Less HR In HRevolution?

At the end of the recently concluded HRevolution conference unconference  event, Steve Boese asked the audience for their thoughts and insights. Two different people made comments that essentially said that they wished there had been less HR content. One person asked for other disciplines (such as marketing) to be represented, and one asked for more tech-related content.

Those comments peeved me a little bit, perhaps because these comments came not long after I read this tweet from an attendee:






The thing that bothered me the most about this tweet is the assertion that the term “engage” is somehow an HR word that no one else uses.  Apparently the tweeter has never read The Unmarketing Blog (“Stop Marketing. Start Engaging”), or the Brian Solis book Engage!, or heard of the digital technology event “Engage!”

The verb engage has several different definitions, but HR pros, marketers, and others use to word to mean an emotional, interactive experience between people. Thesaurus.com lists the terms “involve” and “engross” as synonyms for this particular meaning, but nowhere does thesaurus.com list the word “participate” as a synonym for engage.

This is obviously because HR pros know that there is a vast difference between an employee who “participates” and one who is “engaged”.  While I understand that buzzwords (or buzz-phrases, like “seat at the table”) are overused, and have myself written against using jargon, sometimes the reason a particular word achieves buzzword status is because it is the only word that definitionally fits the situation.

She may be right about people/talent,  although it seems to me that both are used pretty frequently by HR pros, making “talent” less of a buzzword and more an alternative.

Right after I left HRevolution I attended a workshop in Phoenix, where I spoke on using social media to communicate employee benefits. The terms SPD, SBC, wellness, and compliance were thrown around the room with aplomb. No one complained that the people in the workshop should use words that people outside of HR (or benefits administration) do. No one tweeted that attendees should say, “can’t understand this paper, not  SPD”, or “don’t  get sued, not compliance”.

If you don’t want to hear about HR at an HR event, perhaps a marketing, finance, or technology event will better fit your needs. You may hear some buzzwords, though.


What’s the Purpose?

I listened to HR Happy Hour last night, where the guests Ryan Estis and Don McPherson spoke about “Passion on Purpose”. It was an interesting show, but discussions about creating passionate employees always make me cringe.

I think about the 40 or so employees at United Meat & Deli and I think I know exactly what they would say if I asked them about their passion and/or purpose. They would bluntly tell me that the purpose of any job was to make a sufficient living to feed and clothe their family and take an occasional trip to Mexico. Or Mackinac Island. Maybe help out needy relatives, and buy a decent car. They don’t want to feed their ego and they know they are not saving the world.

Are all of these weighty discussions about passion and purpose really – I mean really – meaningful to the majority of American workers? Tell me in the comments.

On another note, I am guest blogging today for Women of HR. I am proud to be allowed to join them.




5 Favorite Blogs From SHRM11

One of the things I was most looking forward to at the recent SHRM Annual Conference was working on my ability to blog faster and more in the moment. Right now I have a problem writing my blog because it takes me . . .  forever.  I’m too busy thinking and analyzing and considering and deliberating. I intended to force myself at SHRM11 to post at least once every day, and even more if I was able to find something to video.

Since I wasn’t able to attend, I read lots of  blogs and watched the tweet stream as much as I could, because I still wanted to see if I could learn the secret to blogging fast and well. Here are some of my favorites that were posted during the merry madness that was SHRM11. (During means not before Saturday and not after Wednesday).


In a large conference like this, I like someone to give me a paragraph or two about several different topics, so I can get a real overview of the total conference experience. Long, involved posts about a particular session have their place – if you are interested in the topic and like the writer. But telling me about the weather, the crowds, the lines, etc. really gives me a feeling of being there.  My favorite in this category was “Notes From SHRM11 – Day 1, written by Steve Boese and posted on his HR Technology blog.


Attorneys analyze everything to a fault, and I’m no different, so I am a sucker for a blog that takes some kind of fact and scrutinizes it closely. Sometimes I want to argue back, and sometimes I want to jump up and pump my fist in agreement, but the key is that it makes me think. I’m still thinking about this post days later: “The New CEO of SHRM . . . 2011 Version . . .” from Kris Dunn at The HR Capitalist.


A lot of people like to blog about the keynotes and their speeches, and I saw a lot of cool quotes from all of  keynotes. What doesn’t happen as much is translating something a keynote said into a real, actionable “go do it” kind of takeaway. In this category, I like how Charlie Judy, author of HR Fishbowl, took one single quote from Arianna Huffington and turned it into “here’s what to do”  bullet points in “The HR Tribe of Trust.”


Tweeting is a micro-blog, remember? Nobody, and I really mean nobody, can live tweet an HR event the way Jennifer McClure (@CincyRecruiter) can. Based on the #SHRM11 stream, I am not alone in this opinion.


In my opinion, more and more written blogs are going to be replaced with videos in the coming years. I watched tons of interviews, but sound quality and rambling answers made me cut many of them short. My favorite? Not an interview blog at all, but Laurie Ruettimann‘s 2011 SHRM 63rd Annual Conference & Exposition Swag Video. Sure, it’s funny and she talks about a lot of “goofy shit”, but her message about marketing and branding isn’t goofy at all.