Tech & HR: Launching a Hackathon to Improve Employee Engagement

What is a Hackathon and Why Should Your Company Launch One?

Are you seeking to ignite passion, foster collaboration, and unlock creativity within your teams? Consider the dynamic power of the HR Hackathon, an immersive event in which diverse teams tackle pre-defined HR challenges using design thinking, prototyping, and rapid iteration. These aren’t just exercises in brainstorming; HR Hackathons offer tangible benefits, including increased employee engagement, fresh creativity, and strengthened team-building. 

Tapping into employee passion, breaking down silos and encouraging cross-functional collaboration, HR Hackathons offer an invigorating and effective way to tackle your most pressing HR challenges, leaving you with not just solutions, but a more engaged, creative, and collaborative workforce. Ready to unleash the full potential of your people and boost your culture? Consider hosting your own HR Hackathon; the results might surprise you.

Identify Your Hackathon Objectives

Before diving into the world of HR Hackathons, it’s crucial to nail down your objectives. What are you hoping to achieve? Is it boosting employee engagement, streamlining onboarding, or tackling specific pain points like remote work integration? Clearly defining your goals ensures your hackathon is laser-focused and delivers impactful results.

Next, choose your HR-related theme. Consider current trends, employee feedback, and your organization’s unique needs. Will you explore enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives? Perhaps gamified learning or mental health support are priorities. Choosing a theme sparks excitement and aligns participants with your organizational objectives. Finally, get practical. Set a realistic timeline and budget, being mindful of team bandwidth and resource availability.

5 people putting their hands into the middle

Get Your Employees Engaged & Involved

Engaging your employees is the fuel that propels your HR Hackathon to success. To turn intention into action, start by establishing a Hackathon Committee composed of enthusiastic and diverse volunteers whose job is to help organize the hackathon and guide participants throughout the process. Leverage their varied perspectives and organizational knowledge to orchestrate the event, promote participation, and guide participants through the process. 

Once you’ve gathered your eager volunteers, cultivate collaborative team spirit. Encourage cross-departmental participation, bringing together diverse skill sets and backgrounds to build shared ideas. Imagine the fresh perspectives emerging when marketing specialists team up with engineers and HR generalists!  Finally, remember that success thrives on support. Equip your teams with the tools they need—such as data access, design thinking frameworks and technology platforms—to bring their ideas to life. Provide access to subject matter experts who can answer questions, offer guidance, and inspire creative solutions throughout the event.

Launch & Execute Your Hackathon

Once it’s time to officially launch, host a dynamic kick-off event. Introduce the theme, challenge goals, and judging criteria, while showcasing inspiring examples of successful hackathon projects from other organizations. Share testimonials from past participants to fuel excitement, set expectations and inspire passionate problem-solving.

Transparency is key, so establish clear judging criteria and rules beforehand. Share these guidelines widely and ensure they align with your objectives. This fosters informed decision-making and fair evaluation. Whether your event is virtual or physical, meticulous planning is crucial. Remember, a smooth-running event keeps participants focused and engaged. With a captivating kick-off, transparent guidelines, and well-managed logistics, you’ve laid the foundation for a successful HR Hackathon.

Post-Hackathon Activities and Benefits

The hackathon buzz might fade, but the benefits can last far beyond the event itself. It’s crucial to evaluate the outcomes and innovations generated. Gather feedback from participants, judges, and leadership to assess the solutions presented. Which projects hold the most promise for enhancing your HR processes or addressing your chosen theme?

Recognize and reward winning teams or individuals, not just for their final presentation, but also for their collaboration, creativity, and problem-solving skills. Public recognition and awards go a long way in boosting morale and reinforcing the value of innovation within your organization. However, the true success lies in implementation. Work with the winning teams to refine their projects and integrate them into your HR processes.

Measure the Hackathon Impact on HR

Once the awards are handed out and the energy is buzzing, how do you truly measure the lasting impact of your HR Hackathon? The answer lies in data-driven insights and tracking the ripple effect on employee engagement and HR effectiveness. Start by crafting a compelling post-Hackathon survey. Gauge participants’ experience, satisfaction, and perceived impact on their skills and engagement. Did they feel heard and valued? Did collaboration spark new connections and ideas? Capture their honest feedback for future refinement.

But don’t stop there. Leverage existing employee engagement and pulse surveys to keep your finger on the pulse of your organization and track long-term shifts. Do you see an uptick in employee satisfaction, innovation, or willingness to collaborate? Are the implemented hackathon solutions demonstrably improving HR processes and addressing the initial challenge?

Remember, engagement isn’t a one-time event. By consistently measuring and iterating, you can build on the hackathon’s momentum and nurture a culture of continuous improvement. People Element’s Employee Engagement solutions can support you in designing effective surveys, analyzing data, and translating insights into actionable steps.

More about People Element 

In order to truly understand and inspire your employees, you must listen and engage them at every step of their journey with your organization. Regardless of where your people are at in the employee journey, People Element’s employee survey platform can help you connect. They make it easy to ask, listen and act on what matters most, resulting in a healthier, more successful workplace. Learn more with a free platform walkthrough.

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