Maintaining a Positive and Productive Workplace in 2024

Most of us spend a significant amount of time working and interacting with our colleagues, and we strive to make our workplace positive and productive.  As we dive into a new year, it is a good time to assess what we can do to maintain such a workplace.  A good place to start is reviewing policies and practices to make sure they reflect company culture and values and comply with existing and new employment laws and regulations.

Some considerations include:

  • Has your company expanded, potentially subjecting it to additional laws and regulations, or creating practical day-to-day challenges that need to be addressed?
  • When were your company policies and handbook last updated? Have there been changes in the law or in the culture, direction, or challenges of your business since that time?
  • Are your managers and supervisors well trained in your policies and practices and how to foster a work environment that fits with your culture, values, and desire for a positive workplace and with relevant laws and regulations?
  • Have your employees been trained in these matters as well?
  • What laws and regulations have changed that might impact your company?

Employment law considerations for 2024 include:

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has released its “Strategic Enforcement Plan” for Fiscal Years 2024 to 2028.  According to the Plan, its purpose “is to focus and coordinate the

agency’s work over a multiple fiscal year (FY) period to have a sustained impact in advancing

equal employment opportunity.” The Plan outlines the following six subject matter priorities:

  1. “Eliminating Barriers in Recruitment and Hiring,” including, for example, in the use of Artificial Intelligence.
  2. “Protecting Vulnerable Workers and Persons from Underserved Communities from Employment Discrimination,” including for example, individuals with arrest or conviction records, LGBTQI+ individuals, temporary workers, and older workers.
  3. “Addressing Selected Emerging and Developing Issues,” including, for example, protecting workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
  4. “Advancing Equal Pay for All Workers.”
  5. “Preserving Access to the Legal System,” including, for example, a focus on overly-broad waivers, releases, or non-disclosure or non-disparagement agreements.
  6. “Preventing and Remedying Systemic Harassment.”

According to the EEOC Plan, it will “help guide the EEOC’s work through all of the agency’s activities, including outreach, public education, technical assistance, enforcement, and litigation.”

The EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan is a good reminder to make sure your company has up to date policies and procedures in these areas that support and foster a positive and lawful work environment, and on which your managers, supervisors, and employees are well educated.

This is the first of a series of blogs that will address in more detail each of the six subject matters areas listed above – as well as other employment topics – and offer practical advice on maintaining a positive and productive workplace in 2024.