The nine critical steps of the future of HR

The nine critical steps of the future of HR

In doing some reading about the workforce of the future I was reminded of this post I wrote in 2014. I think it is still very relevant. 

In 2011 Thomas Frey wrote an article about Eight Critical Skills for the Future. He applied these to the world in general. It was an interesting article and naturally, I started thinking in terms of human resources. I have borrowed and expanded this list and specifically applied it to the HR department. Here are the nine critical skills for the future of HR.

Skill #1 Communication Management

According to a study by Experian, as reported in the BusinessInsider, U.S. smartphone owners aged 18 to 24 send 2,022 texts per month on average. That is 67 texts on a daily basis and receive another 1,831. This is the future of our workforce. As an HR department if you have not mastered communicating by text message you are and will continue to be, behind the curve. An unfortunate effect this is having on this age group is that they are tired, all the time because they sleep with their device and stay semi-aware in order to receive messages.

This presents HR with three problems. First is adapting to their method of communication. The second issue is tracking their time if they are conducting work this way. Thirdly the question is raised on how productive they are going to be if their sleep patterns are disrupted.

Skill #2 Reputation Management

People today are becoming continually aware of the idea of reputation management. Story after story shows how an error, a post, a tweet, a picture or a video can affect a person’s reputation. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes it is not. In HR we pay attention to this “reputation” by reviewing social media and conducting searches on candidates and sometimes even employees. The world is reacting to that by increasingly talking about privacy. Younger generations are even beginning to grasp the idea and are being more careful of what they put out on the Internet.

But that street goes both ways. More and more employees are also checking up on companies to see what their reputation is on the Internet. Sites like Glassdoor make it easy for candidates, and even employees, to both review and comment on how the company treats candidates and employees. That will not be changing other than to become more prevalent. Company reputation management will be a key skill for HR.

Skill #3 Privacy Management

I broached this slightly in the above paragraphs. It is a huge issue. People are learning to pay attention to their privacy, especially the younger generation. It is the older generations that pay less attention, generally because we can’t figure out how to change the settings. (Yes, I can take that shot at older folks, I am one and I know that is a true statement.)

What is causing many people privacy issues are the actions of companies with the information they have collected. In HR we have both the legal and moral obligation to protect the information of our employees and prospects. That job is not going to go away and will only get more regulated.

Skill # 4 Information Management

Frey talked in terms of the amount of information that people are being exposed to on a daily basis. I am talking in terms of the amount of information our employees are producing on a daily basis. Information is also knowledge and if your company is not capturing the knowledge that is produced on a daily basis then you are letting your competitive advantage walk out the door. HR needs to help insure, along with IT, that there is a knowledge retention system in place.

Skill #5 Opportunity Management

The youngest worker today may have 200 plus “jobs” before they exit the workplace. The move toward the use of independent contractors, as a prime method of getting things done, means that younger workers will always be on the hunt for new opportunities. It will be HR’s responsibility to learn how to position those opportunities to attract the needed talent, while working within the legal framework of employment laws.

Skill # 6 Technology Management

I have written so much on the topic of technology and HR. From software, BYOD, robots, drones, to wearables, HR is going to be hugely impacted by technology. All HR professionals should make studying technology a second job. Most HR departments would be smart to hire HR Technologists to be permanently on staff.

Skill # 7 Relationship Management

This is a broad subject and deserves more verbiage than I am going to give it here. It is important that people are still people. They have relationships outside of work that affect work. They have relationships that can benefit work. The size of an employee’s personal network can offer significant benefits to their employer. They have relationships with coworkers and managers that have, and will continue to, provide challenges to HR. Regardless of how numbers oriented we get it is important to remember HR is still in the people business.

Skill # 8 Risk Management

This was not in Frey’s original list, but was suggested by a commenter on the original post. Risk assessment is not paid enough attention to by HR. Often this is considered to be an insurance issue. I take a slightly different view and feel that risk assessment is not about today but it is about tomorrow. Of all these skills it is the one most future oriented in HR. The HR professional needs to be asking “What is happening out there that has the potential for disrupting what we do in this company?” If you find something study it and develop a story around it so you can share it with your executives. This is how HR becomes a strategic player.

Skill # 9 Legacy Management

To Frey this is about your personal legacy. I think that is important. How will you be remembered? But in the same vein HR also needs to be concerned with how the company will be remembered and that can be a challenge.

Final thoughts

Frey had a couple of final thoughts that included time management and money management. Neither is a new idea, but both of them will be radically altered by technology and the global nature of our world today. Both deserve some consideration.

As you can see I have given HR a hefty plate of responsibility for the future. I think it is time we step up and take that responsibility on.

 Image courtesy of jscreationzs at


Three for Thursday- Paying attention to the FLSA

by Michael Haberman on January 17, 2019 · 0 comments

Three HR lessons to educate you in the middle of the week.

The US Department of Labor is one of those agencies that have been fully funded during the shutdown. Their activity continues, thus it is important to not let your adherence to the FLSA lapse. My friend, Jon Hyman, publishes a weekly curation of articles he read and I use it as a source for things I feel I should read and write about. Thank you Jon for this great work. In his most recent issue (WIRTW #537) Jon posted several articles links to blogs dealing with the FLSA. There are three I thought I should pass on to you.

First up is one by Robin Shea. She wrote Breaking News: New Overtime Regulations are on the way! I have written about this as well. Robin says there is some definitive work now being done on revising the wage level that will be used to determine, as a first step, whether someone can be classified as exempt from overtime or not. This is going to be a big deal. The last I heard it may be in place in March, but we will have to wait and see.

The second post is by Bill Pokorny. He asks Are your bonuses really discretionary? The reason for the question is that non-discretionary bonuses paid to nonexempt employees must be used to calculate the regular rate of pay in the calculation of overtime pay. When the FLSA revisions are published they will create a new group of nonexempt employees, employees who may have regularly received bonuses and will now have to be paid overtime on those bonuses. This is very important information.

The third post is by Courtney Bru. She wrote  What Exactly is ‘de Minimis’? Working Off the Clock in World of E-Mail, Texts . This will be a major issue with a whole new group of newly nonexempt employees who, in many cases. were used to working after hours as exempt employees. Tracking that time and teaching them new rules may be a challenge. You need to make sure you read and understand this.

That ends the lesson for the day.



Until the end of the shutdown the E-Verify system is offline.

The partial government shutdown is having one effect on employers that may lead some employers to think they have a free ride in the employment process. Nothing could be further from the truth. The shutdown has not affected every agency. According to the newsletter from the law firm Fisher PhillipsThe U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), among others, are therefore fully staffed and have thus far remained operational during the shutdown” due to a minibus funding bill signed by President Trump in September of 2018. This fully funded these two agencies. Two other agencies did not get covered by this funding bill. These include the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It is this last agency that is the subject of this post.

Still have to do the I-9

The USCIS has been affected by the shutdown by the fact that the E-Verify system is not currently working. That does not affect every employer, but many have come to rely on the system to verify whether or not a worker has the legal right to work in the United States. Here in my home state employers with 10 or more workers are required to use the E-Verify system to validate workers. What do you do if it is not working?

The fact that the E-Verify system is offline does not relieve employers of the responsibility of verifying a worker’s employment eligibility. It just means they have to go back to the way it was done in the past, by using the I-9 form. As the Fisher Phillips guidance says: “…it is important to remember that employers remain subject to Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification obligations during the pendency of the shutdown.”

The nature of the impact is:

Employers will not be able to access their E-Verify accounts to:

  • Enroll in E-Verify;
  • Create an E-Verify case;
  • View or take action on any case;
  • Add, delete, or edit any user account;
  • Reset passwords;
  • Edit company information;
  • Terminate accounts; and
  • Run reports;
  • Resolve E-Verify Tentative Nonconfirmations (TNCs).

Just like 2013

We have dealt with this before, back in 2013 during that shutdown. The USCIS put rules in place at that time which have also been put in place this time. These include:

  • The “three-day rule” for creating E-Verify cases is suspended for cases affected by the unavailability of E-Verify.
  • The time period during which employees may resolve TNCs will be extended. The number of days E-Verify is not available will not count toward the days the employee has to begin the process of resolving their TNCs.
  • USCIS will provide additional guidance regarding “three-day rule” and time period to resolve TNCs deadlines once operations resume.
  • Employers may not take adverse action against an employee because the E-Verify case is in an interim case status, including while the employee’s case is in an extended interim case status due to the unavailability of E-Verify.
  • Federal contractors with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) E-Verify clause should contact their contracting officer to inquire about extending federal contractor deadlines.

Primary consideration

The major thing to remember is that when this shutdown ends, and it will, employers will still be held responsible for the hiring practices they engaged in during the shutdown. NO ONE should see this as an opportunity to ignore the regulations about employment verification.


I read an article today where the author was talking about the Top Five Small Business Trends to Monitor in 2019. The fifth trend was Consistent And Transparent Employee Communication. The “I have found creating an up-to-date employee handbook that is readily accessible will benefit both upper management and employees.” I agree! I wrote this post on employee handbooks in September of 2010 and it is still relevant today. So let’s revisit Employee handbooks: Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

In my consulting practice (which is geared primarily toward small businesses) I see and revise, or write, a lot of employee handbooks. Some are well done, most are generally not. Few are recently revised and most are out of date, woefully out of date. Even in some larger companies keeping you handbook current can be a challenge in a rapidly changing legislative environment.

I occasionally run into a company that feels they don’t need to have an employee handbook. To them, I explain that they are missing a superb communication piece that not only helps them comply with many legislative requirements but can help them communicate culture and expectations. Other times I run into companies which have handbooks that are so legalistic that even I have a hard time understanding them. To them, I also explain they are missing a superb communication opportunity.

Another common mistake I see is that rather than having a handbook to guide employees the company produces a “policy and procedures” manual. This is a mistake. A P&P; manual is great for supervisors and managers to be able to understand the actions they must take regarding employee interactions and behaviors. It is, however, not something you want to give to your employees. A P&P; manual will by its nature be too wordy and complicated for what you are trying to accomplish.

Here are some tips that I have learned about employee handbooks that you may find helpful:

  1. Remember it is a communication tool. It should be written at a level to enhance understanding by your employees. It should also be written to communicate your culture. One of the best I ever saw at doing this was one written a number of years ago by The Motely Fools. It matched the culture perfectly.
  2. Remember, there are compliance issues that need to be dealt with, such as FMLA, harassment, USERRA, etc. But these do not have to be presented in a legalistic manner.
  3. Remember this is NOT a contract and you do not want it to be. So a good review by an attorney is a good idea.
  4. Remember you do need to have some disclaimers in there, such as NOT a Contract, Employment-at-Will, and management’s right to change policies without notice.
  5. Remember to have an Acknowledgement signed. The unemployment office will ask if the employee knew the rules.
  6. Remember, special agreements, such as non-disclosures or arbitration agreements need to be separate documents and not buried in a handbook.
  7. Remember to try to present things in using positive language. Make it more about the “do’s” of proper behavior rather than the “don’ts”.
  8. And lastly, train your supervisors and managers on what is in the handbook! And have a procedures manual for them on what to do when confronted with a situation.

Of one thing I am certain. You must have an employee handbook. You may have to dance around some issues if it is poorly done, but more often than not, the FAILURE TO HAVE A HANDBOOK will get you in trouble many more times than when you have one.

I am sure I have missed a number of good ideas. What are they? Let me know.


How technology may alter your timekeeping

by Michael Haberman January 10, 2019

Tweet If you have been around in the working world, especially in a manufacturing or restaurant position, you are familiar with a timecard and punch a time clock. You show up to work, insert your time card, and it gets punched with a time stamp. Those timecards were the basis on which you got paid […]

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Revisited:Under the FLSA a late paycheck is as bad as no paycheck

by Michael Haberman January 9, 2019

Tweet With the current government shutdown, many employees have been furloughed. Others have been described as “essential” and are required to work for no pay, with the promise of getting all monies owed them when a new budget is authorized. It has happened in the past, as described below, but this time it is going […]

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What is the “regular rate of pay” according to the USDOL?

by Michael Haberman January 8, 2019

Tweet During a review of US Department of Labor news releases, it was obvious that employers everywhere are still making mistakes in overtime calculations that is costing those employers large amounts of money. Overtime for non-exempt employees must be based on the “regular rate of pay” the employee is earning. Unfortunately, this is not the […]

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Future Friday: Of course Millennials are the future! They are also the present!

by Michael Haberman January 4, 2019

Tweet I read an article with the title Millennials are solving today’s workplace problems. Given that Millennials currently make up 50% of the workforce, and by 2030 will be 75%, my reaction to this title was “Duh”. They should be solving workplace problems. I think every new generation of workers has that potential. We need to […]

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Increases in minimum wages

by Michael Haberman January 3, 2019

Tweet Twenty-two states are increasing their minimum wage in 2019. Many of these are indexed to the cost-of-living and thus increase on an annual basis. Others may be due to a reaction to the “Fight for $15” movement of the last couple of years. Some states remain on par with the Federal minimum wage of […]

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It is 2019 and Resolutions are not just for people

by Michael Haberman January 2, 2019

Tweet At this time of year people are making resolutions right and left. January is the month of self-improvement. Most of you will have made some or say that it is a waste of time. That is fine, but what about your business? Get rid of it! Peter Drucker, in four of his books, stresses […]

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