Magnum, SMH

September 20, 2017 - by: Matt Gilley 0 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

Who could possibly sully the sainted memory of Thomas Magnum, fictional private investigator and iconic 1980s bon vivant? All 45 of these guys, apparentlyMan partying

Here’s a quick hit in case you don’t want to follow the link: Bachelor partygoers decided they would take in a baseball game in Detroit between the Tigers and the Chicago White Sox. All 45 partiers (if only I were so well-liked) dressed as television’s best-known Detroit Tigers fan, Magnum, P.I. The fellows must have left their Higginses behind because they weren’t on their best behavior (hijinks during a bachelor partyperish the thought!). Eventually, the Tigers brass kicked all 45 Tom Selleck doppelgängers from Comerica Park.

Their sins? One of them was smoking and others were catcalling women in the crowd (no mention whether all those red Hawaiian shirts also crossed a line). One member of the party despaired that the Tigers ruined everyone’s fun because of a few bad pineapples, but, honestly, who could possibly separate one naughty Magnum from the other 44 angels?

You may be asking, “Matt, this is amusing and all, but what does this possibly have to do with HR?” That’s a fair question. The HR intersection is that employers need to be watching their patrons’ behaviornot just their employees’to avoid a hostile work environment. Employers can be liable for the harassing conduct of visitors, vendors, and customers just as they can be liable for the actions of supervisors and co-workers. If you are aware that a third partyor third parties, like four dozen Thomas Magnum lookalikesmay be harassing your employees or causing a hostile environment, you have a duty to take prompt remedial action to correct the problem.

So bravo to the Tigers. We don’t know whether the revelry was directed at any team employees, but the team had a problem on its hands and immediately corrected it. Sure, it probably cost them some concession revenueafter all, 45 guys could drink a lot of Old Dusseldorf. Still, you should heed the team’s example and be vigilant of your patrons’ behavior for the benefit of your employees.

In fact, you’ll probably have to be more vigilant. Potential harassers are rarely this loud and in-your-face, and they almost never wear identical, splashy tropical shirts.

 

Train ‘em up

September 12, 2017 - by: Matt Gilley 0 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

If you’re a poor soul who’s followed enough of my posts to spot patterns, you’ll spot one here. Maybe I’m a broken record, maybe I’m simple-minded, or maybe I really like baseball.  Personal development career

Baseball speaks to me. The U.S. is still a blip in the long course of human history. We cobbled together our identity from bits of preceding cultures, but baseball is one thing we claim as uniquely ours. Annie Savoy, Susan Sarandon’s character in Bull Durham, put it well:

“Walt Whitman once said, ‘I see great things in baseball. It’s our game, the American game. It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us.’ You can look it up.”

I never go very long without giving Bull Durham another look and, with the Majors moving into the stretch run, it’s been on my brain. Bull Durham serves you a tale of life at baseball’s lower rungs; the spring, summer, and fall rhythms of my adopted Carolinas; and the humor of dime-store philosophy. It’s also irreverent and bawdy, which naturally holds my attention. (I still laugh at the Little League coaches back in the day who took their teams to see the movie without doing their due diligence; those kids got an eyeful and an earful.)

Bull Durham is also a story of molding talent and potential into professional success, which is an angle I suspect interests our readers. The movie’s wise sage, Crash Davis (Kevin Costner), is a veteran minor league catcher with not-quite-enough talent but a Hall of Fame professional bearing. His apprentice, Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh (Tim Robbins), is a flamethrowing trainwreck of a young pitcher who’s as outlandish as his name. The big league club dispatched Crash to school Nuke in the ways of elite baseball and basic adulthood, and the two soon threw off a bit of a Yoda/Luke vibe (if Yoda were a switch-hitting whiskey aficionado and Luke had the maturity of a drunk baby).

Even still, it worked. Nuke caught on, learned to harness his wild pitches, and the big club pulled him out of the bus leagues up to the majors. Why? I think we have to credit Crash’s unconventional, wild, and uncompromising approach, which mixed odd philosophy with practical advice and forced Nuke to fail (and thus learn).

Consider the following examples that we can all adapt from time to time:

  • During a conference on the mound, Crash ordered Nuke, “Relax, all right? Don’t try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground ballsit’s more democratic.” Very good advice. We all have other people around us to carry the load. If Nuke didn’t slow down, he may have killed his arm and spent the next three decades selling encyclopedias.
  • By that point in their lives, Crash had forgotten more baseball than Nuke might ever learn; still, he waived off Crash’s pitchesa huge no-no for just about any pitcher.  Sure enough, the next batter blasted a home run. Again on the mound, Nuke wondered, “God, that sucker teed off on that like he knew I was going to throw a fastball!” Crash turned and said, “He did know … I told him.” Lesson given, lesson learned. Nuke dutifully threw the pitches Crash called from then on. Recognize that advice is meant to channel your potential, not to hold back your supposed natural brilliance.
  • Crash didn’t limit Nuke’s lessons to baseball. There were tips on handling the sports media. There were tips about life in the majors. And there’s this gem, which isn’t all that meaningful but is too good to leave out: “When you get in a fight with a drunk you don’t hit him with your pitching hand.”  Hey, you never know what advice is going to come in handy when.

So, dear readers, which one are you? If you are Crash, are you willing to take some time and give someone the chance to fail, all in the service of making them a better person on the other end? If you are Nuke, are you willing to recognize experience and wisdom, take your lumps, and emerge better for it? I’m willing to bet that the most successful mentoring, managing, and training occurs when one is Crash, the other is Nuke, and both are crazy enough to make it work.

I just don’t think I can look that up.

White House gone wild!

June 07, 2017 - by: Matt Gilley 1 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

These days, just about anyone with an Internet connection and some time on their hands enjoys a wonder of the modern age: binge-watching. One of the first, and still one of my favorites, is Netflix’s House of Cards. No matter how over-the-top the plot twists become, no matter how difficult it is to follow the multilayered schemes and shifting alliances, I can’t quit the drama surrounding the Underwoods and their White House. (It also helps that I get an added bonus of local color, since Frank Underwood hails from Gaffney, South Carolina, next door to where I sit in Spartanburg. One early episode even featured the Gaffney Peachoid – look it up.) businessman and house of cards cartoon

Frank Underwood’s approach to personnel is … well, unsentimental and often brutal. We all know the rule of at-will employment: Both the employee and the employer may end their relationship at any time, with or without notice or reason. Congressman, Vice President, President, and [spoiler alert!] now Mr. Underwood seems bent on adding a little twist to the familiar rule: An employer may terminate an employee’s employment at any time by killing said employee, without notice and often without much reason. The recently released season five is no exception.

Needless to say, Underwood is a man who holds little regard for the retaliation and whistleblower protections afforded to those who serve at his pleasure.

I’m a lawyer, and a hammer considers everything it sees to be a nail, so I often wonder what it would be like to defend the deposition of a fictional character or sit at a trial while that character testifies. Frank Underwood, if he were as candid under oath as he is with the camera, would probably have me reaching for his checkbook in an instant (check that–he would have me reaching for the Fifth Amendment in an instant). Take, for instance, these quotes:

  • Right off the jump in the show’s first episode, Frank’s neighbors’ dog was struck by a car. He stood over the dog, looked into the camera, and said, “There are two kinds of pain. The sort of pain that makes you strong, or useless pain. The sort of pain that’s only suffering. I have no patience for useless things.” Then he strangled the last bits of life out of the pooch while no one was looking. His testimony is not off to a great start.  I also wish he hadn’t worn his favorite “F” and “U” cufflinks.
  • Of all the things I hold in high regard, rules are not one of them.” Oookay. Maybe we can recover from this one … maybe I can cast him as ambitious, results-oriented, and a real go-getter. Folks like a take-charge guy, don’t they?
  • For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain, there can be no mercy. There is but one rule: Hunt or be hunted.” Oh, man. C’mon, Frank! Throw me a bone here! I realize you’re competitive, but a lot of your people are no more, and those folks over in the jury box are getting nervous and scoping out the exits.
  • I have zero tolerance for betrayal, which they will soon indelibly learn.” Lovely, Frank. I’ve stopped taking notes, and I’ve joined the jury in scoping out the exits.
  • When you’re fresh meat, kill and throw them something fresher.” And with that, I will take my leave.

Any other House of Cards gems that you like? Feel free to include them in the comments.

Pick me! Pick me! NFL draft lessons for HR

April 19, 2017 - by: Matt Gilley 0 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

The NFL draft is fast approaching, and with it comes the multiple prognostications and mock drafts that try to divine which teams will try to link up with the which talent coming out of the college ranks.

Each team will compile exhaustive profiles on which player prospects fit their urgent needs.Isolated Portraits-Businessman Linebacker Stance

Fans will hang on the edge of their seats to see whether their team will pick a superstar or a dud.

Eagles and Jets fans will find a reason to be unhappy.

My beloved Chiefs will try one more time to draft a franchise quarterback.

And at the end of the day, it all seems like a crapshoot.

In a sense, it is a crapshoot. Like any hire, the draft evaluation can’t tell you how well a player is going to adjust to life as a professional, how well he’s going to pick up the more complicated schemes, or whether stolen selfies of the prospect smoking marijuana with a bong fashioned from a gas mask will suddenly make the rounds on social media (yes, that has happened).

Every draft produces busts, just like every hire has the potential to be a dud. In honor of the season, I’ve categorized some football busts and compared them to some bad hires you may make:

  • The Stat Stuffer: The typical stat stuffer is a quarterback who played in a high-octane college offense, ran up incredible passing numbers, and is just too tempting to pass up on draft day. Later, the team realizes this guy never took a snap under center, never ran a huddle, and his coach fed him plays on coded cue cards featuring various Looney Tunes characters. Similarly, you may hire a “great” salesperson only to learn later that his previous job involved selling modular homes following a hurricane–and he hasn’t seemed to translate that success to HRIS software.
  • The Greek God: The Greek God is the player with the physique that’s too good to be true–because it is. Alas, players still fall prey to the siren song of PEDs, so the monstrous lineman you think you’re getting may be more of a liability without the chemical assist. Likewise, you might find yourself with a prospect whose resume is just too good to be true–better be checking to make sure that hire doesn’t blow up in your face.
  • The Peacock: Wide receivers are notorious divas. They all want the ball (and who can blame them–they need the ball to prove their worth), but on the flip side they can take on a very surly attitude when they’re not getting the ball. Diva receivers have upended many a locker room with their sense of entitlement. Take a lesson in your own business and beware the high-maintenance talent.

Feel free to suggest others in the comments.

Hack attacks!

January 11, 2017 - by: Matt Gilley 0 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

Lately, the news has led with stories about the alleged Russian hacking of various American political organizations, ostensibly for the purpose of influencing the 2016 elections. U.S. law enforcement has surmised that the Russian government orchestrated a number of incursions into networks controlled by the major political parties and that they used or disclosed certain information. You’ll recall the leaks of major Democrat Party and Hillary Clinton campaign e-mails. Now, news reports claim that the investigation revealed the Russian government may have collected compromising information about President-elect Donald Trump.Data-Breach

As with any hacking story, we can’t be sure exactly what’s out there or what’s real. However, we can’t deny that hacking goes on beyond government and politics. Private organizations and businesses are just as enticing to data thieves, and are often softer targets. We have seen prominent data thefts from all industries:  Telecommunications, manufacturing, tech, and consulting are all targets.

Human Resources in any organization plays a critical role in firming up an organization’s data security and cyber defenses. Data security has to take account of both internal threats (from employees and other insiders) and external threats (from data thieves and other hackers who want your information for personal gain or for other reasons). In this regard, Human Resources should assess the following:

  • Do we have safeguards in place to protect against internal data thefts? At a minimum, your employees with access to competitive or proprietary data should have confidentiality agreements, and the organization should have a policy in place to allow for monitoring use of company systems and advise employees that their use will be monitored. Also, walk around your office and see how many people have their passwords stuck to their computer on a Post-It note–any example you find is a weakness just begging to be exploited.
  • Do your people know how to spot threats? Attacks can come from any number of directions. For example, employees need to report suspicious activity, like a fellow employee who shows an inordinate amount of interest in data not related to his or her job. Also, employees often download data onto external storage media like hard drives or USB drives. Is your company preventing or monitoring these kinds of activities?
  • Are your employees easy marks? Hackers today gain access through any number of inventive ways. You need to ensure that your employees are trained to spot and report suspicious behavior like phishing, social engineering, and attempts to introduce malware into your organization’s systems. If any of these terms is unfamiliar to you, you need to get moving!

Training your people is the first way to prevent these attacks, because data thieves see your people as the easiest way into your system.

Baseball purists

December 13, 2016 - by: Matt Gilley 0 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

“Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

-H.L. Mencken

This post may not be the usual finger-wagging scold you may have come to expect from an employment lawyer. I’m confident, though, that this blog’s audience of fellow practitioners and human resource professionals will take a little solace in it. After all, it’s no fun to be a killjoy and we are thrust into that role more often than we’d like.  Young male baseball referee blowing a whistle

Why? Because potential liability under the employment laws too often compels us to manage to the lowest common denominator.

That frustrating fact claims its share of fun as casualties because you never know when some yahoo is going to take the fun well beyond harmless. Witness the latest casualty, as reported by the Washington Post: Major League Baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement will prohibit (well, curtail) the time-honored practice of rookie hazing.

As reported by the Post (quoting the Associated Press), the new CBA “bans players from ‘requiring, coercing or encouraging’ other players to engage in ‘dressing up as women or wearing costumes that may be offensive to individuals based on their race, sex, nationality, age, sexual orientation, gender identify or other characteristic.’” Gone are the days, the Post mentions, when the Washington Nationals dressed their rookies as gymnasts and ballerinas, or when the Dodgers outfitted Yasiel Puig as Gumby. In other words, grizzled MLB veterans can’t poke some good-natured fun at rookies by putting them in a Marilyn Monroe wig because there’s probably some perverted vet out there who’s going to torment a rookie until he streaks the field wearing who-knows-what.

Now, I don’t blame you a bit if you read that last paragraph and decided that Major League Baseball and the players’ union have done us all a very big favor. On the other hand, friendly ribbing and joking can go a long way to develop chemistry and camaraderie among a teamwhether it’s a baseball team or a business unit. The trick, of course, is knowing when it’s crossed the line, and that’s a terribly difficult line to draw (“good-natured” and “fun” being in the eye of the beholder and all). Unfortunately for us, the easiest way to navigate safely among Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the National Labor Relations Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and all of the other employment statutes is to put the kibosh on as much of it as you can.

I wish I had some more cheering news. No one enjoys telling a good employee that they can’t pull a harmless prank because a real-world Bluto Blutarsky may stalk among us, primed and ready to take that inch and go 100 miles more. Until we all grow up, though, we may just have to accept the unwanted mantle of the Puritan crusading against fun. And there’s one thing we know about adult humans: we don’t always act like adults.

North Korea has banned sarcasm. Whatever.

September 15, 2016 - by: Matt Gilley 2 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

In case you haven’t seen the news, no, the title is not a joke. The last word, however, is probably illegal now in North Korea (not that I worry much that this post is making it through the Hermit Kingdom’s web filters). Young Businessman Looking At Empty Space Above Him, isolated

First, a little background. North Korea’s government, as we all know, displays two consistent tendencies: (1) it likes Dennis Rodman and (2) it doesn’t cotton to criticism, and its leaders aren’t shy about responding in ways that would make Draco blush. The North Korean people, on the other hand, still seem to show at least some vestige of the human urge to be smart alecks. North Korea’s government and state media (but I repeat myself) has a much-mocked habit of blaming the country’s legion of woes on outsiders, particularly the United States.

Not that I know much about smart-aleck behavior (pro tip for Kim Jong Un: that’s a sarcastic commentnow, come and get me), but it seems some North Koreans have picked it as an indirect way of criticizing the state’s failures. For instance, if something goes wrongand it often does north of the DMZNorth Koreans have reportedly taken to ironic expressions of, “Oh, it must be America’s fault.” Word must have filtered up to the top levels in Pyongyang, and the powers-that-be realized that people were having a little fun at the government’s expense.

North Korea being a place that indulges just one, rather than fifty, shades of gray, the state apparatus dispatched teams far and wide for mass meetings to declare that the fun must stop. No sarcasm, no ironythe state will permit only genuine, gushing adoration and yes, the state is deadly serious (emphasis on deadly). In a truly tragic turn of events, I guess Seinfeld can write off any chance of ever winning widespread syndication in the People’s Republic.

Not to downplay the beastly elements of the story, but I have to say that sarcasm and irony are one of life’s pleasures and just another pleasure that the North Korean government wants to stamp out. We see it in our jobs, and especially in mine as an employment lawyer. Sarcasm run amok is certainly a problem for any business, but I confess to laughing at iteven admiring itwhen it shows up in a matter I’m handling.

So, let’s celebrate sarcasm in the comments. To get us started with an HR focus, here are some of the great sarcastic comments I’ve run across from real employee performance reviews (note: none of these occurred in cases in which I or my firm were involved):

  • “This employee has reached rock bottom and continues to dig.”
  • “He would argue with a Stop sign.”
  • “I would like to take this employee hunting sometime.”
  • “Has a full six pack, but lacks the little plastic thing that holds it all together.”
  • “The wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead.”
  • “The lights are on upstairs, but no one’s home.”

What say you, Dear Reader? (See what I did there?)

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eTeam: Finding the leader to take you from idea to profit

August 10, 2016 - by: Matt Gilley 0 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

Books are supposed to be my bailiwick here at the blog and after several posts on anything but, I figure it’s time to return to that groove. This week I want to focus on new businesses, or “startups,” if you prefer.  eBoys

If you’re starting a business and have grand plans for future growth, you really need to check out Randall Stross’s eBoys: The First Inside Account of Venture Capitalists at Work. eBoys has a bit of age on it at this pointit was first published in 2000 and came out soon before the dot-com bubble burst early that decade, and so you could criticize it as out-of-date and out of context. I don’t subscribe to that view.

eBoys follows the early days of Benchmark Capital, a new venture capital firm that launched in the 1990s. Benchmark (as it is now known) earned its stripes quickly for a newcomer: One of its early investments was eBay, which still ranks as one of the most successful venture capital investments ever. Benchmark granted Stross incredible access to its inner workings, meetings, and deliberations, which resulted in a very compelling read. I’m now working through the book for about the fourth or fifth time.

One of my observations about Benchmark’s business is the extraordinary amount of time they spend talking about the people in charge of the firm’s portfolio companies, both before and after the firm invests. For sure, eBoys includes plenty of discussion about the technological edges these companies are building. Thankfully, for a Luddite like me, Stross doesn’t let the techie stuff overwhelm the readers. Instead, to my eye, Benchmark’s partners spend most of their time chewing over the likelihood that their portfolio companies have the right people in charge.

Much of the book is devoted to explaining how Benchmark goes about finding “The Guy” who can take a company with a whiz-bang idea and deliver that idea to consumers in the form of a profitable product. (And, by the way, don’t let the talk about “The Guy,” the locker room style of the partners’ discussions, or Silicon Valley’s notorious male-dominated reputation fool youBenchmark’s most successful “Guy” was actually a gal: eBay’s Meg Whitman.)

Taken out of context, you could mistake eBoys as a guide on how to build your business’s best team and, in my opinion, you wouldn’t be wrong. Benchmark’s partners realize that a new business that shows enough promise to justify millions in seed funding has to have the right mix of talent and personalities to bring the business’s product to market. That may mean that the company’s founder or the technological mind behind the product isn’t the right person to manage the companyoften, that is not the right person.

I’m sure any reader out there faces similar problems in any business. Do we have the right team in place? What skills do we need right now, as opposed to the skills we needed a few years ago? What to do if we don’t have the right team or if the skills we need today don’t match with the people we have? If you are wrestling with these question (and if you’re not, you may need to soon), you could do much worse than to check out eBoys.

Success through rudeness and hostility

June 08, 2016 - by: Matt Gilley 0 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

Silicon Valley’s third season is in full swing on HBO, which raised a question in my mind: if Michael Scott’s Dunder Mifflin warranted an entire blog from the FordHarrison crew, isn’t the Hacker Hostel’s Erlich Bachman at least due his own post?Silicon Valley

My answer: Of course he is!

For the uninitiated, Silicon Valley is a brilliant sitcom that chronicles the ups and downs of a fictional startup, Pied Piper. Erlich, expertly played by comedian T.J. Miller, is an entrepreneur of sorts who plowed the relatively modest proceeds from the sale of his prior venture into a house near Palo Alto (and, judging by the episodes, into a copious amount of marijuana). He dubbed his home the “Hacker Hostel,” where he allows select entrepreneurs to live rent-free in exchange for 10% of their companies.

At the beginning of the series, if any of the hostel’s “incubees” have paid off for Ehrlich, there’s no evidence of it. In a stroke of blind fortune, however, venture capitalists latch onto Richard Hendrick’s Pied Piper, a clunky music app that just happens to have a killer compression algorithm built into it. Suddenly, venture capitalists and tech companies set off a feeding frenzy to get their hands on the new tech. Pied Piper vaults from the object of Ehrlich’s ire to the apple of his eyeand he vaults from middling tech entrepreneur onto the board of Silicon Valley’s hottest new company.

This is where the fun begins. Ehrlich is a train wreck on a personal levelan undisciplined, crass, intemperate, ungoverned, and thoroughly hilarious lout. Pied Piper is in its earliest stages, so right now its legal spend is devoted to corporate lawyers and litigators who fend off lawsuits over the ownership of its gold-plated IT. However, if Pied Piper makes it, and if Ehrlich remains involved in the company, it is sure to make some fictional employment lawyer a ton of money.

Ehrlich spits out litigation-worthy nuggets faster than an Uzi spits bullets, so I had plenty of options to choose from. (The hard partand this was really, truly difficultwas finding quotes clean enough to use for this post.) Consider the following, however, and if you are involved with any new business, just know that you should never, never, never, never come within a million miles of anything like these excerpts in your own company if you like the idea of striking it big someday:

  • The first episode of Season Three offered a doozy. Ehrlich strutted into a meeting with Pied Piper’s seasoned new CEO and was none too pleased to find that their venture capital masters had hired an older man to fill the role. The new CEO, “Action” Jack Barker, tried to play nice and let Ehrlich know, “I’m a big fan!” Ehrlich was ready, though: “Oh really, of what? Metamucil? Polio? The phonograph? A nice piece of fish? Segregated water fountains? Senior citizen discounts …? Erectile dysfunction …? Deviled eggs as an entree? Liking Ike?” Ehrlich clearly does not appreciate the nuances of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.
  • Thankfully, Ehrlich and the Pied Piper team were in an all-male meeting for this next one. He was convinced that the venture capitalists courting Pied Piper would offer more to invest in the Series A round depending on how intolerable his behavior was during the pitch meetings, declaring, “If they want to negotiate using hostility and rudeness, well, they picked the wrong guy.” (Incredibly, he was right.) During one such meeting, he glared across the table and growled, “One of you is one of the least attractive people I’ve ever met and I’m not going to say which one.” That, my friends, is a walking hostile work environment.
  • Finally, Ehrlich seems to keep his own counsel. When a visitor came to the hostel seeking to get in on the ground floor at Pied Piper, Ehrlich elbowed him out the door, warning, “In the State of California, you can kill a man for entering your house without permission.” I’m no California lawyer, but I’m pretty sure he’s wrong about that.

‘I was not told there would be math’

April 20, 2016 - by: Matt Gilley 0 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

Saturday Night Live has made invaluable contributions to American humor, but the best may be the show’s political parodies. Chevy Chase was famous for mocking Gerald Ford’s clumsy reputation (undeserved, for sure, considering Ford was a standout athlete). Dana Carvey practically built a career mimicking George H.W. Bush, and Phil Hartman had Bill Clinton down pat.

One of the best lines, however, came from Will Farrell’s George W. Bush. During a mock debate with Al Gore, Farrell brought roars after responding to a question with, “I was not told there would be math.”

Who doesn’t fall for that line? Very few among us haven’t playfully mocked our math skills at some point (I’m a lawyer, after all, so it’s a regular for me). A new study, however, warns us that, yes, in fact, there will be math—and maybe more than we are prepared to handle.Student have a problem with mathematics

The Conference Board released a report this week that should give anyone in HR pause. The report warns that the United States is running out of skilled workers in certain critical areas (or, at least, expected future demand for these skills from employers is expected to exceed supply). And, yes, you guessed it—mathematicians are one of them. Healthcare employers are expected to feel the squeeze in the next few decades as an aging population will require more nurses and physical therapists. Other occupations at risk include skilled trades like plant operators, railroad workers, machinists, and electricians.

If the Conference Board is correct, HR’s tough job will only get tougher. We all know what happens when demand exceeds supply: Prices go up, which means wage increases or higher employee expectations. It also means a more competitive environment within your industry. If you are in health care, be prepared for fierce competition to hire and retain skilled staff over the next decades. If you’re in manufacturing, you may find that your skilled machinists are coveted by prime competitors and that replacements are in short supply. In summary, it’s time to get in front of these trends!

Fear not, though—this may be the opportunity you’ve been searching for to atone for the time in high school when you stuffed the math club president in his locker.

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