The results are in—and they’ve created a domino effect.
Littler Mendelson surveyed 1,111 employers to examine how new governmental regulations and social factors have affected employers in the past year. But it’s as much a reflection as it is a prediction for what is in store, leading some companies to take action.
Richard Rahm, a shareholder in Littler Mendelson’s San Francisco office, said trucking companies can use the survey results to target areas of improvement within their own respective businesses.
The first—and biggest—issue Rahm pointed out is the growing concern around patchwork state laws. According to the survey, a staggering 75% of employers said their companies find it difficult to comply with the “patchwork of state and local labor and employment requirements.”
Rahm went so far as to call it the top one or two priority for interstate fleet business. He used California as an example. A company based in another region that drives across state lines must observe the California laws, he stated, but the length of time in the state makes a difference. And if a driver passes through several states in one haul, they are potentially passing through very different ordinances. Awareness of this and circumstances that require compliance are important, Rahm said.
The seventh Littler Annual Employment Survey echoed Rahm’s concerns.
And while some topics may not be new to companies, Rahm noted, “other answers and other areas give clues as to what might be on the horizon or what you should be cognizant of going forward,” he explained. “It may not be a burning question at the moment, but you want to be prepared for it.”
Even if it may not seem like the most pressing issue, Rahm suggested looking into these common trends, such as compliance with interstate trucking and pay equity. Being proactive instead of reactive can put a company ahead of the competition, he added.
One issue that companies are now addressing is the #MeToo movement and the ensuing revolution of workplace culture. Co-chairmain of Littler’s equal employment opportunity and diversity practice group Barry Hartstein said employers need to increase their efforts to reduce the risk of harassment claims.
“We also should expect an active plaintiffs’ bar threatening and initiating private lawsuits during the coming year based on these developments,” Hartstein said.
For two-thirds of those surveyed, sexual harassment was the top one or two most concerning problems. This worry has in part lead to supplementary training and modified policies, and in 13% of companies, new tools or means of investigation are among recent additions.
In an effort to provide this training, CarriersEdge, an online training course company, announced a new course for fleet enterprises. Its workplace violence and harassment online offering is for both administration and employees alike, instructing employees how to identify negative behaviors and respond, with the ultimate goal of preventing incidents in the first place.
Chief executive officer of CarriersEdge Jane Jazrawy said including this type of training is the responsible thing to do, not only for the wellbeing of employees but also for the reputation of the company.
“When companies don’t develop workplace violence and harassment policies that establish firm ground rules, they can risk harm to their employees as well as to their corporate reputations if such incidents were ever to occur,” Jazrawy said. “In the long run, doing nothing also hurts recruiting and retention efforts."
She said fleets can use this program to “build a culture of respect” to attract new people to the industry.
“And it reinforces the message for everyone that there is no room for negative behavior in the workplace.”
CarriersEdge’s workplace violence and harassment uses interactive text, images and relatable examples to engage the user, explaining negative behaviors and the necessary response. The 70-minute course can be taken at any time.
“Companies and employees want to do the right thing and create a safe, positive workplace, but they may not know how to accomplish that,” Jazrawy said. “This course provides a roadmap to help get there.”
Another concern the survey uncovered pertained to industry regulations. The 2018 survey showed a drop in respondents expecting to be substantially affected by the Affordable Care Act from 33% to 15% and a decrease from 25% to 16% in those worried about enforcement by the U.S. Department of Labor. While these numbers show optimism in changing federal regulations, 64% reported feeling burdened by the shift in policies from the Obama to Trump administrations.
Michael Lotito, co-chair of workplace policy institute at Littler, said stability is more essential than an ease in policies. The two most influential were the rollback of wage-and-hour restrictions and the new tax bill.
“Uncertainty means inability to plan, budget and anticipate, and it requires constantly retraining employees and reformulating employment policies,” Lotito said.