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2021 HR Strategy: How the Election Could Impact Business

The 2020 Presidential Election will bring changes. Here is what business leaders need to know:

The information below is based on what information is available at the time of the latest post update. We will continue to research and update this post and others as new information becomes available.

What does the future hold? That’s a question we find ourselves asking all the time, especially this year with the COVID-19 pandemic and the upcoming new administration. Election years always bring about uncertainty for the HR industry, as regulations tend to shift pending the results.

Integrity HR, recently participated in a webinar to discuss these regulation changes as they relate to the upcoming election. If you missed the webinar, you can watch it on-demand. In fact, we highly recommend taking the time to watch, as our founder Amy Letke takes a deep dive into the changes we could see in 2021 post-election.

Here, however, you can read a brief overview of everything Amy discussed and learn more about what you can do as an employer to brace for the changes coming no matter the outcome of the election. Our goal is to provide you with a non-partisan look at what the new administration could mean for our industry and help you plan for changes in 2021.

Background and History

There are changes in our world, and our industry, every year and every election cycle. This year has already seen so much change as we are facing the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s a general look at how elections and new leadership have affected this industry in the past.

When Democrats are leading, we tend to see more government interactions in the form of more laws, expanded laws, and more repeals. There also tends to be more government spending, and more expectations when it comes to OSHA regulations. This means more government departments checking in for compliance.

When Republicans are leading, we tend to see fewer government interactions, with the skinnying down of government departments, less spending (the exception being this year with COVID-19), more power to states and individuals, and less focus on business compliance.

Issues

There are several issues that are always at the forefront of our minds and a few that have more focus this year with the climate of our country. Let’s take a quick look at each one—and remember, if you want a more in-depth look at any of these topics, we encourage you to check out the full webinar!

COVID-19

Of course, we have to discuss COVID-19 first and foremost, as it is one of the things that has garnered the most change this year. The CARES Act is due to expire on December 31, 2020, so we will be looking to see what happens in 2021, as there is a very good chance we will still be dealing with not only the Coronavirus, but also the repercussions of the pandemic well into 2021.

President-Elect Biden wants to continue emergency paid leave and interest-free small business loans for businesses dealing with COVID-19. In general, Biden seems to have a plan for handling COVID-19 and 2021 would see more government spending from his administration.

Anyone creating an HR strategy for 2021 has to be prepared to continue to deal with this pandemic into next year and find ways to help our employees. Our team of HR professionals has put together a number of resources related to COVID-19 to help your team work through the challenges of the pandemic.

Job Creation

We are starting to see jobs come back and less unemployment, but what does upcoming job creation look like? One thing both parties agree on is more jobs in the United States.

President-Elect Biden on the other hand is stressing preventing layoffs. He wants additional government spending to go toward unemployment and specific funds set aside to help prevent state-level layoffs. His idea is to do what it takes and spend what it takes to create more jobs in the U.S., including more tax credits and incentives for businesses that create more U.S. jobs and penalties for those that choose to offshore.

Wage and Hour

A higher federal minimum wage has been in the talks for several years now and there is potential for change with either administration. President-Elect Biden supports an increase to a $15.00 federal minimum wage by 2026 and an end to the tip minimum wage.

With this in mind, it is important to have open communication with your employees about minimum wage changes, as it is likely they will come asking. An increased minimum wage could have a significant impact on both employers and employees and it is important to communicate any changes.

Labor Relations

During the pandemic, we have seen an increased opportunity for union organization. More labor unions are also going after employers who have not handled the pandemic well and have employees who are afraid.

President-Elect Biden is for the PRO Act, which would strengthen organizing capabilities and reform labor laws, but give unions less opportunity.

With changes to labor relations and unions, it’s important to have open communication with your employees and your company management. You need to establish whether you are pro-union or pro-employer and communicate appropriately.

Leave of Absences

There has been some confusion for small businesses in regards to leave of absences during the time of the pandemic. Now is the time to review your employee handbook and update your leave of absence policies. Any information regarding COVID-19 should be thorough and communicated to your employees.

President-Elect Biden favors 12 weeks paid leave and the Democratic parts also has other options for more time away.

Safety

This year has seen a lot of unexpected changes in regard to workplace health and safety, with new regulations on mask-wearing and workstation sanitizing. OSHA has yet to release concrete regulations on workplace COVID-19 safety, and our presidential candidates have differing views on the matter.

President Trump considers COVID-19 safety to fall under OSHA’s general duty clause that says employers have a duty to maintain safe and healthy workplaces for their employees. This is a very broad application of safety and includes no specific COVID-19 regulations.

President-Elect Biden, on the other hand, favors an emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 safety that would include more regulations from OSHA and citations for violations.

Either way, maintaining the health and safety of your employees should be a top priority for employees through the rest of 2020 and be incorporated (if not already) into your 2021 HR strategy.

Health Care

Health care is something we have been discussing for years and it is no secret that there are very different views on the matter. President-Elect Biden wants to strengthen and protect the Affordable Care Act, but what that means for employers is still not clear. Biden is not fully in support of Medicare for everyone and more information will be released as the weeks go on. This is something we will have to watch closely in the coming months and be ready for whatever changes await us in 2021.

Joint Employment

Independent contractors is an interesting topic and something else we will have to keep an eye on. There may be changes with either candidate, with Republicans supporting fewer restrictions on independent contractors and Democrats supporting more aggressive enforcement and stopping independent contractor misclassification.

Workplace Diversity

Workplace diversity is at the forefront of a lot of minds today and it is clear that the best course of action for employers is to get ahead of the issue and voluntarily address diversity and inclusion initiatives. Talk and listen to leadership within your company and start including diversity in your day-to-day training. Our HR professionals have a number of resources to help you get started here. 

President-Elect Biden wants to see not just more equality in the workplace, but more transparency when it comes to diversity. He wants to provide more accountability for employers by having them publish their workplace diversity metrics, their disabilities accommodations, and their diversity goals.

Regardless of the election, workplace diversity is something to be mindful of, as we want to promote equality and help all our employees advance in their careers. Let us know if we can help incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives into your 2021 HR strategy.

9 Steps to Take Now

As we look to 2021, we know change is coming, but we want to take action now to increase our competitive edge in the coming year. It all comes down to bracing for the change. Communicating effectively with your employees will continue to be a key element of success in your company.

To help prepare for changes coming in 2021, here are nine things to keep in mind right now:

  1. Step up your COVID-19 preparedness for 2021.
  2. Be mindful of the impact of minimum wage increases.
  3. Establish good and frequent communications with your employees to address increased labor organizing.
  4. Evaluate your employee handbook and leave of absence policies.
  5. Be prepared for health care changes.
  6. Reevaluate independent contractor status.
  7. Voluntarily address diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
  8. Great HR is needed now more than ever.
  9. Understand what “Employees Experience.”

Takeaways

We can’t say with any certainty what will happen in the coming months, but we can make some predictions. In a Biden administration, we could see more employee-friendly government mandates, possibly more government requirements for employers, and potentially more repeals.

No matter what happens, change is inevitable and we need to be ready to:

  • Communicate with employees
  • Manage COVID-19 in the workplace
  • Ensure workplace safety
  • Manage school and childcare changes
  • Address COVID-related mandates

We also need to manage our mindset. Times of change and stress affect everyone. As employers, we need to offer programs that support these changes and promote self-care, for ourselves and our employees.

As we stated earlier, great HR is needed now more than ever. We need to get out in front of the changes coming our way and have plans in place to help our companies and our employees. Effective communication is essential when it comes to COVID-19 expectations and any other changes we might see post-election. A great HR team can help sort through the issues, manage change, and create a positive work environment for everyone involved.

Again, for a more in depth look into all of these topics, watch the webinar here. Feel free to reach out with any questions or to have a conversation about what you can do for your company post-election as we get into 2021.

Stay connected for more information as change keeps coming your way by subscribing to our email list for monthly updates.

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Integrity HR's human resources blog is filled with expert advice (and sassy commentary) on those everyday employment issues that give business owners and managers HR headaches. From tips on how to retain key employees to how to write your dress code policy, our blog has all the HR resources you need.

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