It was record-breaking attendance at this year’s Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)’s 2015 Annual Conference in Las Vegas. Nearly 16,000 registered attendees (myself included) braved the hot desert sun – and seemingly endless references to “a dry heat”- to explore the overarching theme set forth by SHRM President and CEO Hank Jackson: “How HR can thrive in business today.”
The conference kicked off with a great locker room-style pep talk, courtesy of Duke basketball coach and keynote speaker Mike (“Coach K”) Krzyzewski, who encouraged HR professionals to strive for true leadership by working within their organization to set standards developed through the collaboration and buy-in of their teams rather than simply creating rules to be “obeyed.”
Invigorated by the authenticity of Coach K’s wisdom, eager SHRM attendees took to the court as early as 7:00 am in the morning to take advantage of this year’s impressive session line-up covering topics such as:
- The new Fair Labor Standards Act rules;
- Benefits in a post-DOMA world;
- Helping employees achieve financial wellness;
- Employee engagement and employer brand management; and
- Preventative measures for bullying, harassment and violence in the workplace.
In one of the more popular sessions of the day, entitled “Workplace Trends: Survival Secrets for the Next Decade,” Margaret Morford, CEO of the consulting group The HR Edge, Inc., noted how employee demographics, attitudes, wants and needs are changing almost as fast as technology. Morford said changes to the family structure as well as shifts in workforce composition need to be addressed proactively by employers.
In doing so, employers can avoid costly liability not to mention promote their brand, increase retention and engagement rates and otherwise further organizational talent development objectives. Morford said HR does this all through the development of new business programs that are directly responsive to the attitudes, wants and needs of the changing workforce.
As an example, Morford pointed to studies showing that 20% of all workers in the US have eldercare responsibilities, 75% of which have children under the age of 18. She further noted that 40% of all workers who have eldercare responsibilities are men who work full-time. These changes make it difficult for employees to balance home obligations with work and increase stress/decrease productivity.
Morford said the wisest employers are the ones responding to this changing family structure while also balancing the employer’s needs by taking more novel approaches such as contracting with vendors to provide discounted concierge services (meal preparation, dry cleaning delivery services, etc.) for employees and building a temporary labor pool to cover vacation/paid-time off and leaves of absence.
The above approach seems to lend further support to Coach K’s leadership advice that HR’s programs and policies can and should be developed together with employee input rather than simply handing down rules to follow. Coupled with Morford’s guidance, this should be done with a keen awareness of how employee wants and needs are changing as a result of a changing family structure and workforce.
Sensing the pulse of the organization and understanding the impact of changes in the workforce on employee’s needs is certainly one way in which HR can continue to thrive and deliver value to the organization.
How do you think HR can thrive? Connect with me on Twitter at @asmith343 or by leaving a comment below.