It’s been a few weeks since the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition, and it was definitely one for the ages! So many incredible people made the journey to Las Vegas to learn, and hopefully to network (yes, even us introverts). While I certainly learned so much and enjoyed networking with new and old friends, I also discovered renewed inspiration for our work in HR. To say this is an exciting and groundbreaking time for our field is an understatement. There is so much purpose and promise in our future, and this event provided the opportunity to dream of so many ways to impact lives across the globe, and most importantly, to act upon those dreams.
As you continue reading, I’d like each of you to ask why you’re in HR. Why did you choose this particular field? What do you hope to accomplish? What’s motivating you every day as you go to work?
I had the good fortune to start #SHRM19 by attending the @SHRMFoundation Brunch, and the theme was “HR is a Social Force.” This theme truly laid the groundwork for my perspective heading in to the days that would follow: exploring the true purpose of HR. From hearing how organizations are supporting our veterans, to transition into the workplace, to how heartbreaking personal experiences created the spark and desire to improve the workplaces in our society, it was all extremely touching and emotionally moving. It can be easy to be caught up in our work, but this reminded me that we should never lose sight of the fact that what we’re doing will not only affect the lives of our employees, but also the people our organizations are serving. That is such a humbling and unbelievable responsibility.
I was also emotionally impacted by Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.’s keynote where he discussed how our work can change lives, transform organizations, and improve society. This was a morning full of special moments, and I was especially touched by the discussion of how second chances are so important for people. When we give people second chances, we can change their life. Isn’t that incredible? And we can do that. All of us in HR can provide those second chances. Opportunity should not be exclusive to any particular class of our society. Opportunity belongs to those who want a better life, and who are dedicated to investing their efforts and passion towards creating that better life. And sometimes, our hearts will be broken because of the stories that we hear because of the challenges our employees experience, both inside and outside of the workplace. In our work, there can be no substitute for compassion. In these cases, where people need help to move forward, compassion is requisite to changing lives. When we’re designing new workplace initiatives to help improve lives, remember that compassion costs absolutely nothing, and it’s absolutely essential in our work.
My understanding of an HR professional’s role has changed throughout the years, and it will undoubtedly change in the future. My 6-year-old son has started asking me what I do at work, and I admit that it’s somewhat difficult to explain exactly what an HR professional does. With such a diverse portfolio of responsibilities, it can be difficult to explain what I do every single day. But throughout the years, I’ve found that it’s best to explain in such a simple, yet powerful way; I help people. We help people. And that help comes in so many different ways.
I’ve also found that my motivation at work has changed throughout the years, and becoming a father has been instrumental in changing my perspective. Simply put, I want to create a better world for my son to live in. Our world can be a terribly frightening place, but an HR professional can be a powerful force for change where we need it. HR is a social force. Our work will touch the lives of so many people, even those we’ll never even meet. That’s the true essence of HR; we create better workplaces, and these workplaces create a better world. Breaking free beyond the confines of a traditional HR job description is where the greatest impact will happen.
The theme for next year’s SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition (it’s never too early to start using the #SHRM20 hashtag!) is “The World We Shape.” That is a theme that touches my heart, and has me dreaming of new ways to help be part of the social force that will make that happen. As a I close this post, I’ll leave you with the quote that I used in my first #SHRM19 article, from the one and only Mr. Fred Rogers. As you read it, I ask you to remember the purpose and promise behind his words, and to think about how you too can transform our world. I’m ready to stand and work beside you as we make that happen.
“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of.”