Canadian law firm Bull Housser & Tupper LLP (BH&T) has recently announced their annual list of the top issues facing employers.
Their list is made up of the key issues to come across the desks of their Labour and Employment department. It demonstrates that while some things remain constant (misconduct and absenteeism are perennial concerns), modern technology can create new challenges for employers. Social networking and telecommuting are examples of issues that have both rewards and risks in the workplace.
The top five issues for employers?
Employee absenteeism – Employees missing work continues to be among the greatest challenges facing Canadian employers. A recent study found that the estimated cost of absenteeism in Canada reached into the billions.
A healthy workplace culture can help mitigate this. Employees with negative work relations miss an average of 5.9 days a year compared with only 3.7 days for those with healthier relationships [Source]. Read our take on the worst excuses employees use for calling in sick and some tips on reducing absenteeism.
Disciplinable Conduct – Employee misconduct or failing to perform the job adequately have long been problems for employers. However, Bull Housser & Tupper point out that this is further complicated by the recent trend of staff claiming drug or alcohol addictions, stress or various kinds of disabilities (including anger management disorder) as a defence to avoid being disciplined or fired.
Social Networking – Many employers claim that sites such as Facebook and Twitter are causing serious amounts of lost productivity as employees spend too much work time updating their statuses and connecting with their friends. (One employer told us confidentially that she hesitates to hire anyone under 30, assuming that they would all be wasting too much time on social networking sites.)
Another pitfall for employers is what their staff may say on networking sites even after hours that might reflect poorly on the company’s image online. Monitoring these sites and educating employees can be time-consuming and costly.
Telecommuting – A growing number of Canadians (an estimated 1.5 million) telecommute at least some of the time. Telecommuting can have distinct advantages for both employers and employees. Workopolis has spearheaded the campaign for a National Work From Home Day for Canada to encourage more workplaces to experiment with telecommuting. However, Bull Housser & Tupper point out that working offsite does present some challenges as well. There can be a lack of supervision for teleworking employees as well as issues of security and privacy as potentially confidential company information is accessed remotely.
Restrictive Covenants – Otherwise known as non-compete clauses, these contract stipulations are meant to protect employers from having key employees jump over to the competition, potentially bringing clients and strategic information with them. As the competition of top talent in the labour market tightens, this issue is only going to become increasingly important. Employers are finding out that when it comes to enforcing these clauses in court, judges frequently side with the employee, ruling the non-compete clause unenforceable.
Similarly, our career columnist Colleen Clarke recently wrote a tongue-in-cheek advice piece for new workers entitled The Top Five Ways to Hinder Your Boss.
What’s your experience? Let us know what the top issues facing your workplace are likely to be this year.