The GetFive Blog

Most Important Developments in HR for February 8th


SHRM president and CEO Johnny Taylor has stirred up some controversy lately, but like it or not, this guy is getting HR in the headlines. This time, it’s tied to Tuesday’s State of the Union address. To deal with the skills gap crisis, Taylor is calling for innovative thinking, resolute action, and a change in public policy to address the increasing need for training and upskilling of workers. According to the latest figures from the World Economic Forum, the cost of upskilling could soar to $34 billion, and Taylor is pushing for government funds to offset the cost for businesses. SHRM is also jumping into the immigration debate, saying the shortage of H-1B visas is hurting businesses that rely on foreign-born workers. What is needed, according to SHRM, is more employment visas, mandatory E-Verify (which confirms identity), and a trusted employer program, presumably to get ICE off of the backs of immigration-compliant employers. SHRM

With data breaches becoming more and more common, and the implications of big data as Big Brother just starting to dawn on the public at large, we think most people’s answer to that question would be: “Duh.” The Economist looks at the issue this week in their new podcast, talking to Martin Tisne, an outspoken advocate for data ownership. Tisne likens the issue to the environment. A little carbon dioxide here and there isn’t going to kill anyone, but combined it turns into climate change. With data, a little bit of privacy erosion isn’t noticeable at first, but all of a sudden it snowballs into a massive shift in privacy, which can fundamentally damage society.The Economist

Starting next year, insurance giant Unum will give employees a choice: The company will help pay their student loans if they give up five days of PTO. According to SHRM research, about four percent of big companies offer student debt relief, but this is the first we’ve heard of one trading PTO for it. It’s a devilishly creative twist on benefits when you think of this: We have such a tight hiring market in which companies are pulling out all the benefits bells and whistles to recruit top talent. Student loan debt is a huge burden for much of the younger workforce. And most Americans do not use all of their PTO. Kudos to Unum HR for coming up with this. Bloomberg

It was a highly touted, groundbreaking parental leave policy for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to offer its employees — 52 weeks, a full year of leave, for new parents to spend with their babies. Turns out, it was a little too much of a good thing that spelled a nightmare for HR. Having employees on leave for a year caused disruptions in the daily operations and execution of the organization’s mission, much more so than people anticipated. Departments needed to create backfill positions two and three layers deep. When returning parents would come back after a year, getting them up to speed on positions that may have evolved took time also. The “growing body of evidence” suggests that parental leave of six months is the sweet spot between spending time with your newborn and not throwing your workplace into chaos. So that’s what Gates employees will get now, along with a $20,000 stipend for child care. USA Today

A public service announcement to anyone who has anything to do with hiring: Discrimination is illegal. Also: Telling people you’re discriminating against them will get you sued. This, after Buffalo Wild Wings was forced to pay $30,000 this week to three men who said they weren’t hired as bartenders because the restaurants wanted to hire women instead. It boggles the mind, that in this day and age, people didn’t know that saying: “Sorry dude, we want a woman behind the bar,” was discriminatory. Managers and supervisors continue to be the cause of a large number of these types of discrimination lawsuits and, especially now, that’s going to spell trouble for their companies not only in bottom-line numbers, but reputation as well. EEOC

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