As 2018 ends, you’ll see loads of articles talking about what a big year it’s been. Unfortunately, most of those tend to be clickbait without any real insights. But this year has been a blockbuster when it comes to the HR community. Going forward employers will have to deal with everything from legal marijuana to the effect millennials are having on the entire employment experience.
We’ve had a front row seat for many of the changes. This blog gives you five of the biggest issues HR and employers need to be aware of as 2019 gets rolling.
As of the midterm elections in 2018, 22 states allow medical marijuana and 10 let adults smoke purely for recreation. While a lot of folks are cheering the decisions, the reality for employers is very messy.
Here’s why legal marijuana is messy for employers:
Employers are still urged to have a clear and well-thought-out Drug Free Workplace Policy. As long as federal law says marijuana is illegal, you have the right to demand your employees pass a drug test and not be impaired while on the job.
Unfortunately, there’s still no test that can tell if someone is impaired. You’ll only be able to confirm that they’ve used sometime within the last few days, weeks or months. That means it’ll be very difficult for employers to prove someone is high during work hours.
This is an area that we expect to get a lot of attention from the plaintiff’s bar in 2019. Especially now that there are challenges under the ADA. It’s a good idea to have an attorney who specializes in drug-free workplaces help draft your policy. As the issues become more complex, a strong, properly worded policy is your best friend.
While there aren’t precise dates for when they begin and end, those born in the early 1980s until the mid 90s are labeled as “millenials”. That means that older millennials are graduating college and entering the workforce. And in 2019 they’ll join more than 50-million who are already on the job. There isn’t an employer out there who doesn’t understand that this generation has dramatically changed the way we all work.
Here are some key ways millennials have changed the workplace:
If you are a large employer or hire remotely, technology is your friend. Millennials want everything on mobile, and they want everything to be integrated. First, make sure you have a seamless experience from beginning to end. That means using your ATS/HRIS to make sure all third-party vendors, like your background screener, are integrated so everything from the application, the interview and the onboarding process can all be managed from their phones.
One of the more popular features you may want to consider providing is an SMS-based candidate portal. Our experience shows that Millennials are much more likely to respond and provide information when prompted via text rather than via email.
It might also be a good idea to consider how you will use social media reviews in your background screening — if you use them at all. While this generation literally puts their entire life out there for the world to see, there are some very big pit-falls when it comes to using social media to learn about your applicants during the hiring phase. Be sure to check with your screening partner to understand what is best for you.
As a background screening company, the FCRA is our compass. Everything we do is regulated by this legislation. 2018 was another busy year for plaintiff’s attorneys trying to use the FCRA to land huge settlements based on technical violations of the law.
Here’s a quick summary of the FCRA in 2018:
A Supreme Court decision might make it harder to get these class actions to stick:
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the agency overseeing the FCRA, also made an important change this year:
When it comes to the FCRA and the associated risks, the solution is compliance.
The Spokeo-based decisions are a positive development for employers since they seem to be reducing or eliminating the large awards. But, it’s still imperative that you make sure your disclosures and authorizations are compliant with the FCRA, because we don’t expect the lawsuits to die down any time soon. High legal fees should convince you to make sure your process and your forms are compliant, so you don’t have to go down that road at all.
You might also want to consider adding arbitration clauses to your employment contracts. Again, this is a discussion to have with your legal counsel.
Ban the Box laws stop employers from asking applicants about any criminal history until after they get to know them at bit. Many of the laws say you can’t even ask these questions until you make a conditional job offer. The goal is for the employer to get to know the applicant and their qualifications without their opinion being clouded by past criminal convictions.
In 2018 we saw new ban the box laws as well as the expansion of existing laws.
Here’s where Ban the Box laws stand now:
And Here’s where Salary History Bans stand:
Employers have to adjust to the new Salary History Bans. We expect more to be passed in the coming year. As far as the Ban the Box Laws, we expect many to be amended to expand their reach. Several states did that in 2018 as they work to expand what employers have to comply. Most of the laws begin with government employees, then they expand to include government contractors. Eventually, we expect the laws to apply to all hires.
In 2018, we saw a shift in power when hiring from employer to job seeker. After years of having a surplus of applicants, employers are finding it more difficult to get qualified candidates. When good candidates apply they aren’t desperate to sign. Instead, with statistical full-employment, applicants often have several jobs from which to choose. Competition for the best hire has gone through the roof.
Increased competition when hiring means:
Employers are going to have to be more creative with talent acquisition in the coming year. That means finding new avenues for finding talent and being more proactive instead of waiting for a position to open up. Social media is expected to play an even larger role in the recruiting process, whether it be Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn or message boards, blogs and forums.
Employers also need to focus energy on the candidate experience. Candidates want to feel good about the company they’re planning to work for, and if they have a good experience they will likely refer others to you.
Automating the whole process – from recruitment, to application, to pre-employment screening, all the way to the offer and onboarding – should be streamlined, automated and simplified. If not, you risk losing the best candidates to those who are on the cutting edge.
Employers are going to have to be on their toes. You might want to review and tweak your hiring and onboarding processes to stay relevant to the younger workforce. You will also need to pay close attention to the ever-changing marijuana laws since more than half of the states have some sort of legal usage. And, as always, go above and beyond to be FCRA compliant.
Here’s to a great 2019!
Jennifer Gladstone is a news anchor and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in front of the camera. She's worked in several markets, large and small, and has performed nearly every task needed in a newsroom. As EBI’s Screening News Editor, she keeps EBI’s customers and blog subscribers up to date on the latest screening news and legislative alerts affecting companies of all sizes.