Top 10 Quotes from the SHRM Conference … and a Bonus Quote from Jerry Seinfeld

 We packed up the Soapbox this summer and trucked down to Atlanta for America’s annual gathering of all things HR … the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) annual conference.

In no specific order, here are 10 of the best nuggets of wisdom dished out by the speakers to the more than 12,000 in attendance.  (Best move by SHRM this year—turning several of the “men” restrooms at the convention center into “women” versions to avoid the long lines and annoyed attendees). Drumroll please …   

1. Recruiting via Facebook. “The risk of looking at (an applicant’s) Facebook page is much less after you interview them … If you decide not to hire a person based on what you see on a Facebook page, print it out, circle it and write ‘Bad judg­ment’ next to it.”

— Jonathan Segal, attorney, Duane Morris, Philadelphia  


2. No more memos? “I don’t believe in the memo from HR. I believe in leaders being out front … Make sure (managers) talk often and open and honestly with employees.”

Difficult People D

— Heather Faire, group HR director, Coca-Cola


3. Priorities. “Create a ‘stop doing’ list. Work is infinite; time is finite. If you have more than three priorities, you have none … and banish the word ‘job’ and replace it with ‘responsibilities.’”

Jim Collins, author of the business classic, Good to Great.  Collins also said, “ Personality is not leadership. Some of the greatest leaders had no personality.”


4. What is engagement? “Engagement is more than just employees being happy. It actually has nothing to do with being happy … How are you helping employees to see what they do is making a difference in the world?”

— Jennifer McClure, president, Unbridled Talent


5. What to fear in Washington. “Keep your focus on the federal agencies, not Congress.”

— Mike Aitken, SHRM director of government affairs, on workplace laws and regulations for the rest of 2012


6. Preventing off-the-clock claims. “Get a signed statement (that says) ‘I accept the check and hereby acknowledge I have been fully compensated, and my employer has a good-faith intention to comply with wage-and-hour rules. I have not worked off the clock.’ That’s as good as a waiver or release.”

Gregory Hare, attorney, Ogletree Deakins, Atlanta  


7. HR’s role as party/event planners. “You shouldn’t resent this opportunity and instead embrace it. You need to look at these employee events as strategic opportunities to open communication channels.”

Susan Meisinger, consultant and former SHRM CEO   


8. Including video in job ads. “If you’re doing the same thing in the same way as everyone else, why would (appli­cants) pay attention to your job … When a website con­tains a video, viewers spend an average of 5.33 times more time than a text website.”

Lindsay Stanton, chief client officer, Job Search Television Network


9. The first six months. “Every organization has an onboarding pro­cess, whether it’s managed or not … When you’re a new employee, you’re more alert to cues that will help you cope, and you’re more prone to jumping to conclusions … Whatever the company does or doesn’t do at the start will make a big impact.”

Amy Hirsh Robinson, principal, Interchange Group


10. Variable pay. “(If I had my way) merit-based salary increases would be abolished. Not only are they not motiva­tional, they are de-motivational to employees …We have to introduce (variable pay) plans that actually help our managers do their jobs, which is to motivate employees.”

— John Rubino, president, Rubino Consulting Services

11. The death of words …

And a bonus quote, from the great Jerry Seinfeld, during his stand-up act during SHRM’s Tuesday night entertainment: …

“We don’t want to talk to people anymore. You are probably the last group of people—human resource people—that want to talk to people. I salute you … But people love to tweet. Why say a lot of things to a few people, when I can say absolutely nothing to everyone … I remember a time when people were embarrassed that a tweet came out of them.”