HR’s Top Challenges for 2018

It’s been an eventful year, to say the least.

Mass shootings in Las Vegas, Sullivan Springs, Texas and elsewhere; a botched repeal of the Affordable Care Act and ongoing gridlock in the nation’s capital and, within the last two months, an almost daily drumbeat of sexual harassment allegations against leading figures in the entertainment, media and political realms — hardly any facet of American life was left undisturbed in an unusually eventful year in which it seemed abnormality in all things was “the new normal.”

A new survey from XpertHR  on the top 15 most challenging HR compliance issues for next year reveals that, unsurprisingly, current events are weighing heavily on the minds of HR leaders these days as they look ahead to 2018. Among their most pressing concerns is workplace violence: 45 percent of the 1,000 HR professionals surveyed identified preparing for, or responding to, an active shooter or workplace violence as very or extremely challenging. (In fact, concerns over deadly  workplace violence have given rise to new businesses dedicated to training and preparing employees for how to deal with an active shooter situation).

An emerging, patchwork crazy quilt of state and local regulations on marijuana legalization is also giving employers fits, with 35 percent of survey respondents feeling very or extremely challenged by managing employees who use marijuana medically or recreationally. Meanwhile, 32 percent cited addressing the impact of illicit substance abuse (such as heroin or opioids) in the workplace as very or extremely challenging.

“Just as with alcohol, it is lawful to prohibit an employee from bringing both lawful and unlawful drugs to work and use such substances on the job because of the risks drug use may have on the safety and productivity in the workplace,” says Beth Zoller, XpertHR’s legal editor. “Employers need to stay on top of federal, state and local developments as this is a rapidly evolving and changing issue.”

One of the headline-grabbing developments from earlier this year — the massive data breach that took place at Equifax — is illustrative of another top concern for HR going into 2018: protecting their organizations from cyber theft. Sixty four percent of respondents cited data security and the threat of a cyber breach as very or extremely challenging.

The legislative chaos in Washington is also extending into the workplace, particularly the uncertainty over healthcare reform, with 46 percent of respondents viewing the ACA as very or extremely challenging and 40 percent viewing ACA reporting as very or extremely challenging.

However, there’s an upside for employers now that a politically conservative presidential administration is in place, says Zoller.

“The appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is sure to have an impact on labor and employment law cases and ensure a conservative majority in favor of employers and management-side issues,” she says. “The rollback of agency authority and more restrictive policies of the National Labor Relations Board and the EEOC will potentially have a positive impact on employers, who may be subject to less regulations.”

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