Politics and Talent Management

It has finally happened. After months of strange appointments and a few slips ups, the President Elect is now President Trump. Although 24 months ago this situation would have appeared impossible to a majority of Americans on all sides of the political spectrum, it is now a reality, and U.S. businesses are preparing for the potential changes ahead. For people who work in talent management and human resources, there are at least three potential changes to watch for over the coming months and years.

Recruiting Foreign Talent

The most obvious and perhaps challenging issue that talent management and HR leaders will face over the coming four years will likely be recruiting foreign talent. With a clear agenda to keep jobs in the United States and to stop outsourcing work (e.g., building car parts in Mexico to build American cars), it seems likely that organizations will start to run into growing roadblocks when it comes to foreign recruitment and outsourcing.

Under the current NAFTA agreement, some foreign hires (Mexicans and Canadians) in “high-demand” professional job categories can obtain a TN1 visa to work in the United States in just a few hours. The process is especially fast for Canadians (an employer provides a one-page letter, which the employee then brings to the border with their resume and any other required documents, including their passport). Given Trump’s attack on NAFTA and his agenda to keep jobs in the United States, one should expect to see some changes to the TN1 requirements in the near future. It is also possible that the TN1, as a NAFTA related visa, may disappear and be replaced with a visa that requires much more paperwork for employers and employees.

Hiring from nations beyond Canada and Mexico is also likely to grow increasingly onerous in the coming years. Every year thousands of research scientists, medical doctors, professors and engineers arrive in the United States from around the world (often on H1B visas or Green Cards set aside for exceptional researchers and professors). Again, it seems likely that moving forward the ability to easily bring in workers through either route will get even more difficult as the government moves to police the hiring of foreigners in instances when a U.S. citizen is available to do the job. For talent managers, this may mean narrowing searches to the U.S. or conversely result in a growing 1099 economy that includes more highly trained professionals working as contractors. But as noted below, the gig economy may also be impacted.

Gig Economy Regulations

From small businesses with just a handful of employees to global organizations, the gig economy is flourishing. But will this continue to be the case in the United States over the next four years? While some gig economy activities are local (Uber), many others involve workers from around the globe coming together to collaborate.  A web developer in Palestine might work with a writer in New York for a small business owner in Kentucky who provides software solutions to clients around the world. Will these synergies of talent and commerce be able to continue under the current administration? In many respects, this will depend on whether or not the President’s priorities are ultimately about keeping jobs in the United States and creating more jobs for Americans or policing the nation’s borders. If job production is more important to President Trump than immigration, the gig economy may be negatively impacted. If his real priority or policing borders (and keeping both Mexican and Muslim immigrants out), the gig economy may continue to grow.

Compliance

One thing that President Trump has consistently proven to be is intolerant of complex systems. This is not an insult. As illustrated in his proposed taxation plan, which calls to reduce multiple income brackets to only three (low income, middle income and high income earners), he’s the kind of guy who likes to keep things simple and to the point. We also know that he doesn’t love the idea of paying bureaucrats and has already repeatedly said that there will be job cuts at the government level. What does this mean?  While there is no guarantee, it seems likely that our compliance obsessed culture may be about to get a bit of a break either by simplifying existing regulations (e.g., the onerous HIPAA regulations) or by downsizing the federal staff who ensure certain businesses are in compliance. For HR leaders, this may mean eventually reassigning staff currently dedicated to overseeing government compliance programs. Of course, whether businesses want to relax on compliance, even if regulations and reporting requirements ease up, is another question. After all, most compliance regulations were developed for a reason and choosing to remain vigilante on all fronts is arguably in the best interest of any business. As the President’s own mishandled venture into higher education revealed, compliance errors can be very costly.

 

January 20, 2017   Updated :January 20, 2017      

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