With the deepening crisis in Ukraine and daily headlines recalling the worst days of the Cold War era, the world will be watching Tuesday, March 1 as President Biden delivers his State of the Union address. Inflation, COVID-19 and continued supply chain disruptions only add to the urgency of the President’s remarks – and Congressional action.
Though these topics will loom large on Tuesday, we know issues impacting the workplace are woven throughout and therefore addressed in every State of the Union.
As the voice of all things work, workers and the workplace, SHRM is hopeful the president will address the following concerns.
- Accessing talent: Thanks in part to the Great Resignation, employers are looking for solutions to hire, train and retain skilled employees to meet the demands of the global economy. In response to the labor-market mismatch and stalled progress on immigration reform, employers expect continued expenditures by the federal government on workforce development initiatives. The effectiveness of this spending in addressing employer labor-market needs largely depends on program design and employer engagement.
- Executive Branch actions: Employers must be ready for Executive Branch guidance, regulatory actions and policy changes that might alter the employer-employee landscape. The administration is likely to increase scrutiny of contract workers and arbitration agreements. We also expect the Department of Labor to continue efforts to shape COVID-19 vaccine and testing guidance for large employers, encourage organized labor and expand overtime eligibility in 2022.
- Navigating COVID-19: Public health officials are warning that COVID-19 is here to stay. Employers need solid guidance to address future variants, a changing guidance and public policy landscape, workplace protections and how to support a hybrid workforce. Long COVID is a workplace health issue that may have a lingering impact.
- Workplace immigration: During the pandemic, the federal government smartly eased rules regarding in-person validation of identities for work certification purposes, improving efficiency and maintaining security at the same time. HR professionals appreciated the flexibility and want to keep it. Employers are seeking permanent improvements to the overall flexibility and efficiency of the workplace immigration system.
- Mental health and wellness: Now more than ever, employers are allocating additional resources to address workplace mental health and wellness, especially in hybrid and remote work environments. As with previous periods of economic dislocation, workers are prone to drop out of the labor force entirely. This time around, mental health and addiction may drive disability claims and increase scrutiny of health care coverage.
For more on what to expect from the State of the Union, join SHRM for our first quarterly webcast of the year on March 1 at 1 p.m. Eastern. Discussion topics will include the latest workplace policy and regulatory updates, SHRM initiatives and other important advocacy updates.
What workplace issues do you hope to see President Biden address during the State of the Union? Join the conversation by participating in SHRM’s State of the Union workplace policy activity by texting SOTU to 52886 or using this link.
SHRM will continue to be a resource for government officials and cause the effect on workplace and public policies that lead to better workplaces and a better world. As an HR professional, you can have a meaningful impact on what proposals are considered by lawmakers, regardless of where you live.
Strategizing about how you can be a policy change agent and a voice for your workplace is an important part of SHRM’s Workplace Policy Conference (WPC) 2022 March 27-29 in Washington, D.C. Join us in Washington!