Arizona SHRM successfully concluded its first-ever virtual conference last week. The theme was, “Human Factors in Technology” and what a perfect topic as we embrace working remotely in some fashion more and more the future as well as consider what the future of AI holds for us.

What could have been a boring, humdrum, “Zoombie” affair, was anything but. The platform they selected offered opportunities to jump into any session of interest without having to run all over a conference center, attend live events on the “stage” tab, listen to quick vendor promos on breaks, visit the “networking” tab to meet someone new, and the chat boxes blew all day with interesting questions and feedback. All in all, a job well done by all. Here are my top takeaways:

1. HR Needs to Lead the Digital Change

The opening keynote came from the exuberant Jason Averbook, author of “The Ultimate Guide to a Digital Workforce Experience: Leap for a Purpose” and the Co-Founder and CEO of Leapgen. He believes that HR needs to deliver the digital experience that breaks down silos, creates a frictionless workforce experience, and poises the company for sustainable growth.

He shares four ways to do this in his Magic 20/25/45/10 Formula

  • 20% Mindset – The vision needs to be created for the digital experience
  • 25% People – We need to really understand what our people want/need
  • 45% Process – Re-imagine, move from process mindset to journey
  • 10% Technology – It’s is the fuel (not the car) to get us where we’re going

We have to remember employees want self-service options and their needs change rapidly. Gone are the days of annual engagement surveys; the time is now to move to pulse surveys if we have not already.

2. The DNA of DEI Programs

There were several DEI-related sessions this year (and rightfully so in my book as we try to create systemic change in our organizations to get this right), but there was one in particular that really had the “nuts and bolts” down on how to create a compelling program for an organization.

Niki Ramirez, Founder and Principal Consultant of, led an amazing session about the structural elements of an effective DEI program. She created the DNA acronym – Dynamic (needs to be updated regularly), Natural (needs to be a best for the organization and steeped in all facets of business, not just a specific committee or person), and Activity-driven (has to have hands-on activities at every turn and lots of ) participation opportunities).

She discussed Equality versus Equity, giving people the same thing or giving them what they need to be successful, and I appreciated her examples in a digital workforce context and she had some great reminders for leaders:

  • Before handing out resources to your team, step back and see what they really need (maybe not everyone needs three monitors or an ergonomic mouse)
  • Do some “equality checking” (i.e. Can they type fast? If not, are there talk to text options? How’s their writing? Could they benefit from Grammarly?)

Her three elements to creating lasting change:

  • Create a firm foundation (these are your documents, public statements, commitments – use your core values!)
  • Self-assessment and reflection (provide opportunities for individuals to ask themselves tough questions to prepare them for change such as, “Do I care how my words and actions impact others?” and “Do I treat all people with respect (even/especially if I don’t like them)?” or share the link the Harvard Business School implicit bias tests)
  • Launch a program, keep the momentum going, and take it beyond training (book club, poetry readings, workshops, single topic round tables, music and food exploration, paintings and other art showcases)

Great starter things to think about to help each employee be successful in the way most meaningful to them and excellent tangible ways to beef up your programs.

3. Legal Pitfalls to Plan and Watch Out For

  • Election Day is coming – you cannot ban employees from discussing politics in the workplace if the impact workplace conditions, you can designate safe places to discuss issues for those interested, and you can require staff to have “professional dress and backgrounds” in virtual calls to limit political background/statement pieces being worn
  • Recreational marijuana – this will be on the ballot in AZ in November and local attorneys anticipate it’s too close to call the outcome now and will win or lose by a very close margin; have those policies ready to update if needed and know that employees still cannot work impaired and that it can be prohibited for those working properly designated safety-sensitive positions
  • Employees that do not want to return to work and do not have a work from home option – there’s so much on this one, just call me to discuss!

It is an Amazing Time in to be in HR!

The future of work and the pace of change for employees has never been faster. I am so excited to see HR finally being elevated to the C-suite and the strategic place it deserves to be in. The employers that take care of their employees are the ones that will win and help move our world to a happier, healthier, whole place.

What digital and employee strategies are you seeing success with right now? Drop me a note in the comments below!

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