This episode is especially exciting for me. I love all of my guests, but it isn’t every day that I have one of my BFFs on the program. So I’m really pumped to have China Gorman back on #WorkTrends this week.

Among her many jobs, Gorman is managing director of UNLEASH’s U.S. operations, and this week she gave us a special sneak peek at UNLEASH America, which will be May 14-15 in Las Vegas. This year’s theme is “The Bridge Between Work and Technology;” we discussed how the convention will highlight the theme and Gorman’s own thoughts on the future of work.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

What’s in Store at UNLEASH 2019

UNLEASH has its roots in HR tech, but the conference is also devoted to discussing thornier issues. Perhaps the biggest topic UNLEASH will tackle is the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. GDPR has forced organizations to examine their data privacy practices and has spurred a discussion on the place of data in our professional and personal lives. “Ultimately, what we need to wrestle to the ground is who owns employee data,” Gorman says.

Further emphasizing the conference’s willingness to “get real” is its final keynote speaker: Edward Snowden. Yes, you read that correctly. Snowden will beam in live from Moscow. “He’s going to talk sort of big picture about data privacy,” Gorman says. “So how do we know who owns what [and] how do we work so that people can control what they need to control in terms of data?”

Gorman says she’s excited for the discussion and the controversy Snowden can bring, believing it will help facilitate even more dialogue on the floor in Las Vegas. “That’s going to be a whole different take that should sort of spur the thinking and create some interesting juices for our attendees to marinate in,” she says.

How AI Has Affected HR

Since Gorman puts on events about the future of HR, it would be a little ridiculous not to ask what she thinks about that topic. Gorman was polite enough to let me grill her on how construction on “the bridge between work and technology” is going.

The first topic we discussed was how artificial intelligence has affected HR. She says AI hasn’t had quite the impact that many expected, with one exception: talent acquisition. “I think they’re going to lead the rest of HR in terms of the effective use of AI,” she says.

AI has given recruiters the ability to find more qualified candidates in less time, so positions can get filled quicker. And an AI should learn with each hire, so these systems will evolve and become even more efficient as they’re used more and more.

Why Data Will Drive Engagement

But Gorman doesn’t underplay the promise of HR tech or AI. She says that as AI is further integrated, HR will be freed from administrative tasks and will focus on the human relationships that drive the employee experience. “I think in their heart of hearts, that’s the business HR wants to be in.”

And the data HR can collect will help improve employee engagement, she says. “The opportunity there is huge to improve engagement,” Gorman says. Organizations will be able to use analytics to combat disengagement, and they’ll be able to use data to take actionable steps to improve the employee experience. “It’s just that simple,” she says.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

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