Trends in HR: 3 Takeaways from SHRM 2018

shrm conference 2018

The following post comes from Bright Horizons Marketing Manager Sean McCarthy who recently attended the SHRM 2018 Annual Conference & Exposition in Chicago. 

Generations. Purpose. College debt.

Those were three of the stars at this year's SHRM 2018 conference. None are surprises. Each plays a part in an employee's job experience. And with competition rising with every dip in unemployment, everyone's looking for an advantage.

Three things that generated the biggest buzz:

1. Student debt repayment checks a lot of boxes

It's no shocker that Millennials are asking for debt repayment. College costs have spiked in their lifetime, meaning the benefit is an ace for Millennial recruitment.  But it's not a one-trick pony. Women carry the most debt (about two-thirds of the current trillion-dollar tally) meaning debt repayment could attract more women and so diversify leadership. It also addresses benefit equity, showing some love to the often-overlooked mid-career employees paying tuition for kids and even grandkids.

Any cautions about the benefit were purely on the technical side -- how to automate so that it pays down debt without hours of manual labor. It's a worthy question since we've heard manual programs can use up whole departments just writing checks. The takeaway: a great program takes more than good intentions, so consider a good partner who can handle the nitty gritty for you.

2. Jettison generation stereotypes

You know all those stereotypes about Millennials, Boomers, and every other generation? Let's forget them...stat.

Word from SHRM is they're unproductive, pigeonholing people in unnecessary boxes, and potentially alienating employees who don't fit the generational, "Millennials are job hoppers" mold. Worse, they prompt all of us in HR to design strategies by age rather than individuals. And that's costly since right now we have four generations sharing our workforce - and we need them all on their A game.

So what's the answer? Give people what they all want ; open communication, jobs with purpose, and connection to the mission.  And when it comes to individual career direction, think stage over age. "!it's more about, 'Where are you in the life cycle of our organization,'" said speaker Joey V. Price, "and how can we meet you where you are to help move you further along?'"

3. Technology will only get you so far

AI is all the rage. But as we've said before, the machines haven't risen!yet. And SHRM reminds us that the power of people comes from, among other things, the trifecta of career growth, work-life support, and wellbeing.

At Bright Horizons, we know those as the attributes of Dream Companies. And research showed there's real power in them - that people would trade a dream company for a dream job any day. "Our research," wrote Horizons Workforce Consulting's Lucy English, one of the authors of the Dream Company study, "shows that if employees feel that they're working in a dream company, they are 11 times more likely to stay in their organization for at least a yeareven if they are not in what they consider to be a dream job.'" Those are numbers you can't argue with.

There was plenty more to unpack; financial wellness benefits on the upswing; workplace bias under siege; and even some new love (via benefits) for our furry friends.

At 3.8% unemployment, there's no doubt there's plenty more still to come.

Written by: Bright Horizons Blog Editor

About the Author

Bright Horizons logo on yellow background

The Bright Horizons Blog Editor frequently posts on the real solutions that meaningfully support employees, advance careers, and drive the world’s leading brands. The Editor curates the latest news, trends, and challenges facing HR pros because your time is scarce. Follow the Bright Horizons Blog to receive this insight in your inbox.