If you’ve attended just one virtual event this year, we hope it was Attune 2021. The first day of our digital employee experience summit was definitely a day to remember. Almost 3,000 registrants made this the largest Firstup event ever, and we opened our digital doors to dozens of additional last-minute attendees who queued up for our keynote address.
A global audience of IT, communications, and HR professionals learned how to prepare for the future of work by transforming their digital experiences to reach all their employees. In case you missed it, we’ve put together a rundown of the highlights.
Want to watch a specific session on demand? We’ve got you covered. Videos of the entire 2-day event are now available on the Attune website.
Opening keynote from Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell is known for bringing new perspectives to conventional wisdom, and his Attune keynote was no exception. Gladwell challenged the notion that organizations are driven by hierarchy, and can only succeed with strong and charismatic leaders. In his view, the winning companies of the post-pandemic era will be the ones that move away from this model and embrace a network model that empowers every employee.
Gladwell suggested that to shift to this new model, organizations must prioritize high-context communications, and deliver their people personalized messages that convey feeling and meaning. He explained that decentralized communications are vital to this goal and that key communications must come from the rank-and-file and middle management, not just from the top. He had this advice for organizations trying to improve their employee experience:
“How you communicate with your employees really matters, especially when they expect to be included in the conversation. Communications need to be consequential, intentional and deliberate. This is high-context communication.”— Malcolm Gladwell
DEX themes from our first day
Digital transformation and culture transformation were top-of-mind for speakers and attendees, with a focus on sustaining and building upon the advances made in 2020. Bestselling author Greg Satell suggested that both types of transformation are interconnected because, at its core, digital transformation requires people to change their behaviors and mindsets. He discussed how to use techniques popularized by grassroots social movements to achieve this change. CHRO Elizabeth Adefioye agreed that shared values are key, and outlined the collaborative process she used to develop them at Ingredion.
We also learned that forward-looking companies are seeking smarter ways to use employee data. Our own Chuck Gose sat down with Anna Soellner, Reddit’s senior director of communications, to discuss how “the front page of the internet,” takes the pulse of its workforce and uses that information to keep employees engaged. Thomas Davies, the founder of organizational intelligence provider Temporall, explained how to align distributed teams using an organization-wide view of employee data, and what capabilities companies must cultivate to achieve that goal.
“You have to work hard to prevent echo chambers. Employee intelligence data and debate that influences decisions can close communication gaps across an organization.”— Thomas Davies, Founder and CEO of Temporall
More exciting event highlights
Dominic Price, Atlassian’s resident work futurist, closed out the day with an engaging session about how organizations, and individual employees, can learn to excel at change. He shared practical methods from the Atlassian Team Playbook that any team can use to ensure their ways of working stay relevant in the future.
“Argue like you’re right, listen like you’re wrong.”— Dominic Price, Atlassian
Other sessions of note ranged from strategic topics to entertaining breaks:
- ADM’s Brett Lutz provided guidance on how to optimize employee communications with limited resources.
- B.J. Moore and Melissa Tizon from Providence shared how they transformed the healthcare employee experience during a pandemic.
- Roots musician Elle Winston gave a concert performance.
- Yoga instructor Kiara Boyd led 3-4 minute meditation and yoga breaks throughout the day.
The second day of Attune focused on creating an equitable digital experience for every employee, from the front line to the C-suite. Hilton VP Erica Cary discussed how the unprecedented events of 2020 provided the opportunity to do just that, while former MGM CHRO Michelle DiTondo took a deep dive into creating a culture that includes every worker.
Day 2 also included a sneak preview of how Firstup is reimagining the digital employee experience and provided a number of practical learning opportunities.