Casualization at #SHRM16

The evolving workplace is the reoccurring theme we are hearing at the #SHRM16 conference.  Issues like workplace flexibility, health insurance or overtime.  Most, if not all, issues that are arising in the 21st century workplace are HR issues.  How we deal with them is where the rubber meets the road.

The SHRM Legislative Affairs Team is also making sure our voice is heard in Congress. While many of us may not like the way the new DOL overtime rules look, they would have been more draconian had not SHRM helped lobby the changes more to the center. This is all good. We are in control of our own destiny, it would appear.

I have also noticed that Human Resources is driving change in another area. Although I have not counted, I am noticing a lot of people who are pushing the “casualization” of the conference.  I have seen many men in shorts and t-shirts, many women similarly attired, and jeans everywhere. Based upon the number of conferences I have attended, I would call this (as I tweeted on Sunday) the degradation of attire.

This trend isn’t bad. I think it is reflective of what is happening in our workplaces, and is now showing up at our conferences.  While it is summer and is usually warm during the SHRM National Conference, in years gone by, many of the folks were styling at the event; but the trend is changing. Now, the collective body of HR is taking a stand and driving change.  That’s what we do.

No one had to send these folks a memo, or change the policy for them. They have decided casual works for them, and, by goodness, they are going to do it.

There is one irony in this whole event, though.  While many folks are moving towards the dress down look, one of HR’s biggest cheerleaders is moving in the other direction.  SHRM Board Member Steve Browne (as in, on the SHRM Board of Directors) is now this fellow you see in a suit and tie, while many of the other folks are in tennis shoes and t-shirts.  It’s ok, though. This is where Steve wants to be.

As much of a change master that Mr. Browne is, I am going to be curious to see if he can push the envelope with this group of people.  Imagine the SHRM Board of Directors meeting in shorts and tie dye t-shirts. Can you do it, Steve?




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