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Heard On The [HCM] Hill: SHRM 2015

Everybody knows that my heart belongs to the HR Tech Conference so it was with some kicking, screaming and moaning that I headed off to SHRM 2015. Despite our deep roots in the HR space, I’ve managed to dodge SHRM attendance for close to a decade. Seriously, it has been that long and all I can say is shame on me.

With the exception of the annual running of the happy HR ladies (sans the perfunctory goring or two) at the opening of the exhibition floor on Sunday night, SHRM was the place to reconnect with old friends, make new contacts and feel the pulse of what is one of the most vibrant business categories. You see, I’m old enough to remember when going to SHRM meant you could view a CD-ROM version of “personnel” forms and learn about something called an online job board. Has it only been 15 or so years since the candidates who were terrified of putting their resumes on the internet became oversharers on social? Fast-forward to today and it’s apparent we’ve made great strides.

As a native New Yorker, I learned long ago to ride the subways, a metaphor for mingling with the masses. So I skipped the sessions and the party circuit and spent time chit-chatting on the expo floor, in the ladies room, and over breakfast, lunch and snacks. At SHRM 2015 it was apparent that HR professionals are focused on select themes:

  • it’s very hard to fill job openings and keep hiring managers happy;
  • it’s impossible to get employees to read emails or anything you send to them;
  • and that compliant-conscious leadership teams want reports, reports and reports.

One takes away how undervalued these professionals feel, despite their hearts of gold. They truly care about their organizations and their workforces; yet, most end each day downtrodden in a Rodney Dangerfield-like “I don’t get no respect” manner. It’s no wonder that the annual SHRM conference is so exhilarating and validating for them.

And then there was the swag. Geico had stuffed pigs. Monster had stuffed monsters. TalentObjects by Lumesse had selfie sticks. Talent Wise had s’mores. Roulette wheels were spun, and spun, and spun. I walked away from one booth with what might be breast implants. Or cold compresses. Still not sure.

For me, the net of SHRM 2015 is that HR people and the employers they serve need help. It’s never going to be a one-size fits all or even most solution. HR needs technology, tools and most of all, trusted partnerships. Smart vendors will be that guy.