The WorkHuman Conference, organised by Globoforce, is now in its fourth year and is growing at an exponential rate. In 2015 it attracted more than 1500 delegates: this year, the Work Human conference was held in the green environs of Austin and attracted more than 2800 people.

Globoforce is an Irish and Framingham, Mass. headquartered business. It bills itself as the pioneer of Social Recognition and launched continuous performance development solutions last year. Its HR solution is markedly different from other HR software platforms. As Irish CEO, Eric Mosley said in his opening keynote – ‘We are in the business of moving from data collection to data connection.’

Mosley also bills this event as the ‘Woodstock for HR’ and there is undeniably truth in his assertion. The main hall is buzzy enough to feel more inspirational than HR, and the surrounding exhibition space is filled with a mixture of glossy product carousels and quixotic stalls providing complimentary freshly screen-printed tote bags or temporary tattoos; both offering suitably affirmable HR quotations.

Then there are the speakers from leading courage advocate Brené Brown to human rights lawyer married to that actor, Amal Clooney.

Another Irish man, Derek Irvine, VP Client Strategy and Consulting for Globoforce, opened proceedings. He was MC for the four day event. The emphasis was on humans, hence the appellation of the conference. So too the common call from the stage – ‘Hello Humans’. The tagline for Globoforce is ‘bringing humanity into the work places.’  We had a whole lot of humanity going on.

Mosley’s talk was measured and thoughtful. While everyone at the conference may not have been a customer, everyone was certainly interested in making work a better place – for humans. Anyone who has enjoyed a convivial and inspiring workplace in the past might have attributed it to good management, interesting work and the odd pool table, but now these feel good factors can be measured directly back into increased productivity and employee happiness. Big data is confirming that happiness in the workplace can be measured and delivered. Globoforce just provides the tools.

Mosley’s gentle opening talk featured a project in energy savings by Western Electric executed back in the 1920s. Hoping to reduce operating costs, the company opted to dim the lighting on the production lines. They gathered data on the resultant productivity and found not only had energy costs fallen in line with lower consumption but that productivity had risen. This puzzled them exceedingly and they proceeded with a further two dimmings with productivity rising each time.

“Of course,” says Mosley. “That had nothing to do with the lights but everything to do with the way they collected data. They surveyed the employees and this had never been done before.

“Talking to people changes everything. Even, or maybe especially in a production line, treating employees as humans changes everything.”

Mosley’s energetic figure paced the stage as he shared his learning to an expectant audience. Already hooked by the Western Electric experiment, Mosley stressed that the power of positivity far surpassed that of negativity.

“The problem is that positivity is often in scarce supply and easily dissipates,” he said. “It’s like electricity and can light up a work space but it can disappear just as easily if not managed.”

Maslow, the frequently quoted America psychologist, was referenced almost apologetically throughout the conference. Like the retro and recently popular prawn cocktail starter, the pyramid was very much back in vogue. Vintage thinking never really goes away.

Mosley segued smoothly into the Globoforce platform and its new cloud based application outlining the five key elements which he listed as: social recognition, conversations, service milestones, life events and community celebrations.

“People make the big mistake in thinking that recognition should only come for work above and beyond the call of duty, but in reality we should be rewarding a job well done.”

Here Mosley paused for a clever anecdote. “It may be your mum’s job to make you a cup of coffee when you come to visit, but she still deserves a thank you.” The audience laughed appreciably at this personalisation.

“And we are not just talking money in the reward system in the workplace,” he said. ‘Studies show that recognition is most effective when administered by peers not managers. We also know that a financial bonus typically wears off some six weeks after it is received, regardless of the sum.

“The best formula is there for offer smaller but regular rewards over a twelve month period and have these remunerations voted or managed by peers.”

The Globoforce platform manages this process, using key touch points to ensure the efficacy of the contacts.

The other four element were also explained in a common sense approach – all backed by data. Good behaviour as experienced by the HR professionals in the auditorium can all be tracked back to simple management techniques and these can be taught, managed and delivered Mosley promised using the Globoforce platform.

For more information. please visit Globoforce website

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