SHRM 2017 Recap: 3 Things HR Professionals Can't Ignore

SHRM 2017 Recap: 3 Things HR Pros Can't Ignore

The sounds of jazz and brass bands filled the air as more than 14,000 HR professionals arrived at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport for SHRM 2017. Many looked forward to the sweet taste of beignets and drinking hurricanes on Bourbon Street during their stay. And despite the tropical storm lingering off the gulf coast, everyone was ready for what was sure to be an inspiring three-day event.  

It didn't disappoint.

It was Monday morning's general session led by New York Times bestselling author and former SVP of People Operations at Google Lazlo Bock that set the tone for the rest of the conference, and laid out the key theme that seemed to echo in every other session I attended: "The only advantage in business is people strategy". 

He's got a point, given that labor accounts for more than half of corporate expense.1 If you think about all the functional areas of HR, you realize they all come back to talent -- recruiting it, retaining it, developing it, rewarding it and engaging it. And with talent in short supply, HR has never played a more crucial role in business strategy. 

But it's not just about managing the total cost per employee. It's more about optimizing how you invest in your workforce to minimize turnover, nurture loyalty and boost productivity. 

Based on the conversation at SHRM 2017, here are three pivotal trends that HR professionals are encouraged to take into account as they develop their people strategy.

1. Talent is dynamic.

How will you make your mark on the most dynamic part of your organization? This was the question posed by SHRM Board Chair Coretha Rushing. 

It's not enough to just acknowledge that there are five different generations in today's workforce. You have to recognize that the needs, expectations and capabilities of your workforce are constantly shifting thanks to constantly evolving technology and innovation. And, as Rushing recommends, you have to also consider the larger world we operate in -- with all of its social and political implications -- in order to survive and thrive.  

So, how do you lead? To have a positive impact on the business, don't limit your job to the tasks you perform on a daily basis. Instead, stay in the learning lane and challenge the status quo so that you're constantly accounting for what's influencing employees in the moment. 

And remember, there are no limits to what HR can do for the business!

2. If you're going to be in HR, you need to have a digital mindset.

We live in a world where we can accomplish most day-to-day transactions online or from an app on our smartphone. So why should the workplace be any different?

Consider that some of your newest employees - the leading edge of "Gen Z" - have never known a world in which people could not be connected with anyone at anytime and anywhere. They get everything on-demand in real time. 

Overall, employee programs that offer online experiences and mobile access not only provide the convenience and flexibility today's workforce has come to expect, but can also encourage participation and boost efficiency. That type of digital mindset can give you an advantage in recruiting, retaining and developing talent while helping your company run more smoothly. 

3. Physical, emotional and financial well-being are interdependent.

Wellness programs are a widely-used cost reduction strategy for employers, but they have traditionally just focused on physical health. With financial stress increasingly impacting job performance2, and flexibility to balance work/life issues emerging as a top concern for employees3, it's important to consider the number of other options out there that could provide additional value to your employees.

As HR plays more of a key role in business strategy, it's important to take an employee-centered approach to creating a benefits package that will help you recruit and retain talent as well as boost productivity. Here are few ways:

  • Find out what employees really want through employee surveys.
  • Use analytics tools to understand which benefits and programs your employees are actually using.
  • Get smart about what the competition is offering by comparing your data to market studies

Learn how you can transition your HR department from a cost center to a strategic company asset. Download your free guide to benefits optimization today!