2002 Trends in Human Resources

Reprinted courtesy of HRnext


As we embark on a new year, the editors at HRnext put their heads together and came up with a list of trends they think will be the focus of HR departments in 2002:

In the midst of an ongoing recession, companies will need more than ever to pay close attention to the bottom line. As a large portion of any company's expenses is related to personnel, HR departments will be asked to play a more strategic and prominent role in company decisions. HR managers will be asked to closely align HR to company objectives. Staff reductions and other cost containment. As companies layoff employees, leave positions unfilled and make other cost reductions to try and stay afloat during the economic recession, it will be up to the HR department to implement the reductions, assist terminated employees and keep the retained workforce motivated and content. HR mangers will be asked to contribute ideas on how the company can continue to minimize expenses.

Containing the Cost of Health Care Benefits

The exploding cost of health insurance threatens some companies that are already floundering because of the sluggish economy. Yet, it's important for companies to continue to offer attractive benefits packages, including good health care coverage, if they are to retain and attract the talent they need to survive and ultimately succeed. HR managers will be asked to find the balance between helping the company minimize expenses and offer good benefits. In addition, HR managers will be looking toward benefits that can save the company money, such as Section 125 plans.

Workplace Security and Safety

Everyone is taking this issue very seriously since Sept. 11, as company leaders realize they will need more than a simple evacuation plan in place. HR managers will be developing thorough plans and policies designed to keep employees safe and the workplace secure. Workplace violence will also continue to be a concern.

Leave Issues

FMLA continues to be a concern to HR managers, as companies try to make do with fewer employees. Also, military leave issues are top-of-mind in many companies, as the war on terrorism continues and more employees are called to serve.

Acquisitions and Mergers

Many companies are merging as the sluggish economy lingers, and affected HR managers will need to figure out how to merge payroll, handbooks, policies and cultures. It's important to keep key talent during mergers, so affected HR managers will play a strategic role in the process.

The Aging Workforce

As the 'Boomers' get gray, more and more of the workforce will continue to go the same way. Furthermore, better health care is extending lives and many feel up to working well into their sixties and seventies. Still others have to keep working because they failed to save enough for retirement, or saw retirement assets shrink in the stock market. HR managers will need to be wary of issues related to recruiting, hiring and employing older workers without discriminating against them, or appearing to.

Technology

HR Departments will make better use of the Internet and intranets, to store, organize and disseminate information to employees as well as implement self-service technology to reduce HR costs. The Web will continue to become an important tool for HR Departments, but one that can be difficult to implement.

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