A global platform created early in the pandemic by four HR leaders on a mission has earned the Institute for Corporate Productivity’s inaugural Innovation in HR Award.

Kevin Oakes, CEO of i4cp, announced the free, employer-to-employer People+Work Connect as the winner Tuesday during the organization’s virtual annual conference, Next Practices Now.

“I’m so impressed with this initiative,” Oakes said earlier this year. “This is an incredibly innovative and agile solution, which top HR leaders from multiple companies and industries have created in record time. i4cp is proud to be a leading supporter and to be helping organizations manage through this global pandemic and economic crisis.”

Founders Lisa Buckingham of Lincoln Financial Group, Christy Pambianchi of Verizon, Ellyn Shook of Accenture and Pat Wadors of ServiceNow accepted the award live and spent about 30 minutes with Oakes discussing the platform, its creation and its evolution during a midday conference session.

The four developed the idea, Shook said, in early March when the crisis had just been declared a pandemic and COVID-impacted job numbers were first being released. Shook, chief leadership and HR officer at Accenture, took the idea to her CEO, Julie Sweet, and Accenture soon began development. Fourteen business days later, the platform debuted.

“This was a human crisis of the level that probably hadn’t been seen in 100 years,” said Pambianchi, executive vice president and CHRO at Verizon. “We got on the phone and started saying we have to do something more.”

The platform aims to connect organizations with jobs to fill and organizations that are laying off or furloughing workers. It launched in early April with a dozen companies. Today, hundreds of companies in 89 countries are using the platform, with more than 450,000 positions and workers available to connect.

“We tried to create almost a crowdsourced platform, a place for HR folks to connect and accelerate sharing,” Pambianchi said.

Unlike a job board, People+Work Connect doesn’t share personal information but rather urges HR leaders and team members to think creatively about roles, employees and connecting with each other to help companies and the community. It helps organizations do quicker background checks, onboard “with grace” and otherwise speed the hiring and repurposing talent, helping the community since people with employers are mentally healthier, said Wadors, chief talent officer at ServiceNow.

“It’s opening up doors and it’s changing how we think,” Wadors said.

Shook said it started with a “simple but aspirational mission: to put the world back to work. And that really guided all of us in the tradeoff decisions we were going to have to make to move at speed …

“Pat [Wadors] called it the minimally lovable product. It was really about designing something by HR for HR with a simple mission.”