profession.

Now, the hard work begins – finding more talent and keeping more talent! Let’s do this!

Are there HR Tech buyers at #SHRM22 #CauseTheEffect

Sunday afternoon in New Orleans, the location for the SHRM Annual Conference 2022 and the Expo is open. If you haven’t come to a SHRM Annual Conference the expo hall can be a bit overwhelming. There are 800 or so vendors with booths, most are in the HR Tech space, and some are services, but it’s a lot!

Today in 2022, 99% of those attending SHRM are coming from companies that are struggling to hire more workers. Hourly and salary alike, the funny thing is there are a relatively small number of recruiting technology companies in the expo!

Why?

Well, the recruiting technology vendor community will tell you there are no buyers at the SHRM Annual Conference, so I wanted to see if that was true. I set out to speak with ten expo attendees that were Director title and above and ask them why there were attending the expo, did they have the budget to buy, and if they did, how much was that budget.

Here are the findings:

I was able to easily find ten folks to talk to at those titles. The company size ran from 100 to 100,000. Most were under 1000. 90% were in the expo looking at “what was new in the tech space”, visiting current vendors, looking to replace a current vendor, and one was looking for swag!

The big question was did they have a budget they controlled to buy and if so, how much? Here are some of the people I found at the expo –

Mary, HR Director from Illinois, of a 250-person marketing firm. She had $15,000 to spend and was looking for some technology to help with engagement and connection for remote and hybrid workers. Also, anything that could help in recruiting.

Mark, VP of HR from Denver, 2500 person medical manufacturing company. $50,000 of budget he had discretion over to buy technology. Needed help with getting more hourly workers and retaining hourly workers.

Yolanda, Director level from California, 500-person warehouse and trucking. She had $5000 she could spend and was looking for something to help with retention.

Barb, CHRO out of Atlanta, Law firm, 300 total employees, $25,000, but maybe more depending on what she found. She needed some compensation help and sourcing help for her recruiter.

Robert, Director out of Dallas, 5,000 person electronics manufacturing company. $10-25,000 and he was looking for something like internal mobility but sounded more like just internal job board help.

The one enterprise buyer I spoke with wouldn’t give me a number and realistically, she told me, anything major would have to go to RFP, but she was here looking at everything, especially things that she could add onto their SAP stack.

Across the board, everyone I spoke to was in the market at different levels and many mentioned while they might be able to make this decision on their own, this was the “just shopping” phase to see what is out there. They would take back ideas and findings to their team and decide who to demo.

So, I followed up with many with the question, “What about all those that aren’t here?” The resounding answer was, “Everyone is here, or if they’re not, we probably wouldn’t be interested” assuming those were only small players. There was an assumption all the major players in the HR Tech space were there, which we know is far from true, but it was an interesting finding!

The HR and Recruiting Tech space assumes SHRM only has SMB buyers so why come, and if I’m honest, there are a lot of those types at SHRM, probably 65% or so are in the SMB space. But, it doesn’t mean SMBs don’t have money to spend.

So many of the best-of-breed recruiting technology companies are not in attendance and I know for a fact their average deal size is under $20,000. Seems like a massive missed opportunity as these buyers were looking at a lot of lower-end techs and believing it is the next greatest thing!

It seems like with most HR Technology buys, outside of enterprise system buys, the add-on market is about being seen, being found, and delivering to an audience that needs you, but they don’t know they need you until they see you. With thousands of HR pros and leaders all in one location, it leaves me scratching my head on why these vendors don’t make the investment to come.

Are there buyers of HR Technology at the SHRM Annual Conference? The simple answer is, Yes!

Digital Transformation of Work & Wellbeing – @SHRMLabs Report

I got invited recently to be a part of a think tank of sorts on a project with SHRM Labs and Techstars Workforce Development Accelerator discussing what technologies are needed to help navigate the new digital world of work. What the heck does that mean? Good question!

If you haven’t checked out SHRM Labs they are doing some amazing work around innovation, technology, and work. Led by Guillermo Corea, SHRM is working to take a leading stance on the technology that is built for HR. This isn’t your grandmother’s SHRM! Shout out to Hadeel El-Tashi, she has been amazing as well on the SHRM Labs team.

Basically, we have three types of worker environments right now:

  • Full On-Premise work
  • Hybrid
  • Full Remote

Full on-premise work we’ve been trying to build tech and processes around wellbeing for a long time. To limited success, for sure, but still, it’s been a long focus for technologists and HR for decades. Hybrid and Full Remote, while not new, were limited in use, so the focus was not there, then the pandemic thing happened and this had to ramp up really fast.

What we found is there are limited options for organizations to truly and robustly support their team’s well-being when they work remotely and in hybrid scenarios. Here’s the basis of the report:

This report highlights participants’ voices on each of these points. It proposes ways to foster work/life integration in remote- and hybrid work environments, followed by an exploration of elements that constitute a great employee experience and effective employee culture, closing with a discussion of how companies can attract (and retain) the best talent in the face of a tight labor market and the Great Resignation.

You can download the report here

What were our main findings:

  1. All organizations need to find ways to embrace flexibility in the workplace. Not just white-collar workers, but all workers. Flexibility and “All” is a difficult undertaking.
  2. Give employees agency and develop accountability. I call this one, treating employees like adults, but smarter people in the think tank had better words than me!
  3. Drive efficiency and asynchronous communication tools. Stop the non-stop stream of zoom meetings thinking that’s how you’ll communicate effectively with hybrid and remote workers.
  4. Personalize benefits and improve the employee experience. We still deliver benefits mostly like it’s 1970. Everyone gets a 401K match, even if that’s not your priority and you have student loans or want to buy your first house. Or we offer student loan repayment, but you graduated thirty years ago and paid off your loans, twenty-five years ago. One size fits most, is a crappy experience.

We also had findings around building digital culture and attracting more workers – you can download the report to check those out.

Overall, we’ve got work to do in HR as a total function, including TA, Talent Management, Learning, Benefits and Compensation, etc. This is invigorating for the field and there are so many passionate technologists in our space trying to help us develop great solutions for our issues.

I’ve been studying the technology in our space for the past decade and I’m always amazed that the process of what we need and what’s available is ever-evolving. The pandemic while awful, has opened up the world of work in ways we’ve been pushing to make happen for decades with little movement, then this tipping point happened and it’s like HR is being reinvented all over again.

It’s an amazing time to be in our profession!