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Better together: 5 takeaways from TalentConnect 2019

Our heads are still swirling with stats, strategies, and inspiration from TalentConnect. We joined 4,600 members of the global talent community in Dallas, Texas, in pursuit of our shared goals of building winning teams and changing people’s lives.

LinkedIn won our hearts with the Texas-sized welcome (and personalized bandanas), and the presenters moved our hearts and minds on topics from authentic DEI like Beyonce to negotiating tactics from a former FBI agent. Also, there was Michelle Obama. (Did we mention Michelle Obama?!)

Here are our top 5 takeaways from the 10th annual LinkedIn TalentConnect conference:

1. New rules for the new world of work

  • Flexibility: As a mom to two small boys, flexibility is a job requirement that I’m unwilling (and unable!) to compromise on—and I’m not alone. We heard time and again from speakers that supporting flexible work environments that allow people to balance their work with their lives is key to successful retention.
  • Remote opportunities: Remote work has grown 91% in the past 10 years, yet we’re still just scratching the surface of what it takes to enable and engage a remote workforce. If you haven’t already, it’s time to take the first step toward letting your people do the work they love—how and wherever they love to do it.
  • Authenticity: As Mariana Atencio (MSNBC & NBC News national correspondent) so eloquently shared: being perfectly you makes your team better. She shared how she felt the first time she dared to drop the Americanized version and proudly say her name, Venezuelan accent and all, on national television. And how her native tongue enabled her to share the raw, heart wrenching stories of mothers torn from their children—reporting that earned her and her team a Hillman Prize for Broadcast Journalism.

At Simplicity, the new world of work is also a new way of thinking about work and teams. It’s about on-demand, project-based work and the ability to quickly build and assemble the right team at the right time for the right work. The full-time employee (FTE) model is quickly shifting to teams with a capital T: a collection of FTEs, consultants, vendors, and agencies that flex with the speed of business.

2. People, people, people—always

As a [mostly F-bomb-free] Gary Vaynerchuk said in his keynote, until the robots take over and kill us all (which, let’s be honest, they might), it’s people—always people.

Both when it comes to employment marketing & recruiting ….

  • Use data to drive personalized recruitment marketing: Visa’s Celinda Appleby encouraged us to dig deeper than top-line demographics to understand our target audiences. She gave the example of her twin boys who, on paper, are identical: male, Hispanic, pre-teen. Yet, if you wanted to market to her boys, you’d reach her budding coder and her die-hard athlete in two very different places.
  • Make your company the catalyst, not the hero: Chris Malin of Google flipped the script on recruitment marketing, urging us to focus on them, not us. Not why our company, but why me? He spoke of the value of allowing talent to see themselves with us by telling stories where the company is the catalyst … but never the hero.

… and retaining & engaging top talent

  • Let your people be the humans you hired, said Dean Carter (CHRO at Patagonia). Which, by the way, translates to 4% turnover at Patagonia.
  • Work happiness isn’t just possible, it’s essential: We heard from Glint co-founder Jim Barnett on the importance of listening to your people—and, more importantly, acting on their feedback—to continuously improve their happiness.
  • Reframe engagement: Turnover has gone up 88% in 8 years (!!!) and the cost of turnover can range from 30 to 200% of an employee’s annual salary (HR Digest, via WorkJoy CEO Tina Robinson). Employee engagement isn’t free beer and a dog-friendly office: It’s ensuring that your people are in their sweet spot where their purpose, passions, and power are aligned. And if they’re not, it’s working with them to make a change.

Live your values

Patagonia’s Dean Carter really struck a chord.

He defined values as those things that you value beyond the bottom line. Patagonia’s foundational value? They’re in business to save our home planet.

Carter preached a regenerative approach toward our planet … and our people:

  • By letting them surf & live ridiculously
  • By building community and looking for culture add, not culture fit
  • By thinking regeneratively and not just thinking about what we extract from them, but what we add, too

Michelle, we love you

And then there was First Lady Michelle Obama.

She echoed many of the same themes we’d heard this week—our shared obligation to expand our networks and the importance of flexibility, authenticity, and regularly communicating with our people on a personal level—and shared other gems:

  • Authenticity starts with liking yourself … which is much easier when you see yourself in the culture
  • Great leaders are great team builders … and recognize that they need a team, while recognizing their teams’ accomplishments
  • Embrace the swerve. The plan is just a template. Have a plan, but let life happen along the way
  • Her greatest point of pride? That she learned the lesson of reaching back to help others up

The network gap has to go

If you read nothing else, read this:

It’s no secret that there is a gap in access to equal opportunities, but the numbers are still staggering:

Those who come from wealthy neighborhoods, attend top schools, and work for top companies are 12x (TWELVE TIMES!) more likely to have a strong network. And referrals are 9x more likely to get hired.

That delta in access—what LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner calls the network gap—is what LinkedIn is striving bridge with its goal of providing equal access to opportunity.

Which brings us to the #PlusOnePledge.

It's an intention to share your time, talent, or connections with people outside your network who may not have access to the same resources you do. By taking the Plus One Pledge, you’ll help others and strengthen your own network.

It doesn’t mean not taking care of people in our networks, but it means being intentional about not precluding people outside of our networks.

Weiner asked all 4,600 of us to join him in taking the plus one pledge. To pay it forward for someone without the same access that we have. To reach back and help someone else up.

Jeff, we’ll join you.

And you, dear reader: Will you join us?

Please note Team Simplicity on the keynote screen (center bottom): (L to R) Amanda Swahn, Carrie Morris, and Stephanie Chacharon.

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