6 Key Takeaways From The 2016 HR Tech Conference

ITA Group
ITA Group
Welcome to the World-Famous HR Tech Expo


Last week, hundreds of HR professionals flocked to Chicago to meet with top-tier vendors and learn all about the latest in the industry.

With 42% of organizations looking to increase their spend on HR technologies in the next 12 months, it’s imperative to know some of the emerging trends coming out of the HR technology industry.

We’ll save you the 40,000+ Fitbit steps we logged while traversing McCormick Place—here are key things we learned from the HR Tech Conference.

1. Employee Experience

If there was one universal theme from HR Tech, it would be this: it’s all about the employee experience. How your people experience your company reflects deeply on whether or not they enjoy where they work.

This concept was woven throughout the conference and many of the technologies being presented. Employee experience is at the heart of HR and is on the top of HR professionals’ minds.

Design thinking, user experience and user interfaces matter, as they are a reflection of your culture. HR tech has been consumerized and employees expect seamless, beautiful experiences.      

2. Prescriptive Actions

In order to drive business results, the HR industry has been making strides with predictive analytics over the past few years.

HR technologies are becoming smarter. They’re not just providing predictive analytics for administrators and stakeholders, they’re turning that information into prescriptive actions by utilizing the data on hand to push the right information to users at the right time.

On top of that, artificial intelligence is starting to answer questions and is allowing managers to facilitate better conversations with their employees. Recognition programs and annual performance reviews are prescribing what a user should say. This is all making the experience simpler and more impactful.

3. Choice

Today, there are five generations in the workforce—from traditionalists to Generation Z. Offering each the ability to make choices that benefit them is key to creating great employee experiences.

What projects or teams do they want to work on? What motivates and incents them? Naturally, the answer differs from person to person. That’s why MotivologySM, the brand of motivation exclusive to ITA Group, identifies and balances internal and external motivators that drive people.

Give your people the opportunity to choose, and you’ll see an uptick in the growth and viability of your workforce.      

4. Continuous Feedback and Interaction

Most HR professionals agree: annual performance reviews are becoming less and less important. More and more organizations are opting for technologies that allow for more continuous feedback, rather than saving it all up for one formal sit-down.

A number of HR technology companies are creating experiences that get employees to interact with the system every day—or even multiple times per day—to keep a pulse of how employees are improving.

On top of that, employers are beginning to rethink their employee recognition programs to include instantaneous feedback loops and social recognition, and are incorporating pulse surveys to get a sense of moods over time. These key changes are allowing HR to be more agile and make adjustments faster.     

5. The Evolution of HR

Another huge shift doesn’t have to do with technology. Rather, it has to do with how HR professionals and the industry as a whole has evolved.

HR is taking a page out of IT’s playbook. For the first time, you’re hearing HR teams use terminology you’d typically hear while walking by your software development teams—agile methodologies and taking an iterative approach in order to deliver results faster are helping HR departments get the job done better and faster.

This is vastly different than the traditional HR teams of the past, who may have spent 6-12 months perfecting a new program and finally delivering it, only to find that their company’s needs have already shifted.

HR has always evolved and drove business results—now they do it even faster.      

6. The Whole Employee

Today, not being at your desk doesn’t mean you’re not at work. Your smartphone and tablet keep you connected wherever you are. And there’s no such thing as work-life balance anymore. There’s just life.

That’s why the latest, most adept HR technologies can’t just focus on rewarding their people for what they do at work. Performance recognition is only one tool—rewarding employees for meeting their career, wellness, social and community goals helps them feel truly appreciated and stay engaged at work.

And, by consolidating these recognition, performance and wellness initiatives on one powerful platform, employers can take their program even further.     

Here's what these incredible speakers from the HR Technology Conference had to say:

"The more you infuse technology, the more important relationships are ... I think technology can reintroduce humanity back into the workplace." –Dermot O'Brien, CHRO at ADP

Three things to focus on during transformation: Leadership, skills and employee experience. –Diane Gherson, CHRO at IBM

"How do we connect everybody who wants to be connected? For those who get it right, the world is theirs." –Barry Libert, CEO of OpenMatters LLC


Twitter was buzzing with these tweets during the conference:

"Every company is a technology company, and every HR leader is a technology leader."

Data is people. But people are not data. Know the difference.

Personalization of employee benefits offerings an important aspect of creating a compelling and valuable employee experience.

Employees are the absolute best recruiters now. Organizations need to be using social meida to push culture from inside out.


Though the doors to the HR Tech Show may have closed, attending HR professionals walked away with a stronger grasp on the latest in engagement, motivation and employee loyalty. 

Dermot O’Brien, Chief Human Resources Officer at ADP, had a stunning quote at this year’s conference: “The more you infuse technology, the more important relationships are…I think technology can reintroduce humanity back into the workplace.”

The best way to nurture those relationships? Promote whole-employee wellbeing and focus on inspiring employee motivation.