How Expensive Will #SHRM17 Hotels Be?

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, November 16, 2016

With the news that hotel reservations are now being accepted for the 2017 SHRM Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA, I bring you my 8th annual look at SHRM hotel costs.

After the most expensive SHRM Conference hotel cost in 16 years in Washington, DC (though inflation has made it 3rd most expensive, relatively speaking, has there been a return to "normalcy" in the price of hotels?

To examine this question, I look at selected SHRM conference brochures (i.e., the ones that I still possessed) over the past 17 years to see what it would cost a person to book a single room on a per night average.  Clearly, prices in 2001 will be different than in 2017, so I use an inflation calculator to adjust costs to today's dollars.  So, how does the 2017 Conference in New Orleans compare to years past?

Cost of an Average SHRM-Affiliated Hotel (per night: 6/18-6/21; 1 room, 2 beds)Chicago (2008): $271.81 (sd of $31.29)
San Francisco (2001): $270.67 (standard deviation of $59.67)
Washington DC (2016): $269.59 (standard deviation of $31.85)
San Diego (2010): $259.67 (sd of $44.69)
Chicago (2013): 255.94 (sd of $21.20)
Washington DC (2006): $244.45(sd of $42.00)
Philadelphia (2002): $229.88 (sd of $61.46)
New Orleans (2017): $221.39 (sd of $35.56)
San Diego (2005): $215.58 (sd of $52.58)
Atlanta (2012): $208.28 (sd of $23.24)
Las Vegas (2007): $176.21 (sd of $33.96)
Orlando(2014): $163.69 (sd of $36.43) Las Vegas (2015): $144.22 (sd of $23.08)
Las Vegas (2011): $136.35 (sd of $18.91)

SHRM 2017 looks to be around the middle of the pack compared to other years.   Rooms, on average, will cost approximately $46 (+ tax) less per night than DC.  over the course of the conference, that'll be enough to cover a good meal at Emeril's or Commander's Palace.

Fortunately, with so many hotels to choose from (n=69), there are plenty of options available.  The median hotel cost is $223.50.  Twenty-four (24) hotels have a price below $200 + tax (compared to only two(2) below 209 + tax the year before), and the middle 50% cost between $193.50 and $259.

Given the above, it seems that New Orleans will be one of the more reasonably priced SHRM Annual Conferences to attend. 

See you in June.

Bill Murray and What Money Can't Buy #8ManRotation

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, October 24, 2016

2016 has not exactly been a banner year for my sports teams.  The Michigan State Spartans football team got blown up in the College Football Playoff by Alabama followed by its worst start to a Big Ten season since the 1990s.  The Spartan basketball team had an inexplicable loss in the opening road of the NCAA tournament.  The Green Bay Packers continue to under perform.  And, the Milwaukee Brewers?  Well, their season was over before it even started.

Yet, I still soldier on.  Why?  Take Bill Murray.

  • Extremely successful career with numerous iconic roles (Carl Spackler, John Winger, Phil Summers...the list goes on)
  • Rich many times over 
  • Enough cachet and mystique that he can do almost anything and can get away with it because "no one will ever believe you."  My friends and I have our own Bill Murray encounter at the Bears-Packers NFC Championship game highlighted in the picture taken above (story here).
Yet for all the fame and glory Bill Murray has received, at the moment below, when the Chicago Cubs clinched a trip to their first World Series since 1945, none of that mattered.

As wealthy and successful as Bill Murray has been, he couldn't buy a moment like that if he tried, which made it all the more meaningful to him.

Here's hoping you have your own Bill Murray moment of joy this week.

True Faith HR Replay: Why #HR Should Care About the NBA Summer League #8ManRotation

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, July 11, 2016

I'm heading to Las Vegas on Thursday with a couple of 8 Man Rotation folk (Kris Dunn, Steve Boese) to take in a couple days of NBA Summer League action.  Worth revisiting this July 2013 post.  If you're in the area, come join us.
On Thursday, I will join three of my colleagues behind the 8 Man Rotation in Las Vegas (we always leave one behind to keep it going in case something befalls the rest of us) for two to three days to catch some NBA Summer League action.
Why do we want to head to the desert in summer time to spend 8-10 hours a day in a gym watching exhibition basketball when those games don't matter?
Because, in actuality, the games DO matter....for those playing.   In his piece on Grantland, Steve McPherson describes what it is like for those involved:

These are guys who have worked their entire lives to be one of the 450 players in the top basketball league in the world. Guys who spent their whole lives being one of the best basketball players in any situation they ever found themselves in. And now it’s just the grind. They’re simply looking for their shot.
The ones hoping for that shot are almost universally flawed in one way or another: undersized or stuck between positions; not good enough at one specific thing to be useful to a team; dogged by problems we can’t even see, the kind of stuff many of us carry around.........
But for these players — who are among the top one or two percent of basketball players in the world — it’s their big chance. Not to become something they’re not, but to see their years of work turn them into what they’ve always been striving toward.

Those playing over these few days in Orlando and in Las Vegas are no different than the applicants to your organization.  They're polishing their resumes,  taking your work sample test, engaging in your role play or simulation, trying to impress you enough to take a chance on them.

For us watching, it will be passing entertainment...but for those involved, it will be all too real, with stakes that truly matter to them.

My Annual Love Letter to the @SHRMFoundation #SHRM16

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, June 20, 2016

Dear SHRM Foundation,

We’ve known each other for years.  We’ve had our ups (your support of the HRGames) and our downs (the 247 Director’s Circle pins you sent me as a sign of your affection).  However, despite this rollercoaster of emotions, I’ve always supported you and been in your corner.  So, in this public forum, it is time to declare my love for you and say that you’re the best thing under the SHRM umbrella.  How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

  1.  I love your heart and generosity- you provided $170,000 in scholarships and awards in 2015.  These scholarships and awards are available for such things as certification, studies in HR, as well as for dissertations and the HR Advisor of the Year (I'm a proud recipient in 2006).  Further, you continually give many of the products that are the result of your efforts away for free to the greater HR community.  You have changed and affected the lives of so many in such a positive, affirming away.
  2.  I love your mind – You are the leading funder of HR research.  Over the past three years, you have provided over $1.8 million in grants to fund rigorous research (which is near and dear to my heart).  You are changing the face of the HR profession with cutting-edge products, such as the Effective Practice Guidelines, and the DVD Series.  Your Thought Leadership Initiative is setting the tone by identifying trends that will impact the workplace in the next 5-10 years.
Thanks for all that you do to enrich and advance the profession.



P.S. if you know of others who love you as much as I do, please tell them to stop by Booth 2640 while at #SHRM16 and contribute to make the Foundation even stronger.  If you are reading this at home, go visit the SHRM Foundation website at, and read more about the great things the Foundation does. 

The 2015 Season of the #8ManRotation is Here #SHRM16

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Often imitated and never duplicated, the 2015 Season (our 6th edition) of The 8 Man Rotation is here.   While it may be mid-June, the takes from Steve Boese, Kris Dunn, Lance Haun, Tim Sackett, and myself are just as fresh today as they were when they originally written.  The thing about sports and HR is the lessons one learn from the sports world remain timeless.

So, just in time for your trip to Washington DC for SHRM Annual or for that father who enjoys sports as well as HR, this compendium is well worth your time to download.

Check out the 2010 Season here

Check out the 2011 Season here

Check out the 2012 Season here

Check out the 2013 Season here

Check out the 2014 Season here

Q&A with #SHRM16 Speaker Jennifer McClure (@jennifermcclure)

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, June 9, 2016

Jennifer McClure is a sought-after Keynote Speaker and Executive Coach. She combines her experiences as a Business Leader, Human Resources Executive and Executive Recruiter with an engaging, entertaining and informative style to help Leaders unleash their potential and create massive positive impact.
Jennifer has delivered over 200 keynotes, workshops and corporate training classes, where she shares a blend of inspiration, “how-to,” best practices and strategic discussion based upon her 25+ years of experience leading human resources and talent acquisition efforts and working with senior executives. 
Jennifer is CEO OF DisruptHR and is also a contributor to CareerBuilder's Talent Advisor Portal. She also posts regularly on her own blog, "Unbridled Talent

Jennifer will be speaking at the SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition on June 20, 2016 at 4 p.m. on the topic “Take Control of Your Personal Brand to Help Your Career and Your Organization Grow”. She will also be leading a MEGA SESSION – The Future of HR: Four Strategies to Meet Business Challenges and Deliver Maximum Impact on Results on June 21, 2016 at 10:45 a.m.

1. What was your first Breakthrough HR moment in your career? 

I’d have to say that it was actually getting hired into an HR job in the first place! :) Back in the day, there were no degrees in “Personnel Management”, but I took as many personnel and industrial relations courses as I could in college (just a few available). I joined the student chapter of ASPA (what SHRM used to be called – The American Society of Personnel Administrators) for the opportunity to learn more, and connect with HR leaders who supported the chapter. However, once I graduated, it was difficult to convince anyone to hire me into an HR Personnel job because I didn’t have any prior experience.

So I had to do what any enterprising young professional should do I used my network to get a recommendation to interview for a Personnel Manager job from someone who knew me, and I found ways to frame my education and prior work experience in HR language. I dealt with customer issues as a cashier (employee relations), interviewed and recommended candidates (hiring/selection) during an internship for a convenience store chain, and audited personnel files and policy compliance as a bank auditor.

When I got the job offer, I was thrilled! I knew that once I “broke in” to HR, I was going to stay and make a difference.

2.  Is it possible for someone with a long career to still have breakthrough HR moments?  If so, how?

Absolutely! In fact, if you’re not having regular breakthrough moments in your career, and in your job, something is wrong. You’ve probably grown complacent and stagnant, or you’re in an organization that is not interested in growing. (It’s usually the former. Be careful about blaming someone else for your lack of personal growth.)

It’s critical for any business leader to remain curious about what is happening in the external environment (economy, industry, community, etc.), and consider how those changes affect their company and their own job. The world around us is constantly changing and evolving. We have to intentionally choose to keep up with/stay ahead of those changes. It doesn’t happen on it’s own.

I would challenge any HR professional to try at least one new thing personally (a networking event, reading a book contrary to their usual point of view, attending a conference or event outside of their “normal” responsibilities, etc.), and also at least one new thing at work each month. Breakthroughs often happen when we’re outside our comfort zone!

3.  You have a session on Monday, June 20 at 4:00 p.m. titled, " Take Control of Your Personal Brand to Help Your Career and Your Organization Grow."  What is the biggest mistake individuals make when it comes to personal branding?

For many business leaders, the biggest mistake I see individuals make when it comes to personal branding is thinking that they don’t need to build their own because doing so would take focus off of their business, and put it on them. I find this is really the case with HR professionals. They often feel that they should be working “behind the scenes” as a support department, and having a strong personal brand doesn’t support that. I completely disagree.

I believe that anyone who wants to get things done in their organization needs to have a strong personal brand. Who would you rather have working on your team as the HR leader – someone who is known as a leader in their profession, mentors other professionals, and has developed a reputation as a thought-leader or innovator; or someone who works mainly behind the scenes and implements other’s ideas. Both of these types of people exist in HR. Only one type is able to influence leadership to make positive changes and do what needs to be done to remain competitive for talent in a challenging global economy.

4.  You have an additional session (a MEGA SESSION!) on Tuesday, June 21 at 10:45 am titled " The Future of HR: Four Strategies to Meet Business Challenges and Deliver Maximum Impact on Results."  Which HR competency is the top priority that needs to evolve?

I believe the competency that elevates HR leaders into the category of a “business leader” in their organization is the Critical Evaluation. Multiple research studies and surveys indicate that human capital issues are some of the biggest challenges facing organizations in the future. As a result, HR professionals are uniquely positioned to deliver competitive advantage by ensuring that their companies have the talent needed to deliver upon their objectives.

The ability to think critically means that HR professionals must think about business needs and objectives first – and focusing on how HR can help with delivering upon them – rather than focusing on meeting HR’s needs first (compliance, administration, etc.) Strong and successful HR leaders will also be skilled at analyzing and interpreting data in order to make decisions and recommendations, versus reporting and tracking data against goals. For many, this requires a shift in thinking, but whether you’re an HR leader in a large, global organization, or a small organization, the ability to think strategically, and then guide your organization accordingly is what the c-suite needs from HR.

5.  You've attended the SHRM Annual Conference numerous times.  What keeps you coming back each year?

This will be my fifth year speaking at the SHRM Annual Conference, and I consider it a tremendous honor and opportunity to do so. I also very much enjoy attending the conference as a learner. I attend as many sessions as I can beyond my own, and always learn something new each year. I also enjoy meeting new people and making connections that can be meaningful beyond the conference experience, as well as connecting with old friends. For me, the SHRM Annual Conference is like a high school reunion each year – which you actually look forward to. :)

6.  What advice would you give to someone attending the SHRM Annual Conference for the first time?  What is the biggest rookie mistake you see?

I’d recommend having a loose plan in advance. Look through the session guide and determine which sessions/speakers interest you, and make a tentative schedule for yourself. But, don’t be married to your schedule! If someone at the conference recommends another session, or if you meet a speaker that interests you, be flexible and change it up.

A rookie mistake that I see people make (and many veterans too) is not considering connecting with people at the conference that they don’t know yet as a specific learning opportunity. Challenge yourself to introduce yourself to people while waiting for sessions to start, or standing in line. Don’t just ask their name and title. Ask them to share a challenge that they face in their organization, a success story in their career, or what their biggest takeaway has been so far at the conference. Look for commonalities and connection points. You’ll only find those if you go beyond name, rank and serial number. If you leave the conference only having connected with people you know, or hanging out with your co-workers, in my opinion, you’ve failed.

7.  You love horses (and you can't spell horse without HR!).  What could a HR professional learn about their job by interacting with horses?

Now you’re speaking my language! I think everyone can benefit from more horses in their life. :)

Seriously though, horses can teach us much about communication and leadership. They can’t understand our words, so what we communicate through our actions and emotions affects them. For example, I’ve had experiences with my horse where I was nervous or frightened, but I knew I needed her to go forward and keep moving. So, I kicked and squeezed, but she kept going backwards. My trainer observed this situation and later pointed out to me that although I was kicking and saying, “go forward”, I actually had a death grip on the reins, and was pulling backward. My actions didn’t match my intentions. I see this often in how we deal with employees, and my horse helps me to be aware of these types of situations, so I can ensure I’m consistent with my communications.

8.  You are CEO of Disrupt HR?  What would you disrupt about the SHRM Annual Conference?

I think SHRM does a great job of making changes each year to keep the conference fresh and add value for attendees. The SMART Stage talks are similar to DisruptHR talks, and I like the fact that they provide an opportunity for many more people to share a message in a short-form format.

So, since they’ve got the conference covered, I’ll choose to disrupt the Tuesday night entertainment. Bring on BeyoncĂ©! 

Too expensive? Okay, I’ll settle for Maroon 5.

True Faith #HR Revisited - 1963 (Vendors and #SHRM16)

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, June 6, 2016

With the SHRM Annual Conference less than 2 weeks away, I thought the timing was perfect to revisit this post from 2011 about the requests of vendors to meet.  There are only slight modifications to reflect that its 2016.  Note...Since I wrote this 5 years, not one vendor has taken me up on it.

In 12 days, I will be flying out to Washington, DC for the 2016 SHRM Annual Conference.  One of the rites of passage associated with registering and attending the conference is the bevy of mail you receive from vendors hoping to lure you to their booth to discuss the latest in HR technology, drug testing, relocation, etc.   Occasionally, they entice you with the promise of a certain geegaw that you can't find at any other booth.  It would not be uncommon to receive 13+ pieces of mail a day in the 3 weeks prior to the start of the conference.
However, the pitch has changed.......

In 2010, at the SHRM Annual Conference I had the opportunity to be part of the 1st "SHRM Blog Squad," where I had the opportunity to highlight many of the conference events.  You can read more details about it here.  Thanks to Curtis Midkiff (@shrmsocmedguy) and Jennifer Hughes (@SHRMPress), I will once again be able to share my feeble thoughts on the conference yet again.  However, because of my registration as a blogger for the conference, I have yet to receive a single piece of vendor mail.

However, I have been inundated with e-mails from vendors asking me to set up appointments to meet with their CEO or hear about their latest product, presumably as a pitch to feature him or her or the product in my blog.   In addition, I have receive numerous calls from these companies following up on their e-mails.

As a courtesy to these vendors, let me tell you about my credentials:
1.  I am an Associate Professor of Business Administration.
2.  In that role, I make approximately .1% of any decision affecting the human resources of our organization.,
3.  In the words of Lloyd Dobler, in "Say Anything:" "I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that"

So, I may be the wrong audience to target.

The one thing missing is a little WIIFM: What's In It For Me.  What do I get out of taking time out of my busy SHRM Conference schedule to hear your pitch and feature your product/service/CEO in my blog?  (One company who shall remain nameless did offer a "blogger gift bag;" if it anything like actors receive at the Oscars or college football players get when they attend a bowl game, count me in).

Which gives me an idea......

In 2010, Morgan Spurlock released the movie "POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold:"
In the film, he sets out to finance the movie by getting advertisers to sponsor the film, which is essentially a movie about how advertising is polluting our lives and minds.

Given how many pitches I have received in the past couple weeks, I have decided to become a sell-out myself:

1. Sponsor my blog

If it worked for Morgan Spurlock, it can work for me.  I am more than willing to rename my blog, "(Your company name) presents: True Faith HR."  I'd be glad to include your company logo in every SHRM16 blog post I write.  I'd include your company name in every tweet I issue.  I'd even include pictures of myself in your company clothing line.  As my blog and tweets will likely reach thousands of eyes, what better way to get your name out there.

Just make me an offer.

2.  Draw my name at your booth for your "Grand Prize."

This will be my 16th SHRM Annual Conference in a row.  In my previous 15 years of attending the conference, I have yet to have my name drawn as the winner of a booth's grand prize.  You lure me in with the promise of an iPod, laptop, or GPS, yet each year I leave empty handed.  I remain firmly convinced it is due to the credentials listed above; if I am not likely to buy your product, why give me the prize. I have this blog.  Why give the prize to Donna in benefits from Boise, Idaho.  Draw my name instead.  You can be sure as all get out that I will be talking about my newApple Watch on this blog and I'll be giving your company all sorts of props here.   C'mon, what better way to make your company look magnanimous that giving this here blogger your prize?!?!?

So, vendors, what say you?   I'm not expensive....I'll take an Apple Watch, Amazon gift card, pound notes, loose change, bad checks, anything.   Do I have to come right flat out and tell you everything?

Serious inquiries only!

Eleven Things Attendees Should NOT Be Doing at #SHRM16

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, May 31, 2016

In less than a month, individuals will be heading to Washington DC to attend the 2016 SHRM Annual Conference.  This will be my 16th straight SHRM Annual Conference, and, based on my years of experience, here are the things you do NOT want to do while attending.

1.  Do NOT avoid drinking water
AccuWeather predicts temperatures in the high 80s/low 90s (Farenheit) during the conference.  Given the significant amount of walking you're likely to do as well as the arctic temperatures inside the convention center to counteract the heat, you'll need all the H20 you can handle.  Bring a portable water bottle and keep it filled and by your side at all times.

2.  Do NOT suffer from SWAG remorse.

The exhibit hall is going to open at 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 19 and you going to be tempted by every vendor with some sort of gee-gaw or doo-dad that you absolutely have to bring back to the office.  You may have already received an inch tall pile of vendor mail and you've mapped out your strategy for maximizing your haul.  You may have even packed light so that you have plenty of room in your suitcase for all the giveaways.  It is free, right?  You HAVE To grab it.  Trust me, as a former victim, you will suffer from SWAG remorse.  It may take a may take a month, but you are going to look at that tote bag full of "goodies" you brought back and you are going to ask yourself why you grabbed that 7th t-shirt or 14th squeeze ball.  Regret always tastes sour.

3.   Do NOT just attend the sessions

You're in the nation's capital.  While there is much to learn in the convention center, your broader education can take place outside its walls.  You have the Smithsonian as well as the Air & Space Museum and the Newseum.  And, of course, you have the sights.  The Washington Monument.  The Lincoln Memorial.  I prefer the Jefferson Memorial....the Weezy Jefferson Memorial, that is.

Such a good husband to George.
4. Do NOT climb the fence outside the White House

Just a suggestion.

5.  Do NOT bring a rollerbag to the conference

I have posted this several times since 2010, and people are still not listening.  Rollerbags are the scourge of the exhibit hall.  They get underfoot, and people are often unaware of the people behind them when toting it along.  Don't be that person.
6. Do NOT get in the way

You make think the exhibit hall is huge, but the rows are narrower than you think.  If you see someone you know, step out of the way, so that others can traverse the area more freely.  If people have to walk around you, you're doing it wrong.

7.  Do NOT be Gwyneth Paltrow in "Contagion"

I know you are excited to be going to Washington, DC, and hanging with 12,000+ of your favorite HR friends.  You may have already spent significant dollars on travel, hotel, etc.  However, if you are even remotely close to being ill, please consider staying home.  It seems I get ill once every couple of years, and most likely I caught something from a sick person.  So, do not be patient zero.    

8.  Do NOT buy your coffee at the Convention Center

I know those vendors have paid high rent and are trying to earn a buck.  However, the lines will rival that of the TSA as you fly to DC.  Get your caffeine fix at your hotel.  Also, the Convention Center is located near a number of cafes.
9.  Do NOT text or tweet and walk

There will be 12,000+ individuals in attendance.  When that General Session with Amy Cuddy or Mike Rowe lets out, you and all your new friends will simultaneously be trying to get out of the hall and head to the next session, the bathroom, or to grab some coffee.  Please do not start walking and stare down at your phone.  I am excited that you have the Twitter, Facebook, or Hootsuite app, and you are using the #SHRM16 hashtag.   But, inevitably, you will run into the back of someone.  This will not be one of those "meet cute" scenarios you see in the movies. Instead, you will likely be called out because that person you just ran into will see your name on your badge.

10.  Do NOT rush the door when exiting your SHRM Shuttle

In the US, when exiting the SHRM shuttles, those in the front leave first and then the next row, and so on in an orderly fashion. Plowing from the back of the bus and pushing aside those in front of you is bad manners. You know we're living in a society...we're suppose to act in a civilized way.
11.  Do NOT wear your SHRM Conference badge at night.

As SHRM notes, wearing your badge outside of the convention center will peg you as a visitor from out of town and a target for crime.  Even worse, many of you will likely heading to one of the bevy of parties that are out there.  Bad behavior might ensue.  Wearing your badge will likely make your name live in infamy as people mention your sordid exploits at future conferences.  Try to drink in relative anonymity and leave your badge in your hotel room.  Sight see, but do NOT be a sight seen. 

So, what else would you tell attendees NOT to do?  Leave a note below, or tweet your suggestion to #SHRM16Festivus.  

Q&A with #SHRM16 Speaker Steve Browne (@sbrownehr)

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Steve Browne is the Executive Director of Human Resources for LaRosa's, Inc. — a regional Pizzeria restaurant chain in Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southwest Indiana with 18 locations and over 1,200 Team Members. Steve has been a human resources professional for 25+ years and has worked in the Manufacturing, Consumer Products, and Professional Services industries. Additionally, Steve is a former State Director for Ohio SHRM and serves as a member of the SHRM Board of Directors. Steve facilitates a monthly HR Roundtable in Cincinnati and runs an internet message board for HR professionals that reaches 6,000 + people globally on a weekly basis.  Steve is also a contributor to CareerBuilder's Talent Advisor Portal and posts regularly on his own blog, "Everyday People."  Steve is also a HUGE U2 fan.

On Tuesday, June 21, Steve will be presenting a MEGA SESSION at the SHRM Annual Conference in Washington D.C. titled, "HR on Purpose! Five Ways to Own, Lead and Integrate HR Throughout Your Organization."

What was your first Breakthrough HR moment in your career? 

My first breakthrough moment in HR was in my 2nd HR job. It was an HR generalist role and the owner of the company I joined sat me down on my first day and told me I needed to memorize the names and jobs of everyone in the organization in 30 days. He said that he and I would sit down on the 30th day exactly and he would quiz me. If I missed one person, I would be fired.

On the 30th day we sat down and he began to quiz me. We had over 200 employees at 3 plants (one out of state) and a corporate office. He quizzed me for almost an hour !! I didn’t miss one. At the end he asked me what I thought of his exercise. I told him it was helpful because I learned who our people were and what they did. Here’s the breakthrough moment . . .

He said, “I did this so you’d know that the only reason you’re here is my people. If you ever forget that, I don’t need you.”

This has been my approach to HR ever since !!

                       Song: "One" - U2 and Mary J. Blige

Is it possible for someone with a long career to still have breakthrough HR moments?  If so, how?

Is it possible? Yes. Is it probable? Unfortunately in most cases, no. People in all professions tend to “settle in” after a long career. It’s easier, it’s had some marked success in the past and people accept it. I think this is a stumbling block for our profession. HR begs people to remain dynamic, engaged and curious. Businesses, and people, change every day. We have to remain alert and in touch with our people. The more we’re in touch with them, the larger the possibility that breakthrough moments will reveal themselves. The “how” for me is to remain vigilant and expect that breakthroughs can happen and I can be a part of them on an on-going basis regardless of how long I’ve been in HR.

You were recently elected to the SHRM Board of Directors.  What has been the most surprising thing you've discovered in taking on that role?

The most surprising facet I’ve found so far is the depth of SHRM as an organization. My experience to this point had some knowledge of the “whole” of SHRM, but now I get to see all sides of it, not just from the Membership viewpoint. I’m fascinated by everything that SHRM has to offer and need to continue to learn how people access things and find a way to make people more connected.

                    "Even Better Than The Real Thing"

What are 2-3 things you would like to see accomplished during your time on the SHRM Board of Directors?

First of all, I want people to know how humbled (and Geeked) I am to be able to serve on the SHRM Board. I don’t take this lightly at all. What would I like to see accomplished? Here are a few things . . .

  1. I’d like to see people who are SHRM members understand the value of their membership so that they are making a conscious personal and professional decision to belong. It needs to “matter” past the paying of membership dues.
  2. I’d like to see the Body of Competency and Knowledge (BoCK) be utilized as a professional development tool for HR professionals as well as be a vehicle for people to obtain their SHRM Certification. It really is an amazing set of competencies that can be applied throughout a person’s career.
  3. I’d like to see SHRM embrace HR pros at all points of their career and throughout their career – from student to retiree, from generalist to specialist, from consultant to vendor. At the same time, move the profession forward while maintaining the solid professional development they offer at various stages of one’s career.

You have a MEGA SESSION on Tuesday, June 21 at 2:15 p.m. titled, "HR on Purpose! Five Ways to Own, Lead and Integrate HR Throughout Your Organization." (which conflicts with my own SMART Stage session...go see Steve) Are many HR professionals not purposeful?  If so, why not?

I think many HR people are “functional”, but I’m not convinced they’re purposeful. I’ve found that doing HR (and life) with passion and purpose is challenging because it calls for an intentionality that is above being able to “do your job.” HR is vital to organizations because they have people. It boils down to people, and it always has. We keep trying to lead with processes, and that is limiting. I think there’s a stripped down way to make tangible, long-lasting impact in companies through HR. The session will hit on these things.

You've attended the SHRM Annual Conference numerous times.  What keeps you coming back each year?

First and foremost the reason I attend Annual is the people. I know it sounds clichĂ©, but it’s real for me !! I love seeing friends and “regulars” who make the Annual trek across the country. I yearn to see the SHRM volunteers and chapter leaders because that has been how I grew up in SHRM. I know the time and effort that people willingly give and I want to make sure that they know that they’re making a difference for the profession. Thirdly, I dig meeting new people from all over the world who also practice HR !! It gets me out of a narrow frame of reference and reminds me that HR happens globally. I connect with new folks because I want them to know someone else “gets them” and what they do on a daily basis.
                                     "Beautiful Day"

What advice would you give to someone attending the SHRM Annual Conference for the first time?  What is the biggest rookie mistake you see?

My advice would be three-fold.

  1. Go to sessions that stretch you professionally so you can grow personally and also help your organization to grow. The technical sessions are good if you don’t feel strong in a certain area, but take a chance and really stretch !!
  2. Be Social !! – Make sure to connect with at least 5 to 10 people you didn’t know before attending SHRM16. Be intentional about it and get to know them and make the connections with them socially as well. (Twitter, Linked In, Snapchat, etc.) Go out to the social events and hang with people throughout the week. Don’t do the mad dash back to your room to catch some TV show. Be in the sea of people !!
  3. Check out the presentations on the Smart Stage. Great content in small bites !! A hidden gem of the Conference.

Rookie mistake ?? – Being overwhelmed by the sheer number of attendees, sights, sounds, vendors, swag, etc. Know your capacity and stick with it. Don’t try to do everything. Take the conference in portions, but dive deep into the ones you choose.

How many people do you hope to meet at the SHRM Annual Conference?

All of them !! Not a joke or an exaggeration. I would relish the chance to meet every person who wants to connect. I don’t want to be overwhelming or intrusive, but I do want to break people out of their Conference mindset that you’re there to just attend sessions. I’ll be at sessions and in the Blogger’s Lounge and in the Volunteer Leader Lounge and at the keynote sessions. I truly enjoy connecting people to others. It completely energizes me !! The more I can help attendees “humanize” the Conference, the better Conference I think they’ll have.

                    "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me"

"Ex Machina" and the #WorkHuman Conference

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, May 16, 2016

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the WorkHuman Conference in Orlando, FL.  Traveling also gave me the opportunity to catch up on a few movies (with 3 year old twins, my movie viewing has shrunk to one a month, if I am lucky).  One of the films I saw was "Ex Machina."
Are we human or are we dancer?
In "Ex Machina," Caleb Smith, a programmer with Blue Book (think Google with a 94% market share) "wins" a one-week visit to the home of the company CEO, Nathan Bateman.  Bateman lives in an isolated, luxurious outpost covering millions of acres with only a servant.  He has also developed the latest in artificial intelligence, Ava; a robot who Bateman wants to see whether she passes the illustrious "Turing Test" by Smith.  For those not in the know, the Turing Test essentially serves to distinguish whether or not artificial intelligence can pass for human.

The movie made an excellent companion to the conference and a similar test could be applied in the HR world.  What characteristics truly make a human workplace?  Words such as recognition, appreciation, happiness, presence, and mindfulness easily flowed from speakers and attendees alike.  Sadly, I didn't hear much about paying a living wage for employees as part of the conversation.

With that in mind, what makes a workplace human for you?  What would make it pass your test?

Quick Takeaways from Tuesday's #WorkHuman Conference

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, May 10, 2016

I'm here in Orlando for the 2nd WorkHuman Conference (subtitled Even More Work and Even More Human).  Here are some quick takeaways from this morning's festivities:

The production has been top-notch

As somehow who has been involved in the planning of the WI SHRM State Conference for the past 10 years, I know the trials and tribulations of putting on a show.  They have done a magnificent job of being on brand, with quality facilities, good food, and stellar graphics for the presentation.  Even small touches have stood out, from a cookie/donut wall and coloring charts and tables, to fruit infused water and a holistic approach to the schedule.

Shawn Achor highlighted the importance of happiness

I had seen Shawn Achor speak before, and he continued to enrapture the audience in the ease with which he translated research into easy to understand practice.  According to Achor, it’s “the joy you feel striving toward your potential.” This potential extends beyond yourself to unlocking the potential in others.  As a result, the breadth and depth of social relationships are crucial to one's happiness.

We are still striving for answers when it comes to performance, recognition, and compensation

As Eric Mosley noted, clearly annual performance reviews are not working.  Similarly, lump sum bonuses given once have a short impact; less than six weeks.  And, compensation budgets for recognition continue to be tiny.  However, I'm not convinced more frequent, smaller bonuses are necessarily better.  Do $50 bonuses given 100 times over the year create more sustained motivation than a single $5000 bonus given once?  Does the 25th time one is awarded that $50 bonus have the same impact as the first, or are there diminishing marginal returns?  


Three Things Vendors Should NOT Be Doing at #SHRM16

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, April 19, 2016

In about two months, individuals will be heading to Washington D.C. to attend the 2016 SHRM Annual Conference.  This will be my 16th SHRM Annual Conference, and, based on my years of experience, here are the things vendors should NOT be doing as they prepare for the big event and the thousands attending:

1.  Do NOT treat students with disrespect

Ideally, every person who walks through the exhibit hall should be addressed with respect.  However, it is inevitable every year that my students will come back with horror stories about being treated rudely by someone manning an exhibit hall booth.  I know you are there to make potential sales connections, and a student is unlikely to be a customer anytime soon.  However, if these students are dedicated enough to travel to Washington, D.C. to attend the conference, they are dedicated to the profession, and will likely be a potential customer in the future.  They are also there to learn about the product/service you offer and what you can bring any HR professional who chooses to buy from you. Don't burn a bridge before it has a chance to be constructed, as those students will remember who did them wrong!

2.  Do NOT offer a booth drawing if it is not authenticI expect to go 0 for 16 in having my name drawn from a vendor for one of the booth prizes, despite having my badge scanned or business card submitted over a thousand times over the years.  Why?  Some (I said, some, not all) vendors offer the pretense of a drawing for a booth prize when, in actuality, they will only choose a winner from a current customer.  That being said, if a vendor is not offering a legitimate random drawing, and are just fishing for leads, what kind of customer relationship are they really offering?

3.  Do NOT offer unremarkable swag

You are going to have a big chance to get your company brand and name out there.  How do you want it to be remembered? Do you want it to be forgotten a week after the conference when the attendee is cleaning out his or her travel bags and asks, "why did I grab that?!??!"  So, how can you avoid this scenario? Pens, shirts, squeeze balls (for the kids), and candy are always winners.  But, something that will stick will be flash drives and phone chargers with your name on it.  Just a suggestion.

See you in two months in DC.

The MBTI of Easter - The ECTI

by Matthew Stollak on Sunday, March 27, 2016

While some believe there are 16 distinct personality types based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), I've long held there are 16 distinct personality types based on Easter candy preference...the ECTI.  The breakdown is as follows:

Chocolate Rabbit - Hollow (H) or Solid (S)

While some prefer their chocolate rabbits hollow, I've always felt it was ripoff when you bite into it, and it crumbles.  Solid rabbit all the way.

Reese's Peanut Butter Egg - Pro (E) or Con (N)

Though I prefer the miniatures or the regular cups, a Peanut Butter Egg is always a solid Easter option.

Marshmallow Peeps - Pro (P) or Con (Z)

Some prefer these marshmallow confections, while I think they are awful

Cadbury Creme Egg - Pro (B) or Con (C)

While the shell is fantastic, the stuff inside is disgusting.

That makes me a SEZC.  What does the ECTI say about you?

Happy Easter everyone!

What does #WorkHuman Mean to Millennials and Gen Z?

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, March 21, 2016

In "The Managed Heart," Hochschild coined the term "emotional labor," referring to the effort to hide one's real feelings and display the "right" emotions when meeting with others.  Airline attendants, for example, must make passengers feel comfortable and welcome, even if the attendants are having a bad day.  Sadly, thirty-three years after the publication of the book, many employees are still expected to behave this way at work.  Acting in this fashion, however, is the antithesis of working human, particularly for Millennials and Gen Z.

Embracing a #WorkHuman perspective is crucial to attracting and retaining this cohort.  How does this work in practice?

1.  Provide meaning and value to employees.  

The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey indicates that "Millennials seek employers with similar values; seven in 10 believe their personal values are shared by organizations for which they work."  Yes, all employees want meaningful work, but with Millennial loyalty at an all time low, younger workers will not hesitate to depart an organization where their values are not aligned.

2.   Invest in an employee's personal development

Organizations already have dedicated a significant amount of resources into employees, from recruitment costs to salaries to office overhead.  For younger workers, this investment is only the tip of the iceberg.  Younger employees don’t want their education to stop once they leave school, and they are loyal to organizations that demonstrate a commitment to their learning.  Combining personal development with a mentor can magnify this dedication even further.  Individuals who plan to stick with an organization for more than five years are twice as likely to when a mentor is involved than not.  

3.  Recognition is personal

Not only do these cohorts can about meaningful work and personal development, but they want to be recognized for the work they perform.  To resonate, recognition should be given in a certain way.  Not only must it be done privately, but it can come from several sources.  Luckily, recognition doesn't have to be expensive; an authentic message recognizing their human contribution can go a long way.

Want to know more?  Attend the ‪#‎WorkHuman‬ conference May 9-11 in Orlando. If you use promo code WH16MS300, you can get $300 off your registration.  And, as a bonus, the first person who e-mails me their registration confirmation ( using the above code will get a free copy of keynote speaker Amy Cuddy's book, Presence.  That's a win-win that even the youngest of workers can get behind.

Is Your Company Hungry for Preferred Grocer Organizations?

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, February 16, 2016

With wellness continuing to be a hot topic, organizations are looking for innovative ways to help their employees lead happier and healthier lives.

For example, how do we get our staff to be wiser or better food consumers? One such approach is the rise of Preferred Grocer Organizations (PGOs). Programs like Healthy Savings encourage employees to eat healthier by discounting the cost of quality food at participating groceries.

If you're familiar with Cartwheel by Target (a personal favorite), Healthy Savings works in the same way. "Each Sunday, your card is pre-loaded with $40-50 of new savings on the healthiest one-third of foods in a typical grocery store."  All you do is shop for the items on the list, scan your card at checkout, and the savings are applied.

Such a program appears to be a win-win for all involved. Since the program only applies to certain stores, groceries get increased, committed customers.  Employees will have an incentive to try and choose healthier food.  Employers will see long-term savings as employees opt for more nutritious items.

Is your organization ready to become part of a Preferred Grocer Organization?

Here's To You, Recruiting Animal (@animal) #TimSackettDay

by Matthew Stollak on Friday, January 22, 2016

Tim Sackett Day began four years ago as a way to recognize those hard working HR professionals grinding away doing the real influencing on a day-to-day basis. As the hashtag suggests, the first recipient was the aforementioned Tim Sackett.  In subsequent years, Paul Hebert, Kelly Dingee, and Victorio Milian have all been recognized.

This year we recognize Recruiting Animal.  To be honest, I've never met him.  That really could be him in the above picture.  But, I know of him.

He seemingly has a birthday every day (according to Heather Bussing), so this recognition is simply the icing on that cake.

He's an accomplished author.  His book, "The Psychology of Job Hunting," as of this writing, currently ranks #1236 on Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Counseling & Psychology > Mental Health > Emotions but ranks number one in the hearts of many. 

He's also a trendsetter. Animal's first blog was created back in 2004. Then, in April 2006, he founded the Recruiting Animal blog. That quickly became the Recruiting Animal Show in March 2007, the first online call-in show about recruiting.  

So, here's to you, Recruiting Animal, on this Tim Sackett Day.  You have blazed a trail that has influenced so many.

You can connect with him here: