Workday Rising Daily: The Culture Imperative

Workday Rising started Wednesday morning with the Culture Imperative Keynote, featuring Great Place to Work CEO Michael C. Bush and some fantastic panelists. We also provide recaps from today’s Business Leader Forums: one on how General Electric is using artificial intelligence and machine learning, one focused on data privacy, and another on how several companies have reinvented performance management. Read more in today’s Workday Rising Daily.

Great Corporate Culture Affects Your Bottom Line

At the Culture Imperative Keynote, Great Place to Work CEO Michael C. Bush told the audience that a great company culture is “better for business, better for people, and better for the world.” And companies don’t have to sacrifice the bottom line for a great culture. “I love culture and I love money, too . . . there’s no trade-off.”

Bush would know. His company produces the Fortune 100 “Best Companies to Work For” list. To assess company culture, Bush surveys 13 focus areas, which include trust, respect, credibility, fairness, enjoyment, and care.

“We have to do what we have to do so that we are inspirational all of the time as a people leader,” shared Michael C. Bush.

Employees celebrate when their company receives this honor, and investors celebrate, too—Bush noted that the stock performance of those 100 companies is 3x those of other indices. CarMax, Quicken Loans, and Workday all earned a spot this year, and leaders from those companies joined the keynote for a panel discussion to talk about what company culture means to them and why it’s important to their business.

“I define culture as something invisible, but very important,” said Shamim Mohammad, senior vice president and CIO, CarMax. “And good culture doesn’t happen accidentally—it has to be intentional.”

“Culture is the lifeblood of any organization,” said Mike Malloy, chief people officer at Quicken Loans. “Everyone has something different that drives their culture—do good for the world, our people are number one, and so on. Whatever it is, the culture needs to be non-negotiable.”

The leaders agreed that establishing a culture also starts with communication, and the communication must be consistent. In addition, good culture must “empower team members,” said Malloy. “The companies on the [Fortune 100] list are revolutionizing industries. Because we have the culture that says it’s okay to push, to dream, to fail.”

“The question isn’t do you have a culture. The question is, who is defining it?”
—Robynne Sisco, chief financial officer, Workday

It also starts from the top down. Malloy relayed an anecdote about Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans. At an orientation, Gilbert tells new team members how important it is to respond to customer communications within 24 hours. He shares his mobile number and tells them that if they don’t have time to respond customers to call him. He’ll do it.

And if your organization thinks it doesn’t have a culture, think again. Robynne Sisco, co-president and CFO of Workday, said she’s amazed when people tell her this.“The question isn’t do you have a culture,” she said. “The question is, who is defining it?”

Business Leader Forum: GE Embraces AI and Machine Learning for HR

GE is big. Real big. Founded 126 years ago, the company has 280,000 employees in 180 countries. With numbers like that, it’s no surprise that the organization is looking to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to automate processes and manage the sheer volume of data it produces every second, let alone every day.

James Ross and Joe Korngiebel discuss how GE is using artificial intelligence and machine learning to reshape the employee experience.

At a Business Leader Forum, James Ross, CIO of global functions and digital hubs at GE, spoke to Joe Korngiebel, CTO of Workday, about how GE is embracing AI and ML.

When thinking about the benefits of these technologies, said Ross, companies must focus on the fundamentals—the key business problems an organization is trying to solve. At GE, he’s focused on three things:

  • Driving business efficiency, such as automating work through robotics.
  • Improving interactions between customers and employees using technologies like virtual chat.
  • Gleaning data insights. “Data is oxygen for making business decisions,” said Ross. “It needs to be clean and available, and you need to know how to use it.”

GE is using AI and ML in its day-to-day operations, particularly in its HR functions. Examples from Ross, including pilots and technologies in wide use, include:

  • Two hundred live chatbots. Within HR alone, GE has 15 bots driving $500,000 of productivity.
  • A virtual assistant. “Our virtual assistant handled 5,000 chat requests that would’ve gone to a call center. We had a 70 percent reduction through chatbot alone.”
  • An attrition predictor. “We analyzed 100 variables and realized there were nine or 10 significant variables,” said Ross. “We could predict with high confidence when someone will leave the company.”

The attrition predictor is particularly helpful to the HR team, enabling people leaders to reach out to their employees before they leave and initiate a conversation; maybe, for example, an employee’s compensation isn’t where it needs to be. This is a huge benefit of AI and ML technologies, according to Ross: Rather than putting out raging fires, people leaders can act much earlier to prevent the fires in the first place.

Business Leader Forum: Privacy is Everyone’s Responsibility

Innovate, but do it responsibly. This was the message at the Business Leader Forum where Barbara Cosgrove, chief privacy officer at Workday, spoke with Jules Polonetsky, chief executive officer at the Future of Privacy Forum, and Cameron Kerry, senior counsel at Sidley Austin LLP, about how privacy is becoming a shared responsibility across the organization.

“If data is core to a company, there’s a shared responsibility for everyone to understand its implications,” said Jules Polonetsky.

Cosgrove shared Workday’s Privacy Principles, and noted that data privacy is becoming increasingly important as the volume of data continues to grow. Kerry stated, “We are now in the midst of a data ‘big bang’ that changes everything. A lot of uses for data are outside legal frameworks that we have robust privacy protections for.” As an example, he noted how the smartwatch could be considered a medical device that collects data that there are clear protections for, but that same data going into a sports performance app might not be protected.

In light of the same data being used in many different contexts, Polonetsky said that privacy has evolved from being about consumer protection to being a fundamental human right.

The speakers all agreed that data privacy affects an entire organization regardless of role or function. Polonetsky stated, “If data is core to a company, there’s a shared responsibility for everyone to understand its implications. Privacy is not a tick-the-box issue anymore; it’s front page news that impacts power and discrimination.” Kerry said that “data use is a form of human experimentation and has real consequences.”

Polonetsky left the audience with this advice: “Be your own white hat hacker to figure out what could go wrong, what challenges you might run into, and understand how it’ll impact others.”

Business Leader Forum: Reinventing Performance Management with Forrester, General Motors, and Illumina

When the topic of performance reviews comes up, you’ll likely see some groans and cringes among your employees. But that’s not the case at General Motors (GM) and Illumina, which have shifted to a new type of performance management model that’s focused on providing continuous value: Performance enablement.

“From an HR standpoint, we can either be the enablers of that change or the grand stiflers”
—Michael Arenea, chief talent officer, General Motors

Greg Pryor, senior vice president, people and performance evangelist at Workday, led a Business Leader Forum on the transformation of the performance review and explained that the first stage of reinventing performance management is moving away from a ratings system.

Michael Arena, chief talent officer of GM, shared that based on GM’s research, they found that ratings disengaged the workforce and had a net drag on the entire organization. Instead, they experimented and used design thinking to look ahead. “Ratings are just a proxy for people to understand how they’re doing, so we shifted from ratings to feedback,” he said.

As the nature of work changes across industries, organizations must focus on revamping their performance management models to support more agile practices. As GM evolves from being a manufacturing company to a mobility company, Arena said, “From an HR standpoint, we can either be the enablers of that change or the grand stiflers. We need to graduate from a one-size-fits-all model.”

Pat Leckman, vice president of human resources at Illumina, said that her company’s rapid expansion into new markets sometimes produced a disparity between corporate and personal goals. “It seemed counter-intuitive to do reviews once a year even through goals change throughout it,” Leckman said. “We had employees asking, ‘Should I talk about what I really did or should I talk about what my goal said I was supposed to do?’ and we knew that we had to move to a more continuous model.”

Dave Johnson, principal analyst at Forrester Research, said that his firm’s research has found that monthly or continuous reviews result in more engaged employees, higher retention, better alignment of the workforce with business needs, and ultimately improved customer satisfaction and business outcomes.

Read more onsite reports from Workday Rising: “Workday Rising Daily: Welcoming the Workday Community,” “Workday Rising Daily: News Highlights from Innovation Keynote,” and “Workday Rising Daily: Going Even Further Together.”