Think Fresh: quality over quantity at the SHRM 2009 Conference & Expo

According to Sunday night's tally, there are less than 7,000 attendees at the 2009 SHRM Conference & Expo in New Orleans.

Less than 7K. That's less than half the number of folks who attended the past two shows.

But I gotta tell you, it's been more of a blessing than a N'awlins voodoo curse.

Ninety-eight percent of the HR suppliers we've spoken to (many of which are clients or prospects) are very happy with the quality of the attendees; they are more senior and have come with an agenda, even shopping lists, and they are engaging in fresh thinking conversations (I loved the Flavia booth with the "Think Fresh" theme at the top). This is unprecedented; usually in the past there have been way too many junior HR folk clammering for the goodie bags and giveaways. (No offense junior HR folk - someday some of you will be senior.)

Because most travel budgets have been slashed, companies sent their more senior HR managers, directors and VP's and did not send as many junior HR reps. Also, it's true that many companies have laid off HR staff so in some cases all that is left are the senior HR executives who attended.

For those who didn't already know, we exhibited at SHRM this year under the name of our new company that bought called Come by our booth #2823 today before the expo ends!

And what's great about is that we get to have direct conversations with HR folks ourselves.

What's on the mind of HR foks these days? In all our conversations the past two days, it depended on the type of company, but common themes have been employee motivation and retention, health and financial wellness and education, training and development of managers, leadership development and succession planning. With many companies laying off staff, they need to find a way to reward, motivate and retain those employee's left behind who often have increased workloads.

However, there were a few that indicated they were looking to replace and/or purchase for the first time talent acquisition or talent management systems, so again that's good news for the HR marketplace! Maybe the NOLA swelter helped to thaw the freeze.

We'll see you all in San Diego next year for SHRM 2010!

Post by Kevin Grossman (join me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn)

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