Editor's Note: Today's post comes to us courtesy of guest contributor Chris Dobyns, Part 2 of a two post series where he shares his impressions and takeaways - and particularly his top picks for breakout sessions - from the WorldatWork 2018 Total Rewards Conference and Exhibition, held recently in Grapevine, Texas.
The WorldatWork 2018 Total Rewards Conference and Exhibition is now in the history books. Hosted at the Gaylord Texan Resort, the conference attracted a reported attendance of around 1,200 participants.
The Top Three
Of the approximately +80 individual breakout presentations offered this year, I made a concerted effort to attend one session in every available timeslot. Even so, that only allowed me to assess (and “rate”) about one-tenth of the actual presentations. Given that small sample size, these are my top picks for 2018. In the spirit of full-disclosure, I know the presenter teams in the first two selections, and it was solid, past presentations that at least in part drew me to their sessions this year.
By a narrow margin, my 1st session pick was, If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em: Embracing Automation and Machine Learning, presented by Bryan Briscoe and Paul Reiman, nudging out 2nd place only for the EV (EV = Entertainment Value).
- Always slightly unpredictable, these guys started out with a great contextual framing around artificial intelligence, machine learning and the acceleration of technology, which included a funny, relevant, but edgy quote – which I’ll only allude to via hyperlink (to avoid inadvertently becoming collateral damage of the #MeToo movement).
- The balance of the presentation continued to be a fun treatment of what AI can do now and in the near future, along with at least some reassurance that the robots won’t replace us in the areas that still require creativity, judgment, and empathy. At least not for a little while longer.
Next up was the hugely fun Hacking Extrinsic Motivation session, featuring the Behavioral Grooves podcast team of Kurt Nelson and Tim Houlihan. You can tell immediately that these two have “performed on stage” together in the past – many times, since there was a good chemistry between them . . . and with their audience, that had somehow successfully squeezed100 people into a room intended to hold a maximum of sixty.
- There were a whole lot of things going on in this presentation, that drew on past behavioral science research on extrinsic motivation and then juxtaposed current practices that companies are trying to operationalize, but which still generate inconclusive or equivocal results when assessed for their effectiveness.
- My big takeaway confirmed what I already knew (that people are mostly irrational when it comes to financial decisions), but the new news is that individual motivation is so complex and even when we’re asked what we want and what motivates us – we’re apparently incapable of even getting that right.
My third pick was The Compensation Revolution: Technology’s Transformative Effect on the Industry, presented by Elizabeth Blencoe and Jeff Laliberte. By my observation, the T-Mobile portion of the presentation by Elizabeth contributed almost nothing to the presentation, except to set-up Jeff and his quite attention-getting pitch on behalf of the new PayFactors product Peer.
- Without maybe quite as much detail as the audience might have liked, Jeff provided a glimpse into their new product, which if portrayed accurately, would suggest that the predicted concept of real-time labor market pricing – is possible, today.
- Jeff noted that Peer is seeking a charter group of 3,000 companies that would receive the Peer product for free – clearly with the goal of using the incumbent salary data provided by the charter clients to anchor the sufficiently large dataset that would inform the real-time salary information for all subscribed clients. If accurate, a true revolutionary product.
The Runner Up
And not without an honorable mention, our organization was fortunate to be selected to present our Artificial Intelligence, Automation and Machine Learning - The Digital Future of Total Rewards. Our key takeaway was that increasingly sophisticated application of technology will shortly allow us to develop and deliver total rewards and communications optimized to align with individual worker motivations and to be modified in near real-time, as individual employee personal, career and life-stage changes occur.
Something For Everyone
For new or longer-term members who have never attended this event, I would recommend without reservation that you attend at some point in the future. If you’re looking to network with common industry contacts, learn about new practices from regarded experts, browse the latest vendor products or just get renewed and reenergized, all of that is possible, because there is literally something for everyone at these conferences.
But, this is just my opinion. What do you think?
Chris Dobyns, CCP, CBP is currently employed as a Human Capital Strategic Consultant for the Office of Human Resource Strategy and Program Design for one of the largest U.S. intelligence agencies. The Office of Human Resource Strategy and Program Design is responsible for organizational effectiveness, personnel assessment, compensation and incentives, occupational structure, recognition and rewards, HR policy, human capital program design, implementation, evaluation and assessment and internal consulting. Chris has worked in the area of compensation for more than 35 years, and has been employed in various compensation-related positions by a number of large, private sector companies including, Sears, Roebuck, Arizona Public Service and Westinghouse Savannah River Company.
Original "Inspired Thinking" image adapted from WorldatWork by Chris Dobyns.