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WorldatWork Invades SHRMs Space in Washington

February 1, 2008
With the advent of Democratic majorities in the House and Senate in 2007, more attention is being paid to employment leave policies and to pay—from enormous amounts that company executives make to the seeming stagnation of a typical worker’s check.

    Since early 2007, legislation has been introduced that would give shareholders an up-or-down vote on executive compensation, limit the amount of executive pay that can be tax deferred, and expand the Family and Medical Leave Act.

    Now an organization has arrived in Washington to help members of Congress, as well as their staff and the administration, sort out these issues.

    WorldatWork, an HR association based in Scottsdale, Arizona, that concentrates on pay and benefits, opened an office in the nation’s capital last fall. It will have about 40 to 50 people in place by the end of 2008. In addition to offices, the WorldatWork building will include a training center, bookstore and library. The organization will host 40 programs for rewards professionals this year at its Washington conference center.

    Unlike the Society for Human Resource Management, WorldatWork won’t use its Washington perch to advocate for or against legislation. Its tax-code designation, 501(c) (3), prohibits it from lobbying.

    But the organization, which has 30,000 members worldwide, is going to try to elevate the public policy debate by being a resource for those who are in the fray.

    "We are very much educators and information pro­viders," WorldatWork president Anne Ruddy says. "Our goal is to be a credible expert."

    Don Lindner, a practice leader in professional development, comes to Washington to talk to Hill staff about the intricacies of C-suite pay.

    "We don’t lobby," Lindner says. "We’re here to help people understand the complex issues around executive compensation."

    WorldatWork’s portfolio goes beyond pay. It also has expertise in benefits, flexible work arrangements and performance and recognition.

    Its work on total rewards makes it a logical place to go to learn more about paid time off and other leave policies for a Hill staffer trying to write a memo for her boss about an upcoming vote.

    Ruddy says that although WorldatWork wouldn’t try to influence the outcome on the measure, it would emphasize that it’s important for lawmakers to gauge how proposed changes might affect pay, other benefits or company performance.

    "Things get looked at exclusively in silos as opposed to looking at all the pieces," Ruddy says. "If we can do anything, it is to get people to think more strategically and more holistically. If you mandate paid sick days, then something else has to give in that transaction in some companies."

    As WorldatWork conducts its education efforts, it likely will find itself running into SHRM lobbyists on Capitol Hill. Before it established its presence in Washington, WorldatWork let SHRM know that it was on its way.

    "Our organizations complement each other pretty well," Ruddy says. "We have as good a relationship as you can have between two organizations that are in the same pond. We have mutual respect."

Workforce Management, February 4, 2008, p. 23 -- Subscribe Now!