The Power of Communication: Blowing on Workers, Businesses, and HR - OVERTIME UPDATE: STOP IT?

STOP  OT - As a last minute update to this big wind of change: less than two weeks before taking effect the new Overtime Rule is put to a halt. By evidence this will be a relief to small employers and procrastinators. But by now, most businesses have taken steps to either "upgrade" or "downgrade" concerned positions. Minds have also somehow adjusted to the idea. This is therefore a wait and see situation for both employers and employees. Word of caution: do not reverse what you have changed since neither employees nor the HR suite need to be put in an additional, emotional roller coaster; and be ready for more changes. Definitely a challenge.

The other day, I happened to see a scream from a HR professional following a SHRM post on LinkedIn. It was a shout for Social Media to stop talking about the president-elect. The SHRM post was not about the president-elect or politics: it was about the changes that the new Administration will bring to HR. It was about information, which is part of Communication. I am, of course by essence, a big champion of integrating Communication and HR. To me, HR cannot "be" or succeed without communication. And, truly, this presidential election has demonstrated, once more, the extraordinary power of communication. For whatever it will bring for workers, businesses, and consequently HR, it surely is blowing a wind of change.  How do we perceive communication?

Communication: Listening and Acting

Ignoring the facts, the situation, and the suspense would seem unreasonable and out of touch to me. Changes will happen with this new Administration. Like it or not, for better or worse, changes will be here and businesses and employees will have to follow suite - or disagree - but ignoring realities or turning a deaf ear will not make newness disappear. Burying our heads in the sand will not make changes go away. As an example, overtime rules are here and probably here to stay for a while until things get settled and maybe tweaked. I know some organizations have been struggling with it, and more so in rolling it out than in adopting the changes themselves. This is where (1)  proactivity comes into play and (2) follow-up becomes crucial for HR.

Here is a story: a fairly large organization having several autonomous Divisions; It is unfortunate that because of HR failure in following-up on the exemption rule implementation throughout the organization, so many will end up losing their jobs due to budgetary limitations. The exemption rule has been the subject of HR talks over and over again. And two weeks before it takes effect, some organizations are in disarray. In this case, the whole issue was not in the adoption of the rule: it was in its implementation. THAT is HR work. It did require proper communication in many forms. If Branches or Divisions or Districts fail in its proper implementation, it is obvious that HR failed in proper delivery.  Communication suggests receiving the information, processing it, and acting on it.

Communication is About Partnership

Back to the story. The Division wants and needs to keep its talent. But with the reclassification from non-exempt to exempt (this organization has decided to "upgrade" ) there is no room in the unchanged budget to accommodate all talents. The Division had suggested a reclassification to a lower bracket/group that has of course caused uproar. Yes, it would have been the maintenance of the pay level, but it would have been a serious "demotion" that would have seriously impacted the professional track of the employees. In some fields of work, such as Research or similar domains, titles/classifications DO matter, more than in the business world.
So, what is the HR story here? Failure to partner closely with the Divisions. HR is no more just and only Administration. It has to communicate and partner with all, walk hand in hand with the various branches or work partners to achieve smoothly (more or less at times) a given program. HR is about teamwork on a wider scale. It is paramount to success. Don't we say that HR is a business partner?

Communication is Power: Ethics and Double-Edged Sword

Most of all, communication is power. It is an extraordinary, powerful tool that you can have. Recently, I came across Sharlyn Laubyn's article about "professional ghosting". It is an interesting observation. As ghosting applies to a two- way communication (I would affirm that communication is always a two way affair. There is a clear distinction between Information and Communication), in any event "ghosting" is not considered "professionally" acceptable or mature. Issues have to be addressed and resolved through transparent communication, whereas the role of HR in Employee and Labor Relations, and the role of Public Relations as well. From on-boarding to current HR trends , conflicts of  interests, and potential questions of ethics, communication plays a major role in issue management. It is a double-edged sword in general, and HR in particular, and more than ever in the age of technology: #ItCanBreakItOrMendIt. You have to be skilled at using communication. You know that when you are the ambassador of your organization - no matter your level of responsibility- you hold the organization's fate within your "voice" so to speak. Manipulating communication - yes, it is a tool -, and there have been great communicators - the good, the bad, and the ugly ones - in global history, is crossing the line of ethics.

I am so proud of Millennials who take the subject of  ethics and ethical communication so seriously: it is hope for the future as by 2020 they will reach 50% of the workforce. This can be inspiring, especially to those of us who grew tired and disillusioned by the facts of business. It is fair to say that it is an unstoppable global trend at this point: #People #Green #Purpose/Ethics.  How many households with Millennials have changed the way they shop because of Millennials, have reconsidered the way they approach issues? Count mine. Millennials' influence is here to shape the world of business and the world of HR Management.

So, is there hope in a cacophony of voices? Isn't here that HR should play its role of change agent and communicator, depending on the direction the organization is heading to, and maybe making its voice heard to align changes to global trends or stir organizations towards the new, #People #Green #Purpose/Ethics right direction?

En Synthèse ...

Eh bien! Les dés sont jetés et le monde s'est apparemment écroulé (sic!).  Les gens ont comparé les
élections aux USA au Brexit. Peu importe: ce n'est pas une question de politique. C'est plutôt une question de Communication qui a soufflé un vent puissant sur le monde. Revoyez l'histoire si vous n’êtes pas convaincus. 

Un Vent de Changement Souffle les RH aux USA

Bon gré, mal gré, les travailleurs, employeurs, et par conséquent les RH devront faire face à une longue liste de changements aux USA. De visu, pour les entreprises et les nantis, ce sera plutôt de bonnes nouvelles, probablement : moins d’impôts, moins d'obligations légiférées en vue quoique le vent de changement sur certains points pose des questions/soucis. Pour les travailleurs non-employés, ce sera probablement plus de soucis financiers quand les suppléments financiers via programme sanitaire (Healthcare) seront coupés à moyen terme (ah! inattendu par certains!)
Pour le commun des travailleurs, particulièrement les ménages a unique source de revenus, cela s'annoncerait particulièrement difficile

La Communication: Cette Arme à Double Tranchant 

Mais le changement nous démontre que le pouvoir de la Communication est incommensurable et peut friser le danger. J'ai toujours été une grande adepte de la symbiose entre les RH et la Communication car les problèmes RH, c'est d'abord et avant tout les gens, les travailleurs, puis l'environnement. La Communication est une arme à double tranchant: il peut provoquer des changements imprévisibles - ou prévisibles - cela dépend de l'angle où l'on se met. En tous cas, en RH, cela va de l'OnBoarding aux tendences RH , conflicts d’intérêts, et questions possible d’éthique.

Les Millennials Communiquent...

Tant qu'il y a vie, il y a espoir, n'est-ce-pas? Les Millennials sont  là pour nous le démontrer dans cette ère de la  #Technologie En 2020 ils représenteront 50%  du monde du travail. Un autre monde, une autre mentalité où le trio #Individus, #Environnement/ResponsabilitéSociale et #Ethique ne sont pas compromis. C'est un vent nouveau qui continuera de souffler de plus en plus fort globalement et que les entreprises et RH ne peuvent plus prétendre ignorer pour bien longtemps. En fait, qui ne connaît pas un Millennial qui ne leur ouvre pas les yeux sur une autre nouvelle façon de penser et vivre la vie de travail?


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