“The most important part of every business
is to know what ought to be done. “
“It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants.
The question is, ‘What are we busy about?”
Henry David Thoreau
There are a number of things that will impact the workplace occurring and looming in the months ahead.
- Mileage rate – The IRS has increased the mileage rate for business miles driven by a penny to 56.5¢. This is an optional benchmark for employers but something you should be aware of if you routinely reimburse employees for miles driven to perform their duties.
- I-9 – ????. It would appear the revised I-9 is still pending even though the previous one expired at the end of August of 2012. U.S. Citizenship &Immigration Services (USCIS) states on their website to continue to use the old form until further notice.
- OSHA 300A Forms – It’s that time of year again. The summary of incidents and accidents that occurred in your organization n 2012 needs to be posted in a common area on February 1st and remain posted until April 30th of this year.
- Workplace discrimination – The Obama administration will be pushing for equal pay for women as well as the prohibition of discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation. There may also be survey data that leans toward what appears to be some bias against older job applicants as well as those that have been unemployed for longer periods. However, there are statistics and studies on both sides of that fence. From a hiring standpoint, regardless if legislative changes are made in these areas, it’s important to look closely at a candidate as a whole package to determine whether they can fill a role in your organization.
- Workplace leave – President Obama will focus more attention on expanding and extending leave options for employees.
- Labor Relations – While the Employee Rights poster has been out of the news, the NLRB still supports the workers’ right to organize. ‘Nuff said…
- Health care reform – While the changes have begun to kick in as 2013 unfolds, many are slated for 2014. The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act is hundreds of pages long. Many folks smarter than me are still wading through it in an attempt to understand its requirements and ramifications. Make sure your health insurance provider is educating you AND your employees about the changes that have occurred and are to come. One of the new terms being bandied about is “healthcare marketplace”. It’s really a new reference to the insurance exchanges that many states are creating (and Wisconsin has chosen not to…). By January 1, 2014 everyone in the country will be expected to have insurance coverage. While the legislation is called the “Affordable Care Act”, the term “affordable” may be relative to some.
- The economy – The Fiscal Cliff, unemployment, the Government’s debt limit, oil prices… These days the economy is up and down at the mere discussion of any and all of the above and more. Personally, I believe this is the “new normal”. Companies need to focus on being nimble in order to adjust as quickly as possible to short and long-term economic changes.
The short list above contains items requiring compliance or awareness or both. For some items, as in the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (PPACA), there is a time line. In the case of the U.S. economy every day brings another surprise. As you operate in 2013 do you want to be an organization that reacts or responds? Some things you can prepare for while others are thrust upon you unknowingly. The key is to encourage your people to be prepared for what they know is coming as well as to expect situations they can not anticipate. That takes (at least) three things:
> Good communication
>The ability to ask “What if” & “Why?”
Talk about what is going on inside and outside your company. At times, meetings just need to convey information and/or educate. At other times they are the gatherings where ideas are born and goals and expectations are set. I’m not suggesting more meetings but more effective ones. People should know why they are there, and leave with an idea what they are responsible for before the next meeting. Effective meetings require good listening skills and the ability to agree to disagree. An agenda, respect for others’ opinions and holding each other accountable are keys to successful meetings. A time limit helps keep things on track as well.
“What if” & “Why”
Everyone should be allowed to ask these questions. Great ideas have resulted because some have asked them. Preparedness is a result as well. Anticipation breeds responses not reactions and allows crisis situations to be addressed effectively. Good fire-fighters not only fight the fire but eliminate any fuel that would allow it to grow stronger or reignite. You’re also more likely to put out the fire but also eliminate the kindling as well if you ask “Why did that happen?” The “Why” questions also serve to allow people to understand why things were not done.
No one person can be responsible for it all. A good leader trusts his troops to do their job and provide good counsel. If they do not or can not then one must ask, “Why were they hired in the first place? Hone your skills at choosing the right people for the job and your organization. Then let them do what you hired them to do.
You can lead your organization in a manner that allows it to be prepared and respond to the unexpected. Provide your employees with a vision and direction and let them ask “What if?
It’s up to you. How will you respond?
Next month: Perceptions