Littler Employer Survey Finds Optimism, Concern

SAN FRANCISCO (June 6, 2012)Littler Mendelson, P.C. (Littler), the nation’s largest employment and labor law firm representing management, has released the results of its 2012 Executive Employer Survey. The survey, completed by 957 in-house counsel, human resources and C-suite executives, many from the nation’s largest employers, analyzed the key issues impacting employers as the 2012 presidential election rapidly approaches and the economy continues to slowly improve.
 
The survey found that the majority of respondents (71%) plan to hire more workers, either cautiously or aggressively, during the next 12 months, while just eight percent plan to lay off full-time employees. Respondents noted other relevant findings related to the nation’s job market:

Executives indicated the leading challenges facing their workforce due to current economic conditions are demands for employees to do more with less (91%), remaining in a job due to inability to find employment elsewhere (85%), and underemployment (67%). Despite this, respondents chose employee retention as the issue presenting the most difficulty for their company when managing its workforce.

Regardless of the presidential election’s outcome, respondents think the next president will assign a very high priority to job creation. Mitt Romney is considered more likely to assign a high priority to this issue than would a second-term President Obama, with 85% saying they think Romney would assign a high priority to job creation compared with 70% for President Obama.

“The job market appears to be heading in the right direction for America’s skilled workers,” said Garry Mathiason, chairman of the board at Littler. “However, our findings do not reflect unchecked optimism. An overwhelming majority of respondents say today’s workers are being asked to do more with fewer resources. Additionally, job immobility and underemployment are keeping the nation’s labor force from maximizing productivity.”
 
Mathiason added, “The mix of optimism and concern reflects the disruptive factors of an election year, including uncertainty over regulatory issues in healthcare reform and union organizing, as well as the ever-changing impact of social media in the workplace.”
 
Employers Continue to Feel Impact of Various Government Regulations

In addition to prioritizing policies intended to create jobs, respondents weighed in on the priority they expect candidates Romney and Obama to place on a variety of issues impacting the workplace. The top issues expected to receive a high priority from President Obama were healthcare reform (81%), union organizing (64%) and workplace discrimination matters (59%). Respondents anticipate that Republican presidential candidate Romney will place a high priority on immigration reform (50%) and healthcare reform (48%).
 
Executives also clearly expect that a variety of regulatory issues will continue to impact the workplace during the next 12 months, with healthcare reform (64%), National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)/union organizing matters (41%), immigration reform (22%) and anti-discrimination employment laws (21%) expected to have the most significant impact.
 
Culture of Compliance

As legislative and enforcement trends continue to suggest, companies cannot afford to ignore the need for sound ethics and compliance programs. The survey revealed several interesting findings related to executives’ perceptions on compliance.

A majority of respondents (52%) believe that companies view compliance as important but do not devote adequate resources to it, while 34% feel companies have made compliance a priority and have realized the impact of ethical business practices on the bottom line.

Respondents from highly-regulated industries (energy, financial services/banking and healthcare) were more likely to say that their companies’ commitment to a culture of compliance is genuine, while respondents from the nonprofit and professional services sectors were more likely to say that such commitments are purely lip service.

Recognizing the importance of preventing employee misconduct, companies are planning to conduct training in the next 12 months in a variety of high-risk areas that can impact the company’s bottom-line, including employee discrimination and harassment (84%), workplace safety (68%), encouraging employees to report misconduct internally (65%) and wage and hour requirements (51%).

Social Media in the Workplace

Respondents also suggested proactive social media policies are popular among today’s corporations.

Many, if not most, companies today allow employees to use their personal mobile devices for business purposes, which highlights the strong majority (69%) of respondents who said their company has rules in place regarding social media use of employee-owned devices or during work hours. Additionally, 54% of respondents indicated their company has a policy discussing how employees can use social media channels to communicate about the company. (A recent Littler report on the “Bring Your Own Device to Work” movement is accessible here.)

Notably, just 14% of the respondents indicated they had screened job applicants based on their social media profiles, a stark departure from other recent industry reporting on that topic that indicates such behavior is more widespread.

A detailed report about the findings is available at here.
 
About Littler Mendelson
 

With over 900 attorneys and 56 offices, Littler Mendelson is the largest U.S.-based law firm exclusively devoted to representing management in employment and labor law matters. As the only U.S. member of the Ius Laboris global alliance, Littler has extensive resources to address the needs of multi-national clients, from navigating international employment laws and labor relations issues to applying corporate policies worldwide. Established in 1942, the firm has litigated, mediated and negotiated some of the most influential employment law cases and labor contracts on record. For more information, visit littler.com.

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