The Latest on Labor Reform

While most of the sessions I attended on Monday focused on the changing workplace and how businesses can adapt, my first Tuesday session had a different flavor.

“Understanding Labor Reform’s Newest Front Lines” was led by Philip Miscimarra, a partner at a Chicago law firm. He represents clients on a wide range of labor and employment issues, with a focus on traditional labor matters and employment litigation.

Miscimarra discussed how employers are facing a resurgence in labor-law reform efforts on multiple fronts. These efforts have been initiated by the National Labor Relations Board, an independent agency of the U.S. government that conducts elections and investigates unfair labor practices. Miscimarra’s goal was to help the audience understand the implications of these reforms and navigate this new pro-labor environment.

Miscimarra first addressed the National Labor Relations Board’s Notice Posting rule. This would require private sector employers to post a notice advising employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.  Earlier this year, the U.S. District Court of South Carolina invalidated this rule, which had been scheduled to take effect on April 30.  An appeal is in process, and a resolution is expected at the end of this year.
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Engaging Older Workers

How do you engage older employees in the workforce? Ed Redfern, the senior specialist of education and outreach at AARP, moderated a Monday afternoon session that answered that question.

Two leaders from organizations that won the 2011 AARP Best Employers for Workers over 50 were on hand to contribute to the session as well: Deb Shigley, an HR director of research at Cornell University; and Phil Lenowitz, deputy director of the human capital group at the National Institute of Health.

The discussion was largely a Q&A conducted by Redfern, and the two panelists shared their award-winning strategies.

Both stated that coming up with their strategies around engaging this population took time. Lenowitz said considering that the NIH has a culture that thrives on “the long-term,” it was a no-brainer to find ways of keeping their older workers as scientists and administrative leaders. “We find that managers understand that experience counts,” he said.

One facet of the discussion was that organizations can capitalize on the synergies that the various generations in the workforce can create. Lenowitz said that the NIH’s older, more experienced managers bring in younger people and train them. And every junior scientist at the NIH has a senior scientist.
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Adecco USA President Joyce Russell On Contingency

Olympic medalist Rulon Gardner chats with Joyce Russell, President of Adecco USA

Mid-afternoon is always a tough time for conference attendees weary from long sessions and poor eating. But Joyce Russell, EVP and President of Adecco Staffing, led a lively discussion on utilizing a flexible workforce through contingent and temporary positions.

Through facts, personal anecdotes and trivia questions, Russell laid the groundwork for why flexible employment can strengthen a workplace in today’s climate. She spoke of how the current workforce is changing and new economic realities that include workers having to do more with less.

That led to a look at the four generations that currently exist in today’s workforce: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials. Russell pointed out that these individuals want the same four things in their jobs: they want to have a purpose, make a contribution, be valued and be appreciated. “If you build your whole culture around those four principles,” said Joyce.  “I promise you, you will encompass all of those individuals.”

So what is the “new normal” in today’s working world? Russell says that companies are bringing in more flexible hires. And virtual employment is reality. She adds that companies that aren’t thinking about virtual employment are going to lose the battle in the end because the Millenials, as well as Traditionalists, are demanding virtual options.
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HR Strategy of the Future

A recurring theme at the SHRM conference is that the world is rapidly changing, and it’s essential that HR professionals adapt accordingly. And Gary Kushner, President and CEO of Kushner & Company, an HR strategy and employee benefits consulting firm based in Portage, Mich., held a session Monday morning that was right in line with that concept.

He spoke about five global trends that impact how work is performed in organizations today and tomorrow, and how leaders need to rethink many of their HR strategies in light of these new realities.

The first reality is technological advancement. Twenty-four seven connectivity has changed the way many of us work, said Kushner. People respond to work emails at all hours. Organizations now expect faster responses. As technology continues to evolve, he argued, organizatio
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Adecco Group’s Kathy Kane Talks Workforce Planning

Adecco Team at SHRM

It’s SHRM Day in Atlanta, according to the city’s mayor Kasim Reed, and Adecco Group’s Kathy Kane held an early morning session on contemporary workforce planning and how HR professionals can plan for their workforces going forward.

Kane, SVP, Talent Management, at Adecco Group, started out her discussion by telling the audience that their HR strategy needs to be aligned with their company’s business strategy, and it should in fact, enable that business strategy. “You don’t make money without talent,” she said. “Everything you do should be centered around workforce strategy.”

In planning a workforce strategy, Kane said, HR professionals need to look at where they are today, what they need that picture to look like tomorrow and how do they get there. She drilled down even further and said that a workforce strategy needed to have two elements: a business focus and a workforce focus.

This business focus involves understanding your company’s business strategy. “Business strategies are going to change all the time, but the business leaders aren’t always going to think about the talent implications,” said Kane, telling the audience that the goal is to have their leaders think of them as they’re devising strategies, as alignment is paramount.
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Meet the Athletes

Super Sunday at SHRM got off to a strong start, and at the end of the day, Adecco hosted a cocktail reception so that the Athlete Career Program participants could meet and greet conference attendees and clients.

During the event, the ACP participants Mechelle Lewis and Emma Preuschl snapped photos, signed autographs and spoke about the Athlete Career Program. Preuschl is a member of the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Team-Rowing. Lewis is a Pan American double silver medalist, a world champion and an Olympian in the 100 meters and 400 meter relay.

Rulon Gardner is a historic Olympic gold (2000) and bronze (2004) medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling. Rulon, a contestant on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” in 2011, was also on hand to discuss the importance of career-transition services for athletes, although he didn’t go through the ACP.

All three spoke passionately about the myriad benefits of the ACP. Lewis has been working at a leading beverage company since March, in its worldwide sports department. Prior to joining her current employer, Lewis had been working at an ad agency in Raleigh, N.C. since retiring from her sport in 2010 following a back injury.
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