Magazine article HRMagazine

A Labor Day Challenge to HR

Magazine article HRMagazine

A Labor Day Challenge to HR

Article excerpt

This Labor Day, as you enjoy a cookout or final summer trip, I hope you take a moment to reflect on the real meaning of this holiday. For over a century, America has set aside a day to recognize the achievements of workers. Yet we have also seen many of the ties that bind employers and workers fray.

Employers, up against new technology, fierce global competition and rising costs, have made dif- ficult choices to stay competitive-or even afloat. The Society for Human Resource Management's (SHRM's) 2014 Employee Benefits research report tells much of this story. To keep up with the costs of providing certain benefits, particularly health insur- ance, employers are jettisoning others, such as educa- tional assistance. This is a risky trade-off, considering the global skills gap that employers face. How will we get the workforce we need to compete?

Employees, in turn, are grappling with their own set of challenges. The nature of work has intensified, and workers face pressure to do more, faster, at higher skill levels. As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman declared at the SHRM Annual Confer- ence & Exposition this summer, "Average is officially over." However, higher expectations for employees have not necessarily meant higher wages, and worker unrest is growing.

It is no surprise that we have seen the decline of everything from long-tenured careers to corporate training programs to defined benefit plans. The recent global downturn further accelerated this change. …

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