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Three HCM Trends Impacting Workforce Management Strategy

Posted By Editor, Laurie, Thursday, April 20, 2017
Updated: Thursday, April 20, 2017

Contributed by 

Key HCM trends are where technology will have the biggest impact 
on managing tomorrow’s workforce


This is the first time in history that the labor force has five generations working together, that is also increasingly multi-cultural.  The challenges of managing such a diverse workforce working side by side cannot be overestimated.  HR is managing this diversity transition and is also going through a digital transformation.  HR itself, with its long history of being an administrative and service function, has to implement technology that creates administrative automation, improves employee engagement and scan produce the workforce analytics to simplify compliance and improve decision making. 

HR leadership is now tasked with developing new strategies for adapting to this changing workforce and technology landscape.  

With the right strategy, HR can become an integral business partner to develop the infrastructure (systems and policies) and plan for optimum application of emerging technologies to position their organizations for success.

Three key trends where human capital management technology will play a critical role include:

 - Recruiting, developing, and managing people

 - Engaging and enabling employees

 - Compliance

Recruiting, developing, and managing people

Talent is scarce and labor costs have been rising. With global expansion and Baby Boomers beginning to exit the workforce, HR leaders need new ways to attract top talent to their organizations, and facilitate knowledge transfer from one generation of leaders to another.  HCM Technologies provide access to end-to-end recruitment management systems that automate everything, are integrated with other services (job boards, background checks, etc) and provide millennial applicants with a digital experience they expect from a modern employer.  

HR can prepare by implementing enhanced hiring tools and sophisticated analytics that can help identify skills gaps and facilitate leadership development and incorporate knowledge transfer, mentoring and performance management as part of their recruiting and employee development strategy. 

Engaging and enabling employees

By 2025, Millennials — those born between 1981 and 2000 — will account for 75 percent of the global workforce, up from about 34 percent today.  Organizations must be ready to create a culture that resonates with this new generation of workers. This will require changes that include how to attract, compensate, develop, incentivize, and retain employees.  HCM technologies will play a critical role to centralize employee data and analytics to identify trends and provide insight that will help organizations as a whole adapt their engagement strategies to motivate and empower the next generation of workers.


HR leaders must also become partners with their organization’s compliance, auditing, and legal functions to avoid serious liability.  HR leaders must be fluent in compliance requirements both inside and outside of their departments. HCM solutions that unify all employee data will be integral to an effective compliance strategy. Thoroughly documenting employee data in single database will help ensure all policies are being applied correctly and consistently, can provide alerts to lapses in a full range of compliance related areas (i.e. missed meal breaks, training and certification renewals, leave eligibility thresholds, etc). Technology will be the mechanism that allows HR to ensure policies are being applied correctly and consistently, and keep pace with changing regulations.

Meet the OnePoint Human Capital Management at NCHRA's HR TechXpo  - an exciting event showcasing the intersection of HR and Technology - August 25, 2017
Hilton Union Square, San Francisco

Tags:  HR Tech  HR TechXpo  Workforce  workforce optimization 

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Legalizing Marijuana: What's an Employer to do?

Posted By Editor, Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Contributed by Becky Barton

These days it’s difficult to avoid the election mania covered by the various media outlets. Given the major spotlight on the presidential race, you may not know that the potential decriminalization of marijuana will be on the ballot in several states.

California, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada will all weigh in on legalized marijuana for recreational use (also known as “adult use” and “non-medical use”) where it is currently approved for medical use only. Another 3 states (Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota) will decide on the future of cannabis for medical use in their states.

Supporters of the ballot measures see this as a boon to the states’ economies via increased taxes and job growth for cannabusiness people. We have seen 25 states and the District of Columbia legalize marijuana in some fashion, making a continued trend of legalization highly likely.

So what does this mean for business owners and employers? Marijuana remains illegal under federal law and the state-by-state variations make this particularly confusing. For example, within the subset of those states approved for recreational use, the amount an individual can personally carry varies.  As an employer, particularly a multi-state employer, these variations can be an administrative and enforcement nightmare.

Or do they? After all, alcohol is a mind and behavior altering substance that’s been legal for over 80 years and we seem to manage that in the workplace, right? Wouldn’t this be treated similarly? Well, it depends. Many laws clearly state that employers don't have to accommodate medical marijuana use during work hours or on company property while other states require reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities (specifically as it relates to drug testing and adverse action).

The key is to know what is required by the states in which you operate, create an employment policy that complies with state law and enforce it consistently amongst employees of similar work groups.

The Bottom Line: Work with an HR consultant or an employment law attorney to navigate these unchartered waters. They should be watching how these new laws are interpreted by the courts and have your back should your policy need updating.


Becky Barton is the founder of People415, a San Francisco-based Human Resource Consultancy Firm helping companies navigate every stage of their growth.

Tags:  behavior  company culture  employee  employee communication  employee health and wellness  employee relations  Employee Training  employee wellness  healthcare expenditures  hr  HR Communication  HR law  HR Legislation  Human resources management. HR Leadership  law  leadership  management  marijuana  Policies  workforce 

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EEOC spotlight on anti-Muslim discrimination

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Thursday, March 3, 2016


By Jon Benson, employment & labor attorney at Vigilant*

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is focusing a spotlight on discrimination against Muslim and Middle Eastern employees. The agency released new webpages and Q&A documents for both employers and employees shortly after the late 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. The EEOC advises employers to have a heightened awareness of how these tragic world events, and others, could lead to discrimination in the workplace.

In the case of employees who are Muslim or of Middle Eastern origin (or perceived to be so), the EEOC warns of discrimination based upon religion, ethnicity, national origin, race, or color.

Employers should know that generally they are not held liable for isolated incidents of discrimination or harassment based on the actions of non-supervisory employees. However, once the employer knows about discrimination or harassment by co-workers (or vendors or patrons) against its workers, it has a duty to investigate and take appropriate actions. If the company does not take appropriate actions, including discipline, or allows the conduct to continue, then the employer can be held liable. Overt harassment and discrimination in the form of insults and name-calling are pretty easy to spot. However, other potential forms of discrimination may not be so obvious.

Some of the trickiest situations involve the accommodation of employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs.

Religious accommodation

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act requires employers with 15 or more employees to “reasonably accommodate” an employee’s religious beliefs unless doing so would create an undue hardship for the business. Exactly what is a reasonable accommodation and what is an undue hardship can be specific. But, valid considerations for an employer in evaluating an employee’s requested accommodation include: the relative cost; the burden placed on other workers; and any safety or hygiene issues, just to name a few.

I.                    Dress codes

Dress codes can be a potential source of discrimination claims. Employers generally have the right to set standards for dress and grooming. However, a dress code can come into conflict with an employee’s religious beliefs and practice. One example for Muslim employees is the hijab or other type of head scarf or covering worn by women.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently weighed in on this issue in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch, Inc. In this case, the employer refused to hire a woman who wore a hijab for religious reasons. The woman had otherwise done very well in the interview process and scored highly in the company’s internal evaluation system. Abercrombie & Fitch defended its decision by claiming that the hijab violated the company’s written “Look Policy” which prohibited “caps” of any kind to be worn on employees’ heads. Although the rule was neutral and applied to all types of head coverings, in this case the Court said the employer had a duty to accommodate and that there was no undue hardship to the company in permitting an employee to wear a hijab.

Nevertheless, employers can usually enforce dress codes when there is a valid business-related reason. For example, an employer can generally enforce a dress code, despite an employee’s religious objection if the requirements of the dress code relate to safety or hygiene issues. This is often an issue in manufacturing settings.

II.                  Muslim prayer and varying scheduled breaks

In another case, Muslim employees of a meat packing plant had been using break times for prayers. They had requested that their break times be continually shifted to coincide with sundown in accordance with religious practice. Because the time that sundown occurs varies throughout the year, the break times would constantly change throughout the year. The company refused this requested accommodation and the EEOC filed suit. The company argued it was an undue hardship to be constantly changing the break times because it would impede production in this manufacturing setting and would create problems with other employees having to cover the times for these workers. In this case, a federal court ruled in favor of the employer saying that this represented an undue hardship. The outcome in these types of cases heavily depends on the facts of each case.

Incidentally, this issue also comes up with non-Muslim employees whose religious beliefs and practice prevent them from working on the Sabbath day. Typically, that involves a request not to work on Saturday or Sunday, and the restriction may begin at sundown the previous day.

III.                Alcohol, pork and other prohibited items

Alcohol and pork are considered haram, or forbidden, in Islam. So, what do you do if your employee says they can’t touch or serve to customers any alcohol or pork products? Do you really have to comply with those requests? Of course, the answer is “it depends.” Is there a reasonable accommodation that would not impose an undue hardship on the employer?

Example: Some Starbucks stores now serve wine to customers, though the vast majority of sales remain coffee, tea and their regular items. If a Muslim barista refused to serve the occasional glass of wine, that might be easily accommodated by having another clerk take that order.

By contrast, it would likely be an “undue hardship” for a Muslim job applicant to apply for a server position at a South Florida beach bar catering to college Spring Break students and refuse to handle alcohol.

Be vigilant

Regular training and education for managers and employees on these issues and your anti-harassment policies is essential. Make sure managers understand their role and that your organization responds promptly and investigates any allegations of discrimination or harassment.

About the Author

Jon Benson is an employment & labor attorney at Vigilant, a company headquartered in Oregon, dedicated to helping companies in Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho and California solve their most complex employment issues.

*Meet the Vigilant team at HR West 2016 - Booth 30


Tags:  anti-Muslim  discrimination  EEOC  employees  equal opportunity  HR  HRWest 2016  Human resources management. HR Leadership  muslims  NCHRA  Religious accommodation  Vigilant  workforce 

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Five Ways to Prepare for Transgender Employees

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Wednesday, September 30, 2015

...Creating a Safe, Respectful & Compliant Culture


By Jodi Slavik - Vigilant


In recent months, the public has been captivated with news stories about Bruce Jenner’s transformation into Caitlyn Jenner.  Almost 3 million viewers watched the first episode of the reality series “I Am Cait” and other TV shows with transgender leads are receiving broad viewership and critical acclaim. However, transgender isn’t just a Hollywood buzzword, nor is it isolated to urban office environments.  People identify as transgender regardless of where they live or what they do for a living.


According to a report by the Williams Institute in 2011, approximately 700,000 adults in the United States identify as transgender. This number would likely be much higher today, given increasing social acceptance. Although 19 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity, numbers released by the Movement Advancement Project show that 52 percent of the LGBT population live in states that do not have gender identity protections. That means there are thousands upon thousands of individuals who identify as the opposite gender spread across the United States in every type of work environment, regardless of whether there are laws protecting them.


While some businesses have cutting edge diversity practices, including a stand-alone transgender policy and a LGBT committee, others are still struggling to keep sex jokes off the shop floor. However, some of the best practices in response to transitioning employees have come out of businesses where I least expected it, including transport, construction, and manufacturing companies. Even the dirtiest, toughest environments can respond in the most real, caring way.


Here’s what I’ve gleaned from the experiences of some of these businesses:  


#1. Preparation is Better than Reaction

Assume you already have a transgender employee.  How would you like him or her to feel even if he or she never made a transition request? Creating a culture of respect attracts and retains talent and allows you to nimbly respond if a gender transition request occurs.  In 19 states, including Washington, Oregon and California, you have to comply with non-discrimination laws regardless of whether an employee notifies you of his or her decision to re-assign gender. 


#2. Create Compliant Practices

The first step is to review all of your current policies and practices that could implicate or affect a transgender individual or applicant.  These include hiring practices, background checks, internal record-keeping, use of identity documents, dress and grooming standards, harassment training, and medical leave.  Next consider what new procedures and policies you may need to create, including a bullying policy, diversity training, and an internal transition response checklist.


#3. Respect Boundaries

Sometimes responding to a transitioning employee makes you feel like you’re walking a tightrope.  Whose needs do you need to take care of first—the transitioning employee or the surprised workmates? Instead of panicking about how to keep from offending either side, focus on helping both sides respond to change.  Because that’s what this really is—something new, not something weird.  Introduce, communicate, and respect boundaries (and communicate some more).


#4. Deal with the Bathroom Issue Now

What people are afraid of more than anything else is the bathroom situation.  A recent 8th Circuit decision rejected a religious discrimination and hostile work environment claim because a transgender employee (previously male) was allowed to use the female restroom.  The courts--and your transitioning employees--will expect you to accommodate restroom needs.  Determine now whether you can create a gender neutral bathroom space.  If you have more than one restroom, can you identify one that is reasonably accessible as gender neutral? 

In addition to looking at your facilities, begin the conversation with your employees about your desire to have restroom space that makes all of your employees, vendors, customers, clients, and their friends and family comfortable.  Also, encourage dialogue about the fear or discomfort about sharing bathrooms.  The more frequent the conversation, the more fears are neutralized. 


#5. Stay in Touch

Even after the paperwork is complete, the restrooms are squared away, and the work mates have been informed, you need to regularly check in with the transitioning employee, his or her supervisor, and the crew. Harassment and bullying can rear its ugly head at any time, and you are legally responsible for maintaining a work environment that allows all an equal opportunity to perform his or her best.  More important is maintaining your culture.  Every business I have worked with has respect as a foundation of its culture.  If you can assure respect for all employees, your legal compliance will fall in place. 



About the Author


Jodi Slavik is an employment attorney and regional director of Vigilanta company dedicated to helping companies in Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho and California solve their most complex employment issues. 

Tags:  blog  bruce  caitlyn  employee  employees  equality  hr  hr west  human resources  jenner  legal  lgbt  nchra  Policies  resources  transgender  Vigilant  workforce  workplace 

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Grow Your Own or Buy Talent?

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Succession Planning for an Aging Public Sector Workforce 


By Linda Kegerreis
Workforce Consultant and former Chief Workforce Officer for CPS HR Consulting.


Public sector employers are facing an impending mass exodus of senior workers, the likes of which has never been seen before.  While workers across all sectors are closing in on retirement age, it’s in the public sector that some of the oldest can be found.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, government workers’ median age is 51, and 70 percent of them are also older than 45. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) reported that for fiscal year 2012 through 2013, the average retirement age for all CalPERS members was 60.


Fortunately, it is doubtful that all of the Baby Boomers will retire en masse tomorrow. In fact the recent recession reduced retirements over the last two to three years, but those postponements are slowing. About 38 percent of International Public Management Association for Human Resources members reported in a survey earlier this year that their eligible employees were postponing retirements, down from 46 percent in 2012. Rex Facer, an associate professor at Brigham Young University who studies workforce issues, said that as the economy continues to improve, more public employees could begin to head for the exit. 


While this looming retirement picture has long occupied much discussion, the pressing concern for executives and HR managers are those suddenly empty chairs in government offices across the nation.  Those in leadership positions throughout government agencies are well aware of the fact that the public workforce is aging. However, the level of preparedness with which government agencies are to fill this void varies considerably.


When it comes time to acquire new talent – particularly executive level leadership in the public sector – there are two choices:

1.       Grow the leadership capability internally, or

2.       Buy the talent needed by recruiting established leaders externally.


Both methods can have advantages and disadvantages; but it is important that the strategy selected be chosen thoughtfully and purposefully, rather than it just happen sporadically because proper plans were not in place. 


Promote From Within vs. Hire Externally

To start off, let’s look at some of the pros and cons of both methods.


In addition to lower hiring costs and less time needed to fill the position, there is less overall risk when promoting from within. An organization knows an employee’s strengths and weaknesses. The employee knows the organization’s culture, business operations and players. If the original selection process focused on the required competencies, skills and knowledge as well as applied consistent, methodical approaches to leadership talent development over time, it is ideally best to promote from within. 


Alternatively, depending on the position and current organizational needs, hiring externally can be just what is required. It will probably cost more and take more time to find just the right person, but that individual is likely to have better education, experience and knowledge than available talent in an internal workforce. The external candidate has worked for other organizations, so they will bring new viewpoints and insights as well as provide an objective look at the organization. If a turnaround or change agent is needed, an external hire is usually more appropriate. But, what is gained in experience or industry knowledge, is lost in immediate effectiveness. The external hire has to learn a new culture, people, processes and business – and that takes time. There is more risk in hiring an unknown candidate.


Growing Talent Takes Commitment

The critical component in being able to effectively promote from within is to have an active leadership pipeline that can supply the right leaders in the right roles at the right time. This isn’t easy and can be expensive. Organizations that have all the pieces in place to grow their own talent invest heavily in doing so; they are committed to it at the highest levels.


Certain conditions must exist within an organization to build and grow talent successfully. If these things are in place, the organization can and should grow the internal talent to fill a large number of leadership positions.


When conditions are right for growing internally, there is a strong culture which supports and encourages learning, development, skill and competency building. The organization dedicates resources to these efforts and it is a core value for supervisors, managers, executives and employees. There is supportive leadership in place who have the desire, capability and willingness to build and grow talent.


Growing leaders requires time and a long term view to sustain the commitment to the employee’s development – not just providing training. They need mentors, coaches and guides who can have honest, direct conversations about strengths, weaknesses, successes, challenges and failures.


Development programs and processes should be in place that emphasize maximizing potential, performance, effectiveness and solutions, but also educate, spark innovation and move people beyond their comfort zones. There are many ways to accomplish this but some examples include succession management programs, mentor programs and assessment and development plans.


An organization with a good growth pool will have advancement opportunities that allow for promotions for high-potential employees over time. For flat or small organizations with little internal movement and low turnover, this may be a challenge.


Finally, a key facilitator to growing from within is being in a strong and sustainable financial position, with the ability to dedicate resources to development efforts on an ongoing basis. This type of organization should also be concerned with retaining highly talented staff and motivated to retain high-potential employees. Executive and management level sponsorship will be accountable for shepherding and driving the organization’s efforts to grow talent.


Using a Blended Approach

If the resources or the above mentioned programs are in place, the organization is fortunate that it can use both hiring options. It can build talent internally for key leadership positions and buy the talent that is needed as circumstances require. External recruitments would be most appropriate for very specialized positions such as when a new product or service area is being launched, when there is weak bench strength in that content or service area, when the position requires a turnaround or transition role, or when new innovations are necessary. 


If the organization is not able to meet the above internal conditions, it will be better off buying talent externally while trying to mitigate the downsides of relying largely on external hires.


Mitigating the Downsides of Buying Talent Externally

Organizations without the resources to grow talent internally have to recruit established leaders externally. There are a few things to keep in mind to mitigate some of the downsides of external hires that focus around culture and fit, learning curve and team integration challenges.


Recruitment and selection process

First, make sure the organization engages in a thorough and professional outreach, screening and selection process to provide a better chance of a successful leadership hire. Describe the success profile by discussing and clarifying the desired competencies, skills and knowledge required. Match candidates to these core content aspects first.


Then add behavioral competencies. What kind of mindset do leaders in the organization need to fit in with its culture? Is the organization slow-moving and hierarchical, fast-paced and urgent, tolerant of new ideas or quick to stop change? Does this job require a maintainer or a change angent? Make sure new hires match the company’s culture and the needs of the position. Research and use various kinds of assessments that will help capture this information. Add questions to the interview processes that get at these aspects.


Finally, do thorough vetting. Because the outside candidate is unknown, good references, Internet searches and background investigations can help round out the information about the individual prior to making an offer.


Support the new hire once they show up

Far too many organizations adopt the sink-or-swim mentality for new leaders. This is especially true when elected officials hire a new executive. Those in charge rationalize that if the new leader is so good, they will figure out how to be successful and survive. If you want them to merely survive, that may work; but if you want your new leader to thrive, put a process in place that helps them learn the ropes more quickly. CPS HR Consulting has a detailed checklist that covers core steps for executive and managerial onboarding, but here are a few aspects of that plan.


1.       Pre-Employment Phase

o   Gather materials, obtain equipment and begin scheduling meetings.


2.       First Day

o   Make sure first impressions are positive.

o   Meet with bosses, elected officials, town hall meeting with direct staff.


3.       Lay the Foundation

o   In the first 30 days, there are multiple meetings with direct reports, staff members and stakeholders in and out of the organization. Attendance at and observation of regular, recurring meetings is planned and calendared.


4.       Build Competence and Strategy

o   In the next 60 days, create frequent opportunities for discussions throughout the organization. Fold in external perspectives with more external stakeholder and partner meetings. The new hire begins developing action plans and addressing substantive issues.


5.       Formal Feedback

o   At six to nine months, provide formal feedback on performance thus far from direct supervisor(s). Then, the new leader begins implementing action plans.



The quality of leaders makes a difference to the communities that are served. The impact of failed leadership in the public sector is plastered across the Internet and media. As a result, the citizens, staff and organization’s reputation suffer for it. 


Organizations can grow its own or go out and buy talent. Either way, put a plan and processes in place to support goals and strategy; don’t just hope leaders will grow and evolve. 


As an integrated HR service provider, CPS HR Consulting can help you with advice and assistance or delivery of key services to support your planning efforts, recruitment and selection activities, succession planning and management, and onboarding processes. You can contact us at 916-263-3600916-263-3600.


About the Author


Linda Kegerreis - NCHRA HR Connect Blog Contributor, HR ConsultantLinda Kegerreis is the former Chief Workforce Officer for CPS HR Consulting. She has more than 30 years of human resources program experience that includes 20 years as an HR director in the public sector working for cities and counties.


As an experienced public sector executive, she offers exceptional depth in human resources, particularly employee relations, performance management as well as recruitment and selection. Linda also provides consulting services in the areas of FLSA, performance management, pay for performance, recruitment, recognition and reward systems and succession management. Connect with Linda Kegerreis on Linkedin.

Tags:  aging  CalPERS  consulting  CPS  employees  hr  Kegerreis  mangaement  NCHRA  older  public  sector  workers  workforce 

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