Discovering the Next Great HR Technology Company – #HRTechConf

hrtcHere’s one of the things I like about the HR Technology Conference & Exposition – discovering where the innovation is happening. What solutions are being created? What problems are being solved? How, let’s get down to brass tacks people, does software assist HR leaders (and business leaders) as they look to solve day-to-day business challenges?

If you’re curious, like I am, to find out which startups are shaking up the HR industry then you need to pay attention to the #HRTechConf session “Discovering the Next Great HR Technology Company” (Tuesday, October 4th at 3:45 PM CDT). After working with one of the expert coaches (Steve Boese, Jason Averbook, Kyle Lagunas, George LaRoque, Madeline Laurano, or Trish McFarlane) each company gets to showcase their solution on the big stage … and then the attendees vote for the winner.

The participating startups include:


ClickBoarding is a comprehensive employee onboarding software focused on the new hire experience by not only leveraging cutting-edge cloudtechnology, but also embracing regulatory compliance and providing a Candidate Care services team as an extension of the company. ClickBoarding believes the recruiting process never ends for a candidate, nor does a company get a second chance to make a first impression. A great onboarding solution is more than a software application providing a website to simply manage forms, I-9/E-Verify and workflows.


Clinch is a Recruitment Marketing and CRM platform designed to centralize a company’s career pages, recruitment marketing and talent network initiatives, enabling employers to source, identify, understand, engage and convert the best candidates – including the 90 percent of those who demonstrate an interest in their company, but don’t apply.


HighGround enables organizations to modernize performance development and engagement for a more productive, motivated workforce. The agile and social “people platform” gives organizations invaluable insights into daily interactions by empowering employees to create stretch goals, initiate coaching conversations with their managers, give recognition to peers, and share sentiments and opinions.


InvestiPro is a fully-automated workplace investigation solution designed to simplify the way employers conduct investigations. The InvestiPro online process walks you through every step, start to finish.


LifeWorks will present its industry-first wellness and engagement platform that makes employees Feel Loved in any organization. LifeWorks multi-point platform provides employee assistance, wellness, perks, internal communications and recognition all in one place. Users currently login more than three times a day on average.


Qwalify will present its solution, Talent Dojo: a professional digital networking platform that is the evolution of talent engagement for recruitment. Through brand-building discussions, the solution builds meaningful relationships between customers, candidates and companies. Focusing on character, personality and knowledge, Talent Dojo reveals the true fit of the candidate; delivering actionable insights on company culture, brand alignment and career fit. Talent Dojo helps you find the right candidates before the job application process even begins.


RolePoint will present its leading internal talent mobility tool to deliver a streamlined career progression experience for employees and enable talent development teams to improve retention across their entire organization.

The Chemistry Group

The Chemistry Group believes everyone should have an opportunity to be brilliant at work. The combination of its technology and award-winning intellectual property allows its global clients to predict the future performance of potential and existing employees to an unparalleled level of accuracy. Global organizations such as SAP, Experian, Diageo and Pizza Hut are reducing their operational spend and increasing their productivity by hiring great people and realizing the potential of their existing workforce through their scalable cloud platform.

Still haven’t registered? Use Promo Code SCHOOL16 for a $200.00 discount off the current HR Tech rate.  Or, if you just want to spend some time in the Expo Hall, use the Promo Code EXPO75 to get a “One Day Expo Pass” for only $75 (this offer expires 10/1/16!)

Register here.


Startup Pavilion at the #HRTechConf

techIn just a few short weeks (October 4 – 7, 2016) the always anticipated, never imitated, HR Technology Conference & Exposition will be kicking off at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

While the Expo Hall is an HR tech enthusiast’s dream come true (with more than 400 companies exhibiting, answering questions, conducting demos, passing out snacks and dispensing cocktails), I particularly enjoy the Startup Pavilion embedded within the Expo Hall. This year, in the Startup Pavilion’s 3rd year, attendees will get to see 40 of the most promising new startups that have entered the market.

Take it for a test drive! Talk to the founders and developers! Check out the swag! Swing by on day 1 and then come back on day 3 for more!

How are these firms changing the market? Stop by and check them out:



The Expo floor will be open 5 – 7 p.m. on Tuesday, October 4; 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 5; and 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Thursday, October 6.

Still haven’t registered? Use Promo Code SCHOOL16 for a $200.00 discount off the current HR Tech rate.  Or, if you just want to spend some time in the Expo Hall, use the Promo Code EXPO75 to get a “One Day Expo Pass” for only $75 (this offer expires 10/1/16!)

Register here.





Segmentation and the Practice of HR

baby guinessI spent a few days last week at the HR Tech Fest Conference (#HRTF16) and enjoyed every moment; listening, learning and talking about the future of talent, HR, technology, recruiting, and work.

I was energized when I heard the stories told by HR leaders including Neil Morrison (Penguin Random House), Jim O’ Gorman (Hulu) and Ambrosia Vertesi (formerly of Hootsuite). I was inspired after numerous individual discussions about new ways to leverage existing (and emerging) technology to connect with candidates, applicants, employees and organizational leaders. I got to talk through the logistics of my beta test at work using Slack as an internal community/platform for our hiring managers. I tried out some messaging ideas I’ve been kicking around for employer branding and TA initiatives back at the shop. I had a conversation about how, potentially, I could make Facebook at Work … well, work. Maybe. Not quite sure if that last one actually fits.

One size…one trend, idea, concept, or forecast … will never fit all because of any infinite number of variables including organizational readiness, the demographics of the workforce, the risk aversion of an industry, and willingness of leaders and employees to experiment or test. I’m more than likely, in my current organization, never going to use Virtual Reality technology and it’s highly unlikely we’ll ever get to the stage of using AI and scientific assessments in our selection process.

And that’s OK.

It’s not just about SMEs vs. Enterprise. I’m not talking number of employees or number of staff in one’s HR Department. It’s really not even about the size of the HR budget or company revenue. Yet those are, quite often, the primary factors in the market segmentation strategy employed by HR tech vendors and solution providers (“oh…sorry….we only work with companies that have 5,000+ employees”). Trust me…I get it. Can’t say as I like it much, but I get it.

So what I need to do is make sure that my team approaches our HR work with a DIY attitude; the reality, by the way, for a huge number of human resources teams. We scrimp and scramble and create using the materials on hand; mixing them up to get the job done. Many HR professionals on the ground don’t have the budget to make a purchase ($$), don’t have the resources to train users on something overly complex (time, staff, and more $$) and don’t have the time to pause and even learn about “what could be.” OK…admittedly some possess neither the curiosity to wonder about “what could be” nor the mental capacity to understand, but that’s another blog post.

As for me, at the end of any of these events, I leave with nuggets of wisdom and ideas for how to scale up/scale down to find the fit, if appropriate, for my organization. Am I going to build an Open Cloud Academy like Rackspace (another nifty thing I heard about at #HRTF16)? Nope. But I got a few ideas from them for something – a ‘tiny” something – that I may be able to create. DIY.

As for that segmentation of HR buyers and users? I always take the opportunity to chat with my friends who are HR Tech company founders or developers or product evangelists or marketing experts and educate them on “real” HR. Quite often they have no idea, whatsoever, what day-to-day real-world blood-and-guts HR is like. And how could they? (Sometimes I show them pictures). Their only experience, quite often, with an HR lady has been with the benefit-enrolling policy-quoting bureaucrat who sits behind a closed door drinking her diet Cokes and warming up Lean Cuisines in the break room microwave for lunch; they certainly never hung out with her consuming rounds of baby Guinness shots. More than likely.

That’s me doing my best to end the needlessly unnecessary segmentation.

You’re welcome.


Take Me to the Leaderboard – #HRTF16

Uckers_gameboard_graphicI was en route to #HRTF16 last night, playing a round of Cookie Jam on my iPad, and got to thinking how just a few years ago heading off to an HR technology event meant there would be lots of chatter (and sessions) devoted to gamification.

Remember that? We were told that every aspect of the HR sphere would be disrupted. People want awards and stickers and scores and badges!! (we were told). You can increase engagement and fun!! (we were told). Employees like the thrill of the competition!! (we were told). Sort of like the Olympics only without, you know, the performance enhancing drugs and bowls of condoms in the Olympic Village.

Back in those halcyon days everyone from my benefit provider to my safety consultant got into this. My medical carrier, I am not even kidding, hauled a kiosk into our building one day (via a dolly) and set it up so that employees could log in, create profiles, and then compete for (virtual) wellness badges against sports celebrities and inanimate objects like Frank the Fire Hydrant (I am not making this up) and Skippy the Dog.

A year later that program, which had been released with much fanfare to customers …. there were billboards on the interstate!…. was kaput.

Huh. For a while there everyone in HR was tripping over themselves, trying to sound smart, by using the “G” word. But what has it wrought?

Your job applicants don’t want to play games; they want a smooth, seamless fast process that allows them to escape your crappy ATS as soon as possible.

Just because Justine and Kara in the Call Center are earning badges on your “TEAM Culture!!” website/game faster than a newly sworn in Brownie (whose mother is the troop leader) doesn’t mean they’re more “engaged.”  Perhaps they’re merely looking for a break from the humdrum monotony and since you have an HR policy that prohibits playing “Angry Birds 2” on their phones, they have to do something.

Karl in IT? The guy who is on top of the leaderboard for your wellness program? He’s chalking up points while simultaneously eating Cheetos from the comfort of his couch while binge re-watching the entire GOT series from beginning to end.

Gaming theory? Game mechanics? Game thinking? Absolutely fascinating to discuss but I wonder if we went off the rails in terms of any huge impact or disruption (if you will) within the HR space?

Did any of this make sense in the first place? Weren’t the organizations with cultures built on this kind of stuff……doing it anyway? I don’t know about you but every L&D lady I ever worked with had game theory embedded in every granule of her adult learning mantra.

Or not? Huh.

In any event I’m off to enjoy the conference where I anticipate having a whole bunch of smarty pants HR conversations with super amazing people.

Yup; I’ll be heading out in just a minute or two; there are a few friends I’m gaining on in Candy Crush Soda Saga……


Let’s Talk #HRTF16

AHI am, let’s face it, the typical HR practitioner. I do boring stuff like write policies and lecture train managers. I coordinate open enrollment meetings. I drop acronyms into daily chit chat like “ADA” and “FLSA” and “OFCCP” until people’s eyes glaze over. I have boring corporate conference calls on topics like HIPAA and the ACA. I help my team as they plan wellness communications and craft articles for the employee newsletter. I sit in the weekly operations meeting and share dull HR updates about hiring metrics and recruiting goals while chastising the department directors about some form they haven’t completed correctly. (note: I do try to keep it fun; in last week’s meeting I made a really bad pun about the urinals in the men’s bathroom).

I don’t work for some sexy fancy name-brand company; I’m sitting here in middle-America with a tight and well-managed budget. I keep a large chunk of my HR data (read: “system of record”) on excel spreadsheets but (thank you baby Jesus/Moses/Vishnu!!) I do have access to an in-house team of analysts who can slice and dice just about any sort of gibberish data points I send them.  Hey….guys…can you put a projection together for how much crawfish I need to order for the annual crawfish boil?” (Really; in Louisiana this is damn serious business.) 

Apart from, perhaps, the urinal jokes…..I’m your HR lady.  And your HR lady is also also fed up with spreadsheets and paper files and crap processes and archaic systems that are keepin’ her down.

She also doesn’t have a huge budget to spend on buying fancy new systems and widgets.  And that’s OK. neither do I.

I do, however, have the ability to learn from those sexy fancy name-brand companies and I intend to do just that, in a few short weeks, at HR Tech Fest.  Naturally, in true HR fashion, I also get to suck up some HRCI and SHRM recertification credits. #score

Credits aside though, I am stoked.  Tincup doing a Jumpstart session. Neil Morrison with an opening keynote called “Experiment, Innovate & Excite as an HR Leader.” Jonathan Kestenbaum talking “Top Trends in Talent Acquisition Technology.”  My friend Katee Van Horn talking about Culture. Boorman doing his “Data for Good;Data for Evil” talk and freaking us all out. Ambrosia Vertesi talking #HROS: Open-Source Comes to HR” (yeah yeah – I’m an #HROS volunteer so I’m super jacked up for this one).

People….this will be great!!

It’s my first journey to this conference and I actually think it’s the inaugural US event.. though I may be wrong. I dunno. Nevertheless, based on the line-up I envision less of a circle-jerk of mutually-congratulatory accolades than those that surface at other events and more in-depth learning on the future of work and how HR technology will impact that future. Less fraternity culture…more inclusion; I’ll be sipping on my wapatui in the corner observing and waiting for a pledge pin.

Well…if not a pledge pin then at least an end to the spreadsheet madness.

note: if you register now you can receive 2 hotel nights as part of your registration! Join us! 


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