A Preview of SHRM 2019 with SHRM Chief Knowledge Officer Alexander Alonso

Who’s ready for SHRM 2019? I know I am. I can never turn down a trip to Las Vegas, but more importantly — nerd alert! — I can never turn down the chance to connect with HR professionals and dive head-first into the amazing, progressive conversations so many are having about our industry.

This week we’re previewing SHRM 2019 with SHRM Chief Knowledge Officer Alexander Alonso. He gives us the inside scoop on the conference and helps break down the future of HR.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

What You Can’t Miss at SHRM 2019

I asked Alonso about what he’s looking forward to at SHRM, and his enthusiasm was infectious. First, he highlighted the conference’s new Changemaker Series, which will feature HR leaders from cutting-edge brands, including Zappos and Universal Music Group.

We also took a lot at the speakers he’s excited about. While we all have speakers we need to seek for our continuing education credits and areas of interest, Alonso emphasizes that we should also take the time to brave the big rooms for the big names. Here are a few of the speakers whose insights he says he’s especially excited about:

Also, don’t forget to check out Alsonso’s talk on pettiness in the workplace!

Pondering the Core Challenges Facing HR

Of course, we all know that SHRM is much more than its annual conference. As an industry leader in credentialing, SHRM is constantly doing research, and it’s especially concerned with the barriers and challenges that HR faces in this time of institutional transition.

Alonso says SHRM has identified three core challenges for HR. The first two are how to manage and customize the employment experience for a multigenerational workforce, and how organizations approach their workforce. Alonso sums the latter up with a question: “How do I strike the right blend between my regular workforce and my regular staffing and talent shortages, as well as a contingent workforce?”

The third challenge is the rise of technology and how that relates to organizations’ business models. Alonso says organizations must begin to plan for the advent of AI and machine learning, while also accommodating the needs of employees.

Addressing the Big SHRM Controversy

At the end of our conversation, Alonso and I addressed the elephant in the room: SHRM’s relationship with the current presidential administration.

It’s a relationship that has generated its fair share of controversy, one that Alonso acknowledges and understands. But he says SHRM feels a responsibility to make itself part of the conversation surrounding work. “If SHRM is to elevate the practice of human resources — and if SHRM is really to serve the work, the worker, and the workplace … I think it’s important for us to be part of the dialogue on workplace issues,” he says. He also notes that SHRM has a relationship with the other branches of government and often submits amicus briefs for court cases.

Alonso says it’s a misconception that SHRM has aligned itself with the Trump administration. “We’ve done quite a bit of work with both parties over the years,” including the Obama administration, he says. “My sense of it, quite honestly, is it’s just us being a part of the important workplace-issues dialogue.”

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

What to Do at SHRM 2019

In just a couple of weeks I’m headed to Vegas! And not just to gamble and lounge by the pool — although I’m very good at that. If it’s June in Las Vegas, it means SHRM Annual, the world’s biggest HR conference. I’m on the #SHRM19 blogger team, and I’ll be documenting my experience on Twitter and Instagram.

I’ve been to SHRM many times over the years, and I know just how overwhelming it can be. The agenda is about a mile long, with information-packed sessions starting as early as 7:15 a.m. If you do SHRM right, the days are long and busy.

In my experience, SHRM Annual doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It’s all about planning, being open to new ideas and new people, and making time for some fun!

This year, I’m especially focused on attending sessions that explore Gen Z and how the next generation of workers will change the way we work.

Here’s the shortlist of events, sessions and booths I recommend flagging on your agenda.

Sunday, June 23

  • Opening keynote: A Conversation with Martha Stewart, 2:35 p.m. in LVCC Halls N3-N4.
  • Following Stewart’s keynote, visit Reward Gateway at booth 1626 to meet a surprise special guest. There will be photo ops, sweet treats and more ingredients for improving employee engagement.

Monday, June 24

Tuesday June 25

Wednesday, June 26


If you’ll be at SHRM, let us know your can’t-miss sessions! Tweet us @TalentCulture.