Human Resources (HR) is a rapidly shifting field. Every year – and sometimes every month – brings new concerns, new opportunities and new policies to implement. For 2018, HR employees should prepare for the issues most likely to affect the workplace. Here are five of the timeliest matters for HR departments to address.
2017 was the year sexual harassment hit the mainstream in a big way. From Time’s Up to the #MeToo movement, victims everywhere are feeling more empowered to push back and speak up against inappropriate behavior in the workplace. Employees should expect this trend to spill over into the workplace. 2018 is the perfect time for HR departments to review sexual harassment policies and ensure everyone – from the CEO to the janitor – understands the consequences of inappropriate behavior. Even the smallest companies must have clear procedures for reporting and minimizing sexual harassment to avoid potential lawsuits.
Workplace wellness programs are a rapidly rising trend for HR to monitor. Employees are demanding work-life balance and a culture of caring from their employers. Top candidates want offices with sit-stand desks, on-site gyms and meditation rooms. Plus, corporations are turning to wellness programs to lower long-term costs by keeping employees healthy. HR departments can expect to spend part of 2018 evaluating programs, negotiating costs and choosing the best option for business needs. Some C-suite executives might need to be convinced of the value of an employee wellness plan, which means long hours preparing a persuasive presentation. The increase in top-tier applications and employee retention will be worth it in the long run.
According to CNN, more than half of U.S. states have legalized some form of marijuana use, although it still remains illegal at the federal level. What does this mean for HR employees in charge of crafting policy? Companies are legally allowed to discriminate against marijuana smokers, but it’s not always the wisest course of action. Strong candidates might be driven away by mandatory drug testing or a corporate culture opposed to marijuana use. On the other hand, workplace insurance policies might demand strict anti-drug policies.
One of the most important roles of any HR department is managing employee benefits, including health insurance. With the switch to a Republican administration that’s vowed to overturn the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the health insurance industry is in for a shake-up. This means increased headaches for HR administrators trying to navigate the confusing world of local, state and federal regulations.
Sadly, workplace violence is on the rise. 2018 has already seen a sharp increase in the rate of mass casualty shootings, and there are no signs this trend will stop anytime soon. HR departments must be ready for bomb threats, terrorist attacks and domestic violence escalations on site. Clear policies, including background checks and security procedures, must be established. Employees should be drilled on evacuation procedures and how to handle violence in the workplace. Unfortunately, these morbid duties often fall to HR departments.
One of the key duties of HR is properly anticipating problems. To put it simply, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s why HR departments must start working immediately to address these pressing human resources issues before they become a concern.