January 22, 2014

HR Didn’t Have to Deal With That In the Good Ol’ Days

Woman Talking On Phone At DeskTechnology, tools and roles aren’t the only things about HR that have changed rapidly over the years. Nowadays, HR has to deal with issues that don’t really have precedent. Many HR professionals are going to have to draft policies on things that they’ve never had to worry about before, and tweak them as these issues become more commonplace in the office.

Legalized Marijuana

As of January 1st Colorado employers have to take a stance in the workplace on the use of now legalized marijuana use. While the use of mary jane is still illegal under federal law, state law has made it more legal than anywhere else in the world, including Amsterdam. Because of this divide between federal and state law, it is up to employers whether or not they will permit their employees to use marijuana.

Employers are still allowed to hire, fire and drug test at their own discretion when it comes to marijuana use. While this is just 1 of the 50 great states, advocacy groups are moving east, and it’s likely that their efforts to go green in other states will be successful.

Spying on Employees

IKEA got a big “tisk, tisk” from the entire world when news that they had been hiring private investigators to spy on their employees, leaked in late 2013. While most were shocked, others saw the other side to this story.

Worker’s comp and medical leave fraud have really gotten out of hand, and company leaders aren’t left with very many options to fight back. While spying on employees might sound over the line to some, to others this practice is the only way to defend the organization against dishonest employees.

Social Media Policies

Most of the time, the dumb or drunken things we tweet or post on Facebook, really only reflect badly on ourselves. Then there are those vital times when a bad social media presence can really damage an employer brand in a very public way.

Employers are having a hard time finding that social media sweet spot in which employees feel empowered to share their professional experience and knowledge vs. live tweeting a company-wide layoff. It is more important than ever to define the boundaries of what is acceptable and what will not be tolerated. Whatever you do, change the passwords when someone is let go.


Are you reading this article on your iPad, while texting and watching TV? That is definitely not an uncommon scene. We love our devices and most of us have finagled our way into bringing them to work with us. What happens when an employee is let go and they have more confidential data and information on their smartphone than you can even imagine?

Companies like Cisco have created totally secure networks for remote workers to use in or out of the office. When creating BYOD policy for the workplace, ask yourself WWCD (What Would Cisco Do?). Consider what the compromise of organization information could do to the company.

When the world changes, so does HR. Although most of these scenarios will never play out in your organization, it is important for HR professionals and management to stay on top of current HR issues in order to prevent disasters that can potentially stem from such trends. Keeping the organization safe, while granting employees certain freedoms has always been a tough issue, but one that HR always manages to handle.

Read more in HR Policies

Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and content development. A consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the global recruitment and talent space. Hogan speaks and writes on all career and workforce related subjects. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies and SMBs around the globe. Red Branch Media was formed in 2006 as a simple consultancy. Today, the firm is a full-service B2B Marketing Agency that serves clients in the U.K., Africa, China, Israel, Europe and North America. Primarily focused on the Human Resources and Global Workforce vendors, Red Branch Media handles clients of all shapes and sizes.
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