Another SHRM conference has come and gone. With over a thousand exhibitors, hundreds of events, and keynote speakers ranging from Brené Brown to Martha Stewart, the SHRM conference can cause a bit of sensory overload, but we’ve distilled our experience at the conference down to a few core themes. Here are five of the biggest trends we saw at SHRM 2019:
1. Candidate experience is supremely important
In case you needed a reminder, candidate experience is one element of the hiring process that’s on everyone’s minds. With unemployment at historic lows, employers are scrambling to attract and retain talented candidates. Improving the candidate experience is one way that employers can remain competitive and avoid losing out on strong talent. At SHRM, we saw that candidate experience is increasingly a priority for employers. Vendors are providing solutions that make it easier to foster a smooth and polished candidate experience, whether it’s by using automation to make your hiring cycles faster, or by gamifying the candidate selection stage.
2. Employee engagement is the next frontier in analytics
Employers are increasingly viewing employee engagement as a key component of company success. Happy and engaged employees perform better and are more likely to drive a company forward. What’s more, most companies have a TON of data on their employees, but they have no idea what to do with it. Out of SHRM, it seems like the next frontier in data analytics is finding a way to use machine learning to take this aggregated data and translate it into meaningful insights for HR. Companies are starting to view employees more strategically, less as a “human resource” and more as people who fit strategically within the entire organization. As companies start to view the employee more strategically, we expect to see new and innovative ways to use data to understand employee engagement.
3. Empathy is more than just a buzzword
With headliners like Brené Brown in the mix, a lot of the discussions increasingly turned to the importance of empathy in human resources. HR is the management of human beings, and empathy goes a long way when it comes to fostering a positive work culture, which in turn enhances employee engagement. Many employers now agree that empathy is an important quality to look for in any employee who will be managing people. This ties into the need to create a workforce full of people who are emotionally intelligent and inclusive of all types of people.
4. Companies have an eye towards social responsibility
Beyond empathy for employees, companies are realizing the benefits of being socially responsible. We’ve already seen that millennial candidates are more interested in working for socially responsible companies, which has to do with the fact that younger generations want to feel a sense of purpose at work. We’re also seeing a conscious drive for companies to be more “green” in the way they operate on day-to-day basis. But social responsibility isn’t just a great way to attract great candidates. It can also strengthen your brand with consumers by aligning charitable actions with your company mission. Plus, it makes your employees feel good.
5. Diversity and inclusion is a constant
It may be nothing new, but diversity and inclusivity continue to be major talking points at SHRM and beyond. Gen Z is projected to be the most diverse group to join the workforce, and companies are striving to create harmonious work cultures that are inclusive to all. Whether it involves using data to reduce bias in the hiring process, or leveraging new technology to find and attract talented people from all walks of life, D&I is top of mind for many companies, but there’s still much progress to be made.
SHRM was a fascinating experience as always, and we look forward to seeing what the big talking points will be next year in San Diego.