September 28 - October 1, 2021 was HR Technology Conference and Exposition, hosted by Human Resource Executive, and it was a great opportunity to get the industry back together and network in person again. Michelle Sargent, our VP of New Business & Partnerships, and Cory Kapner, our VP of Global Sales & Partnerships, were two of the 2,000+ industry specialists that attended the conference.
With major players in the industry attending, there were plenty of opportunities to connect, gain industry insights, and hold important conversations. Here were our top takeaways from the event:
Attending #HRTechConf In Person
After attending conferences virtually for over a year, the opportunity to meet and reconnect with everyone in person gave us a sense of normalcy again and reminded us what we’ve been missing for so long! HR Tech did an amazing job of keeping everyone as responsible as possible and creating a safe environment to come together and network. They required confirmation of vaccination to attend, participants had to register on Clear App, and everyone had to wear a mask inside the event.
There is something special about being able to interact with people face-to-face, from grabbing a cup of coffee to making lunch plans, which made this event stand out even more. Being able to sit down and chat with people in their booths was such an invaluable aspect of the conference.
While the pandemic continues to impact everyday life and it remains important to follow safety protocols, attending an in-person event that was both organized safely and executed successfully left us in awe of how far things have come since March 2020. It was certainly impactful to reflect on all the radical changes that have taken place in a relatively brief time to make events like these possible once again, making it easier to look toward the next few months with hope and a sense of cautious optimism about improvements to come.
Impactful Sessions Held By Keynotes
There were a few common themes in this conference brought up by vendors and practitioners during their sessions, including AI and talent intelligence, CRMs, DEIB assessments, employee experience and feedback (particularly important to maintain a successful remote work environment), and high volume hiring strategies.
One major highlight from the conference was Abby Wambach’s keynote session on “How HR Leaders Can Change the Game.” Wambach’s incredible session poignantly addressed inequalities and challenges faced by women in the working world, and she shared that one of her goals is to raise awareness about gender pay gaps and the need to address these wage inequalities in a way that is consistent, fair, and logical.
In her speech, Wambach made a profound statement about how retirement often looks very different for men in professional sports compared to women in professional sports, drawing comparisons to the way men and women are treated differently in the professional world as well. Wambach translated these complex issues around gender inequality in the workplace into something simple, straightforward, and easy to follow, conveying her message in a way that deeply resonated with the audience and sparked some interesting, important, and thought-provoking dialogues.
Fred Goff, CEO of Jobcase, held a session called “Walking the Walk on Stakeholder Capitalism - Empowering Workers as a Competitive Advantage” about how workers are rediscovering their role as stakeholders in the economy and are demanding more. While this may sound intimidating at first, Goff described how this offers the perfect opportunity for employers to succeed by listening to their employees and creating meaningful change that empowers their workforce to be more satisfied, productive, and invested than ever.
Eightfold.ai’s Andrew Loecher and Jess Scrimale delivered some fantastic insights in their session, “Unleashing Employee Potential by Unlocking the Power of Data,” where they discussed the importance of harnessing reliable data, ways that AI can help make defining competency and career pathing easier, and more scalable, and the role talent marketplaces play in creating talent mobility. With competition for talent more heated than ever, Loecher and Scrimale encouraged attendees to look beyond addressing talent gaps through hiring alone, touching on the importance of talent retention, evaluating the skills of existing employees, and determining the tools they need to expand those skills and maximize their potential.
Nealy Hale, Sr. Solution Architect at iCIMS, had a great session called, “Disrupting Recruiting from the Inside-Out with Employee-Generated Content.” This session covered user-generated content platforms, how consumer and jobseeker behaviors are transforming, and why employee-generated videos are the key to creating authentic and differentiated experiences for candidates. In a world where jobseekers are increasingly likely to seek out company reviews and place more trust in employee testimonials than what they read in an actual job posting, it has become crucial to include employees in your recruitment process.
At Recruitics, one aspect of HR Tech that we absolutely love is attending Pitchfest -- and this year, there were 33 pitches from different HR tech companies in the industry. We alway look forward to learning what other companies are doing in the space and what new ideas our industry peers are coming up with, and the 2021 top HR products were incredible to learn about.
The pitch that stood out for us was from Onwards HR, who ended up being the winner of Pitchfest. Sarah Rodehort, who is Co-Founder and CEO of Onwards HR, presented about their risk management platform that helps automate employee separations and provides a smooth and supportive employee exit experience.
Invaluable Meetings With Vendors and Industry Friends
The hidden gems of this conference were the one-on-one meetings we were able to have with key players in the industry about what has been going on. These conversations were so valuable, and it was validating hearing from others that we are all having the same problems in the industry and what we are all seeing isn’t just isolated to one company.
We were grateful to get plenty of time to reconnect with peers and industry leaders we already knew, and deepen our connections with one another. From breakfast with friends at Phenom, to bumping into longtime industry veterans we admire like Tracey Parsons, to chatting with innovative leaders like Stories Incorporated co-founder and partner Lauryn Sargent, being reunited like this made the event more memorable.
We also loved the opportunity to hear from our amazing vendors and partners, such as ZipRecruiter, and learn that they are working hard to innovate their product pipelines. We cannot wait to see what they have in store!
Thank you to Human Resource Executive for hosting this event and to our industry peers for an amazing experience. We are so grateful for the opportunity to connect with such bright leaders in the space, and look forward to learning together again in the future!
What were some of your major takeaways from this year's HR Tech? Let us know, and we'd love to hear what ideas you have for HR Tech 2022!