What We’re Reading — January 2020

Rachel Sobel

Rachel Sobel

We’ve been spending the grey days of winter reading up on timely workplace topics. Here are some of the stories that came to our attention this month.


New Year, New Laws

We welcomed the New Year with a flurry of new laws and regulations getting passed or taking effect. Our first group of articles touches on just a few: the spread of legalized marijuana, an amendment to the federal Age Discrimination Act, the sweeping new anti-harassment law in Illinois, and an increase in OSHA penalties.

Welcome to the Future of the Drug Free Workplace

On January 1, recreational sales of marijuana began in a handful of additional states, making it a good time to take a fresh look at how employers maintain drug-free workplaces. Employment attorney Robin Shea offers advice. Read more on Employment Labor Insider.

A New Age of Age Discrimination

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Protecting Older Workers Against Age Discrimination Act by a 261 to 155 vote on January 15. This bill, if enacted, will amend the Age Discrimination Act to reduce barriers to employees proving age discrimination. Read more on HR Dive.

Illinois’ New Anti-Harassment Law Now In Effect
The latest anti-harassment legislation to take effect — on January 1, 2020 — is in Illinois. The Workplace Transparency Act requires employers to provide annual sexual harassment training for all employees working in the state. The Act also includes a slew of other regulations addressing harassment prevention, reporting, investigation, retaliation, and corrective measures. Read more on the Chicago Tribune.

OSHA Increases Penalties

This week, OSHA announced increases in maximum penalties, effective immediately. Going forward, you can expect increases each January. Read more on Fisher Phillips.


It’s Hiring Season

As we settle into the new year and budgets are approved, recruiting and hiring take on added importance. Our next selection of stories focus on this timely topic, with stories on creating a sought-after employer culture and brand, tips on conducting reference checks, and advice from recruiters to employers.

Why Being On-Brand Counts

A company’s employer brand is its public image or reputation as an employer. It’s the feel of the company that comes through in job postings, social media, reviews, news stories, awards, and word of mouth. Here’s why it matters. Read more from Mammoth. 

The Value of the Reference Check

Reference checks tend to be last-minute check-the-box formalities, after the hiring decision has already been made. However, by asking the the right questions at the right time, reference checks can instead be valuable to the hiring process. Read more on Fast Company.

Why You’re Not Meeting Recruiting Goals
The number one thing employers can do to compete for qualified talent is raise wages, according to a survey of recruiters, and this need will continue to grow over the next few years. Find out what else recruiters are recommending their client companies do to meet their hiring goals. Read more on HR Dive.

Make Work Better

Workplace culture goes beyond surface things (e.g. ping-pong tables and kegs) to creating a workplace where people have a sense of purpose. That deeper level of culture is what  really makes people want to work somewhere, but is also harder to create. Here are some concrete steps you can take. Read more on The New York Times.


Something to Think About

We also enjoyed some stories and podcasts that made us think about the workplace implications of broader topics, such as working parenthood, neuroscience, creativity, and Star Trek.

Reframing Choices for Working Parents

“Framing how to balance work and family as personal choices, researchers say, distracts from the bigger structural issues that force these choices,” says the author of an op-ed, adding that this approach futhers inequalities based on gender, race, and income. Employers can make a difference. Read more on The New York Times. 

Go Inside the Minds of Unusual Professionals

WorkLife with Adam Grant is a podcast that explores how to make work “not suck.” Get sucked into two seasons of episodes starting with The Creative Power of Misfits, which explains how frustrated people at Pixar shook up the status quo. Listen to WorkLife on Apple Podcasts. (Or search your preferred podcast provider.)

Launched from Catapult

Columnist Nadia Owusu recently started a column on the experiences of women in color in the workplace at Catapult Magazine. Her most recent article explains how to make racial equity a reality that goes beyond hiring a chief diversity officer. Read more on Catapult.

Captain Picard Knows Best

“Star Trek: Picard” recently debuted on CBS All Access. Although the beloved captain, played by Patrick Stewart, is a fictional character, he can teach viewers some lessons about navigating the corporate frontier. Learn five things about leadership from Jean-Luc Picard. Read more on Fast Company.


Author: Rachel Sobel