Three prisoners reportedly escaped from the “inescapable” prison on Alcatraz Island the night of June 11th, 1962. A few days and 55 years later, the first HR Tech World hosted in the United States will be held right across the bay at Fort Mason in San Francisco. A map of the various conference stages, hubs, and the think tank showcases Alcatraz Island as the place “Where Bad HR Goes.” How fitting.


Bad HR is unfortunately rampant in the human resources industry. In some circles, HR is viewed as a necessary evil to protect the organization from arduous labor laws and other workplace regulation. In others, it is simply the group of administrators, paper-pushers, and coordinators that help execute the people practices that management intends. HR professionals have the unique opportunity to be integrated into “moments that matter” for employees such as getting hired (recruiting), getting paid (payroll), getting fired (performance management) or during critical life changes (benefits). However, a single negative experience around any of these situations tends to stick and helps perpetuate the notion of bad HR.


Is bad HR a lack of will or desire from HR professionals to be better? No.
Are all HR professionals incompetent? Probably not.
Are HR professionals supported by the latest software or even just an adequate level of technology investment?
Doubt it.


At HR Tech World, there will be a variety of HR technology solutions shared, discussed, and demoed from the awesome list of vendors and sponsors. If selected and utilized effectively, these solutions will be the tools needed to escape bad HR. They also happen to be the way HR professionals can elevate their own professional career and transform their perspective (and, in turn, elevate the industry) as a strategic partner for the c-suite or organizational leadership. The only way this happens, however, is if these HR practitioners leverage technology as intended, a tool, not as the ultimate solution to every people problem. It’s tempting to try to use technology as a replacement for critical thinking or tough decision making but we must strive to remain able to provide actionable insights from our toolbox and suite of HR technology instead of blindly relying on it for all of the answers. Simply put, HR professionals need to think differently about the tools they use and the role they personally play in the intersection of their people and technology.


Although this will be my first time attending an HR Tech World conference, it’s quite clear the disruptive speakers and innovative content will help even the most stuck HR professional break free from bad talent and people practices. This event leads the charge in how we understand and leverage HR technologies while challenging the status quo. Conference attendees won’t be forced to wait very long for some outstanding information either. The first day starts off strong with a welcome from HR futurist and master of ceremonies, Jason Averbook and a keynote from Nexxworks CEO & Co-Founder, Peter Hinssen, who will encourage the audience to think more intentionally about “The Day After Tomorrow.” Jason and Peter will surely help set the focus on the #FutureofWork and prepare the stage for other thought-provoking strategies and use cases for blending technology and human resources.



I’m personally excited for the “HR Tech For Good” session with Leighanne Levensaler, Senior Vice President at Workday. HR professionals can and should be key influencers when it comes to crafting and living the corporate values of an organization. This must happen both internally for the organization’s workforce and also externally for how the organization treats and interacts with their customers and the community. Thinking about how to leverage HR technology solutions to do so will provide a fresh perspective on the ways we can create positive experiences and achieve bottom-line results in this area. I’ll refrain from detailing all of the other sessions and speakers that I’m hyped up for – check out the agenda for the full schedule and play-by-play details and follow #HRTechWorld for live tweets from the show.


A few unanswered questions remain, let’s connect if you have an answer to any of them. What actually happened to Frank Morris and the Anglin brothers? Where is the coolest vendor party on Wednesday night? And, lastly, will you take the steps needed to escape bad HR (or avoid going there) by using what you learn at HR Tech World this week?


About the Author


Dan Cross (SHRM-CP, CSM) is the Talent Acquisition Strategy Manager for Capital One’s Retail & Direct Bank. He is particularly passionate about two things – basketball and human resources. Unfortunately, Dan was never drafted into the National Basketball Association (NBA), so he embraced a career in HR instead. Driven by data, Dan challenges conventional Talent & People practices through the use of analytics, human-centered design, and agile methodologies. Dan was recently named to the “30 under 30 HR Professionals” list in the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)’s HR Magazine. Connect with him on Twitter @CrossoverHR.