Key highlights from HR Tech Fest Melbourne

I recently attended the HR Tech Fest at Crown in Melbourne. Designed to be something like a corporate version of the Royal Melbourne Show, the vendors with resplendent Vegas like stands utilised technology to attract potential clients. I was offered ‘show bags’ and prizes using QR codes to enter into draws to win, in the meanwhile providing the vendors with ‘big data’ contact information.

Outside the glamour of the stands were topical sessions designed to build HR insights through thought leaders such as Jason Averbrook and HR professionals from various industries. In all I attended four sessions, and here were the 4 key highlights:


  • Make values personal

  • Make HR all about the business

  • HR Tech is an enabler of business outcomes

  • Transformation must align with a deep story


Make values personal

Atlassian is an innovative Australian company which promotes its values based culture as a core approach to attract and retain the best talent. Its non-conventional approach to values and their rigorous application and integration of values at a personal value has seen Atlassian become a destination company for many. Rather than opting for the typical ‘excellence’, ‘innovation’, and ‘integrity’ values they have successfully built a strong values culture that people identify with. "We don’t X#$%^% the customer', "No BullS#T", and "Be the Change you seek" have made Atlassian a destination for great talent.

No doubt this highlights that values more than a pay check attract and motivate people to join an organisation. This aligns well with marketing guru Kotler who contends that we are in the age of marketing 3.0 where people are attracted to organisations due to causes that align with their values. Strong values can enable companies to attract and keep the best talent.

                                                                                 Listen here for an interview with the Head of Recruiting of Atlassian, on the values that                                                                                  drive their organisation.

Make HR all about business

HR functions can tend to build technologies and solve problems that are HR related but this diminishes their overall priority to enable the achievement of business outcomes. Jason Averbrook in his session contended that business plans from HR should be focused on the governance framework of 30% HR, 30% IT, and 40% on the business.

This is the balance that business often gets wrong. HR must work more effectively to understand the overall strategic priorities of the business to ensure that the C level gets interested. This means that mapping benefits to end user customers is critical in building the business case.

As a result, Averbrook contends that both efficiency (cost savings) and effectiveness (increase in ROI & value creation) need to be captured in the business case. Certainly making HR about business outcomes is at the core of any technology transformation project.

Are you ready for the Future of Work? For more from Jason, listen here.



"Business plans from HR should be focused on the governance framework of 30% HR, 30% IT, and 40% on the business."

HR Tech is an enabler of business outcomes

With the challenges of maintaining and scaling a workforce to the seasonal demands of retail, the traditional approach of creating a job advert on Seek and asking people to apply with a resume are highly ineffective. Not only is this approach costly (up to $4,000 per staff member), it takes a significant amount of time to recruit the right staff to manage the contingent challenges of the retail industry. Welcome LiveHire.

LiveHire is built on the notion of an online talent community. As such presenter General Pants Co GM of HR said that there are over 40,000 people in their talent community. The use of videos and accessibility of key information captured by the LiveHire tool have enabled General Pants Co to quickly adapt to the market needs and ensure that demands are met. The recent batch recruitment of 500 staff has been effectively supported by LiveHire, reducing the time to hire from 68 to 24 days.

No doubt HR technology can be a strong enabler of business outcomes.

Hear more about how General Pants Co is tackling the season recruitment demand with Live Hire.

Transformation must align with a deep story

Flavia D’Alo from Deloitte, unpacked a number of gems in relation to organisational transformation projects. Using the example of a caterpillar she contended that a butterfly grows from the evolution of its DNA rather than a step change transformation. The implication for transformation projects is that the journey of change needs to have clear threads related to a deep story that people and organisations have in response to their values. As a result Flavia contends that the key questions that must be asked in any transformation/evolution project are:

  • Why? Why are we doing this project again? How does it relate with where we have been and where we are going?
  • Do we have the capability (can a butterfly result from the caterpillar?)?
  • Do we have the capacity? 
  • Yes, but? What does this mean for the individual who agrees with the project but must see part of themselves in the intended outcomes?

Flavia spoke about the need to release the mythology of consensus thinking on transformation. She contended that ‘buy in’ is never really attainable and is only a myth. What is most important is getting the disruptors and innovators on-board.

In closing

The HR Tech Fest was a great opportunity to connect with vendors and HR professionals. It was great to be inspired and to learn how companies are addressing business problems by developing effective HR strategies and utilising technology as a strong enabler.


James is passionate about helping people and companies innovate and transform to achieve better business outcomes. He has been involved in a number of culture and business transformation projects over the past decade and in a variety of industries.