The dawning of New Year brings a symbolic opportunity to reflect and refocus. The month of January represents a free pass to give voice to what we know can be improved upon and to own what we hope for. In this vein, New Year resolutions represent the declaration of where we intend to go and how we intend to improve. They take courage because we it is hard to change our habits and do the work of change, whether we have an team of co-workers holding us accountable or just the quiet voice of our conscience.
With respect to the human resources professionals with whom I interact daily, the commitments below speak to the heavy lifting that must be done to keep organizations legally compliant and moving in a direction that lends to personal pride and career satisfaction.
1. Regularly check the websites of the following government agencies and sign up for their email alerts because their actions will have an impact on my organization:
- Department of Labor (The new overtime rules and much more)
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (expansion or contraction of protected classes)
- The IRS (updates on the Affordable Care Act)
- National Labor Relations Board (even if my organization does not have unions because its decisions can impact my organization)
2. Study and analyze my organization’s culture so that I can articulate its strengths and weaknesses with confidence and in relation to my organization’s mission. In particular, I will study trends with my employees to understand what it is about my organization that encourages and discourages certain behaviors. People do what they know works (HR should know what is working, even if it’s counterproductive).
3. Actively invest time, energy, money and other resources into consciously building my in-house professional network. If I have strained relationships, I will work to resolve conflicts to have productive relationships. I will also work to strengthen relationships with the leaders of my department and across the organization. I will develop those relationship so that I have the courage and credibility to the say the “hard to hear things” that leaders need to hear and be made accountable for.
4. Set aside time to complete that tedious administrative project that I’ve been putting off before the end of the first quarter. Every HR professional has an unfinished project that is important but not urgent (but possibly makes you a sitting duck for litigation!).
5. Pinpoint opportunities for HR to have an impact outside itself. Such efforts create pathways to professional development for both HR and non-HR employees while supporting employee satisfaction and retention. Moreover, cross-functional and interdepartmental teams stretch leaders by testing their ability to engineer alignment and facilitate learning as well as their openness to new ideas and feedback.
6. Address a significant “policy-practice gap”. Organizations increase their liabilities when they knowingly operate with gaps between their what their policies dictate and what they do day-to-day. Oftentimes, HR professionals know where those gaps are; however, the work of reconciliation is daunting. Nevertheless, it needs to be done.
7. Sharpen the saw. I will master a part of my job or area of the profession whereby I know my skills need work. Additionally, I will identify HR trends in my segment of the market or in the area where I’d like to go and become the go-to person within my network on those topics because it enhances my value and marketability.