Emerging HR Trends for Summer 2019

As the economy grows and employment laws change, HR professionals are having to adjust to shifting requirements and uncertain conditions more quickly than ever. Halfway through 2019, we’re seeing some continuing and emerging HR trends.

Recruiting and Staffing Needs

The national unemployment rate in May was 3.6% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the lowest rate since 2000.  Many states have even lower unemployment rates.  Employers are managing this challenge by examining the competitiveness of compensation packages, as we see wages increase at a faster pace than any time in the past 10 years.  Employers are also increasingly examining workforce structure to identify alternatives to the traditional employment including more acceptance of remote workers, flexible schedules, and phased retirement.

Finding “Teachable” Candidates and Investing in Training

Employers have always considered a candidate’s potential to grow as an employee.  Now, as – candidates with the desired skillset become more difficult to find, identifying “teachable” candidates is vital to hiring decisions.  Employers are focusing more on candidates’ growth potential and trainability to fill open positions. In the same vein, employers find that investing in training their current workforce to fill skills gaps may ease the staffing pinch caused by low unemployment.

Increasing Employer Branding Visibility and Management

One way to attract candidates in this market is to have a great employer brand. Branding highlights employer values to show why they are unique and attractive to candidates sharing those values.  Employers are increasingly using social media and careers sites to develop their brands. Social media can also impact the employer brand through negative reviews and inaccurate information, making at least some level of social management vital to attracting good candidates.

Developing Strong and Flexible Benefits Packages  

Offering strong benefits packages with unique perks significantly boosts a business’s appeal as an employer of choice. For companies who are not be able to acquire great benefits programs, partnering with a PEO can allow them to offer benefits that compete with larger employers.

Harassment Laws in the Wake of #MeToo

In the wake of the #MeToo movement that began in 2017, lawmakers across the country have considered legislation to address the issues of discrimination and harassment in the workplace.  At least 11 states have passed new protections against workplace harassment that are effective in 2019.  These protections include limiting the use of nondisclosure agreements (NDAs), and new requirements for provisions in employer handbooks, employee notices, and mandated training of supervisors as well as all employees. Introduction of new requirements will continue to rise. Employers should be aware of how this trend may impact their organizations and more importantly, the steps they need to take in order to prevent misconduct.

See also: Hostile Work Environment

Check-ins Are In, Annual Performance Reviews are Out

Employers are increasingly using frequent reviews or check-ins to augment or replace the traditional annual review. These reviews are often more timely rather than revisiting performance from months ago.  They can be less formal and less time consuming.  More importantly, they give employees real-time feedback and communication with managers. These meaningful conversations with managers result in better engagement, retention, and productivity.

State and Local Laws Addressing Employee Leave, Privacy and Other Workplace Issues.

States, counties and cities are increasingly enacting laws to address employee leave and privacy.

Paid Sick Leave Accruals

States are increasingly mandating that employers offer paid sick leave, the most recent just last April.   Currently, 11 states have such sick leave laws, and some cities have their own mandates.  Each state law has different rules about who is covered, the reasons leave can be used, the rate at which employees accrue paid leave, and the waiting periods before paid sick leave can be used.

See also: Can Employees Take FMLA Leave for the Flu?

“Ban the Box” and Bans on Salary History Inquiries

Hundreds of cities, counties and states prohibit employers from asking job candidates about criminal conviction history on job applications.  As with paid sick leave laws, ban the box laws are different in each jurisdiction.  Some cities have gone farther and instituted “Fair Chance Ordinances” that restrict how employers use criminal history information. Common provisions include permitting background checks only as part of a conditional employment offer and informing candidates of the specific reasons for not hiring. Some ordinances require specific forms to notify candidates about the process.

Expanding Access to Paid Family and Medical Leave

Paid family and medical leave (PFML) provides employees with paid leave for family and personal medical needs. The state-administered leave is funded by payroll tax or premium deducted from employee wages, and the employer is often required to pay a portion. Massachusetts and Washington D.C. joined the other four states requiring PFML in 2019.  Efforts to pass similar laws on the federal level have failed, but as states continue to enact their own paid leave laws, federal efforts may be renewed.

Identifying Emerging HR Trends Is an Ongoing Task

As employment laws change at an accelerating pace, business owners struggle to keep up with current requirements. They rely more heavily on internal HR staff to monitor legal trends, or in some cases outsource HR compliance to dedicated services. Whichever route your company takes, regular tracking of HR laws and trends is crucial.

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