On November 15th, more than 900 participants gathered at the ECCL, at the heart of Luxembourg, to attend a series of conference around the topic of the "Future of HR". Several local and international speakers shared their knowledge and vision, with more than 20 startups exhibiting and presenting their innovative solutions.
A brand new – and digital – employee experience
The second part of the conference first featured Noor Van Boven (Chief People Officer, N26) who focused on HR as a driver for business success, with a presentation entitled "Employee experience: a reflection of your product experience". According to the CPO, N26 is a company defined by innovation and disruption: "even the HR department can try things out and test them". The company is currently welcoming around 100 new employees every single month and therefore created a specific employee experience. "We're in an environment where challenge is constant. As a bank, we want to make sure that the customers have the best experience. But we face the same challenges within the company," explained Noor Van Boven, who highlighted the fact that the HR department copied the product experience. She then shared her best practices in the creation of such experiences: "first, be bold and explicit about your ambition! We want to be #1 and disrupt the world. And we also want to become the #1 employer un the FinTech space. Having outspoken ambitions might not be traditional for HR. But we can influence the people and even the CEOs we small nudges". Then, she explained that is was necessary to create and communicate the employee vision. The HR department's motto is: empower-ized, digitized and personalized. She added: "we give the tools to grow your own way. We also design for flexibility and the employees are involved in the design process. We do it for their needs and not because of what we think is best for HR". The third and final step? Mapping your employee journey. How does the journey go? What's the story you want to tell? The HR team at N26 developed an app, called Discover26, helping candidates in the recruitment process but also future employees in their onboarding. Videos from and for the team are available, so are the possibilities to book meetings and flights. "It has the same look and feel as our regular banking app. Everything is available 24/7. We are also taking care of the next step: what happens when people leave the company? Well, they join the alumni network. And guess what, they might even come back one day," concluded Noor Van Boven.
Data to drive decisions
The organizers then welcomed Cassie Kozyrkov (Chief Decision Scientist, Google, Inc.) who shared her vision of the future of intelligence. She started by stating: "I am not an HR professional, but will be talking about Artificial Intelligence and what it means for all of us. First of all, we should not think about it as "artificial people" being made". According to the data expert, people are currently taking the following question seriously: is Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning better than Humans? "It's just a tool aiming at helping Humans. If they're not doing things better, what's the point of using them?" she asked right away. She then explained what Machine Learning was all about: labelling stuff. Putting these pieces in a computer is the essence of Machine Learning: "the tools actually changes the original ways of communicating with the computer. It automates the ineffable". "Why do teams fail at Machine Learning?" was the next question asked by the Chief Decision Scientist, who first distinguished the research side from the applied side. When focusing on the latter side, she also explained that applied Machine Learning was a team sport, featuring many yet different profiles, from the data engineer and the ethicist to the UX designer and the statistician. "Many ingredients are needed, but first and foremost, you need people who know what it brings and how it helps customers. In this respect, the most important position is the decision-maker. He/she's the one who figures out what's good cooking in the first place," highlighted Cassie Kozyrkov. She then explained that testing was necessary and that it is the key to responsible AI and ML. Companies need to make sure their solution works on relevant, new data. Cassie Kozyrkov also highlighted that the computer was the ultimate reliable worker but that skilled people are needed to drive and use the tech efficiently, hence the importance of the decision-maker. Her advice to HR managers? Spend as much time as possible training leaders and decision-makers. "The way I see it? We're all being promoted as repetitive and boring tasks, which are the worst parts of our jobs, are being taken away. What's not taken away is our creativity. According to me, the Future of Work is all about that and Humans are still required. When it comes to HR, it's easy to assess performance when comparing it to what has already been done, but the challenge will be to hire creators, thinkers and leaders," concluded Cassie Kozyrkov.