Change is the Only Constant
By Sara Mackey
The old saying goes, “Change is the only constant in life.” Human Resources must be one of the more challenging careers in the past decade, because change in life is happening at warp speed. While technology may have streamlined some of the more tedious aspects of paperwork, new and more difficult challenges have crept into our day-to-day lives. This makes it nearly impossible to separate from our professional lives, especially when those challenges are also affecting the entire workforce as well, to varying degrees (Remember in 2020, when we all had the mantra that 2021 was bound to better?).
There are the ongoing issues that all Human Resources departments face regularly and that are a product of the modern industrial world. Then there are immediate, threatening changes like massive turnover, uncommitted or ambiguous, elusive candidates, evolving policy changes due to the pandemic, a disappearing workforce from those who have retreated to working at home or left the workforce entirely.
Twenty years ago, most of us wouldn’t have imagined that within many workplaces in the United States, the most pressing need of the human resources department might be to maintain our employees’ immediate physical safety between gun violence and protections from an unpredictable and deadly pandemic. Inflation, a mushrooming recession and more have all taken a tremendous mental toll. Are HR staff heeding the advice they give so frequently to the workforce about work/life balance and self-care?
Then there are contemporary changes related to globalization, changing demographics, social and political unrest that at best challenge our well-being and that of our employees. These changes ripple through our lives in a way we may not recognize what’s left in their wake. Social changes make space for greater individuality, self-expression and identification but also require more protections for potentially vulnerable populations among us. This leaves us needing to cautiously re-evaluate DEI plans and the physical workplace architecture – allowing safe common spaces in our buildings to accommodate all individuals.
All that said, the more traditional, recurring HR issues haven’t gone away. Monitoring federal and state employment law, evaluating benefits and educating employees about them might once have been the most complicated part of the job. While still challenging and requiring constant attention, they may seem mundane compared to more recent revelations.
My point to all of this, is not to overwhelm, find excuses or encourage thoughts of an early retirement. It is to let you know that we see you and what you’re going through. Your organization has a very supportive, prepared and experienced team at the ready when you need it. Consider us your Employee Assistance Program just for your HR department. Your local Wisconsin technical colleges have a wealth of practical and theoretical knowledge, bolstered by the fact that we are centered in our campus environment – a microcosm of the larger community. In addition, we partner with countless employers and organizations with which we’ve worked though all manner of challenges. The Workforce Solutions departments at each of the 16 technical colleges approach our communities’ unique issues, demographics and needs with perspective and expertise. We are your consultant, your sounding board, your reference point for safety issues, sensitivity training, employment law, policy matters and skills training. We can address workplace compliance and virtually anything else. We can relieve some of the load you are carrying, so while you may still have the world on your shoulders, hopefully you don’t feel like you do. For more information about the breadth of our services, please visit www.wtcsystem.edu/workforce-solutions.