Opinion: Mackinac Policy Conference issues shouldn’t be forgotten

Luis Perez

The 2018 Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference is several months in the rearview mirror, but the discussions that took place on the island shouldn’t be swept aside.

While important topics are raised at these annual conferences, the desired change never takes place there. It takes place later and only if the necessary focus and energy directed at solutions is maintained.

Talent retention, workplace trust, and future workforce needs are going to have a major impact on Michigan’s success going forward. These are issues Michigan leaders should help address.

Michigan’s Preparedness

The skilled trades gap is not a Michigan issue, it is a national issue. And I would argue a societal issue. By this I mean that for some, the attainment of a skill should be as valued and perhaps as encouraged as a college diploma.

The current economic gains Michigan is experiencing mean nothing if current vacancies in skilled trades workers remains.

Perez writes: "All industries, but especially HR pros and companies, need to take direct action to identify the threats facing our state."

In addition to simply filling open positions, there’s a strong need to keep our current workforce from leaving our state for others.

Ensuring our skilled trades workers remain engaged and connected at the workplace is going to be critical for Michigan’s future success.

Trust in institutions

There is a high level of distrust in our governments, our leaders, in the advertising and messages being directed at us every day, in the brands delivering those messages and in our own companies. Given the current climate of political discourse, racial issues and recent sexual harassment news, human resources pros and organizations’ leaders will have their hands full ensuring workers trust that they’ll be listened to and believed.

At the advent of the “Me Too” movement, a common complaint was mentioned. Many workers didn’t feel as though they would be listened to or believed if they came forward regarding harassment or discrimination.

Professional human resources departments can help create respectful atmospheres that foster trust among all employees, regardless of race, gender or ability. Firm policies related to all types of harassment can help show employees they’re valued.

The Mobility Disruption

There’s a major shakeup in the auto industry coming. With Michigan’s fortunes still inextricably linked to the industry’s success, being prepared for the changes mobility and autonomous vehicles will create is imperative for our state.

Human resources policies will need to keep the best and brightest in Michigan.

The three pillars from this year’s conference show the dangers that can come from being complacent and, in turn, the opportunities that are there for us if we sustain our focus and efforts on addressing these important issues.

Working together, we can follow the necessary steps to address these potential pitfalls.

Luis Perez is president of AccessPoint, an organization providing staffing, recruiting, and human resources services.