Here we go again…….
Another new year, and it’s time to think about what that might mean in our HR world. Certainly, there is a lot of "same old, same old" going on, but there are a few trends/issues that are new, or if not exactly new, will be more attention-getting.
Wearable Tech. Yikes! We thought BYOD was sticky! Now we have to think about smart glasses, smart watches and wearable cameras. This means that employees will have the ability to more easily covertly (and overtly) record workplace interactions. This could impact your privacy, confidentiality, whistleblowing, and harassment policies in a big way. Spying, stalking, entrapping, oh my! Now is the time to firm up your HR policies to address these types of issues.
Wages. Some 20 states (and localities) raised their minimum wage. Regardless of your opinion on the matter, it will cause pressure to raise the wages of those making somewhat above the minimum wage, which in turn will cause wage compression in some businesses, as well as impact the bottom line, or even the organization’s ability to grow.
Tension of the Ages. We now have 4 generations of employees working at the same time, and in many cases, the same place. And there will soon be five when Gen Z enters the work picture. There is a wide range of potentially conflicting attitudes, outlooks, and work styles, which can lead to intergenerational tension. While tension among older and younger workers has always been present, with this wide mix, we should probably be expanding our diversity efforts to fight stereotypical thinking and stress the value of the unique qualities each generation possesses.
Affordable Care Act – Still. This seems to be the ever-morphing law with shifting deadlines and unclear regulations on that list of changes. Challenges to parts of the law continue to pop up (the Supreme Court will hear another challenge to the subsidy portion soon), and there will most likely be continued efforts to change the definition of full-time to 40 hours per week, rather than 30, among other things. 2015 brings the full impact of the employer mandate for many businesses with the required reporting finally going into effect. While large companies may be able to more easily handle the data collection and reporting, smaller firms will find it way more challenging.
Regulatory Environment. *sigh* We’ve already seen a slew of activity from the NLRB and the EEOC (and seen a few times where they were both brought up short by the courts), but expect to see even more. It’s clear that the EEOC is going after criminal background checks like the NLRB is going after your employee handbook. It’s ugly - and tiresome. But there may be some hope. A group of organizations comprised of SHRM, the Coalition for a Democratic Workforce (CDW), the National Retail Federation, the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, joined forces to sue the NLRB over the quickie (or ambush) election rules it just announced. Added to the willingness of more businesses to challenge the EEOC and the NLRB on their litigious attitude – and courts’ decisions to rein them in on certain cases, this is heartening to see.
Just this past year, there was the new OSHA reporting requirements that included what some refer to as "public shaming" of businesses and added and duplicative penalties. New federal contractor regulations are also requiring disclosure of even the most minor (including unintentional) violations of state or federal labor laws, that will now impact a government contractor's ability to win new work and can even lead to the termination of an existing contract. Stay tuned!
Telecommuting/Work from Home. Work/life balance and our always connected, mobile device packing culture will continue to prod businesses to add or expand the ability of employees to work remotely. While this can be a great perk for those businesses or jobs that lend themselves to working remotely, not all do, and not all employees can successfully work away from the office. Businesses must still focus on productivity issues and take care that overtime regulations for non-exempt employees are not violated.
Retention, retention, retention (and letting a few go). It’s common knowledge that when the economy begins to improve, employees feel more comfortable with looking elsewhere. Working to retain your best will be more difficult and time consuming as this year progresses. Temper that with the fact that it might actually be easier to let the low-performers or malcontents take a walk.
As always, it’ll be a fun ride. Check back for updates on these topics and more!