Focus and Human Resources

Conference scrutinizes technology in the workforce

Attorneys and HR professionals will offer advice on what is ahead.

May 9, 2014
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This year’s annual human resources conference sponsored by The Employers’ Association will tackle several major issues companies struggle with, all of which are aimed at sustaining a technologically diverse workforce.

TEA is hosting its seventh annual HR/Legal Conference and 74th annual business meeting and luncheon from 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m., May 20, at Watermark Country Club, 5500 Cascade Road SE. The event features discussions on issues related to talent and how technology impacts management efficiency.

David Smith, president and CEO of TEA in Grand Rapids, said the issues for the 2014 conference derived from discussions with employers and TEA board members on what companies are facing when looking at sustainability.

“The whole general topic we are looking at is how we integrate our technology in our worksite … and how do you then work with an emerging workforce that is coming into the worksite that perhaps thinks differently?” said Smith.

“Employers are talking talent, technology, and what are the pitfalls they need to avoid so they can remain operationally strong.”

Sustaining the Human “APP” through Technology, Compliance and Workplace Relationships will include a keynote address by Chris Luise, executive vice president of ADNET Technologies LLC, a technology consulting firm based in Connecticut. It will also include a panel of labor lawyers discussing legal issues employers are facing and a hands-on “from the help line” workshop.

The attorney panel will be comprised of Stephanie Setterington from Varnum, Mary Tabin from Rhoades McKee and Jeff Fraser from Miller Johnson. Specific legal issues will include FLSA compliance in the current work environment, leave of absence and reasonable accommodation, and social media and anti-harassment.

According to Smith, the emerging workforce’s connection with social media and technology is raising a whole new set of issues in the workplace centered around confidentiality, which the conference will address in depth.

“Really, the talent part is how do you help manage an emerging workforce in a nontraditional way with the same expectations of the work?” said Smith. “There is no one way of doing the work anymore.”

Following the legal panel, the hands-on workshop will allow conference participants to identify solutions that help eliminate organizational risk while allowing operations to run efficiently.

Smith said the workshop is a compilation of unusual issues and questions human resource management professionals deal with on a daily basis. Participants will pitch their best solution and the panel of attorneys will critique answers and present their own advice.

TEA will hold its business meeting luncheon at noon to review financial health and practical human resource solutions provided in the past year, and will close with a presentation on technology challenges and changes in terms of sustainability for the future.

“It’s a technological overview, taking it away from just the worksite,” said Smith in reference to the discussion on the future of technology and personal impact.

He said between 50 and 75 human resource managers, operations managers and supervisors usually attend the conference, and up to 90 business professionals are present for the annual business meeting luncheon.

“It’s very hands-on, practical information to deal with talent, technology and compliance,” said Smith.

Founded in 1939, the Grand Rapids TEA is located at 5570 Executive Parkway SE and serves the West Michigan business community by assisting with employee productivity and minimizing employer liability. The nonprofit organization provides services such as assistance in developing and implementing processes to promote business efficiency, human resource and management advice, training and consulting.

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