The Pet Rock was a fad. It did not lead to a trend of alternative pets.

The Pet Rock was a fad. It did not lead to a trend of alternative pets.

I came across an article in the Australian newspaper Herald Sun titled Reading Trends a must have skill.  In the article scientist Stefan Hajkowicz said that the ability to read major global trends will make or break businesses in a highly competitive environment. He went on to give some examples of things that will have an effect on Australia. This reminded me of a post I did last year so I thought it would be a good time to repost it. Dr. Hajkowicz is correct that this is a skill that is necessary and it is one that is important to HR professionals in particular.

In my sessions on 7 Steps to being a practical HR Futurist I tell people that they need to be watching trends in their industry and in their targeted employee population. In the HR literature we talk about the necessity of paying attention to trends in demographics, economics, and legislation. I was reading an article about the job of Sheryl Connelly, the Futurist for Ford Motor Company.  She said that although she pays attention to Megatrends and macro trends she most often pays attention to micro trends. Micro trends are the one that she follows because the development cycle of a car is usually about three years. Reading this I realized that not everyone may really know about the differences between a fad, the two types of trends and then a megatrend. Here is a brief lesson which I hope you find useful.

A Fad

A fad is something that quickly gains in popularity and may fade just as quickly, sometimes just not quick enough. Clothing, foods, exercises, hairstyles, language are all areas that are subject to fads. A quinoa eating super model wearing this year’s bathing suit that has high waist is a picture of a fad. They are fleeting and often last a season but may carry over a couple of years. This does not mean we ignore them, indeed we do need to be aware of them if we deal with populations of employees who may be subject to following them. Fashion, language and behaviors all have an effect on the workplace regardless of how fleeting they may be. Fads are often heavily driven by social media today. In fact social media at one time was considered a fad, which has now evolved into a macro trend if not a megatrend.

Micro and macro trends

Trends are a bit slower paced but represent something that is occurring on a much wider scale than a fad. A micro trend typically lasts 3 to 5 years. A macro trend, like social media has become lasts longer more in the 5 to 10 year range. A style of dress may be a fad that only affects one segment of the population, but the use of social media is a trend that reaches a broader segment. It has taken a bit longer to develop on that broad basis but now has the staying power that indicates it is a permanent alteration of the landscape. As Stan Mack of Demand Media says, “A macro trend is a large-scale, sustained shift…”  Where people live, what jobs they take, their modes of transportation, whether they save for retirement, whether they seek higher levels of education are all trends that HR should pay attention to.  Shifts to different population centers or shifts to different types of employment become trends that will have an effect on a company’s ability to attract talent and retain it over a longer period.

Changes in technology may speed some trends along. The nature of TV viewing is subject to trends and the resulting celebrity worship of non-celebrities is a trend that has taken several years to develop. The key is to pay attention to your employee population. Where do they fit? What trends seem to be the ones they will be subject to? This will allow you to start preparing for any shift that might occur.

A Megatrend

If trends are a bit slower, megatrends are the glaciers of this set. Megatrends are the long-lasting, years in developing, things that shift the world. China as an economic powerhouse was identified at least three decades ago as having the potential to be a world economic force to be reckoned with. According to the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies Megatrends are the probable future – or express what we know with great confidence about the future. Megatrends are certainties.” The identified megatrends of today are an aging population, globalization, increasing technological change, urbanization, prosperity, increased network speed, and just the speed of everyday life. These are forces that, barring disaster, we will all have to deal with. Of course there are things, the “wild cards” that could occur to derail these megatrends. The earth could be hit by an asteroid; the unrest in the Ukraine could blossom into World War III; terrorism could come to the US on a broader scale, a disease could develop that kills everyone over the age of 60; or some other such happening. The likelihood is small and you certainly don’t want to focus on them, but you do want to have a contingency plan in place.

What is an HR professional to do?

The best course of action is to be aware of the difference. You notice the fads, you pay attention and plan on the trends, and you study and understand the megatrends and make long range plans for dealing with them. You have to understand your current environment and population and start planning for them and from them to insure being prepared to dealing with them. One key that we can take from Sheryl Connelly in her job is the importance of the product cycle for Ford. She helps Ford understand how things like obesity and aging are going to affect car design. In HR you need to understand how decreasing graduation rates affect your ability to get and retain the talent you need and will need. How long does it take to get an employee productive and make the company’s investment worthwhile? You need to look at technology for your industry. Is it moving to heavier use of robots? If yes how will that affect your employees?

These are the kinds of questions you should ask. This is the type of stuff you should pay attention to.

There is no future in saying “I didn’t see it coming.”


The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act  was dragged out to forecast more regulation for companies.

The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was dragged out to forecast more regulation for companies.

Punxsutawney Phil, the renowned winter forecaster did not see his shadow on February 2nd, thus forecasting an early end to winter. Unfortunately another announcement made on February 2nd, did not offer as pleasant a forecast for companies. The Obama administration announced February 2nd, also the anniversary of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, that they want all employers with more than 100 employees to report pay data to them in order to root out pay discrimination.

The EEO-1

The vehicle for reporting this information will be the EEO-1 report which is currently used to report the make-up of a company’s employee population. It is submitted each September 30th and must include all employees of the company categorized by race, gender, and job category. It is only required of employers who have more than 100 employees. The Obama administration, in a press release announced:

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), in partnership with the Department of Labor, is publishing a proposal to annually collect summary pay data by gender, race, and ethnicity from businesses with 100 or more employees.  The proposal would cover over 63 million employees.  This step – stemming from a recommendation of the President’s Equal Pay Task Force and a Presidential Memorandum issued in April 2014 – will help focus public enforcement of our equal pay laws and provide better insight into discriminatory pay practices across industries and occupations.  It expands on and replaces an earlier plan by the Department of Labor to collect similar information from federal contractors.

The government announced this requirement will be effective September 2017.

Supersedes OFCCP action

As the announcement said, this replaces an earlier plan to collect this type of information via the OFCCP requirement of just federal contractors. The expansion covers even companies that do not have government contracts. This step has allowed a way around the fact that Executive Orders only affect contractors. This “rules change”, of adding pay data to the EEO-1, will affect many companies.

Although the data submitted to the government cannot be published, it can be used to prosecute companies for pay discrimination.  According to on law firm’s assessment “Unlike the OFCCP’s proposal, which required year-end W-2 compensation data, the EEOC’s proposal will require W-2 earnings for the previous twelve months from any pay period between July 1st and September 30th (same as the current EEO-1 report). As the proposal requests W-2 information, this will include salary, bonuses, commissions, tips, taxable fringe benefits, and other forms of reportable earnings.” The law firm also reports that the Obama administration grossly underestimates the time, effort and cost associated with such reporting.

Pay equity

What this new reporting requirement is trying to get at is pay inequality. The Obama press release reused the oft stated “fact” that women only earn “79 percent of a man’s median earnings.

Regardless of the truthfulness of the argument there is little dispute that companies will have to prepare for and adjust to this reporting. If indeed a company is engaging in illegal pay discrimination they will be found out and punished. It is suggested that companies prepare now by doing assessments and rectifying unjustified pay differentials.


Listening- The #1 Core Competency?

by Michael Haberman on February 3, 2016 · 0 comments

Listening may be the most important skill you can have as an HR professional or manager.

Listening may be the most important skill you can have as an HR professional or manager.

Tom Peters, in his book The Little Big Things, list listening as the 112th of 163 things that are important. Peters goes through a long list of what listening is.

Listening is, among other points:

  • The ultimate mark of Respect
  • The heart and soul of Engagement
  • The basis for true collaboration
  • The basis of community
  • A team sport
  • The basis for true partnership
  • The true core of effective cross-functional communication.

He says that listening is profitable. In fact according to Peters the ROI on listening is higher than from any other single activity.

Good news

The good news is that listening is a learnable skill. Peters asks the question “shouldn’t listening be the #1 training priority at every stage of everyone’s career?”

To me this goes from the newest worker to the CEO. One of my pet peeves that indicates that someone has heard but not listened is when I order a glass of water with no lemon. Invariably that glass arrives with a lemon. The server heard but did not listen.

Peters asks if you agree that listening is critical what are you going to do about it? He suggests that you begin on it today.

Are you listening?



Is HR ripe for disruption?

by Michael Haberman on February 1, 2016 · 0 comments

The video that appears below is one from Jacob Morgan. I like Jacob and I have even met him in person. I pay attention to his stuff because he is in a different generation than I am and he has not spent his entire life in HR like I have. So I find his viewpoint interesting. For the most part I agree with what he says in this video. So tell me what you think. Tell him what you think.

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Future Friday: Back from the Future

by Michael Haberman January 29, 2016

Tweet In a couple of months I will be making a presentation to the THRIVE 2016 Annual Conference, May 12-13, 2016 in Las Vegas, NV.  . My topic is my 7 steps to being a practical HR futurist program. This is a subject that I have studied quite a bit and I have a great […]

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The OSHA 300 Deadline is almost here! Are you ready?

by Michael Haberman January 28, 2016

Tweet Monday, February 1st is the deadline for posting the OSHA 300 log on your bulletin board. According to OSHA: Employers who are required to keep Form 300, the Injury and Illness log, must post Form 300A, the Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, in a workplace every year from February 1 to April 30. […]

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Four ways bosses could be better

by Michael Haberman January 27, 2016

Tweet I recently did some supervisory training for a client. We discussed how they could be better bosses, but at the same time they talked about how they would like to see their boss be a better boss. I thought it might be beneficial to pull this post out from 2013 and publish it again. […]

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Finding the Balance Between Work and Exercise 

by Michael Haberman January 26, 2016

Tweet Today’s post is brought to you by my friends at After a long day at work, it’s difficult to find time and motivation for exercise. But the truth is, the busier and more stressed you are, the more important fitness becomes. Exercise is a great stress reliever. It also releases endorphins, gives you […]

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Outdated medical forms can cost you!

by Michael Haberman January 25, 2016

Tweet On January 7th, the EEOC announced they reached a settlement with a company that was using pre-GINA medical forms. It cost them a settlement and two years of monitoring from the EEOC as well as training for supervisors and HR. Obviously someone missed the ball on this one. GINA The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act […]

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Future Friday: Will automation adversely affect women in the workplace?

by Michael Haberman January 22, 2016

Tweet The World Economic Forum (WEF) released a report on January 19, 2016 that is rather gloomy as it relates to the global trends surrounding women in the workplace. Their report indicates that there will be job losses due to what they call “disruptive technologies” that will not be offset by job creation in new […]

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