Oct 10, 2023The Monthly Monitor | Oct. 2023
The Monthly Monitor | Jan. 2024
A New Year Brings New Priorities in People Operations
New Year, New Rules
As midnight rang out and millions of us raised our glasses in honor of the new goals we hope to achieve in the coming year, those in HR know a new year is also marked by new “rules of engagement” for employers to follow.
It’s our task to unpack the laundry list of regulations and identify the key components that will establish the right set of company policies and procedures to ensure compliance going forward.
- Expansion of CA Paid Sick Leave Benefits (eff. January 1, 2024)
- Off-duty Use of Cannabis is a civil right & Restrictions of Cannabis Testing (eff. January 1, 2024)
- Reproductive Loss Leave Entitlement (eff. January 1, 2024)
- Workplace Violence Prevention Program Requirements (eff. July 1, 2024)
- Presumption of Retaliation of Action within 90 days of Protected Activity (eff. January 1, 2024)
- Updates in CA Minimum Wages (State/localities eff. 1/1/24), Healthcare (eff. 6/1/24), and Food Service (eff. 6/1/24)
- Enhanced Restrictions for Non-Competes (eff. January 1, 2024)
- COVID-19 Regulations Review
- Extension of COVID-19 Displaced Worker Recall Rights (SB-723 Employment: rehiring and retention: displaced workers) | Extended to end of 2025; revised from 12/31/24)
- COVID-19 *Exposure Notification (under Labor Code 6409.6 | Expired 12/31/23)
Please note: Employers must still comply with Cal/OSHA COVID-19 non-emergency regulations
- CA Worker Compensation Positive Case Notification (SB-1159 Workers’ compensation: COVID-19: critical workers (Expires 12/31/23)
Other Notable Regulations
- CA Notice Requirements (AB-636 required disclosures)
- CA Artificial Intelligence Regulations (In progress)
- AB-331– Automated Decision Tools (ATD) Bill
- Proposed Modifications to Employment Regulations Regarding Automated-Decision Systems (Civil Rights Council)
- SB 721 – California Interagency AI Working Group
If you would like a high-level overview of these laws, please view our recent HR in Half an Hour: Labor & Safety Law Review for 2024 Webinar where our HR Business Consultant, Kely Blackburn, and co-hosts, Michael Schedler, Risk and Safety Consultant at Morris and Garritano, Nicole Kamm, Partner with Fisher Phillips unpacked all the specifics to each new regulation and what you need to do to comply with these new rules of engagement.
Remember, not only do you need to understand new regulations but also how to apply those changes in the business. The first step is updating the company handbook. The handbook provides clarity to employees regarding your policies and expectations but is also the first line of defense for employers in employment litigation events and is the foundation of your ability to overcome these challenges by justifying the business decisions as it relates to workforce management.
Employers should consider the following when developing and updating their handbooks:
- Define who is covered by the handbook and each policy.
- Review existing policies and practices to ensure its compliance with current/upcoming employment labor code/regulations.
- Be sure to include all relevant topics or procedures to ensure consistent management and adherence to said policy.
- Draft consistent, understandable, and legally permissible employment policies.
- Review the handbook with management prior to distribution to employees to obtain process/procedure feedback.
- Submit the draft handbook to experienced labor law counsel for review.
Company handbooks should be reviewed annually. Whenever any changes are made, the employer should distribute the changes and get a new acknowledgment signed. Any modification or customization of policies should be carefully reviewed to ensure that the policies comply with applicable laws at all levels. In addition, you should establish clear communication channels to address any questions or concerns regarding employment laws and seek legal advice when needed. Regular audits of HR practices can also help identify and rectify potential compliance issues proactively.
In the new year, prioritize your HR efforts by aligning them with organizational goals. Focus on employee well-being, talent development, and diversity and inclusion initiatives. Address immediate needs, such as compliance with new laws or regulations, and plan for long-term strategies like succession planning and skills development. Regularly communicate with employees to understand their needs and concerns. Flexibility and adaptability should be key considerations in setting priorities to respond to evolving workplace dynamics.
When setting priorities, HR should consider the following factors:
- Organizational Goals
- Urgency and Impact
- Employee Well-Being
- Legal Compliance (local, state, and federal)
- Talent Development
- Diversity and Inclusion
- Technology and Innovation
- Communications and Feedback Mechanisms
Setting priorities in HR involves understanding all facets of the business and organizing tasks based on urgency, impact, and alignment with strategic objectives while also ensuring time to regularly reassess priorities to adapt to evolving business needs.
You’re Not Alone
People Ops is not an easy profession by any means, and it often involves a lot of moving parts, leaving us to feel like we are achieving the impossible, trying to juggle it all simultaneously.
You are not alone and not stranded on an island with zero resources. We offer countless resources, including but not limited to sample policies, forms, and templates, that will help you achieve your management tasks while ensuring your due diligence and compliance.
We’re excited to share some valuable opportunities to enhance your Mineral experience through two exclusive webinars:
Smart Employee Handbook Builder Webinar
- Date: January 23, 2024
- Time: 10:00 am PST
- Discover the ins and outs of creating a customized handbook that stays current. Join us for valuable insights that will streamline your handbook-building process.
- Date: January 25, 2024
- Time: 10:00 am PST
- Dive into the powerful capabilities of Mineral’s Learning Management System. Discover how to effectively assign courses from our course catalog and track employee progress.
If you or your team need login credentials or any assistance accessing Mineral, please use our Mineral Request for Information form, and we’ll follow up with you directly. We are happy to assist!
Putting People First
People make the world go ‘round and in business, they are the cogs in the wheel that make business happen—day in and day out. People should be your #1 priority in 2024, and there is plenty of buzz around this topic. We have all had challenges in finding talent, but HR professionals should also be aware of the demographic they are attracting, which may reveal business operations and how it impacts your people.
To approach employee well-being in HR, consider the following approaches in your employee life cycle:
- Wellness Programs: Implement wellness programs that focus on physical, mental, and emotional health, promoting a balanced lifestyle. This can be a creative extension to your employer health plan. Get familiar with local resources and create partnerships that your employees will love and enjoy.
- Flexible Work Arrangements and Schedules: Offer flexible work options to support work-life balance and accommodate individual needs. Allow for flexible schedules or remote work options to accommodate personal needs and promote work-life integration. The key to success here is to establish and maintain a work environment built on trust and autonomy. People know when they are not trusted, and if this is the sole reason (besides finances) why this option is not on the table, it may be time to reconsider. Also, remember, don’t let one bad apple spoil the majority.
- Mental Health Support: Provide resources and support for mental health, including access to counseling services and stress management programs. These can be game changers if you are presented with a challenging employee situation, the more you can offer the better position an employer is should something not end well.
- Health Benefits: Ensure comprehensive health benefits, including preventive care and coverage for mental health services, to not just your full-time employees but all. Consider extending these options to your permanent part-time staff as well.
- Workplace Culture: Foster a positive and inclusive workplace culture that prioritizes respect, collaboration, and open communication. Learn how your people function in certain environments and under certain management. Find that secret sauce that unlocks your business’s potential by way of your people and the environment you create.
- Training and Development: Offer opportunities for skill development and career growth, demonstrating a commitment to employees’ professional well-being. When employees feel like their role is not a dead end and that there is more to come, it influences the retention we are all looking for. Employees will commit to employers who are committed to them and their development.
- Recognition and Appreciation: Recognizing and appreciating employees for their contributions is a key factor in fostering a sense of value and job satisfaction. A pat on the back feels good every once in a while.
- Workload Management: Monitor and manage workloads to prevent burnout, ensuring a realistic balance between responsibilities and capacity. Burnout is a top reason why individuals have been leaving their place of employment, and often, this concept goes unnoticed until it’s too late. Be sure to regularly assess your team, their tasks, and their progress with a proactive lens to ensure you identify the bottleneck before it becomes the dead end to your team’s success and retention.
- Regular Check-ins: Conduct regular check-ins to understand employee concerns, gather feedback, and address issues affecting well-being. Constant feedback can generate trust between managers and their people. Taking the pulse of your people on a regular basis shifts your awareness and action from reactive to proactive.
By integrating these elements into HR practices, organizations can create an environment that supports and enhances employee well-being. Employee well-being has a profound impact on engagement in several ways. When employees feel physically and mentally well, job satisfaction tends to increase, leading to higher engagement levels.
Well-supported employees are more likely to be motivated and invested in their work, contributing positively to their engagement. Employees with high well-being are often more productive, as they are better equipped to focus, collaborate, and contribute effectively to their tasks. Organizations that prioritize employee well-being are likely to experience higher retention rates, as satisfied and engaged employees are less likely to seek alternative employment.
A positive well-being culture fosters healthier team dynamics, encouraging collaboration, communication, and mutual support, which are key elements of engagement. Well-being can stimulate creativity and innovation by providing employees with the mental and emotional space needed for thinking creatively and generating new ideas that may impact business sustainability for the unforeseen future. Employees experiencing lower stress levels are more likely to be engaged, as stress can negatively impact job satisfaction and overall commitment.
Employees who perceive that their well-being is a priority for the organization are more likely to be committed to the company and its goals, contributing to higher engagement. A focus on well-being contributes to a positive work culture, reinforcing a sense of belonging and shared values that enhance engagement.
Engaged and well-supported employees are more likely to become advocates for the organization, promoting a positive employer brand and attracting top talent. In essence, investing in employee well-being creates a positive cycle that significantly influences and enhances overall employee engagement and business success.
Lastly, well-being can also come with its challenges. Employee mental health events are occurring more often and leave HR professionals operating in the gray. Knowing when to intervene and what legal requirements and or employee rights can make it more complex than originally thought. Recognizing this fact may be the difference between effectively mitigation versus later turning into a nuclear bomb that will ripple through the business and employee morale. Addressing mental health in the workplace involves providing necessary accommodations to support employees, and here are some considerations include:
- Flexible Work Arrangements: Offer flexible schedules, remote work options, or compressed workweeks to accommodate varying mental health needs.
- Open Communication: Foster a culture where employees feel comfortable discussing mental health concerns and seeking support without fear of stigma.
- Accommodations for Meetings: Consider virtual options, provide quiet spaces, or offer alternatives for employees who may find large meetings or open-office settings challenging.
- Mental Health Days: Allow employees to take mental health days when needed, recognizing the importance of mental well-being alongside physical health.
- Reasonable Deadlines: Be mindful of workload and set realistic deadlines, avoiding unnecessary stressors that can impact mental health.
- Training and Awareness Programs: Conduct training sessions to increase awareness about mental health, reducing stigma and promoting a supportive workplace environment.
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAP): Offer access to EAPs that provide confidential counseling and support services for employees facing mental health challenges.
- Flexible Breaks: Allow for flexible break times to accommodate employees who may benefit from short breaks to manage stress or anxiety.
- Clear Expectations: Communicate clear expectations and provide support for employees managing mental health conditions, ensuring they feel confident in their roles.
- Peer Support Networks: Encourage the development of peer support networks or mentorship programs to create a sense of community and understanding among employees.
Bottom line: Prioritizing people leads to higher levels of employee satisfaction, which, in turn, positively influences productivity and morale. When employees feel valued and supported, they are more likely to stay with the organization, reducing turnover and associated costs.
Placing people at the center of HR practices fosters a sense of engagement, commitment, and alignment with organizational goals, and in turn, the business will become more attractive to top talent by enhancing the organization’s reputation, both as an employer and within the broader community. In essence, prioritizing people in HR creates a positive cycle where satisfied, engaged, and supported employees contribute to the overall success and sustainability of the organization.
As you can imagine, we can go on and on about this topic, so be sure to join next month as we dive in headfirst in our next webinar, How to Put Your People First!
Found this resource helpful and want more? If the answer is yes—you’re in luck! This standalone resource is produced on a monthly basis (excluding months we host HR in Half Hour) and was developed to deliver HR best practices using a three-pronged approach: HR Insights, Tools & Resources, and Forecasting What’s to Come to better equip clients with the tools and resources they need when faced with various HR challenges, which in turn, should produce more proactive and positive outcomes.
Stay tuned for our next newsletter on March 5th, 2024.
Our next HR in a Half Hour webinar is How to Put Your People First
Join us on Thursday, February 8th, as our HR Business Advisor, Kely Blackburn, discusses the best practices, programs, and considerations to help ensure your employees’ well-being is top of mind in 2024.