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SHRM21 Lessons Learned

Quote from Donna Maxwell Chief People Officer of BRI

The Society of Human Resource Management Conference (SHRM21), the year’s largest human resource conference in the world, happened at the beginning of September. Roughly 8,000 HR professionals were in attendance in-person, with a few thousand more joining virtually. SHRM’s annual conference is one of the most attended HR conferences globally each year.

SHRM21 Lessons Learned:

(DISCLAIMER: There were many amazing sessions held at SHRM21…but here are a few BRI Takeaways.)

TAKEAWAY 1: Human Resource has evolved into much more than employment logistics.

While benefits, compensation, and performance management remain at its core, HR has evolved. The emphasis now is to care for the whole person: diversity, inclusion, and physical and mental wellness. Companies understand that a better employee experience ultimately translates to a better bottom line, and the experience is more than what happens when the employee is working. Successful organizations collaborate with their team to create personalized, authentic, and motivating experiences. These experiences tap into purpose to strengthen the individual, team, and company performance.

TAKEAWAY 2: HR Departments need to be resilient!

In today’s rapidly changing work environment, the keyword for companies and their employees has become agility. It’s true that the best way to learn is by overcoming challenges and, really, this is the core principle of resilience. 

TheCOVID-19 Pandemic forced HR to rise up and demonstrate strategic value to their organizations, bringing them to the forefront of the decision-making process. And effective organizations are recognizing that this should be the norm. 

HR should continue to be a part of this process even as the “uncertain times” recede and our industry normalizes again. Their support, answers, unique expertise, and action plans can help an organization to thrive in a more long-term and sustainable way.

TAKEAWAY 3: Mental Health Awareness is vital.

One of the best outcomes of the last 18 months was the prevalence of mental health taking center stage. It has become one of the most important topics facing the organizations we work for. It’s a critical element to long-term employee engagement, job satisfaction, and productivity, going beyond a temporary response to COVID-19. 

It was inspiring to hear Michael Phelps , US World Champion Swimmer, speak openly and honestly at SHRM21 about his struggles with depression. His message passionately advocated for treating mental health the way we treat physical health. He reminds us that being prepared both physically and mentally is needed to be our best every day. Phelps shared how displaying your vulnerability isn’t a weakness; it’s a sign that you want to learn. 

During this presentation, the SHRM Foundation, the philanthropic affiliate of SHRM, launched the Workplace Mental Health and Wellness initiative and announced the Ally Certificate program…Through this initiative, SHRM Foundation will be providing the tools to HR professionals, managers, and business leaders to recognize and address mental health challenges in the workplace and address them in a supportive manner.

Photo from Alden Mills' SHRM 2021 session

Overall Show Vibes:

Hundreds of HR professionals flocked to the Benefit Resource (BRI) booth to take a shot at beating the BRI Whac-a-mole high score.

What we learned: These HR pros were WAY more competitive than we expected. Awesome prizes were on the line, so people were eager to give the game a shot (and release a little pent-up energy). Our team also received great questions, comments, and feedback surrounding pre-tax employee benefits, COBRA Administration, and specialty accounts.

Reflecting back, the BRI team left the SHRM21 show feeling accomplished. We loved surrounding ourselves with so many colleagues, all working to better themselves.

A great experience for the HR community

While it’s an investment to attend, the investment pays for itself multiple times over. For those who are open and get involved, this opportunity is not to be missed! Just watching how our industry collaborates with each other and appreciates the sharing of knowledge is a great feeling.

Congrats to the SHRM21 team and volunteers for pulling off another SHRM21 Annual Show.