WorldatWork designated October as Workplace Equity Month, shining a spotlight on issues of diversity and inclusion, social justice and pay equity. (Visit our Workplace Equity page for more content on this critical area of total rewards.)
There might be no more crucial figure in the fight for pay equity than Lilly Ledbetter, who shared stories from four remarkable decades as a tireless advocate for fair pay in a recent interview for WorldatWork’s “Work in Progress” podcast.
That 50-plus minute interview served as the basis for the cover story of October’s #evolve — the publication’s last issue of 2020. In this edition, WorldatWork takes on a number of other workplace-related topics, ranging from how employers are helping expatriates cope in the midst of COVID-19 to what automation could mean for the future of work. For example:
Sharing the Load, by Brett Christie, WorldatWork
Some organizations, such as the Business Group on Health, were making employees’ mental well-being a focus even before COVID-19 hit. The pandemic has only underscored the importance of making mental health a priority within your organization.
Aside from the health concerns, fear of job loss or just overall economic uncertainty, simply working from home for an extended period can create its own set of stressful circumstances. Whether it’s an employee who lives alone or an employee juggling the responsibilities of work and childcare, each presents potential mental health challenges. Teleworking has also removed the natural ability for some employees to decompress or “leave the office” because their home is now their office and their commute is 20 steps instead of 20 miles.
Thus, the onus is on employers to help ease the burden on their employees.
Adrift Yet Connected, by Mark Athitakis, WorldatWork
Some estimates have upwards of 10 million Americans living abroad; three-fifths of them are working in some fashion, according to a 2017 survey by the expatriate support organization InterNations.
And even if a much smaller number are working for U.S. employers, a substantial portion have spent much of 2020 navigating the challenges of visa, benefits, taxes, and work status. Beyond that, the challenges that come along with remote work — Zoom fatigue, balancing caregiver roles with job tasks, and more — are exacerbated by working across a long stretch of time zones.
And it might not ease up anytime soon. As of now, no COVID-19 vaccine is available, and in early August the White House was reportedly considering a proposal that would permit the United States to bar U.S. citizens and legal residents living abroad from returning to the states, citing coronavirus concerns. But there are some support systems employers can use to provide to workers to give them some on-the-job help — and relative peace of mind.
More and more, talent is seeking accelerated developmental opportunities and rapid advancement. If those needs are not met, phones become job-hunting devices and unwanted turnover rises.
Cutting-edge organizations understand that employees care deeply about their careers. Yet, far too often organizations question the need for career development, reasoning that developing employees will only equip them with further experience and skills that they could take with them to another company.
How do we give workers the knowledge and tools they need to manage their careers from an informed perspective? Moreover, how can your organization elevate each employee’s understanding of their natural talents so they can contribute and be empowered? The payoff for answering these questions is a resilient workforce (less impatient), smart talent succession, and an improved competitive position in your industry.
Making Science Fiction an HReality: Three Ways Artificial Intelligence Can Benefit Human Resources, by Stefan Gaertner, Lena Justenhoven, Cameron Davis and Ada Guan
Experienced HR executives know more than anyone that leaders who don’t take control of technology and innovation will end up being controlled by it. When it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), however, there are a lot of “half-truths” out there. For example, there is a lot of speculation that robots and automation will drive massive unemployment. Because of these half-truths surrounding AI, many HR leaders are unsure or skeptical of how this type of technology can benefit them.
It’s important to note that AI models cannot replace HR or managerial decision making. It’s a tool that informs better decision making. After all, people leaders know their organization in ways that technology can’t. Also, leaders are ultimately responsible for attracting, retaining and engaging their workforce and can’t just go back and blame the machine if things go wrong.
In this piece, the authors offer a handful of “real world” solutions that illustrate the benefits AI can bring to the HR function.
AI Finds a Home in the Workplace, by Ezra Schneier
Technology is causing major changes in the workplace. Sure, it has happened before, and everything worked out fine. This time is different. The scope and rapid rate of change has never been as significant as the coming wave of artificial intelligence (AI)-fueled automation.
Employment changes due to technology present great challenges ahead for human resources and compensation professionals. And, displacement of workers because of automation — combined with the trend of outsourcing certain business functions and the growing use of contingent labor — suggests that new approaches are needed to manage HR and compensation. As always, the goal is to make a positive difference for both the employer and employee.
As with most problems, there is not a single solution. But there are ways that HR and compensation professionals can prepare for the coming changes.
The Attraction and Retention Paradigm, by Kevin Kuschel, CCP, CECP, CCC and Tyler Brown, SPHR, PHR, CCC, CAC
The importance of employee attraction and retention on overall business success is an often-debated issue. Although two very divergent schools of thought exist — either employees as assets or employees as expenses — everyone agrees on one thing: Employees are necessary to operate a business and employees want to feel valued. It has been proven that failing to address the most important factor in operating a business (i.e., your people) will ultimately result in the demise of a company — or at the very least, the risk of reputational harm.
When setting strategy and assessing risk for a given period, the C-suite and management teams focus their attention on many issues which could potentially impact their business. These hot-button issues were recently assessed in a 2020 survey by The Conference Board (TCB), “C-Suite Challenge 2020: The View of Risks and Opportunities in 2020: Hot-Button Issues.” In this survey, 740 CEOs (1,520 C-suite executives collectively) were asked to define the most pressing internal and external issues facing them in 2020.
As a whole, the number one internal issue was attraction and retention of top talent, while a tight labor market came in as the third most pressing external issue. These results speak to the importance of human capital assets to an organization, but clearly concern exists about how to best approach the situation. In this feature, Kuschel and Brown share keys for attracting and holding on to high-performing employees.
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About the Author
Mark McGraw is the managing editor of Workspan.