Ohio SHRM Members Updated on Policy Agenda

Members urged to use their voice to make a difference

Kathy Gurchiek By Kathy Gurchiek July 20, 2016
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) attended the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, reporting on events relevant to the HR profession. SHRM was the only HR organization at the convention and had a contingent, led by Henry G. "Hank" Jackson, SHRM president and CEO, representing SHRM members and the HR profession. SHRM attended the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia the following week.

  • For SHRM's complete coverage of the 2016 Republican National Convention, click​ here.​​​​​​​
  • For SHRM's complete coverage of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, click​ here.​​​​​​​

CLEVELAND—Public-policy issues ranging from the new overtime regulations to the Affordable Care Act were among topics highlighted during a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) presentation Tuesday at the Republican National Convention.

SHRM, the Ohio SHRM State Council, and the Cleveland SHRM Chapter hosted the event that highlighted the global HR organization's 2016 policy agenda of legislative and regulatory developments expected to impact organizations across the U.S.

SHRM is attending the RNC this week, and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next week, in a nonpartisan effort to build relationships with key decision-makers in both parties, noted Mike Aitken, vice president of government affairs at SHRM.

Henry G. "Hank" Jackson, SHRM president and CEO, stressed the importance of HR professionals providing insight to government decision-makers—regardless of who is in office—because those governmental leaders shape policy that impacts business.

"HR is everywhere," including on the floor of the political conventions where public policy often involves HR and business policy. "These things are going to happen, it's just a matter of how much influence we're going to have" on these issues, Jackson told HR professionals.

For example, the rule updating the overtime regulations define which white-collar workers are protected by the Fair Labor Standard Act's minimum wage and overtime standards. The final rule is effective Dec. 1, 2016.

As written, the rule raises the threshold for exempt employees from $23,660 to $47,476. Additionally, the rule would increase the threshold every three years to the 40th percentile of full-time salaried workers in the lowest wage Census region, which is currently the South. 

However, SHRM Online reported July 19 that legislation is still being introduced to alter or prevent the new overtime regulations from taking effect. The latest effort is by members of the Democratic Party, who want to phase in the overtime rule and eliminate the automatic triennial increase of the exempt salary threshold.

HR consultant Christine Jankus, SHRM-SCP, told SHRM Online that many CEOs see dollar signs when she talks to them about the new overtime rule.

She noted that one CEO of a company with 50 to 100 employees, with whom she talked last week, is tracking all employee hours—regardless of the job—to get an idea of the potential impact on his business.

Taking this action, she said, "alleviates some of his anxiety over overtime, and it turned out it wasn't as bad as he thought."

And a director of HR for a family-owned business in Ohio with 500 to 1,000 employees told SHRM Online that her organization is considering eliminating bonuses but raising salaries to $48,000 as a workaround to the new rule.

Influencing Policy

It's important for HR professionals to have a voice in those policy decisions, Jackson said. One way to use that voice is by working on SHRM's Advocacy Team (A-Team), a network of volunteers who serve as the "go-to" people for lawmakers and their staffs on workforce-related issues.

"We consider ourselves an 'expert witness,' " Jackson said. SHRM's legislative staff members communicate with policy decision-makers on the business impact of proposed policies. SHRM members often appear before congressional subcommittees, and SHRM members have opportunities to visit their lawmakers at the state and federal levels.

"It's critical we have a voice," Jackson said.

Remaining relevant within their organizations is the biggest challenge for the average HR professional in the coming year, said Steve Browne, SHRM-SCP. Browne is executive director of HR at LaRosa's Inc., in the Cincinnati area, and serves on the SHRM board of directors.

HR professionals can't add value as long as they "continue to stay on the sidelines," said Browne, who encouraged SHRM members to join the A-Team.

"Relevancy is going to be a huge benchmark."


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