America’s top human resources executives are designing a workplace for the 21st century even as they take on challenges of uncertainty over federal and state policies, the “gig” economy, and the expectations of five generations of workers a report released today by HR Policy Association shows. 

Representing the views of chief human resource officers of major companies doing business within the United States and globally, the report—Workplace 2020: Making the Workplace Work, seeks to drive a rethinking of employment policy to adapt to recent developments in the workplace with the goal of “making the workplace work.”  Often this goal is impeded by assumptions in 20th century workplace laws that employers will only treat their employees fairly if required to do so by the law.  In fact, employers compete with each other to attract talent by having enlightened human resource policies. 

HR Policy Association represents the most senior HR officials of America’s largest employers, responsible for the workforces of their respective companies and collectively represents nearly 10 million American jobs, over nine percent of the U.S. private sector workforce. The report contains their take on the important issues facing the workplace today and the way forward.  It is directed at government policy-makers as well as corporate decision-makers outside of human resources. 

Workplace 2020 Committee Chair Mara E. Swan, Executive Vice President, Global Strategy and Talent at ManpowerGroup said: “As senior HR executives working for America’s largest employers, we are where the rubber meets the road—where public policy and a changing workforce intersect.  We understand what the workplace looks like today.  Great employers are committed to making the workplace work for their people and need workplace laws that enable this.  By rethinking employment policy for our new workplace reality, we can demonstrate to our employees that we are making the workplace work while helping America be more competitive globally.”

Making the Workplace Work covers 11 different—and often deeply connected—areas that are seeing significant changes and makes recommendations in each area, including:

  • Workplace Flexibility  While large companies are at the forefront of providing generous leave benefits, they are increasingly challenged by a patchwork quilt of varying administrative requirements under state and local mandates, as well as a wage and hour law crafted for a 1930s workplace.
  • Diversity and Inclusion Large companies are committed to diversity and inclusion.  Thus, the fixation of government agencies with numerical targets downplays the broader cultural goals companies have in this area.
  • Workforce Development and Training  As companies far outpace the U.S. government in funding the education, training, and development of America’s workforce, career progression—or lack thereof—are the No. 1 retention incentive and the No. 1 driver of turnover, respectively. 
  • Changes in Employment Relationships  Though there have been intensive efforts to impose new restrictions and liabilities on alternatives to traditional employment arrangements, the reality is that existing law already contains significant deterrence to the overutilization of such alternatives, and in many cases impedes positive developments for workers. 
  • Immigration There is a global war for talent at all levels, and countries are competing to attract and retain the human capital essential to a culture of productivity and innovation.  Arbitrary and inflexible caps on the number of annual visas ignore these market realities.
  • Health Care Over 177 million Americans receive health care benefits through employers, and the broad scope of these benefits is a bedrock and one of the few working aspects of the American health care system, yet it is challenged by the ongoing policy debate over health care reform.

The report also outlines other areas of importance to HR officials in shaping the future workplace. It notes that one of the pressures keeping jobs out of the United States is a regulatory regime that was developed for a different era. 

Daniel V. Yager, president and CEO of HR Policy Association said, “Everyday, the top HR executives are trying to shape the best workplace they can within the confines of often-times antiquated laws and policies that govern America’s offices and factories.  I hope our report will spur Congress and the Trump administration to do the same and help American employers design a workplace that America workers need to be as productive and happy as they can be.”