This is the last in my recent sequence of blogs from the USA IPMA-HR conference 2010, hosted in Seattle, Washington State.
I’m actually hoping that a few US colleagues from the IPMA-HR might read this post and if you’re feeling brave you may even like to post a comment about my ramblings below! I know you’re out there…because you’ve told me in Seattle last week that you read my blogs from across the Pond – so why not give it a whirl? Don’t be shy now!
Whilst at the conference last week I took the opportunity to conduct a mini-research survey of my very generous and gracious US hosts, who gladly gave me some time to complete my study. I asked US HR directors (HRD’s) what were the top three issues preoccupying their thoughts and actions at present?
My survey would not pass muster as a statistically sound exercise and for the purist HR academics amongst this readership I confess my research methods are probably flaky, but I contend the results are nonetheless interesting – I hope that’s true whether you’re from the US or the UK.
The mini survey consisted of 20 HR directors covering local, state and federal government services – in ‘UK speak’ equivalent to local, regional and national public servants.
So, coming straight in at number one, top of the pops USA HR issue was employee engagement. In fact the conference itself echoed this – notably keynote presentations from John Christensen (see FISH! post) and Rodd Wagner (of Gallup) both of whom majored on the importance of successful employee engagement to maintain good productivity and customer relations during these much straightened times for US public service. Sounds familiar doesn’t it UK HR colleagues? It should do, as an IRS study in early 2010 revealed employee engagement was the UK HRD’s number one priority – in fact for all sectors.
At number two, USA HR issue was transformation and reorganisation. Associated with this issue was the challenge for US HRD’s to equip leaders in their organisations with the right capabilities to lead and achieve the scale of change required. Again, UK colleagues I suggest this has a resonance with our own contemporary preoccupations.
Not far behind at number three was reducing the employee overhead cost via (difficult) negotiations with obdurate trades unions including diminution of terms and conditions, implementing layoffs (redundancies) and introducing furloughs (a furlough is a temporary leave of absence from employment without pay).
I believe all of this has a very familiar sound to it…I think it reflects the economic travails of the so-called developed world and the consequences for employment. However, the so-called developing nations such as India and China paint a different picture of economic recovery…but them again so do their employment conditions and relations.