When Saturday Night Fever hit the theaters, it was magical. On a huge movie screen stood a cool guy who could dance. Tony Manero (John Travolta) had everything going on. He had the moves, the hair, the ladies…what more could an Italian guy want in 1977? The movie was a smash, the soundtrack is the GOAT and Travolta a star. And as we often do when something works, we try to extend its popularity. Hence 1983’s Staying Alive. Where the first film was legendary, the second languished. Forcing Tony Manero to be relevant in a world that had changed significantly in five years was obvious and embarrassing. Tony didn’t keep up so well anymore.
Welcome to the Federal Government. While it cannot be argued that the Fed was once as cool as Saturday Night Fever, it can be said that it has not kept up with a changing world, though trying to market itself as having doing so.
- EEO-1 Reporting – how can it be that a governmental form required for companies of 100 or more employees on an annual basis can’t be updated to include classifications of people that the government has already acknowledged Title VII protections for? Some in government have come out to say that the reporting mechanisms pushed out to the masses are difficult to update. That is understandable; however, would the same extensions without penalties be extended to private industries who could argue that they face the same stressors? For those of us who’ve trod HR for decades, we know the answer is a resounding no. We are being told that the reporting for 2023 (based on 2022 data) will include expanded gender and race categories. Let’s hope so.
- I-9 Form Completion – while the pandemic was/is difficult to manage, there were alterations made that addressed the need for change. One of them being the way in which I-9s could be verified and completed. The remote nature of work due to public health separation mandates forced the government to allow remote verification of identifications. By and large, it worked very well. And now, we’re going back to the old physical touch of IDs with a fresh push towards utilizing notaries across the country to help. Really? A company in Lincoln, Nebraska who has hired it’s first employee in Anchorage, Alaska has to have that person go to a notary to verify a US passport? Seems burdensome to both the company and the new hire. Yes, there’s E-Verify, but that is not a sweeping federal mandate. The physical checking is. All these companies that have hired workers across the country during the pandemic now need to re-verify information for the I-9. SMH.
- Compensation Benchmarking and Pay Equity – the SEC has stepped up and potentially affected shareholder pricing through the improvement in 10K reporting. It is a wonderfully relevant requirement to show how corporate values around inclusion and equity are showing up at work. Proving it requires math, evidence and accountability. These are all areas that the modern workforce desires. And yet, much of the rest of the federal government remains silent on how the laws for pay equity are to actually affect businesses. Other parts of the world (Germany, France, Denmark, for instance) have teeth in their laws around compensation. The data tells us that Americans feel similarly. Publicly traded companies have the option of reporting through the 10K, if they don’t choose another vein of evidence, to show equity in pay; however, most people work for private companies. Now what?
Now, lest you read this as only a gripe, it is, also, meant to be read for awareness. The mixed messaging might affect your teams and confuse leadership. It’s people managers who need to keep the direction clear. It’s line-level supervisors who practice consistency for the benefit of organizational culture. It’s the human resources department that ought to drive organizational relevance. Our people matter and need to know that even if the federal government isn’t keeping up with everything, the company is!