A #SHRM18 Interview with SHRM Vice President, Government Affairs, Mike Aitken



I have been in the game so long that I often choose to hear speakers and don’t really give topics much consideration, because I know who is good and who delivers the goods. 

One of the things I have always enjoyed doing at the SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition is getting plugged into what is going on in the field of Human Resources. Then I like to return to my office and share with my colleagues what is “really” going on in HR and in terms of public policy. One of my ways of doing so is to attend the session put on by SHRM’s Mike Aitken. Mike’s title is Vice President, Government Affairs. He heads up a staff of 12 folks who work “The Hill” and keep our interests front and center with all branches of government.

Over the years SHRM has made itself a go to resource for Congress. The Government Affairs office tracks what they call “reach outs.” This is when a member or a staff member contacts SHRM to find out their position on an issue. This happened more than 100 times in 2017. Think about that. Members of Congress contact SHRM if they want to discuss workplace issues and get an informed opinion.

While Mike’s presentation title Tsunami of Wave has kind of a gotcha ring to it, what you are going to hear from him is what is going on in Washington and what is coming down the pike. This will help you prepare your organization for what’s to come, and make you look like a public policy prognosticator.

Mike is going to cover several topics. Expect to hear quite a bit about the Workplace Flexibility Act.  This is a SHRM-sponsored measure. Mike says that he is hopeful that there will be congressional action this session. This is just one of several pieces of legislation in which SHRM has been instrumental in bringing into law. 

Another topic Mike will be discussing is immigration, and how it affects the workplace. The question remains, will there be a compromise or not? Even if there is not, Mike says that workplace audits involving I-9, and hiring immigrants have increased significantly in the last year. Accordingly, HR Pros need to have immigration on their radar.

Mike is also going to discuss legislation that lets employers offer student loan repayment as an alternative means of compensation, or as a recruiting tool. And of course, no public policy update would be complete without the latest news on health care and sexual harassment, a couple of topics that never seem to leave the front burner.

So, on Father’s Day you will find me in the room listening to what Mr. Aitken has to say about this matter, before I head over to the General Session with Governor Bush and SHRM CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.

If you enjoy his presentation, please tweet him at @SHRMVPAitken and wish him a happy Father’s Day. The poor guy has spent Father’s Day at the SHRM Annual Conference the last 12 out of 15 years, but that’s what he does for the members!



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