Earlier this month, thought leaders, Bridge customers, partners, and analysts came together in beautiful Park City, Utah to learn, share ideas, test their Olympian potential, and discuss employee development—all at the most comprehensive employee development conference on the block: BridgeCon.
Here’s look back on what transpired and some tidbits of what we learned:
What’s Your #ElCapitan?
Free Solo’s Alex Honnold and Jimmy Chin detailed their long journey of 20 years of climbing, preparation, and hard work culminating in their ultimate goal: Alex’s free solo climb of El Capitan—something that had never been achieved before. Their story prompted us to think about how understanding and sharing what that goes into our own career growth and journeys to the pinnacle of our careers, aka Everest—or better yet, El Capitan!—are key.
The Employee Experience Matters
The importance of a healthy employee experience emerged as a key theme during the conference. Your people matter, and their experience at work impacts your organization’s bottom line—whether it’s good or bad. Unfortunately, the current market direction is moving away from focusing on the employee experience, and companies that follow this trend are going to be left behind in the war for talent. Companies that invest in their employees in ways where they can contribute their best selves and feel excited about their work will win out.
So it’s essential for employers to prioritize instilling psychological safety at work, building environments of trust, and creating an employee-centric culture. Whether it’s finding the right tools or resources to enable their employees to do their best work, connecting them with peers and mentors across the organization, or placing more emphasis on strong manager-employee relationships, there are plenty of ways for companies to put their people first.
Putting Your People First
We were honored to host a group of respected thought leaders as keynote speakers and session leaders at BridgeCon.
Claude Silver emphasized the importance of building a strong heart-based culture: one where people are able to be human, vulnerable, and courageous—and where they feel seen and recognized. A heart-based culture also needs to be nurtured through growth, compassion, transparency, purpose, and more.
Dr. Britt Andreatta explained how our brains process and respond to physical harm and emotional harm in the same way. When someone goes through a harmful work experience—like exclusion, their brain disconnects. This was a powerful reminder that employers have a responsibility to create a positive, safe work environment where their employees feel a sense of fulfillment and belonging and are able to be their whole, authentic selves.
Erica Keswin showcased key ways to promote humanity in the workplace, including taking professional development seriously, curating connections, being real, and more. Employees want to feel empowered, and they look for mission-driven companies with authentic voices.
Josh Bersin shared new research on the overall market: the working world has changed from the employee perspective, with the average work lifespan at around 5 years, and employees changing jobs approximately 8 times during their career. Employees will spend a shorter amount of time with their company, which changes the entire dynamic of their relationship with their employers. Employees come for an experience, not to stay with a company until they retire, and companies should start treating employees like customers. Leaders also need to shift the focus of talent management from leader-driven to learner-driven and leader-facilitated, and recognize the critical need to provide development opportunities for employees and invest in their people.
Mark Sutton and Kat Barker from The Second City taught us the importance of collaboration, active listening, and trust through the magic and fun of improv. Every idea from your colleagues should be treated with possibility and respect. True collaboration means we must surrender the need to be right.
Matthew Daniel revealed that two out of three learning & development practitioners wouldn’t recommend their own programs. He challenged to ask ourselves why we’re producing junk and to instead think about learners and their experiences. It’s important to take a step back and consider who our learning content is for, and if our learners actually want it. We should be creating learning experiences they want to consume, enables them to be great at their jobs, and develops them for future opportunities.
Awards, Olympians, and Beyond
Other memorable moments: we recognized our customers who excel in creating environments where people can grow throughout their careers with our annual Employee Development Awards.
At beautiful Olympic Park, our attendees watched Olympians training hard for 2020, and if inspired, tried their hand at tubing, ropes courses, ziplining, and other extreme activities.
This is just a brief look into some of the incredible speakers, sessions, and discussions we had at BridgeCon. Thank you to everyone who came out to learn, connect, and grow. We can’t wait until next year!
Ready to learn more about winning employee development with Bridge? Check out our “Definitive Guide to Employee Development.”