HR Virginia 2024 – Leading Through Workplace Hurdles: Session Previews, Part 1

We are halfway through April (already!), and HR Virginia is in countdown mode for our annual state conference.

In the spirit of the Olympic Games, where athletes from around the world strive for excellence, determination, and unity, this year’s conference promises to be a dynamic and transformative experience tailored for HR professionals. The year 2024 marks not only the celebration of global athletic achievements but also an opportunity for HR leaders to harness the same principles of dedication, collaboration, and resilience in navigating the complex landscape of workplace hurdles.

We wanted to provide a brief sampling of programming you won’t want to miss. Here is an overview of concurrent sessions that will focus on workplace culture, inclusiveness, and HR Strategy:


  • The Human-Centered Workplace: Establishing Belonging, Authenticity & RespectDevin C. Hughes Our world has changed, and your organization needs to reflect these changes. By being aware of those around you, showing respect, and appreciating both individuals and their unique qualities, you’ll create the right environment to foster true belonging. Workplaces are increasingly disconnected. It is vital that individuals feel authentic, valued for their contributions, and have a strong sense of connection and community. Leaders must build these environments when their plates are already full. Devin will offer research-backed strategies for building an inclusive workplace culture, implementing best practices, and creating a work environment where people feel like they truly belong. He will explore our role at work and how we can develop empathy and understanding for others’ experiences.


  • Becoming Workplace Gold Medalists: Developing Inclusive Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)Ranisha Speed-Pittman Explore the essential steps in creating and sustaining effective Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) through an interactive workshop. This session will guide leaders in establishing gold-medal ERGs that foster inclusivity, diversity, and belonging within the organization. Attendees will gain practical insights, tools, and strategies to cultivate ERGs that contribute to a vibrant and supportive workplace culture.


  • Making Work Suck Less: Healing Workplaces Through PlayJeff Harry There is a growing animosity between employers and employees that we all have felt these past few years. 85% of staff are disengaged at work, and the phrase “I don’t want to work anymore” is more common than at any time in modern history. It’s manifested in quiet quitting, quiet firing, strikes, and RIFs/Layoffs. We can ignore this problem and hope it miraculously disappears, or we can proactively address it. Organizations brave enough to take this challenge head-on will thrive for the foreseeable future, while others obsessed with the status quo will become as obsolete as Blockbuster Video. This session explores the bold steps we need to heal the divisions within workplaces using a play-oriented approach to work. We will identify immediately actionable strategies to mend the divide between C-Suite executives, managers, and staff. Together, we can choose what direction we want the future of work to go. The question we must answer is: What are we willing to do to create a work culture where not only the organization can thrive but where our people finally become the priority?


  • I Was Happy; Then I Went to Work William T. Lewis   During the first half of the 20th Century, being happy at work was not considered necessary to peak job performance. An honest day’s work for an honest wage was enough. Getting satisfaction from your job or being happy about going to work wasn’t supposed to factor into the equation. However, being happy and having a sense of belonging in the workplace has always been important to the employee. In fact, when employees are happy about their workplaces and they feel a sense of belonging within their workplaces, organizations see improvements in job performance, turnover risk, and sick day usage. This debunks the old-school thinking that employees’ happiness doesn’t matter in the workplace. In this session, Dr. William T. Lewis, a people, and culture thought leader, will lead the participants in a powerfully engaging discussion about how to build the infrastructure for workplace cultures of belonging and happiness. Specifically, we will look at the five mindset shifts (Mindset, Language, Relationship, Behavior, Culture) that HR and team supervisors need to make for happiness and belonging to permeate the organizational culture.


  • Design HR to match Olympic values, Win the Gold in Business ResultsEllen Raim A combination of factors must come together for a team (or a company) to win. Talented people, of course; drive to succeed, absolutely; but it’s more than that.  To show up every day and give it your best, the team members need to feel that they are working towards something important and that their efforts matter.  The writers of the first Olympic charter understood this. The original Olympic values were: “encourage effort”, “preserve human dignity” and “develop harmony”. So, good coaches or (or company leadership) focus on both the playbook and the overall experience. In 2024, the tension between company productivity and employee well-being has never been greater. Examples include the controversy around return to the office, employee fear that AI will take their jobs, pay dissatisfaction because of inflation and manager burnout. And, HR is tasked with developing strategic plans to meet employee needs within business constraints.


This is just a sampling of nearly 70 sessions we have coming to you, with a total of 20 approved HRCI and SHRM recertification credits. Stay tuned in the coming week, when we share more information about sessions related relevant topics in today’s employment environment.


While you are making final travel preparations this weekend, don’t forget about the Conference Toy Drive. Show your support for ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation by bringing a new (in its original packaging), unwrapped, smallish toy for the little ones, or a gift card to Starbucks, Chick-fil-a, etc, for teens. Drop off items at the Anthem Booth. View suggested toys/ items here. These items will fill a treasure chest for the children to select a gift. Click here to support HR Virginia’s fundraising efforts or to join the team.

For a full conference schedule and descriptions of all keynote and concurrent sessions, click here.

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