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Top 10 HR conferences to check out in 2021

From what was once a back-office function, HR has evolved to a strategic position in charge of managing the full employee experience (EX).

And at a time when remote work has abruptly become the norm for a large volume of the workforce and important new safety and inclusivity priorities have come into focus, being at the top of your game as a HR professional matters more than ever.

The information you bring back after attending a conference or two (or three!) can be invaluable to your organization. Plus, you can earn continuing education credits to keep your certifications up to date.

Here’s our pick of the top HR conferences you should check out in 2021.

1. WorkDifferent 2021

Date: Live on April 13 // 3PM CEST // 3PM BST // 1PM AEST

Location: Live

Who should go: Anyone in the experience management (XM) industry, including people scientists, HR leaders and managers who want to thrive in the new world of work.

Description: WorkDifferent is a remote, live online, and on-demand event that includes how-to sessions from iconic brands on the actions they are taking to move forward.


+ Conversations with industry leaders
+ Practical examples from some of the world's biggest brands
+ Demos of ready-to-go solutions to help you drive change

Guest speakers announced so far:

  • Ally Love - Peloton
  • Sal Khan - The Khan Academy

Register for free to access WorkDifferent

2. People Analytics and Future of Work (PAFOW)

Date: January 27-29, 2021

Location: Remote

Who should go: Anyone who uses people analytics in their work or wants to learn how data and AI will play a role in the future of HR.

Description: The three-day online program includes speaker sessions from thought leaders, influencers, academics, and technology providers, including familiar faces from previous events and new influencers. There will also be opportunities for digital networking.

Featured speakers:

  • Steve Gard - The Circle Back Initiative
  • Kandall Allard - Stryker Neurovascular
  • Tessa James - Talent Reimagined (Switzerland)
  • Carley Childress - Macorva Inc.

3. Hacking HR’s HR Innovation and Future of Work Conference

Date: March 8 - 12

Location: Remote

Who should go: Anyone in the HR field.

Description: This free four-day conference includes more than 60 hours of keynotes, panels, fireside chats and a workshop day from 150+ of the most renowned and influential global HR leaders.

Everything is broadcast in real-time on LinkedIn Live and recorded for release on YouTube.

Featured speakers include:

  • Aaron McEwan - Gartner
  • Kerry Brown - SAP
  • Alessandro Linari - Vodafone UK
  • Dawn Klinghoffer - Microsoft

4. HR West 2021

Date: March 17-18

Location: Remote

Who should go: HR professionals who are looking for skills to face the most challenging issues in HR. This is especially relevant if they work in or have a presence in California, known to have some of the most stringent HR compliance demands in the country.

Description: The HR West Conference convenes in the San Francisco Bay area, with a heavy presence from Silicon Valley companies and their HR experts – some of the most experienced HR practitioners in the industry. Via sessions, networking and exhibitions, you’ll come away with an elevated understanding of HR in today’s challenging tech sector.

Featured speakers:

The 2021 lineup has yet to be announced. Speakers in 2020 included:

  • Christine Silver SHRM-CP - Silver Business Solutions LLC
  • Cindy Solomon - Courageous Leadership Institute™
  • Bethanye McKinney Blount - Compaas

5. HRD Summit

Date: February 25, 2021

Location: Remote

Who should go: Senior HR and business leaders

Description: HRD Summit offers the chance to meet and learn from over 1,000 senior HR, talent, learning and development and people leaders during keynotes, panels and other interactive and collaborative sessions, all from the comfort of your home office.

Featured speakers:

2021 speakers are yet to be confirmed. Last year’s list included:

  • Alice Bretherton - KPMG
  • Catherine Lightfoot - Imperial Brands
  • Angela Buxton - Mencap
  • Candice Cross - IHG

6. i4CP Next Practices Now

Date: November 2-4, 2021

Location: Scottsdale, AZ

Who should go: Senior-level HR, talent, learning, and diversity decision-makers

Description: This conference guides you in discovering the new and emerging best practices in HR that will take us through the currently evolving global crises and beyond. It’s a chance to connect with fellow senior HR professionals and peers and hear insightful sessions from some of the brightest talents in the field.

Featured speakers:

2021’s speaker list is tbc. Highlights of the 2020 event included:

  • Kevin Johnson - President and CEO, Starbucks
  • Diane Gherson - SVP of Human Resources, IBM
  • Marshall Goldsmith - Bestselling Author and Executive Coach
  • Tom Rath - HR expert and author

7. HRO Today’s Employee Engagement & Retention Summit

Date: September 20-22

Location: Remote, and Atlanta, GA

Who should go: HR leaders and practitioners

Description: This annual summit is a case-study-based program where speakers share real-world experiences and practical advice. Attendees will gain a deeper understanding of how compensation, culture, performance management, onboarding and L&D impact the entire employee experience. This year’s event will be a hybrid, featuring both in-person and online content.

Featured speakers:

2021’s speakers are yet to be confirmed. Past speakers include:

  • Derrick Barton - CEO, Center for Talent Solutions
  • Christopher Rotolo - VP Talent Management and Organization Development, PepsiCo
  • Dr. Bob Nelson - Bestselling Author of 1001 Ways to Engage Employees

8. Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP)

Date: April 15-17, 2021

Location: Remote, and New Orleans, LA

Who should go: Academics, practitioners, and professionals who work in organizational sciences, as well as experience management researchers.

Description: SIOP uses psychology and research to solve workplace issues. Its annual conference is the largest conference of researchers and practitioners of I-O (Industrial-Organizational) psychology in the world. SIOP offers dozens of sessions and workshops on big data, identifying high-potential employees, leadership development, and I-O tech trends. This year, the event will be delivered through a mix of in-person events, live and interactive online content, and on-demand.

Featured speakers:

Keynote speakers include:

  • Dr Parminder K. Jassal - Social Tech Inc.

9. ASHHRA Annual Conference & Exposition

Date: April 26-27, 2021

Location: Denver, CO

Who should go: The American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration conference is specifically for healthcare industry HR professionals of all levels.

Description: With dozens of sessions, exhibitors, and networking events, ASHHRA’s goal is to advance healthcare HR through solutions, products, and services. Also, attendees can earn continuing education or professional development credits for CHHR, SHRM, HRCI, and ACHE certifications.

Featured speakers: Keynote speakers haven’t been announced for 2021 but last year’s speakers included:

  • Gloria Goins - professional speaker on diversity issues (keynote)

10. Gartner ReImagineHR

Date: November 8-10, 2021

Location: San Diego, CA

Who should go: CHROs and HR executives

Description: This year’s conference program is still in development, but you can expect a range of sessions and events exploring fresh thinking on employee experience and people science, including acquisition and retention, diversity and inclusion, rewards and performance, technology and analytics.

Featured speakers:

Speakers haven’t yet been announced for 2021 but 2020’s roster included:

  • Dr Elizabeth Kolmstetter - NASA
  • Sean  Woodroffe - TIAA
  • Dominique Dawes - Olympic gold medallist
  • Martin Thomas - Philips


WorkDifferent 2021 // 13 April