New Sex-Harassment Bill Before Congress
The fight against workplace sexual harassment is at the center of
a new effort in Congress to ban non-disclosure agreements.
Five members of the U.S. House introduced the EMPOWER
Act on July 18. Ending the Monopoly of Power Over Workplace
Harassment through Education and Reporting Act would prohibit
businesses from requiring workers to sign non-disclosure or non-disparagement agreements as conditions of employment. It would
not, however, prevent workers from entering into voluntary NDAs
as part of potential settlements.
The bill was introduced with bipartisan support, with three
Democrats and two Republicans signing on as original co-sponsors. It mirrors a Senate measure introduced in June.
The EMPOWER Act, said sponsor Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas),
promotes accountability and transparency, which Poe said “is the
least that Congress can do.”
In light of the momentum of the #Me Too movement, NDAs
have become a focus of advocates and lawmakers, with several
state legislatures adopting or considering measures to promote
transparency in company reporting of harassment complaints.
Making Succession Planning a Priority
The heat is on for talent-hungry employers—as well as those at
risk for losing skilled workers.
According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., the robust
economy and tight labor market are conspiring against the 64
percent of HR executives surveyed who say they currently are
“The one downside of a booming economy is that the churn
that comes with layoffs doesn’t occur, leaving employers with few
options to fill available positions,” says Andrew Challenger, vice
president at the global outplacement and executive-coaching firm.
The solution? Employers need to plan for employees retiring
or moving on at all levels of the organization, Challenger advises.
He adds that attracting workers also means having a strong,
public brand and a desirable benefits package. According
to the survey, benefits that drive talent retention are 401(k)
contributions (91 percent), competitive salary (88 percent), health
benefits (83 percent) and professional-development opportunities
Company Culture Reigns Supreme
Recent LinkedIn research found that 70 percent of professionals
in the U.S. today would not work at a leading company if it meant
they had to tolerate a bad workplace culture.
What’s more, 65 percent of employees would rather put up
with lower pay, while 26 percent would forego a fancy title if they
could avoid dealing with a negative environment.
Based on the results of the survey of 3,010 full-time U.S.
workers, the networking site advised that organizations should be
investing in employee wellness. Forty-four percent of employees
said one of the top factors keeping them at their company for
more than five years is strong workplace benefits.
Defining and modeling company values is also key, the report
found, with 71 percent of professionals saying they would take
a pay cut to work for a company with a mission in which they
Cultivating a culture of belonging is also essential. Nearly half
of professionals who are proud of the company they work for say
it’s because the company has a positive culture where they can be
—Michael J. O’Brien
As debate rages over the treatment of those seeking
asylum at the U.S.
southern border, a new
report finds hiring refugees
is actually good for
Refugees as Employees:
Good Retention, Strong
Recruitment is the result of
six months of research by the
Fiscal Policy Institute and the
Tent Foundation. Together,
they interviewed companies
that have hired refugees in
Atlanta, Phoenix, upstate New
York, and eastern and central
Nebraska, finding that not only
were employers happy with the
refugees they’d hired, but they
reaped the benefits of greater
retention, access to a vast labor
pool and an improved ability to
manage a diverse workforce.
“There was a sense of
gratification that somebody
who had come from a difficult
situation in another country
had come to work for them,”
says David Dyssegaard Kallick,
deputy director and director
of immigration research at the
Fiscal Policy Institute.
Of the 26 employers
interviewed, 73 percent
reported higher retention
rates for refugees than for the
as a whole.
tends to be high, such as meat
packing, refugees left the job
in far smaller numbers: 25
percent turnover for refugees
compared to 40 percent
Megan Bracy, associate
director for community
integration at the U.S.
Committee for Refugees
and Immigrants, noted
refugees understand that a
job is the vital key to attaining
self-sufficiency and being
integrated into their new
community. She said such
workers are often willing to put
in extra hours and have a very
strong work ethic.
That’s not to suggest
hiring refugees is without
challenges. The majority come
to the U.S. with low levels of
significant cultural differences
and often lack transportation.
Fortunately, Kallick says, it
doesn’t require a great deal of
during employees’ lunch hours
or after work. Others have
paired entrants with longer-
term bilingual employees to
not only help
can be overcome by matching
work hours to bus schedules
or making a company vehicle
available for carpooling.
While the report addresses
challenges of hiring refugees,
David Lewis, president and
CEO of HR consultancy
OperationsInc, feels it glosses
over the deeper, politically
charged potential pitfalls.
“It all sounds great on the
front end, but you have to
be prepared for what could
result from that,” Lewis says.
“[Hiring refugees] could
be business-killing if people
view it as un-American or
unsupportive of policies and
In an environment in which
refugees are often maligned
and even vilified as unwelcome
invaders stealing American
jobs, Lewis recommends
organizations not make a
big fanfare about hiring
refugees. Welcome them into
the workplace, if that is the
best course of action for the
business, he says, but don’t
issue a press release about it.
When it comes to gauging
how current employees might
respond to an influx of refugee
colleagues, Lewis suggests HR
keep its finger on the pulse
of the organization to get a
sense of employees’ “political
leanings.” According to Bracy,
fear can often be overcome
by providing opportunities
for interaction with their new
refugee co-workers. Potlucks
are especially effective because
they allow employees to share
a bit of their culture, thus
strengthening the workplace
As employers rack up
positive experiences with
refugees, that often leads
them to open the door to more
refugee hires, says Kallick.
“That leads to a natural source
of increased recruitment as
word gets around within the
often very tightly knit refugee
community that this is a good
match,” he says.
—Julie Cook Ramirez
Wellness: What Workers Want
A recent survey of 3,600
and employees by the
O.C. Tanner Institute
have a long way to go to
meet workers’ wellness
needs. The research—
which included participants from the U.S., Australia,
Canada, the U.K., Germany, India and Singapore—found:
• 52 percent believe their employer cares more about
productivity than its employees;
• 38 percent say their job is negatively impacting their
happiness outside of work;
• 36 percent say work is harming their physical health;
• 50 percent of C-suite executives report negative
physical impacts from work, compared to 35 percent of