My Not So Hot Off the WordPress #SHRM14 Wrap

2014 SHRM Conference Recap

I spent 4 days in Orlando last week attending the 2014 SHRM Conference.

Here's what I came away with broken down by day, more or less.

Day 1-Voluenteer Leadership Meeting 

I'm a member of the Labor Relations  special expertise panel. For the past couple of years, the volunteer leadership meetings have been the highlight of my conference experience. We get a chance to get up close and personal with SHRM staff and leadership and actually talk to the people who lead our professional association.

This year, the all volunteer leaders briefing started out with an overview of the SHRM / HRCI situation which was actually useful and helped answer a lot of questions.  They held a sort of Q&A session which involved a number of well stated objections and frustrations over the changes and the way the they handled the process.  I thought SHRM did their best to discuss the questions head on.  They admitted it wasn't handled well and apologized more than once.  At the end of it all, I believe they did what they could to discuss the issues and promised to deliver feedback to the Board of Directors.  Members of the MAC also spoke directly with the Board and delivered and candid expression of disappointment.

There was one really good point raised for which SHRM didn't have a good answer.  A few people who hold the GPHR expressed concerns that their very distinctive credential was going to become "watered down" when it has been submerged into the new SHRM-SCP.  Staffers didn't have a great answer for them, and I suspect this is something SHRM may move to address this in the near future.

Day 2- Keynote and the Grand Opening of the Expo Hall 

This was an odd day.  Hung out in the bloggers lounge, sponsored in great style by Dice. Many friends arrived. we chatted and caught up. Awesome.

Robin Roberts gave a nice upbeat opening keynote. Then the expo hall opened and I went "meh".  Floor seemed smaller than in years past.  The energy of the floor was less.  I liked a few booths and displays like Talentwise, Achievers, Great Place to Work, GuideSpark, and the margaritas at Ajilon.  Ultimate Software and Tanner Labs also stood out.  IBM had a good look and social presence.  Oracle had a cool idea with their SNAP rides, but I didn't hear about it until halfway through the show, so I never tried it out.  Better advance pub would have helped a lot.

Day 3 and 4- The Speakers 

The speakers that I saw this year were all excellent. I attended sessions related to social media, labor relations, and those given by my friends.  Michael Lotito of Littler WPI did a great labor law update.  Jessica Miller did a fantastic update on social media and wearable technology.  The best session of the entire show was delivered by my friend, consummate HR geek Steve Browne. He rocked a talk about the need for HR to do things differently.   Jennifer Mcclure and Talent Anarchy were as wonderful as always.

The smart stage in the Connection Zone was a great idea and venue for short TED type talks. Matt Charney did the best of these, talking about Storytelling in HR, something many of us could do better.  I look forward to seeing more of these and maybe even giving one next year.

Closing Observations 

Before I arrived at the conference, I posted an article that speculated about the lack of buzz around #SHRM14 leading up to the conference. I wondered if the HR conference space has become to crowded and whether vendors are looking for a different sort of ROI and not just booth leads.  After talking with a number of vendors and even people who do other shows, it seems like 2014 is a year of holding patterns for many.

I'm confident it will be way more showy in Las Vegas in 2015.  Thanks to @SHRM for including me on the blogging team again this year.

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