That’s a wrap. Engage Me was present and correct at all three days of last week’s HR Summit and Expo 2016 in Dubai. The annual HR event, now a highlight of the Dubai conference calendar, saw more than 4 000 attendees pass through its doors, with many stopping by the EngageMe paint wall to creatively express their inspiration and focus. Let’s take a look at some of the stats and find out more about the event from the woman in charge.
CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS
The 13th edition of HR Summit and Expo included:
- More than 100 exhibitors
- 125 globally renowned speakers
- 60+ free seminars
- 4 000+ visitors
- 69% of attendees seeking new products and innovations in HR
- 3 keynote speakers: Dave Ulrich, Malcolm Gladwell & Peter Cappelli
- 3 new summits to customise the experience: HR Strategy, HR Talent & HR Engagement
Providing additional context to the summit were the results of a recent YOUGOV survey conducted among 214 HR professionals from across the UAE. Among the key takeouts from the survey were:
- 54% HR professionals see flexible working hours as the most important element
- 52% employees pinpoint increased efficiency as the key driver
- 51% highlight heightened learning opportunities as the most important factor
While we were at the summit, we also got the chance to have a conversation with the Show Director, Hoda Abdelhay and get her impressions on the summit’s growth, emerging themes, and the trends likely to play a big role in HR’s future.
According to Abelhay, the summit team was “very happy” with how the event was received, especially when it came to some of the newly introduced features.
“One of the things we added this year was two additional summits,” she told Engage Me (Last year there was just one stream for the paid delegates with keynotes).
Abelhay says that two new tracks — one on employer and stakeholder engagement and the other on talent management — “allowed a lot of the delegates to customise their learning and to choose what topics and issues were the most important for them, giving a greater choice between different speakers and employers to learn from. People really liked that and made for greater choice”.
“One of the things that worked incredibly well,” she told us, “was Connect Plus, which are interactive and engaging sessions that are not the typical presentation where people just listen to a speaker on stage”.
Another thing Abelhay says worked well was speed networking — basically like speed dating — where people could have one-minute chats and exchange business cards.
“It’s a great ice-breaker and it allows you to build your connections within the HR community,” she said. “We had it scheduled three times a day but people requested more sessions, so that’s something we’ll definitely build on for next year”.
According to Abelhay, this year’s summit took a deeper dive into HR and engagement, looking at “how it plays a much bigger role in a business than the typical admin role that used to be looked down upon”.
Going on from that, she told there was a lot of talk about HR plays a role in the digital transformation of a business.
Among the factors driving this change, Abelhay believes, are falling oil prices and a lot of training budgets being cut. This, she explained means that “HR managers now have an increasing obligation to support the bottom line and show ROI to the CEO and the board”.
That in turn means the focus has shifted to value of the team and what they can bring to the business to help with growth and to help with sustainability.
Looking forward, Abelhay believes that these trends will remain topical over the next year or so. Importantly, she told use, people will continue to ask where HR is going “because it’s becoming much more than what it was, with technology playing a big part in that – so I think technology will also be one of the key themes”.
Events such as the HR Summit & Expo can be sometimes feel a knowledge dump and people obviously try to absorb as much as they can, but there, of course, limits to what anyone can take in.
In a bid to combat that, the summit team have a platform called the HR Observer, launched a few years ago.
“We want to make sure that the learning doesn’t end on the third day of the event,” Abelhay told us. “We want to continue the conversation so there where the blog came into being”.
According to Abelhay, the platform has grown well and is the team’s “main channel of conversation to the HR community”.
She adds that it has been a source of good and credible information. A major factor in building that reputation has been the strong partnerships the team has built up in terms of talent, engagement and training. They “give us really great and practical content,” she said.