The 2022 SHRM Annual Conference and Expo just ended in New Orleans. This year’s whirlwind in-person and virtual experience, described by some as the “Burning Man” of HR conferences, featured more than 15,000 professionals, and several days of programming.
While it’s impossible to sum up such a colossal event, here are a few highlights and takeaways.
Hot HR topics for 2022
The breadth of mega sessions, workshops, and concurrent sessions resembled the course-catalog of a well-funded college, and it’s impossible to summarize everything. Headline speaker George W. Bush was surprisingly funny and humble as he shared his own leadership experience.
Visier’s Sr. Director of People Analytics Consulting, Carla Williams, led a session where she discussed why and how to invest in both the process and technology required to start and scale a world-class people analytics function.
A few themes emerged in the programming as being especially relevant to participants: well-being, empathetic leadership, and the struggles of promoting diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB):
Many panels discussed topics related to well-being, hinting that the lasting effects of COVID-19 on both physical and mental health linger in the workplace. Discussions ranged from how to handle benefits in a COVID-altered world, to the philosophical, such as happiness and humor at work. Many sessions addressed issues which have sadly become more prevalent since 2020, issues such as burnout, mental health, and alcohol abuse.
“Employees will never care about what your company is trying to do if we don’t show that we care about them.” Nichole Roberts SHRM-CP, PHR Vice President of People & Culture
DEIB sessions went beyond gender and racial identity, tackling important topics such as balancing religious beliefs with LGBTQ+ rights, how to include introverts, transgender inclusion, and allyship. It’s exciting to see organizations broadening the scope of their DEIB efforts and learning more about how to develop equitable and inclusive workplaces.
“Despite the recent flurry of activity regarding diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEI&B), women, people of color, and other underrepresented groups continue to experience significant inequities at various levels of the employee experience in corporate America.” Jarik Conrad, Vice President, Human Insights and Executive Director of the Equity at Work Council, UKG, from his panel 13 Brutal Realities Stalling DEI
Hybrid and remote work
Determining how to succeed with hybrid and remote workforces continued to be at the top of participants’ and panelists’ minds. The shift from a predominantly in-person workforce touched everything from compliance to recruiting to how a hybrid work environment affects equality in the workplace.
“What was considered great HR three years ago is not effective today.” Karl Ahlrichs, Senior Consultant, from Conflict and Communication in a Remote Workforce – You vs. Me vs. Tech
New HR leadership
The new world of HR needs a new kind of leader. This year’s SHRM conferences focused on topics such as how to have empathy in leadership, handling conflict and negotiation, and above all, how to use the tools of 2022 to handle the challenges of 2022.
For example, tasks which should be simple—such as producing an org chart—can prove incredibly challenging without a good people analytics solution, according to Guru Sethupathy and Erica Watson, whose organization overcame these challenges by rolling out their own people analytics platform last year.
“Last year, we rolled out a people analytics product not just to HR, but to every single associate at Capital One (with differentiated permissions, of course). Now half of our executives are active users, leveraging HR analytics to do their everyday jobs.” Guru Sethupathy, Managing Vice President, and Erica Watson, HR Business Partner, Capital One
Where HR tech and community meet
The People Intelligence Alliance (PIA) made its first appearance at SHRM in the exhibitor’s hall this year. Unlike other exhibitors, PIA does not have products to sell. Instead it’s a collaborative effort by 11 companies, academia, and vendors to identify and help solve workforce problems without any self-serving interest. The PIA worked on gaining support for its community of data-driven people leaders steering the future of work towards openness, transparency, and collaboration.
About the author: Visier Team
People-centered ideas and insights by the editorial team at Visier.
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