SHRM2015I’m back from another trip to conference land, and I’m happy to report that the SHRM Conference and Expo was as overwhelming as I’d hoped. So overwhelming I barely had a chance to tweet. But I was listening, and here’s a few of the themes I picked up on.

  • HR is thinking big, but there’s still a lot of blocking and tackling to be done. We all know HR has been working hard to be not just a business partner but a business leader, and there were over 120 sessions with the words “strategy” or “strategic” in the title. It’s important to everyone that we keep thinking and moving in this direction, but there’s a lot of day-in, day-out HR that needs doing.

    It’s all well and good to focus on transforming the function, but someone still has to address the hygiene and dress code issues, and write up the separation paperwork. Which is why sessions on compliance and legal issues were often packed at the show. The good news is, the nuts and bolts of HR and strategic vision are not mutually exclusive. A focus on compliance and good process is what lays the foundation for a big vision of the future. I’ll be writing more on this “hierarchy of HR needs” in coming weeks.

  • There is huge opportunity in the spaces in between. What do I mean by this? For many organizations there are still handoffs between process and systems, which is one kind of “space between” that organizations can focus on to gain efficiency and effectiveness. There are also the spaces between technology enabled processes like performance management or onboarding and the people they impact.

    You may have a great performance process and tools to manage it, but for many organizations, the ongoing coaching and learning required of managers to write better reviews, be better coaches, improve goal setting, is left to chance. There is a huge opportunity for technology to step in and help not just automate HCM processes, but enable them. Some of the most interesting conversations I had this week were with providers looking to fill this gap.

  • It’s time for HR to call Don Draper. Better process, optimized technology, innovative programs – these abound today when you talk to HR leaders within organizations. But half the time, they don’t get the attention they deserve.

    Both solution providers and HR leaders are looking to better market what they are already doing for the organization. Particularly with learning, simply making it better known what learning resources are available in an engaging way can have a huge impact in uptake (see this example from Staples). Or benefits – helping employees see the value of their total compensation package and take advantage of things like 401k planning can drive a lot of engagement. You don’t always have to roll out new programs. Better advertising and communication about what you do have goes a long way.

There were a ton of other great ideas and conversations this week, and I hope to share more with you in future blog posts. But these are a few of the big themes I heard. Hit me back in the comments with what you heard at the show, and I’ll see you all back out on the road soon.

Mollie Lombardi, VP and Principal Analyst,
Workforce Management, Brandon Hall Group
@mollielombardi

Mollie Lombardi

Mollie Lombardi is the Vice President of Workforce Management Practice and Principal Analyst at Brandon Hall Group. Formerly Vice President and Principal Analyst for the Human Capital Management research practice at Aberdeen Group, she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Brandon Hall Group clients in the workforce management practice area.

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