How Expensive Will #SHRM16 Hotels Be?

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, October 20, 2015

With the news that hotel reservations are now being accepted for the 2016 SHRM Annual Conference in Washington, DC, I bring you my 7th annual expose of SHRM hotel costs.

To be honest, I gasped when I saw the prices for 2016.   Is this the most expensive SHRM Annual Conference when it comes to hotels?

To examine this question, I look at selected SHRM conference brochures (i.e., the ones that I still possessed) over the past 16 years to see what it would cost a person to book a single room on a per night average.  Clearly, prices in 2001 will be different than in 2016, so I use an inflation calculator to adjust costs to today's dollars.  So, how does the 2016 Conference in DC compare to years past?

Cost of an Average SHRM-Affiliated Hotel (per night: 6/19-6/22; 1 room, 2 beds)
Washington DC (2016): $269.59 (standard deviation of $31.85)
Chicago (2008): $269.40 (sd of $31.01)
San Francisco (2001): $268.68 (standard deviation of $59.23)
San Diego (2010): $257.31 (sd of $44.29)

Chicago (2013): 253.46 (sd of 20.99)
Washington DC (2006): $242.42 (sd of $41.65)
Philadelphia (2002): $228.16 (sd of $61.00)
San Diego (2005): $213.84 (sd of $52.14)
Atlanta (2012): $206.29 (sd of $23.02)
Las Vegas (2007): $174.71 (sd of $33.67)

Orlando(2014): $163.69 (sd of $36.43)
Las Vegas (2015): $142.79 (sd of $22.85)
Las Vegas (2011): $135.09 (sd of $18.74)

Ugh!  My initial sticker shock was right.  SHRM 2016 looks to be the most expensive conference for hotels in 15 years.   Rooms, on average, will cost approximately $127 (+ tax) more per night than Las Vegas (though that will be somewhat tempered by no resort fees).  It is $27 more on average (in 2015 dollars) than the last time the conference was in DC (2006). 

The sticker shock is even more surprising given the sheer number of hotels listed (69); the most ever in this survey.  Of the 69 listed, only two fall below $209 per night (+ tax).  The middle 50% of hotels range from $249 (25th percentile) to $290 (75th percentile).

The cheapest listed hotel in DC ($177) is more expensive than every hotel but one ($179) in Vegas a year ago.

Also of note, many of the hotels do not provide bus transportation to the convention center (though Metro passes will be provided).  If you choose one of these hotels, be sure to build in extra time to make the morning keynotes as the Metro will be particularly crowded for rush hour.

Given the above, be sure to budget a little extra when you make your ask to your boss to attend in DC in 2016.

Why Good #HR Leaders Aren't Worried About the NLRB "Joint Employer" Decision

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, August 31, 2015

Last week, the NLRB ruled in a 3-2 decision that "two or more entities are joint employers of a single workforce if (1) they are both employers within the meaning of the common law;  and (2) they share or codetermine those matters governing the essential terms and conditions of employment."  

As a result of this decision, there was much gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands among my HR colleagues.   This, they say, will make it easier for unions to bargain for better pay and working conditions.

Here's the thing - unions don't exist in a vacuum.  They arise out of dissatisfaction with compensation and mistreatment by the organization.  If you're practicing quality HR, worrying about "ambush elections" or joint employer status shouldn't and doesn't matter. 

Think about the following questions:
  • When the firm is successful, are employees rewarded for their hard work and contributions to those organizational goals that are reached?
  • Are you hiring co-workers/peers with whom other employees want as part of their team?
  • Are you investing in the professional and career development of employees?
  • Is the job designed so that employees are able to use a variety of skills and abilities?
  • Is an employee able to complete a job from beginning to end?
  • Does the job an employee performs have an impact on others?
  • Does the employee have the necessary tools and resources to complete his or her job?
  • Are performance goals for an employee based on factors within the employee's control?
  • Does an employee have autonomy over when and how the work that is performed?
  • Are organizational decisions made transparently?
  • Are employees given quality feedback regarding the work they perform?
  • Are efforts made to put employees in a position to succeed?
  • Are efforts made to identify and remove bad bosses from positions of influence?

Individuals want to partner with an organization and succeed on the job with relatively little hassle.

Individuals don't wake up one morning and want to suddenly unionize.  They are unfortunately often given significant reason to do so, despite the many structural barriers in place.

Successful HR managers are the ones answering many of the questions above affirmatively.  As a result, they are not sweating the most recent NLRB decision.

Why THIS #SHRM Board of Directors election REALLY Matters

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, August 6, 2015

About this time each year, I receive notification that SHRM will be having their annual election for their Board of Directors.  I usually gloss over the names, as few, if any, know how individuals are chosen for the vaunted position, and I rarely have heard of those that are on the ballot.  When the ballot arrives, I give a quick vote for the slate of candidates, and it really doesn't register much more on my mind.   It's very hard to challenge the status quo, as the SHRM Members for Transparency tried to do.

However, this upcoming election is different.  Why?

Steve Browne is running for the position.

While there are many great attributes about Steve that make him a worthy addition to the SHRM Board of Directors, I'll highlight two:

1.  Steve Browne knows SHRM inside out as an active volunteer.

Unlike most candidates for the SHRM Board of Directors, Steve rose through the ranks of SHRM volunteer leader.  Not only has Steve served on his state SHRM conference committee, but has served as OHSHRM State Director and President of the Greater Cincinnati HR Association.  In addition, he served on the SHRM Membership Advisory Committee (SHRM MAC).  Based on this experience, Steve will be an active and responsible voice representing the thousands of individuals who volunteer for SHRM on a regular basis.

2.  Steve Browne is active on social media.

When was the last time you saw a tweet from Immediate Past Chair Bette Francis of Twitter?  What about current SHRM President and Board member Hank Jackson?  Or Jeffrey Cava?  It'd be a miracle, because they are not on Twitter.  Current Chair Brian Silva?  One entire Tweet.  The most active member appears to be Jorge Consuegra, who has made a whopping 51 tweets since joining Twitter in 2007.  While being active on Twitter isn't really that big a deal or should be a determinant for Board status, it does demonstrate an active effort to advance the HR profession.  Steve Browne has 35,000+ tweets and over 27,000 followers.  In addition, he sends out a weekly e-mail called The HR Net (sign up here) that promotes the best in HR.  He also blogs regularly at his own blog, Everyday People, as well as a contributor to CareerBuilder's Talent Advisor Portal.  He is one of the most active individuals highlighting what is great about the HR profession and HR professionals.

So, when that ballot does arrive in your e-mail inbox.  Don't hesitate to vote for Steve.

My-Chau Nguyen

Employee Relations, Tough Conversations, and #SHRM15

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Several years ago, long-time family and friends got together over the holidays for a good meal.  Grown children were back in the nest, and we enjoyed the repast reminiscing about days gone by.

The conversation, however, drifted into a discussion regarding what we remember as the most upsetting or painful interaction we had with our parent/child.  For example, one son mentioned his father yelling at him across a blackjack table, "If you're not going to play RIGHT, don't play at all."

What emerged was that every child had a painful memory that the parent had no recollection of doing.  Similarly, parents held onto a moment of regret that did not even register as important to the child.


A HR manager who has served an organization for a significant period of time has likely had many a difficult conversation with his or her work "family."

It would not be surprising that many of these managers have held on to memories of painful discussions they have had with some of their current employees.

However, if the discussion with our friends is any indication, it is likely those employees are not hung up on those past interactions.

The theme of the 2015 SHRM Annual Conference was "tHRive."  If today's managers want to truly thrive, they'd be wise to let go of those interactions that haunt them.  They are not as important as one would believe.


#SHRM15 Day 1 Quick Impressions

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, June 29, 2015

This is my fifteenth straight year of attending the SHRM Annual Conference.  Here are my quick impressions from day 1:

  • As always, kudos to the many volunteers helping to support the Annual Conference.  If you have an opportunity, be sure to thank the many individuals who give up their time to make the conference succeed
  • Special shout out goes to Terry Starr and the Dice team for sponsoring the SHRM15 Blogger lounge.   The SHRM bloggers are here to provide content and perspective on the going-ons and we hope you get a few positive takeaways from them.
  • Magician and entertainer Penn Jillette gave a rousing opening highlighting what it takes to thrive in Las Vegas, echoing the theme of the conference.  However, I wonder if the 100 pounds he lost referred to his silent partner Teller, who was nowhere to be seen.
  • CEO Hank Jackson's opening address most likely resonated with first time attendees.   However, was there anything unique in his points that couldn't have been said in 2013 or 2014?  How is HR different today than it was one or two years ago?  How has SHRM changed in what they do this year compared to what they did last year?
  • I was not looking forward to Coach K's keynote, and, being from Wisconsin, it was certainly crushing to have to revisit the "highlights" of Duke's championship win over the Badgers.  However, I appreciated his three main points of employees and employers needing to be adaptable, taking ownership of their actions (does this include flopping on the court?), and demonstrating one's feelings.
  • Most embarrassing use of Twitter - the continued reference to @coachkwisdom, an account that is neither affiliated with Duke University nor Coach K.  While I am sure the manager of the account appreciated the attention, be better people.
Onto day 2....

Eleven Things NOT to DO at #SHRM15

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, May 27, 2015

In about a month, individuals will be heading to Las Vegas to attend the 2015 SHRM Annual Conference.  This will be my 15th SHRM Annual Conference, and, based on my years of experience, here are the things you do NOT want to do while attending.

1.  Do NOT avoid drinking water 
Its the desert, people.  Every day will likely be 100 degrees and it will be a dry heat, so you won't even feel like you're sweating.  But, given the significant amount of walking you're likely to do as well as the arctic temperatures inside the convention center to counteract the heat, you'll need all the H20 you can handle.  Bring a portable water bottle and keep it filled and by your side at all times.

2.  Do NOT suffer from SWAG remorse.

The exhibit hall is going to open at 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 28 and you going to be tempted by every vendor with some sort of gee-gaw or doo-dad that you absolutely have to bring back to the office.  You may have already received an inch tall pile of vendor mail and you've mapped out your strategy for maximizing your haul.  You may have even packed light so that you have plenty of room in your suitcase for all the giveaways.  It is free, right?  You HAVE To grab it.  Trust me, as a former victim, you will suffer from SWAG remorse.  It may take a may take a month, but you are going to look at that tote bag full of "goodies" you brought back and you are going to ask yourself why you grabbed that 7th t-shirt or 14th squeeze ball.  Regret always tastes sour.

3.   Do NOT accept anything being handed to you by anyone on the Las Vegas Strip

You'll suffer from more than SWAG remorse.  Trust me on this one.

4.  Do NOT bring a rollerbag to the conference

I have posted this several times since 2010, and people are still not listening.  Rollerbags are the scourge of the exhibit hall.  They get underfoot, and people are often unaware of the people behind them when toting it along.  Don't be that person.
5. Do NOT get in the way

You make think the exhibit hall is huge, but the rows are narrower than you think.  If you see someone you know, step out of the way, so that others can traverse the area more freely.  If people have to walk around you, you're doing it wrong.
6.  Do NOT use the phrase "Seat at the Table" or you'll be fined $100

The phrase "seat at the table" is officially barred from mention at the conference.  If you say it, you owe $100 to the SHRM Foundation.  If you overhear it in Las Vegas, tell that person they owe $100 to the SHRM Foundation. If a speaker uses it in a session, please tweet out the following phrase:

"(Insert speaker name here) owes $100 to the @shrmfoundation for saying "Seat at the table." #SHRM15 #SHRMShame"

7.  Do NOT be Gwyneth Paltrow in "Contagion"

I know you are excited to be going to Las Vegas, and hanging with 13,000+ of your favorite HR friends.  You may have already spent significant dollars on travel, hotel, Cirque tickets, etc.  However, if you are even remotely close to being ill, please consider staying home.  It seems I get ill once every couple of years, and most likely I caught something from a sick person.  So, do not be patient zero.  Dr. Oz may be a keynote speaker, but I doubt he can magically prevent germs from being spread.
8.  Do NOT treat students with disrespect

This one goes out to the exhibit hall vendors.  Ideally, every person who walks through the exhibit hall should be treated with respect.  However, it is inevitable every year that my students will come back with horror stories about being treated rudely by someone manning an exhibit hall booth.  I know you are there to make potential sales connections, and a student is unlikely to be a customer anytime soon.  However, if these students are dedicated enough to travel to Las Vegas to attend the conference, they are dedicated to the profession, and will likely be a potential customer in the future.  Don't burn a bridge before it has a chance to be constructed, as those students will remember who did them wrong!
9.  Do NOT text or tweet and walk

There will be 13,000+ individuals in attendance at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  When that General Session with Marcus Buckingham or Dr. Oz lets out, you and all your new friends will simultaneously be trying to get out of the hall and head to the next session, the bathroom, or to grab some coffee.  Please do not start walking and stare down at your phone.  I am excited that you have the Twitter, Facebook, or Hootsuite app, and you are using the #SHRM15 hashtag.   But, inevitably, you will run into the back of someone.  This will not be one of those "meet cute" scenarios you see in the movies. Instead, you will likely be called out because that person you just ran into will see your name on your badge.
10.  Do NOT make me stand up & participate during your session 

If you are a speaker and part of your schtick is to get me to do some activity as part of the session (particularly as a warm-up at the beginning), unless it magically causes me to lose 40 pounds, you will receive the lowest rating possible.  It tells me you do not have enough material for the time required.
11.  Do NOT wear your SHRM Conference badge at night.

As SHRM notes, wearing your badge outside of the convention center will peg you as a visitor from out of town and a target for crime.  Even worse, many of you will likely heading to one of the bevy of parties that are out there.  Bad behavior might ensue.  Wearing your badge will likely make your name live in infamy as people mention your sordid exploits at future conferences.  Try to drink in relative anonymity and leave your badge in your hotel room.  Sight see, but do NOT be a sight to be seen.

So, what else would you tell attendees NOT to do?  Leave a note below, or tweet your suggestion to #SHRM15Festivus .  Also, check out the #NextChat twitter discussion on Wednesday, June 3 at 3:00 p.m./2:00 Central for all things #SHRM15 related from the #SHRM15Blogger crew

Sign of a Strong Employment Brand? Candidates Doing the Recruiting

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, May 26, 2015

There are good times to be a Michigan State Spartans fan.  In fact, if you were a member of the MSU Class of 2015, you've known nothing but success.  Michigan State is the first school in NCAA history to win four consecutive bowl games and reach the Sweet 16 in basketball for four consecutive years.

So, what has that meant to the Spartan brand?  As Head Football Coach Mark Dantonio says, "When we came here back in 2007, the reality of the situation was that we were selling hopes.  It's to a point now where we're selling results, and that's the big difference."

These results are translating into something unique: recruits selling the brand to others in the hope of joining them.

Class of 2016 members Cam Chambers, Abdul Adams, and Messiah deWeaver have created a Twitter account, @MSUDreamTeam2016, in the hopes of attracting others to play at Michigan State.

Chambers and offensive lineman Matt Allen (Hinsdale, Ill.) were MSU's only commitments at that point. Now the class stands at 12 verbals, is ranked in the top 10 nationally by every major recruiting service and appears poised for more prominent additions soon.

Receiver Donnie Corley (Detroit King), safety Kenney Lyke (Palatine, Ill.) and defensive ends Josh King (Darien, Ill.) and Auston Robertson (Fort Wayne, Ind.) are among the celebrated targets close to decisions and viewed as MSU leans by some analysts. Some may have privately chosen MSU already.

That was the case with deWeaver, long before his announcement. And all who pick the Spartans are added to an ongoing group text deWeaver started. That's where the "real" talk happens, not on the Twitter account.

"It seems like we're adding people to it every night," deWeaver said.

"I think people are not talking enough about the big story here, the group text message that is going on," said Steve Wiltfong, national recruiting analyst for "The Twitter account, other people do that and that is what people see publicly, but this is different. You want to go to college with people you enjoy being around. I believe recruiting is a game of inches, and this is another way Michigan State is capitalizing on every inch right now."

This kind of communication helping committed prospects recruit others "has predecessors," said Josh Helmholdt of, but "Michigan State is in the mold where they're perfecting it."

These are not employees who have been with the organization for years, experiencing the ups and downs of the business, and sharing their thoughts with a candidate.  These are future "employees" who will, for the most part, not join the organization full-time for at least a year.  They want quality workers to join them to make the organization a success.  They have already bought into the brand and can't wait to sell it to others.

So, as you look at the high school or college junior who just joined your organization on a part-time job or internship, are they espousing the virtues of your organization to their friends or on social media?  Do you have a DreamTeam2016 of your own in place?