Strategic HR at Mt. Washington: Oct 24-26, 2021

The following information is from the completed 2021 event. Please check back in the spring for details on next year. 


Monday, October 25, 2021

6:30 am - 5:30 pm

Make Registration your first stop and pick up your Strategic HR badge. Badges are required for entry to any Retreat areas or activities. Registration is located in the Conservatory.

Registration Sponsor:

7:00 am - 8:30 am
Conference Breakfast

Breakfast Sponsor:

7:00 am - 8:15 am
EARLY BIRD: Inspiring Employee Wellbeing During COVID

Legal Do’s, Don’ts, and Maybe’s.

What’s it all about? Over the years, the HR community has seen the concept of employee wellness evolve from its roots in the physical health of employees to a more holistic vision of well-being. This implicates multiple aspects of your employees’ lives and aligns nicely with why so many of us entered the HR profession. It also aligns with the metrics of an engaged workforce. Adam Hamel and Charla Stevens join us to discuss a key element of well-being: the mental health of your employees. Covid in particular has brought the mental health component to the fore, and we’ll engage in a wide-ranging conversation that touches on values, results, and legal compliance – including relationship to the ADA, FMLA, paid leave laws, and a variety of state mandates. 

Why you’ll want to participate in this session. 

  • Discover how to recognize and address mental health disabilities in the workplace and properly engage in the interactive process for accommodating related disabilities. 
  • Learn how to encourage a culture that promotes employee well-being while protecting employee privacy and avoiding discrimination claims. 
  • Consider ways to identify and respond to practices that may be harmful to employee well-being and could possibly give rise to charges of hostile work environments. 

Approved for SHRM and HRCI General (HR) Credit. 

Program Faculty: Adam Hamel, Charla Stevens
Monday Early Bird Sponsor:

8:45 am - 10:00 am
KEYNOTE: Workforce Happiness as a Strategic Business Advantage

What’s it all about? If CFO’s saw happiness as a P&L line item, most companies would pay a lot more attention to it. The past year brings that consideration front and center, as Covid, DE&I, and other cultural issues cause a rethinking of how employees view their jobs. And, make no mistake about it, unhappy employees with options are going to gravitate to workplaces where there is fulfillment. That’s why we’ve invited author, screenwriter, and business thinker Valerie Alexander to the Mt. Washington stage, where she will roll out her compelling explanation of the value of happiness and its strategic business importance. 

Why you’ll want to participate in this session. 

  • Discover the metrics of workforce happiness/unhappiness – the concrete opportunities and the hidden costs – and what this portends for your organization.  This session references research on more than a dozen distinct metrics, including absenteeism, turnover, shrinkage, employee safety, product defects, productivity, and sales. Then, identify how happy employees save a company 17 – 70% of the costs of an unhappy workforce. 
  • Learn what HR can do with this information, both as keeper of the costs and incentives associated with hiring and retention strategy, and as a driver of organizational values and culture. 
  • Understand how HR plays its role best by helping organizational leadership understand their disconnect between what they think motivates employees and what actually motivates them. 

Approved for SHRM and HRCI Business Credit. 

Program Faculty: Ed Hurley-Wales, Valerie Alexander

10:00 am - 10:30 am
Coffee Break, EXPO, and Book Signing

With Valerie Alexander.

Bookstore & Book Club Sponsor:

10:30 am - 11:45 am
Stay With Me!

A strategic reality check of the employee lifecycle.

What’s it all about? Maybe, just maybe, the pandemic will help break the talent acquisition feast/famine, abundance/scarcity cycle and lead to a more holistic approach to sustaining people and organizations. Two exceptional leaders from the talent realm take to our stage. They will share their innovative programs and their views of the cycle that really matters – the employee life cycle. Ray Stevens is Global Head of Talent Management for State Street in Boston. Doreen Nichols is Vice President of Talent, Culture and Organizational Development at Eversource Energy in Westwood, Massachusetts. Their stories won’t need much coaxing from session moderator and conference friend Nancy Persson from Leadership Growth Solutions, but she will set up the conversation with some of the data and dynamics at play in the talent world. And then it will be on to a big picture look at the front end of recruiting and the more mature phase of engagement and retention. Our faculty promises to challenge your thinking and your deeds. 

Why you’ll want to participate in this session. 

  • Discover how the pandemic has turned the employee life cycle on its head, drastically changed employer/employee leverage points, and thus requires an HR strategy that engages the multiple stakeholders in your organization. 
  • Consider the criteria your potential workers employ, both economic and non-economic, when deciding when, where, and how they work. Discuss the micro-dynamics at play in different industries and among demographic groups (generational, skill sets, educational and socio-economic).  
  • Engage in exercises and dialogue with your peers to expand your learning and generate ideas you can take back to your organizations and apply. 

Approved for SHRM and HRCI Business Credit. 

Program Faculty: Doreen Nichols, Nancy Persson, Ray Stevens
Workshop Sponsor:

11:45 am - 1:00 pm
Lunch and EXPO

Monday Lunch Sponsor:

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
KEYNOTE: Making a Difference in Remote and Hybrid Workplaces

A roadmap for women.

What’s it all about? You’re likely inundated with the data and the stories of how Covid has disproportionately disadvantaged women’s careers. The real question for consideration is – what are we going to do about it on the individual and organizational level? We’ve invited Denise Hamilton to answer some of those questions and to challenge us. Denise is the creator of WatchHerWork, a multimedia digital platform based in Houston, Texas, which is designed to close the achievement gap for professional women. You may have read her recent bylines or seen her appearances on “Morning Joe” on MSNBC. If so, you know you’re in for a dynamic and results-oriented keynote. Following her conversation, moderator Tracy Burns will help the audience engage in a nuanced dialogue with Denise, because the challenges women face are diverse, based on a variety of factors such as age, generation, career level, family status, socio-economic issues, and individual goals and value.  

Why you’ll want to participate in this session. 

  • Leave this keynote with a better understanding of the mechanisms for building internal and external relationships in a more remote working world, and why this is of strategic importance to your HR functions and the long arc of your career. 
  • Understand the metrics of accomplishment and how women’s careers are enhanced when they have the tools to demonstrate project creation and results.  
  • Discover why a focus on these issues can and should align seamlessly with your DE&I initiatives and your organization’s values. 

“Of course, the work-from-home conundrum for hybrid worksites is what I call a ‘high rent problem.’ Many people don’t have that option. If you’re fortunate enough to have it, just be sure to do all you can to make up for what you might be missing on site. If you do this right, you can be a trailblazer, helping normalize work from home for the post-pandemic era.” Denise Hamilton 

Approved for SHRM and HRCI Business Credit. 

Program Faculty: Denise Hamilton, Tracy Burns

2:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Dessert and EXPO

2:30 pm - 3:45 pm
From Lagging to Leading

How HR effects diversity, equity, and inclusion results.

What’s it all about? There’s a near-universal agreement, at least on a theoretical level, that DE&I is critical to organizational success. It’s also a core value to so many of us in the human resources realm. So, why is progress in this arena frustratingly slow, and how do we move from talk to impact? Ed Hurley-Wales, principal of EHW Consulting, past President of NEHRA, and longtime Mt. Washington conference friend and moderator, has created this marvelous forum to explore just that. We’ll look at the issues through the eyes of two special guests who have built DE&I from the inside and advised organizations from the outside, bringing you the dual perspectives of internal advocacy and the vantage point from 30,000 feet. Faculty: Su Joun is both scholar and practitioner, a professor at Suffolk University, a former diversity leader at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and now principal of the Diversity@Workplace Consulting Group in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her firm and people “believe that diversity and inclusion is not only about changing minds, but it is also about changing practices and processes.” Fred Wills is an amplifier and inclusion artist, the former diversity leader at the Mayo Clinic, and now principal of Inclusiastic in Columbus, Ohio. He has “been fueled by the belief that diversity enhances intellectual cross-pollination, creates new knowledge, and is a driver of innovation.”  

Why you’ll want to participate in this session 

  • When leading DE&I initiatives, discover the strategic value of combining advocacy, acumen, and external expertise.  
  • Gain a better understanding of how organizations incentivize and reward in ways that can either encourage or discourage diversity, and gain a better understanding of the multi-faceted nature of DE&I work so that you can effectively advocate for the resources necessary to bring meaningful change to your organization.  
  • Leave this session informed, inspired, and with some tools to make a difference on complex issues that go to the heart of how HR should lead as a profession and the direction your organization should strive to achieve.     

Approved for SHRM and HRCI Business Credit. 

Program Faculty: Ed Hurley-Wales, Fred Wills, Su Joun
Workshop Sponsor:

3:45 pm - 4:00 pm
Coffee Break

4:00 pm - 4:45 pm
The Future of Work, Part 2

What’s it all about? Following up on yesterday’s look at technology, Don MacPherson will engage the audience in a discussion of social issues of the day and how they inform the way you think about yourself, the people in your midst, and your role as an HR professional. We’re counting on the audience to chime in with your own special wisdom and genius as augmented by this conference.

Why you’ll want to participate in this session.

  • Part 2 of this discussion focuses on socio-economic issues and culture, referencing themes from immigration, addiction, and the cultivation of trust, and then concentrating in greater detail on the topics of Aging, Inequality, and Privacy.
  • Witness the connection between the technology future discussed in part 1 with the very human issues of part 2.
  • Leave this session with strengthened skills for casting out to the future and with a strengthened will to serve as an agent for change at work.

Approved for SHRM and HRCI Business Credit.

Program Faculty: Don MacPherson
Workshop Sponsor:

4:00 pm - 4:45 pm
Book Club: "The Conversation"

World Premiere Film with Dr. Robert Livingston.

Program Faculty: Robert Livingston
Bookstore & Book Club Sponsor:

5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Reception and EXPO

Monday Reception Sponsor:

Saturday, October 23, 2021 Sunday, October 24, 2021 Monday, October 25, 2021 Tuesday, October 26, 2021