April 2018 Prosperity at Work E-Tip

Economics & Job Creation:

“THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — March 2018”

Life Sciences:
“Here’s How Businesses Are Fighting to Hold onto Their Best Talent”

Technology:
“Engineers turn plastic insulator into heat conductor”

Healthcare:
“How live vaccines enhance the body’s immune response”

The Industrials:
“Top 5 HR Trends to Watch”

Human Capital Solutions, Inc. (HCS) www.humancs.com is a Retained Executive Search and Professional Recruiting firm focused in Healthcare, Life Sciences, the Industrials, and Technology. Visit our LinkedIn Company Page to learn more about HCS and receive weekly updates.

HCS has created the Prosperity at Work proposition which focuses on creating prosperous relationships between companies and their employees (associates). HCS assists companies in improving bottom line profitability by efficiently planning, organizing and implementing optimized, practical and value-added business solutions.


 

Economics & Job Creation:

 

THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — MARCH 2018

Total nonfarm payroll employment edged up by 103,000 in March, and the unemployment
rate was unchanged at 4.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported
today. Employment increased in manufacturing, health care, and mining.

Household Survey Data

In March, the unemployment rate was 4.1 percent for the sixth consecutive month,
and the number of unemployed persons, at 6.6 million, changed little. (See table
A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.7 percent),
adult women (3.7 percent), teenagers (13.5 percent), Whites (3.6 percent), Blacks
(6.9 percent), Asians (3.1 percent), and Hispanics (5.1 percent) showed little or
no change in March. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

At 1.3 million, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or
more) was little changed in March and accounted for 20.3 percent of the unemployed.
Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed was down by 338,000. (See table
A-12.)

The labor force participation rate, at 62.9 percent, changed little in March, and
the employment-population ratio held at 60.4 percent. (See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred
to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed at 5.0 million in March.
These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part
time because their hours had been reduced or because they were unable to find full-
time jobs. (See table A-8.)

In March, 1.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, little
different from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These
individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and
had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as
unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.
(See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 450,000 discouraged workers in March,
essentially unchanged from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.)
Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe
no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.0 million persons marginally attached
to the labor force in March had not searched for work for reasons such as school
attendance or family responsibilities. (See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment edged up by 103,000 in March, following a large
gain in February (+326,000). In March, employment grew in manufacturing, health
care, and mining. (See table B-1.)

In March, employment in manufacturing rose by 22,000, with all of the gain in the
durable goods component. Employment in fabricated metal products increased over
the month (+9,000). Over the year, manufacturing has added 232,000 jobs; the durable
goods component accounted for about three-fourths of the jobs added.

In March, health care added 22,000 jobs, about in line with its average monthly
gain over the prior 12 months. Employment continued to trend up over the month in
ambulatory health care services (+16,000) and hospitals (+10,000).

Employment in mining increased by 9,000 in March, with gains occurring in support
activities for mining (+6,000) and in oil and gas extraction (+2,000). Mining
employment has risen by 78,000 since a recent low in October 2016.

Employment in professional and business services continued to trend up in March
(+33,000) and has risen by 502,000 over the year.

Retail trade employment changed little in March (-4,000), after increasing by
47,000 in February. In March, employment declined by 13,000 in general merchandise
stores, offsetting a gain of the same size in February. Over the year, employment
in retail trade has shown little net change.

In March, employment in construction also changed little (-15,000), following a
large gain in February (+65,000).

Employment changed little over the month in other major industries, including
wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities,
leisure and hospitality, and government.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged
at 34.5 hours in March. In manufacturing, the workweek edged down by 0.1 hour to
40.9 hours; overtime edged down by 0.1 hour to 3.6 hours. The average workweek for
production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by
0.1 hour to 33.7 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

In March, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls
rose by 8 cents to $26.82. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased
by 71 cents, or 2.7 percent. Average hourly earnings for private-sector production
and nonsupervisory employees increased by 4 cents to $22.42 in March. (See tables
B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for January was revised down from
+239,000 to +176,000, and the change for February was revised up from +313,000 to
+326,000. With these revisions, employment gains in January and February combined
were 50,000 less than previously reported. (Monthly revisions result from additional
reports received from businesses and government agencies since the last published
estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors.) After revisions, job gains
have averaged 202,000 over the last 3 months.

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

 

Life Sciences:

“Here’s How Businesses Are Fighting to Hold onto Their Best Talent”

Soft skills are the top priority for talent development leaders, according to a new study by LinkedIn Learning, the “2018 Workplace Learning Report,” which offers a holistic overview of learning in today’s workplace.

“In the age of automation, adaptability rules,” said the report. “While maintaining technical fluency will be important, demand for soft skills will continue to accelerate. Industry experts and organizational partners agree that this should be the top focus for talent development in 2018.”

“Maintaining technical fluency across roles will be critical, but the pace of change is fueling demand for adaptable, critical thinkers, communicators, and leaders,” said the report. “As technology accelerates, soft skills are in high demand to fuel people and business growth.”

An Extensive Survey

LinkedIn Learning’s email survey involved nearly 4,000 professionals from around the world, including 1,200 learning and development or HR professionals who either influence or are decision makers for their companies’ leadership & development budgets, 400 people managers, 200 executives and 2,200 learners from North America, Europe and Asia. The respondents were LinkedIn members who were selected based on information in their LinkedIn profile.

Leadership was among the most important skill for employees to learn from L&D programs, said 74 percent of the talent developers surveyed, 66 percent of the people managers and 65 percent of executives. Communication skills were cited by 66 percent of the talent developers and people managers, and 64 percent of executives. Collaboration, meanwhile, rated highly with 50 percent of the talent developers and people managers and 55 percent of the executives.

In addition to soft skills, LinkedIn Learning said that it is critical for businesses to balance today’s challenges with future opportunities. “As the shelf life of skills shrinks, business leaders worry that talent developers are focused on training for today’s skill demands, at the expense of preventing tomorrow’s skill gaps,” said the study.

Top Areas of Focus

“Our research shows that in 2018, talent developers are prioritizing the employee development needs of today. Yet, executives and people managers say that talent development leaders should prioritize identifying the skills that will be most important to build for the future. Savvy talent development leaders will find balance in their efforts to support the employees of today and tomorrow.”

Among the top areas of focus for L&D, according to the talent developers and people managers surveyed are: how to train for soft skills, identifying trends to prevent future skills gaps, understanding the impact of technology, consistent global training, deliver insights on internal skills gaps, how to track skill development and how to access skill competencies.

Another trend to watch, according to LinkedIn Learning, is digital’s role in the transformation of talent development. “Talent developers are depending more on online learning solutions to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse, multi-generational workforce—and there’s no turning back,” said the report.

Learning Preferences

Fifty-eight percent of the employees surveyed said they prefer opportunities to learn at their own pace, while 49 percent said they prefer to learn at the point of need, said the report.

“Talent developers know that they need to rely on digital learning solutions to cater to varied learning needs,” said the study. “A recent ATD report found that almost 90 percent of companies offer digital learning today. Our survey shows that talent developers depend more on online learning solutions than ever before—not only to deliver content, but to measure learning success.”

Across the board, every group involved in the survey pointed to “getting employees to make time for learning” as the No.1 challenge for talent development. Ninety-four percent of employees, however, said that would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development.

Reducing the Friction

“If employees can’t find the time to learn, reduce the friction,” said the report. “Meet them on platforms they are already using with messages that align to their on-the-job needs and professional aspirations.”

“The modern organization needs to meet learners where they already are – aligning development opportunities with employee aspirations, and engaging them through the platforms where they are already spending their time.”

Manager involvement, meanwhile, is a critical component to increasing employee engagement with learning, said the report. Fifty-six percent of employees surveyed said that they would devote more time to learning if their manager directed them to complete a specific course in order to gain or improve their skills.

Involve Managers

Talent developers, in fact, said “increased manager involvement” was their second biggest challenge. “Getting managers more involved in employee learning is not the only way to see increased learner engagement, but data shows it will likely make an impact,” said the report.

Although organizations feel developing soft skills is vital, talent developers must also not ignore the need for hard skills as companies develop their talent and technical capabilities, said LinkedIn Learning.

Using data from more than 500 million LinkedIn members, the report identified the skills that companies were working hardest to fill and their related roles. The top five were: cloud and distributed computing (platform engineer, cloud architect), statistical analysis and data mining (business analyst, data analyst, statistician), middleware and integration software (IT manager, systems integration engineer), web architecture and development framework (web developer, full stack web developer), and user interface design (UX designer, web developer, UI designer).

It is also essential, said the report, for talent developers to look beyond near-term needs and balance them with strategic workforce planning. “There is only so much we can do in one year,” said LinkedIn Learning. “And while training for soft skills is and should be a top priority for talent development this year, talent development professionals should also take the initiative to prepare employees for the fast-approaching future.”

Strategic Planning

“Industry experts and organizational partners call on talent developers to focus on strategic workforce planning—to turn outward to skills trends to inform their decisions on internal strategy,” said LinkedIn Learning. “Talent developers should look to external partners and technology solutions to help them identify these trends and implement programs to proactively address skill gaps.”

LinkedIn Learning is an online learning platform designed to meet the needs of modern learners and the demands of modern business. It combines Lynda.com’s library of real world expert-led courses with the data and insights fueled by the LinkedIn network of 530 million professional to help employees engage, learn and succeed within their organizations.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

https://huntscanlon.com/heres-businesses-fighting-hold-onto-best-talent

Technology:

“Engineers turn plastic insulator into heat conductor”

Plastics are excellent insulators, meaning they can efficiently trap heat — a quality that can be an advantage in something like a coffee cup sleeve. But this insulating property is less desirable in products such as plastic casings for laptops and mobile phones, which can overheat, in part because the coverings trap the heat that the devices produce.

Now a team of engineers at MIT has developed a polymer thermal conductor — a plastic material that, however counterintuitively, works as a heat conductor, dissipating heat rather than insulating it. The new polymers, which are lightweight and flexible, can conduct 10 times as much heat as most commercially used polymers.

“Traditional polymers are both electrically and thermally insulating. The discovery and development of electrically conductive polymers has led to novel electronic applications such as flexible displays and wearable biosensors,” says Yanfei Xu, a postdoc in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. “Our polymer can thermally conduct and remove heat much more efficiently. We believe polymers could be made into next-generation heat conductors for advanced thermal management applications, such as a self-cooling alternative to existing electronics casings.”

Xu and a team of postdocs, graduate students, and faculty, have published their results today in Science Advances. The team includes Xiaoxue Wang, who contributed equally to the research with Xu, along with Jiawei Zhou, Bai Song, Elizabeth Lee, and Samuel Huberman; Zhang Jiang, physicist at Argonne National Laboratory; Karen Gleason, associate provost of MIT and the Alexander I. Michael Kasser Professor of Chemical Engineering; and Gang Chen, head of MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Carl Richard Soderberg Professor of Power Engineering.

Stretching spaghetti

If you were to zoom in on the microstructure of an average polymer, it wouldn’t be difficult to see why the material traps heat so easily. At the microscopic level, polymers are made from long chains of monomers, or molecular units, linked end to end. These chains are often tangled in a spaghetti-like ball. Heat carriers have a hard time moving through this disorderly mess and tend to get trapped within the polymeric snarls and knots.

And yet, researchers have attempted to turn these natural thermal insulators into conductors. For electronics, polymers would offer a unique combination of properties, as they are lightweight, flexible, and chemically inert. Polymers are also electrically insulating, meaning they do not conduct electricity, and can therefore be used to prevent devices such as laptops and mobile phones from short-circuiting in their users’ hands.

Several groups have engineered polymer conductors in recent years, including Chen’s group, which in 2010 invented a method to create “ultradrawn nanofibers” from a standard sample of polyethylene. The technique stretched the messy, disordered polymers into ultrathin, ordered chains — much like untangling a string of holiday lights. Chen found that the resulting chains enabled heat to skip easily along and through the material, and that the polymer conducted 300 times as much heat compared with ordinary plastics.

But the insulator-turned-conductor could only dissipate heat in one direction, along the length of each polymer chain. Heat couldn’t travel between polymer chains, due to weak Van der Waals forces — a phenomenon that essentially attracts two or more molecules close to each other. Xu wondered whether a polymer material could be made to scatter heat away, in all directions.

Xu conceived of the current study as an attempt to engineer polymers with high thermal conductivity, by simultaneously engineering intramolecular and intermolecular forces — a method that she hoped would enable efficient heat transport along and between polymer chains.

The team ultimately produced a heat-conducting polymer known as polythiophene, a type of conjugated polymer that is commonly used in many electronic devices.

Hints of heat in all directions

Xu, Chen, and members of Chen’s lab teamed up with Gleason and her lab members to develop a new way to engineer a polymer conductor using oxidative chemical vapor deposition (oCVD), whereby two vapors are directed into a chamber and onto a substrate, where they interact and form a film. “Our reaction was able to create rigid chains of polymers, rather than the twisted, spaghetti-like strands in normal polymers.” Xu says.

In this case, Wang flowed the oxidant into a chamber, along with a vapor of monomers — individual molecular units that, when oxidized, form into the chains known as polymers.

“We grew the polymers on silicon/glass substrates, onto which the oxidant and monomers are adsorbed and reacted, leveraging the unique self-templated growth mechanism of CVD technology,” Wang says.

Wang produced relatively large-scale samples, each measuring 2 square centimeters — about the size of a thumbprint.

“Because this sample is used so ubiquitously, as in solar cells, organic field-effect transistors, and organic light-emitting diodes, if this material can be made to be thermally conductive, it can dissipate heat in all organic electronics,” Xu says.

The team measured each sample’s thermal conductivity using time-domain thermal reflectance — a technique in which they shoot a laser onto the material to heat up its surface and then monitor the drop in its surface temperature by measuring the material’s reflectance as the heat spreads into the material.

“The temporal profile of the decay of surface temperature is related to the speed of heat spreading, from which we were able to compute the thermal conductivity,” Zhou says.

On average, the polymer samples were able to conduct heat at about 2 watts per meter per kelvin — about 10 times faster than what conventional polymers can achieve. At Argonne National Laboratory, Jiang and Xu found that polymer samples appeared nearly isotropic, or uniform. This suggests that the material’s properties, such as its thermal conductivity, should also be nearly uniform. Following this reasoning, the team predicted that the material should conduct heat equally well in all directions, increasing its heat-dissipating potential.

Going forward, the team will continue exploring the fundamental physics behind polymer conductivity, as well as ways to enable the material to be used in electronics and other products, such as casings for batteries, and films for printed circuit boards.

“We can directly and conformally coat this material onto silicon wafers and different electronic devices” Xu says. “If we can understand how thermal transport [works] in these disordered structures, maybe we can also push for higher thermal conductivity. Then we can help to resolve this widespread overheating problem, and provide better thermal management.”

This research was supported, in part, by the U.S. Department of Energy — Basic Energy Sciences and the MIT Deshpande Center.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180330145340.htm

 

Healthcare:

“How live vaccines enhance the body’s immune response”

Researchers from Charité — Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin’s university hospital, have discovered a new mechanism by which live vaccines induce immunity. Molecules produced exclusively by live microorganisms are recognized by specialized receptors of the immune system, subsequently triggering a protective immune response. The new findings may help improve the safety and efficacy of vaccines. Results from this study have been published in the journal Nature Immunology.

Vaccines exploit the immune system’s ability to ‘memorize’ encounters with previously unknown microbes. Once ‘educated’ in such a way by vaccination, the immune system is much more swift and effective in fighting off future infections by the same pathogen. Live attenuated vaccines have been successfully used since 1798, yet little is known about what makes them so effective and their inherent superiority over inanimate vaccines. Together with several collaborators, Prof. Leif Erik Sander and his team at Charité’s Department of Infectious Diseases and Pulmonary Medicine set out to dissect the underlying mechanisms of this phenomenon.

The immune system is charged with detecting microbial invaders, which are ingested by specialized immune cells, and broken down inside specialized organelles. In contrast to inactivated (killed) vaccines, live vaccines contain metabolically active microbes, which produce a wide range of different molecules. Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is one of the molecules produced by live microorganisms, which essentially marks them as viable. During the process of digestion, the RNA of a pathogen or a live vaccine is bound by a specific type of immune receptor known as Toll-like receptor 8 (TLR8). Binding of RNA to TLR8 triggers an immunological chain reaction eventually culminating in a robust antibody response. TLR8 induced signals call into action a specialized type of immune cell known as follicular helper cells. These helper cells critically support the immune system’s B cells and help them to mature into so called plasma cells, which are cellular factories for antibody production. These new findings will enable researchers to use targeted vaccine adjuvants to activate follicular helper cells and thus antibody responses. Adjuvants are often added to vaccines to increase the body’s immune response, however, current adjuvant formulations are often non-specific in their action.

In their study, Prof. Sander and his team compared immune responses mounted against live and killed bacteria, using cell culture systems with human immune cells. The researchers found that live bacteria elicited slightly altered immune responses within the innate immune system. While the changes were moderate, they had striking effects on the ‘adaptive’ (acquired) arm of the immune response, which is responsible for the production of antibodies and for long-term protection following vaccination. Moreover, the scientists also found that patients carrying an activating TLR8 gene variant responded better to a live vaccine against tuberculosis, which resulted in improved protection against disease. These results suggest that TLR8 acts as a key switch for protective immune responses.

“Our immune system responds differently to killed and live vaccines. This is caused by the detection of RNA within live microorganisms via TLR8, which in turn triggers protective immune responses” explains Leif Erik Sander, the study’s principal investigator. Given the drastic increase in the rates of antibiotic resistance both in veterinary and human medicine, new vaccines against dangerous, resistant bacteria are urgently needed. “These results may enable us to develop new vaccines that will combine the safety of modern subunit vaccines with the high efficacy of live vaccines.” The researchers are currently dissecting the immune responses to the measles vaccine virus, and they are working with the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces to develop new vaccines against pneumonia.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180307161400.htm

 

The Industrials:

“Top 5 HR Trends to Watch”

HR experts are now wearing multiple hats to help their employers adapt to a quickly changing workforce environment. The days when HR professionals were viewed as administrative paper pushers are finally gone, said Genevieve Douglas of Bloomberg Law.

As a profession, human resources is undergoing a profound shift. Once solely focused on how to manage people as disposable resources, the human era is energizing HR leaders to be the culture keepers of their organizations, said Ms. Douglas. Every aspect of a company’s culture – from how employees are recognized and developed to how life events are celebrated – is being reimagined to drive greater business impact and bring more humanity to everyone’s experience at work.

That said, HR executives are on the forefront of so many key areas within their organizations that it is critical that they stay up to date on trends in the workplace. In Bloomberg Law’s recent Human Resources Report, Ms. Douglas presented five trends that HR professionals will likely be watching for this year:

1. The Gig Economy and Flex Work

There will be a growing demand for “gig work” and “next gen work” in 2018, said Nicole Francis, director for the Center of Recruiting Excellence at Manpower U.S. “The labor workforce is almost at full capacity, and companies are experiencing huge talent shortages,” she said. “Attracting the right workforce now means offering part-time, gig, contract or flex work to attract the right talent. It’s not the traditional nine to five for everybody anymore.”

Approximately 8.4 percent of U.S. workers participate in independent contractor work as their primary job, a 22 percent increase over the last decade, and a larger fraction, 30 percent, participate in independent work as a primary or secondary activity, according to a study of Uber drivers from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

“Employers are looking at remote work as more of a business strategy and less of a perk,” Brie Reynolds, senior career specialist at FlexJobs, told Bloomberg Law. At the same time, employees are proving they are capable of working remotely by being productive and effective outside of the office, she said.

But working remotely, or in the gig economy, or in a flexible arrangement isn’t yet something that’s available to organizations throughout the country, said Bloomberg. “In urban and suburban areas, the technology component of remote work has made it,” said Ms. Reynolds. People in those areas can find what they’re looking for and work remotely successfully, and technology is fully able to support their work, she said. In more rural areas, however, big chunks of the populace might lack access to high speed internet, or are limited in providers and pricing.

Companies in Colorado, Kentucky and Minnesota, for example, are working with local governments and agencies to bring this technology into the community, and those efforts will likely increase in this year, Ms. Reynolds said. “Remote work in those areas can mean a difference between an economy that can support people and an area that continues to lose out on top workers who seek employment in other areas of the country,” she said.

2. Millennial Technology

The Bloomberg Law report said that this year will also likely usher in a new age of communication for workers, recruiters, and businesses alike. Younger generations of workers are bringing a style of communication to the workplace that makes it “quick and instant,” Elaine Varelas, managing partner of career management firm Keystone Partners, told Bloomberg Law. “Very few people are using laptops as their primary technology tool to communicate with others, instead using video conferencing, texting, instant messaging, or other social media platforms,” she said.

“Less traditional styles of communication will also be expected by potential job candidates,” Ms. Francis said. “The way we recruit new talent is also going to continue to evolve in 2018.”

“Companies should also be thinking creatively about how they can expand their reach and talent pools to better access talent,” Ms. Francis said. This is especially necessary for finding diverse groups of workers that may not typically have access to certain jobs or industries.

Another Millennial technology transforming the workplace is the advent of Big Data and the ability to measure HR functions. “Data analytics gives HR a way to measure employee engagement, productivity, corporate culture, retention and streamline an organization’s practices,” said Ms. Varelas. “It is going to inform everything, and all generations of employees will need to be ready for how it can affect their work.”

3. Workforce Skills Gaps

The introduction of new technology to the workplace means employers will look for and need new skill-sets in the next year. “Industries like construction and manufacturing, for example, will be looking for highly skilled individuals to take on new roles in the digital world,” Ms. Francis said. “It’s touching every industry and it’s going to continue to increase, and at the same time the talent pool is getting smaller as the labor market tightens.”

Employers will need to invest in training and development programs that can “upskill” workers to take full advantage of the digital world of 2018, Ms. Francis said. In fact, twice as many companies in the last year are looking at how to find these new skills in current employment populations than in years past, according to research from ManpowerGroup.

4. Local Laws and Compliance

States and localities are increasingly taking the initiative in areas that the federal government has yet to consider, creating a complex web of laws with which businesses must comply, according to the Bloomberg Law report.

The slew of new employment laws on the local level will be a big challenge for employers, Mr. Drogin said, because “they haven’t been thought through or battle tested.” In states like California and Massachusetts, and cities like Philadelphia and New York, employers will have to keep track of changing requirements when it comes to background checks, pay history inquiries and decriminalized marijuana statutes.

“When these laws go live, there will be many compliance challenges because there’s no history to know how these administrative agencies are going to be applying the laws. Lawyers and companies aren’t exactly clear on what compliance looks like for bans on criminal history, salary history, etc.,” said Mr. Drogin.

Additionally, many employers may not have the needed resources to review on a regular basis hiring applications and other documentation used by HR because the standard forms may ask questions that are now illegal, Mr. Drogin said.

5. Sexual Harassment

Attorneys anticipate an increase in sexual harassment and discrimination claims and lawsuits in 2018, largely as a result of the public scandals that have erupted in Hollywood, news media outlets and on Capitol Hill. “There is a cause and effect between the sexual harassment public scandals and public dialogue, and workplace lawsuits filed,” Gerald Maatman, a partner at Seyfarth Shaw in Chicago, told Bloomberg Law.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 12,146 charges of sexual harassment in 2014, according to the agency’s data. That number grew to 12,573 in 2015 and 12,860 in 2016.

There will be a “laser focus” from leadership and HR on sexual harassment and discrimination, Laurent Drogin, partner and head of Tarter, Krinsky & Drogin’s labor and employment practice, told Bloomberg Law. “We are seeing a much more heightened awareness and a lower tolerance for any sort of behavior that is going to put a company in harm’s way.”

Mr. Drogin said that organizations should anticipate the problem by making clear that such conduct will not be tolerated. The bigger challenge, meanwhile, will be in addressing claims and instances of alleged harassment or discrimination that do arise. “First and foremost, HR departments will need to be equipped to train personnel on avoiding violations of policies that prohibit discrimination or harassment,” said Mr. Maatman. “More importantly, they will need to be able to respond to internal complaints, resolve them, and create workplace due process for these individuals.”

“Stopping the claims before they start is still the best defense” to a class action or lawsuit, he said.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

https://huntscanlon.com/top-5-hr-trends-to-watch

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