HR Policy Members,
Happy New Year! We at HR Policy hope you were able to find some rest during the holidays—and time to reflect—ahead of what is sure to be yet another pivotal year. As we head into 2022, HR strategy and public policy are more closely linked than ever before. Omicron dominates near-term safety, staffing, wellbeing, and return to work issues around the globe. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the legality of the OSHA and healthcare vaccine mandates. Government agencies are positioned to release long-expected policy changes impactful to members. Later this year, the November midterm elections will escalate tensions in the U.S. that are likely to spill over into the workplace raising issues such as employee voice and differing expectations of corporations by both political parties and other stakeholders
Meanwhile, talent strategy is the top issue for employers heading into 2022. The most recent data speaks for itself—there were 1.5 job openings for every unemployed American in November. Further, the U.S. was on pace for 46 million resignations in 2021—roughly a quarter of the workforce.
Ultimately, the pivotal question is: how will CHROs and their teams set HR strategies amid the uncertainties of the pandemic, the potential for significant public policy changes, and a growing need for both employees and companies to be heard and understood?
In 2022, employers will focus on longer term strategies for how to engage, retain and develop talent in the post-pandemic (or ongoing endemic) world. Our Evolving Workplace Project is planning a series of discussions to answer key questions from members ranging from how to manage an integrated physical and digital workplace to the opportunities and challenges presented by AI-enabled talent solutions. Our February HR Innovations Conference (a.k.a. the West Coast Regional Meeting) will focus on these developments and technologies for CHROs.
Regulatory and stakeholder campaigns will spotlight employer action and disclosure in recruiting, developing, and retaining underrepresented employees—a top member priority. The Association’s Council on Inclusion and Diversity has conducted over 25 member interviews that will culminate in a best practices playbook. Along with our Center On Executive Compensation, the Council has developed a guide to diversity disclosures and tying diversity to pay. The Council’s work highlights how employers are focused on sustainable inclusion and diversity gains for underrepresented workers. The SEC is expected to scrutinize these efforts through mandating greater disclosure of diversity data as part of a broader rule on ESG disclosures. We expect to have a substantial voice on these issues, with the Center leading our advocacy initiatives.
The SEC’s 2022 agenda, however, is broader than ESG. The Center will solicit member feedback on many new proposals and ensure members are fully aware of the impact of final rules. Meeting a holiday deadline, on December 27 the Center filed comments opposing the Commission’s proposal to roll back elements of the 2020 proxy advisory firm rules and earlier in December offered qualified support for its Dodd-Frank clawback rules. The Center will also file comments on proposed restrictions on executive stock trading (10b5-1) plans, while anticipating rules on human capital metrics and outstanding Dodd-Frank pay for performance disclosure.
From elsewhere in the Biden administration, we will see wide-scale labor and employment regulation propagated by regulatory agencies with newly established Democratic majorities and key policy roles filled. For example, the NLRB’s activist general counsel is focused on facilitating union organizing using approaches most sitting CHROs have never had to face, while the Labor Department will expand overtime-eligible worker definitions. Finally, the Biden administration’s expected Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment report will recommend the President take executive action to further expand union organizing. Through the collaboration of our Future Workplace Policy Council and the Evolving Workplace Initiative, the Association will weigh in on these areas.
The prospects for legislation being enacted this year are low, but that does not mean that Congress will be inactive. The midterm elections will produce a slew of “messaging bills” from both parties to attract votes. This gives the Association an opportunity to discuss its perspective and shape legislation that could pay dividends in a later Congress. Potential issues in play include paid leave, pay equity, independent contractors, labor law reform, arbitration and privacy. Meanwhile, our American Health Policy Institute is working with the Senate Finance Committee toward bipartisan policy changes that will make a difference in public health and wellbeing, including integrating behavioral health into primary care settings and improving access to in-network behavioral health specialists.
Internationally, employers continue to monitor changing government mandates regarding COVID-19 vaccination and testing. China and Mexico are focal points, yet new hotspots are certain to emerge. In addition, we will see increased focus on supply chain due diligence with respect to forced labor and environmental reporting.
More than ever, it is important that companies, and the associations that represent them, educate policymakers about the role corporations play and how that shapes their policy and advocacy positions. This year will be pivotal in terms of how employment policy and HR strategy interact. Our work at the Association will support these efforts, and our success will only be heightened by your engagement as we chart the course ahead.
Please see the links below for in-depth analysis on these issues by the HR Policy team.
By Gregory Hoff
By Shelly Carlin
By Ani Huang
By Andrew Maletz
By Gregory Hoff
By Daniel Chasen
By Margaret Faso
By Chatrane Birbal
By Daniel Chasen
By Wenchao Dong