Weekly Wrap: The 15 Scariest Issues Employers Are Facing This Year

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Who can possibly resist something that touts the Scariest Employment Challenges of 2015: 15 Issues Employers Cannot Afford to Ignore?

Not me. This is something I can really dig my teeth into, and it is an annual survey report put together by XpertHR, the website that provides online compliance tools and guidance for HR professionals.

It’s also a pretty good analysis of workplace trends, and that’s important to remember despite the provocative title. As I pointed out when I wrote about this report last year, I get lots of surveys and reports that have ominous-sounding titles, but most don’t hold up to focused scrutiny.

The difference in this report from XpertHR is that what they are touting as scary issues for employers really DO seem pretty scary for anyone managing a business and a workforce.

The 15 scariest employment challenges

Here the list so you can see for yourself. XpertHR’s 15 scariest employment challenges of 2015 are:

  1. Off-Duty Use of Medical and Recreational Marijuana (this was also No. 1 in 2014) — From the Xpert HR whitepaper: “Proceeding cautiously and avoiding rash decisions when managing employees who use marijuana is a wise choice. Additionally, if an employer operates in a state that has legalized medical marijuana, it may need to accommodate off-duty use of medical marijuana or discuss if there are alternative methods of treatment.”
  2. Paid Sick LeaveFrom the whitepaper: “One of the hottest trends in the states and municipalities is newly enacted laws requiring an employer to provide covered employees with paid sick leave. …  An employer that operates in a state or a city that already requires paid sick leave should make sure that they are compliant and either offer paid sick leave or a preexisting benefit plan, such as paid time off (PTO), vacation or personal time, that complies with the mandates of the new laws. An employer should consult with counsel as new laws regarding paid sick leave may be more onerous.
  3. Affordable Care Act Employer Mandate — From the whitepaper: “On January 1, 2015, the employer shared responsibility requirements (often referred to as the “employer mandate” or the “pay or play mandate”) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) took effect. … Under the employer mandate, an employer faces new challenges and decisions. The decision to “pay or play” is quite complex and goes beyond comparing the cost of the penalty to the cost of providing coverage and involves a number of different factors, such as employee morale and industry competitiveness.”
  4. Immigration — “Proceed cautiously if a current employee comes forward and reveals that he or she is an undocumented worker and is seeking documentation from HR to help establish eligibility for relief under the (President’s) Executive Order. Currently there are no laws providing a safe harbor to employers that first become aware of a worker’s undocumented status during the period in which an employee is awaiting eligibility.”
  5. Protecting Company and Employee Privacy in the Digital Age — “Employers will continue to be faced with the challenges that come with protecting company and employee privacy in the digital age with the increased use of computers, email, the internet, smart phones and other mobile devices. … In order to keep pace with technological changes and minimize employer liability, it is critical for an employer to develop comprehensive policies which protect the employer’s legitimate business interests and comply with legal requirements.”
  6. Safe Driving Laws
  7. E-Cigarette Use in the Workplace
  8. Reasonably Accommodating Pregnant Women
  9. Wellness Programs Conflicting with ADA, GINA, and FMLA
  10. Growing Acceptance of LGBT Rights and Same-Sex Marriage
  11. Workplace Bullying
  12. Addressing Domestic Violence
  13. Minimum Wage and Wage and Hour Laws
  14. Providing Workplace Protections to Interns and Volunteers
  15. Ban the Box

Not just scary issues, but costly, too

Although I didn’t provide the expanded analysis from XpertHR’s whitepaper on all 15 scary employment challenges (and I summarized it on the first five),  there are some great insights and advice here for anyone who is managing a workforce and worrying about the various issues that seems to keep cropping up.

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In short, this is a great resource to get a handle on what you need to stay on top of throughout 2015.

And one more thing: the summary to the white paper makes it very clear WHY employers and managers need to be concerned about these trends:

The 2015 workplace trends identified in this report are not only scary, but they can be costly for employers in terms of time, money and resources. For example, in 2014, the EEOC won $294 million in recoveries and settled 136 lawsuits for $22.5 million. With respect to the NLRB, of the 21,394 unfair labor practice charges that were filed in 2013, 92.8% of these were settled and 1,272 unfair labor practice complaints were issued. The NLRB’s litigation win rate was 85.7 percent. In 2013, the Wage and Hour Division collected $249,954,412 in back wages for more than 269,250 workers and registered 25,628 complaints. Case filings increased in 2014 and the top 10 settlements in wage and hour class actions for 2014 totaled $215.3 million.

Each new year brings new challenges that must be addressed as a result of new laws and emerging trends that will have a substantial impact on the workplace, the bottom line and the way an employer conducts business. To best protect themselves, avoid expensive lawsuits, and prepare for changes, an employer should review and revise their workplace policies and practices and make sure that they are legally compliant. Proactively prepare to respond to changes in a meaningful way and minimize the risk of employer liability.”

How a master made meetings more productive

Of course, there’s more than a list of  the scariest workplace issues for employers in the news this week. Here are some HR and workplace-related items you may have missed. This is TLNT’s weekly round-up of news, trends, and insights from the world of talent management. I do it so you don’t have to.

  • How Steve Jobs made meetings insanely productive. Business Insider had a great article this week on how legendary Apple CEO Steve Jobs was able to make meetings incredibly productive. It said, in part, “American businesses lose an estimated $37 billion a year due to meeting mistakes. Steve Jobs made sure that Apple wasn’t one of those companies.” Anyone who has had to suffer in silence through a terribly unproductive meeting should take a look. 
  • When a reasonable employee request gets turned down. Here’s a story that a great many employees can identify with: “Investigative reporter Thomas Caywood received only one small raise in his seven years at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, while his paid vacation benefit went from three weeks a year to two. Invited by new owners to stay at the paper, Caywood told Telegram publisher James F. Normandin that he’d stay put if he received a 3 percent raise and went back to three weeks paid vacation.” Romanesko.com reports what happened next: “The publisher said corporate wouldn’t let him negotiate, so it was take it or leave it. ‘I left it,’ writes the 44-year-old reporter. He resigned last Tuesday without another job lined up.”
  • Who has sick leave and who doesn’t. President Obama proposed paid sick leave for all workers at his State of the Union speech this week, and the Harvard Business Review digs into the numbers of how many Americans have it already. It says, in part, “An initial glance at the private sector looks as though access to sick leave has improved. While the percentage of workers with access to holiday and vacation days has stayed the same or decreased over the last 20 years, those with paid sick, personal, and paid leave has jumped .”

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.

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2 Comments on “Weekly Wrap: The 15 Scariest Issues Employers Are Facing This Year

  1. Workplace bullying is just like school bullying. People want it to stop but those in position to do so refuse to take action. We have a man that goes in the women’s bathroom, starts fights, spreads rumors, makes threats, and blocks people’s pathway when they’re trying to leave. Nothing had been done about it and nothing will until he picks a fight with someone who isn’t afraid of being fired for knocking the snot out of him.

  2. Hopefully the employers that HIRE ILLEGALS will be JAILED when President Cruz takes office. The idea that employers were “tricked” by fake documents is such a PATHETIC excuse these days (when there are literally dozens of ways to check documents)., that the EMPLOYERS need to be JAILED (and the Illegals sent home);.

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