2020 Election Impacts On HR and The Workplace

This election will likely have HR impacts on diversity, unionization, paid leave, healthcare coverage, D&I training, and recruiting. And because it is better to be prepared than surprised, you should begin thinking about these changes even today.

At the start, it’s important to note that although no one can predict what will finally happen in politics precisely. It’s relatively easy to identify and begin preparing for the HR impact areas that the new administration will be feverishly working on. So knowing their intentions with some certainty, smart HR leaders should now begin planning how each of the new administration’s focus areas may someday impact HR and the employee population. However, if you are a federal contractor, it’s important to note that some of these changes might come almost immediately through executive orders. Recent Presidents have learned to rely so heavily on them to accelerate change. 

HR Areas Where You Should Plan For Change

Your executives are well-read, so they are already aware of these new focus areas. So, if your company’s executives surprise you by asking, “Do we have a plan?” Smart HR leaders should at least respond with “yes” in most of the listed new administration’s focus areas that will impact HR. 

  • Diversity increases in importance – with a diverse vice president who is supportive of the BLM movement. You can expect a focus on diversity issues that HR will have to respond to, starting with the reinstatement of some version of D&I training at the federal level. Also, expect increased diversity enforcement from the EEOC. Women often care about issues, like paid maternity and sick leave; these will also receive new emphasis. And finally, expect an increased focus at the federal level on expanding LGBQ and transgender rights in the workplace.
  • Unions strengthen – this area will be a bit of a surprise to most. Labor relations will likely undergo major changes because it’s hard to find a major politician who vocally supports unions more than Joe Biden. So, expect a stronger NLRB and resisting unionization to become much more difficult. Also, expect more support for workplace issues that unions support, like raising the minimum wage and guaranteed sick leave. You can expect most of these changes to first appear in the unionized federal employee sector.
  • Recruiting / retention – with a lessened focus on minimizing immigration. Expect the supply of labor to increase slightly due to some expansion of the H1B employee visa and the DACA programs. With Covid 19 vaccines predicted as available after midyear, expect the economy to rebound strongly with an increase in hiring and retention issues later in the year. Also, expect the currently stalled boom in recruiting technology to restart.
  • Healthcare benefits –  both the administration and the Supreme Court is focusing on the ACA. You can expect significant changes in your corporate healthcare program, especially in what you must cover and your employees’ costs.
  • Remote work continues – with predicted widely available vaccines and more science applied to stopping the spread of Covid 19. Expect state and local limits on physically coming to work to be mostly eliminated by midyear. However, expect your company to continue relying heavily on remote work because it has proven to be productive and cost-effective.
  • Learning and development – expect the dramatic changes that the pandemic has forced on corporate training to continue where almost all of it will be remote, digital, and metric-driven. Also, expect a broader demand for diversity and unconscious bias training. As well as the use of short videos for learning because some generations simply prefer them.
  • Compensation – expect a greater emphasis on CEO pay. And a push for reducing the pay differential between executives and the average worker. Also, expect gig workers to receive a lot of attention at the federal level, especially concerning whether they should be employees and whether they should be guaranteed health and unemployment benefits.
  • Privacy – although most of the push to protect employee privacy has been coming from Europe. As HR becomes more data-driven, expect privacy and data security issues to impact HR and employee records in the US significantly.
  • Employee surveys – recent issues with political polls have clearly demonstrated the problems associated with accurate polling. So in the corporate sector, expect employee surveys to undergo strict scrutiny to ensure they provide accurate employee problems and sentiment information to HR leaders. 
  • Climate change – don’t expect the green deal anytime soon. However, there will be a renewed emphasis on reducing climate change, but most of that will not impact HR directly. There may, however, be a push to reduce employee auto commuting and business air travel. 
  • Political correctness – especially during the last election, the difference between those that expect more political correctness and those that vehemently oppose it couldn’t have been greater. Unfortunately, you should expect that conflict to continue for years within corporations.

Final Thoughts

Of course, depending on what happens in the US Senate, the changes outlined above may come quickly or not at all. However, if there is a stalemate, HR leaders can’t be complacent. At the same time, some of the above-outlined changes could be pending in your local state legislatures. In progressive states like California, most of the changes outlined above are already well on their way to being implemented.

Author’s Note: Please pass this article around within your team and network. If it stimulated your thinking and provided actionable tips,  please take a minute to follow and/or connect with Dr. Sullivan on LinkedIn.

Photo by Aaron Kittredge from Pexels

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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