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Extra! Extra! The Top 5 HR News Stories of 2016

As we begin a new year, it’s a great time to reflect upon the 2016 news stories that have revealed—and shaped—the future of the Human Resources and Recruiting arenas.

Last year’s fast-moving and politically-charged climate has shaken up what we once took for granted—and the world of HR isn’t immune.

1. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR DRAMA

overtime guidelines

Unless you were burying your head in the sand for much of last year, you already know that new Department of Labor overtime guidelines require workplaces to significantly increase the salary threshold of exempt employees.

While this is a major story on its own, the real news slipped in just before last year’s December 1st rollout date: A Texas court effectively stopped the forward motion, causing many businesses to rethink their salary restructuring. It’s a complicated policy to double back on if you’ve already started implementation, says the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), but it’s a conversation many HR teams across the nation will have to begin, and quickly.

These changes, coupled with other worker-friendly legislation, have put the need for better employee scheduling practices front and center. The regulations impact organizations ranging in size from sole proprietorships to the biggest companies in the world. So, both mom-and-pops and members of the Fortune 500 are now arm-in-arm, seeking ways to add more efficiency to their HR scheduling processes.

Human capital management, time tracking, and time and attendance systems have all played a key role in making HR processes more efficient. Online appointment scheduling software is also beginning to establish itself as a part of the standard HR software toolset. It’s primarily used to allow candidates to self-schedule screening calls and for interview scheduling.

 [Related]:The Ultimate List of HR Apps for the Digital Age

 2. THE BENEFIT OF BENEFITS

employee sick at work

The focus on “good jobs” during the 2016 election shined a light on the other benefits of a great position beyond salary, such as paid sick leave.

As The New York Times reports, more companies are starting to use paid sick leave as a way to not only boost morale, but to also save money. By making it easier for sick employees to stay home, it helps minimize the likelihood of the sickness spreading to other employees. Plus, offering paid sick leave can enhance productivity and reduce turnover.

As it stands now, close to half of all American workers do not enjoy the benefit of paid time off to deal with illness. However, studies show that these numbers may be shifting. What does that mean for HR? Competitive recruitment packages must include ample sick leave to attract top candidates. Savvy HR pros are paying close attention to developing strategies that optimize the recruitment and selection process in order to reel in “A” candidates.

3.THE HEALTH CARE QUESTION

employee taking advantage of company wellness program

In 2016, Tom Price was selected as the nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary for the incoming administration. Representatives from SHRM believe that Tom Price stands to transform the way workplaces handle employee health care, which means more coordination for HR teams around pre-tax health savings accounts in order to stay current with the best offerings for benefit packages.

Regardless of potential changes, HR professionals should always be proactively assessing ways to manage the costs of benefits packages. Best practices include finding benefits that are specifically designed for the HR industry, encouraging health savings (HSA) or health reimbursement (HRA) accounts, using technology to manage the costs of benefits, and encouraging employees to take advantage of wellness programs.

4. WAGE INCREASES ON THE RISE

worker getting wage increase

While most businesses with devoted HR and recruitment departments already offer competitive salaries as part of their recruiting process, the national trend toward higher wages means that, as Forbes Magazine notes, many businesses are having to take a closer look at their bottom line.

Increased wages in narrow profit-margin industries, especially the service sector, means that overhead costs will require a slim-down for businesses to stay profitable. For HR staffers, this means getting more efficient than ever with digital tools, such as interview scheduling software.

5. WORKPLACE CULTURE IS KEY

company culture

Last year was a big one for HR news, but beyond the significant shakeups around overtime and benefits, there was also plenty of talk regarding that intangible, magical factor known as workplace culture.

In a bold move, Amazon began offering 30-hour schedules to course-correct the work/life balance issues that seem to have plagued the retail giant in the past. Will other companies seek to adopt the Amazon model in order to attract and retain busy millennials who crave greater work/life balance? Time will tell, but I’ve got a feeling that forward-thinking HR teams are already drawing up their “flex time” policies as you read this.

In line with the continued focus on culture, recruitment software provider LocalWork began offering an application that allows HR pros to leverage their company culture to attract candidates. Why? “We believe that all facets of your business are impacted when you have a great culture,” LocalWork CEO Ryan Naylor told the Phoenix Business Journal.

2016 proved to be an interesting year for HR and recruiting. With so many upcoming changes, 2017 is looking to continue that trend. Speaking of trends, technology was and will remain front and center in most every topic related to HR and recruiting. The number of digital tools targeting HR is expanding. This is good news for the industry, as HR professionals will continue to look to technology to better compete in the war for talent, allow for more meaningful interactions with team members, foster a stronger workplace culture, increase retention, and improve employee efficiency.