I thought I had concocted the perfect plan: Buy a one-way plane ticket to Hawaii on the day the Supreme Court rules on health care reform because nothing could possibly be complicated in paradise right? From my beach chair, I could watch everyone from afar rushing to understand the Supreme Court’s ruling and witness my peers trying to figure out the next steps of implementation. Well, everyone can dream, right? Just as my peers in every corner of the country wonder what to do next, I must do the same in Hawaii.

But who is going to do all the work? Historically speaking, human resources strategy, roadmaps, and decisions, have been developed and made by human resources. Makes sense, right? However, that tide could be turning. According to a 2011 survey of human resources and finance executives by Towers Watson and Forbes Insights, 38% of finance executives believe strategy development will be much more of a shared role between human resources and finance in future years.

What does this mean? On the one hand, it could result in a showdown at the corporate corral between human resources and finance. But on the other, it could be viewed as an opportunity to develop and maximize a complementary opportunity – let human resources handle the understanding, compliance and communication aspects of health care reform and let finance assist with mitigating the new significant costs associated with this major organizational requirement.  As the survey says, “Organizations that can bring both functions to the table in determining the right response to reform will be far better positioned to maintain both a competitive labor cost structure and be a talent magnet as well.” 

I agree with this statement and would even take it a step further. I’d recommend being proactive about involving your finance function. It’s inevitable they’ll appear at your door between now and 2018 as the organization’s health care costs continue to grow so you might as well take the lead and introduce the idea of working closely together now. This will allow you to at least develop and steer the initial working relationship between the two functions and get going early on the long road of health care reform implementation.  

I will talk to you later. I’m headed down to the CFO’s office.

Mahalo.

Ed Bray, JD, is director of Employee Benefits for Hawaiian Airlines.This story originally ran on Employee Benefit News' Employee Benefit Views blog.

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