By Jack Bruce, PHR VP of GEMs, SHRM-Atlanta
If you missed the GEMs of SHRM-Atlanta in July you should be kicking yourself. The heat, humidity and storms did their best, but nothing could stop the eigh
t SHRM-Atlanta Geographical Emphasis Meetings (GEMs) from serving up a delicious menu of HR networking and educational delights.
The July GEMs began with one of the most intriguing presentations I have heard since joining SHRM-Atlanta 7 years ago. Dana A. Clark, President of Organizational Talent Solutions, traveled from Washington D.C. to speak to the North Fulton GEM on the topic Detecting Deception for the HR Professional. Drawing on her experience as the Operational Psychologist with the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) and Chief Psychologist with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, she shared the importance of detecting deception during the hiring process. She gave us multiple ideas on how to detect deception, whether during an interview or seeking to determine the guilty party in a workplace theft.
HR professionals needing a greater understanding of Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs) and Qualified Medical Child Support Orders (QMCSOs) were not disappointed with the presentation by William J. Cantrell, with Mazursky Constantine, at the Midtown GEM. This presentation on some of the lesser known regulations pertaining to employee benefits was insightful and provided guidelines that, if followed, could save organizations a tremendous amount of money resulting from fees and judgments.
Attorney Dara DeHaven of Ogletree Deakins informed participants at the Buckhead GEM of the impact of new regulations from the EEOC regarding the consideration of arrest and conviction records of job applicants. “Individualized Assessment” was the key word in dealing with criminal records. Some HR professionals were shocked to hear that the EEOC now recommends employers not ask about convictions on job applications. Several of us left with a realization that we need to update our application and interviewing processes.
With an expansive view of Atlanta as the backdrop, the attendees at the quickly growing Cobb GEM heard from attorneys Adriana Midence and Jonathan Spitz of Jackson Lewis LLP. The topic of HR and Technology provided opportunity for HR professionals to apply best practices and conform to the law in such areas as Electronic Onboarding, Background Checks and Recruiting with Social Media. Recent developments of the NLRB were also discussed. It was this latter topic that left a few of us “freaked out” as we learned of the freedom employees have in badmouthing supervisors, management and company practices—even to customers and online through social media! Attendees returned to their offices the next day to begin updating employee handbooks.
The Gwinnett GEM drew the largest attendance of our GEMs in July. Before the meeting started there was a buzz as participants networked and made new friends. When Heather Stagl of Enclaria spoke, she addressed Leading Change from the Middle. Here, HR professionals learned they can be Change Agents by influencing change even when they may not have direct authority. Heather shared how as Middle Managers in the organization, HR can influence change by providing advice, information and feedback to the Leader. Complimenting the presentation was the energetic audience participation.
The Airport GEM, located near the world busiest airport with a new international terminal, was the perfect location for the topic of “Developing a Global Workforce.” Steve Spires of Outplace Solutions shared about the four forces of Globalization: Immigration, Outsourcing, Technology and Foreign Direct Investment. Steve provided ample information to support the view that diverse teams excel over homogeneous teams in organizations around the globe. Participants also learned how the number of U.S. companies on the Fortune 500 dropped from 179 in 2000 to 133 in 2012; The number of Chinese companies on the list grew from 10 to 55 over the same period. Furthermore, attendees were intrigued to discover how U.S. companies now create more jobs outside of the U.S. than at home.
“Thank You for Thanking Me: The Power of Recognition” was the title of the presentation at the Perimeter GEM and delivered by Katie Lange Stone of Fallon Benefits. It is a standard theme within HR on how recognition is key to employee performance. Seventy percent of organizations have at least some type of recognition initiative in place. In this session, however, there was an emphasis on how recognition is something that should take place on the very first day a new employee joins the organization. Furthermore, noting how employees will differ in how they prefer to be recognized, it was suggested that employers consider the ages of the workforce and individual preferences before implementing recognition programs.
On the last day of July the SHRM-Atlanta GEMs completed the circuit with the Rockdale GEM. In addition to a full breakfast, participants were fed a presentation by Randy Ross of Enthusiasm. As he spoke on “Engaging and Retaining Top Talent,” Randy advised employers to remember how every employee is a free agent—they are free to leave if they so choose. Defining employee engagement as “keeping your heart and your head in the game,” he emphasized how employee and customer experience cannot be viewed separately as they are intricately linked.
The next round of GEMs will be in September. Don’t find yourself reading about the GEMs in October and regretting you missed participating. Check out the SHRM-Atlanta events page now for the upcoming dates, locations, topics and speakers. We look forward to seeing you in September for one of our SHRM-Atlanta GEMs.
Jack W. Bruce, Jr., as Chief Operating Officer at BIS Benefits, (Alpharetta, GA), provides general oversight in Finance, HR, Operations, Team Building & Strategic Management for this employee benefits firm. His role is to continually lead the firm by proactively enhancing the service, communications, human resource assistance, and technology for the benefit of their clients. Jack has earned a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) designation. Jack has a few connections on LinkedIn and also enjoys an occasional tweet (Twitter: www.Twitter.com/jackwbruce & www.Twitter.com/BISbenefits. He is a member of the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and SHRM-Atlanta—where he serves in a volunteer position as Vice-President of GEMs.