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Workforce Planning for 2017

In November 2015, New Hampshire’s unemployment rate was 3.2%; it was 2.5% in November 2016. Current signs are that it will continue to go lower, making it more and more difficult to hire good employees. Appropriate workforce planning is needed if businesses expect to find the employees they need and meet their clients’ demands.

If you have employees and more than one position in your organization, do you post all open positions, letting employees have the opportunity to advance through your organization? Are you providing the training (both internal and external) that your employees need to succeed in their current positions, as well as training for positions that are another step up? Do you offer cross-training opportunities? Do you have succession planning in place for your key positions? Do you have a 3-5 year plan with your workforce requirements defined?

If you don’t have a system to “home grow” the industry-specific skills that you need, you are not utilizing your most important resource, your employees. Consider also that if you need employees who wish to move up through your organization; how else are you going to fill those vacancies?

As part of your upcoming planning, consider how to incorporate the requirements of Senate Bill 416.

This recent New Hampshire law “prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee who requests a flexible work schedule.” Although the law does not require the employer to accommodate a flexible work schedule, it prohibits the employer from taking any negative employment action again an employee who makes the request.

The legislature has not defined what constitutes a “request” for a “flexible work schedule” and doesn’t clearly define what constitutes “retaliation.” So what should businesses do? Listen to your employees.

If an employee asks you to adjust his/her work schedule, listen to the reasons, ask if this is a permanent or temporary change to deal with an immediate situation, engage in a discussion. Talk about the pros and cons of the request. What would the costs be to the company? What about the morale of the other employees?

If you have to say no, then so be it. Document very carefully your reasons for denying the request and keep excellent records on that employee’s future performance and employment actions.

However, consider whether your organization can embrace the concept of workplace flexibility. For example, employees who are nearing retirement don’t necessarily want to stop working the day they turn 62 or 65. Many of them would like to ease into retirement by working half days for a period of time or go from 5 days down to 4 days and then down to 3 days. The more you are able to accommodate these valuable employees and those on the other end of the employment cycle (for example, young parents with childcare issues), the more you are able to provide all of your employees with a work/life balance that they will cherish. HR Compliance 101 can help you with that process.

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