At some point in all of our careers, it’s a certainty we’ll attend at least one trade show or conference. Many of us will even find ourselves behind the booth as exhibitors.
No matter your level of participation, have you found yourself wondering what defines a successful conference experience?
Recently, the YouEarnedIt team took its own booth to the World at Work Total Rewards Conference in Washington DC and the Gulf Coast Symposium on HR Issues hosted by HR Houston. What we learned from these outings — particularly what we heard from conversations with attendees — far exceeded our expectations.
These are our “tales from the conference floor” as told by YouEarnedIt’s Senior Programs Specialist, Gabby Torres-Soler.
On attending conferences like these:
Of course there’s an element of brand awareness — Hey! We exist! We can help you! — but we are also really eager to talk to HR professionals about their issues with employee engagement, retention, and more.
On the mix of attendees, their purpose at the conference, and how many looked at demos of YouEarnedIt:
What brought attendees together was not only the prospect of finding potential vendors to partner with — whether it was for their benefits management or their rewards and recognition strategy — but also to learn from their peers on issues they deal with on an everyday basis, like retention, employee engagement, compensation, and benefits.
As a team, we met around 500 to 600 people. These people represented all sorts of businesses, from tech, to oil and gas, to nursing homes. I would say the vast majority of the attendees worked in the HR space, specifically Compensation and Benefits, but they definitely touched multiple areas of the HR side of the business.
On what we learned about attendees’ key concerns and what currently excites them:
My biggest takeaway from our conversations was that HR professionals really get it. What I mean is they truly understand the impact an engaged employee has on a business, the importance of keeping the employees happy, and why we need to create an employee experience from the bottom up.
The attendees also understood that problems don’t usually stem from the employees at the bottom, but start from the top.
What keeps them up at night is finding “fixes” that end up costing a lot of money but in the end, don’t solve the problem — they’re a wasted investment.
One thing that really surprised me was how aligned the messaging was throughout — whether it was our message resonating with attendees or the conference sessions that were going on. Everyone knows and agrees that creating a true employee experience and engaging employees in the workplace is the key to success. Everyone has their own definition of this, but it all goes back to the same goal: Making sure employees are doing their best work, are feeling fulfilled at work, and enjoy doing their work.
The attendees understood that problems don’t usually stem from the employees at the bottom, but start at the top.
Our t-shirt design, highlighting the four pillars of the employee experience, also resonated with attendees: impact, meaning, connection, and appreciation. The HR leaders really understood the value in that.
I think the “hot topics” at both conferences were how to keep your employees happy but your budgets low. That is something that the people stopping by our booth mentioned a lot, and you could see their faces light up when we talked about “non-monetary experiences” and “not adding markups to any products in the reward catalogs.”
Another thing that really got them talking was the importance of reinforcing good behaviors that tie back to the business. A woman I spoke to in Houston told me that her biggest struggle is keeping her employees motivated. Her company has multiple nursing home locations. The nurses, room attendees, administrative teams — they all have to deal with difficult people in an environment that’s often sad, but are expected to stay motivated, stay positive and look happy.
When I asked her what was one of the biggest behaviors she wanted to drive at her company, her response almost stopped me cold. She said, “I really want my employees to demonstrate compassion.” So we brainstormed some “Behavior Bonuses” that could capture that. It was interesting because compassion is something that is not easily taught, but when done right can have a huge impact on a business.
I really want my employees to demonstrate compassion.
On what we learned as exhibitors and what resonated with attendees:
This was the first time I actually had conversations face-to-face with potential customers in this setting. Really understanding what their pains were and how YouEarnedIt can help was incredible. I always knew our platform was great, but seeing people’s faces light up with certain differentiators really made me realize that we have something special here, and that’s what I want to focus on.
Our message really resonated with attendees, as did the way we approach the employee experience, and our t-shirts were a hit! Not to brag, but they were definitely the hot item at the show. And that was a great conversation starter – it helped us explain our value proposition, why we do business the way we do, and how we’ve been successful this far.
— YouEarnedIt (@youearnedit) May 11, 2017
On what was fun about being an exhibitor:
Everything! We’re passionate about our product, our company, and our culture so it really made both trade shows extremely entertaining and easy.
Selfishly, I enjoyed being able to travel and do something totally outside my day-to-day and really see the impact of our work first hand.
One of the highlights that happened was actually off the tradeshow floor. We used the travel opportunity to organize a dinner with some of our customers who were attending (2U and The Motley Fool), and we really had such a wonderful time with them — it felt like we had been friends for decades. We left that dinner feeling so much love and holding our tummies because we were laughing so much.
On YouEarnedIt’s next conference, and what we’re looking forward to:
Next on our list is the SHRM Annual Conference in New Orleans, June 18-21. We’re excited to represent YouEarnedIt in front of one of the top professional organizations in this industry.
But more than anything, I think we’re most looking forward to showing off our platform, talking to attendees about the importance of empowering the employee (especially with our four pillars of the employee experience), and giving away these awesome t-shirts!
YouEarnedIt is the employee experience platform powered by the science of motivation and the mission of improving the lives of employees everywhere, one company at a time. Founded in 2013, YouEarnedIt grows company culture and improves bottom-line performance metrics through its robust engagement platform that delivers recognition, rewards, incentives, and team insights. Named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s list of Best Company Cultures in 2017, the Austin-based SaaS company and its technology platform are built on the four pillars of employee experience: connection, meaning, impact and appreciation. To request a demo, visit www.youearnedit.com/demo.