HUMAN RESOURCES / MAR. 31, 2015
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5 Modern Day Workplace Issues Companies Have to Handle

If your business was started more than 20 years ago then the chances are that you haven’t updated your workplace policy guidance book since we celebrated the new millennium. With emerging issues and new laws prevalent in our society, it has become more important for companies to update their employee handbooks. 

Offices maintain such handbooks to ensure the company complies with government rules and regulations and provides a workforce with a safe, clean and responsible work space. Otherwise, without these types of guidance handbooks, the patients could run the asylum and all hell could break loose faster than a WWE contract signing. 

Many technological advancements and societal changes have transpired in the last few years alone, including social media ubiquity, e-cigarette adoption and smartphone addictions. It’s time for your company to start reviewing the employee handbook and guarantee that it fits the mold of a 2015 landscape. 

"Employee handbooks continue to be a perennial challenge and opportunity for employers," Peggy Carter-Ward, head of content at XpertHR, said in a statement. "The challenges of keeping up with a changing workforce, new laws and just getting employees to read the handbook are not new, yet addressing evolving workplace issues ... [is] complex."  

Unsure what to insert or update? Here are five modern workplace issues companies now have to deal with on a regular basis:

See Also: The Downsides of BYOD for Business

1. Data Privacy

Today’s globalized workforce, due to technological advancements, has made it a lot harder for businesses to protect their data. From securing employee profiles to safeguarding payrolls, companies have to invest not only in new equipment and software but also in employee training so staff members know what they’re doing. By instituting new policies to defend against vulnerabilities and infiltrations, your company can save money, time and headaches.

2. Social Media

Everyone is on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and every other major social media outlet. Unfortunately, sometimes an employee’s activity on social networks can hurt the brand’s image, whether it’s the subordinate lambasting the company, making racist remarks or bashing co-workers. It’s crucial to institute a policy that encourages staffers to be responsible and to always consider the business before publishing something inappropriate. 

3. E-Cigarettes & Marijuana

Although e-cigarettes have been one of the most effective tools out there to help smokers quit a filthy and unhealthy habit, governments are taking action to limit others’ exposure to these things. Vaping may not be appreciated by colleagues so businesses will have to limit how, when and where users can take advantage of e-cigarettes.

Moreover, marijuana has become a lot more prevalent in society than it was a decade or two ago. There have been many reports of employees taking marijuana smoke breaks akin to tobacco smoke breaks. With that being said, marijuana usage can diminish someone’s adeptness and result in irresponsible actions. Companies will either have to limit and prohibit weed users from doing it during a workday.

4. BYOD Policies

The latest trend in the modern workplace has been to adopt the bring your own device (BYOD) practice. This encourages workers to bring their smartphones, tablets, laptops and other mobile devices to the office place to conduct their work in a more efficient and orderly manner - it also saves the company money on IT. However, sometimes the owners of said devices could abuse this policy and utilize their gadgets to shop online, tweet during office hours and make phone calls. An employee handbook should address and outline what and what can’t be done with mobile devices in an office space.

5. LGBTQ

A business also has to incorporate policies that respect the rights of LGBTQ employees and to avoid discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgendered and queers. This can be very difficult to enforce, but many businesses are mandated by law to do so. Usually common sense is the best approach: do not disrespect, tease, bully or even question their lifestyle choice.  

See Also: Smoking and the Workplace

Many may argue that we live in a far too sensitive world nowadays, but a business must always protect itself from potential lawsuits, human resource problems and staff unproductivity. An employee handbook is one of the best tools to have in a corporate arsenal if the company wishes to refrain from facing fines, court cases and media articles.

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