Where are the people at HR events?

As ceo of Thalento® and co-founder of HR Tech Valley I have attended several HR/HR Tech events in the US and Europe over the last 9 months. From Chicago to Cologne, from Prague over Paris to London. It was a mix of types of events and sizes of the audience: conferences with over 10.000 people attending lectures and workshops, your typical trade show with hundreds of exhibitioners, informal, invite only meetups with barely 20 guests. This week I’m off to HR Vision in Amsterdam. With HR Tech Valley and Thalento® we are planning to attend and/or (co-organize) a number of other events till the end of the year.

All these events help me to stay in contact with the pulse rate of HR and HR Tech. A pulse rate that’s stepping up its pace… And I always come back with a couple of take-aways that helps me build Thalento® and inspires HR Tech Valley. But there is one take-away that – to me – really stands out: the people at those events or better the lack of “the people”.

HR is about Human Resources, is about the people working for organizations, about the people an organization wants to attract. It’s about people who are increasingly taking their careers in their own hands, who are – as Kevin Wheeler put it during the DRC meet-up in Utrecht – deciding which skill they are selling to who and they might decide overnight to sell a different skill to a different ‘buyer’.

However, at every HR related event I have ever been to, I only meet Sales people and HR professionals, but not these Career Owners. It is something I realized when we visited The Next Web (TNW) in Amsterdam last May. Ok, at first sight TNW has nothing to do with HR – it was our techie side that got the better of us. But at the event we noticed there were a lot of Career Owners talking to business people about how they (the business) could help them (the Career Owners), with all kinds of challenges

The age of information and Self

When the biggest challenges HR is facing are talent (attracting, retaining, developing them) and diversity (different generations, cultures) isn’t it crucial that we involve the people at HR-related events? Isn’t it crucial that HR related business not only interacts with HR professionals but also with the Career Owners? That at HR events we also stimulate the interaction between HR business, HR professionals and Career Owners? What do we expect to learn at an HR Tech events that charges an overrated entrance fee just to keep “the people” out?

Where are the people at HR events - Kardashian.jpg

We need to understand that in this age of information, the Career Owners will seek and find the information they need elsewhere. They just by-pass HR and its legacy providers if HR doesn’t engage in a transparent dialogue with them. We’ d better understand that we are living in the age of Self, where Career Owners perceive they are the centre of their own universe. This doesn’t mean that they are egoistic, it just means that Maslow’s pyramid is more alive than ever.

At this moment me and my colleagues at HR Tech Valley won’t pretend to have a clear answer on how to set-up an event where HR business, HR professionals and Career Owners can meet and exchange views or their respective expectations. Sure we have ideas, but because we are a community that believes in the power of open innovation and interaction, we welcome everybody who has an idea on or wants to cooperate in making this happen.

After all: the fastest changing resource is the human resource. You can either choose to sit by and watch it happen, or be a leader and help drive the change.

What is it going to be HR?

Ben greeven