NEW PROVIDENCE, N.J., Dec. 4, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Workplace violence, marijuana use, cybersecurity and leave laws are among the most difficult challenges facing employers in 2019, says a new XpertHR survey of over 800 human resource professionals.
The survey found that 45% of respondents viewed preparing for and responding to an active shooter or workplace violence incident as very or extremely challenging. A noted concern was creating a "culture of safety in the workplace". This can include preventing actual acts of violence such as a shooting, as well as threats of violence, such as stalking which may arise in connection with domestic violence.
"The best way to address a threat of workplace violence is to actively prepare employees and supervisors," explains Beth Zoller, JD, Legal Editor, XpertHR. "Put policies in place for visitor safety, workplace violence prevention, domestic violence and ban weapons from the workplace, to the extent permissible by state law."
Employers should also conduct a safety and security audit to identify and correct gaps in workplace safety and security, background screen applicants, look out for any red flags indicating potentially violent behaviors and create a zero tolerance workplace violence prevention program.
Another perplexing and challenging issue employers face is dealing with increasing marijuana use. Medical marijuana is legal in approximately 30 states and recreational marijuana use is now legal in over 10 states including the District of Columbia. Notwithstanding this, marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I controlled substance and illegal under federal law.
XpertHR's survey confirmed employer frustrations in addressing marijuana use among workers and attempting to maintain a safe and drug free workplace. Forty-one percent of respondents find managing the conflict of federal and state marijuana laws a challenge and 34% are challenged by maintaining a drug free workplace in light of changing laws.
The survey also found that employee privacy and protecting confidential data in the workplace are critical issues for 2019. Respondents are challenged by preventing cyber breaches and data security (51%), managing mobile devices/wearable technology and the internet of things (41%), managing the use of technology and social media while at work (39%), and protecting employee information from data breach (31%).
Another complex HR challenge facing employers is the expansion of federal, state and local leave laws. Employer frustrations are evidenced in XpertHR's survey which found that 47% of respondents were challenged by tracking and complying with rapidly changing leave laws across states while 46% were challenged by tracking and complying with local leave laws. Forty-three percent have difficulty handling the administrative burden of managing leaves and 41% viewed determining what federal, state and local leave law requirements apply to specific employee situations as challenging. Paid sick leave and paid family leave are particularly perplexing in their application and administration.
XpertHR's survey confirmed that employee handbooks are a top challenge for employers and they are even more complicated for multistate and multijurisdictional employers. This is especially true in light of rapidly changing and often conflicting federal, state and local laws regarding harassment, accommodations, pay equity, leave, drug testing and weapons. Handbook challenges include ensuring handbooks are read and understood by employees (50%), keeping handbooks current with new laws and trends (47%), managing employee handbooks as a multistate employer (46%) and incorporating local requirements into employee handbooks (38%).
Workforce planning is another issue keeping employers up at night. Sixty-four percent of respondents reported difficulty in finding high quality applicants. Ensuring employees and supervisors have the necessary skill sets is a challenge for 52%, creating a succession plan poses a challenge to 50% of respondents; and increasing employee engagement, morale and satisfaction is a challenge for 49%.
"Our survey found that HR professionals are struggling to find balance in all areas and felt overburdened by numerous and often confusing regulations while attempting to meet organizational and employee needs," explains Zoller.
To download a copy of the full survey whitepaper, visit XpertHR.
Editor's Note: Beth Zoller, JD, Legal Editor, XpertHR is available for interview and to write an article on HR challenges. If you use any of this material, please include this link https://bit.ly/2DY620J.