2021 HR Connect

October 18 - 20, 2021 | Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center, Kissimmee, FL

Pre-Conference Workshops

October 18, 2021
8:00 a.m. - 8:45 a.m.
Morning Registration & Continental Breakfast
8:45 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.
AM Precon 1 — Mind the Gap: Understanding Employee Financial Stress and How Benefits Can Drive Solutions

COVID-19 has greatly impacted employees in the U.S. over the last 16 months, and employers around the country continue to deal with uncertainty about the future. Seemingly overnight, the economy, workplace culture, and employee needs have changed, and employers will need to react to these changes.

One of the biggest shifts is the employer’s role in helping secure employee financial health and overall stability; today, it’s more critical than ever. With budget restrictions and full plates at work, HR professionals are looking for cost-effective ways to help provide solutions to their employees who need it most.

Recently, Purchasing Power surveyed U.S. employees and HR professionals to better understand the impact of COVID on employee financial stress, employee sources of stress, their financial reality and preparedness, and what types of financial voluntary benefits would they want to see from their employer.

Attend this session to:

• Understand the current state of employee finances and how this impacts them in the workplace.
• See gaps between HR and employee realities and expectations.
• Hear what types of benefits matter most to employees.
• Find cost-effective ways to offer benefits will boost business outcomes.

10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
AM Precon 2 — Empowering Differences: Uncovering the 4 Step Process of Empowerment to Make Real Change Happen

Empowering differences is the intentional action of using power and authority for yourself or others while positioning ways in which you are not the same as the people around you. How can you use your differences—what makes you unique—to empower yourself and others to make real change happen?

This session will cover the "4 Step Process of Empowerment" and help you begin to interact with the "Empowering Actions" to leverage change. After attending this session, you will:

• Have a solid understanding of how to use empowerment for betterment of others.
• Have the ability to gain self-actualization surrounding differences that we all hold.
• Be able to implement "use of access" as a core principle in creating more change for others.

11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
AM Precon 3 — Upskilling/Reskilling Workers to Close the Skills Gap at Your Organization

Before the pandemic, employers struggled to fill vacant roles, citing the all-too-real “skills gap” as one of the primary reasons. Despite the high unemployment rate caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the skills gap still remains, and some may argue that it has grown due to the implementation of new technology and remote working arrangements.

How can employers and HR professionals close the skills gap in their organizations and retain top talent longer? One solution is by training your workforce through upskilling initiatives or reskilling programs. Learn the latest strategies for reskilling/upskilling your workforce when you attend this expert-led session.

You’ll also learn:

• How to measure the cost of training current employees vs. the cost of hiring new employees
• How to engage tenured workers
• Ideas to make training easy and accessible
• Strategies for motivating employees to take advantage of training opportunities
• How to leverage training as an employee benefit

12:15 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.
Lunch On Your Own
12:45 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.
Afternoon Pre-Conference Registration
1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.
PM Precon 1 — Employee Engagement Strategies for Distributed Teams

The coronavirus pandemic forced many organizations into a distributed setting in which some employees were forced to work from home, while others had to remain in-house due to the essential nature of their jobs. Offices were closed to help slow the spread of the virus, but essential facilities were forced to remain open, causing a rift among workforces across the country. Trying to engage both essential and nonessential workers has proven difficult. What works for one group may not work for the other. And as we continue to rebound and recover from this crisis, it’s time to question whether to keep your teams apart or bring everyone back together.

If you plan on keeping remote work in place post-pandemic but still have essential workers who must come into the workplace, you may be wondering how to keep these distributed workers engaged.

In this session, you’ll learn:

• The importance of employee engagement, even when teams are distributed;
• Best practices for uniting distributed teams to create one cohesive workforce;
• Tips for communicating workplace safety to encourage all employees to come back into the office;
• Social distance-friendly strategies for teambuilding and employee networking;
• And more!

3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
PM Precon 2 — Mental Illness Myth Busting: Stopping the Stigma

A major topic that is top of mind right now is mental health. There have been countless headlines examining some component of how COVID-19 is impacting our lives in ways beyond just the disease, not the least of which is how it is impacting our mental health due to the societal changes it caused.

One major impact from COVID-19 was the increase in the percentage of employees working from home. Isolation has increased the need for mental health services during the pandemic. Gaining an understanding of this important issue and reducing stigma helps enable individuals to seek the help they need.

While the treatment of mental illnesses has advanced, much of society’s understanding of mental health problems has not. Even though mental illness is incredibly common and treatable, stigmas and misconceptions often prevent those affected from seeking necessary help.

By attending this preconference session, you'll learn about the realities surrounding the most common myths associated with mental illness.

This session will focus on:

• The history of mental illness,
• Identifying employees who may be impacted,
• Busting the myths about mental illness, and
• Post-pandemic considerations your organization should implement for better employee mental health and long-term talent retention.

4:15 p.m. - 5:15 p.m.
PM Precon 3 — Out with the Old, In with the New: Refining Your Benefits Offerings to Attract and Retain Top-Tier Talent

Top-tier talent requires a top-tier benefits package if you want to attract and retain workers for the long haul, but gone are the days of Ping-Pong tables and nap pods; employees want bigger and better benefits. But which ones?

This session will help you understand which benefits your employees need the most, especially when recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ll also learn:

• How to communicate new benefits offerings using digital channels;
• The importance of using employee feedback to help determine which benefits are of most value and which feedback methods will help yield the most results;
• The difference between a one-size-fits-all vs. an à la carte benefits package and which one is best for your organization;
• Cost-effective benefits offerings for those on a tight budget;
• How to communicate benefits offerings during the hiring process; and
• Which benefits help retain talent the longest.

Main Conference - Day 1

October 19, 2021
8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Morning Registration & Continental Breakfast
9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Opening Keynote - Lead Change with Confidence: Your 5-Step Plan

Dr. Michelle Rozen’s powerful blueprint for leading changes has transformed the lives, performance, and success of leading brands in all industries. Her science-based, easy-to-apply strategies have given leaders the actionable solutions and powerful confidence to lead their teams through rapid changes—all the way to off-the-charts results. Join Rozen for this one-of-a-kind actionable and motivating experience, and master the most powerful tools for mind-blowing results as a team, as a leader, and as an individual!

Actionable takeaways:

• Understand change resistance, and get the tools to handle it.
• Master the power of “2-Second Decisions” to transform performance and get the results you are looking for.
• Learn about the C.H.A.N.G.E. Model and how to lead change with confidence.
• Master the most powerful five-step plan for supporting your team through change.

10:00 a.m. - 10:20 a.m.
Networking & Refreshment Break
10:20 a.m. - 11:20 a.m.
The Secret to Recruiting—and Retaining—Talent: Creating an Authentic Employer Brand

The employer brand is an essential component of your recruiting and talent acquisition process. A company’s brand helps define the type of culture that’s in place and showcases what it’s like to work there. A strong, authentic brand is vital for attracting and retaining top talent, and many jobseekers have the uncanny ability to spot ingenuine brands when they see them.

Think about your competitors and their brand. How can you compete against them for top talent? What makes their brand stand out above your own? These are questions you’ll want answers to when you start defining your employer brand, and this session will provide these answers and more!

During this session, attendees will learn:

• The importance of brand authenticity
• Key components that make up your brand
• How to use employee feedback methods to help define your brand
• How to determine who is responsible for maintaining your brand
• What to do if your brand is tarnished by negative reviews on sites like Glassdoor
• How to utilize your brand during the recruiting process

11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Panel: How to Thrive in a Multigenerational Workplace: Fostering a Harmonious Culture

The Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and now Gen Z—oh my! That’s up to five generations of workers in the workplace. You may be thinking, “The Silent Generation? They’re far too old to be in the workforce.” Yet they are, and some are even running the country!

Part-time roles in particular attract a diverse range of age groups for a variety of reasons: Students have the flexibility to attend classes, parents can take care of children, and seniors can partially work while still enjoying their retirement. Look around your workforce—you most likely have at least three of these generations currently working for you!

Each generation has its own preferences, work styles, opinions, and experiences. So how can you get them all to work together effectively and harmoniously? During this session, attendees will learn:

• What each generation values in an employer
• Problems and opportunities created by multigenerational workforces
• How to create a cohesive culture with mutual respect for all employees
• Strategies for building teams across generations
• Collaboration and communication tips that work for anyone of any age

12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Networking Lunch (Provided)
1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Great on Paper: How to Ensure Candidates’ Skill Sets Match Their Résumés
Employment Law Track + Recruiting Track

When a candidate looks great on paper, it’s easy to assume you’ve found the best fit for the role. But once the candidate starts the job and it becomes apparent he or she doesn’t have the skill set he or she claimed to have, it’ll end up costing you big!

According to CareerBuilder, the average bad hire can cost a company up to $14,900 per hire. How can you stop making bad hires and start making better hiring decisions? It starts with assessments and other tools for gauging a candidate’s hard and soft skill sets. In this session, an expert in "all things assessments" will break down the most effective resources for evaluating candidates’ hard skills and the types of interview questions you can ask to better understand their soft skills. You’ll also learn:

• What behavioral-based interviewing is and how to incorporate it into your hiring process,
• How to craft interview questions that reveal candidates’ skills,
• When to alter approaches for the varied skills and competencies needed in an organization,
• How to avoid assessments that may be unintentionally discriminatory.

2:30 p.m. - 2:50 p.m.
Networking & Refreshment Break
2:50 p.m. - 3:50 p.m.
Employee Handbook Updates for the New Year: What to Keep, What to Toss, and What to Think About for the Future
Employment Law Track

One of the most important documents all employers need to have is an employee handbook, and it should be up to date and legally compliant. Why? An out-of-date, inaccurate, or poorly written handbook really can do more harm than good. If you don’t have a handbook, you need to put one in place. If you have one and haven’t reviewed it in the past year, now is the time to do so.

With 2022 just around the corner, now is a good time to review your employee handbook and make sure it accomplishes what you want it to and is compliant with all state and federal laws. There have been many changes to state and federal laws, new laws, and court interpretations of laws that may affect your existing employment policies. The laws are always evolving at both the state and the federal level, and courts’ and agencies’ interpretations of older laws evolve, as well. Over the past several years, there have been a flurry of employment laws enacted affecting employer policies, and you need to be sure you address them in your handbooks.

Use this session to get a jump on what you should update in your employee handbook ahead of the new year. Our presenter, a skilled labor and employment attorney, will provide valuable insight on recent and coming changes in the law that may affect your employee handbooks and guidance on how to effectively prepare for 2022 updates to avoid legal missteps.

You'll also learn:

• Employee handbook updates to be made before 2022,
• How to prepare an employee handbook or audit your current employee handbook to determine how it needs to be updated for next year,
• Examples of legally risky wording to avoid,
• A list of essential policies to always include and best practice policies you should strongly consider,
• Disclaimer language to always include in your employee handbook,
• How to generally craft an employee handbook that meets your organization’s needs,
• How to avoid inadvertently creating a binding contract,
• And much more!

4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Networking Reception in the Exhibit Hall

Main Conference - Day 2

October 20, 2021
8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.
Morning Registration & Continental Breakfast
9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Taking DEI to the Max: Strategies to Kick-Start Your Diverse Hiring Program

While the coronavirus pandemic has turned hiring on its head, jobseekers are making their voices clear that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) matter in the companies they work for. According to recent SurveyMonkey findings, 79% of jobseekers “say it is important that they work for a place that hires people from diverse backgrounds, with greater proportions among women and persons of color.”

DEI initiatives are crucial to an organization’s operations and growth. From a melting pot of characteristics, abilities, and innovation comes the creation of an organization’s most important asset: its culture. And you can't have a diverse culture without having a diverse hiring process. In this session, you’ll get expert tips and best practices for designing and implementing a diverse hiring program that meets your organization’s specific needs.

You’ll also learn how to:

• Target diverse talent through social media and other recruitment avenues.
• Audit existing practices and processes to make them more inclusive.
• Revamp the interview process to ensure greater exposure to diverse candidates.
• Harness technology to improve diverse hiring needs.
• And more!

10:00 a.m. - 10:20 a.m.
Networking & Refreshment Break
10:20 a.m. – 11:20 a.m.
Employee Leave Management in the Aftermath of COVID-19

Employee leave laws, like the FMLA, can cause a major headache for HR professionals, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, employee leave management became a major issue as workers contracted the virus, were forced to stay at home with school-aged children, and took care of loved ones who were also infected with COVID-19.

The FFCRA was put in place to address these employee leave issues, but unfortunately, the law expired at the end of 2020. Despite this, employee leave continues to be a top challenge, and now there are no longer federal protections in place specifically designed to manage employee leave related to COVID-19.

The FMLA can only go so far with protecting workers, so what options do HR professionals have when it comes to leave management in the aftermath of COVID-19? This session will unpack all the various leave laws your organization must know about, as well as:

• How to request documentation from employees who have taken leave for COVID-19 reasons;
• How to accommodate workers who have exhausted their leave entitlements;
• How to creatively approach ongoing needs for leave to help the greatest number of employees while navigating the complex network of new and existing laws;
• How to handle ongoing requests for remote work in the aftermath of COVID-19;
• How to treat COVID-19-related employment decisions in accordance with applicable laws, as well as approach coronavirus symptoms or diagnoses like any other disability and always engage in the interactive process; and
• How to develop an effective method to follow and analyze all applicable leave laws, paying particular attention to the messy intersection of federal and state laws when the right answer isn’t always clear.

11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Mental Health and Wellbeing: The Cost of Not Knowing!
Employment Law Track

Burnout, stress, and anxiety were starting to become common factors in employee turnover before the COVID-19 pandemic. But over the last year and a half, burnout, stress, and anxiety have become even more prominent among workers in all industries and at all professional levels.

According to a health tracking poll from Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly 4 in 10 Americans say that worry and stress related to the threat of COVID-19 have played a negative role in their mental health. Additional data from the American Psychiatric Association reveals that employees with unresolved depression experience a 35% reduction in productivity. And as we know, an unproductive workforce is detrimental to your organization's bottom line.

So what can HR professionals do to help their workers overcome mental health challenges?

This interactive, and highly engaging session will help you:

• Understand the impact mental illness has on productivity—globally and within your own organization.
• Identify signs of mental illness within the workforce.
• Recognize next steps for helping workers overcome mental health challenges.
• Uncover and implement self-care strategies for your workers.

12:30 p.m.
Conference Adjourns
Register Today