CNBC, CNN and other news media seem to be reacting to the various tweets that president elect Trump is pushing out which have effected some company stock values. Even the Washing Post has reported that business leaders are feeling unnerved by the leadership style of president elect. While this topsy turvey approach is effecting business stocks, as HR and Diversity practitioners we need to help our senior leaders remain calm and focused on the mid-term and long-term talent needs of our companies.
Over the years, I have leaned that knee-jerk reactions to decision making with regards to talent and diversity is not effective in the long run, especially when there are still too many unknowns. Following are some things we do need think about as HR and Divesity practitioners as we prepare for 2017 and beyond:
The Trump Administration, as in other Republican led administrations, has traditionally focused less legislation and more pro-business employment strategies. We can already see this unfolding with the Overtime Work Rule being challenged and slowed down. Chances are we will see an easing up of EEOC/OFFCP investigations and more relaxed guidelines. However, a lot of this is up in the air until the new head of the Department of Labor gets into office, however if history repeats itself we will see less focus on labor and compliance. There are two areas that are unknowns, in particular, immigration and the increase in the hourly wage rate.
Immigration and legislation related to H1B Visa compliance will be focus area for the administration, as well as exportation of jobs. There has been consistent conversations and comments prior to the election and currently there appears to be a continued focus in these areas. The companies which will most likely be impacted are those that have relied on immigrant workforces for highly skilled technology and science workers and/or those that are dependent on temporary immigrant labor for field and manual jobs. As a result, we may see more automation in field labor employment.
Healthcare will be a very hot topic going into 2017. We can expect that regardless of what is done there will be a lot of back and forth in the House of Representatives and Senate on this topic. In addition, whatever the agreement turns out to be there will be at least a 2-3 year lag in implementation. The U.S. healthcare challenge is much like the Brexit vote....not until you start to look at the details will they realize that verbalizing an exit is much easier than the actual untangling of the system.
A major national and global challenge for companies will continue be talent attraction and retention. Regardless of the type of company or business a well thoughtout plan to attract and retain talent will be critical regardless of the decisions and legislation the new administration comes up with. So investment in tools and resources that allow companies to focus on analyizing workforce demographics and managing knowledge transfer while keeping labor costs in check will continue to be critical. We are entering the era of workforce analytics and any company that does not get its arms around this will struggle.
A shift in diversity and inclusion efforts. While there are a few major companies committed to this area and still have standalone diversity focus, it is clear that there is a need for greater alignment of diversity and inclusion with talent managment. This does not mean that companies will de-emphasize past work but hiring diverse candidates especially in the technical and sciences areas will become more competitive, this is simply becasue as a nation we don't have enough people graduating in these fields. There have several studies that show companies with women in senior leadership roles have better ROI. In addition, companies with high turnover rates have a higher talent replacement cost than those with low turnover. Some areas where diversity and inclusion can help play a key role is in driving innovation and developing creative business solutions or developing new products to market as well as building the companies' brand by connecting with consumers.The biggest challenge for diversity practitioners is how do you show the ROI of programs.
Focus on Corporate Culture - With an improved fiscal economy one of the biggest challenge companies will be facing is retention, so investing in programs designed to strengthen and improve corporate culture will become even more important. In tough economic times employees tend to stay with companies longer but in improved fiscal economies talent, particularly Millennials and GenXers, tend to change jobs more quickly. The strongest talent of the organization tends to jump first. Companies that don't have strong core values and/or a corporate culture that is inclusive and flexible will still be financially viable but will have to work harder to retain talent especially in a stronger fiscal economy. While companies have continued to invest in employee engagement tools and programs, a recent Gallup study of 80K employees nationally showed that a significant portion of the workforce remains disengaged and so organizations that will thrive are those that have been able to develop a strong corporate culture and retain talent (i.e. Zappos, SAS).
The rise of apprenticeship and internal retooling programs. Because of a lack of skilled labor we will see greater investment on behalf of companies on apprenticeship programs offered through high schools and community colleges to address the skills gaps in critical industries. In addition, we will see companies developing and executing retooling programs designed to help individuals who might be otherwise exited, invited to stay and get an opportunity to reinvent their skills sets. In the past, federal dollars have been available to academic institutes and corporations from the Departments of Labor, Energy, Commerce and Transportation, this made it possible for companies and educational institutes to get funding, however at this time it is uncertain if future funding will be available from the federal government. Regardless of whether future federal funding is available or these kinds of programs make sense as a way to grow specific skills and retain talent. These programs have also in the past yielded positive business results and business savings for major companies in manufacturing and the energy sector.
As HR and Diversity practitioners we need to keep in mind while we need to be adaptable to changes in the market having a well thought plan grounded in your company's workforce needs is critical in avoiding short term reactions. Hopefully this article has been helpful. Please share what you are doing to prepare for the human resources and diversity changes ahead. (www.dicreativesolutions.com)