This article is inspired by Arianna Huffington’s keynote at HR Tech Amsterdam “Redefining Success”.

Arianna Huffington, yes the founder of the Huffington Post and Time Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people and more recently known for her book Thrive, had some important insights at HR tech 2017. Whether you’re on the brink of redefining your company culture or perhaps struggling to integrate the fast pace of new technology’s, this could be very relevant to you.

In times of transformational change, let me start by staying that key in her message is that we have a very important role (as leaders, as humans) not to let the technology dictate, but to use it to our fullest advantage and actually, and somewhat paradoxically, start creating a distance towards the technology and enhance our human to human contact. So less screen time, but preferably, more eye to eye time.

This brings me to her first impactful message;

1/ “We would do well to Augment our Humanity”

Huffington notes that new technologies are easily introduced into our lives at a faster pace than we can sometimes absorb. Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, brings exciting new capabilities but at the same time we need to take care that we are not hijacked by the tools that instead of enabling us, make us powerless.

“IT companies hijack our attention. We are all powerless at our devices.”

1st HR Transformation:


“Lead the Digitalization Journey by
augmenting more interaction between
technology and human creativity”

We can reasonably predict that by 2020 most of your employees will rely more heavily than they do today on their mobile devices for their employee experiences. And even though that brings a wealth of technology at our fingertips, it doesn’t mean that’s necessarily the vision of how we want our employees to interact with each other. Just in the same way we don’t appreciate our families interacting at home through their devices, but actually engaging real time at the dinner table, we also want our employees to connect in the workplace. No matter how advanced the technology gets, it’s only through human interaction, that we can create something unique.

For example

At SANDD predictive analytics allowed them to pinpoint potential mail delivery resources in small niche markets, but, it was the idea to combine that with a high school graduation campaign and old fashion flyers, that allowed them to increase their recruitment funnel by 60%. Human creativity combined with technology made the difference, not just one or the other.

Key Transformation: I encourage all leaders in HR to embrace; Human Intelligence + Artificial Intelligence = Augmented Humanity


2/ “We can take (better) care of ourselves”

Through healthy living and sleep so that we can “show up in a way that matters”. The human operating system is not a machine. We are, according to Huffington, more aware of the battery % on our smartphones than we are of our own energy level. We run and chase every day. We are so caught up in capturing life that we forget to live it. When we look at the amount of burnouts plaguing our current workforce, these words resonate.

2nd HR Transformation:


“Lead the Vitalized Workplace and focus on
the physical and mental health of
your employees”

With staggering new numbers of burnouts and the rise of sick leaves, people are becoming more resilient and seeking (Self)employment with more focus on balance. From an HR perspective we should be aware that if we are asking employees to engage every day with a certain amount of energy and enthusiasm, that we need to make just as sure that we ask them to disengage as well, so that in fact, they can maintain the level of energy needed. Disengage from their devices but also the often suffocating unspoken obligation in some company cultures still , of being in a boxed office each and every day.

For example

Our Talentsoft colleagues in France. Due to a rise in burnouts, a new law was passed called the Right to Disconnect. This new law allows employees to disconnect after 21:00 until 8:00 am without consequence protecting them from information overload and electronic messaging outside of working hours. Furthermore, a manager can’t contact an employee after 21:00, chat or email them, so it works both ways, also protecting the manager!

Key transformation here is a mindset change, also needed to disengage from a culture of being in the office. That seeing someone at the office does not equal performance or dedication. Here comes the true model of trust. People no longer work from 9am to 7pm (or was that a collective belief?). They enjoy mixing work, working out, and then going back to work. Professional and individual lives entangle. Furthermore, when it comes to technology and the workplace; perhaps one should only go to the workplace when there is a need to collaborate. Meaning HR people must design spaces that foster interactions. In his book ‘Rework’, Jason Fried explains this very well. He states that he’s been asking this question for 10 years: “Where do you prefer working from? The office, home, a coffee shop or the library?” – Well, suffice to say the answer is never the office.


3/ “We might want to redefine success”

Most of us from the x Generation have been programmed to believe that a job title and where you sit in the organizational hierarchy equals your worth and value, Huffington points out. Or, equally tough to swallow, that accumulated wealth and power, defines your success. But in this day and age, things are changing and more importantly people no longer feel comfortable with that definition of success.

3rd HR transformation:


“Transform your (closed) organization to a
thriving (open) ecosystem”

Where people can fulfill their human need to have a sense of contribution and personal growth. By redefining success new processes and ways of working will follow. And, research shows, that new ways of working are needed. We might want to stop creating a system with the intention to keep people IN but instead, focus on creating an ecosystem to which people will always want to RETURN. Forget organization, focus on creating a Unique Ecosystem. When the ecosystem we create actually encourages contributions and makes them visible to all, people feel more engaged in their workplace. When that same ecosystem facilitates different forms of learning, people have a sense of human fulfillment because they can. (We don’t build a family home with the intention to keep our children in, we build instead something that makes them want to return).

For example

An energy company is experiencing high retention rates. People are not engaged or feel a sense of loyalty or commitment. One very impactful way to increase engagement is by introducing blended learning concepts and allow people to visibly contribute to the ecosystem and create their own content. Also, by providing different learning paths, people experience a greater sense of flexibility and development and worry less about the security of their future. Other ways that people experience enhanced engagement is a good working environment and inspiring missions. All of which factor in way heavier than just the perks or financial incentives.

Key mindset change is that to create a thriving open ecosystem, we need to focus on how we create a sense of contribution and personal growth around our product and service, and understand as leaders, what drives people to be a part of that. Because even though technology can help you find talent, manage it, and perhaps bring new capabilities, its human interaction with that talent that makes it an environment that people will want to keep coming back to.


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