Meet the HR Tech speakers: Stacey Harris

This is the second in a series introducing our keynote speakers and their HR Tech Conference topics. Read more here.

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The quickly changing future of the HR tech industry is sure to be a hot topic during conversations at next month’s HR Technology Conference & Exposition®. For researcher Stacey Harris, such conversations are best fueled by data—which she will have in spades at the conference.

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Harris will close out the first day of the free, virtual HR Tech with a keynote unveiling the Sierra-Cedar/Sapient Insights Systems Survey, featuring responses from nearly 2,000 organizations about their HR technology strategies and plans. She spoke with HRE before the event about her own background in research and what the numbers say about the pandemic’s impact on the direction of HR technology.

Stacey Harris

You have a master’s degree in education; how did you pivot to your current work? And how do you think that background in education has assisted you in your career?

I did start out in corporate training and development roles straight out of college, but I was always fascinated by what factors had the greatest impact on actual organizational behavior and outcomes. Most of the time, real change had little to do with the training I was implementing, but rather pay incentives, performance measures, employee perception, process changes or well-designed technology. I kept gravitating towards the areas of HR that seemed to have the biggest impact on change, but I always wanted to know what actually caused the change. Not surprisingly, I ended up in organizational design and research roles that took a data-driven approach to answering that exact question. Even though I’ve shifted from my original focus on just education, I use that background daily to ensure I’m sharing my knowledge and findings in the most accessible way possible.

Related: Here are the top speakers coming to virtual HR Tech

How has the pandemic impacted your own professional priorities?

Well, I went from traveling 30-plus weeks out of the year to speak with my research participants and HR tech vendor community to being completely grounded. I had to rethink how I stayed connected with the HR tech community and how I shared the insights I’d learned from that research with the broader decision-makers. Like everyone else, my priorities shifted overnight, I invested more time in my volunteer work for the International Association for Human Resource Information Management to stay connected to my practitioners, and I tried to speak at as many virtual events as possible to share our data and insights.

How has COVID-19 affected trends we were seeing around upskilling and reskilling?

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Over 50% of organizations took the action to redistribute critical workforces during the COVID-19 crisis and, overnight, skills became the currency of this generation. Did you have the skills needed to adapt to whatever shift the organization needed to make to survive COVID-19? Did you have the skills need to be a frontline worker, primary support staff or work-from-home engineer? Over 30% of organizations that needed employee skills or licensing data at the start of the pandemic didn’t have it available.

What is your outlook on long-term remote work? Do you think it’s here to stay on a large scale?

Yes, I think this experience exposed a lot of organizations to the possibilities of work-from-home benefits. Our data shows that organizations are three times more likely to expect to have at least 25% of their workforce continuing to work from home in the post-pandemic environment.

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Related: Register here for the HR Technology Conference to hear Harris’ keynote debuting the Sierra-Cedar/Sapient Insights 2020-2021 HR Systems Survey Findings.

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