SHRM 2013 Day 3 Coverage – Part 1 | Leadership and the ACA

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We kicked off day three of our SHRM 2013 coverage with gusto. Discussed in this article: Leadership strategies and power struggles and the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s impact on businesses and employees. Remember to follow us on Twitter at @AdeccoUSA for real-time updates.

We kicked off day three of our SHRM 2013 coverage with gusto.  With 117 sessions including, workshops, mega sessions, keynotes, roundtables and lunches, it was difficult to choose what we thought would be the right sessions to bring your way. From Auditing Policies to Immigration Law, HRCI Certification to building the best Employee Handbook; we feel the sessions outlined and summarized below, push the gambit of thought leadership you’d need to build your business and become a successful leader.

7 Strategies of phenomenal leaders

The morning began with a packed MEGA SESSION: It Begins and Ends With You: The Seven Strategies of Phenomenal Leaders. The session, targeted at executive-level HR leaders, was hosted by Kim Ades, MBA, president and founder of Frame of Mind Coaching and JournalEngine™ Software.

Ades recommended that HR leaders challenge initial knee-jerk reactions to obstacles. Instead of immediately saying, “I can’t do that,” take a step back and determine if that’s really true, or if you are just not seeing the solution, and keep in mind that the solution might be to lean on others. “When we have a problem, we have myopic vision,” Ades said. “We don’t think about other possibilities, we don’t think to ask for help.”

During her session, Ades introduced seven strategies of phenomenal leaders, citing examples as diverse as President Obama, Martha Stewart and Michael Jordan.

  • Journal: They write down their thoughts, beliefs and ideas. Then, they take a step back to see if their way of thinking is accurate, or if they invented an issue or story in their own heads. Journals are also a great way to innovate and sketch out ideas.
  • Have high emotional resilience: Resilience is the ability to get up, with speed and agility, after something bad has happened. Great leaders look at negative experiences as a chance to learn and improve.
  • Trade up their thoughts: Great leaders know that you can’t go from a thought to a solution; there is a journey along the way. Ideas must beget other, higher-level ideas, until a solution is reached.
  • Are committed to their vision: They talk about their visions, they share their visions, and they take pride in their visions. If you have a dream, start talking about it, start writing about it, and start crystallizing it.
  • Take personal responsibility: Great leaders are not afraid to accept responsibility. They embrace it, and they don’t blame others for their challenges.
  • Build a trusted inner circle: Great leaders have people they trust and who they can call on in tough situations. Great leaders often tend to surround themselves with other great leaders.
  • Move with speed: When there’s an opportunity, great leaders don’t sit back and wait for others to seize it. There are a million opportunities flying at you every day, so grab as many as you can.

Daniel Pink – Author, Speaker, Thinker

Everyone at SHRM 2013 seemed to be talking – and tweeting – about General Session keynote speaker, Daniel Pink, author of four provocative books about the changing world of work, including the long-running New York Times best seller, A Whole New Mind, and the #1 New York Times best seller, Drive.  He certainly did not disappoint.

With 50 years of behavioral science and countless articles on business and technology, recruiting and employee management, Pink offered two big ideas HR people should keep in mind:

  • Like it or not, we’re all in sales now. Only one in every nine people is officially in sales. However, nearly everyone performs sales functions every day. Sales is the act of convincing or persuading people to give up something they value for something you can offer, and in HR this exchange occurs every time you have to present a policy change to the board and every time you try to get a top candidate to choose your company.
  • We’ve moved form a world of buyer beware to a world of seller beware. Historically, sellers held all the power over buyers because they held all the information. For example, years ago when you went to purchase a car, the sales person knew the invoice price, the specs and the commission he/she needed to make. Today, information is readily available, and you can walk into a car dealership knowing more about the car – and the costs – than the dealers themselves.

In the HR world, this information comes from sources such as GlassDoor, Klout and, which means your buyers (customers and candidates) know as much about your company as you do about them. In this new dichotomy, where everyone is in sales, but sales no longer holds all the power, Pink has identified three essential qualities for success:

  • Attunement: The ability to take perspective, to get out of your own head and see things from other peoples’ points of view.
  • Buoyancy: The ability to stay afloat when faced with an ocean of rejection.
  • Clarity: The ability to curate, distill, and making sense of information.

With these three traits in mind, Pink presented five key takeaways for SHRM attendees:

  • Increase your effectiveness by reducing your feelings of power. People in charge have terrible perspective, it’s a fact. If you are an HR leader, reduce your feelings of power and focus on the value of your subordinate before engaging them in conversation.
  • Don’t be a glad-hander. People often associate sales with being extroverted. But the truth is, the best sales people are not extroverts, nor are they introverts; they’re ambiverts. Ambiverts are those who strike the right balance between being passive and pushy, making them more persuasive.
  • Give people an off-ramp. Make it easy for people to act. In HR, you exert a lot of time, money and energy trying to change minds when a better approach would be to change the way people can take action. Make doing things as simple and easy as possible. For example, don’t educate and try to persuade your employees to participate in a 401(k), make it easy for them by embracing automatic enrollment policies.
  • Questions usually beat answers. Telling yourself, “You can do this,” before entering a meeting is natural. However, it’s better to speak to yourself interrogatively and ask yourself, “Can I do this?” That’s because questions elicit active responses, causing wheels to turn and thoughts to spark. On the other hand, statements are taken at face value and inspire no action.
  •  Make it personal. Put a face on every action. People perform better when they are working for other people, not in accordance with a job description or in pursuit of a set of arbitrary thresholds.

Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s impact on businesses and employees

We wrapped up the morning with a session that focused on an issue impacting businesses, employees and companies throughout the country – health care.

In The New Health Care Reality, Paul Amos, COO, Aflac, Inc., explored the challenges that health care reform is posing for everyone in the business community. Between 2000 and 2010, employee-paid health care costs grew by 8.8 percent. During that same time, wages rose only 3.2 percent. This gap has put a burden on employees and the overall economy. The burden has also started to weigh on companies.

In 2005, company-paid benefits averaged $4,316. Today, that’s $11,429 – nearly triple the amount! Benefits eat in to profits, and it’s why HR leaders are being challenged by their CEOs to do something about health care. However, doing so is easier said than done, especially because of the looming changes associated with the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The ACA will impact employers and employees alike in several notable ways:

  • Companies are exploring alternatives to traditional healthcare models: Nearly half (47 percent) of employers say they definitely will or probably will switch to a defined contribution health care plan.
  • Consumer-driven healthcare is becoming a reality: Consumer-driven healthcare gives consumers the primary decision-making role in the healthcare they receive and is emerging as the preferred option amongst employers.
  • Different states will adopt at different speeds: Not all state laws are aligned with ACA, meaning not all are equipped to integrate all aspects of the law right away. If your company spans multiple states, you will have to tailor your health care approach to each unique situation.
  • Employers are creating private exchanges: The concept of the health care market under ACA is still taking shape, however companies want to exert some control over the options afforded to employees.

These changes do have some positive implications. Employers will be able to manage spend by generating fixed costs and shifting expenses to employees. Employees will gain more control over their own health care.

Healthcare Reform decisions and education

There is a big divide between how employers are approaching healthcare reform and how employees think employers should approach it. Nearly 100 percent of employees expect to receive information and education related to health care reform from their employers. However, only 13 percent of companies think education is an important issue.

Other stats also point to a lack of education. Seventy-two percent of employees are not aware of the consumer-driven health care concept, and 76 percent are not knowledgeable of health care exchanges. A lack of knowledge can lead to a lot of disruption and employee dissatisfaction down the road. In response, HR should take an active role in educating the workforce on the real implications of health care reform and health care expenses.

Amos offered a few pieces of advice to HR professionals:

  • Use research to determine how aggressively you will need to educate and market healthcare initiatives
  • Better understand the demographics and health status of your workforce
  • Data can help dictate the best model for your organization
  • Start educating workers on how benefit options work together
  • Lean on brokers and benefit partners to boost understanding of consumer-driven options

Offering an attractive benefits package can be good for business, even under the ACA. That’s because employees place an emphasis on benefits. In fact, more than half of employees will accept a job offer with lower compensation but better benefits. In addition, 75 percent of employees who leave their companies do so because of poor benefits while 84 percent of those who are satisfied attribute their satisfaction to good benefits

Stay in synch with SHRM 2013 sessions

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How are you using the information gleaned from SHRM 2013 to create a better environment for your company?

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