button Vol. 7
No. 6

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FedEx Ground
Versus UPS:
Two Worldviews

line Workplace Diversity:
Does It Work?

line Health Care and

line The Shrinking

line Top HR Issues
For 2005

line USERRA Update
line Briefs

Braun Consulting News
News on Personnel, Labor Relations and Benefits

See our Archive Pages for Back Issues of Braun Consulting News!

Human Resources and labor relations Top HR Issues For 2005
   HR and Labor Issues for 2005: What's Hot

Some of the issues that seem to be top in the minds of HR professionals are these:

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Checkmark Graphic Rising Health Care Costs

According to the SHRM Workplace Forecast 2004-2005 "Rise in health care costs" was the number one issue. (See our article on Health Care and Employers: Key Current Issues for more information on this issue.)

According to a survey by the Human Resource Institute at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1995, rising health care costs was number three on the list of concerns at that time - the people surveyed were asked to make projections out to the year 2005, and it didn't even make the list. In fact, in that survey it dropped from 3rd to 18th most important by 2005.

This 1995 survey asked 576 top HR directors at Fortune 200 firms to list their top concerns for 1995 and what they predicted their concerns would be in 2005.

The reasons for the predicted drop in concern for health care costs at that time was that organizations were successful in lowering the percentage of health care premium increases to single digits or to the low double digits. While HR professionals predicted this issue to drop in importance, others correctly predicted it to increase in importance.

For example, in October 1995, Watson Wyatt polled approximately 135 alumni of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania's MBA program in health-care management. Those health-care professionals predict three trends for the year 2000 and beyond:

graphic The continued growth of medical costs
graphic The expansion of managed care (coupled with a decline in service quality and
      a consumer backlash against restrictions and limits on care)
graphic Difficulties associated with the aging of the baby-boom generation.

In 2005 rising health care costs will continue to be a priority issue for most employers and HR professionals because it is a bit like patching a hole in a sinking ship... as the water floods in it remains a priority until it is contained or stopped. The larger the hole, the bigger the priority.

Rising health care costs have not gone away, they loom larger than ever. They are sapping the resources and potential of workplaces and workforces and can at best be "managed", not controlled.

We didn't find any surveys projecting out to 2015, but suspect that rising health care costs may still be on the list at that time - if there were such a list.

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Checkmark Graphic Technology, How To Communicate And Transact

Again quoting the SHRM Workplace Forecast 2004-2005 technology concerns are on the minds of HR professionals for 2005 and beyond. They listed "use of technology to communicate with employees" and "use of technology to perform transactional HR functions" as number 3 and number 5 top issues.

It seems inevitable that use of technology is a growing factor in nearly all walks of life, including HR. Technology seems to be a growing concern as it becomes impossible to function and remain competitive without it anymore.

Communicating with employees through technology is high on the list.

As the workplace becomes more complex and demanding, the need for better and faster communication is a result. It is hard to say whether technology drives the methods and manner of communication, or if the growing need to communicate drives the increase in technology.

"Employee communications" was also on the 1995 list and the "projected for 2005" list in the Human Resources Institute survey... it is on nearly every list you can find.

"Use of technology to perform transactional HR functions" is a growing concern, in part because of a push for higher productivity and a more streamlined functioning of HR processes. Expediting the mundane, as well as quantifying and managing information about employees or applicants becomes a driving factor as the amount of information grows exponentially.

The landscape of the HR world is shifting in response to technology and its possibilities and responsibilities. This issue will be "hot" not only in 2005, but also for a long time to come.

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Checkmark Graphic Skill Levels Of Workforce

It is interesting that "skill level of workforce" did not show up in the SHRM Workplace Forecast 2004-2005 survey, and yet in the 1995 survey by the Human Resource Institute at Eckerd College it was predicted by HR professionals to be the number one issue in 2005. At the time, in 1995, it was the number two issue.

Yet in Canada the "skill level of workforce" is seen as number one in an informal survey of management consultants and HR professionals.

There they see the issue of skills shortages resulting from the baby boomers' gradual exit from the workforce as continuing to escalate.

Dianne Bond of organizational consulting firm Right Axmith said, "Right now, (shortages) are quite specific to some areas, but in the future it's just going to be everywhere."

So this issue gets mixed reviews. It seems to be one that won't go away, but maybe it isn't highest in the minds of HR professionals as other issues get more press. Perhaps, along with technology issues, this is just a constant concern... like a pebble in a shoe, persistent and annoying, but not critical enough for fear based concern.

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Checkmark Graphic Compliance Issues

"Growing complexity of legal compliance" is listed as the number four issue for 2005 in the SHRM survey.

With wage and hour law changes likely, immigration law changes, and a whole host of other legal issues on the board it seems compliance is high on the list of concerns for this year.

It is interesting to note that compliance issues did not even rate on either the 1995 or 2005 list of concerns addressed in the Human Resources Institute survey of 1995.

Legal compliance ebbs and flows as the various political forces influence the current workplace laws to a greater or lesser degree. Yet it is always there and the volume of laws and regulations we need to comply with grows each year. As ignoring compliance issues becomes more costly and the numbers if areas involved continues to grow, it becomes more of an issue each year.

Check back in 2015 and see how our "predictions" turned out.

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USERRA Update Next Page

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