HR Influences and Trends in 2019

A review of changes that took place in 2019 and what to expect going into 2020

Ringing in the new year will present many exciting challenges for employers and business owners across the United States. We are only ¾ of the way through 2019 and have already seen several trends influence and shape how we think about HR. Besides the trends, many legislative and regulatory movements at the state and federal levels are making a significant impact on employers and in the workplace. Although some of the changes are taking place within the 2019 calendar year, others will take effect in 2020. As we approach 2020, the workplace will continue to be shaken up, and employers are in for more changes as new and different challenges emerge.


Employers and business owners have many challenges in today’s business environment. In addition to making a profit, increasing their cash flow and growing their revenue, they now have to also focus more than ever before on their human resource efforts.

Managing human resource responsibilities can be more challenging for small business owners that have a small HR team or shared ownership of HR functions. Regardless of who owns the HR functions, business owners and executives must take note of the latest trends and legislative changes that will impact their workplace. Getting a better understanding of these challenges will aid them in preparing for how to tackle the changes that are needed and any HR issues as their company, and the workforce grows.

Some of the more important topics and trends impacting the workplace in 2019 and will continue to have a significant influence in 2020 are:

  • Digital Security, Privacy & Preventing Breaches
  • Adapting to Technology & Innovation
  • Recruiting: Finding and Retaining Top Talent
  • Leadership Development
  • Complying with Local, State and Federal Laws and Regulations
  • Workforce Training & Development
  • Offering Competitive Benefits
  • Workplace Diversity
  • Competitive Compensation
  • Workplace Violence
  • Drug Use by Employees
  • Workforce Planning
  • Managing Employee Leaves
  • #MeToo Movement & Equality

Legislative and Regulatory Trends

For CEOs, in-house counsel, and HR professionals, maintaining compliance has become increasingly difficult given the pace of regulatory change seen in 2019 and those already planned for 2020.  Employee policies and processes are no longer an, “implement and forget it” type of exercise. Each policy and practice must be monitored and reviewed regularly to adjust and account for business needs and industry trends, in addition to local, state, and federal legislative and regulatory changes. Keeping abreast of all changes can be more complicated if the company is a multi-state employer. Many changes have already been adopted in 2019 (more than 60) with more are to come in 2020. Some of those include:

  • Pay History Inquiries
  • Discrimination, Including the Hairstyle, Religious Attire, and Facial Hair of Employees
  • Domestic Violence Protection
  • Non-compete Agreements
  • Privacy Acts
  • Expansion on Anti-harassment Training
  • Paid Leave Acts & Requirements, Including Sick, FMLA, or Any Leave
  • Gender Diversity
  • Ban the Box
  • Vacation Upon Termination
  • Artificial Intelligence Acts
  • Legalization of Recreational and Medical Marijuana
  • Pregnancy, Lactation Breaks & Nursing Mother Acts
  • Wage Theft Protection
  • Pre-employment Testing
  • Veterans Day Off Law
  • Transit Benefits & Expense Reimbursement
  • Pay Equity Laws
  • Fair Workweek & Scheduling Acts
  • School Activities Leave & Time Off to Vote Acts
  • Department of Labor Overtime Exception Limits

So far, 2019 has been a busy year for the HR industry, with no signs of slowing in the years to come. Laws and regulations are continually changing, and keeping up can be a struggle for HR. Getting out of the loop can potentially lead to audits, lawsuits, and other legal complications.

HR Professionals can stay on top of these changes by:

  • Subscribing to emails from the Department of Labor at both the federal and state level
  • Reading relevant industry blogs
  • Consulting with their legal counsel
  • Checking the various HR reference websites for recent HR trends
  • Partnering with Human Resources professional organizations

A company must know what they are up against from an HR standpoint. Addressing these HR challenges and legislative changes should minimize friction in 2020 and put the business in the best possible position for success.

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

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