#SHRM18 Speaker Gary Kushner: The Changing Nature of Work and the Worker: Five Global Trends Impacting HR Strategy


There’s no question that companies around the globe employ, engage and retain employees around the globe! The 2018 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition offers a great deal of sessions on a variety of concentrations including Global & Cultural Effectiveness.

When reviewing this year’s session line up, I always try to pick unique sessions that will contribute to my personal & professional development as well what will contribute to the work that I do. When it’s all said and done, I’ve selected sessions that are going to contribute to my learning, leadership abilities and my overall HR career.

Gary is a well rounded, sought after and expertly tenured HR & business executive and I’m grateful that he had a some time to allow me to inquire about his career and SHRM18 session, The Changing Nature of Work and the Worker: Five Global Trends Impacting HR Strategy.

JR: Gary, would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself and what made you decide to start your own firm?  

GK: I was an HR generalist working in both the public and private sectors throughout my early career (I was actually initially certified as an Accredited Executive in Personnel (AEP), the predecessor to the SPHR, which I now hold). In working for my previous employer in the late 1970s and early 1980s, my CEO at the time wanted me to create a total rewards program where employees could pick and choose their own benefits. You have to remember that this is before the days of widespread cafeteria-style plans. Well, in a firm of 800, all of the national consulting firms except one declined to respond to our RFP. The one that did quoted a fee of $450,000+. I went to my CEO with their proposal and told him I’d be happy to do it for half of that. He responded with a laugh that I’d be doing it for a whole lot less than half. But a light bulb went on for me: there was no one out there doing total rewards and HR strategy work for small to mid-sized employers. And thus Kushner & Company was born a couple of years later as an HR strategy and benefits consulting and administration firm targeting small to mid-sized employers. 

JR: What is your favorite thing about your line of work and industry?

GK: My staff and I love to see the positive reactions of both our clients and their employees when we introduce a framework and implementation of good HR strategy that aligns that employer’s HR strategies with their business goals and objectives. 

JR: Global HR Strategy is quite the hot topic in today’s workplace, what is the one key piece of advice that you can share with our audience?

GK: Probably the biggest piece of advice is to forget that you ever heard the term “best practice.” It doesn’t exist except in the context of your own organization. My favorite story on this is when Home Depot hired Bob Nardelli from GE to be its CEO, and the HD board instructed him to “GE-ify” Home Depot, given the perception that GE had many best practices.  Nardelli was an extremely capable and proven executive at GE, but from the very beginning neither he nor the Home Depot board of directors realized that Home Depot wasn’t GE. In the end Home Depot fired Nardelli after only six years and had to pay him a $210 million severance package.  The lesson is that what worked at GE doesn’t necessarily work anywhere else. 

JR: I see that you donate quite a bit of time to several board of directors, what keeps you inspired to continue to give back to the business community?

GK: I serve on many private and not-for-profit boards of directors because I believe in giving back to my local, regional, state, and nation that has been so giving to me and my staff. It’s part of the values of our company. 

JR: Your session, The Changing Nature of Work and the worker: Five Global Trends Impacting HR Strategy – what is the key take away for HR leaders to attend this session? 

GK: The key takeaway from that session is that HR leaders are business leaders, and must look through the windshield and not the rear view mirror in determining what is going on in the world that will impact their organizations in the next five to ten years so that they may prepare their organization for its future. I’ll also emphasize that HR is, and will continue to be in the future, the competitive advantage for organizations in all sectors. 

JR: Is this your first time speaking at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo? If so, what attracted you to present? If not, what brought you back to this event?

GK: Oh goodness no. This is my 35th consecutive year of speaking at the SHRM Annual Conference, going back to my first presentation in 1984.  I’m humbled that I keep being invited back, and to be listed as one of the top speakers by SHRM.

JR: Do you have any advice to share with first time or returning attendees when attending your session?  

GK: HR leaders, and those who aspire to HR leadership, need to look at the big picture of what’s going on in the world that will impact how work is changing, and how the people who do the work will be changing now and into the future. This session is geared to stepping back from the day-to-day “firefighting” that HR is immersed in and looking ahead to how to position their organization for tomorrow. By doing so, aspiring HR leaders will also position themselves to be the business leaders their organizations will need to gain competitive advantage. 

I am very appreciative of Gary’s time for sharing his wealth of knowledge, advice and valuable insight on why attendees should head straight to your sessions!

When you’re organizing your conference session plan of attack, be sure to carve out some time for one or both of Gary’s sessions this year. He offers a wealth of knowledge, expertise and exposure in many aspects of HR and business that should not be missed! If you’re in his Tuesday session @ 2:15pm, I’ll be there! So don’t be shy and say hello!

Learn more about Gary and his team at Kushner & Company: WebsiteTwitter | LinkedIn | Facebook


Originally posted on Resilient HR blog.





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