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Top 10 Tips for Managing Human Resources in 2014

  1. Offer customizable benefits packages. As workers live longer and as more and more workers take on caregiving roles, the need for customizable benefits packages will only grow.
  2. Offer top quality health insurance. This is your organization’s #1 asset in attracting and retaining talent.  With overall poor rates of health among U.S. workers and the fact that people are working longer, companies with top-of-the-line health insurance can expect to attract and keep a top-of-the-line workforce.
  3. Create a leadership track for Gen X and Millenial workers.  Many Gen X’ers and Millenials are not far enough along in their careers to be sufficiently prepared to step into the roles that will soon be left vacant by retiring boomers. It’s in your best interests to prepare now for this shift because Gen X and Millenials will soon dominate the workplace.  At a minimum, your strategy should include professional development programming and mentoring.
  4. Offer standout retirement plans.  Retirement plans are the #2 benefit  that attracts and retains employees.  Boomers are delaying retirement which is putting excessive pressure on retirement plans.  Develop a strategy to sustain top notch retirement plans and your company will be hands and feet above your competitors when it comes to attracting the human resources you need to be successful.
  5. Build flexibility into your workplace strategy.  More employees are becoming members of the sandwich generation (caring for young and elderly family members) so build your employee retention strategy around flexible work arrangements and work life balance.  Your strategy could include options for working remotely or flexible start and end times.
  6. Address the shortage of skilled workers.  Build a pipeline through working with your local vocational and technical schools and Economic Development Council.  Most industries are seeing a critical lack of basic math and English language skills in their workforce.  Meanwhile, the educational requirements of jobs that will be available after the Boomers retire will likely exceed the requirements of current Boomer jobs.  You need to think ahead on this one.
  7. Stay abreast of changes in legislation.  Join and participate in SHRM or your local human resources organization.  This will provide you with professional resources to help you stay compliant with emerging laws.  If there is no chapter in your area, participate on LinkedIn or visit shrm.org, which contains political and legislative summaries to help you navigate the legal maze that has become HR.  As the economy becomes more globalized with business increasingly happening across state and national borders, the need to keep up with changing legislation intensifies.  Healthcare reform, immigration, and increases in auditing activity are just a few of the things you’ll want to keep your finger on the pulse of.  Legal compliance is growing in complexity year by year, but don’t think you have to go it alone.
  8. Subsidize the costs of higher education.  This is another way of showing especially your younger workers that you value them and want them to build a future at your company.  For Gen X’ers it will relieve their anxiety about being leapfrogged by the Millenials (X’ers fear that the Millenials—who outnumber the Boomers by several million—will swoop in and take all of the leadership positions after they’ve been waiting for years for the “gray ceiling” of lagging Boomers to lift).  Today’s newest entrants into the job market have most likely either foregone college due to the rising costs of higher education or are saddled with mortgage-sized college debts.  You need a strategy for this or your workers are going to be so burdened by financial stress that it could effect their work–or their ability to stay at your company (they may have to seek higher compensation elsewhere just to make ends meet and pay the minimums on their school loans).  Tuition reimbursement, anyone?
  9. Look out for your employees with generous EAP and wellness programs. On top of the already abysmal state of American workers’ health (worst than most industrialized nations), tomorrow’s employees will have an even greater demand for work/life balance than their predecessors.  Health insurance helps with life-saving surgeries and chronic disease management, but much of the cause of poor health is due to lifestyle (namely, stress and inactivity).  Without supports such as wellness and EAP programs, you’re more apt to lose workers to sickness, disease, and consuming caring responsibilities.
  10. Build diversity. If your industry needs to attract top female talent or greater ethnic diversity, the above supports are some of the best ways to make it viable for women and minorities to enter your field and apply at your company.