The Biggest Yard Sale in HR

It’s that time of year right?  Time to clean out the house and garage and get pennies on the dollar for all the crap you bought and now don’t want.  I was reflecting on my visit to SHRM11 last week and that’s what I kept coming back to – Yard Sale.  Let me explain.  The Expo Hall at SHRM National is enormous, unless you’ve been there it’s hard to explain, but it’s a bit like walking through Vegas itself – way to much to look at, and it’s complete sensory overload.  There were literally hundreds of companies selling everything any HR person could ever buy: Insurance (health, supplemental, pet, etc.), Health and Wellness products/programs, incentive and recognition companies, banking, training companies, research companies, recruiting systems/headhunters/sourcing products, performance management and payroll systems, every computer automated type of system you could ever imagine within the HR space – and even some you wouldn’t imagine.  It was a complete mess.

The one question I always leave asking at SHRM National, from a vendor perspective, is the investment really worth the reward for those hundreds of vendors at the show.  Some of the big boys – Monster, ADP, AFLAC, Oracle, etc. I’m sure make out all right – although I could argue they would make out alright even if they didn’t attend. It’s the small players that have a booth on a row 136 in the back corner that I wonder if they even talk to anyone beyond their booth mates next to and across from them during the 3 days the Expo is open.

The other question I left with this time at SHRM was, does HR really need all this stuff?  It’s back to my Yard Sale comment – I think we find ourselves in HR way too often buying for the sake of getting what’s new, when what we have is completely fine and usable.  Does it have a dashboard? Or colored graphs that tells us which manager sucks the most? No. But let’s face it, we already know which manager sucks the most, we don’t need a dashboard or colored graph to tell us this – we just need some “stones” to go tell that person they suck, and to stop sucking.  By the way – not one vendor was selling any “stones” at the conference – although some vendors were giving out alcohol which tends to give you temporary “stones’.

The SHRM Expo is like the Ice Loves Coco reality TV show – you don’t want to watch it, but it’s such a train wreck you can’t keep your eyes off it.  I actually find myself at SHRM giving myself an internal pep talk to get ready to walk into the Expo Hall, and usually finding someone to tag along with me.  It’s like going to buy a used car times a gillion!  Everyone is trying to sell you something, whether you need it or not.  To be more accurate is a cross between the day after Thanksgiving sales and buying a used cars, because on top of all the sales people, you have the HR Ladies fighting to get the trinkets from the vendors and register for iPads – a person not in the right frame of mind, could get seriously hurt!

I brought one thing back from the SHRM Expo hall this year – a clear sense that what we need more of in HR is common sense and not one vendor was selling that.

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