March 5, 2020, has been recognized as Day One of what we all now know as the COVID shutdown.
I remember the day well because I was in Dallas planning to return home the next day. Little did I know that this business trip would be my last for the following year.
What followed after March 5 was a shutdown of all events and in-person gatherings. We all retreated to our homes, masked-up, and began to wait until things got better.
Like all membership associations whose revenue comes from in-person events, certifications, and dues, the pandemic impacted SHRM-Atlanta. While our full-time team rose to the occasion and pivoted to a virtual platform while continuing to deliver high-quality content, the virtual experience hasn’t been the same.
- Attendance at our signature event – SOAHR – was impacted because the virtual event prevented us from delivering one of the most valuable parts of SOAHR – the connections and conversations from meeting people in person.
- As chapter meetings and events went virtual, we saw a slow but steady audience erosion. Virtual fatigue was setting in.
- In February 2020, just before the pandemic, we hit a record high for the most members over the last five years. However, with the pandemic, our membership numbers have begun to decline.
The factors driving our membership decline are easy to list:
- People had more pressing and disruptive events in their lives, such as working from home, virtual schooling for their children, concerns for aging parents and vulnerable friends, and possibly job loss or illness. Attending an SHRM-Atlanta virtual meeting would not get priority.
- Without in-person events and networking opportunities, members chose to wait until we return to in-person events, we all love, to renew their membership.
I completely understand the reasons, and I want to reach out to all of our current, former, and potential members to say that we need your support.
To those of you who have not renewed yet…We hope that you still consider yourselves part of our SHRM-Atlanta community and will come back as a member or attend one of our events this year. We have a great RealHR Symposium (click here to register) coming up on March 23. We already have over 250 people attending. Please consider joining us!
To our current members…We thank you for your continued support! The cornerstone of SHRM-Atlanta is community. I believe that the relationships built are our most significant member value. A pathway to developing the most meaningful relationships is through volunteering. Serving as a volunteer in any capacity allows you to get to know your fellow members better. Volunteering also helps you develop leadership skills that can help your career. Click here to check out our volunteer opportunities.
The pandemic has been challenging for all of us in many ways. I believe that now is the time to invest in yourself and your career by taking advantage of everything SHRM-Atlanta offers, including some innovative new programs. We will be back in-person with networking and professional development events soon and plan for our annual conference, SOAHR, to be a hybrid event with in-person and virtual programming.
In closing, I hope everyone who reads this blog is safe and secure. I look forward to serving our SHRM-Atlanta chapter as President and doing everything that I can to carry on the tremendous legacy of HR leadership created by our chapter. I look forward to being able to see each other in person soon.
By: Pat Lynch, 2021 SHRM-Atlanta President