This article was originally published on the WorkForce blog. 


Actually, they’re not so much “trends” as they are tactical tools companies can use to improve employee performance.


I heard the hum as soon as I walked in.

It hit me along with the air conditioning that was being circulated throughout every cubic foot of McCormick Place, the largest convention center in North America, which, for the next four days, would be home to the 19th annual HR Technology Conference & Expo.

The hum, of course, was the product of voices, people, exchanging business cards and swag, but also ideas and concepts and perspectives.

HR Tech was a place for vendors and customers to find one another. It was also an opportunity to settle into the latest trends in HCM, SaaS, social, mobile, and Big Data. From a workforce management standpoint, we expected to see some recurring themes from last year, including engagement, strategy, and analytics.

“Here are the trends we discovered at #HRTechConf that made us look twice.”

Here’s what we didn’t expect—the trends that made us look twice and think twice. Actually, they’re not so much “trends” as they are tactical tools companies can use to improve performance:

1. Systematic, organized public praise.

Remember that email your boss sent out to the team—or the department, or even the entire company—praising you for a job well-done?

How did you feel after reading it? Proud? Valued? Probably both. It was a validating gesture; a humbling reminder that people respect and appreciate your work. From an employer’s perspective, that email was a potent form of motivation, which is why some companies are working to proliferate that feeling through sponsored points programs.

These programs encourage the doling of praise, which employees can then cash-in for rewards that range from products to extra holiday time-off.

2. The intangible team model.

Sometimes, a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. One plus one equals three, so to speak.

That concept is at the center of this model, which suggests that instead of scheduling employees solely based on their skill sets, managers should take employee rapport, chemistry, history, and other factors into consideration as they schedule their shifts.

By considering these intangible elements during the scheduling process, managers can take the pressure—to be faster, better, more productive—away from each individual employee and disperse it amongst strategically selected team members, creating synergy.

Are these concepts revolutionary?

No, not exactly.

Most of the attendees at HR Tech probably already knew the emotional benefits of public praise. They also naturally understood that people who liked each other worked better together. But when it came to enabling and scaling those practices—in order to create happier, more productive, more engaged employees—most attendees would’ve been at a loss.

And that’s why they bought their tickets to HR Tech: to explore, learn, and evolve.

Till next year, friends.