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SHRM 2015: Top Takeaways, Highlights and Lessons Learned

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It’s been just over a month since we bid fond farewells to Las Vegas and our friends and colleagues at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Conference, but we’re still pondering everything we learned and enjoying memories of the fun we had at this year’s conference. Being the largest and one of the most important HR conferences in the world, it was a wonderful opportunity to take in heaps of valuable information and network with masses of talented human resource professionals. If you were among the more than 15,000 participants, thanks for stopping by our table to say “hello.” It was a pleasure meeting you.

For those who couldn’t make the trip, there’s good news! What happened in Las Vegas, doesn’t have to stay there! Here are some highlights of what Aerotek discovered during real-time surveys with HR pros on the conference floor:

HR On The Spot

How HR pros spend their days

Half of the conference-goers surveyed spend the majority of their working hours on recruiting and onboarding. That shouldn’t be surprising since 2015 is a candidate-driven market, which has HR professionals scrambling to find the best people to fill many openings. It follows that once they have found and hired the best candidates, they spend a great deal of their time onboarding in order to retain them.

Yet, this situation is problematic since it leaves HR professionals with so little time to accomplish other goals. In fact, Aerotek’s survey found that after all of the recruiting and onboarding, these HR pros were left with little time for other responsibilities.

That’s where dedicated recruiters can help. Leaving the recruiting to recruiters means that HR pros can focus their energy on things like engagement, compliance, compensation, benefits and their ultimate goal — employee retention.

According to Sarah Payne of Globoforce, “Many organizations are using values-based recognition programs to cultivate better work cultures which leads to retention.” Globoforce also conducted a survey at the SHRM conference and found that respondents “cited positive impact of their [recognition] programs on engagement, retention, safety, wellness, employer brandand even cost goals.”

Big trends in benefits

Strong benefit packages are another way organizations recruit and retain employees. Our survey found that tuition remission is the most widely offered benefit with 61 percent of companies offering it. Flextime is another popular benefit offered to 50 percent of the professionals we surveyed. During the conference, SHRM released its own reporton trends in benefits. Among the most remarkable changes noted was the increase in wellness programming being offered this year. These benefits are designed to offset the high costs of healthcare.

SHRM “found a significant jump from 2014 to 2015 in several different wellness benefits including health and lifestyle coaching, smoking cessation programsand premium discounts for getting an annual risk assessment. The most prevalent wellness benefits offered are wellness resources and information (80 percent of respondents) and wellness programs (70 percent),” according to Kathryn Mayer at BenefitsPro.com. “The report also showed five-year trend increases in the percentage of organizations offering mental health coverage, contraception coverage, vision insurance, short-term disability insurance, critical illness insuranceand coverage for laser-based vision surgery.”

Mentoring and Millennials go together!

Mentoring has long been hailed as an important method of employee engagement. Aerotek’s onsite survey revealed that 41 percent of conference attendees have a mentor while 29 percent say they are a mentor. As the baby boomers begin to retire making Millennials the largest group in the workforce, mentoring has become more important than ever.

Do you think mentors are only for new professionals? SHRM conference attendees answered this question with a resounding “No!” In fact, 95 percent of those surveyed said that mentoring was important throughout their careers. Despite these findings, most of the HR professionals are younger and less experienced than their mentors. Many of these mentees are Millennials and the SHRM conference offered several sessions geared toward this crowd. With topics such as “Dude, What’s My Job,” and “Attract and Engage the Next Gen Workforce: How to Hire Millennials & Gen Z and Why It Matters,” it was clear that SHRM organizers had Millennials on their minds.

We asked conference attendees how important it is to accommodate Millennials in their own workplaces. Seventy-nine percent believed it was extremely or very important . In his keynote speech, Marcus Buckingham discussed what Millennials really want. And, spoiler alert, it’s not so different than what the rest of us want!

We all want attention

“We’ve all been told by thought leaders and Millennial experts for a decade that all Millennials want is feedback and work-life balance! They don’t want money or power or ice in their beer, just feedback and time off,”… writes Tim Sackett of ERE Media, in a column about Buckingham and SHRM 2015.

How can employers and HR departments respond to this desire? By rethinking the way in which they interact with employees. Our survey found that 65 percent of those surveyed receive performance reviews annually. In our experience, it isn’t that that performance reviews are bad. It’s just that they work best when they are accompanied by real-time feedback and attention that is doled out on a regular basis “Millennials are just like every other “new to the workplace” generation before them, writes Lynette Silva, a blogger at Recognize This. “They cry out for acknowledgement, coaching, insight and development. It’s more “Is this what you wanted to see? Is the work I do valuable? How am I contributing to achieving bigger goals?” and less “give me a gold star.”

What were your biggest takeaways from SHRM 2015? Please tweet us @aerotek and let us know.

We’re counting down the days until SHRM 2016. Details about next year’s conference in Washington D.C. are already online. Hope to see you there.