Reflections on the State of the Union and the Role of Workforce Management Solutions


Whether you’re a fan of President Obama or not, this week’s State of the Union address to Congress and the American people was full of significant information for labor markets.  Regardless of the politics, the trends affecting labor and the economy are undeniable.  With the current state of the economy, the following facts from the President’s speech should prompt all businesses and organizations to take note of the ways workforce management has contributed to the current state of affairs and how it will continue to impact upon the economy.

The President said, “Our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999.  Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis.  Since 2010, America has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and all advanced economies combined.  Our manufacturers have added almost 800,000 new jobs.  Some of our bedrock sectors, like our auto industry, are booming.  But there are also millions of Americans who work in jobs that didn’t even exist ten or twenty years ago – jobs at companies like Google, and eBay, and Tesla.”

This is important because it reflects the new environment for workers and the businesses that employ them in this new century. The fact that job growth in the US has outpaced the rest of the world cannot simply be chalked up to politics, fortune, or chance. There is also the fact that companies who spent much of the 1990s and 2000s outsourcing manufacturing, call center, and IT jobs to low-cost centers are now re-shoring many of those positions to the US. However, we must give some credit to the innovations produced by the human capital management industry which has been transforming the nature of the relationship between employees and employers. 

During a period of heightened uncertainty and a rapidly evolving economic backdrop, workforce management companies built technologies (like VMS and ATS tools), processes and practices (like EOR services, PEO services and MSP services) to help overcome evolving challenges associated with sourcing, hiring, and administering talent across a widening array of jobs and skills.  Keeping up with the shifting effects of internet driven economics in pure tech fields like online search, ecommerce, renewable energy, online banking, among so many others, workforce management solution providers have been instrumental in easing the transformation.  Subsequently, they’ve also been instrumental in workforce expansion within this period of job growth in conjunction with economic bounce back.

The President also issued a veto threat if Congress, as he put it were to, “put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance.”  This means the ACA will remain in effect for at least the duration of the Obama presidency (precluding any action by the Supreme Court).  As mentioned in previous blogs, this has implications for businesses as well, many of whom have been leveraging the expertise of workforce management solution providers to achieve and maintain compliance with the new law.

The President also spoke about the steps the country must take to protect the American worker from abusive trade agreements which have been blamed for eroding the earning power of the US workforce. He discussed how focus on better trade agreements should not only protect the American worker, but also incentivize companies to return operations to US soil via tax breaks and other incentives.  This type of action on the part of our government will certainly have effects on workforce management if it is intended to bring more jobs back from abroad.

Overall, the State of the Union presented an undeniably positive assessment of the direction of the economy and no one would argue that workforce management practices will continue to be relevant to the success of companies of all sizes.  Is your organization making use of these innovative solutions? If not, there is no better time to consider engaging them. 

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