Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.

Ah, the start of the new year (and decade!): a time to get excited for resolutions, new goals, upcoming travel destinations—and, of course, HRE’s 2020 Health & Benefits Leadership Conference.

If traveling to the HBLC show isn’t on your list of 2020 resolutions yet, allow me to tell you what’s so great about this year’s event.

Here are five reasons to be excited about—and, yes, attend—HRE’s Health & Benefits Leadership Conference, held April 15-17 at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. (If this doesn’t excite you enough, don’t miss lots of benefits and other pre-event coverage on HRE’s website from now until HBLC.)

An in-depth look at the hottest and most important trends. The employee-benefits market is more exciting than ever. From the rise of financial-wellness programs and student-loan benefits to family-friendly perks and creative ways to retain and attract talent, employers are embracing a new crop of benefits—and HR professionals need to remain in the know. I’m especially excited about our main-stage events, which address some of the year’s biggest themes. They include a panel on how part-time and gig workers are influencing employers’ benefits packages and a keynote address from James Klein, president of the American Benefits Council, who will discuss what benefits and HR professionals need to know about benefits policy in a presidential election year.

Case studies. I write about employee benefits all the time, but there’s nothing I enjoy hearing more than the perspective of employers that are making big changes to their benefits packages and telling their stories. From why and how they implemented a benefit to the results, pitfalls and lessons learned, hearing the personal experiences of HR and benefits managers can be truly impactful. That’s why I’m excited we have some innovative employers sharing their stories at HBLC this year. Among them: American Eagle Outfitters, Comcast, Designer Brands, Lenovo, United Technologies and Walmart.

Reconfigured tracks. The benefits landscape is changing so much—and that’s why our featured track sessions are, too. The conference will feature eight new and reimagined tracks—all aimed at addressing some of the biggest challenges facing HR and benefits leaders. They are:

  • Hot benefits to attract and retain talent
  • Rethinking healthcare in changing times
  • Keeping employees engaged
  • Helping employees boost financial health
  • Improving employees’ overall wellbeing
  • Being a better benefits leader
  • Staying compliant
  • Tech solutions that work

Great networking opportunities. It’s important to keep up with the latest news on sites like HRExecutive.com, but there is something special about gathering with peers, industry insiders and experts in the field to learn and talk. Meet and engage with peers at social events, sessions and during our many expo hall hours, where you’ll also get a chance to compare current products and services.

Joan Lunden. If all this wasn’t enough, award-winning journalist Joan Lunden will present HBLC’s opening keynote session on April 15. You may know her best as former co-host of Good Morning America, but you’ll get to know her during the keynote address as an impassioned health, wellness and caregiving advocate. Recently, Lunden has served as a special correspondent for the Today show and as host of the CBS series Your Health. She also advocates for caregiving support and brings this experience to her role as the spokesperson for the senior-referral service A Place for Mom, a company that helps caregivers and families find the right care and resources for their loved ones. I’m so excited to hear her advice for employers and HR professionals about caregiving support.

Plus, she’ll be signing copies of her new book, Why Did I Come into This Room? A Candid Conversation about Aging, due for release in March. Don’t miss a chance to see and meet her. I know you’ll walk away inspired.