SHRMLabs Aims to Inspire, Support Workplace Technology

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer July 6, 2021
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​ParagonLabs, the workplace innovation and venture capital arm of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), is now SHRMLabs.

Launched in 2019, the initiative was designed to elevate HR as a thought leader on the future of work and help solve organizational challenges through identifying and enabling technologies that address the needs of workers and the workplace.  

"We can either embrace technology or be disrupted by it and therefore rendered less valuable as a business function," said SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP. "Our investment in SHRMLabs distinctly signifies our standpoint on the criticality that the HR profession fully embrace technology."

SHRM Chief Knowledge Officer Alexander Alonso, SHRM-SCP, added, "For too long, the design of workplace effectiveness has been left to everyone but the HR professional. SHRMLabs is the first of its kind as an innovation hub devoted to enhancing workplaces through the linkage between HR professionals and innovators from all over the world." Guillermo Corea 

Guillermo Corea, the managing director of SHRMLabs, spoke with SHRM Online about the vision behind the initiative, how SHRMLabs will engage with SHRM members and what is being planned for the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2021 (SHRM21) in Las Vegas.

SHRM Online: What's the vision driving SHRMLabs?

Corea: SHRMLabs is inspiring innovation to create better technologies that solve today's most pressing workplace challenges by supporting tech innovators and startup companies in the workplace technology industry.

SHRM Online: How is SHRMLabs planning on engaging with SHRM members?

Corea: SHRMLabs wants to support the development of tech-savvy HR talent. To that end, we plan on engaging SHRM members in virtual as well as physical ways to achieve this goal. Members will have the opportunity to participate in virtual learning opportunities, such as the Future of Work thought leadership sessions we made available through the Better Workplaces Challenge Cup, or on the judging panels in which members get to interact with the innovators changing the workplace tech landscape.

Members will also be able to engage in the Workplace Tech Community. This is a community that will build tech-savvy HR professionals through connections, education and best practices. This digital community will be the trusted source for all things workplace tech. Members will be able to bring their current challenges, pain points and projects to learn from and ideate with the experts and innovators in the field.

SHRM Online: What are some of the initiatives SHRMLabs is working on?

Corea: The biggest initiative that we've launched so far has been the Better Workplaces Challenge Cup, a pitch competition to find the innovators that are solving a lot of the critical workplace challenges. The other big initiative we have planned for this year is the launch of the Workplace Tech Community. Now that in-person activities are starting up again, in 2022 we are planning to introduce the mobile Workplace Innovation Lab and bring learning opportunities to specific locations. This traveling lab will allow our members to engage directly with working demos of the latest workplace innovations so they can get hands-on experience with the technology. These events will also provide SHRM members with an experiential learning opportunity so that they can gain insight into how they can reimagine their workplace strategies, processes and policies. We also plan on launching a Workplace Tech Summit in 2022.

SHRM Online: What does SHRMLabs have planned for SHRM21 in Las Vegas?

Corea: At SHRM21, we will be introducing the Workplace Innovation Zone in the Expo Hall. Attendees can interact with the five finalists of the Better Workplaces Challenge Cup and other great workplace tech innovators. Attendees will have the opportunity to discover the features of the Workplace Tech Community.

We will also hold the Better Workplaces Challenge Cup finals to determine the first champion of this competition, which started back in February. The finalists will make their final pitches to a panel of judges, including Daymond John, award-winning entrepreneur and star of ABC's "Shark Tank," as well as to an audience of investors, leading HR professionals, fellow innovators and the media.

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