March 7, 2024

HRWest 2024 Event Recap

Another HRWest is in the books, and we’re excited to share what we learned while we were there! So, if you weren’t able to make it this year, you’ve come to the right place to stay in the know. And even if you were there, we’re sure you’ll still find some useful nuggets of information in our recap to share with your team. 

HRWest 2024 was held at the Oakland Marriott City Center in Oakland, California on March 5 – 6. As always, the conference brought together industry leaders, experts, and practitioners to explore the latest trends and strategies shaping the future of human resources. This year’s theme of “Better HR Today & Tomorrow” came to life across 75 sessions, roundtables, and expert-led discussions.  

OneSource Virtual at HRWest 2024 

We joined more than 60 organizations in the expo hall to share how our services for payroll and benefits help HR take their teams from transactional to transformational. Our expert services and patented in-tenant technology have earned us the trust of more than 1,000 Workday customers. 

In addition to our featured demo session, “From Paychecks to Prosperity,” hosted by OneSource Virtual’s very own Darcy DeLong, we had a great time offering one-on-one demos in our booth (learn more about our payroll services here). But we did more than give demos; we gave away a De’Longhi coffee and espresso maker, too! 

But enough about us — let’s dive into the key topics covered at the conference and highlight some of our favorite sessions. 

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Topic 1: HR strategy 

You’ll be hard-pressed to drive positive outcomes without a thoughtful HR strategy. Executives and HR leaders shared invaluable insights into how to develop and execute successful game plans. 

Sessions of note 

Unlocking the Power of AI: Transforming Organizational Dynamics and Employee Empowerment 


  • Debbie McGrath, CEO, Founder, and Chief Instigator, 
  • Deidre Paknad, CEO, WorkBoard 
  • Joseph Essenfeld, CEO, FORA 
  • Matt Levin, Global COO, People 2.0 

This panel discussion on AI covered the profound impact AI is having on workplaces. From boosting productivity to transforming talent acquisition and career development, AI is reshaping organizational dynamics. Panelists talked about the holistic impact of AI — how it's not just about isolated tasks but about revolutionizing every aspect of operations. One key aspect discussed was how AI is empowering employees with personalized career paths and mentoring opportunities, fostering continuous learning and growth. The panel also touched upon strategic considerations like successful integration strategies and potential challenges.  

Transforming HR into People and Culture: The Power of Rebranding for Retention 


This session explored the evolving role of the CHRO and the broader transformation of HR towards a more people-centric approach, emphasizing the shift from transactional to transformational practices. Gemma Atkinson underscored the importance of rebranding from HR to People and Culture, highlighting it as a cultural and operational shift rather than just a name change. Key aspects of this revolve around designing employee journeys focused on well-being, growth, and alignment with organizational values to improve retention rates. Practical strategies were unveiled for fostering engagement and aligning the employee experience with company values. Atkinson emphasized that People and Culture are becoming the driving force behind organizational success and longevity, signaling a shift from HR being the past to People and Culture being the future. 

Topic 2: HR technology 

Leveraging technology effectively is essential for optimizing HR processes and enhancing organizational performance. Several sessions provided practical guidance on how to harness cutting-edge HR technologies to address specific challenges, from recruitment to performance management. 

Sessions of note 

Why Can’t We Just Pay People to Work Anymore? 


  • Christine Heckart, CEO and Founder, Xapa 

This session challenges conventional thinking on employee compensation and motivation. Christine Heckart advocates for a deeper engagement beyond financial incentives, aligning workplace strategies with shared values. Heckart emphasizes personalized recognition and valuing individual contributions as crucial for today's workforce. She shared insights into the limitations of financial incentives and explored alternative strategies like personalized recognition and aligning work with personal values. Heckart also included practical examples and strategies for implementing value-aligned engagement practices, fostering community, belonging, and shared purpose in the workplace. 

Strategic AI Integration Panel Discussion: Elevating HR Tech Safely and Effectively 


In this session, industry experts discussed the evolving impact of AI on HR technology stacks, focusing on maximizing value while mitigating risks to the organization and its intellectual property. The panel shared tips for optimizing their HR tech investments, identifying high ROI use cases, and evaluating suppliers effectively. They also discussed how to manage risk associated with AI in HR tech, measure ROI and adoption, and identify quick wins to enhance organizational efficiency.  

Topic 3: Talent management 

Attracting, retaining, and developing top talent is always a hot topic. Attendees explored strategies for retaining top talent, including improvements in employee training, recognition, and well-being. 

Sessions of note 

How to Improve Your Employee Rewards and Recognition Programs in 2024 and Beyond 


  • Cameron Johnson, Senior Business Development Director, Tango Card 

Cameron Johnson guided attendees through trends in digitally incentivizing employees and their impact on employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention. He walked through various types of recognition programs, highlighting their effectiveness in engaging and retaining employees in today’s competitive, remote, and hybrid work landscape. Key takeaways included understanding different employee recognition programs, adapting rewards for hybrid work setups, and strategies for choosing the right program to optimize engagement and retention for your employees. 

Navigating Caregiving Challenges at the Workplace: Empowering Employers to Support Family Caregivers 


An increasing number of employees are balancing work and family caregiving roles. This session explored the complexities of caregiving responsibilities in the workplace, including the challenges employees face and the solutions employers can offer. Megan Burke shared a toolkit for building an inclusive workplace culture that supports employees with caregiving responsibilities, aiming to inspire proactive employer initiatives to enhance employee well-being and organizational performance. 

Topic 4: Compliance 

What HR conference would be complete without covering compliance? HRWest’s compliance sessions covered the new developments attendees should know in order to ensure compliance and mitigate risk. 

Session of note 

HR Compliance: What Every Employer Should Know 


  • Jocelyn King, CEO and Founder, VirgilHR 


This session provided insight into various aspects of employment and labor law compliance, including pay transparency, pay equity, compensation, benefits, reasonable accommodations, employee classification, onboarding, offboarding, recruiting, and retaliation. Jocelyn King shared advice for staying updated with legislative changes, implementing best practices for compliance, and integrating compliance into your people strategy. King also reviewed key federal, state, and local employment and labor laws across the US. 

Other highlights from HRWest 2024 

The event also featured "FutureHR: The Ultimate Startup Showdown," showcasing innovative solutions to HR challenges. The four-phase showdown included pitches to a panel of analysts, investors, and senior HR leaders that took place earlier this month. At the conference, finalists pitched their products in person to judges and attendees for the chance to win the grand prize, which included a $30,000 marketing services and media package with 

The grand prize winner of this year's showdown, crowned the Startup of the Year, is Flockity. At the intersection of influencer marketing and recruitment marketing, Flockity empowers individuals to become job distributors, connecting employers with a wider talent pool through an extensive influencer network.

Affectionately named “The OSCARS of HR,” The Awards recognizes organizations and individuals who have made impressive strides toward HR excellence. It’s important that we continue to recognize and celebrate success in the industry; The Awards Gala on March 6 was a perfect ending to a great conference. 

More about OneSource Virtual 

Whether you need tactical, process, or strategic payroll support, our payroll services scale to fit your needs. Our patented in-tenant technology and expert services enable you to increase efficiency, reduce error, stay compliant, and focus more on strategy. 

Our customer-centric approach puts your goals and objectives at the center of everything we do. With over 1,000 active customers, and a 95% customer retention rating, OneSource Virtual is the leading exclusive provider of Workday Business-Processes-as-a-Service (BPaaS).   

If you’re ready to take your team from transactional to transformational, we’re here to show you the way. 

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