Jack Martin: HRPA Conference 2016 Review

The HRPA Trade Show 2016: Reflections From A First Time Attendee

Our company, Payback Incentives, has recently launched a new free employee incentives software. As part of our efforts to reach more markets and build new partnerships north of the border, I travelled up from Lockport, NY to check out the HRPA Conference and Trade Show for the first time. What an awesome experience!

From morning to lights out on the 20th Jan, I walked the HRPA trade show floor – meeting with lots of amazing brands and hearing from participants about their strategies and plans for the year ahead.


HRPA Trade Show: A Unique Opportunity To Learn And Network

The 2016 HRPA’s Annual Conference and Trade show, held 20th – 22nd of at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto. It was a super opportunity for me to get a feel for the direction HR and technology is heading up in Canada.

I met with a lot of innovative companies, and non-profits covering the full spectrum of HR and related services. A standout example would be meeting with a corporate team-building program called Helping Hands. This awesome company provides, assembles and decorates prosthetic arm parts which are sent to the needy in poorer, often war-torn nations.

Helping Hands merges team building with making a major difference to people who need help. It’s an approach I’ve never seen before and I was impressed by the unique merging of HR and humanitarianism.

HappyOrNot was another exhibitor which I thought was brilliant! As a Co-Founder of a Marketing firm, the simplicity of the idea coupled with the impressive back-end reporting of this employee feedback brand was a breath of fresh air! What’s more, the brand is going places fast; HappyOrNot helped over 2,000 companies collect feedback from more than 143,000,000 people in 2015 alone.

What’s more, the brand is going places fast; HappyOrNot helped over 2,000 companies collect feedback from more than 143,000,000 people in 2015 alone.

HappyOrNotTheir service helps make people happier and grow business. They help employers listen to employees with their simple but clever 4 Smileys. This is turn means new ways to get your customers and employees to give you the feedback you need to continuously improve, gaining a full overview of your company’s physical and online service performance. The reporting function is easy to understand yet can be made up of 100s and 1000s of one-question employee surveys.

I wasn’t the only person who love the HappyOrNot concept – the HRPA has the terminals with the instant reporting buttons scattered throughout the trade show.

I also had the pleasure of speaking with a gentleman in which we talked about relieving stress in the workplace. The example he gave me was you’re chatting with the prospect and you bring up a sports team that they like but last year they lost in the finals or something, well now they’re in a negative space, and you didn’t even know it had happened. You think you’re just making small talk but you touched on a negative emotion for them, and now they’ve put up the cautionary flag, and now they’re no longer in a buying position and now they want to wait. It was just interesting.

Speakers And Sessions

There were some great keynote speakers talking about some fascinating topics, for example, Benjamin Tal discussed “Taking an Outside-in Perspective: Linking Economics to HR” which was presented by the CPA (Chartered Professional Accountants). Sessions ranged from HR Leadership to Learning and Talent Development to Performance and Rewards.

HRPA 2016

HRPA 2016

Compared to my experiences at SHRM and HR Tech, the HRPA Conference is more compact and easier to navigate. They had a ton of awesome and cool things, but you weren’t walking long distances to see them, and even though I was there for just one of the three days, I was able to meander around most of the tradeshow floor

The HRPA brand seems to promote corporate responsibility which is another big plus for me. The HRPA went as far as even ensuring that green initiatives were implemented for the conference, such as sourcing sustainable suppliers, the whole conference being powered by 100% green electricity, and also being a zero waste event.

The quality of the exhibitors and the access to the people was great because they’re all very engaging and very friendly people. Not only were they nice but the concepts and the ideas regardless if it was technology based or not that they came up with was just tremendous.

Finally, meeting well known HRPA brand ambassadors like Tim Baker consolidated an experience in which I felt like I was being welcomed into a whole new HR community! I’ll be back in 2017!





Author: Jack Martin

Jack Martin is a founder of Buffalo-based J. Fitzgerald Group Marketing Communications and Payback Incentives. Jack is responsible for client services, new business development, and development of Payback Incentives, an online incentive management tool that connects employees and customers with any award they want; Blue Sky e-Pass, the spot award program that gives employees the gift of choice and i-Marketing, the automated program that lets you control your brand while allowing dealers, distributors and others to create localized marketing materials.

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