4 Valuable Takeaways from the 2017 SHRM Annual Conference

The SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) Annual Conference and Exposition (also known as SHRM 17) – the biggest Human Resources conference in the world – wrapped up last week in New Orleans, Louisiana.

All sessions at the conference were based on the SHRM competency model and were designed to educate HR professionals at every stage of their career. The conference was also an excellent opportunity to network with others HR professionals and the exposition hall gave access to thousands of vendors offering products and solutions across a wide range of different industries. Here are the four most valuable takeaways from SHRM 17 that apply to HR leaders:

1. HR is not a one-size-fits-all department

Human Resources as we know it has evolved throughout the years – it’s no longer a one-size-fits-all type of function within the business. Each company will have a different culture, headcount, location, demographic of employees and set of policies. For these reasons, each company’s HR department will look and operate a bit differently. It’s not a cookie cutter profession, and what might work for one company may not work for another.

2. HR is arguably the most important entity within a company

According to the Paychex Pulse of HR survey, at least two thirds of HR leaders at small and medium businesses claim they’ve grown into more strategic roles due to advances in technology. Tasks that were traditionally done manually are now automated, allowing HR leaders more time to expand their skill-set. Further research from Harvard Business Review  finds that HR leaders have more influence and are included within their organization’s executive leadership team as a result of their increased expertise. A core focus at the conference this year was that modern HR leaders are in a great position to drive change and organizational effectiveness and gone are the days where HR is focused solely on benefits, policy creation and payroll.

3. HR leaders strive to bring out the best in their company and its employees

From my personal experience at SHRM 17, it’s very easy to see that the HR profession is full of exceptionally smart, kind, caring and driven leaders. These folks are passionate about cultivating the best possible experience for their employees and making their companies better – and they’re very successful and effective in doing so.

4. HR isn’t easy but that’s OK

At its core, Human Resources is truly about interactions between people – specifically how to guide, influence and support them to ensure they’re the best they can be each and every day. Being a HR leader isn’t always easy – it sometimes involves difficult and uncomfortable situations – but that’s what makes it challenging, invigorating and rewarding.


Overall SHRM 17 was a tremendous learning experience, and I’m looking forward to applying what I learned to my everyday role here at Motus. Modern HR leaders have more influence than ever before, and it was refreshing to connect with and hear from some of the best and brightest minds in the industry. This year’s notable speakers included Laszlo Bock (formerly Senior VP of People Operations at Google), Valerie M. Grubb (industry expert in systems, processes and human capital issues for organizations) and Kat Cole (president of FOCUS Brands Inc.) and I expect next year’s guest speakers to be just as influential and informative. If you’re an HR leader and you haven’t attended SHRM yet, keep your eye out for next year’s conference in Chicago – you won’t want to miss it.

Stay tuned for the next installment of the HR Hangout.


Check out more posts from the HR Hangout

The HR Hangout is a recurring series on the Motus blog featuring advice from Jessica Chronchio, Director of People Operations at Motus. A proven Human Resources leader, Jessica has her Master’s Degree in Human Resources Management and is an active member of SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management). The topics covered range from empowering HR in the boardroom, best practices around people management, insights on industry trends, and advice for today’s HR leader.

The Author

Jessica Chronchio

Jessica is a proven Human Resources leader fully dedicated to the overall execution of the People Operations function at Motus. With over a decade of experience, Jessica specializes in compensation and benefits, risk and compliance, culture, performance management and organizational strategy. Jessica holds a Master's Degree in Human Resources Management, is an active member of SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), and is passionate about empowering people to perform better together.

Read more by Jessica Chronchio

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