This Was TEC 2018

Last Thursday, more than 300 people came to Ghent for The Talent Enablement Conference. What were the key takeaways? What can your organisation learn from Airbnb? Find out in this wrap-up blog!

This Was TEC 2018

Last Thursday, more than 300 people came to Ghent for The Talent Enablement Conference. What were the key takeaways? What can your organisation learn from Airbnb? Why did everyone love the ramen noodles so much? Find out in this wrap-up blog!

The theme of the day was Employee Experience. A rather new concept in the European HR world but already a big phenomenon across the pond. The day was filled with inspirational talks from speakers such as Shawn Murphy, Kate Walsh, Mark Levy and Ben Whitter. They all shared their insights on the importance of employee experience and the future of HR.

From HR to Employee Experience At Airbnb

Probably the most anticipated speaker was Mark Levy. From 2014 until 2018 he was the pioneer in shifting Airbnb's traditional HR to Employee Experience. This has clearly paid off since Glassdoor recognised Airbnb as the number 1 Place to Work in 2016 and their number of employees rose from 600 to 4000 in 4 years!

During his 50-minute keynote, Mark talked about what makes Airbnb's HR and organisational culture something everyone looks up to.  He strongly stressed that organisations have the wrong perception about their employees. Organisations think they have to do something for their employees rather than with them. At Airbnb, the full employee experience is based on the latter. The organisation does something with its employees, not for them. Mark Levy said that once you can disconnect these two things from each other, technology automatically follows.



Mark Levy - Image by Kaat De Malsche


Also worth mentioning is that Airbnb dedicates an entire interview to company culture. This interview follows the technical job interview. Once someone is through to the next round, they have a conversation with someone who does not know what position they are applying for or what background they have. The sole purpose of this interview is to tell whether the person sitting in front of them has the same values and beliefs as Airbnb and if they would fit within the organisational culture. This ensures that the right expectations are created from the start, and you considerably decrease mismatches. Bring Your Best To Work!

70% of employees have a negative work experience


At TEC, our primary goal was for people to go home with new, practical ideas they can literally start to implement tomorrow. The one thing that often came forward during almost every talk, including Shawn's, was that your leadership style greatly influences your employee experience, your employee happiness and retention. 70% of people come to work and don't enjoy themselves. Why? Do you know why your people work, aside from getting a paycheque? What makes them happy? Understand what's important for the people on your team and help them get meaning! This might seem very tailored, but since we spend 1/3 of our day at work, this should be tailored.

Winning Together

Not only international HR speakers took the TEC stage but also Olympic gold medalist Kate Richardson Walsh brought her Olympic story, and gold medal, with her.


Kate Richardson Walsh - Image by Kaat De Malsche

Her energy and innovative approach were a breath of fresh air for the HR world. The British hockey captain did not talk about processes or how to increase retention but brought her own, human story about how her team won the gold medal in Rio by trial and error. Kate linked her experience of the Olympics in Rio to the problem of attracting and retaining top talents. According to Kate, everyone has, just like in a hockey team, a super strength. As a manager, you need to know what your team and the individuals in your team's strengths are. Just like in hockey, when someone's good at a specific skill you coach them, always keeping in mind there's room for improvement. 

Find your team's super strength and greatly invest in it. If you coach them well and give them enough confidence, your organisation will greatly benefit from this.


If we had to summarise TEC18 in three words, it would be: insightful, empowering and delicious (you know, the ramen).

We already can't wait to start organising TEC19. See you next year!