Five Key Challenges for HR

Numbering 11,000 attendees, the SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) show continues to be “the HR event” for the industry. You can’t help watching some practitioners travel the expo with monster hats, balloon figures, and bags of giveaways. Between all these activities, a number of key topics and trends surfaced.

“The most importance challenges our society faces are HR challenges,” summarized keynote speaker Al Gore. Gore continued to list five key areas HR executives must address.

1) Diversity. The late Sen. Ted Kennedy Jr. noted in an earlier speech that two-thirds of Americans with disabilities are not able to get any type of employment despite the Americans with Disabilities Act celebrating its 20th anniversary. Gore emphasized that when objects are in front of you, a slightly different perspective provides greater insight than any one view of a situation. Both emphasized the importance to society to embrace diversity in our respective roles.

2) Continuing education and personal development. To compete in the age of information and technology, human capital needs continued investment. Intel CEO Paul Otellini said, “The United States now faces a world with much tougher competitors. Many of them are accelerating their investment in the future faster than we are.” These countries have closed the talent gap and are successfully competing against U.S. talent. This fact emphasizes the importance to our society to continue to invest in continuing education to keep the U.S. competitive.

3) The Internet and digital revolution. “We are in the age of disintermediation models that worked in the past don’t now,” claimed Gore. Web traffic is 200 percent higher across digital devices than people. “We are only at the beginning of the Internet era,” continued Gore. The opportunities for us are great if we can leverage the technologies and skills to harness it adequately.

4) Organizational development. When Gore chaired the Reinventing Government Commission, he learned firsthand that line personnel are first in line with new ideas to make organizations work better. Disenfranchising this labor force comes at a high cost. Organizations need to re-invent themselves with more open and collaborative communications. The net impact will be positive.

5) Compensation and incentives. Since witnessing huge bonuses paid to executives on Wall Street, despite the public bailout, compensation and incentives have headlined in every major media. However, the dialogue need to move to “how people identify with company values,” said Gore. A CFO Survey revealed 70 percent of CFOs would not make a sound investment if it resulted in missed financial targets in the following quarter. Gore emphasized, “We need to realign incentives so they are good for long-term business.”

“We need to build sustainable capitalism.” Gore continued. “We need to be more effective at allocating resources, meeting supply and demand, while unlocking human potential.” When we don’t do this, there is misalignment which results in suffering.

Otellini agreed: “Global competitiveness requires continually making investments for the future: investments in the things that make innovation possible, even if they don’t yield results immediately.”

After returning from the SHRM show, we all must get to work at resolving these challenges in our workplace. You can start with the next employee who walks into your office.

More resources:

>> Paul Otellini’s address to the Brookings Institute can be viewed or downloaded at www.intel.com/pressroom. The transcript of his speech is at: http://www.intel.com/pressroom/kits/investinamerica/Brookings_PaulOtellini_022310.pdf.

>> Al Gore’s presentation recording is available at: www.shrm.org.

–The author, Catherine Upton, is CEO and group publisher of Elearning! and Government Elearning! magazines.

Numbering 11,000 attendees, the SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) show continues to be “the HR event” for the industry. You can’t help watching some practitioners travel the expo with monster hats, balloon figures, and bags of giveaways. Between all these activities, a number of key topics and trends surfaced.

“The most importance challenges our society faces are HR challenges,” summarized keynote speaker Al Gore. Gore continued to list five key areas HR executives must address.

1) Diversity. The late Sen. Ted Kennedy Jr. noted in an earlier speech that two-thirds of Americans with disabilities are not able to get any type of employment despite the Americans with Disabilities Act celebrating its 20th anniversary. Gore emphasized that when objects are in front of you, a slightly different perspective provides greater insight than any one view of a situation. Both emphasized the importance to society to embrace diversity in our respective roles.

2) Continuing education and personal development. To compete in the age of information and technology, human capital needs continued investment. Intel CEO Paul Otellini said, “The United States now faces a world with much tougher competitors. Many of them are accelerating their investment in the future faster than we are.” These countries have closed the talent gap and are successfully competing against U.S. talent. This fact emphasizes the importance to our society to continue to invest in continuing education to keep the U.S. competitive.

3) The Internet and digital revolution. “We are in the age of disintermediation models that worked in the past don’t now,” claimed Gore. Web traffic is 200 percent higher across digital devices than people. “We are only at the beginning of the Internet era,” continued Gore. The opportunities for us are great if we can leverage the technologies and skills to harness it adequately.

4) Organizational development. When Gore chaired the Reinventing Government Commission, he learned firsthand that line personnel are first in line with new ideas to make organizations work better. Disenfranchising this labor force comes at a high cost. Organizations need to re-invent themselves with more open and collaborative communications. The net impact will be positive.

5) Compensation and incentives. Since witnessing huge bonuses paid to executives on Wall Street, despite the public bailout, compensation and incentives have headlined in every major media. However, the dialogue need to move to “how people identify with company values,” said Gore. A CFO Survey revealed 70 percent of CFOs would not make a sound investment if it resulted in missed financial targets in the following quarter. Gore emphasized, “We need to realign incentives so they are good for long-term business.”

“We need to build sustainable capitalism.” Gore continued. “We need to be more effective at allocating resources, meeting supply and demand, while unlocking human potential.” When we don’t do this, there is misalignment which results in suffering.

Otellini agreed: “Global competitiveness requires continually making investments for the future: investments in the things that make innovation possible, even if they don’t yield results immediately.”

After returning from the SHRM show, we all must get to work at resolving these challenges in our workplace. You can start with the next employee who walks into your office.

More resources:

>> Paul Otellini’s address to the Brookings Institute can be viewed or downloaded at www.intel.com/pressroom. The transcript of his speech is at: http://www.intel.com/pressroom/kits/investinamerica/Brookings_PaulOtellini_022310.pdf.

>> Al Gore’s presentation recording is available at: www.shrm.org.

–The author, Catherine Upton, is CEO and group publisher of Elearning! and Government Elearning! magazines.

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