By Lynne White
For thousands of HR professionals the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference & Exposition is a must for training and development on fundamental HR topics, emerging HR trends and discovery of new products, services and solutions. With over 200 sessions, recertification credit opportunities, the world's largest HR marketplace, inspirational speakers, entertainment and networking, this conference hits it out of the park.
One of the most compelling themes of the conference was a call to embrace new technology. Jessica Miller-Merrell, CEO of blogging for jobs, presented her session in Google Glasses and a fitness-tracking device to illustrate the importance of integrating social media and technology into a workplace communication and engagement strategy. She made the point that the HR community has a tendency to be risk-averse and that the adoption of new technology is still too low. The modern worker wants flexibility and collaboration and social media is an important component to this paradigm. In the social media workplace study her team conducted they found that the HR professionals that are using social media at work use it primarily to: distribute and communicate company information, listening and monitoring, employee recognition and engagement, social learning and collaboration and employment branding. Other sessions on social media and adoption included:
Stop blocking Your Employees From Social Media: They're using it on Their Phones Anyway and How to Integrate Social Media
Technology into a Workplace Communication and Engagement Strategy and How Social Media has Transformed Talent Acquisition.
Additionally HR professionals were encouraged to consider the advantages of technology in their workplace wellness programs. Brad Cooper, CEO, US Corporate Wellness shared research on how companies providing wellness programs report reduced health care costs, lower absenteeism and improved productivity. As a result, many organizations have implemented wellness programs or are planning to do so. And wellness apps and devices are making it easier for employers to help their workers stay healthy and active. But with products that do everything from count steps to measure glucose levels, deciding which tools to offer requires a focused wellness strategy.
Product information about social media and wellness were represented among the many HR exhibitors at SHRM. In addition to taking advantage of the opportunity to see product demonstrations and meet with vendors, attendees sat for caricatures, played HR trivia games and posed for pictures with boas and mustaches. Oracle presented the benefits of HCM Cloud to a full house in the exhibitor solution theatre. Oracle's own Social Cloud and the future of its WorkLife Solutions, including the ability to align wellness goals to employer healthcare costs, were topics of discussion in the booth. Oracle sponsored a Snap & Share free ride program to conference attendees. Happy passengers took photos of themselves with the hybrid cars and posted to their social media feeds in exchange for a free ride.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate the influence and inspiration of the SHRM 2014 conference is to quote a few of the keynote speakers and entertainer:
"Self-motivation is going to be so much more important in a hyper-connected world. Everyone on the planet will have a smartphone and a network connection and when that happens… the big divide in the world is going to be the motivation divide. Who has the self-motivation to use that connectivity to start a business? To constantly upgrade their learning? To access foreign markets and the best workers in the world"
Tom Friedman, internationally renowned author, reporter and columnist ? recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes and the author of six bestselling books
"I make developing leaders the No. 1 priority because it pays back in spades."
David Novak, Chairman and CEO Yum! Brands
"Optimism is a muscle that gets more powerful with use and it makes it easier to confront life's challenges."
Robin Roberts, Co-anchor, ABC's Good Morning America
"We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other everywhere."
Tim McGraw, American singer, songwriter and actor