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Highlights From Weekdays With Bernie 2023

Highlights From Weekdays With Bernie 2023

Another successful Weekdays with Bernie Conference in the books! 

Beginning in 2018, HRIS platform and company BerniePortal began hosting a conference for HR industry professionals and aspiring leaders within the industry. During this two-day conference, attendees are able to listen to numerous influential speakers, each of whom disclose some of their most prominent HR industry acumen, always leaving our participants with tangible action steps, guidance to improve, and goals moving forward. Attendees are also provided an opportunity to network with other professionals, to attend informative breakout sessions and a chance to earn CE credits. 

Missed out? Don’t worry! Register early for next year

Curious as to what our HR professionals divulged during the event? Keep reading to find out.



Weekdays with Bernie 2023 General Session Speakers 

This year, our speakers included:

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP - President and CEO of SHRM; American Lawyer; Author; Board Member; Public Speaker

Arnie Malham- Award-Winning CEO/Founder of BetterBookClub; Author; Culture Consultant 

Colene Rogers, SHRM-SCP - President/CEO of Retention Architects; Leadership Speaker; DISC Consultant 


Johnny C. Taylor - The Great Reset for HR Professionals

Johnny C. Taylor, author of Reset, kicked off the conference highlighting the economic need for “The Great Reset”. While he initially planned to prepare for “The Great Pause” in March 2020, as the pandemic persisted, he soon realized the vital demand for a complete reset–the inspiration for his book.

He discussed the current, ominous, “perfect storm” that currently exists within the post-pandemic workforce.  What does this perfect storm consist of, you may ask? Some examples include:

  • Wages rising at their fastest rate in decades 

  • Declining labor participation rate threatening long-term growth of US economy

  • Working productivity falling at its fastest rate in decades 

Taylor expressed, “Accessing financial capital is no longer a problem…it’s the access to human capital that keeps me up at night.”

There are over 9.9 million open jobs in the US with 40% of employees job searching, a 25% annual turnover rate and a 20+ years American birth rate. The HR focus remains on millennials and Gen Z’s, yet those generations do not account for the majority of working individuals. Additionally, Taylor broke down the drastic shift in career/workplace desirability from 2020 to 2023. 

In 2020, the majority of employees:

  • Desired remote work

  • Resorted to quiet quitting (remaining in their position, doing the bare minimum)

  • Wanted perks

  • Desired job security

  • Resorted to job resignation 

  • Sought out diversity and inclusion programs 

  • Wanted their leaders to have sympathy 

  • Cared about their physical well-being as a priority 

In 2023, the majority of employees:

  • Desire work flexibility 

  • Resort to “resent-eeism” (resenting each person with whom he/she worked, along with the role itself)

  • Want proper compensation

  • Desire career development 

  • Seek out culturally embedded inclusion, equity, and diversity 

  • Resort to the Great Regret (realizing he/she regrets leaving a company, hoping to get a second chance)

  • Want their leaders to have empathy 

  • Care about their mental wellness as a priority 

With these shifts in employee desires, as well as the decline in hard-working employees, adaptations are required among HR professionals. Not only are we declining in motivation to work, but we are also declining in inclusivity of working together. Taylor states, “We are more diverse than we have ever been.” 

Taylor expresses the importance of keeping an open mind and heart with all employees, even those who leave the company, considering the increasingly difficult challenge of finding driven employees who are a good cultural fit; he refers to this as the “boomerang” effect. 80% of employees regret quitting their jobs and do seek re-employment with their previous employer. Taylor urges all HR professionals to adapt with the present times and begin to implement changes accordingly. 


Arnie Malham - Why Building My Company Culture Was “Worth Doing Wrong” on the Way to Getting It Right

Arnie Malham, Founder and CEO of BetterBookClub and author of Worth Doing Wrong,  is the epitome of his own attestation that “culture reflects leadership”. As one who runs a successful business, thriving with enthusiastic employees, it came as no surprise that Malham enlivened the room with laughter, clapping and even a shower of dollar bills flying out of his money gun. Employees want to work for Malham at cj Advertising

Malham believes in the power of happy employees. He quoted legendary management speaker, Tom Peters in saying, “Train them so well they can leave; treat them so well they don’t.” 

Unhappy or unsatisfied employees will do one of two things–they will leave the company, or they will do the bare minimum to receive a paycheck. Happy and satisfied employees are excited to work, excited to grow, excited for more opportunities. 

Malham highlights 3 important employee mindset approaches to “Getting It Right.”

  1. Mindset of growth

  2. Mindset of trust

  3. Mindset for action vs. intention 

With growth, trust, and action, a positive environment is created for the employees who want to stay and want to grow.  It all comes down to company culture.

Malham identifies the most common excuses made by HR professionals around the world. 

“If we had better people, we would have a better culture.”

“When we make more money, we will get more culture.”

“That’s fine, but it won’t work for us.”

“Only successful companies do that.”

Culture reflects leadership. Malham drove that point home throughout his presentation. “The culture you have is the culture you deserve,” he’d repeat. 

WTVF News Channel 5 interviewed employees at cj Advertising in 2015, declaring the company as “the best place to work in Nashville”. Throughout the interviews, employees raved about the company culture. Malham’s employees can show up to work wearing comfortable clothing of choice, receive unlimited PTO, and even get paid to read! Which, serves as a perfect segue into mentioning Malham’s growing online business, BetterBookClub, founded in 2018. With the goal of personal growth at the forefront of Malham’s vision for successful employees, he decided to include a library at cj Advertising. Each book in this library has a dollar value written inside. Once the book is read, the employee receives that amount in cash.  Pretty cool, right?

Malham devised this reading incentive so his employees can grow both personally and professionally. The goal of this program entails,

“You will leave a better person than you came.”

“We make growth fun.”

“Train them so well they can leave, treat them so well they don’t.”

There are many reasons why employees love working for cj Advertising, and they all reflect back to one element - the culture. 

With the success of BetterBookClub within his own company, Malham expanded the idea, creating an online platform for businesses around the world. Companies can customize their library based on the industry and culture, and teammates can follow their colleagues, creating a fun bonding experience, perhaps even with some amicable competition. 

Malham has just one rule at his company - “Do the right thing.” Deciding the 26-page employee handbook was futile, he deleted it.  “Do the right thing,” sums it up. Have a question? Ask. Concerned about something? Talk to him about it. Have money issues? He will work with you to figure out a feasible solution. 

Each year, Malham does a morale survey for employees. There is only one question–to rate their overall experience at the company from 1-10. With the goal of achieving at least 80% participation and an 8/10 rating, cj Advertising currently surpasses each of those goals. 

What would your company’s rating be? Are there changes you can make in your company to improve your culture? 

These Weekdays with Bernie conferences can help you make the changes your organization needs to succeed. 



Colene Rogers - The Future of HR: Strategic Partnerships that Create Acquisition, Engagement and Retention Solutions 

Colene Rogers, author of Retention: Key Mindsets that Retain Top Talent, started up her business, Retention Architects, to resolve HR issues with retention. 

Portraying the business image ideal utilizing Maslow’s Pyramid, Rogers places growth at the top of the pyramid, followed by teamwork, individual contribution, then basic needs in the workplace. 

She identifies 4 mindsets of employees:

1. Insignificant

Employees think the company and their role is insignificant. This mindset generates a very high turnover rate.

2. Temporary

Employees identify the company as an “OK” place to work, but mostly a stepping stone to something bigger and better. 

3. Exclusive

Employees consider the company a good place to work. They are not necessarily looking for other jobs, but they would accept a better opportunity if it came knocking. 

4. Career Company

Employees love the company. It is a great place to work, and they are there to stay! 

In order to grow from an insignificant, temporary, or even exclusive company to a career company, Rogers displays the Retention Architecture, which comprises 5 components: talent acquisition, leadership development, communication, talent development, and HR practices. 

Within the talent acquisition phase, Rogers expresses the importance of presenting a positive work environment; it is important to make the entire process, from application and interviewing to the onboarding process warm and welcoming. One key attribute during the talent acquisition phase is to create a recruitment video that enables potential future employees to get a glimpse of the company culture and overall atmosphere of the workplace. Here is the example shown by Rogers: Join Team Dowdy - Dowdy Corporation.

In the leadership development process, building a foundation that begets a “yes” from each question below is essential. 

  1. Do you care for me?

  2. Can you help me?

  3. Can I trust you?

Communication leads to a community. A community leads to retention. Rogers references Patrick Lenioni’s, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, showing the 5 behaviors of a cohesive team in pyramid form. Beginning at the bottom of the pyramid is trust. Proceeding up the pyramid is conflict, commitment, accountability, and results. Rogers expresses that conflict is inevitable, so we must learn how to deal with it. 

Within the talent development phase, companies should consider professional development plans, mentorships, apprenticeship programs, and executive coaching. Rogers discusses the importance of retention talks with direct reports. These conversations enable open communication for the leader to discover what he or she can do to improve as a supervisor and to get a clear understanding of how that employee feels about his or her role. 

Implementing proper HR practices such as competitive compensation and benefits, government regulation and legal compliance, policy and procedure implementation, and organization development and culture, are all necessary for high retention rates. Employees need to know that they are cared for both in and outside of the workplace. 


Congratulations to our Weekdays with Bernie 2023 Award Winners

1. Bernie BFF: This award goes to the agency that was most engaged with BerniePortal in 2022 

Team SJB:

Blake Butler, Sheila Butler, Brett Mathews, Christie Berry



2. BerniePortal Boss: This award goes to the company who had the most employees added to BerniePortal in 2022 


Jennifer Sosa, Rosie Gonzalez  



3. Weekdays with Bernie MVP: The broker partners with the most WWB spirit (not chosen until the conference): 

Alisha Phoenix (Cornerstone)



BerniePortal Broker Council Members 2023:

Each year, we also recognize the members of our inaugural BerniePortal Broker Council, comprised of some of the best broker minds in the business.

  1. Serena Lubacz and Christina Burgado of Vanner Benefits in Amherst, NY

  2. David Beach and Ria Beach of NBI & Associates in Fort Worth, TX

  3. Susan Culhane and Robin Filiputti of Nulty Insurance in Kalamazoo, MI

  4. Dave Libao and Michael Banks of Cummings, Fraser & Associates in Seattle, WA 


Key Takeaways from Other Weekdays with Bernie Conferences: 


Additional Resources

You can stay informed, educated, and up-to-date with important HR topics using BerniePortal’s comprehensive resources:

  • BerniePortal Blog—a one-stop-shop for HR industry news

  • HR Glossary—featuring the most common HR terms, acronyms, and compliance

  • HR Guides—essential pillars, covering an extensive list of comprehensive HR topics

  • BernieU—free online HR courses, approved for SHRM and HRCI recertification credit

  • HR Party of One—our popular YouTube series and podcast, covering emerging HR trends and enduring HR topics

BerniePortal Employee Lifecycle Demo CTA

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