· 1 min read · Features

Why do senior HR professionals not attend conferences?


Last month HR magazine asked: Did you attend the CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition.60% said yes40% said no

Given the recession and attendant cutbacks in budgets, I was not surprised to see that 40% of senior HR professionals did not attend the annual conference this year. Nevertheless, given the significant budgetary constraints in many companies, the fact that 60% did attend is good news - it could have been much worse. 

At a time of real austerity and redundancies, I suspect many HR managers will feel guilty about attending conferences while some of their staff have either lost their jobs or have had to endure major cuts. On the other hand, it is very important during this downturn for HR to engage in more positive and optimistic behaviour, in an effort to change the negative psychological climate endemic in many organisations over the last two years.

By attending conferences and attempting to do HR ‘business as usual', senior HR managers are communicating to others that business is picking up, that we are beginning to see the proverbial ‘light at the end of the tunnel' and are, at least indirectly, demonstrating a confident attitude about the future.

I understand  HR professionals have a real dilemma in difficult times, on the one hand of attempting to exude confidence and positivity, while cutting back on staff and downsizing on important HR activities (which they perceive to be important but top management consider as ‘soft options'). But now is the time for being positive and robust, we need an ‘HR call to action' to support and encourage senior management to re-configure the organisational psychology to ‘positivity mode'. 

This means attending conferences, encouraging staff events and celebrations and generally showing that business is returning to normal-it is time to throw caution to the wind and get out of the ‘trough of despond'.