LAS VEGAS — I know this might come across as a little Smallville, but I'd be lying if I didn't confess my quiet awe when strolling into the buzz saw of HR personnel swarming the Las Vegas Convention Center this week. I had a flashback to that first traumatic day of grade school so many years ago (but without the cocktails).

I admit, it's my first time. And, from the looks of things, a trip to SHRM's conference is overdue.

But it's been encouraging. While both economic and political uncertainty have been haunting the benefits business for a few years now, from what I've seen here so far this week, the mood seems to plateau on the human resource side of things.

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