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Finding "Romance" at Work in the Age of AI + More Lessons From LinkedIn Talent Connect

Cornerstone Editors

Artificial intelligence may be bringing a new wave of technology to the HR space, but humans have a huge role to play in extracting impact from these shiny new solutions, said Tim Leberecht, founder and CEO of The Business Romantic Society, at the LinkedIn Talent Connect conference this week.

Though emerging technology, namely AI, was a buzzed-about topic at the conference in Anaheim, California, it was humanness in HR that stole the spotlight throughout the "Insights to Impact"-themed three-day event. From bringing emotion to work, to identifying the ways that humans learn best, sessions were centered on the most important element of HR—people.

Below are three key takeaways from the conference.

1) Employees Must Find "Romance" in Their Work

Driven by productivity and optimization, today's workers and their managers sometimes prioritize efficiency over taking time to find meaning and nuance in their work, Leberecht said in his keynote presentation. But it's time to bring "romance" back to work, and not the kind that conjures up images of hearts and cupid.

To inject romance (in its classical definition) into the work environment, Leberecht recommends thinking about purpose even when executing the most mundane tasks, breaking down barriers to create avenues for communication with coworkers and mixing immediate perks with delayed gratification to keep employees engaged.

2) Workers Want to Learn—on Their Terms

Humans crave knowledge and are naturally driven to self improvement, especially at a time where being a lifelong learner is the only way to keep up with the new skills needed for today's world of work. Whether it's gaining proficiency with new tools, or seeking out soft skills that improve productivity, employees need different types of learning content—and they need variety in how that content is delivered.

An interactive display at the conference demonstrated that learning preferences vary, so it's up to HR teams to determine how to meet their needs with a range of content formats (videos, infographics, handbooks), and make learning available whenever, wherever.

3) New "Storytellers" Can Erase Bias and Boost Diversity

Bias still runs rampant not only in recruiting, but also after employees are hired, Leslie Miley, former engineering manager at Twitter, said during his keynote presentation. When it comes to feedback, for example, 89 percent of women are given critical feedback compared to only 34 percent of men, he said.

So what can be done to eliminate this kind of discrimination, and open the door for more diverse candidates to make it through the hiring process and thrive at work? Elaine Welteroth, editor in chief of Teen Vogue and Lisa Lee, head of diversity and inclusion at Squarespace, shared the stage for a keynote presentation on breaking down stereotypes and other barriers that prevent diversity and equal treatment at work.

Their main piece of advice? "To change the story, you have to change the storytellers," Welteroth said. Make a strong, conscious effort to hire more diverse people—including individuals of different races, genders, opinions, socioeconomic statuses and more—to break the cycle of bias. Don't "dip your toes into diversity," they urged. Dive right in.

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Employment law is complicated and can have big repercussions for your company if employees fail to adhere to it — either out of ignorance or neglect. A talent contractor for Comcast was just forced to pay $7.5 million to settle a lawsuit over unpaid overtime — a violation of employment law. While you can't expect everyone at your company to be experts in the law (that's why you should have an attorney on retainer), your managers should be trained on the basics. Otherwise, you make your company susceptible to lawsuits.

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