Friday, February 6, 2009

Now Is The Time For HR to Shine

A few issues of SHRM's monthly publication HR ...Image via Wikipedia

HR Moment in the Sun?

Lance Haun at Your HR Guy has written a pair of thought provoking posts about EFCA and HR. He says he got it wrong the first time. He says his post on HR peeps being afraid of coming legislative changes, including EFCA, was not clear. I dunno. In my mind, they were both great posts individually, and especially when paired together.

Why? Because they provoked dialogue and thought on a crucial topic.

That is something I wish happened a hell of a lot more on this blog over the stuff I write. It is something that needs to happen a helluva lot more in the HR community. Fortunately there is a bunch of good people working to make that happen.

In many ways, Lance nailed it with this pair of posts. He got a great reaction from both sides of the topic.

I read the first post. I agreed with most of it, except the part about shutting up about it.

The reason I didn't agree?

Last week in Las Vegas, and in Miami the week before that I asked several CEOs and HR Pro's what they were doing at their companies to prepare for EFCA and other legislative changes.

I got a bunch of blank stares.

That is concerning, not matter your stance on the legislation and how much sturm und drang it deserves in the press.

The coming changes in labor laws are one of those rare moments where HR can be the leader and prove itself relevant, but not if people aren't even paying attention.

Those of us who care about being professionals hear the noise.

Lots of business people don't, believe it or not.

And regardless of how much we blab or say "shut up", it still makes for good discussion!

And discussion brings consideration. Consideration brings focus. Focus brings thought. Thought brings planning. Planning brings action, in whatever form it may take.

We are looking at a key moment in time for business, employees, and HR.
This may the key moment for Human Resources for the next several decades.

Kris Dunn wrote months ago about EFCA being a career killer and I told him then he was wrong.

It and all the other legislation coming our way in the coming months are career shakers for sure, but in a good way. Why?

Because it provides an unparalleled opportunity to redefine our profession.

Now is the time for HR pros to redefine their roles their companies by doing the things Lance mentions in his first post:

  • working on positive employee relations
  • building better benefits and programs
  • strengthening the organization
....anything they can do to make the workplace better.

That is the transitional opportunity presented to our profession right now - the chance to step up and make that strategic difference with the skills and ideas we all have.

HR professionals are also going to have to step up on an individual basis and redefine themselves to keep up with these changes as well.

We are gonna need new skills, peeps!

Business and HR people in general are not paying enough attention to all the nuances of EFCA, and what it will mean to us when it passes.

Now is not the time to shut up, get pissy, or really, even to stop the dialogue. All of it is important.

Now is the time to pay attention, learn and observe. It is critical that we all take to the time to understand the laws, the impetus behind them, the forces driving them, and see what is developing for our business and our profession.

I think there are two things HR professionals should be doing right now:

1) Help your company prepare for the new world that is coming be developing the right strategies, tactics and policies that will be required.

2) As a practitioner, sharpen those skills that have atrophied, or that you may never have had to use, like grievance handling, formal negotiation, arbitration, conflict resolution, mediation, etc.

More to come. Get out there and get going!

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  1. Great post Michael. Focusing on the internal rather than the external is always big for me. I don't think people should STFU about any issue they care about, but I think we can switch focus without shutting up and still be productive.

  2. Michael:
    Good post. I agree this is an opportunity for HR to shine if they can successfully inform and direct their management team in the effort of keeping their company union free. Working in an environment with progressive practices and engaged employees is a great place to be an HR person. I think Kris' point was that, if you fail to do that, and you end up with a union you have a career buster for HR. Great for people who want to be in labor relations but not progressive HR.

    I agree that we need to keep getting the word out. Too many HR and company executives know very little about EFCA. This is where HR can be a major help to their organization. But not if they don't know about it and the myriad of other laws that will be introduced/passed this year.

    HR needs to be doing attitude surveys (see Cathy Martin for that), informational training, employee relations training, communication etc.

    Going to be an interesting time. Thanks for the continued dialogue.

  3. Thanks for the disruptive management in getting the dialogue going in a new direction, Lance!

  4. @Michael I agree with you in hind sight about Kris's post, but when I read it, it seemed like he said it was the end of our profession, and I told him then I didn't believe or accept that. I argued it would make our skills, and the new/old ones more important than ever.

    We had an interesting email dialogue about this.

    Thanks for pointing out additional skill sets we will need (and thanks for reposting this comment!)

  5. That's a wonderful post with useful information. Please keep me updated with latest stuff about employment laws.

  6. Since I begin my career as an HR Consultant , you add me alot through HR magazine . Good Luck and Thanks


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