Human resources departments have a lot to handle. They manage people, and they manage money on behalf of the organization. They also operate in an area where numerous legal challenges can come into play.
A new survey from XPertHR examined what issues are going to be important to employers in 2018, finding that some of these challenges have to do with social disruptions and legal and economic instabilities that put pressure on employers to navigate a difficult terrain.
In outlining top challenges for lawyers in 2018, and the biggest issues for human resources departments, the study names sexual harassment and workplace violence, medical marijuana, and health insurance issues.
"With all of these issues, the most important thing is to be prepared," XPertHR legal editor Beth Zoller told HR Daily Wire on Dec. 8. "You need to make sure the policies and procedures are ironclad."
Dealing with problems before they arise, Zoller said, can help human resources teams avoid all sorts of crises that can have a real negative impact on a business. Zoller also talked about the importance of training and transparency in making corporate policy.
"You have to have an understanding of what the rules are," Zoller said, "and know the 'why' behind the rule."
In addition, she said, it's not always easy to anticipate challenges -- some of them tend to take companies by surprise. Zoller referred to the recent explosion of sexual harassment cases toward the end of this year.
"It wasn't on everybody's radar," Zoller said. "Employees are taking a very hard look at their workplace now -- they're very anxious about things that could happen."
Zoller spoke about unifying business goals with employees rights.
"It's really a careful balancing act," she said.
In dealing with legal instability on issues like health insurance and medical marijuana, Zoller said it's important for businesses to keep careful records and comply with documentation standards. Business leaders, she said, also have to anticipate the emerging role of artificial intelligence in the workplace and how that will change their business models.
"It's a changed workplace in terms of communications," Zoller said.
As one additional challenge, she pointed to the "gig economy," in which shorter terms of employment require more vigilance from human resources in terms of fighting turnover, handling paperwork and making sure their companies move forward on firm legal ground, with positive corporate cultures that honor and respect everyone.