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Takeaways From the World’s Largest Gathering of HR Professionals
Author: Christine Hairelson, Vice President, Employee Experience | Published: August 16, 2022

The HR industry is growing fast, but what’s more important is how quickly the industry is evolving. Transitioning workforces, changing employee demands, shifting stakeholder expectations, new innovative technology, and a more connected global marketplace are all accented by the looming effect of the great resignation.

It’s a crazy time to be in the HR Industry – and I’m so glad that I’m here. 

OnTask works with HR teams of every shape and size across the country, and a few of our team members had the opportunity to attend the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference in New Orleans in June. This is the largest gathering of HR professionals in the world, and it was inspiring to be there connecting with colleagues and professionals in this moment of change for the industry.

We talked with more than a 100 HR professionals to better understand their career  journeys within the HR industry, their professional goals, and their organizational challenges. Our team is bringing this information back to our development teams and engineers and exploring ways to tailor OnTask’s HR automation solutions to continue serving these needs. 

We asked a simple question of everyone there: What could you do with more time? Our goal was to help HR teams leverage technology and automation so they can find more time to focus on what matters most for their business. 

While we connected with some extraordinary HR professionals throughout the week, we were inspired by what we learned from some of the industry’s most insightful, innovative, progressive, and strategic experts. The panel discussions ranged from employee care and burnout to strategic thinking, and I’m excited to share some of these learnings from the SHRM Annual Conference with you. 

 

The Importance of Employee Care

One of the most impactful, and inspirational, sessions of the week for me was “Radical Recovery: How Great Leaders Come Back from Tough Times” from Anton Gunn, a former senior advisor to President Barack Obama and a leading expert on socially conscious leadership. He’s an international speaker and was named one of the Ten Most Influential Minority Executives in Healthcare by Fierce Healthcare.  

Anton’s focus was on people, and his session highlighted the importance of taking a people-first approach, helping leaders find ways to help employees and teams create the environment that’s best for them to succeed. Leveraging two decades of experience managing catastrophic events, Anton shared that teams could thrive through difficult times with the right leadership, tools, and support. 

From identifying and understanding disruptive environments to developing the right mindset during chaotic moments, his advice was spot on and always kept that people-centric approach. And I think that’s the biggest challenge that a lot of us have; once you get back to the office you’re just trying to catch back up again, and it’s easy to lose that focus. 

This was a timely and important discussion, given the state of the HR industry and what it’s gone through since 2019. My takeaway for you and your hard working HR team – remember why we chose this career path and our passion for a people first organization. Leverage the tools and resources at your disposal to positively impact your team, which will ultimately save you time and yield better results for your organization. Luckily, OnTask has a few time saving HR Automation solutions to help you do just that! 

 

Combating Burnout

Expectations for HR teams are at an all-time high. HR professionals are filling a lot of roles in today’s business environment – organizational strategy, facilities, staffing, emotional support, and much more. 

You’d be hard-pressed to find an HR team that hasn’t felt the pressure of burnout in recent years. Admittedly, I’ve been there myself. I’ve felt burned out with no relief in sight, and it’s a dangerous place to be. 

There were sessions, like “Preventing and Addressing Burnout” presented by Shari Harley, president of Candid Culture,  that addressed this critical issue. But the reality is burnout is such a common occurrence that it was an underlying theme in almost every session I attended. 

I call this out because it’s important to know you’re not alone, even as an HR leader within your industry or organization. We’re all trying to find the same talent, and collectively going through these struggles together. 

The key takeaway for each of you is that we need to answer an important question when we think about burnout: “How can we learn from each other?” 

Whether you’re a team of one or you lead a team of hundreds, burnout is a collective issue. To address it in a meaningful way, find a collective solution. 

 

Thinking Strategically vs. Reactively 

Another common theme throughout the week was strategic thinking. One session presented by Peak Solutions, Inc. President Richard Fagerlin“Become a Strategic Leader, Thinker and Value-Adder: The Role HR Must Play in Organizational Strategy” – drove home how important it is to put yourself in a strategic mindset. 

Spoiler alert – this is probably not what you think it is. Yes, thinking strategically is important to success within our teams, industry, and organization. 

But strategic thinking is also important to being more productive and fulfilled within your HR role. Each of us starts the day with the same number of hours and probably a similar number of items on our to-do lists. 

It’s easy to get caught up in the minute-by-minute activity of the day, causing us to be reactive to everything around us. Thinking strategically is not just about strategy, it’s about reframing that time you have to make it more valuable. 

We all have the opportunity to finetune what we’re already doing today to make it work better for us as professionals, for the teams we lead, and for our organizations. You’ve likely heard the adage, “work smarter, not harder.” 

And let’s face it, we’re all working as hard as we can, so let’s work a little bit smarter. Try to do some old things in new ways. Look at new solutions and tools that you may not have considered before. Get uncomfortable and explore the real value you can bring to your teams through a new strategic mindset. 

 

What’s Next for HR?

Throughout the SHRM Annual Conference, I spent a lot of time at the OnTask booth talking with other HR professionals. It was eye-opening to hear that many of them had the same concerns and challenges, regardless of industry, scale, or scope. 

Two of the most common themes were: 

Overcommunication: Almost everyone expressed a need to over-communicate and ensure tasks with multiple steps are done correctly. And this is understandable. With so much going on and expectations of those teams dialed up to 11, there’s pressure to ensure accuracy and speed. 

Onboarding is a great example. There are multiple, repeatable steps, and trying to automate that tedious process can be cumbersome at best, with so many tasks and people involved. Even before the pandemic onboarding was something businesses struggled with. But there are solutions to streamline the process and enhance communications. OnTask President Steve Wilson sat down with SHRM NYC and discussed these onboarding solutions

Using Data Effectively: We are all aware that we operate in a data-centric world. Regardless of the tools at your disposal, you have access to data with almost every task you complete. We were asked time and again throughout the conference, “How do I use my data more effectively?” 

Simply put, embrace automation to help connect people and technology, making the data useful. By leveraging the tools and automation, you’ll be able to identify trends and even get a better pulse on important items like diversity and satisfaction, average employee lifecycle, traction on job postings, and more. 

 

HR, Technology, & Automation

Innovative technology, exciting opportunities, and new challenges – it really is a thrilling time to be in the HR field. 

I hope that these tips and takeaways from the SHRM Annual Conference are as helpful to you as they have been to me. Whether you’re combating burnout or trying to shift into a strategic mindset, remember that collective challenges require collective solutions. 

OnTask has been helping HR teams across the country to embrace automation and new ways of doing our daily work, and evolving alongside them as we customize HR automation solutions to meet the demands of their teams and organizations. From employee onboarding and applicant tracking to leave management, evaluations, employee offboarding and everything between, OnTask makes HR processes more efficient through automation. 

Automating the HR processes through workflow software puts the focus on employees, saves time and money, increases productivity, and reduces waste. Give your HR team members the power to focus on people, and not paperwork. Contact us today for more information.