David Brown

David works on the Bonusly marketing team leading employee engagement and HR industry events. David cares deeply about improving the employee experience and believes that organizations around the globe can take a proactive role in making a difference for their teams.

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As a business leader, you want to be ready to meet challenges as they arise and weather difficult times. But who could have predicted—let alone prepare for—the global events unfolding in recent years?

The pandemic and its economic reverberations reveal the limitations of even the best-laid plans. Forecasting is still important, but there’s simply no way you can ever fully gauge what lies ahead.

Instead, by building resilient, engaged teams, you can help create an organization capable of adapting and thriving in the face of continuing change. Read on to find out why resilience is so important and how you can best support members of your team in developing it.    

Why does resilience matter?

When employees are resilient, they’re able to withstand and recover from challenging circumstances. They’re also more likely to be engaged in their efforts, which translates into greater productivity and a far happier workplace.

In short, engaged employees—those with a psychological commitment to a team, organization, and/or role—are a powerful engine for growth and a vital competitive advantage.

And when they aren’t engaged? It isn’t just costly in terms of organizational morale. Each year, companies spend trillions covering the costs of lost productivity and employee turnover.


Learn more about the connection between employee engagement and resilience:




What does resilience look like at work?

When it comes to resilience at work, you probably know it when you see it. But you may not be seeing it as much as you’d like. A recent research study by MIT Sloan Management Review categorized just 14% of participating workers as fully engaged and only 15% as highly resilient.

How can you, as a leader, encourage and nurture characteristics that are so vital for success but also so seemingly rare? Let’s start by exploring several key aspects of resilience and engagement at work: safety, trust, purpose, and progress.


1. Safety

An underlying sense of psychological safety is the critical foundation for resiliency and engagement on teams in the workplace. If employees don’t feel comfortable speaking up or taking risks because they fear negative consequences, they won’t sound the alarm when something is going wrong and they’re far less likely to develop innovative solutions.

When employees feel safe within a team, however, they feel free to:

  • Proactively bring up issues before they become larger problems.
  • Take smart risks to address challenges.
  • Learn from failure and continue moving forward.

2. Trust

The numbers are in: employees who completely trust their team leaders are 14 times more likely to be fully engaged in their work. And when they completely trust their colleagues, team leader, and senior leaders, they’re 42 times more likely to be highly resilient.

It makes sense, after all. If employees aren’t spending time and energy worrying about the direction their team is going or their place within it, they’re free to focus on the work at hand. And it’s far easier to endure challenging times and bounce back when they believe they can count on support from leadership.


Understanding the business case-Blogimage2x-1


3. Purpose

It’s easy to understand why a sense of purpose is so essential in the workplace. Decades of research suggest that people have an inherent desire for significance and meaning in their work. And when they do believe that their efforts matter, they’re four times more likely to be engaged, motivated, and fulfilled.

Research also shows that, although most leaders understand just how important purpose is as a motivating factor, far fewer are actually fostering it on their teams. In a recent survey, 79% of participating leaders agreed that connecting people with an inspiring purpose is critical for success, but only 27% actively address it. 


4. Progress

A sense of progress might look slightly different for each member of your team, but it’s crucial. For one person, progress may mean advancing on a career path; for another, it may be developing new skills or facing a new set of challenges.

One thing is clear: employees feeling stuck in their roles aren’t engaged or resilient. Promotions are the most visible indicator of progress and they’re important in many environments. But opportunities for learning and development—including the chance to take on new projects or assignments—can also be key in fostering a sense of progress and growth within an organization.


Find out more about why safety, trust, purpose, and progress are so crucial in the workplace:


How can you foster resilience as a leader?

The good news? Resilience isn’t a trait that some people are born with and others aren’t. As a leader in your organization, you can support your team members in developing this quality over time.

The small things matter . . . a lot

To foster greater resilience on your team, you don’t have to launch a major initiative with quarterly check-ins and KPIs. Cultivating real resilience has more to do with small, meaningful moments: encouraging team members to take time off, letting them know that support is readily available, or recognizing hard work and adaptability, for example. 

Over time, these moments can help build a strong foundation of resilience, both within individual employees and your larger team. Think of it as putting deposits into a bank account for the future—when unforeseen challenges arise, you can draw on your team’s balance to help weather the storm.


Ensure diverse viewpoints and safety

When your team operates from a broader knowledge base, you can view problems from more angles and tap into a wider range of ideas to solve them, boosting overall adaptability and resilience.  

This means not only ensuring that your teams include employees offering diverse experiences and viewpoints—it also requires you to create the psychological safety necessary for all team members to fully participate and contribute. 




Workplace flexibility goes a long way

When a team has rigid policies dictating when and where employees need to be working, morale tends to suffer. Conversely, when a leader allows for greater autonomy, flexible hours, and remote work — trusting team members to get work done when and where they need to — employees are typically more empowered, energized, and ready to tackle whatever comes their way.  


Start where you are

If you’re not sure where to begin in fostering greater resilience, start by assessing your team:

  • Do team members regularly voice concerns and raise potential issues?
  • Are they comfortable taking measured risks when necessary?
  • Are they encouraged to learn from their mistakes and continue moving forward?
  • Do they know why their work matters in a larger organizational context?
  • Do they have opportunities for learning, development, and career advancement?
  • Can they count on you for support, encouragement, and recognition?
  • Do team discussions typically include a range of viewpoints and ideas?
  • Do team members have autonomy and flexibility in the way they work (flexible hours and remote or hybrid work options)?  

It may also be helpful to survey team members as part of your assessment to better understand ways for your group to evolve. For example, if learning and growth opportunities are important, find out what type of opportunities matter most. Classes? New projects? Assignments in different areas of your organization?




Drive greater employee engagement with Bonusly

No matter where you are on the path to a more resilient team, Bonusly can help. Our 360-degree platform makes it fun and easy for employees to recognize and award small bonuses to each other, adding up to meaningful rewards. And when you create a culture of recognition and rewards, you create a more engaged organization.  

Find out how Bonusly can boost your team’s engagement

Learn more about fostering resilience within your organization by downloading our complete guide today. 👇


When a global pandemic brought our world to a stop back in 2020, along with it went the hundreds of HR conferences that happen each year. One thing we learned from 2022 is that in-person events and conferences are BACK! You could feel the excitement from the various attendees, exhibitors, and event organizers at conferences this year.

As the leader in employee recognition software, we’ve been hard at work researching the best events of 2023 to attend and we hope to see you there. Check out our list of 13 HR conferences coming up in 2023, as well as some tips for making the most out of your conference experience!


Tips on getting the most out of your conference experience:

  • Plan your schedule ahead of time: From keynotes to breakout to workshops and more, plan out what you want to attend before you get there to be sure you don’t miss anything!
  • Take advantage of all the networking opportunities: At each conference, there are plenty of opportunities to network! Be sure to attend all of the happy hours, dinners, and events to meet new people and network.
  • Take notes: Be sure to carry around a notebook or tablet to take notes during the conference. You will be flooded with a wealth of information so be sure to write it all down to reflect on later. 

Are you working on plans for 2023? Set yourself and your company up for success with our free planning checklist!

-> Download the 2023 HR Checklist

Bonusly’s baker's dozen for 2023 HR events:

1. InspireHR West & EmpowerHR Tech Americas

March 6-8 | Oakland, CA

Put on by HR.com, these two events will be co-located for the first time! InspireHR West starts on Day 1 and Day 2 with topics surrounding the day’s top HR trends, issues, challenges, and problems. EmpowerHR Tech Americas follows on Day 2 and Day 3 with best practices for using technology to address them. 


2. Transform 2023

March 27-29 | Las Vegas, NV

Bringing together people-driven executives, future-of-work entrepreneurs, and workforce tech investors, this three-day event includes hands-on learning, interactive group discussions, countless networking opportunities, and the launch of the new Transform Awards



3. SHRM Talent Conference

April 16-19 | Orlando, FL

Between its annual conference and the hundreds of local and regional conferences, SHRM hosts its Talent Conference & Expo each year. At this conference, you will gain new tools, research, and processes to thrive in this competitive market. You will have the chance to connect with numerous peers around the topics of recruiting and talent management, learn how to retain top performers, and explore data-driven strategies.  


4. TriState SHRM Conference 2023

April 23-25 | Uncasville, CT

Known as one of New England’s best industry events for HR professionals, this conference takes a deep dive with HR leaders to discuss strategy, talent acquisition, DEI, learning and development, and more. 



5. Unleash America

April 26-27 | Las Vegas, NV

The UNLEASH America Conference & Expo is one of the top-ranked conferences for HR leaders. At this conference, you will have the opportunity to network with, learn from, and be challenged alongside leaders from the newest startups to large enterprises. You’ll learn about all the latest trends and innovations across the HR spectrum. 


6. Future of Work USA

June 6-7 | Chicago, IL

With similar events in Europe, APAC, and Canada, the Future of Work USA is created for senior executives with a focus on the latest trends & strategies within the Future of Work landscape. Topics include defining the role of the HR and people function, workplace transformation, organizational culture, and so much more. 


7. SHRM Annual 2023

June 11-14 | Las Vegas, NV

The SHRM Annual conference and expo is one of the largest, most significant events for the HR industry. Celebrating its 75th anniversary, the annual conference is a time to enhance your skills, evolve with industry changes, and get the insights and best practices you need to continuously make a positive impact on the workplace. No matter where you are in your HR career, with over 200 sessions, there is something for everyone. 


8. Total Rewards 23

June 12-14 | San Diego, CA

At Total Rewards, you will learn from industry experts on cutting-edge total rewards strategies. You will have the opportunity to participate in workshops and networking events, and also explore actionable and measurable solutions to today's challenges. 



9. Collision 2023

June 26-29 | Toronto, ON

With a focus on the global tech industry, this event is one of the biggest tech conferences and events in the world. This event brings together experts from every industry influenced by tech. You will learn from inspiring keynote speakers, be challenged in small-group roundtables, and connect with others in masterclasses and networking events. 


10. HR Tech 2023

October 12-13 | Las Vegas, NV

Hosting the world’s largest HR tech marketplace, this world-famous conference & expo benefits HR and tech professionals from businesses and industries of all types and sizes. Its primary focus is directed at driving HR success through technology and optimizing current HR systems. At the expo, you will see all of the latest HR tech tools and systems available to meet the needs of your organization. 



11. HR Southwest 2023

October 15-18 | Fort Worth, TX

Another regional SHRM event to add to the list, this event is put on by DallasHR and it is recognized as the official State of Texas SHRM Conference as well as one of the largest regional events for HR professionals. At this conference, you will discover the latest in HR products and services, share best practices with your peers as you network, and learn from leaders in HR during multiple educational sessions tailored to all professional levels. 


12. SHRM Inclusion 2023

October 30-November 1 | Savannah, GA

This conference is for leaders at all experience levels of DE&I and consists of more than 50 sessions, 75 speakers, and three days of networking. You will be given tools and insights that you can use to create a better, more inclusive, and equitable workplace. 



13. Inspire HR

Fall 2023 | Nashville, TN

We referenced Inspire HR West, but this one is for the east coasters! This three-day event covers the latest trends in HR with a focus on upskilling HR professionals and building their personal brand and network. You will be immersed in roundtable discussions, educational keynotes, and exciting after-hours networking events. Read more about our experience at Inspire HR in 2022!



The takeaway

While we aren’t sure what 2023 will bring, one thing we have learned is that HR professionals and leaders are at the forefront of everything that happens in business. There is no better way to stay informed on what HR leaders are facing than by attending one of the above conferences. It is your chance to discover new trends and solutions, prepare yourself for what is to come, and meet peers who you can relate to and learn alongside. 


Are you preparing for the new year? Get your free PDF checklist to help you plan and accomplish a successful 2023 with retention in mind!

-> Download the 2023 HR Checklist

Inside, you'll find:

✅ An interactive PDF that yes, lets you literally check off boxes!

💭 Reflection and planning prompts to align your people goals with overall business objectives.

💚 Actionable tips to improve culture and engagement, recruitment and hiring, growth and development, performance and feedback, wellness, and recognition.

⚒️ Over 10 new tools and resources you can use for free today!

2023 HR checklist mock


Buy one get two free cowboy boots, Battle of the Bands, custom Bonusly guitar picks, and … employee retention. 💚 

We attended HR.com’s Inspire HR in Nashville in October of 2022 and spent time talking with fellow HR professionals about employee engagement, learning from HR leaders on how to better care for employees, and brainstorming with others on how to build company culture.

🏁 Start here: our resource page influenced by InspireHR

The common theme among every conversation, breakout, and keynote was—yep, you guessed it—retention, and all the various ways companies can better care for, invest in, engage with, and ultimately retain, their top talent. 

Let’s break down this common retention theme into three main insights we took away from the event. 🔎


3 insightful takeaways from InspireHR

#1: HR leaders are redefining what employee engagement means

Bonusly’s VP of Product had the opportunity to lead a roundtable discussion around the term engagement. We have seen this word come up over and over again, but what does it really mean? 

In our roundtable, a common hurdle for many HR leaders was how to engage their employees in this new work environment where offices are beginning to open back up, hybrid workforces are more common, and employees are working from all across the globe. The old ways of engaging employees do not work anymore and employees are beginning to expect more from their companies. 

We heard that many leaders are going back to the drawing board in terms of engagement. They are surveying and listening to what their employees want and investing in new tools like recognition and rewards programs to help keep their employees engaged. 

Also check out: The essential guide to employee engagement 

#2: Company culture needs to be lived on a daily basis

Another big takeaway from our conversations was organizational culture. Gone are the days when companies can get away with only having their values framed in the break room and call it company culture. ✅ Employees are seeking out companies who truly live out their values and have leadership who exhibit the company values on a daily basis. 

Many HR leaders are listening to their employees and evaluating their company culture to be sure it is healthy and growing in a positive direction. They are using new tools, like pulse surveys, to gather data to be sure their company’s culture is healthy and growing. 

#3: Leaders need to put their people first

One of the biggest takeaways from the conference was the reinforced idea that the well-being of employees should always come first. This can be practiced and shown in a multitude of ways, such as through a company DEI program and by creating a psychologically safe workplace.

KristyAnne Boyd, the head of people operations at Cruise Automation, shared a framework at the conference for creating psychological safety. It involves four stages of safety:

  • Inclusion safety
  • Learner safety
  • Contributor safety
  • Challenger safety

Boyd explained how psychological safety can be something that companies measure and work to improve. People want to work at and stay at companies where they feel safe, listened to, invested in, and equipped with the tools they need to get the job done.

The takeaway

While every HR leader’s path to retaining their top talent is different, one thing is certain: there is no shortage of tools to help do this. 

The expo floor was full of new technologies to improve the employee experience. Each session was filled with new studies and ways to measure the data to ensure we are making the most of our HR programs. 

We are so thankful to have been able to meet with, learn from, and engage with so many fellow HR professionals striving to better their places of work and better care for their employees. 💚

For more resources on how recognition and engagement can attract and retain top talent, head over to our resource page specifically influenced by the topics at InspireHR.

Since the passage of the Stabilization Act of 1942 which temporarily limited employers from raising wages to combat inflation amid World War II, health benefits have been at the core of incentivizing potential employees to choose one company over another. Fast forward three-quarters of a century later and the list of possible employee benefits and perks ranges from four-day work weeks and unlimited paid time off to free massages and wellness stipends. 

All of this comes at a price tag but what do employees actually want? In times of economic uncertainty, and especially when crunching the numbers for next year's budget, how will you determine what benefits you'll provide to attract and retain top talent?

We recently hosted a webinar with broker company, Bennie, to talk about just this. We discussed evaluating your current offerings, starting with core benefits, then exploring the more flexible options. We also touched on the importance of consistently ensuring your benefits are equitable, inclusive, and meet the needs of all employees. 

See our full webinar where we share expert tips to prioritize benefits that actually matter on a budget.

Core benefits

Core benefits are the benefits that current employees and job seekers expect. For most companies in the US, they include:

  • Medical, dental, and vision
  • Short and long-term disability
  • Life insurance
  • Retirement matching
  • Paid time off

When it comes to determining the level of coverage to offer, our experts suggest a few options. You may consider traditional plans, HRAs or reimbursement plans, or EAP programs designed to help employees address personal challenges that may be affecting their performance. Working with an employee benefits broker to help weigh available alternatives can be extremely helpful in choosing health, life, and disability insurance. As you're determining options for insurance and retirement matching, you may want to research what your competitors are offering to make sure your benefits are in the ballpark depending on your budget.

It’s also important to continuously ensure that your benefits are equitable for all of your staff by factoring in cost, flexibility, accessibility, and representation. According to a recent MetLife report, 80% of employers say that meeting the needs of employees across all life stages and the diversity spectrum is a key benefits objective.

employer sponsored health insurance

Flexible benefits

Once your core benefits are established, then you can decide on the flexible ones. These are not expected like core benefits but can be more impactful and meaningful in attracting and retaining star employees. Popular flexible benefits offered today include:

There are also options that come at little to no cost to the company—benefits like remote work options, unlimited PTO, or flexible schedules. Offerings like these help your company stand out while saving you money in the long run, by increasing employee engagement, productivity, loyalty, and retention. In fact, a SHRM study found that flexible and remote working options are critical to retention, and 97% of employees desire some form of remote work. Moreover, according to MetLife’s Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends 2022 Study, 63% of employers say retention is a top concern. If you’re not already providing these benefits, they can be a low-cost, high-impact way to increase employee loyalty and attract top talent.

Other popular flexible benefits include offering things that your employees can adapt to their needs or liking. At Bonusly, we offer our employees weekly GrubHub or DoorDash food stipends that allow employees to eat where and when they choose. We also provide wellness and professional development stipends that allow employees to customize these benefits to their personal and career development needs. With employee recognition programs like Bonusly, employees can save up points and redeem them on items that they need or are meaningful to them. Today, companies are investing heavily in employee recognition programs because they practically pay for themselves when it comes to increased retention, engagement, and productivity. 


employee perks


Now that we've covered different types of benefits and options available, what can you do to ensure you're providing the benefits that matter most to your employees?

5 steps to take today to revamp your employee benefits

  1. Determine your core benefits and flexible benefits you can offer at little to no cost.
  2. Survey your employees on what benefits they would like to see, as well as which of their current benefits they enjoy the most. 
  3. Look at the data. See what benefits your employees use the most and improve or enhance those. 
  4. Talk with a benefits broker about options your company has when it comes to your benefits portfolio.
  5. Regularly audit your current offerings and your employees’ needs, to be sure you're staying relevant, competitive, and meeting the needs of all of your employees.

The takeaway

In the end, when determining which benefits to offer your employees, it’s your choice. However, it's important to remember the domino effect these benefits have on your employees and your company. Competitive, inclusive, and meaningful benefits help keep your employees engaged, lead to a better work environment, and help you attract and retain top talent.

See our entire webinar in which Bennie and Bonusly share expert ways to prioritize the benefits you offer on a budget without compromising employee morale or satisfaction.

This webinar recording includes: 

  • Useful methods for evaluating current benefit offerings
  • Tips for ensuring your portfolio of benefits are inclusive and equitable
  • Expert advice for prioritizing benefits on a tight budget


Now more than ever, it’s critical for your organization to create a culture that rewards, recognizes, and motivates employees. And at SHRM23, the Society for Human Resource Management’s 75th annual conference, you’ll get invaluable insight from leading industry experts on how to do just that.

But SHRM is about so much more than keynotes, workshops, and educational sessions (even though those are world-class!) It’s an unbeatable opportunity to connect with your peers, learn about the latest HR tools and solutions, and—dare we say it—have FUN. 🎊

In fact, there’s so much going on at SHRM that it can be a lot to take in. We’ve updated our annual guide to help you get the most out of your experience at this year’s conference, and we’ve included advice from veteran SHRM attendees throughout to give you the inside scoop.

While you’re at SHRM, don’t forget to stop by the Bonusly booth (#4519) and say hello! We’re looking forward to talking with you about the best ways to motivate employees and boost retention. 💪 

  1. Get ready
  2. Pack thoughtfully
  3. Make the most of your days
  4. Don't miss the SHRM expo
  5. Take advantage of after-hours networking and fun
  6. Keep your momentum going

From the essentials you’ll need on the conference floor to the important documents you won't want to forget, this SHRM packing list has it all. 

1. Get ready!

✈️ You’ve booked your hotel and your flight to Vegas. Now what?

Start connecting

The app. Downloading the SHRM events app (iOS or Android) is a great way to start getting ready for the conference. You can see the schedule, connect with other conferencegoers, check out vendors, and review a map of the event. 

I think the best thing you can do to prepare for SHRM is get the app. The app will connect you with the schedule, the people, the events, the vendors. You can download it early to start planning your schedule (including the Smart Stage and book signings). I love that you can start connecting with other attendees right away – start making plans for coffee, lunch or that drink after the conference.
- Wendy Dailey, Talent Advisor, Sanford Health (@wyndall93)



The Facebook page. Join the Unofficial SHRM Annual Conference Networking & Events Group on Facebook to take part in lively discussions and access a calendar of meet-ups, parties, happy hours, and other networking events. 

Utilize the conference app to pick out a minimum of two sessions per time slot and the vendors you want to visit; join the SHRM Annual Conference Networking & Events group on Facebook to learn best practices, connect with others, and find nighttime events; and follow the hashtag on all social media platforms. 
- Amanda Brunson, SHRM-CP, Radixx (@TheHRPanda)



Twitter. Follow SHRM’s official Twitter account (@SHRM) to see the latest conference updates and get to know fellow attendees online before meeting IRL.

I found that connecting via social media (via Twitter or SHRM Connect for national SHRM members) prior to meeting in real life makes the first encounter much easier. Attendees can follow the hashtag #SHRM or #SHRMBlogger to join the conversation.
- Mary Williams, Regional Manager Business Operations and HR, Harbor Light Hospice (@conmkw)

Envision your ideal conference

SHRM is a huge event, and you’ll have access to far more educational, entertainment, and networking opportunities than you could possibly attend or participate in. To make the most of your experience, it’s helpful to think about why you’re going to SHRM and what you hope to get out of it.

Focus on the reasons why you're attending. Are you more interested in learning from the speakers than in meeting new people? Are you hoping to establish client relationships with new vendors for your company's immediate needs? Alternatively, are you just looking to expand your professional network? Your intentions can guide you in getting the most out of the conference.
- Osasumwen Arigbe, PHR, HR professional (@OsasuArigbe)

Getting clear on your goals and the experience you want to have ahead of time will help you make it all happen when you get to the conference. But plan to pace yourself—SHRM lasts several days, and each day can be jam-packed with activity.

The Annual SHRM Conference and Exposition is massive and, with that, comes a sense of panic for those first-time attendees. Don’t fret. There are more opportunities than you will be able to take advantage of so free yourself of any stress. Take time ahead of arrival to pour over the sessions being offered. Look at the tracks available to you for specific content or itemize your schedule based upon topics of interest. Walk in with a plan! It will help you feel more equipped to attack each moment of the conference.
- John Baldino, MSHRD SPHR SHRM-SCP, President, Humareso (@jbalive)

Key points:

From the essentials you’ll need on the conference floor to the important documents you won't want to forget, this SHRM packing list has it all. 

2. Pack thoughtfully

🧳 When you’re ready to pack your bags for SHRM, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Prepare for varying temperatures—and lots of walking

In addition to attending indoor events—think cool, air-conditioned spaces—you’ll be waiting for shuttle buses and walking outdoors in warm weather. Conference veterans highly recommend bringing comfortable shoes, layers of clothing, and sun protection.

Dressing in layers and wearing comfortable shoes is critical. There will be lots of walking and varying temperatures. Remember to pack a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen which provide protection when walking outside and/or waiting for the shuttle buses.
- Melanie Peacock PhD, MBA, CPHR, Double M Training & Consulting (@doublempeacock)



I plan my attire carefully for warm weather outdoors, but very cool A/C indoors during the sessions—and always bring an extra layer as well as comfortable walking shoes to withstand the 20,000 steps per day.
- Mary Williams, Regional Manager Business Operations and HR, Harbor Light Hospice (@conmkw)


You’ll want to stay fueled and hydrated

Investing in a refillable water bottle is money well spent. In addition to bringing your water bottle, consider packing snacks to help you ward off hunger as you power your way through the conference. 

Stay hydrated. Use a beverage container and regularly fill it up at water fountains. This will help avoid line-ups at retail venues and is an economical and environmentally-friendly option.
- Melanie Peacock PhD, MBA, CPHR, Double M Training & Consulting (@doublempeacock)

Your phone will be vital

Your phone will be your lifeline throughout the event, so take care of it. From finding sessions to connecting with peers to discovering after-hours events, everything will be easier with your phone. Previous SHRM attendees recommend bringing a battery pack to make sure your phone stays charged.

Two of the most important features we highlight every year is bringing a spare battery pack (so you don’t have to continually go back up to your room to charge your phone—and comfy shoes so you can be on the floor all day and all night without dying. If you’re going to important presentations bring a pair of flats for running across the hotel and convention center. No one wants to get blisters day one of the conference.
- Jess Miller-Merrell, Founder & CIO,
Workology (@jmillermerrell)

Wear comfortable shoes, drink plenty of water, and have a portable charger for your phone. Follow the #SHRM hashtag on social media to see what’s happening throughout the event.
- Jon Thurmond, Host, #HRSocialHour Half Hour Podcast (@Jon_Thurmond)


A thorough packing list is key

Download our comprehensive packing list for SHRM to make sure you’re not leaving anything behind. 

Key points:

  • Bring comfortable shoes, clothing layers for a range of temperatures, and sun protection
  • Plan to keep snacks and a refillable water bottle with you throughout the conference
  • Have what you need on hand to keep your phone charged
  • Reference our comprehensive checklist while packing to make sure you bring everything you need

3. Make the most of your days

🌞 SHRM23 promises to be bigger and better than the conference has ever been before, with over 275 sessions offering insight into the world of HR. To help you tackle it all, we’ve assembled a few pointers.

Identify your must-sees

Start planning your days by identifying the “must-see” sessions that you’d regret missing out on. Additionally, map out your “nice-to-haves” and try to include some sessions that are outside of your comfort zone.

Look through the agenda and find your “must attend” sessions, use the conference app, stay informed! Be sure to fit in time for you to recharge, grab a coffee, call home, whatever centers you, so you can keep on going! 
- Jenni Stone, HR Director, Partner, HR Shield (@HRRockStar1)

Map out a schedule and download the conference app. Be flexible and be prepared to deviate from your plans. Build your days around the speakers, sessions and exhibitors that are MUST sees.
- Jeff Palkowski, MHRM, SHRM-CP, PHR, HR Sushi Bar (@JeffPally)


Consider the early sessions

Return conferencegoers recommend getting to the conference center early for the first events of the day.

The 7am sessions are good ones, so get up and get to the convention center on time! 
- Claire Petrie, PHR, SHRM-CP, Talent Acquisition Manager, Remedy Intelligent Staffing (@_strclaire)

Have back-ups in mind

Events fill up, so be sure to have some alternatives to your top picks in mind. Remember that you won’t be able to do everything—plan conservatively and see how you’re feeling each day.

In case the session is packed or not what you thought it would be, you should always have a plan B or maybe even C for each time slot of the sessions to maximize your educational experience. If you do leave a session after it has started, be respectful, and leave quietly. I always sit in the back on a session I may be iffy about.
- Paula H. Harvey, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, GPHR, VP of Human Resources/Safety, Schulte Building Systems (@Paula4Harvey)

Some sessions fill up quickly, and so to maximize your experience, a backup session will be useful.
- Osasumwen Arigbe, PHR, HR professional (@OsasuArigbe)

Factor in walking time and long lines

Expect long lines for popular events and don’t forget that it might take a while to walk between sessions. Note which rooms you’ll be in so you’re not caught off guard by having to walk from one end of the convention center to the other. 


Plan for downtime

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the energy of the event, so don’t forget to schedule breaks for yourself.

 Take time to rest as it can be too easy to get caught up in the activities and burn out early in the conference experience. Remember to be good to yourself so that you can be good to others. Doing so ensures that the SHRM experience will be a sure bet for success.
- Melanie Peacock PhD, MBA, CPHR, Double M Training & Consulting (@doublempeacock)


Have business cards on hand 

Business cards still matter! If you have a great conversation with someone, don’t forget to share your contact information. 

Make sure you take plenty of business cards with you AND make sure you get business cards from the people you meet. If you are in a concurrent session you will be sitting around others in the session. You will have a reason to connect to someone in the future, if for no other reason than to perhaps get a piece of information you missed from the session. Make a note on the back of their card what session you met them in so you can reference that later.
- Michael D. Haberman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, HR Expert, Omega HR Solutions (@MikeHaberman)

Keep tabs on social media

Checking Twitter (#SHRM23) and the official SHRM blog can be helpful in navigating the conference while you’re there. 

The SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition is going to be A BLAST! Jeans, tie-dye and sneakers are perfectly acceptable. Check out the speaker line up and vendors ahead of time to make sure you don’t miss something important to you! The 7am sessions are good ones, so get up and get to the convention center on-time! Use Twitter. If you don’t have an account – make one now! Follow #SHRM and #SHRMBlogger for all the great session nuggets, meet ups and other information. I’ve met so many of my great friends at the annual conference and through Twitter!
- Claire Petrie, PHR, SHRM-CP, Talent Acquisition Manager, Remedy Intelligent Staffing (@_strclaire)

I rely on the SHRM Bloggers to provide extra insights and a sneak peek into the speakers, sessions and vendors: follow the bloggers and also follow the SHRM blog for SHRM posts.
- Mary Williams, Regional Manager Business Operations and HR, Harbor Light Hospice (@conmkw)

Key points:

  • Identify your “must-see” events, but map out alternatives as well
  • Figure out your “nice-to-haves”, including a few events outside your comfort zone
  • Factor long lines and walking time into your planning
  • Give yourself breaks each day—it’s a marathon, not a sprint
  • Keep business cards with you
  • Check Twitter and the official SHRM blog as you’re navigating the conference 


From the essentials you’ll need on the conference floor to the important documents you won't want to forget, this SHRM packing list has it all. 

4. Don’t miss the SHRM Expo

💡Whether you’re looking for tools to make your job easier or you just need a break from all of the conference sessions you’re attending, it’s worth your while to check out the SHRM Expo.

Zero in on a solution provider

If you’re headed to the expo hall to find new solutions or partners, it can be helpful to plan a little in advance. Previous SHRM attendees recommend identifying the issues or pain points you’d like to address and homing in on the companies that may potentially be qualified to help you. With over 650 vendors in the hall, it can be easy to get distracted or sidetracked.   

Make a list of the things you've been thinking about at work that are too big for you or your team to handle, things you need help with, or areas you need additional expertise. Then, when you get to the SHRM expo, ignore all the giveaways, and spend your time looking at and talking with companies that actually have the ability to help you solve your problems. Another free pen isn't going to change your outcomes at work, but the right vendor partnership can make a world of difference.
- Ben Eubanks, Principal Analyst, Lighthouse Research & Advisory (@beneubanks)

There are way more vendors than you can even imagine, so make sure that you highlight those that you know you want to visit, and make time to engage in conversation around your business needs and how those vendors can support you. 
- Kyra Matkovich, PHR, SHRM-CP (@KyraMatkovichHR)


Remember that it’s also an educational opportunity

Your visit to the SHRM Expo doesn’t have to be about finding a new product or solution. It’s also a great opportunity to network with and learn from vendors in your industry.

Yes, vendors are people too and they know a lot about stuff you don’t. Learn from them and connect.
- Michael D. Haberman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, HR Expert, Omega HR Solutions (@MikeHaberman)

As a tip, don't underestimate the learning available in the Expo Hall, hundreds of relevant companies and services to learn about!
- Ben Watts, CEO, wattsnext (@wattsnextBen)


Don’t forget: "You have to get all that stuff home" 😀

Enjoy the conference swag, but just remember—anything you keep, you’ll have to fit in your suitcase going home!

Don’t overdo it in the Expo Hall on the giveaways as you have to get all that stuff home.
- Jon Thurmond, Host, #HRSocialHour Half Hour Podcast (@Jon_Thurmond)

Say hello to Bonusly

We’re at booth #4519 this year and we’d love to connect! 


  • If you’re looking for a new solution or service provider, do a little advance planning by getting clear on the pain points you’re hoping to address
  • Remember that the SHRM Expo is also a great networking and educational opportunity—there will be hundreds of knowledgeable vendors in the hall 
  • Don’t forget that any tchotchkes you keep will need to fit in your bag for your return flight
  • Visit booth #4519 to connect with Bonusly!

5. Take advantage of after-hours networking and fun

🎉The conference and expo portions of SHRM are excellent, but don’t forget about everything else that comes with the experience, especially after-hours networking, and fun.

Count on official events and casual socializing

There will be plenty of official events for networking and socializing, but unofficial meet-ups and get-togethers are also a big part of building relationships and having fun at SHRM! 

The magic at a SHRM conference happens after the expo hall closes. The best relationships are facilitated at 8-10pm, not 8-10am. My advice? Attend after hours events. SHRM usually has a couple official after hours events that are worth attending (and are included in admission). Several larger vendors in the expo hall will also host (sometimes extravagant) after hours events that are sure to impress. But, if there's not an official after hours event to attend...make your own. Don't stay in your hotel room, sync up with a few attendees, and build relationships that will last beyond the conference.
- Brett Farmiloe, CEO, Markitors (@BrettFarmiloe)

You can make so many valuable connections in a short period of time. Attend the many evening networking events sponsored by various groups. It’s a great way to connect with others in casual environments. While the conference is the main purpose for you visit, don’t overlook the fact that there's so much to do and see.
- Jeff Palkowski, MHRM, SHRM-CP, PHR, HR Sushi Bar (@JeffPally)

People at SHRM are primed to connect!

This is your time to get out of your shell! Meet new people, but also give yourself a break when networking gets stressful. When you’re ready to re-engage, jump back in. 


It doesn’t hurt to have a pitch

You’ll be meeting a lot of new people, so having a quick intro in mind isn’t a bad idea. 

Practice your pitch - You'll be introducing yourself a lot. Be ready to tell everyone you meet the following info in 30 seconds or less: Your name, what you do, and why you are at this particular conference. 
- Katharine Zaleski Co-Founder & President, PowerToFly (@KZaleski)

To learn more about conference networking, read Katharine’s post: My 5 Tips for Networking at a Conference.

Key points:

  • Be ready to take advantage of official networking events and opportunities for more casual socializing
  • SHRM attendees are primed to connect, so don’t be afraid to strike up conversations
  • Give yourself breaks when you need them!
  • Have a quick intro in mind: who you are, where you work, what you do, and why you’re at SHRM

6. Keep the momentum going

🪪 When SHRM wraps up, you’ll have plenty of new contacts and lots of new information to share with people in your organization. What comes next?

Stay connected

You’ve just met some of the best folks in the HR industry, so make sure you keep building the relationships you’ve begun! Send a message or connect on social media to let contacts know that you appreciated meeting and you look forward to staying in touch.

Follow up and share the wealth - This is where the real fun begins. Connect with everyone you'd like to stay in touch with on LinkedIn and/or social media - when appropriate, you can use the notes you took to add a personal message that references something unique about the conversation you had!
- Katharine Zaleski Co-Founder & President, PowerToFly (@KZaleski)

Make sure you follow up with the other HR Pros that you connected with and with whom you likely exchanged business cards. Intentionally building relationships with your network is one of the best ways to continually learn and grow. 
- Kyra Matkovich, PHR, SHRM-CP (@KyraMatkovichHR)


Use what you’ve learned

How will you apply what you’ve learned at SHRM? If you plan to create a presentation or write-up for your organization, review and add to your notes shortly after the conference when the material is still fresh in your mind.

Remember that the vast majority of the information you obtained during the sessions will be gone in short order unless you take good notes, refer back to those notes, and write down (i.e., build goals off of) a few take-aways from each session that you can potentially implement when you return to work. Engage in conversations with your senior leaders about what you learned and what may be a benefit to your company.
- Kyra Matkovich, PHR, SHRM-CP (@KyraMatkovichHR)

Give thanks

Don’t forget to recognize your leadership and team for sending you to the conference. Recognition is important!

Key points:

  • Send messages or connect with conference contacts on social media 
  • If you plan to create a presentation or other materials reporting on what you’ve learned, review and add to your conference notes shortly after 
  • Thank your company for sending you

You’re good to go!

🤝That’s it! You’re ready to make the most of your time at HR’s premier gathering.

Is there anything you would add to our guide? Share your thoughts in the comments!

From the essentials you’ll need on the conference floor to the important documents you won't want to forget, this SHRM packing list has it all. 


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