As I type this, I am on my way to host a panel at the ERE Recruiting Conference in San Diego. It’s my first conference since last Fall’s HR Tech, which is an anomaly for me. Back in the day, I would attend and speak at several conferences a year, and I always appreciated the opportunity to get out of the office and see what was going on in our industry.
Before COVID made large gatherings too risky, conferences were something to look forward to. They were a chance to reconnect with colleagues from around the world, hear some keynotes from famous (and not so famous) speakers, and be exposed to some ideas that one may not hear in day-to-day work. Best of all, conferences were a way to reignite our curiosity and motivation, to keep us going in an industry that can be challenging under the best of circumstances, let alone the continual cycle of challenges leading to widespread burnout.
Determined to keep conferences alive when in-person was no longer an option, conference planners turned to virtual sessions. On the one hand, this meant we could still unite and learn from experts in our field. On the other hand, the widespread practice of pre-recorded content with live Q&A made much of the experience asynchronous, removing my personal joy of live-tweeting a session in real time. As someone who built her network through online engagement, the loss of this collaborate riff session was hard to bear. Additionally, the sessions themselves have felt somewhat repetitive, as though we all froze during COVID and haven’t quite figured out a way back to saying something new.
In-person conferences are starting to come back, yet many have retained a virtual option. It makes sense – travel budgets are tight, development dollars are dwindling, and HR teams are short-staffed and stressed. HR continued HR-ing without live conferences for a few years, so convincing a skeptical leadership team may be a challenge. At best, HR professionals may get to attend one conference per year, if they go at all.
If we want to get back to a place where conferences are meaningful and worthwhile again, perhaps we need to rethink them all together. And that means elevating the voice of the attendee above others. Sponsors are a critical partner in the conference world, but the pendulum has swung too far in allowing them to dictate the session content. Conference planners need to bring more practitioners and independent voices into the mix to spark a conversation untainted by perceived bias. And whether a conference is in person, virtual, or hybrid, invite more live collaboration, encouraging more real-time interaction and organic learning.
So what about it? What do YOU want to see at a conference? What would make one worthwhile to you? Maybe between the two of us, we can reignite that spark that made conferences a must-go event.
With warm regards,
— Mary Faulkner
Principal/Conference cohort, IA
Voice of HR
Embracing the Agile Framework sounds like a great idea, right? After all, we all want to be adaptive and innovative in the work we do. But is it the right option for Human Resources? This is the question Mary Faulkner seeks to answer in this month’s featured article.
Where you can find us
Regardless of the state of conferences, we are always happy to provide our insights and support for several events. Here are a few we have coming up!
May 22-24, 2023: At ERE.net’s Spring Recruiting Conference, Mary Faulkner is hosting a panel and participating in round tables to help organizations solve some of their thorniest talent acquisition challenges. You can learn more about the event here.
June 1, 2023: IA co-leaders Mark Stelzner and Kimberly Carroll are delivering an upcoming webinar hosted by HR Executive Magazine called (Re)Examining the role of the HRBP. If your organization is struggling to leverage the untapped potential of HRBPs, this is one webinar you won’t want to miss!
October 10-13, 2023: You know we love an HR Tech Conference! IA is pleased to continue to support one of the biggest conferences in our industry. The agenda hasn’t been released just yet, but we’ll be there! Will you?
On Our Radar
Reading headlines these days can be an exercise in resilience. Regardless, it’s important to stay informed about what’s going on in the world of work. Here are a few stories that caught our eye:
- When we see the word “innovation,” we almost always assume it means “disruption.” But innovation sometimes means doing something new without replacing something old. This fascinating article from Harvard Business Review makes the case for creation without destruction.
- Feel like work has led to more Scary Sundays than usual? You’re not imagining things. According to a new report from Headspace, there is a growing number of workers who feel a “sense of dread” about work. Are you one of them?
- Well, every few years we come across yet another article about how people hate HR. But what if it didn’t have to be that way? Fast Company argues that there is a way to create an HR department that focuses on people – which is where HR has always said it wants to focus.
- And finally, something from the “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” file – LinkedIn has announced a new “commitment” feature that allows companies to choose from a list of values to display on its home page. Let’s see how this plays out.
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