SHRM Hawaii State Conference explores change management in turbulent times.

On Friday, October 14, SHRM Hawaii hosted its first in-person State Conference since the pandemic started. The information-packed program delivered outstanding content, stellar speakers, and networking opportunities for attendees to talk about practical solutions to a myriad of issues, changes, and challenges in the post-pandemic workplace.

Influencing with Authority

The program keynote delivered a spirited conversation with Valerie Grubb, Founder of Val Grubb & Associates. She presented an interactive, engaging, and often humorous discussion on how HR leaders can get results when they don’t have direct authority. One way to overcome people’s natural resistance to change is mitigating fear and appealing to the WIIFM (whats-in-it-for-me) factors to get buy-in from most employees.

Val emphasized the importance of working with different people within the organizational structure so they can see their individual place in the vision and get on board with the “why” vital changes are necessary. This included adapting to different social and communication styles and framing the discussion in the best way for each person to hear it.

To gain credibility as a leader and facilitate what needs to happen, people need to feel respected and assured that they can put their trust in the Human Resources Department.

Val outlined a 7-step process for leading organizational change, starting with how HR can build a coalition of leaders to help others adapt. She noted how Blockbuster and Blackberry are examples of what happens when a company fails to change. She also offered examples of successful change management, like how Barnes and Noble reinvented its customer experience to better compete with Amazon.

To thrive in a state of constant change, organizations must develop a constancy of Purpose, listen, react and adapt — and recognize that change is never, ever done.

Religion and LGBTQ+ Rights at Work

One of the most thought-provoking breakout sessions was a panel discussion on how employers can resolve issues around religious beliefs to create a more accepting, tolerant, and respectful workplace.

Moderated by Makana Risser Chai, Principal at Respectful WorkSpace Training with a background in Employment Law and creating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion strategies, the conversation touched on examples of State and Federal cases.

Speakers CarolAnn Nakamoto, Director of Human Resources at the YMCA of Honolulu, and Celia Remillard, Staff Leader at the Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Center, shared personal experiences around the conflict of religious freedom and civil rights. This included stories about how one employee did not want to participate in the company-wide celebration of Pride Week, claiming religious exemption, and another worker who prominently displayed Bible Verses at her desk as an expression of Free Speech that was deemed offensive by some co-workers.

The key ideas that resonated throughout the conversation were the need for Respect, Empathy, and Compassion.

As the lines between work and life continue to blur, conflicts between deeply personal and strongly held beliefs in gender identity, sexual orientation, and religious convictions are spilling into political views and corporate culture. On the one hand, employers encourage people to come to work as their whole and natural selves. On the other hand, Human Resources is called upon to reconcile the conflicts that result when personal morals and values clash.

Reinventing your Employee Value Proposition to Attract New MVPs

In another popular breakout session, Tupu Savaiigaea, HR Business Partner at Aloha Air Cargo, moderated a panel discussion on how to attract top talent across multiple generations and keep your Most Valuable People engaged to boost retention.

Panelists Todd Nacapuy, CIO and Director of Technology Consulting Services at Accuity LLP, Marie Kumabe, Principal and Owner of Kumabe HR, and Lorraine DuqueReyes, Human Resources Manager at Young Brothers, covered a wide range of viewpoints on how to brand your organization and differentiate your company.

Highlights covered ideas on how to successfully manage people in the remote and hybrid workplace, find a “bigger pond” to fish in for new talent and “grow your own” talent pools via internships and career pathing, and most importantly, how to stay human-centric in an increasingly automated recruiting and hiring process.

There was a strong consensus around how to engage employees as Brand Ambassadors and the need for transparency and truth in advertising. The employment brand must match the reality of the company culture and workplace.

The panel also touched on the fact that employees have a new view of each job as a “tour of duty” rather than a lifelong career. Today’s job seekers want to talk about how they can contribute, what they can accomplish, and how they can achieve the organization’s goals. Human Resources can lead the way in managing the careers of the MVPs who seek opportunities for learning and professional growth.

HR Legal Update

A mega-session Legal Update presented by Christine “Kiki” Belcaid, a senior managing associate at Dentons, the largest law firm in the world, and Lauraine Bifulco, President/CEO and Principal Consultant at Vantaggio HR, provided vital information on critical 2022 changes in Employment Law. Video clips and interactive Q&A dug deep into the details from both sides of the hottest HR issues.

Roundtable Discussions and Networking

The conference concluded with a variety of subject matter discussions and networking over beverages and snacks.

One of the main take-aways from the Conference is how HR leaders must always use the 4-C’s of effective communications when creating a path for growth and change, and that’s to be: Consistent, Captivating, Clear, Concise.

The biggest lesson learned is the increased need to keep the “humanity” in Human Resources through fostering a company culture of Respect, Trust and Compassion.