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On HR Tech Day 2, Strategy Meets Purpose

Albert Qian
Content marketing manager for HCM

HR leaders returned (virtually) to the HR Technology Conference today, inspired and motivated by the messages they heard yesterday. As the day progressed, attendees noticed a common theme around purpose and meaning in the sessions, addressed at both leaders and the employees they manage. Finally, the day concluded with the “Top Products of the Year” awards ceremony, honoring the innovations driving the HR technology market over the past year. 

Here’s what we saw today: 

Takeaway #1: HR on Purpose 

“Purpose is the underlying reason why we do things”, said Stacia Garr to kick off the day. As co-founder and Principal Analyst at RedThread Research, Garr analyzes organizational effectiveness and starts with purpose, an area front and center as HR leaders navigate the COVID-19 pandemic

Some might look at purpose in these struggling times and scoff, noted Garr, especially since it has traditionally appeared opposite profit—something many organizations are struggling to attain with the new business climate. However, increased surveys show that it is, in fact, a purpose that leads the way, with an Edelman Trust Study showing that nearly three-quarters of respondents believing that companies can increase their bottom line and the community around them. With mental health becoming a bigger workplace issue, employees are also expecting businesses to wield a greater influence in the world—nearly 80% want brands to solve society’s problems and 64% want companies to set examples with diversity—and large corporations have the most work to do of all. 

Above all, purpose works best when entrenched in all areas of the business, from talent acquisition to employee enablement, retention, and development. Investing in all of these as we’ve seen with our customers is something that brings a positive return on investment. 

You can watch the keynote session here. (Registration required) 

Takeaway #2: Employees on Purpose 

The privilege of purpose is not just bestowed upon business leaders, but also the workforces they manage. In the sessions following the keynote, attendees heard a variety of perspectives concerning how purpose is executed, from diversity and inclusion to the evolution of job roles: 

  • Diversity and inclusion remain a top priority for companies, especially as they serve a more diverse customer base. This starts with creating a more inclusive workforce and that starts with recruiting, which Accenture is doing with Oracle Cloud HCM and Oracle Cloud Analytics. The goal? A purpose-driven workforce that levels the playing field by 2025. Watch the replay here (registration required). 
  • Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, employee skills have become top-of-mind for HR executives, especially as their companies pivot in response to uncertainty. This in turn has challenged the idea of a job as we know it, as companies develop opportunity marketplaces to drive career mobility and exploration. Dr. John Boudreau, Senior Research Scientist and Professor Emeritus at USC has taken it further to signal the end of job descriptions, especially as automation and digital technologies take over. He expects that employers will deconstruct jobs into their individual projects and accomplishments—supported by AI and machine learning—leading to greater business agility and ultimately, better job matching. 

Additional speakers today stated that they’ve seen the market move 10 years in just a mere six months. Change is clearly in the air, and that also means a change in how HR views purpose and strategy. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has handed HR new organizational purpose, and with that, a bigger seat in the corporate boardroom. Today’s sessions showed how leaders can keep that seat.

Takeaway #3: Technology and Innovation on Purpose

To end the day, organizers of the HR Technology Conference honored top HR innovations, combining their previously separate “Top HR Products of the Year” and “Awesome New Technologies for HR” awards. Many of the technology-focused on purposeful HR solutions in these times, including diversity and inclusion analytics, payroll, and employee experience. 

Among the 16 winners also included Oracle’s Opportunity Marketplace, which enables companies to post gigs that tap into existing talent, maximize workforce potential, and develop in-demand skills. Viewers witnessed a demo from Product Strategy Director Christine Yokoi, which you can watch here or demo at our booth (registration required). We hope you’ll check it out! 

Join Us at HR Tech This Week

HR Tech continues through Friday. Visit Oracle Cloud HCM virtually at our booth where you can book some time to speak to one of our experts or download our AI at Work study. Finally, stay tuned to this blog for more insights on the discussion and share with us in the comments below what you’re hearing. 

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