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    Attendees at the HRA23 Annual Meeting

    A Recap of HR Advisory’s 2023 Annual Meeting

    6 mins

    Warm, sunny weather greeted us this May 11th as HR professionals from across the country gathered in New York City for the second annual HR Advisory Meeting -- the largest event of its kind in downtown Manhattan. In speaker sessions led by HR leaders and insightful roundtables with peers, attendees spent the day delving deep into newly emerging HR trends and more perennially important people ops topics, including culture, human experience, family benefits, hybrid work, and more.

    Presentations and discussions covered everything from DEIB and mental health to building compensation structures and empathetically managing organizational change. All those sessions were enriched by the sheer diversity of participants -- professionals from numerous industries, organizational sizes, experience levels, and backgrounds. 

    HR Advisory has nearly doubled since last year, meaning this year's event saw even more diverse viewpoints, exciting ideas, and opportunities to connect with colleagues both within and across industries.

    Whether finally putting a face to a name from the community, reuniting with a colleague they’d met at last year’s meeting, or just making brand new connections, all in attendance were eager to meet and mingle with their peers. It made for a bright, buzzing morning in the lead-up to the opening remarks.

    Danika Davis, CEO and Managing Partner of Merit HR, was back this year to emcee the event, welcoming attendees with energy and closing it all out with a fantastic panel on the future of our work.

    An Opening Keynote Session with a Whole Lot of Heart

    Dr. Price keynote session
    Dr. Nicole Price delivers a thought-provoking keynote speech.

    We hit the ground running this year with an inspiring keynote speech from the founder and CEO of Lively Paradox, Dr. Nicole Price. With humor, heart, and actionable advice, Dr. Price engaged us with her insights into emotional intelligence at work -- and its importance on both sides of employment -- how to bring empathy into the picture from the top down, teaching leaders to “read the tea leaves” when they receive employee feedback, and why it’s so crucial that they do so.

    From fashioning a more inclusive bereavement policy to employing fiction to better teach empathy at work, we learned a number of straightforward ways our organizations might better embrace emotional intelligence and focus on the human experience. Dr. Price left us on a high note, pointing attendees toward an empathy revolution, promising more compassion, inclusion, and success at our workplaces.

    Newly energized attendees left the Forum for the day’s first breakout sessions. Dr. Price’s words had threaded the needle, and the question of how we treat our people was stitched neatly into the rest of the day. We touched on empathy in every breakout session and roundtable, even independent discussions between attendees throughout the day.

    We Learned A Lot, Made Connections, and Focused on the Human Element

    hra23 roundtable
    Attendees participate in a roundtable discussion.

    The day's sessions covered the most trending topics in people operations, touching on DEIB, culture, mental health, hybrid work, and more. Breakout sessions, which took the form of insightful speaker presentations and interactive, engaging roundtable talks, taught us how to design a successful compensation structure, avoid employee burnout, tackle organizational change, and build affordable, enticing benefits packages.

    It wasn’t all instructional, though. 

    At roundtable talks, things got a bit more philosophical. Guided by moderators, attendees talked about everything from culture's strategic importance to ways HR professionals can implement successful DEIB initiatives and keep hybrid workers feeling supported, successful, and engaged. It gave professionals the opportunity to share their specific circumstances and struggles and get guidance, wisdom, and potential solutions from their peers.

    Working Together Toward an Empathy Revolution

    Between sessions (and some pretty tasty meals), attendees got together on their own to connect and share their unique perspectives on the issues all HR professionals face. No matter where you went, there were groups of people to be found, sharing their experiences, asking questions, commiserating over shared difficulties, and offering advice – it was great to see the ever-helpful, friendly vibe of HR Advisory’s Slack community replicated so perfectly in person.

    lunch break
    Annual Meeting attendees talk with each other during a break from sessions.

    Through every session, roundtable, and independent discussion, the day’s theme echoed: empathy at all levels is a must-have for a successful organization. Attendees acknowledged that the road to more compassionate work may not be easy, especially when we’re tasked with teaching it to others, but was worth pursuing. By the end of the day, it was clear the foundation for Dr. Price’s empathy revolution had been well laid.

    “Culture must be proactive and constant.”

    At the Wrap, We Looked Ahead

    closing keynote
    Moderators from earlier breakout sessions look back on key takeaways from roundtable discussions.

    Once breakout sessions had wrapped for the day, we gathered back up in the Forum for a closing keynote session and panel, led by Danika, on the future of work. Three of the day’s expert speakers, Joseph Arquillo, Natasha Ubaldo, and Aaron Hall, joined Danika on the stage to share key takeaways from their sessions and discuss what the future of work holds.

    At the end of the day, attendees left armed with valuable insights into the way we work, actionable strategies for organizational change (and helping everyone cope with that change), and tons of new connections.

    “I can’t do this event enough justice to describe how I felt attending, but I will try. The speakers were excellent, knowledgeable, personable & relatable! The breakout sessions were thought-provoking and encouraging. I enjoyed getting to learn from some amazing subject matter experts. Lastly, I am energized to put what I’ve learned to work in my own organization.” - Jazmine Moore, Human Resources Generalist

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    Looking ahead, one thing remains certain, HR occupies a central role in shaping the future of work as we know it, and mindfully crafting that future will require empathy, community, and collaboration. That’s why we’re so excited to see what’s in store for next year’s annual HR Advisory Meeting. Until then, stay tuned for more great events. We’ve got a lot in store!

    Eager to get involved yourself? Join HR Advisory today! As Bennie CEO Matt Straz promised this year, core membership will always be free. You’ll gain access to an invaluable network of HR leaders, exclusive resources, and in-person events just like this one.

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