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Pearls of Wisdom from SHRM22

Cause the epfo conference and expo in san diego, california.
​Attendees at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2022 in New Orleans. Photo by Sam Segal.

Former employment attorney and author Jathan Janove writes for SHRM Online on how to inject greater humanity into HR compliance. He welcomes your questions and suggestions for future columns. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column.

From employee turnover to mental health, HR professionals face massive challenges—and massive opportunities to Cause the Effect in their workplaces and the world.

Last week at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2022 (SHRM22) in New Orleans, thousands of HR professionals received numerous nuggets of valuable advice. Here's an overview of several of them—one pearl per program.

  • "Become an InfluenceHR: Six Principles Guaranteed to Increase Your Persuasiveness," presented by Brad Karsh. Get people to agree to one small thing first; it increases the likelihood they'll agree to a second, larger request. "Would it be OK if I research some options that allow us to achieve more of that (the positive)?" This tees you up to achieve your larger objective.

  • "Feedback Fears? Facilitate a Feedforward Frenzy!" presented by Tina Schust Robinson. We can't change the past, but the future is limitless. Help your people unleash what is possible. "Feedforward" is a concept pioneered by New York Times bestselling author Marshall Goldsmith. Instead of telling employees what they did wrong, suggest future improvement.

  • "What Does Your Organization Trade On: Building Stronger Female Diversity into Your Organization's Leadership Pipeline," presented by Francine Parham. Diversity is not a grassroots initiative or program, it's a leadership imperative. Assess your leadership pipeline. That means see the progression of the individual. Ask to whom they report. See if those jobs are trending toward a specific leadership opportunity or other desired objective. If not, rework the pipeline.

  • "Now Is the Time for Quiet Men: Tapping Male Introverts' Superpowers for Inclusion and Success," presented by Jennifer B. Kahnweiler and Ed Frauenheim. In our fast-paced focus on fairness, now is the time to unleash the potential of the quiet introverted men in your workplace to showcase their talents and contributions.

  • "SHIFT: A Framework for Transformational Cultural Change in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging," presented by Nicole Yeldell Butts. The primary issue is setting a North Star. You must have a North Star for yourself as a diversity, equity and inclusion professional and help your organization develop one as well. Without that, you have nothing to navigate toward. Know where you want to go first, then everything else follows.

  • "Post-Traumatic (Stress) Growth: Emerging Stronger from Challenging Times," presented by Dennis Alan Davis. Positivity, like negativity, is emotionally contagious. The overwhelming majority of our employees will follow our lead toward growth when we show them how.

  • "Mastering Ethical Leadership and Sustaining a Moral Workplace," presented by Paul Falcone. Making ethics personal and building your ethical leadership brand is more important than ever. Working for transparent, ethical leaders tops Millennials' list of priorities. And when it comes to real-life applications of ethics in the workplace, remember that you have a lot more discretion to act and escalate on conduct-based infractions than on performance or attendance transgressions. Know your rights as an employer in creating a fair, ethical and just culture by holding employees accountable for both their performance and conduct.

  • "Cutting Turnover 20% and More During the Great Resignation," presented by Richard Finnegan. Cutting turnover with one-size-fits-all solutions like pay, benefits and survey-driven fixes is out. Cutting turnover with the following components is in: converting turnover to dollars; developing retention goals; training managers to conduct stay interviews; asking managers to forecast how long each employee will stay; and holding leaders at all levels accountable for achieving retention goals and developing retention forecasts.

  • "Seven Steps for Creating Bulletproof Documentation," presented by Allison West, Esq., SHRM-SCP. Create your documentation knowing that a third party might read and critique it. Is the message clear? Concise? Nonambiguous? Fair?
    Jathan Janove speaks at SHRM22. Photo by Sam Segal.
  • "Employment Law Compliance Made Easy," presented by Jathan Janove. When engaging with a manager on a problem-employee situation, do not begin by asking for "documentation." (Ban the word.) Instead, capture the business case first. What are the challenges the manager has been facing, and what needs to happen from the manager's perspective to correct the situation? Thereafter, you can move into compliance/claim prevention mode.

  • "Excellence Is Earned: Best Practices in Developing Yourself and Your Teams into Winners," presented by Walter Bond. It's all about mindset! HR professionals sometimes make human resources way too complicated. Our job is to find talented individuals, help them develop and get them to work together as a team with a focus on winning.

  • " 'Don't Take My Stuff!'—Protecting Your Business with Restrictive Covenants, Even Though States Are Making It Harder," presented by Gregory J. Hare. Prudent companies historically have implemented legally binding agreements to protect their business goodwill, including nondisclosure clauses to protect trade secrets and confidential information; nonsolicitation clauses to protect their customers from raiding; nonrecruitment clauses to protect their employees from unfair poaching; and sometimes noncompete agreements to prevent former employees from joining competitors in limited situations. The sands are shifting, with many states limiting or prohibiting such clauses, so be sure to update your agreements to ensure your goals are met.

  • "Mental Health, Alcoholism and Substance Abuse—Issues Employers Cannot Ignore," presented by Lara de Leon. HR is on the front line when it comes to working with employees and managers on these issues. To handle them defensibly and with empathy, we need to act with objectivity and a solution mindset—and not fall prey to myths, stereotypes and misperceptions.

  • "Shifting Mental Health Awareness into Action in the Workplace," presented by Arianna Huffington and Melissa Anderson, SHRM-CP. What we do about accumulated stress can lead to depression and other mental health issues. Just getting stuff done is no longer enough! When employees enjoy what they are doing, that's important. Sleeping, eating healthy, moving, feeling connected and monitoring time on your cellphone are interconnected steps that allow you to more than just perform but to THRIVE.

I wish to thank the following SHRM22 speakers for their contributions to this column: Melissa Anderson, Walter Bond, Nicole Yeldell Butts, Dennis Alan Davis, Lara de Leon, Paul Falcone, Richard Finnegan, Ed Frauenheim, Gregory J. Hare, Arianna Huffington, Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Brad Karsh, Francine Parham, Tina Schust Robinson and Allison West.

I'd also like to thank my colleagues Kimberly Gonsalves and Aaron Wheeler for helping me collect pearls.

Jathan Janove, J.D., is the author of Hard-Won Wisdom: True Stories from the Management Trenches (HarperCollins/Amacom, 2017). He is president of the Oregon Organization Development Network and was named in Inc. magazine as one of the Top 100 Leadership Speakers for 2018. If you have questions or suggestions for topics for future columns, write to


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