HR Tech 2022: The Rise of the Human


Including 2022, I’ve personally attended 17 HR Tech Conferences.  For those of you not familiar with HR Tech, it is the biggest gathering of HR technology providers colliding with some of the brightest HR leaders and practitioners in the industry, all focused on solving really big problems.

While this year held many common themes that we’ve seen for years, including how to attract and hire talent more easily, how to do more with data and the like, what really struck me about this year’s conference is how much of the themes finally centered around the human.  Not just on leaders or executives getting what they need from systems and processes, but a focus on the people at every level of an organization and what they really need, both inside and outside the workplace.

Here were a few of our key takeaways from the conference:

  1. Wellbeing Is Not A Nice-To-Have.  From the opening keynote to the closing session, pretty much everyone acknowledged that when people aren’t well in life, they can’t do well at work.  So caring about your people and their wellbeing is a must when it comes to attracting and retaining talent, but it’s also the key to unlocking their potential. “Employees are under incredible stress … mental health is the No. 1 issue on the minds of CEOs.” Josh Bersin, Keynote speaker who also recently noted that 81% of employees are facing burnout or other stress on their mental health.
  2. A New Era of Safety.  In the past, talking about safety at HR Tech meant talking about physical safety alone, and while that’s still important, we’re now starting to see safety evolve into a discussion around belonging and inclusion in the workplace as organizations consider how to create psychological safety at work.  Not only is this the key to greater retention, but it’s a key factor in engagement as well. “Companies today must rethink their approach to talent and humanize work. They must focus on the individual, build more meaningful relationships, and provide an experience rooted in inclusivity, humanity, dignity, and trust. This area of HR Technology has grown significantly over the past few years, and we found that 64% of companies are increasing their investment in experience solutions.”  - Madeline LauranoHRTech Recap: Key Trends and Leading Providers, Aptitude Research.
  3. Things Are Not Going Back To Pre-Pandemic Versions Of Normal.  The hybrid/remote/office workplace debate remains unsettled even as most people roamed the conference floor without a mask or any regard for social distancing, but one thing everyone seemed to agree on was that the ways things were will never be the way things are again, at least not quite.  Despite a near-certain economic downturn, most organizations were planning for a future where landing top talent is as hard, if not harder, than it is today, forcing them to rethink the skill sets needed for success and how to create those.  Many organizations are planning to double-down on wellness related initiatives and investments to reduce burnout and attrition across their workers.  And flexibility remains the name of the game when it comes to HR, with those organizations showing the greatest flexibility clearly winning the best talent and keeping them longer.

For me, this will be an HR Tech Conference to remember.  After launching SPOTLYFE earlier this year, we were humbled to make it into the final round of Pitchfest from over 100 companies that applied. We faced some of the most innovative and purpose-driven founders, like Natalie Egan at Translator, Inc (this product is incredible, by the way…you should really check it out if you care about DEI).  We were beyond excited to hear our name announced as the winner, not only as validation for our team and the hard work they’ve put in, but also to know that what we’re building has the chance to truly make an impact on people’s lives.  That’s our mission and we are so grateful for the chance to share that mission with the world.

I want to give a special thank you to all that showed up to cheer us on as we strive to make life work better.  As I shared SPOTLYFE’s story with the crowd, it was validating to look at the audience and see the heads nodding in agreement.  I know that HR is one of the most burned out teams inside any organization and it breaks my heart to see people I’ve worked with, people I know and respect, leaving the HR space due to burnout.  Working to eradicate even a small portion of that burnout is what keeps our team going every day, but we can’t do this alone.  So your vote of confidence in what we’re doing means the world to us.  Thank you!