Learning snippets from SHRM22 - Part 1


Earlier this year, in April to be precise, I got the exciting news about me being selected to be part of SHRM22Influencer squad, set up by the social media team of Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM or SHRRM as they say in the US).  I considered it to be a special honour to be the only person based in India to be part of this elite gang and was really excited about the opportunity to be back at an SHRM Annual conference for the 8th time.  

The buildup

Days flew past and I realised that it's a tougher ask to plan an international trip from India post pandemic. The trip was going to be very short as I had to keep clients waiting as I would be in a different time zone (over 10 hours behind at NoLa) for a week. It was also going to be expensive as domestic travel in US had become dearer due to a many reasons - both geopolitical and economical ones at that. 

As the days flew past, I was in two minds about making the long (albeit much awaited) trip to US. The news about rising Covid cases, although sporadic, did add to my fear and uneasiness.  As an active member of local NIPM chapter, I had started attending physical meetings with my local HR community from March onwards, but the thoughts about travelling all the way to US (it's almost 23 hours trip with two hops) was troubling my brain.  I started interacting with the twitter community of global HR folks as the momentum was being built up and it was tempting - so I was in a dilemma.  Should I take this risk at this time?  

Well, to cut a long story short, I'm really glad that the SHRM India physical conference which I got to attend Hyderabad, India helped me change my mind. As a 'Friend-of-SHRM' for over a decade, I had got invited to attend the SHRM India's annal HRTech conference  scheduled for 19-20th May 2022.  I had just made one trip during pandemic as a speaker at another HR Conference conducted by Northern Coal Fields at Singrauli, UP so Hyderabad was just the second trip. I was not sure if HR community will turn up for the conference as they used to. So thankfully for me, SHRMTech22 was a sold-out event, SHRM India had ensured that all Covid guidelines were followed and I really enjoyed connecting back with my India HR social media community at the conference.  It was wonderful to interact in person with old pals, create new friends, check out new HRTech products and services - and engage in long conversations.  Realised that SHRM22 will be a bigger opportunity for all this and more - So the decision was made to take the trip to US for SHRM22. 

Yes, SHRM22 was undoubtedly the best ever HR conference I have attended! 

Now that i'm back in India and reminiscing about the fantabulous learning time I had at SHRM22, I'm really glad that I made it to my 8th time at SHRM annual conference.  I really enjoyed live tweeting and posting updates on Social media (Linkedin, Facebook besides Twitter) from New Orleans, where I landed a day earlier this time - although my flight timings made me miss and exciting catch up party which was planned that evening.  

On day one - I started off attending the conference orientation session alongside a capacity audience where I was surrounded by first time attendees. This session also helped me to understand the design of the event, Tracks involved, use of the Mobile App etc. 

Check out the new stuff!

I also made a Tweet-thread capturing some of my learning from SHRM22. The long and delayed trip helped connect me to a lot of 'normal life' as it was happening, along the entire route of the way which I could not have connected by mere reading or virtual modes.  

Here are some pointers from my trip to SHRM22 which are relevant for HR function & HRcommunity: 

1.  There is a shortage of resources on most front line jobs - this I felt from the airport terminal, where there was shortage of staff, making the life of the role players difficult.  Whenever there was a need for human assistance (like Wheel Chairs, Counter Check in etc), there was a delay. 

2. It seemed like the entire world wanted to travel! All flights I took were full! So the world was in a race to get back to normal - free moving times as we had before the lockdowns.  This can impact the pace of change in Travel Industry and connected sectors like hospitality, Tourism etc on a global scale. 

3. It seemed like all flights to New Orleans were chartered for SHRM22 - This gave me more excitement about what was in store at New Orleans. Sharing below a picture of the audience which I captured during the session as proof. 

Guess how many attendees were there? 

4. This year's edition had over 15k registered attendees in person and over 20k in virtual mode. Guess that makes it that largest ever for SHRM. Kudos to the entire leadership team for designing this to perfection. This proves that HR community is eager to align for the core purpose of HR - as the conference theme enshrined, to #CauseTheEffect they want to see in their work places.  
5. The huge turnout amidst all the fears, like I the ones I faced before I travelled, proved to me that we Humans are indeed social animals - we love to connect and converse, make new friends when we feel comfortable / are pursing a common interest - in this case, #CauseTheEffect with HR approaches for Future of work. 
6. The Pandemic has surely made HR stronger and more confident in our own abilities - to me it looked like it has made the HR function more result oriented. 
7. I also felt that the design behind SHRM22 was done to help attendees collaborate - I really love the  #CauseTheEffect nudges - bracelets, playing cards with connecting messages, the photo points that pull attendees attention and much much more. 
8. The exhibitors too did not leave any stone unturned to make SHRM22 one of the best ever - I saw many discussion thread on the social platforms about having to pay extra baggage fees, due to the goodies / Swags that were bagged from the exposition floor. 

This has become a long post - I will come back with another post with more learnings that I have captured.  

For those of you who missed live or virtual action, I'd urge you to join the online conversations that this amazing conference has triggered off all over the internet. Here's how one can do that:

1. Reply to tweets with your thoughts when you see an interesting topic being discussed with hashtag #SHRM22 or #CauseTheEffect 
2. Comment on Linkedin, Instagram and Facebook posts put up by attendees as well as Service providers 
3. How do you think you as an HR professional can cause the effect in your work place? - List one thing you can do that will have an immediate positive impact and share it on social media feeds
4. Share a workplace experience that has left a lasting impression, either positive or negative on you. 

So, as we prepare for catching up the next year at Las Vegas for SHRM23, let's keep the conversations going and attempt to learn from each other. 

Big Hugs to the entire #HRCommunity. 


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