More than 2,000 HR and business professionals gathered this week at the Bellagio in Las Vegas for Ultimate Software’s annual customer conference, Connections. Attendees learned how to “Inspire Engagement” in their people, maximize their use of UltiPro® and their partnership with Ultimate, and enhance the overall employee experience with hands-on workshops, educational breakout sessions, and memorable keynote presentations—all part of Ultimate’s largest Connections conference to date.
“This year’s Connections is all about ‘Inspiring Engagement,’ and it’s really all of you—our customers—who inspire all of us at Ultimate,” said Adam Rogers, Ultimate’s chief technology officer, welcoming attendees on Wednesday morning. “You inspire us to design the best products and deliver the best service that will help you and your people do your best work. Thank you for what each of you bring to this conference, and year round—your expertise, your loyalty, and your trust in us.”
Joining Rogers on stage was Martin Hartshorne, Ultimate’s vice president of products. Hartshorne discussed three ways organizations can enhance the employee experience at work, and shared some of the many ways Ultimate is helping its customers inspire engagement.
- Don’t Waste People’s Time. To address common concerns related to employee pay, Ultimate has developed UltiPro Pay Insight within its mobile experience. On average, organizations receive 1,150 calls and emails from employees about their pay each year. Pay Insight proactively prevents pay-related confusion and distractions by notifying and explaining changes in people’s pay, where they’re coming from, when they’re coming, and why—saving time and stress for HR, managers, and employees alike.
- Build Stronger Leaders. Because the employee-manager relationship is arguably the most important relationship within an organization, Ultimate is helping managers become stronger leaders with UltiPro’s Leadership Actions feature. Building on the power of UltiPro’s predictive analytics tools, Leadership Actions uses predictor scores to prescribe suggested activities across various categories, all designed to help engage employees, cultivate relationships, and strengthen bonds.
- Let HR Focus on Strategy. Your people are your business, so it’s imperative HR is freed and empowered to develop people-focused strategies. Ultimate’s products and services are designed to help HR leaders focus on their real jobs by helping them spend less time on administrative processes and leverage UltiPro to its fullest extent. One example of this is through a superior service experience. This includes providing a unique, collaborative support model (without tiers)—a knowledge-centered approach in which issues are resolved rapidly, and by the customer’s first point of contact.
“Part of what makes Ultimate unique is the fact we’re not just a products company or just a services company,” said Hartshorne. “We’re a blend of the two—a symphony of products and services strategically designed to overcome the challenges we all face.”
Every Person, Every Job Matters
On Wednesday, attendees heard a colorful keynote presentation by television personality Mike Rowe, best known for hosting the shows Dirty Jobs and Somebody’s Gotta Do It.
Rowe shared an illustrative story about his peripeteia (Greek for “turning point”), which ultimately led to the idea for Dirty Jobs. It all started in the sewers of San Francisco, where Rowe and his “always-rolling” cameraman were shadowing a city sewage inspector for a local program called Evening Magazine. It’s here—below the steep streets of San Fran, amongst a steady stream of smelly sludge, surrounded by a community of rowdy rodents—where Rowe realized his true calling.
Rowe’s main takeaway for Connections attendees? Every person and every job matters.
Success Starts with Culture
On Thursday, Ultimate’s CEO, president, and founder, Scott Scherr, addressed the conference with an insightful look at the company’s history and future.
Scherr talked about Ultimate’s humble beginnings—a handful of people, two cubicles, and sometimes a metaphorical feeling of being “in the sewer.” Today, Ultimate has assembled a relentless team of more than 3,000 employees, has offices all around the globe, and just celebrated its fourth championship by surpassing $600 million in annual revenue.
“How did Ultimate happen? First, we built a culture. Then we built a team,” said Scherr. “There’s nothing better than being on a team—winning as a team, and especially coming together as a team when times are bad.”
On how organizations can build a winning team, Scherr said the first step is establishing an employee-centric culture. Put people first, and the success will follow.
“Build a field where people will come, and they’ll want to be there forever,” said Scherr. “Take care of everyone, every day—and they’ll take care of you and your customers in every way.”
Engagement expert Chester Elton built upon this essential principle during Thursday’s keynote presentation. The energetic Elton, co-author of best-selling books All In, The Carrot Principle, and The Orange Revolution, called workplace culture “one of the last differentiators left in business today.”
The best companies, explained Elton, create cultures in which employees feel an emotional connection to work, feel free to be themselves, and feel free to have a little fun while working. These companies go “all in” to show how much they appreciate and respect their people. These organizations believe in their employees, and the employees believe in their organizations.
“Great brands have great cultures,” said Elton. “Are your employees proud to wear your logo? Are they proud to tell their friends, family, and community where they work? When you say you put ‘People First,’ do your employees really believe it?”
The leadership guru explained how instilling a sense of pride and belief in the organization comes from leaders praising their employees’ efforts and rewarding their results. He also outlined four rules for effective employee recognition: Do It Now, Do It Often, Be Specific, and Be Sincere.
Concluding with Community Service
Before heading home, Ultimate’s customers and employees teamed up with Clean the World for a special community service project to conclude Connections. Attendees spent the morning preparing hygiene kits, with soaps and bottled amenities (shampoo, conditioner, and lotion) from area hotels. The kits will be distributed by Project 150, a non-profit that helps high-school students in need throughout the Las Vegas valley.
Catch up on all the memorable moments and inspirational insight from Connections 2016 on social media: #UltiConnect.