In Review: Three Updates to Pay Attention to in 2018



Looking back over an eventful 2017, we can only assume more of the same, uber-dynamic challenges, but also opportunities for growth in 2018.  With innovative technology driving changes in customer communications and marketing, IT and internet security, and dynamic workflow and human resource policies, companies – and especially small businesses – may find it daunting to keep up.  Partnership Employment will continue to keep you current on key trends and issues.   We thought it would be helpful to bring you an update of some of the topics we covered over the past year.

January  Will President-Elect Trump Bring More or Less Regulation to the Workplace?

Turns out, fewer.  So far, 67 regulations have been rolled back, with more to come. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates $12 billion annually in compliance for American businesses, but a Competitive Enterprise Institute report places the total cost to businesses and consumers at approximately $1.9 trillion annually or 10% of GDP.  Since January, Executive Order 13,771 has required regulatory agencies to roll back two regulations for each new regulation issued.   According to a year-end Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) report, “in the first eight months of the Administration, agencies have far exceeded the two-for-one and regulatory cap requirements. Agencies issued 67 deregulatory actions and only 3 regulatory actions. Agencies saved $8.1 billion in regulatory costs, or $570 million per year.”   With regulatory reform gathering steam, businesses can begin to look forward to some relief beginning in 2018.  However, savings apply mostly to federal regulations, so companies should continue to support their local Chambers of Commerce to impact state and local regulatory burdens.

July  The Minimum Wage Conundrum

As a follow up to our story on the impact of Seattle’s wage hike to $15 per hour, a December 20 Fortune article by Grace Donnelly reported that by “2022, 17% of Americans will live in a city with a $15 minimum wage.”   And, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 18 states are set to increase minimum wages in January.  However, most cities, states, and businesses are taking a measured approach.  Most January increases are pegged to inflation, with the highest at about $.50 per hour, with $15 still far in the future.  However, some businesses are integrating wage investments into their strategic plans.  In a September press release, Target announced plans to raise its minimum wage from $10 to $11 in October as a step toward $15 by 2020.  Quoting Brian Cornell, CEO, and chairman of Target, “Target has always offered market competitive wages to our team members. With this latest commitment, we’ll be providing even more meaningful pay, as well as the tools, training and support our team needs to build their skills, develop professionally and offer the service and expertise that set Target apart.”

The jury is still out on wage hike impacts such as job loss or increased automation.  However, with January’s federal corporate tax rate reduction from 35% to 21% and a declining 4.1% unemployment rate making labor more competitive, could this trend be a win for workers, businesses, and the economy?

November   Holiday Work Parties:  Just Forego the Mistletoe (Sexual Harassment)

Hopefully, your holiday parties were the celebratory events they were intended to be.  However, every new day continues to bring new revelations about workplace sexual misconduct.  We know that rules and regulations don’t always regulate an individual’s behavior.  When the offender is a company leader, high-performer, or just a really “popular guy,” push back on the complainant – and the majority female HR managers – can be significant.  The New Year would be a great time for strategic leaders to re-evaluate not just workplace culture and policies – but also how much independent authority is granted by a diverse human resource department.

A good first step would be to check the gender diversity of HR staff so that claims are objectively evaluated.   Secondly, HR should ensure that EEOC training and rules apply to all employees, regardless of position.  Finally, HR must transform from simply the hiring agency and compliance office to an absolute employee advocate, with authority vested by management and the board to investigate claims of misbehavior across the organization.  Distancing this HR function from management oversight might be tricky, but any regulatory body must have some autonomy to be effective.  For 2018, be sure to update your HR department employees’ training in this area with a seminar or course like the one offered by the Society for Human Resource Management, Discrimination & Harassment: Practices for Mitigating Risk.

From all of us at Partnership Employment, we thank you for your confidence and trust, and may you have a New Year filled with opportunity and success!