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I have spent a large portion of my adult life working in the field of Human Resources. Working as an HR Generalist in manufacturing, I have had the opportunity to be involved in many aspects of the HR. Along the way I have seen the shift away from HR being clerical and simply administrative, to becoming a strategic business partner. This aspect of HR, becoming more business critical continues to come at a faster and faster pace and with long lasting consequences to many decisions made by each and every HR department.
This process of making HR more strategic can be linked directly to government regulation, and the non-stop regulations that we see coming at the Federal, State and Municipal levels. This is great new if you are new to the game. This means job security for those of us in the field. From the minimum wage rates that are being enacted at the city level, to the mandated paid time off put forth by a state or two, and then up to the newest and strongest pillar of job security, yes I am talking about the Affordable Care Act.
Regardless of where your politics come down on the matter the ACA has given HR a cottage industry inside the field. This year was the first year for 1095s and people still don’t know what they are or what they are supposed to do with them. Your part time hours added up and divided by 30 (because that is a full time employee – yeah just like in France and Germany). This is all in HR’s realm.
Not all that different than your employer, where I work we have been facing rising health care premiums – dramatically rising ones. Within the Exchange Plans Blue Cross and Blue Shield has been filing for rate increases from 25% to 60%. The cost of pharmaceuticals is increasing nearly exponentially. This health care thing is blowing up. Oh and HR is going to have to deal with it, because it is an employee matter.
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So in an effort to try to find some cost savings for my employer I have spent a whole bunch of time off and on over the last 6 months trying to figure out if, where and how employers can find cost savings in the matter. I will bet I am not the only person that has been filling that role.
You can study insurance. You can get certified as a benefits specialist. You can do all of these things today to attempt to understand that matter and save money today, and it is all going to change next year and again the year after. This is my prediction. The only constant in benefits administration will be change.
So if you are looking ride the wave of job security in the HR field, I strongly suggest you become a benefits expert. This means knowing how the laws work – at every level and then learning how employers can deliver the lowest cost benefits to their organization, working within that framework. This also encompasses things such as; wellness, smoking cessation, disease management, creation of local provider networks and all the things that we haven’t even thought of yet.
I heard that both the medical field and the mortuary field are two areas that are never going to go away. Well both of those entities intersect with HR – at some point, though employees, family members or retirees. While many employers do offer the life insurance, I prefer to focus on the employee benefits side of things and predict that those HR departments who manage this benefits well, will propel their organizations to new heights. And those individual within those departments, who are leading those efforts are going to be the newest rock-star talent that is sought after. So mark it down, demand for benefits experts is going to be up, supply will be low and compensation and prestige will rise.
If you are looking for some staying power in the HR field and status within your organization, become that person in your organization and hopefully you can last as long in the game as I have.