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Get Ahead of the Curve Before It’s Too Late

This week’s blog post is brought to you by Optis’ National Sales Representative, Scott Lenox.

“The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” - Socrates

Routine is comfortable. It’s something that is humanly planted deep within our beings that the majority of us strive to create and to achieve. It’s the building of a process around our actions. It’s perceived as a safe harbor. Routine can be productive or unproductive. It can be a difficult workout every day, a simple disciplined meditation or a particular route to work and back. In a world where nothing is perfect or finite, there are daily interruptions, large and small, that can throw off our routine. Your coffee shop being fresh out of your favorite drink, a fender bender on your way to work with cars creeping by on the shoulder, a complete change of direction with a project at work, or maybe your email is down today so you stumbled upon this blog, just to name a few. What about the snow Boston has been receiving over the past 3 weeks? Talk about a change in routine for millions of people! For most, our immediate reaction to a change in routine is that of a negative one. It can cause stress and fear. What do you mean I have to order a different drink this morning? I know what I like! However, a change in routine or process has the possibility to open up a whole new world that could benefit you and those around you for the better. Each new routine had to start with a catalyst whether it was by force, by choice, or just by pure circumstance. We may have fought it, but we eventually embraced it, and now it is part of our new routine. Why? Because we all have the power to adapt.

The employment landscape across our nation is rapidly changing. Paid sick leave officially passed in Philadelphia as of last week, bringing the total number to 16 cities and 3 states to pass a similar law within the past 7 years. There is a push for the Federal government to pass an all-encompassing paid sick leave legislation for all 50 states. The minimum wage war and fight for equality in the work place are ongoing battles picking up more steam and media coverage month after month. Businesses across America are being pulled into the limelight whether they want to be or not. Some by their own mismanaged practices and wrongdoing around employment matters. Just like with any change, these businesses are going to have to adapt. For some, the change will be a conscious decision, and for others, it may be a forced one. Being prepared for an upcoming change and putting some resources in place for when the change occurs, can alleviate some of the challenges we feel while adapting to the change. An HR or Benefits department that has been tracking employee data on excel spreadsheets for years may be experiencing a change with the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations taking place. An HR or Benefits department that has been tracking accommodations for employees on paper forms may have to undergo some additional change in the near future. An organization that doesn’t fully know how many people they may have out on a given day or for what reason, should search for change and evaluate its management practices and workflow around employee absence.

As an organization, it is naïve to believe that legislative changes won’t have an impact on your business. The best action you can take is to start having internal discussions regarding possible legislation before it takes effect so that you are prepared. On 2/4/15 the EEOC released its “Fiscal Year 2014 Enforcement and Litigation Data.” The data displays that nearly 89,000 charges of workplace discrimination were received in their fiscal year 2014 which ran from Oct. 1, 2013 through Sept. 30, 2014. The charges include retaliation, race, sex, disability discrimination, and others. A quote from the release includes, "Behind these numbers are individuals who turned to the EEOC because they believe that they have suffered unlawful discrimination," said EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang. "The EEOC remains committed to meaningful resolution of charges and strategic enforcement to eliminate barriers to equal employment opportunity."

Change can be difficult. It never seems to happen at the right time. However, interruptions in our routines are what make change possible and keep everyone moving forward. If your organization isn’t discussing the changes around employment that are occurring around our nation, then now is the time. It is time to start discussing what resources and expertise are available and can help you mitigate these potential risks and challenges so that you are prepared before it may be too late.

Stay up to date on recent legislation and employment law during the Blogging4Jobs webinar on February 26, “The Triple Threat: FMLA, Workers’ Compensation & Workplace Disability.” This webinar if free to attend and sponsored by Optis. Register here.

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