What You Should Expect to Get From, and Give to, a Modern HR Department
By Adam Calli Principal Consultant, Arc Human Capital LLC | March 14, 2021
Recently I watched the hit 1980 movie Nine to Five about three secretaries working for a boss that the movie describes as a "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical, bigot" – and he is every bit of that! Though I got a lot of laughs watching the movie, after 20+ years in HR, I can never really turn off that side of my brain, so I repeatedly found myself thinking that the craziness in this 1980 office would never fly today! There would have been plenty of disciplinary actions to go around!
This made me think about the many ways HR has changed over the past 40+ years – and not just in how we do things but also in the expectations that senior leadership, managers, and employees have of HR and that HR has of them. Let's explore those expectations, and as we do, think about whether or not your HR team is meeting them for you, and if you're meeting theirs, because like so many relationships in life, the one with HR is one of give and take.
Since the 1990s Congress has passed a steady stream of employment legislation. Landmark pieces like the Family Medical leave Act (FMLA), Affordable Care Act (ACA), and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as well as lesser-known items like the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), among others, have all created new obligations for workplaces.
But in HR we don't just worry about what's happening in Washington D.C. State legislatures across the nation are instituting new and expanded rights for workers and duties for employers. Add to this local ordinances passed by cities, counties, etc., and it doesn't take long to become overwhelmed. Some of the biggest topics that have seen non-federal attention include minimum wage increases, mandatory sick or other leave requirements, and a much bigger focus on protections for members of what we in HR call "protected classes."
These are protections that apply based upon a person's membership in a certain group determined by age, gender, gender identity, racial characteristics (such as hair or hairstyle), pregnancy status, marital status, etc. Laws that "ban the box," which require most prospective employers to not ask about criminal history until after a conditional job offer is made, or that prevent you from asking about prior pay rates are all meant to eliminate common practices that pose major disadvantages to certain members of the workforce regarding employment and compensation. These have changed the way we execute our hiring processes.