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Jan 03, 2013

A glimpse ahead

By: Paul Ebeltoft

2012 is in the books. What will 2013 bring for HR Professionals? Last month I wrote about a likely tightening of regulations pertaining to use of independent contractors. 2013 will hold many more challenges for your company. Here are some that I think you might face:

Bring Your Own Device:

BYOD will become more common as companies seek to cut costs and decrease training time on company-owned platforms. At the same time, the 2011 Annual Cisco Security Report found that half of millennials will not work at a company that bans social networking. In 2013, look for company economics to couple with demands by the emerging workforce to result in new norms for social networking during office hours. HR should be prepared with policy options that maximize the value of work-place-permitted social networking, while protecting against its risks.

Unlimited Time Off:

There is a small but growing national trend to eliminate the need for a formal structure to police employee time off for vacation, sick leave, personal time or holidays. Employers investigating unlimited time off tend to consider it in those divisions where they already have well-defined and measureable job expectations. These employers weigh the benefit of an employee getting the job done against the need for regimented office face-time. Proponents argue that an unlimited time off policy will increase a company’s attractiveness in recruiting; will eliminate the need to pay-out accumulated leave; and will possibly lower employment costs by leveraging the trade of time-for-money that, increasingly, young people are willing to make. The trust that employers extend to workers with this type of policy is also believed to be a great morale and performance builder. On the other hand, critics say that scheduling and coverage can become an insurmountable headache. While possible in some white-collar jobs, critics contend that unlimited time off policies generally will not work in the service industry or in manufacturing. So far, new adherents seem to be gaining ground. Will this work in your business?

Healthcare exchanges.

Companies affected by the Affordable Healthcare Act are uncertain about its impact. Just one area of uncertainty that will need clarity soon is whether it is better to offer a “private exchange,” that is your company’s own mix of plan choices, to await creation of a state healthcare exchange or to rely on the default federal exchange if North Dakota does not create its own. Once exchanges, whether state or federal, are up and running, will it be viable for employers to opt out of providing any coverage, choosing to be to fined while sending their employees to the exchange for coverage? Expect your companies to engage HR in this discussion.

Increasing pressure to measure your effectiveness

Return on investment (ROI) is a critical metric for your company. How will your company measure HR’s ROI? HR is a profession that defies easy quantification of value. What is it worth to have an employee know that there is a safe person to whom to vent? What is the value of fair hiring, fair evaluation, fair advancement and fair discipline? How much would it cost to explain benefits to your company’s employees if you were not expert in them? HR functions are ubiquitous in the workplace. Your company may be looking to simplify, streamline and outsource them. If so, you need to be able to explain the worth of the good that you do and the end-products you provide. Can you?

In 2013 commit to framing an answer to the question, “What is my company’s ROI from HR?” Whether management asks the question of you or not, consideration of your answer will cause you to focus on tasks that are a priority and to decide those which are not. If 2013 brings clarity of vision for your role in HR – that’s not bad.

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(Otherwise known as “the fine print”)

I make a serious effort to be accurate in my writings. These articles are not exhaustive treatises, though, so do not consider them complete or authoritative. Providing this information to you does not create an attorney-client relationship with my firm or me. Do not act upon the contents of this or of any article on our homepage or consider it a replacement for professional advice.

Reprinted with permission from an article submitted for publication in the January, 2013 Southwest Area Human Resource Association newsletter.