This was the third year of SHRM’s Better Workplaces Challenge Cup, which is a startup competition for HR Technology companies. SHRM CEO, Johnny Taylor, has been very open about his vision for SHRM when it comes to HR Technology. It is his belief that SHRM should be the leader in HR Technology.
Part of this leadership is the Better Workplace Challenge Cup. Still, it’s also the creation and support of SHRMLabs which acts as an innovation hub for SHRM’s HR Tech aspirations, that are now seeing SHRM make actual venture capital investments into HR Technology startup companies. This is a big move for SHRM and something new for members to pay attention to. SHRMLabs is being led by Guillermo Corea, who continues to push the boundaries of what SHRM can be known for in HR Tech.
HR Technology might be the most important competency for HR Leaders of the future, but it currently stands as the weakest competency by a mile. SHRM is definitely looking to change this and bring HR technology to the forefront of its membership and HR leaders.
I spoke to a number of SHRM Executive Network attendees, and they also echoed these conversations were happening in their meetings this week as well.
Okay, what about the winner of the Better Workplace Challenge Cup?!
First, I was a judge for the finals. Along with my good friend Wiliam Tincup, SHRM Knowledge Center Director Amber Clayton, Tech Entrepreneur Jeff Wald, and author and TV personality Suzy Welch. A lot of smart folks in that judge’s panel!
The competition started with over 400 entries from around the world, and those were paired down to the top 50. From those fifty finalists, we got to one North American finalist: Maxwell, and one international finalist: Inuka.
Maxwell is led by founder Adriana Cisneros Basulto (one of the two female finalists), and it’s a work/life benefits & rewards technology. Basically, through a debit card issued to each of your employees, Maxwell allows each employee to select some select benefits/rewards that fit them specifically.
Inuka is led by founder Robin van Dalen, and it’s a combination of coaching tech and employee experience. Inuka is a technology that works to increase the resiliency of your workforce through science and expert coaching at a very competitive price point that allows all employees to receive coaching, not just those at the executive level.
The winner of the 2023 Better Workplace Challenge Cup is Maxwell.
That’s always the question. I’ve been lucky enough to be a judge in quite a few of these startup competitions, and it’s never one thing or the same thing. Each founder has just a few minutes to talk you into why they should win. That tends to work very well for technologies that are easy to explain and the judges can wrap their minds around what it is and how will the eventual buyer use the technology.
In this case, Maxwell was super easy to understand how it will work and the judges seem to believe buyers would have an interest in using it for their employees. The reality is both techs were great or they wouldn’t have made it that far. Inuka will also do well and they already have a great list of enterprise brands using the technology. It was just a bit more complex to explain.
I want to thank the SHRMLabs team for inviting me to be a judge and to be apart of SHRM’s journey to get more professionals to pay attention to HR Technology and grow the industry and their competency level. HR Tech isn’t scary or too complex for anyone in HR to understand. If IT or vendors are making it seem that way, you have the wrong IT leaders and HR Tech vendors! HR Professionals and leaders deal with some of the most complex things on a daily basis, technology is definitely something we can master.