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Editorial Team
08 May 2019



Drugs, Violence and a Cyber Apocalypse – Streaming Live in the Minds of HR

workplace violence

Understanding the topmost challenges that will be on HR’s mind this year and beyond

How bad can an employee take getting fired? An emotional outburst, running through the length of the office, crying and slamming door is the dramatic best our imagination can shell out. These are also the maximum of the “riot gear” HR has in her cupboard. So, when an employee entered Warren Paving’s office and fired shots as a response to getting fired a few days before, all the HR could do was to duck (there is, of course, no real riot gear in the cupboard) – a reflex and definitely not a strategy. Though the incident left no unlucky-victims, the glaring truth came out staring intently at the HR cubicle ¾ we are not prepared for workplace violence.

It is not just workplace violence, but Marijuana use and data privacy dilemmas are as likely to scare the living daylights out of the HRs today as leave policies and finding the purple squirrel among the pile of CVs are. About 45% of respondents in an XPertHR survey said that they are ill-prepared for workplace violence or an active shooter incident.

The Case of Workplace Violence

Workplace violence is taken on a case to case basis with no standard procedure to address it. Case in point is that of a McDonald’s restaurant where a 19-year-old customer shoved a young employee after an argument with the manager. The employee was not as lucky as the HR at Warren Paving’s office was. She hit her head on the frying station and was taken for a medical evaluation.

There are always telltale signs of an upcoming violent or aggressive confrontation. While not every customer will flip on not getting mayo in their subs, one cannot afford not to train workers dealing with customers on the fundamentals of dealing with workplace violence. Rules should be set in to ban firearms at the workplace, and there should be incentives to raise a red flag if an employee shows signs of aggression or even withdrawal.

To be or not To Be – The Medical Marijuana Dilemma

Thirty states say it’s always bright and sunny with a bit of high (albeit medicinal), but federal laws still think this road should not be taken. 41% of the respondents in XPertHR survey say that maintaining the delicate medical and not-so-medical marijuana balance is a challenge. In a recent case of Katelin Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Company LLC d/b/a Bride Brook Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, the federal court sided with the employee on medical marijuana usage citing disability discrimination. 34% of HR professionals strongly feel their organizations should maintain a drug-free environment. Lifting the blanket ban and suggesting the jobs where it is ok to consume medical marijuana with the permissible dosage prescribed and reviewed by relevant authorities and experts would be a safer strategy.

A breach at the Fortress – Cyber Threats

51% of those who were surveyed by XPertHR said Cyber-breach was one of the top challenges, 41% said managing mobile devices were a major concern, 39% were concerned about social media at work and 31% opined that protecting employee information was getting tougher by the day. The worrying part is, this is not a surprise anymore. Data security laws have stepped up to be tougher than ever, but the implementation needs many bucket loads of training. 37% of the CEO’s believe that employees are the biggest source of a data breach so investing in training might not be a bad idea.

The Absent Compatriot – Unplanned Leaves

Even when your employees are not shooting guns in office, coming office high on marijuana or posting on social media at the office like there is no tomorrow, they sure take leaves. And not all of them are planned. The unplanned leaves perhaps are the biggest impediment towards organizational efficiency. A good 47% of respondents say dealing with the ever-changing and shape-shifting leave laws is a challenge. The trick of this tricky trade is to stay on-the-mark on all the leave laws and to not go for disciplinary action for unplanned leaves that are taken within the federal limits. The HR can also incentivize those who never take unplanned leaves which can act as a subtle motivation for all.

You are the Man (or Woman)! …or May Be Not?

A whopping 50% of the respondents of the survey found hiring the right people at the right place can be a challenge. The labor market is tight and unemployment rates are at their historical low. While every second article will tell you this, this skill gap has a butterfly effect. While HR is busy putting all its resources at this place, they are unwillingly overlooking other areas like creating standard workplace violence or drug-use policy. The result is that there are increased probabilities of confused and unprepared people who are touted as “a bad hire”. We get back to square one of the challenge of recruiting the right person at the right place – it’s circular logic. The way to curb it is to create awareness – be it branding for hiring or the stating the company dos and don’ts.

What are your challenges as HR in the current year and how do you plan to address them?

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