3 Ways to Keep the #HRSOTU Conversation Going

Thanks to all who participated in the State of the Union live chat.  Here are three great ways to keep the #HRSOTU conversation going:

1. Head over to We Know Next and check out the #HRSOTU Chat Recap

2. Take a look at some SHRM and CFGI resources that address:

     >Long-Term Unemployed 
     >Minimum Wage Debate  
     >Health Care Reform 
     >Hiring Veterans 
     >Immigration Reform

3.  Stay Engaged. 
The Employment Law & Legislative Conference is coming up in Washington, D.C., March 17-19Early bird rate ends Friday!  Also, registration is now open for the Council for Global Immigration 2014 Symposium!


Please Join the SHRM and Council Government Affairs Team for the 2014 State of the Union

On Tuesday, January 28, at 9 p.m. ET, President Obama will deliver his fifth State of the Union address from the Capitol. SHRM and the Council for Global Immigration’s Government Affairs Team will be hosting a live Twitter chat during the president’s remarks. Please join the Government Affairs Team and @SHRMATeam for a live #HRSOTU chat with special guests Lisa Horn (@SHRMLobbystLisa), Kathleen Coulombe (@kcnshrmga), Chatrane Birbal (@SHRMAdvocacy) and Rebecca Peters (@Global_imm). This is an opportunity for SHRM and Council members to interact with the staff and discuss HR-related legislative policies that might be included in the president’s speech.

The Government Affairs Team will be chatting about the president’s legislative agenda, HR public-policy issues in the current Congress and will provide an insider’s view on pending legislative policies pertinent to the HR sector.

Join us and follow the conversation on Twitter: #HRSOTU

Want to stay engaged in shaping the future of HR public policy? Plan to attend the 2014 Employment Law & Legislative Conference, taking place March 17-19 in Washington, D.C. This year’s conference promises an information-packed agenda for attendees. In addition to the latest compliance information, participants will hear about legislative issues pending at federal and states levels, and conduct Capitol Hill meetings with their lawmakers to discuss key HR public policy issues, including relevant proposals from the president’s State of the Union address.


Tax Reform Could Affect Your Retirement!

It’s not what you know that can hurt you; it’s what you don’t know.

That adage is particularly appropriate today as Congress quietly considers an issue that could affect every American—yet few are aware of it.

While every conscientious HR professional has been working overtime to keep up with the evolving status of the Affordable Care Act, developments with immigration reform, and the implications of new workplace rules, something else has been happening behind closed doors on Capitol Hill.

Believe it or not (and you had better believe it), the tax-writing committees in Congress are drafting legislation to eliminate or limit the tax-deferred status of retirement savings plans. If you’re thinking this comes at a time when the weak economy is making it more difficult for many Americans to save, you’re right. In fact, too many of us are not saving enough now for retirement.

How Congress might change the current tax incentives to save for retirement is as big a secret as Area 51. (Everyone acknowledges they both exist, but no one will say what they are!)

What’s not a secret is the fact that Congress and the Obama administration are looking for new revenue wherever they can find it. With the annual federal budget deficit totaling $600 billion and the U.S. national debt hovering above $17 trillion, everything is fair game. And the deferred taxes on retirement savings plans for you and your employees are as tempting to lawmakers as a busload of novice high rollers  to a Vegas casino.

Make no mistake: The tax deferral for retirement savings is in Congress’ cross hairs, and some (or all) of us are going to pay more upfront if these changes are enacted.

The problem is that the current tax incentives represent one government policy that actually works as promised and intended. Studies show that Americans are incentivized to take responsibility for their own retirement security when there is an immediate incentive to save. The deferral rules don’t “lose” any tax money for the U.S. Treasury; rather, they simply trade immediate tax revenue (when people contribute to a savings plan) for long-term revenue (when retirees begin withdrawing their savings).

If tax deferrals for retirement savings were eliminated, people would be less likely to save. Additionally, changes to the current incentives could add costs and limit the ability of employers to offer and contribute to their employees’ retirement plans. This last point is not a small one, because if employers find it more costly or overly complicated to offer an employee savings plan, they may be likely to abandon this important benefit.

With more than 10,000 Americans retiring every day, the need for tax incentives to encourage and protect retirement savings has never been greater. This is especially true for Americans who are not on track to have adequate savings to support themselves once they leave the workforce.

Rather than devising regressive tax changes to raid workers’ retirement savings, Congress and the Obama administration should be preserving and strengthening tax incentives for individuals and employers. This is the most effective way to help Americans attain financial security and avoid the need for more federal spending to support retirees facing economic hardship later in life.

The good news is that the tax proposals under quiet consideration have not yet been finalized—or even announced. There is time to influence this issue, and millions of Americans plan to do just that. According to an October 2013 national survey, 95 percent of people with some form of tax-deferred retirement savings account oppose changing the tax rules. Thousands have already written to their elected officials and signed up to follow the Coalition to Protect Retirement, which SHRM is helping to lead.

The financial security of our families, friends, co-workers and neighbors is riding on our actions. This is too important a long-term issue to be left to a Congress motivated by quick fixes and fast money. Join other working Americans and their employers to tell Congress, “Retirement savings are off-limits!”

Visit www.HowAmericaSaves.com to learn more and to get involved.


Three HR Resolutions for 2014

By Hank Jackson, SHRM President & CEO

Happy New Year.

Here are three resolutions, based on my conversations with CEOs and hundreds of HR professionals over the last year, that I believe every HR professional should consider in 2014:

     1.  Be an even better business leader.

     2.  Invest in your own career.

     3.  Show HR at its best in your community.

Read here to learn why. If we resolve to do this, I see even greater success for our profession in the year ahead.


Sign’s Up! SHRM Named by Washingtonian as a 2013 “Great Place to Work”

In case you missed it, back in November the editors of The Washingtonian magazine selected SHRM as one of its 50 Great Places to Work.   This year’s winners are featured in the December issue of the magazine.  The sign is up, and we’re thrilled!

Read the full Washingtonian article here.




SHRM’s 1994 Mission to South Africa

By Leon Rubis, SHRM Vice President of Editorial

The death of Nelson Mandela last week prompted memories of an early example I witnessed of the importance and international reach of the HR profession—and of SHRM.

On the morning of Sept. 8, 1994, I was still in my first year as a SHRM editor when my boss told me I should cover an unexpected meeting in the main conference room—something to do with South Africa. Grabbing a notebook, I slipped into the meeting and quickly recognized its significance.

Two diplomatic officials from the South African embassy in Washington were briefing SHRM leaders who were leaving soon to visit the country. The nation had recently abolished apartheid, elected Mandela president in April, and adopted constitutional reforms. Governments, businesses and industry groups worldwide were ending economic boycotts of the country and renewing relationships and investments. But South Africa was still reeling from the international sanctions and a long recession.

The SHRM delegation included 1994 Board Chair Gail Parker, 1993 Chair Elmer Jackson, board member Gary Howard, then-CEO Michael Losey, Vice President of International and Diversity Programs Patricia Digh, and member Wayne Swann, president of the Black Human Resource Network.  They attended the annual conference of South Africa’s HR association, the Institute for Personnel Management (IPM), in mid-September, where Parker, Jackson and Losey all spoke to provide encouragement and support.

The IPM wanted to lead the way in implementing the country’s ambitious Reconstruction and Development Program, under which every government agency was to redirect 3 percent to 5 percent of its budget into a fund for social services and economic development. It wanted to help its 8,500 members and other HR and business professionals solve South Africa’s many problems, including lack of workforce skills, 16 percent unemployment, inequities in distribution of wealth, 31 percent illiteracy among adults and inadequate infrastructure. IPM leaders were eager to learn about SHRM’s diversity initiatives and U.S. affirmative action programs. The SHRM leaders pledged resources, information and other assistance to the IPM. The group also met with South Africa’s minister of Labor and its incoming ambassador to the U.S.

Although the U.S. was the largest sanctioner of South Africa, “there are really no hard feelings” between the nations’ business and government officials, Losey said. “They seek our help and we are pleased to be able to help.”
Digh’s article in the October 1994 issue of HR News, SHRM’s monthly newspaper at the time, called the mission to South Africa “one of the most important and significant international endeavors SHRM has ever undertaken.” Since then, of course, the HR profession’s influence has steadily increased. And SHRM’s global reach has extended to offices and operations in India, China, the Middle East and many other countries.

Digh’s 1994 article:


Making Sense of Washington

By Hank Jackson, SHRM President & CEO

Many of the things happening in Washington today – from the government shutdown to the healthcare rollout – add up to uncertainty. But the words of financial journalist and publisher B.C. Forbes are as true now as they were during a different Washington debate nearly 90 years ago: “Uncertainty hurts business,” and “it annoys individuals.”

While there may be uncertainty in Washington, I want you to know there is no uncertainty with SHRM. We will continue to cover these issues closely and stay involved in the debate so that we can explain how it affects you and your organizations. We will provide accurate data and information so that you can make informed decisions to better lead your organizations.

So stay connected with us, and click here to read my commitment to help you stay informed and make sense of what’s happening in Washington.


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