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2022 Human Resources and Employment Law Highlights

If employers and employees thought that the changes and challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic would moderate in 2022, that turned out not to be the case. Not only did issues related to the pandemic continue, but new priorities revealed themselves as organizations found their footing in the post-Covid environment. Employers were faced with The Great Resignation, the ongoing economic trend in which employees voluntarily resigned from their jobs in large numbers, which in turn pushed hiring, retention, and engagement into focus. Employers and especially managers remained challenged to manage remote, hybrid, and on-site work and to adopt new methods to address employee training and development. The need to embed diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) into the fabric of organizational culture remained in sharp focus.

At EPS, we addressed the managerial challenges faced by organizations starting with a practical look at one of the most challenging aspects of a manager’s job - how to properly respond to and handle harassment complaints - with 5 Things Managers Must Know When Handling Harassment Complaints. While training may have taken a back seat in the past few years, the need to train employees, especially managers, remains a critical part of remaining compliant and in building and fostering cultures of respect.

The need for leadership that can create a work culture of accountability, teamwork, inclusivity, and credibility has been a necessity in the post-COVID years. We shared 3 Management Communication Skills for Positive Employee Relations and Rules of Engagement: Leadership Lessons from a Fictional Hero with a reminder of just how powerful saying “I don’t know,” “I need help,” “I’m sorry,” and “I was wrong” can be in fostering employee engagement and a team-oriented environment.

HR’s role in cultivating an open, respectful organizational culture is more important than ever in the politically charged, pandemic era world in which we find ourselves.  Jill Rorschach, EPS President, brought her years of HR leadership experience to her piece Three HR Paradigms that Damage Organizational Culture with a reminder that mistrust is a generalized bias against HR - often the byproduct of an organizational culture that undervalues or fails to empower its HR function. Jill reminds HR practitioners that the necessity of organizations to have strong, resilient cultures with valued and respected HR partners who are empowered to speak truth to leadership is more critical than ever.

At EPS, we continued to expand and deepen our DEI consulting services with Jessica Caspe, EPS Director of Training/DEIB, writing on creating an inclusive organization through a focus on open communication and addressing biases. We also shared wisdom on becoming a better ally. At EPS, we recognize that DEIB will continue to be a high priority for many organizations moving forward and we understand that the process of becoming a more inclusive organization is a journey and that the journey can take time. Implementing highly interactive training centered on creating more inclusive organizations, undertaking a climate assessment to provide a comprehensive review of policies, practices, procedures, and strategies with the objective of identifying opportunities for improvement are good places to start.

The ability of an organization to conduct fair and impartial investigations into complaints and allegations of misconduct remained critical and can be even more challenging in hybrid work environments.  Objective and impartial fact-finding is always a prerequisite to taking appropriate and meaningful action and to developing a viable action plan with a sound factual basis post-investigation. We examined the circumstances of investigations that involve law enforcement and provided an in-depth look at federal EEO investigations and how they differ from private sector investigations. Lastly, we examined the DOJ’s renewed focus on culture, compensation, and communication and provided key takeaways for HR professionals.

Technology continues to impact the work of HR professionals and artificial intelligence tools are increasingly being used by employers to streamline the work of recruiting and evaluating candidates for vacant positions and for monitoring employee productivity. We examined what HR should be doing to prevent the pitfalls that can occur with the use of AI tools in making day-to-day decisions.

In 2022, we moved through our 26th year continuing our work with organizations to build cultures of respect through our core investigation, training, and consulting/expert services. We responded to the needs of employers by expanding our training services to include highly interactive on-demand training (take our brief demo here) that allows learners the flexibility to go through courses at a pace that is conducive for them and at a place and time of their choosing while offering the same high quality and unique customization as with all our training options. Lastly, we proudly received approval as a General Services Administration (GSA) provider of EEO training and investigations.

As we look forward to the opportunities that the New Year will inevitably bring, we wish you and your team the very best in 2023.