This guest blog post is written by Gene Marks, a small business expert, columnist, author, keynote speaker and CPA. Utilizing over 20 years experience as a small business speaker, Gene helps small business owners, executives and managers understand the political, economic and technological trends that affect their companies so they can make profitable decisions.
Look, I just run a ten-person company, OK? That means that I have no one in charge of human resources other than myself. But many of our clients have a dedicated HR people employed. Because we provide financial advisory services, I help search and hire of HR execs for some of my larger clients.
Being in HR is hard – particularly when an HR person works for a smaller company. Workplace issues dominate today’s corporate world where good, skilled employees are in high demand and larger corporations offer better benefits and (sometimes) better work environments. When I help our clients search for HR executives, I want to be sure that they know the most important trends that will affect their organizations.
Millennials and generational disputes
Today’s workforce is quickly becoming a millennial workforce. More than half of all employees in the next few years will be aged between 18-34 years old. This is a generation that is hard working, productive and valuable. They also have different priorities than prior generations. They value more paid time off, more flexibility, independence and mobility. They want better life balance and want employers to recognize that their personal lives are every bit as important as their professional lives.
To meet this challenge, more employers offer better paid time off policies, work at home opportunities, time off to care for newborns and some offer vacation days to take care of new puppies! Older generations never received these benefits when they were younger; some aren’t thrilled with the new perks for younger counterparts. How do you balance the demands and frustrations between generations?
The explosion of HR technology
The global HR software market is expected to reach $9.2 billion by 2022, according to recent research. HR platforms now integrate with payroll platforms. Mobile applications allow employees to immediately see pay history, request sick days, update vacation, and complete insurance forms. It means better software to help with performance reviews, safety reporting, benefits management, loan repayment and retirement analysis.
Smart HR executives recognize this trend and embrace the technologies. They realize the information improves productivity and profitability and makes for a better, happier workforce.
The very active EEOC
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is busy. The commission handles situations where employers potentially treat employees unfairly. Each year, the commission investigates hundreds of cases and settles for hundreds of millions of dollars. This year the big emphasis is on discrimination. Employees now find it easier, particularly with the commission’s online tools, to submit their complaints for investigation.
Given the importance of workplace behavior and its important to the current generation of workers, this is a trend that I believe will increase. Smart HR executives take proactive steps to ensure that they follow the appropriate rules, policies and guidelines documented and an adequate complaint and issue handling process.
State legislation filling in the gaps
No longer does an HR executive need to be familiar with the federal rules. Short of being a labor lawyer, today’s successful HR leader has to be familiar with the state and local regulations that will impact their organization. This means minimum wage, overtime, paid time off, sick pay, pregnancy accommodations and a host of other laws that impact companies at the local level.
Yes, healthcare. Healthcare rates continue to rise, coverages continue to decline and the system’s complexity continues to get…well…more complex. Yet healthcare continues to be a highly valued and required benefit offered by companies if they expect to attract the best people.
HR executives need to become experts at healthcare cost containment strategies. Period. Whether the new Association Health Plans, level funded or hybrid policies, HSAs, Healthcare Reimbursement Accounts or self-funding options, today’s leaders must strategize and execute on healthcare plans that are competitive and affordable. Not an easy task — but a critical one.
HR managers are quickly becoming a key part of an organization’s leadership team. It’s not hard to understand: people remain an organization’s biggest asset and can be the difference between success and failure.