Friday, December 16, 2011

Top Ten HR Moments of 2011

There is little doubt which news stories will revisit the airwaves as we recollect and close the year of 2011: the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the death of Osama Bin Laden and Moammar Gadhafi, the loss of business icon Steve Jobs, the pop-culture take-it-or-leave-it rants of Charlie Sheen, and the shocking shooting and miraculous recovery of Gabrielle Giffords. Maybe our stories pale in comparison, but as HR professionals we've also watched some highlights in the year 2011.

1. NLRB and its battle with big business Boeing. I love a good case study. Maybe it's because I'm in education or that I've always wanted to be a lifelong student, but this is good stuff. I challenge anyone to find an HR or labor relations class that didn't follow this story in 2011, and while it appears to be wrapping up at year's end, it will be a precedent for future labor issues.

2. Wisconsin vs. Public Unions. Who doesn't love a good union battle? Regardless of your position, or mine for that matter, the full assault between Governor Walker and the public unions was dramatic (yes, I'm a nerd). Throw in some teachers, pension plans, a multibillion dollar deficit and a contentious political environment and you were guaranteed to see cardboard-sign wielding protesters on your Capitol's front lawn.

3. SHRM National. Keith Urban labels us as SHRMies. And yes, the networking is phenomenal, the sessions are the best professional development around, the exhibit hall is second-to-none and who can forget the tweet-ups and the monster party hosted by Monster.

4. Occupy.  A stretch, perhaps,if you think occupy is all about business. But yes, I'll make the ever-heard argument that HR is business. Just ask UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi who's being pressured to step down from her position because of the way the campus police handled the protesters, and by handled, I mean doused with pepper spray. Employee relations, employee communications and leadership development could have gone a long way to prevent this event. Maybe.

5. The Herman Cain conundrum. It might not have any long-term influence on HR policy and it might not have had a realistic impact on the polls, but you can bet a lot of HR managers were revisiting their sexual harassment policies. And I guarantee more than a handful of businessmen were second guessing their past actions.

6. SHRM Leadership - The case for real HR Leadership? It exists. Tiffany, Steve, Ellen, John, Tara, Kristi and Dave among countless others are proof. Giving back to the profession never felt so good.

7. Penn State. Ethics, leadership, power and oversight of leaders. Did you see Sandusky was denied a volunteer coaching position after background check? This story continues to evolve and will surely have human resource repercussions. Lesson learned.

8. Illinois SHRM State Conference. It might not be everyone's top 10, but with Bryan Wempen, Michael VanDervort, Jessica Merrell, Dwane Lay, Charlie Judy, Geoff Webb, Joan Ginsberg, Josh Rock, Kristi Jones, Susan Avello, Ryan Estis, John Jorgensen... ok, you get the idea... fabulous.

9. To infinity and beyond: the last space shuttle flight.  As a girl who grew up wanting to be the genie in I Dream Of Jeannie, I imagined nothing but astronauts, palm tress and the beach. As an HR gal, I now see the impact of the shuttering of the space program including over 8,000 jobs lost at Kennedy Space Center alone. The impact area extends into the Space Coast with losses at retail, restaurant, tourism and other businesses. I've got this issue on my watch list for strategic planning initiatives for future developments and municipal and industry transitions (don't you just love a good public administration story?).

10. The Recession. Wait, what year is this? Still? Is this a double dip? Call it what you like, analyze it at will, but for many the recession is still here. Unemployment hovered around 9% in many markets and even topped 10% in Illinois. Our economic woes, health care costs, unemployment, underemployment, and debt continue to influence our HR programs and practices.

Way to go, 2011! It's not a Kardashian wedding implosion, but these stories swept me off my feet... and will be a part of my life for more than 72 days.
Amy Dillman - President Elect Central Illinois Human Resource Group
Photo credit  Lake City Community Church


  1. Lots of labor relations in that list. Too bad it is a dying part of our profession. *maniacal laughter*

  2. Yes there are still those of us out here fighting the labor relations fight -every day.