Written by
Glizcel Ditto


17 May 2019

Now that the conference buzz has started to wear off and we’re back in our daily routines, it seems to be a good time to reflect on the annual and always anticipated WorldatWork Total Rewards Conference in Orlando. For us Total Rewards geeks… I mean professionals… this is the place to be every year. It’s a great place to gain insights on what’s hot and what’s not in the world of rewards. But it’s also a great place to network with other professionals that feel as passionately about the topics as I do.

Now some of you that have been to conferences in Orlando, like me, probably automatically assumed that you would be somewhere near “the world of The Mouse.” And when I found out that this was not going to be case, I was actually pleasantly surprised. I am a huge fan of that wonderful, magical world, but I also have found it to be a distraction to have direct access to that world when it comes to professional conferences. So I actually welcomed the change in Orlando venues and felt that it was more conducive to focusing on the topics at hand.

The WorldatWork Total Rewards Conference started and ended with keynote speakers that discussed the ideas of cultivating authentic connections in our lives and a mindset of being “happy first.” In a profession that seems to concentrate so much on the numbers and the budgets, this seems off-topic. But for those of us that have been working with Compensation as just one aspect of Total Rewards, we understand that managing any aspect of Total Rewards is really a fine art and needs to have a primary focus on people first.

The conference had a keen focus on pay equity and pay equality challenges and practices as apparent in the list of sessions and speakers included this year.  Industry professionals presented on related topics including:

  • Gender pay gap
  • Global pay equity
  • Pay equity, privilege, and unconscious bias
  • Case studies and panel discussions from various companies and industries on the journey to pay transparency
  • Building a culture of inclusion
  • Legislative & regulatory issues in US

As many discussions regarding pay and reward are so closely tied to aspects of organizational development, performance management, and employee engagement, many sessions covered these topics as well with an eye toward our evolving workforce and company cultures.

Although cyber, AI and robotics have slightly taken a backseat in the world of hot topics, they also showcased sessions that addressed how these are coming into play in our workplaces and the challenges this places on corporate social responsibility.

Overall, this year’s conference had more of a sense of collaboration and information gathering than others that I have attended in recent years. Even amongst fellow vendors in the exhibit hall, there seemed to be a sense of comradery rather than just pure competition. I think the hot topics of the year were a big driver for that. This is such unknown or new territory for many companies that it seems that everyone is just trying to seek out answers and looking for the magic silver bullet to take back to their senior leaders. And I think that most people walked away with a better understanding that the process of tackling these challenges will take time. And in a growing culture of information seeking, success stories seem to exhibit a sense of authenticity in their approach to communications through transparency about their process and progress. So in the end, cultivating authentic connections really can be a great contributor to the overall happiness that we are all seeking.