We’re one week out from one of the top HR conferences for the profession, the 2018 SHRM Annual Conference! 16,000+ HR professionals will descend on the Windy Cindy for a week of learning, networking…and a little fun. I finally sat down to start looking at the session content to get a feel for this year’s topics and themes and to map out a game plan. 

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After looking through the website and the conference app (had to reset my password at least six times, anyone?), it feels like there is a nice blend this year of sessions focused on high level strategy discussions, with those more focused on topics to help HR professionals manage the complexities that come with their day to day jobs. It makes sense, SHRM reports almost two thirds of attendees are Director and Manager level HR professionals – the ones really dealing with the front lines of the organization. We hear a lot from people we’re having discussions with that, while they’d love to be tackling some of the more strategic work, they can’t get to it all the time because of some of the inherent hassles that plague HR from an administrative perspective.

As you’re building your game plan for #SHRM18, think about what you want to get out of the conference. Are there struggles with your day to day that you’d love to hear how other HR pros are handling? Are there trends you have been following that you want to hear more about? Are there vendors you’re exploring for various needs that you’d love to spend a little more time with? Since I’m the HR trend junkie for Kronos, my game plan revolves around learning more about these themes.

How to keep up when the HR team is small.

The mid-market is one of the fastest growing segments in the economy today. There is a myriad of definitions for what constitutes the mid-market, but basically, it’s a company that’s bigger than main street and smaller than multi-nationals. What does that mean for HR? The smaller the company, the fewer the HR people to handle everything that needs to be done to manage the people side of the business. SHRM says, the average HR to FTE ratio is 2.6 meaning if you have 500 FTEs in your organization there are on average 13 HR pros supporting everything from recruiting, to performance to compliance to compensation and workforce planning…possibly even payroll. Lots of ground to cover there so I want to check out a few of the sessions focused around the “HR Department of One” theme. There are quite a few throughout the conference.

Taking a customized approach to total rewards.

I saw this come up in the Deloitte HC Trends research that was just released – the notion that a more personalized, agile and holistic approach to total rewards for the entire workforce will be required going forward. As we continue to explore the concept of the employee experience, this makes complete sense. Look at the needs of your workforce by generation, by worker type, by employee persona and define a rewards strategy that aligns with each – even if it means something different. I remember talking with a friend that’s a recruiter and hearing them say when you pitch a 401k to a millennial…they’re not as jazzed about that as they are about more time off or the commitment to social responsibility. I’m curious about this topic and excited to attend a few of the session that are exploring this idea.

How companies are embracing the concept of the employee experience.

The topic of employee experience has been at the forefront for a while now and I think organizations are finally starting to do some demonstrable work around this as a strategy and defining what it’s really like to work for their company – beyond culture, beyond engagement strategies. I am looking forward to hearing some of those stories and getting some insight into how it's impacting approaches to other aspects of people management – things like performance conversations, technology investments and bridging the candidate to employee experience with onboarding.

There you have it, that’s how I’m backing into my game plan in Chicago! Also, make sure you read the HR Bartender’s tips for heading to #SHRM18 as well, she’s a pro at this and had some ideas on what to plan for that I hadn’t even thought of. See you next week, I can’t wait for Pentatonix!

Published: Tuesday, June 12, 2018