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Predicting HR in 2009 May Be Hazardous To Your Health

Note: This is part two of a three part series on my predictions for 2009 (see part one and part three). I will be covering predictions for blogging, HR and those made by others as the new year approaches.


Admittedly, Christmas Eve probably isn’t the best time to post (anything) but I really have to get this out before the new year. So consider this my Christmas present to you.

I’ve learned from watching countless hours of sports broadcasting that trying to predict the future before the game starts is a hapless endeavor. For example, right after the 2008 NBA finals, people started discussing who was going to win the 2009 NBA finals. The only big negative is hearing Bill Walton prattle on and on about his predictions throughout the year like the late Jerry Garcia whispered the gospel to him from the big guy in the sky. If you got that joke, thanks for reading my blog Kris Dunn.

The thing I have to remember is that if I am good, it will be remembered. If I am bad though, I can just excuse things that don’t go my way. So when I put together my predictions for 2009, I decided to push all of my chips in and go for the gusto.

Where will HR stand at the end of 2009? We are going to examine the players, the companies and the people aspect of HR to get the feeling

The Players

This includes organizations like SHRM and our government that have broad influence.

  • SHRM - SHRM will continue being SHRM. Count me among the doubters who think that change is not coming quick to this cash rich organization. I personally have decided not to renew my membership with the organization until they stop telling their members how to lobby, how to practice HR, what’s effective, what’s not and start listening to their regular members. Maybe I don’t want to lobby my representatives the way you want me to! Ever consider that? The best vote I have right now are my dollars.
  • The Federales - The federal government is going to be much more involved in workplace matters. I know this is a surprise but that involvement won’t fix anything. The first bits of government involvement in 2009 (ADA and FMLA changes) have already shown that they still don’t get it. Many of the changes will be overblown by HR pros (like EFCA) because I think the end result won’t be effective in giving the unions superpowers. Unfortunately, I can’t just stop paying taxes like I can with SHRM though.
  • The State and Local government - Outside the state of California, I think overall activity is going to be surprisingly low at the state level. I’d be very thankful for that if it were the case. I am guessing some states will adjust their leave and disability laws to fall into line with what the federal government is doing but I think we are going to be relatively free of major regulatory hurdles at the state and local levels.
  • The Economy - This will continue to impact employers throughout the remainder of the year. Stability in the economy will not be achieved in 2009. There may be improvement (hopefully!) but it will still be far from stable. Unfortunately, all of the people who think they are in control (the government) aren’t the ones actually in control. The millions of decisions happening daily by businesses worldwide? That’s significant.

The Companies

What will companies be doing with their HR talent?

  • HR ROI (Get Used To These Initials) - If they haven’t done so already, companies will increasingly demand that HR justify themselves as a value to the organization. With budgets continually tightening, decision makers will look at that overhead in HR and ask “Why?” If you aren’t ready with an answer, pack your bags and update your resume. Hopefully you have answer though, right?
  • The Seat At The Table - That proverbial seat at the table? It is still going to be there in 2009, just like it was in 1999 and 1989. My prediction is that if HR hasn’t taken their seat at their company’s table by 2008, nothing in 2009 is going to trigger that. It is still about HR creating value in their organizations and taking the seat.
  • The Era of Specialists - The death of generalists will be pushed back a year. Thanks to the economy, people with broad knowledge of multiple areas will be needed when HR staffs are cut back. Specialists who serve in niche areas will need to broaden their knowledge still. At least until the economy stabalizes.
  • Utilization of Vendors - This one is going to be interesting. Vendors who can show value and return on their product will be given first billing. But if you are spending 100 big on a wellness program that doesn’t work, I’d be just slightly worried.

The People

How will HR professionals be adapting in 2009?

  • We’ll Still Be Pushing Paper - The administrative tasks aren’t going away…yet. Even though I think this would be an optimal time to look at how we can take some of the paper pushing processes out of HR, companies are still too worried to make this major d. So if your HR jobs involves a lot of taking pieces of paper from one stack and putting it into another, congrats (I think).
  • More Will Question SHRM - And any organization for that matter that tells us how to manage our careers and education (for their own profit). HR professionals will start looking for support and groups outside of SHRM. Good for them too.
  • We’ll Stop Being Scared of Social Media - Maybe my most ballsy prediction yet. HR people will stop being scared of social media, start getting involved (quietly at first) and then push for or support current social media endeavors.
  • We Won’t Find Our True Identity - I believe HR people need to find their place in an organization and make it their own. They need to paint the walls, put up some pictures, rip out the carpets and own the employee processes that make companies work. It means standing up and saying you’re not going to plan parties more than any other department and that there is no need for a highly trained HR pro to be pushing mountains of paperwork around (when other departments don’t do that). We’re not willing to stand up for that yet so I don’t think this will happen in 2009.

What do you think? Part three is coming next week.

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