HR leaders face opportunities and challenges heading into 2019
With the explosion of technology and the changing social and regulatory landscape we have identified major trends affecting organizations ability to attract, engage and retain employees. Human Resources will be in the center of the conversation on best ways to create compelling work environments while managing compliance issues heading into 2019.
Harassment in the workplace
With all the publicity around the #metoo movement and high profile harassment allegations and convictions in the entertainment industry, business and government can expect more laws, amendments, regulations and requirements around harassment training.
For example, California’s new law effective January 1, 2019 mandates small employers (5 or more employees) to train all employees by January 1, 2020 and every two years thereafter. Supervisory employees must receive two hours of training in California, Massachusetts and other states and Employees must receive one hour. New employees must receive the appropriate training within six months of hire.
Sexual harassment in the workplace can take a serious toll on the victims, and can throw a company into turmoil – especially when the harasser is a high-level employee such as a founder or CEO. Employers that implement zero tolerance policies and have training programs in place (regardless of regulations) are positioned better to avoid issues and complaints.
Pay Equity in the workforce
Employers need to continue monitoring equal pay laws, including at the state level to ensure compliance. Employers should take proactive steps to evaluate their compensation policies and practices and consider conducting a self-evaluation (possibly under the direction of legal counsel) to identify and and correct any pay disparities – before disputes arise.
California, in particular, has been on the forefront with respect to equal pay. The recent passage of the Fair Pay Act, requires equal pay for “substantially similar” work based on gender, race and ethnicity. In addition, Assembly Bill 168, which is currently pending in the California Senate would, if passed, bar employers from inquiring about applicant salary history. The spirit of the law was to allow additional flexibilities surrounding salary history, during pay negotiations that contribute to the woman’s inability to increase their income with a new employer.
Gender Identity in the Workplace
The sooner organizations recognize the importance of gender identity and gender expression as a workplace requirement. With predicted shortages of talented workers, employers must lace issue, the more inclusive the workplace can become. When companies support and hire transgender workers, they not only improve the recruitment and retention of transgender employees, but also of “fair-minded employees.”ensure that policies are inclusive to recruit and retain the best workers—no matter what their gender identity or expression. When employees cannot be their full selves at work, they are not as productive.
Legalization of Marijuana
Many states, including California, have passed laws surrounding the ability to use marijuana recreationally now, not just for medical purposes. However, federal law has not, which has led to some confusion about whether employers can enforce their zero tolerance to Drugs in the workplace policies. The question on the mind of every HR professional is, “How does the employer test an employee to determine if they are under the influence currently or not?”
Accommodations required for users who have a disability can be vague and are state specific, enforcement should be handled with care prior to taking any employment action that might be construed as adverse to the employee. As this area of law continues to develop, employers should regularly assess their written policies, training and education of employees to ensure compliance with California’s drug testing and disability laws.
Paid parental leave becoming more mainstream
New paid leave mandates enacted at the state and local level may also be driving the increase in paid parental and caregiver leaves. Understanding the interaction between the employer obligations under both state and federal law, how to properly administer each leave law, it's relationship to disability discrimination laws, and potential costs (the absenteeism and overall company productivity, benefits continuation), and the employer specific policies is a continued and increasing challenge for employers of all sizes. To reduce this exposure, consider the following:
- Review existing leave policies for alignment with statutory mandates.
- Revisit paid leave policies
- Take stock of changing administration requirements. For employers that administer leaves in-house, what is the statutory straw that breaks the proverbial camel's back? For employers that outsource their leave programs, can the current administrator handle all the changes on the horizon?
- Review policy compliance with legal counsel or an employment attorney.
- Update any changes in the Employee Handbook
Flexible Work Options
Surveys of employers and employees show that the traditional 8-5 day will continue to erode as employees seek jobs with optimal work-life balance. . Newer generations expect more flexible work options when considering employment, and more employees are seeking employers that are sensitive to work-life balance. Technology will play an important roll in employee management as the "in-office" culture transforms. HR departments that innovate their non-traditional benefit plans/perks leverage technology to innovate the concept of the work space, will be in a better position to adapt their culture to focus on flexibility and employee well-being without compromising accountability and productivity.
Recruitment and the Talent War
Finding and hiring top talent is always a trend for HR due to the time and cost associated with finding quality employees. However 2019 and beyond the talent war is shaping up to be more fierce due to low unemployment and the the shortage of skilled workers across many industries including healthcare, high-tech, manufacturing, engineering.
To avoid a perpetual recruitment cycle In a low unemployment scenario HR needs to be planning to compete for new talent and also thinking about retention. HR departments are going to need the systems and processes to identify, hire and onboard qualified candidates quickly, to prevent losing to another employer. But HR also needs to be thinking about retention to avoid losing qualified candidates or top performers, especially in hard to fill positions. Monitoring the competitive compensation landscape and introducing perks and rewards programs can go a long way to job satisfaction and engagement of “settled in” employees.
- Being proactive with recruitment. Planning for position vacancy a.k.a. “Having a top drawer candidate” ready to go when the need arrives. A robust ATS and efficient recruiting strategy can help.
- Stay abreast to the market value of each position within the organization, the employee's current pay and level of experience, education, benefit eligibility as well. Then get creative with non traditional benefits and perks to promote a satisfaction and employee morale.
- Have a plan for employee development and career path. Giving employees the necessary tools, resources, and coaching to see and grow in their career path, is a great recruiting tool and retention strategy. Applicants (especially younger age groups) want to see their future with their employers. And development and performance programs demonstrates a commitment to existing employees and tangible ways they can progress professionally.