Engaging employees. Recruiting the best talent. Retaining institutional knowledge. Planning for mass retirements. These topics are on the minds of human resources professionals across the globe. So what is the key to winning the talent war? An internal career development program. Randstad US conducted the Employer Branding Survey in 2015, which showed that the top reason why employees leave jobs is “lack of a career path.” The study revealed that employees who had left their jobs in the past year cited a lack of career development opportunities (26 percent) as the prime reason for leaving their organizations.

Just when you thought you could take the afternoon to review job applicants and run payroll for the week, there’s another HR emergency! You roll your eyes, huff and puff, grab your notebook, and stomp towards the conference room. While you know investigating workplace harassment claims is an important part of your job, you’re frustrated and angry that the rest of your day is not going as planned. You think to yourself, “Employees are driving me crazy!”

Diversity is on the agenda of every conference and leadership meeting. Leaders ask, “How do we improve diversity? How do we find diverse candidates? How do we increase inclusionary behaviors?” The list of questions is endless, and everyone is looking for answers. To solve this riddle, leaders group people into categories in an attempt to understand their experiences. So, we group people together by race, ethnicity, gender identity, age, disability, and so on. Everyone ‘fits’ neatly into one of these categories. Still, notice that we start by trying to simplify identity into a series of checkboxes.

Goodbye Personnel Department! Hello Strategic Business Partner! Gone are the days when HR professionals were only seen as the individuals responsible for hiring, training, terminating, writing and enforcing policies and procedures, and maintaining paper personnel files. Instead, HR professionals are relied upon to think critically and align the HR Department’s goals with the organization’s overall strategy. To begin to transition to the role of strategic business partner, HR professionals must seek to understand how the department’s short and long term goals contribute to the bottom line success of an organization.

Today, I had my last chemo. I’m in treatment for breast cancer. There is no where I’ve been where compassion is as much a part of the workplace as in a cancer infusion center. In a cancer clinic, there is tremendous suffering: painful chemo that takes six hours to deliver; side effects like stomach and muscle spasms; severe radiation burns that postpone treatment. In a cancer clinic, there is also tremendous compassion. Staff help patients pick out a wig, manage side effects with home remedies, and support them when treatments become unbearable.

Over dinner, I asked my friend about how her new job was going. Unfortunately, she responded with a somewhat pained look indicating that “it was a job.” Not nearly the excitement I anticipated considering the new opportunity seemed to have a lot to offer while she was in the interview process. And, she’s not the first person I’ve known to start a new job with much anticipation only to find themselves wondering if they’ve made a huge mistake.

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