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What’s Shaping the 2024 Workplace

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At the end of the first quarter of 2024, economic uncertainties continued to concern organizations across the country. Employers found themselves navigating the after-effects of these challenges, as well as managing new regulations and shifts in workplace safety standards. It was a period marked by adaptation, analysis and, above all, strategic planning.

Intriguing trends emerged and forecast new growth for the second quarter. The more than 11 percent increase in HR staffing since 2018 underscores leaders’ recognition of HR’s important role in organizational success. HR professionals will be instrumental in guiding employers through an unexpected wave of retiring workers and new regulations such as the independent contractor rule, which could lead to many gig workers being reclassified as employees—though it’s facing opposition and attempts to overturn it.

There’s also a small but significant increase in employers offering comprehensive family leave benefits, demonstrating a deeper commitment to supporting work/life integration.

Below are the trends and news events that marked the first quarter of the year—and will continue to shape the rest of 2024.

1. 8 Tips for Reducing Stress and Conflict in Email

As discussions about politics become increasingly common in the workplace, the potential for misunderstandings and tensions rises. Effective communication is essential for maintaining civility.

People and businesses work best when we choose to practice civility. That’s why SHRM is starting 1 Million Civil Conversations. Together, we can make the world a better place, one conversation at a time.

2. How Many HR Staff Members Do Organizations Really Need?

Recent findings from the ADP Research Institute shed light on the ideal HR-staff-to-employee ratio, plus how the number of HR professionals within an organization directly impacts its operational success and turnover rates.

3. New OSHA Helmet Rule Aims to Improve Worker Safety

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has officially recommended the replacement of traditional hard hats with modern safety helmets for its employees to better shield against head injuries.

4. CDC Issues New COVID-19 Isolation Guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising that individuals with COVID-19 no longer need to isolate if they are fever-free for 24 hours with mild or improving symptoms. This marks a departure from the previous recommendation of a minimum five-day isolation period for those testing positive.

5.  An Unanticipated Retirement Wave Is Happening Right Now in the U.S.

Currently, 2.7 million more employees are opting for retirement than had been forecasted to do so, an 80 percent increase from six months prior. Now, employers are facing the loss of institutional knowledge alongside the need to replace key personnel.

6. House Advances Resolution to Repeal Independent Contractor Rule

On March 21, the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce passed a resolution under the Congressional Review Act to overturn the new independent contractor rule. Workplace leaders have argued the regulation could threaten jobs and economic stability.

7. Biden Proposes National Paid-Leave Program in 2025 Budget

President Joe Biden’s paid-leave program would provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave for a range of family and medical reasons. It also seeks to guarantee seven job-protected paid sick days each year for every worker, among other enhancements.

8. How Employees Withholding Health Info Can Backfire

Following Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s failure to disclose his hospitalization in January, experts emphasized the importance of employees informing their employers about absences due to medical reasons, for both legal protection and job security.

9. March Job Growth Surpasses Expectations

The U.S. economy’s growth by 303,000 jobs, coupled with a slight dip in the unemployment rate to 3.8 percent and contained wage increases, highlights the ongoing strength and resilience of the labor market.


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