Features | December 13, 2022
Are You Ready for 2023? HR Expert Tips to Help You Prepare
We’ve all been on a roller coaster for the past two years, and all signs point to this continuing into 2023. Here are some things we’re watching as we head into the new year.
Impacts From Election Day 2022
Ballot initiatives: Along with the much-publicized control of Congress, several initiatives were on the ballot across the country in our most recent election. While we don’t know some requirements yet, below are some things considered to have big impacts on employers and employees.
Minimum Wage: Nebraska voters passed a measure to increase the state’s minimum wage incrementally until it reaches $15 per hour by 2026, then annually thereafter based on the increase in cost of living. Nevada passed a minimum wage measure that will increase the minimum wage to $12 per hour and remove differences based on employers offering health care benefits or not.
Legalized Marijuana: Maryland and Missouri passed measures to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults over 21. This will not impact an employer’s right to prohibit the use, possession or being under the influence. However, it could change how employers may use positive marijuana drug test results in making employment decisions. Similar measures did not pass in Arkansas, North Dakota or South Dakota.
Legislatures: For the next two years, we do not expect to see much legislation from the divided U.S. Congress. In fact, the division could create more issues if needed legislation is obstructed, budgets are not passed and the government is shut down.
However, at the state level, we expect legislation on sick pay, legalized marijuana, paid leave, weapon restrictions or permissions, pay equity or transparency, anti-discrimination and restrictive covenants, depending on the philosophy and needs of each state. The shifting control in some state governments from one party to another, or from a split to one party, often means a change in legislative agenda. Topics are commonly dictated by the party in charge.
Employers need to stay aware of legislation moving through all levels of government, updating policies and procedures as new regulations are implemented and educating employees on their rights and responsibilities.
State of the Labor Market
At the end of 2022, the labor market is still competitive and tight. Recent job growth was higher than projected, with 263,000 jobs added in November and the unemployment rate holding steady at 3.7%. Wages are increasing, with the average hourly earnings rising 0.6% in November; this raises the annual increase to 5.1%.
It appears the Great Resignation is slowing down, but approximately 4 million people are still quitting their jobs each month. Employees are quitting due to personal reasons (illness, caring for family or pursuing other career or educational opportunities), better compensation (higher wages, more paid time off or better insurance options), greater flexibility (remote work or flexible scheduling) or to escape a poor corporate culture (long hours, poor management, or blatant discrimination or harassment). With over 10 million job openings — equivalent to 1.7 openings for each person looking for a job — employees still greatly control the job market for now.
The state of the economy will impact the job market in 2023. Financial experts have been warning about a recession, but with a current strong economy and a slowing rate of inflation, they now think it may be weaker and shorter than originally feared.
With predicted inflation, many expected massive layoffs to occur in 2023. While layoffs at large tech companies like Amazon, Twitter and Meta make headlines, many companies are not expecting to drop employees, given their need for qualified workers to meet continuing demand. Instead, we may see fewer job openings as companies reduce their hiring efforts while waiting out the threat of recession.
Employers need to prepare their companies to adjust and withstand the fluctuating conditions of the economy and job market, as well as the impacts felt within their industry, city and state. Employers should also be attuned to the financial, flexibility and developmental needs of their employees to retain them.
COVID-19, RSV, Flu and Others
With approximately 300,000 new cases per day in the U.S. and almost 2,000 people dying each day, COVID-19 is evolving into an endemic but, with highly-contagious emerging variants, is still considered a public health emergency in some areas. An estimated 16 million employees have long COVID with an estimated 2-4 million people needing to leave the workforce due to ongoing symptoms, which accounts for 20-40% of the labor shortage.
Additionally, many officials are declaring pediatric RSV a public health emergency, given the rising numbers of children becoming sick, being hospitalized and dying due to the infection. Added to that, we are seeing the annual winter impact of influenza in the U.S. with millions of people already infected and hundreds of thousands hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Employers need to know their legal and practical responsibilities to prepare for employees who become sick or have to care for a family member who becomes ill:
- Several states still have COVID-19-related pay, disability pay and/or protections for time off due to covered purposes, some of which have been extended to cover RSV and the flu.
- Review the possibilities of remote work options and prepare for coverage if someone needs to miss time out of the workplace.
- Offer cleaning and sanitizing products and create more open spaces to reduce exposure in the workplace.
- Support and encourage employees and their families to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the flu, both of which have been shown to reduce number of cases and severity of illness.
Other Trends We’re Keeping an Eye On in 2023
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI): Diversity in cultures, races, genders, religions, thought, etc. is often considered a factor for the success of an organization. Employees want to feel included and clients want to work with people who look like them. Differing perspectives and backgrounds can lead to better ideas to weather uncertainties. Incorporating true equity and inclusion can help companies thrive. Employers should learn to embrace and support differences and require that support from everyone in their organizations.
NLRB: The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is continuing to strengthen employee and union rights. This includes measures that impact non-unionized companies, such as handbook language and restricting protected activity in the pursuit of better working conditions. Employers need to ensure they know the legal requirements and are not impeding those rights.
Affinity HR Group offers clients compensation, compliance, development and recruiting tools to help them manage all of these uncertainties.
Paige McAllister is the vice president for compliance at Affinity HR Group, Inc., Brand Chain’s affiliated human resources partner. Affinity HR Group specializes in providing human resources assistance to associations such as Brand Chain and their member companies. To learn more, visit www.affinityHRgroup.com.