The Future Of Work: 5 Takeaways From SHRM 2017

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by viperk's , last updated on


Of all the shows I attended in my past life as an Associate Editor for a hotel trade publication, nothing could have prepared me for the crowd I encountered at this year’s SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition in New Orleans. And I say that with the utmost positivity, because it was wonderful to see more than 15,000 attendees who care about the future of work as much as I do.

During the two days I spent attending panels, there seemed to be a lot of themes going on regarding how the workforce is changing and how the relationship between employer and employee has shifted forever. Here are my five biggest takeaways from panels I attended during the conference:

  1. Real-time feedback for employees is a must.

Gone are the days of annual anything, as Achievers’ David Brennan shared in his SHRM panel titled “Re-inventing What Incentives Mean to a Global Organization.”

“Anything in your organization with the word ‘annual’ is not relevant today,” Brennan said. You can’t run a company looking at your financial reports on a yearly basis. The same applies to your employees. You can’t only recognize and appreciate your employees during their annual reviews. That’s no way to be effective.

To hit this point home, Brennan shared a study of managers and found that those who received promotions sent their employees 3.8x more recognitions per month than those who were not promoted.

  1. Employers need to focus on return on incentive, not return on investment.

 Again, this takeaway is from Brennan’s panel. Incentives are often thought about as financial improvements, but an incentive is anything that motivates or encourages someone to do something.

“Don’t underestimate the power of non-monetary rewards, especially when it comes to time,” Brennan said. “Give an employee that hour off to spend time with their children or an aging parent.”

It’s important to offer both intrinsic and extrinsic incentives to your employees. When you do something meaningful for your employees, they grow to appreciate your kindness as a manager thereby increasing their productivity and loyalty to the company. And it all harkens back to another point Brennan made during his session: “People join companies and leave managers.”

It’s a constant struggle knowing where to draw the line, but at the end of the day, does it really cost you much as an employer to let Michelle head out an hour early to make it to her kid’s soccer game?

  1. Young professionals are attracted to learning and development, innovation and purpose.

 This takeaway comes from two panels I attended: “Employer Branding: The Power of Purpose” and “Gallup’s Strategies for Engaging Millennials and Women.”

The No. 1 thing that attracts millennials to a workplace are opportunities to learn and grow: 59% of them said it’s “Extremely Important” when surveyed through Gallup’s extensive research.

“If a millennial is coming into a job and they’re matched on a team where there is no opportunity to grow and develop, they are gone,” said Gallup Chief Talent Officer Matt Mosser.

Matt Kaiser, Director of Recruitment at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta sang a similar tune of this evolving workforce comprised of millennials. He also shared in depth how defining your company’s purpose is the key to attracting and retaining quality talent—specifically the elusive millennial.

The key to differentiating yourself from your competitors is purpose, which involves finding and uncovering the unique reasons why your company exists. Once you find that purpose, build your employer brand around it and see inspiration take off. As we discussed at length in our recent 14-page eBook on employer branding, millennials want a greater purpose out of their career. They want to be a part of something bigger. Your employer brand gives you the chance to do that.

  1. The amount of women in the workplace is actually decreasing.

 This was probably one of the most shocking things I learned while attending Gallup’s Matt Mosser’s presentation. During his session, he discussed women in the workplace and shared some very interesting statistics. Here’s a sampling of some key data points I learned:

  • There are 73.5 million women in the workplace; 56.7% of the workforce was comprised of women at the end of 2015; 59.9% at the end of 2000; 58.6% at the end of 2010.
  • 54% of working women with children under the age of 18 would prefer to stay home;
  • 40% of women with kids under the age of 18 prefer to work outside of the home;
  • 35% of women are engaged at work compared to 29% of men; and
  • 60% of women search for work-life balance and better personal well-being when looking for a job.

 Another interesting takeaway regarding women in the workplace: Female managers are better at engaging employees than male managers, according to Mosser. One of the reasons is our ability to be empathetic.

And I can’t end this takeaway without mentioning how inspiring it was to hear how Gallup has completely changed its strategy for attracting and retaining women with its “marathon” metaphor. As a company, they do whatever they can to keep women in the workforce, whether it’s for 5 hours a week, 10 hours a week, 30 hours or 50+. It’s admirable!

  1. The war on talent is not just a North American phenomenon.

 First, let’s back up a little and talk about how attracting and retaining talent has changed. According to Achievers’ David Brennan, companies used to care about attracting and retaining that top 25% of employees. Now, it’s about the entire organization.

 “Your top talent wants to interact with other top talent,” Brennan said. And 90% of companies believe the war on talent is hitting India, Asia and parts of Europe as well. One of the top ways companies are attracting talent globally is through rewards and recognition. Brazil (93%), India (89%) and China (88%) rank recognition as the top global engagement opportunity, according to Deloitte’s GHCT Report. Eighty-five percent of employers in the United States rank recognition as the top engagement priority by comparison.

 At viperks, we understand the importance of recognizing and rewarding employees—that’s why we created our robust appreciation platform for employers to show their employees why their company is a great place to work.

 If you attended this year’s SHRM, we would love to hear what your biggest takeaway was. Tweet us @getviperks, and we’ll share your thoughts.


Topics: employee recognition, employee engagement, millennials, employer branding, Business Advice, SHRM

blog author

Eric Golubitsky

Eric brings 18+ years of entrepreneurial experience. Eric founded S.M.I.L.E. Inc. in 1998, which was a Consumer Electronic Pro Top 100 home automation provider and was recognized as the #1 fastest growing company in NE Ohio by CWRU Weatherhead School of Management in 2003. As an Ernst & Young "Entrepreneur of the Year" finalist in 2005, Eric's accomplishments have been recognized multiple times including the Consumer Electronics Association's national "Mark of Excellence Award." Eric is also a 5 year member of EO (Entrepreneurs Organization).