While the team did take home an injury or two from an exciting time in Vegas (no thanks to the mechanical bull), we took away even more inspiration for building a better workplace culture. Here are the top themes from the conference for HR leaders to tap into today.

Corey and Christy from Erudit get in an "ussie" with the UNLEASH mascots!

Employees are at the center of everything HR does

The most prevalent message was that employees are at the center of everything HR does; if people thrive, then the business thrives. A focus on employee experience is no longer a luxury. Employees need a sense of belonging, and HR can’t create exceptional experiences for them without the help and activation of company-wide leadership.

HR needs to keep a seat at the table

The pandemic gave HR a seat at the (executive) table—and now that they have it? They're not budging. People and culture leaders are being tasked with innovation while being given more liberty and influence. That’s a great thing! However, HR doesn't add traditional data to the business’s bottom line, which is why it took so long for their worth to be valued at the top.

Tools for HR bring quantitative data to the conversation

The rise of tools for HR has brought quantitative data to the conversation, making HR influential in ways they haven't been before. HR now has data to contribute to influencing business decisions and pave the road based on numbers—not just supporting the company after the roadmap is built.

AI adoption goes mainstream

Many HR departments are focusing on up-skilling or re-skilling their current workforce due to AI. There’s a real fear that AI could replace jobs or make certain team members obsolete, which is driving HR to think three years in advance. 

HR is notorious for letting compliance and fear drive decisions, as Beth White, Founder & CEO at MeBeBot commented during an interview with us.

“Don’t let your fear get in the way of trying things. We have to evolve as a society and move forward." - Beth White, Founder & CEO, MeBeBot

Watch the full interview with Beth White for more gems.

Key focus areas for HR

1. Employee experience is vital

Investing in employee experience—from pre-onboarding and beyond—is more important than ever as teams seek to retain a tenured, skilled, and engaged workforce. But it shouldn’t exist in a silo. Employees should have some say in HR policies and new projects to ensure helpfulness and what the workforce actually wants. 

The employee experience is important to show we have the values and purposes throughout the entire process." - John Gilbert, Director of HR Operations, Crown Bakeries
The Erudit UNLEASH team with our new friend, John Gilbert of Crown Bakeries. Watch his interview here.

2. HR needs measurable solutions

HR needs automated and measurable solutions to juggle responsibilities and enforce accountability. If you can't measure, then you can't manage. Continued investments in HR solutions and talent will yield a lasting impact.

3. DEI should be a priority

Topics like diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) shouldn’t just be a “have to,” but a “want to” to make things better for employees. Inclusion for compliance's sake vs. inclusion for excellence should be a priority. We learned HR does not get to pick and choose which DEI piece they want to invest in.

4. HR needs a 2023 makeover

HR needs to innovate human capital management processes, change the mentality of traditional HR, and find HR blind spots. To do this, leadership needs to create alignment across all areas of the organization while looking at things multi-dimensionally.

5. AI is the future

As Michael Taylor, HR Director at Lighthouse Church and Ministries, said in his interview with us, “AI is affecting everything that we do going forward.” He is hopeful of the ways it’s already changing how HR does things like onboarding, training, talent management, coaching, and more. But HR leaders must adapt or get left behind.

Progressive HR leaders are asking where they can use tools to maximize potential among existing employees, and where can they invest in up-skilling or re-skilling their current workforce. This all comes as generative AI specifically makes huge waves across tech—but as Richard Rosenow, VP of People Analytics Strategy at One Model, reminded us, artificial intelligence isn't new.

“It’s a little funny seeing this wave of generative AI taking over this traditional AI space.” - Richard Rosenow, VP of People Analytics Strategy, One Model

Watch our full interview with Rosenow here.

The paradigm shift to HR’s value finally hit—now they have a vital role to play in building a positive workplace culture from the driver’s seat. By focusing on employee experience, measurable solutions, DEI, innovation, and AI adoption, HR leaders can prove they deserve to be there.

Check out our wrap-up video from Corey and Avery here.

Are you hanging onto old HR trends like one of our account executives on the mechanical bull? Learn how to loosen your grip in a changing landscape: The state of modern HR: Trends shaping the future of work

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