The “Purple Unicorn” and other important lessons learned at DisruptHR Denver

March 24, 2017

It all started in the back of a Lyft when I had first heard about DisruptHR Denver. I know that sounds like a joke, but in all seriousness, my Lyft driver, a well-known professional speaker in the HR industry, told me about DisruptHR Denver after I poured my soul out to her about my love for PR and HR.

I let her know my company gives employees a professional development stipend, where staff can put money towards something they’re passionate about (i.e., learning how to use InDesign, taking a class on Social Media, going to networking events, etc.) to further their growth at the company. Once I heard about DisruptHR Denver, I knew that’s what I wanted to use my professional develop fund for – going to an event series that shakes things up, will make me think differently and leave me inspired.

Attending the event on a Thursday evening, you’re welcomed into a giant event center greeted by smiling faces, a cash bar (oh yeah) and free TACOS (double yeah). Not knowing what to expect, I walked away with several important points I learned from the presenters at DisruptHR Denver and I now can happily refer to my company as a “Purple Unicorn” – something so awesome that it probably doesn’t exist in real life.

So you want to be a rock star?

If I had a buck for every time I heard someone say “I learned everything I need to do my job in my current job and not in college,” I’d be stupid rich. While many companies provide internships to get hands-on experience before formal employment, DisruptHR introduced me to a new program that helps train employees and learn job-specific skills but with the promise of a job after completion. It’s called an apprenticeship. Employers offer apprenticeships to hire people who already know which career path they wish to follow. Granted, you’ve got to be real committed to a career path, which, if you’re anything like me, can be challenging for fickle folks. Apprenticeships, internships, you name it, if you’re a company that wants to hire young talent, you’ve got to have some form of “hands-on” training to prepare employees for the real deal.


Auto enrollment is a major key

Something I’ve learned about my generation recently, especially through my own experience, that unless I’ve got step-by-step directions in front of my face to do something that will benefit me in the future, I’m probably going to be really lazy and give up. Something so simple as setting up an IRA can be oddly daunting and without any encouragement or direction from my employer, I’m probably just going to opt out. DisruptHR introduced me to a new, world-changing idea to help prevent this: auto enrollment. The specific example used was about setting up a 401K or a retirement savings plan for employees to save money for retirement. So essentially I don’t have to do anything and I’m saving money. Hot dog! How cool is that? Fortunately for me, Barokas Communications’s retirement program seemed difficult, but is actually extremely easy to enroll in and I do nothing (like, literally I do nothing) to save money for retirement.


Not your average employee comp and benefits program

Other interesting things I learned at DisruptHR Denver revolve around compensation and benefits because these days it’s not only about that pay check and health care – it’s about the office kegerator, unlimited PTO and recognition (queue #youknowyouworkwithmillennialswhen?). Many companies these days provide health and wellness programs that, you guessed it, help decrease the cost of healthcare via preventative measures! Just kidding, you probably didn’t guess that but health and wellness plans can be as simple as partnering with a local gym to get a discount for employees or as intricate as providing FitBits and having a monthly 100,000 steps competition. Something that other companies can learn from Barokas Communications, is an added comp and benefits perk which we all cherish: Work from Home Fridays (WFHF) and the ability to bring dogs into our offices. Who doesn’t like working in your PJs on Fridays and getting to see cute lil pups at the office every week? A crazy person, that’s who.

Oh and did I mention that DisruptHR Denver is coming back in August? You can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be there again to learn more about how HR is changing and how we should (and will) approach in the future. Who’s coming with me?


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