A Forum for Product News
Workday used the HR Tech Conference as a forum to discuss its shift away
from standard annual performance evaluation to “performance enablement”—
both in terms of its internal practices and its client offerings.
Rather than checking in with employees once a year, Workday’s performance
enablement strengthens employees’ autonomy and allows them to connect with
their managers whenever they may need.
By empowering employees to take control of their careers, the approach seeks
to increase engagement and promote collaboration, flexibility and coaching.
Businessolver, meanwhile, unveiled its free Empathy Index, a tool anyone
can use to see where their organization falls on an empathy scale. The Index
uses three years of research to examine empathy from both the employer
and employee viewpoints. It is quantified across five key pillars: behaviors,
communications, company values, culture and corporate philanthropy.
Once a score is received, the tool suggests how to increase empathy, says
Businessolver Vice President of Marketing and Communications Cynthia Phillips.
Businessolver found that 87 percent of CEOs believe that empathy is tied to a
business’ financial outcomes, making empathy a key performance indicator that
shouldn’t be overlooked.
In addition, the company announced that its personal benefits assistant,
Sophia, is now capable of managing workflows, which expands her service reach.
Since Sophia was first launched in 2017, she has increased her knowledge by 250
percent (she learns from every single customer interaction) and has significantly
decreased customer wait time.
SilkRoad discussed at the show the findings of its 2018 Global Strategic
Onboarding Report, which surveyed hundreds of global executives and found that
most of them want to improve new-hire engagement.
Lilith Christiansen, vice president of onboarding solutions at SilkRoad, points
out that the survey highlights the importance of onboarding, noting that the ideal
length of time for onboarding a new hire should be around one year. During that
time, she says, the new hire should be introduced not only to peers, but also to
potential mentors as well as executives.
Further, Christiansen adds, coaching should be emphasized during that period
and compliance paperwork should be spaced out so that onboarding isn’t just
two days of paperwork followed by, well, nothing.
Achievers, meanwhile, released as a standalone solution Achievers Listen, a
continuous employee “listening tool” designed to ask questions and engage with
employees in a scientifically validated way. It incorporates always-on employee
listening through Allie, an intelligent digital chatbot “coach,” which gives
employees an outlet to share their feedback anytime.
To “influence lives, you need to provide data that can be acted upon,” says
Achiever’s Chief Workforce Scientist Natalie Baumgartner, noting that the tool
enables managers to identify what their people need—and then deliver.
On day three of the event, Cornerstone OnDemand announced its
acquisition of Workpop Inc., a provider of web and mobile solutions for
candidates and hiring managers in the retail and hospitality sectors.
The acquisition further accelerates Cornerstone’s efforts in recruiting, says
Cornerstone CEO Adam Miller.
The company also announced Cornerstone Frontline, a recruiting solution
aimed at companies seeking to hire local, entry-level and frontline employees,
such as store managers recruiting new cashiers, supervisors seeking seasonal
warehouse employees and healthcare providers looking for administrative staff.;
At present, Miller says, Cornerstone has about 1,000 clients that use its
learning and performance solutions, but not recruiting.
—Danielle Westermann King and David Shadovitz
The much-derided millennial
generation has a legitimate beef, he said.
“We’ve laid out a roadmap that says
the best path for most people is also
the one that’s the most expensive,”
said Rowe. “We like to complain about
millennials, that they’re snowflakes
with their safe spaces and ‘crying
closets,’ and yet we ourselves are the
clouds from which these ‘snowflakes’
Making Experience a Priority
At a general session on opening
day, industry analyst Josh Bersin gave
attendees a taste of what his latest
research project—the HR Technology
Market 2019—will entail. Among the
many HR topics covered in the soon-to-be-published report is the employee
Bersin noted that the HR-technology
marketplace has turned into a market
that consists of three tiers: the core
ERP and payroll system, the talent
tools and a new layer focused on giving
employees an integrated experience.
“Engagement is an outcome of
building a great company with great
management and meaningful work
and good experiences for employees,”
Bersin said. “So, the engagement
industry, which used to encompass
a small number of companies that
did annual surveys with benchmarks
maybe five or six years ago, has now
turned into a massive industry of
The next generation, he added, is
going to include nudges, suggestions
and action plans for supervisors based
on data so they can manage their
HR, Bersin added, is moving
away from simply being a platform
to becoming a means for improving
“We have more technology, more
tools and we’re constantly connected,”
Bersin said. “We’re walking around
with basically supercomputers attached
to our bodies, yet we’re getting less
Why is that? he asked. It’s because
“we have created a very difficult work
experience,” he responded.
It’s no one’s fault this is occurring,
he added. “Rather, it’s just the way the
“I had a meeting with the CHRO
of a large global company about two
weeks ago, and he was going through
all the things he was working on,”
Bersin said. “One of those was a
wellbeing program. When I asked
him, just out of curiosity, ‘Why are you
doing a wellbeing program?’ he said
that it’s very simple: ‘Our employees
are exhausted; they cannot keep up; we
have global operations; we’re sending
The CHRO told Bersin that his
company also had set a policy that
prevented meetings from starting
before 9 a.m. so employees could get up
in the morning, get some exercise or go
for a walk before they started work.
If you walked around the HR
Tech Conference’s exhibition, he
added, “You’re probably going to
find that most of the vendors have
slapped the word ‘engagement,’
‘culture’ or ‘employee experience’
on their products because they’re all
trying to figure out how to improve
the employee experience. This is
Bersin suggested that if the
tools you’re purchasing today aren’t
improving workforce productivity,
you need to ask yourself why you’re
doing it. “I’m not saying everything
in HR is going to have a direct impact
on revenue per hour or customer
satisfaction,” he noted. “But if you don’t
get a sense that it’s moving you in that
direction, then you’re going to find
low levels of adoption. You’re going
to find people don’t use the software.
You’re not going to gain traction on
the technology investments you’re
making. You’re not solving the biggest
Over the next year or two, he
predicted, HR is going to be viewed as
a productivity-enhancing function, not
just one focused on engagement and
retention, “which, to me, is more of an
outcome than a goal.”
Another challenge Bersin cited is
the impact AI is beginning to have on
HR and jobs. The research suggests
that 40 percent to 50 percent of the jobs
that exist today will be different in the
future, thanks to robotics and AI.
Bersin noted that it’s about a 12- to
18-month learning path to reskill people
into those new jobs. “Not 10 years,”
he said, adding that HR needs to find
the time to create an environment that
enables reskilling to happen.
The research, Bersin said, also
shows that graduates coming out of
college today are not ready to go to
work. “Companies are finding they
don’t have enough problem-solving
skills or collaboration and business
acumen, so we have a lot of interesting
challenges there,” he explained.
Influential Women Make the Case for D&I
Airbags were invented in the 1950s,
were standard in most cars by 1988 and
became a mandatory safety feature in
1998. Around this time, however, there
were more and more reported car-accident deaths—not from the accident
itself, but from the deployed airbags.
Imagine that, said Rita Mitjans, chief
diversity officer at ADP: a safety feature
was causing more deaths. Why was
this happening? At the time, engineers
designed the airbags to protect a 5-foot-
9, 165-pound person—can you guess
the demographic makeup of the design
team? They were all male and, with no
outside perspective, designed airbags
based on versions of themselves.
What if there were women on that
design team? They could have avoided
this mounting issue, she said, by
explaining the size differential among
men, women and children. Instead,
manufacturers paid a steep price for not
having diverse perspectives.
Mitjans opened the conference’s
Women in HR Technology Summit,
which brought together some of the
most influential female HR leaders to
offer their insights and lessons learned
throughout their careers—especially
as women and minorities in a rather
homogenously dominated world.
In Mitjans’ opening keynote,
“The Business Case for Diversity,”
she weaved in personal details about
her career journey along with some
disappointing statistics on the state of
women and minorities in leadership and
technology. For instance, she noted that
more than half of all college graduates
are female, but only 19 percent
graduate with an engineering degree