The Top 5 Global HR Articles of 2016

By Kathy Gurchiek Dec 30, 2016
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​The concept of a six-hour workday for full-time employees, overtime laws around the world, and what employers can learn from Millennials were among the most-read global HR stories published on SHRM Online during 2016.

Could a 6-Hour Day Work for Full-Time Employees?

Work for six hours but be paid for eight? A 2016 survey of 1,021 office workers and 503 decision-makers in the United Kingdom found that 60 percent of bosses would consider introducing a six-hour workday; 100 percent of HR professionals said they would consider it. Two out of 5 decision-makers thought employees would be as productive in six hours as in eight, one-third thought employees would take fewer sick days and 29 percent thought they would be more creative.

There are consequences—some favorable, some less so—to a six-hour workday. But could U.S.-based businesses adopt a six-hour workday and still remain competitive and productive?

"It's so interesting how it's catching on like wildfire" outside the U.S., said Pramila Rao, associate professor at Marymount University in Washington, D.C., where she teaches global HR management. However, adopting the concept would require a change in mindset—on the part of both leadership and employees—for it to work, noted Rao, who is also a member of the Society for Human Resource Management's Global Expertise panel.

In the U.S., working long hours often is associated with more pay, career advancement and a business's profitability.

"We are so hesitant to even take vacation time," Rao pointed out.

Why Millennials Are Who They Are—and What Employers Can Learn from Them

"Every 20 years, a new generation comes into the work world as adults, and we all freak out about it," said Jamie Notter, co-author of When Millennials Take Over (Idea Press, 2015). However, he said members of this generation likely understand more about the future of business than anyone else, given that they are shaping it. Notter offered four common grievances older employees have toward Millennials and explanations for why those younger workers behave as they do.

"They have a lot to teach us," he said. "We need to shift the conversation away from complaining and more toward being curious."

[SHRM members-only platform: SHRM Connect]

Mercer: Shifting Attitudes Reflected in Family Leave Policies

Maternity, paternity and adoption leave policies are undergoing a shift as companies and governments make adjustments to address changing demographics and societal norms, according to a recent report from Mercer that looked at practices in 50 countries. 

Interest in this subject is expected to grow, especially as more companies make changes. A recent example is Ikea, which on Dec. 7 announced a generous parental leave policy that gives all of its U.S employees paid leave no matter how many hours they work. It's a move aimed at attracting and retaining employees and improving their productivity.

In Focus: A Look at Overtime Laws Around the Globe

The United States is not alone in reassessing the workweek and the payment of overtime. Sweden is experimenting with a six-hour workday, while the state government of Maharashtra has enacted an amendment that allows all workers to put in more overtime.

This collection of articles included coverage of potential changes in the workweek in countries such as France, India, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The president of France, for example, was considering allowing firms to negotiate longer hours and overtime rates directly with their own trade unions instead of having to adhere to rules dictated by national, industrywide agreements. In China, the working day is usually defined as eight hours but may be greater in special cases. Under Chinese labor law, employers have to be granted permission from trade unions before allowing any overtime.

Mexico Approves Increase to Daily Minimum Wage for 2016

The National Commission on Minimum Wages approved a general minimum-wage increase of 4.2 percent, effective Jan. 1, 2016.

The wage increase raised the general minimum wage from $70.10 Mexican pesos per day (approximately $4.08 USD) to $73.04 Mexican pesos per day (approximately $4.25 

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