University of Wisconsin–Madison

The HR@UW 2018 Conference in Review: Innovating in HR

UW–Madison’s third annual HR@UW Conference took place on Tuesday, December 11, 2018 at Union South, drawing roughly 250 members of our campus HR community, an increase from 2017. Registrations—drawing from approximately 110 different departments and roughly 70 different job titles across campus—reflected trends of the prior two years.

While only 45% of participants answered the feedback survey, 95% of those said that the event would help them be more successful in their work. 92% would recommend the conference to a colleague.

“This was my first time at the conference, and it really felt like a gathering of the campus HR community in a way I didn’t know to expect. That was really nice. The awards and game really contributed to that.”

“I always enjoy this conference. I feel like it is well put together and the sessions always are very interesting.”

“I appreciate the time to connect with HR colleagues from across campus that I wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity to interact with on a day-to-day basis.”

“I thought the TTC game was a nice change of pace. It got people laughing and engaging with others more than at past conferences.”

The conference opened with keynote Haydn Shaw who spoke about generational differences.

“The topic was very engaging and not something we often touch on. [I learned] that we not only need to work alongside the millennial generation but that there are actually four generations in the work place… we need work on all [of them] working together.”

After the keynote, 20 presenters facilitated learning across 14 topics ranging from conscious communication to strategies for managing change. Sessions drew an average of 36 attendees.

Session breakouts were generally well received. The top-ranked in terms of “good use of time” included:

There were requests for several of this year’s sessions to be repeated. Watch the HR@UW Monthly Learning Series for those that will be offered throughout 2019.

The second annual HR Business Partner Award was announced at lunchtime. It drew nominations for 20 members of our campus community and Julie Karpelenia of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education (OVCRGE) as this year’s winner. You can read more about the award in the HR CoP January 2019 newsletter (scroll to third article).

Of course, there are always areas to improve. A common theme found in the feedback was ensuring that the conference doesn’t feel like an extension of the HR Reps meetings—while also increasing the number of sessions highlighting HR-functional practices—is an important focus for next year. Additionally, the conference unintentionally coincided with Payroll Calc, which needs to be avoided in order to be fully inclusive of our payroll professionals on campus.

Hold the date! Next year’s conference will take place on Tuesday, December 3, 2019.

Topics requested for next year included:

  • Change management
  • Compensation related issues and HR structure/customer service models
  • Conflict resolution and communicating difficult subjects with others
  • Diversity and inclusion: HR’s function as a tool for social justice/ increased equity
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Employment relations: best practices for layoff analysis; FMLA; performance improvement plans; and HR policies and administrative infrastructure at UW-Madison
  • Governance groups on campus: who they are, what they do, and how they influence campus HR
  • HR 101@UW for newbies
  • HR associations and certifications: what they offer and which to choose
  • Future of HR: how to manage new workforce patterns; private industry trends applicable to us
  • Immigration practices in HR and how HR affects immigration (IFSS)
  • Legal: overview/review of laws affecting campus and how UW policies interact to guide HR professionals to the right contacts vs. training on everything
  • Management: strengths-based management; engaging and motivating employees, especially given generational differences; “managing up”
  • Recruitment trends: addressing the war on talent; recruitment planning; diversifying applicant pools; creating successful orientation/ onboarding programs; and effective succession planning
  • Technology, including how to improve employee digital literacy, and artificial intelligence
  • Time management/prioritization
  • Wellness: influences of personal wellbeing on work; mental health; financial wellness; how to empathize with and be invested in your HR customers while also taking care of yourself
  • Workplace culture: climate surveys and exit Interviews; how feedback has been used to enhance campus work environments; practices for intentionally creating/ improving culture; fostering collaboration in the workplace, with attention to decision-making models; how divisional HR structures compare related to employee satisfaction and effectiveness

If you wish to recommend campus or local experts on any of the above topics, please email HR CoP.