Ignore the Media Circus – Here's What This Election Really Means for Your Business

The lies. The scandals. The mud-slinging.

This election season has been, in a word, exhausting.

And unfortunately, with the media focusing so heavily on missing emails and "locker room talk," real issues have been forced to the back seat – leaving us employers wringing our hands and wondering:

"How will this election affect my business?"

With voting just 7 days away, it's time to tune out the media circus and start preparing for the impact our 45th President of the United States will have on things like recruiting, compensation and HR policy. Below, I review three hot employment issues that are hanging in the balance:

The Job Market

The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data reflects a solid job market and steadily declining national unemployment rate (currently at 5.0 percent). How would each candidate affect an an economy that is at, or near, full employment?

Trump: "Wall" talk aside, Donald Trump's proposal to deport undocumented U.S. residents could cause a major glut in low-wage jobs. What's more, his promise to win exported jobs back from China (via 45 percent import tariffs) could lead to big job gains in the manufacturing sector. The downside? Experts cited in this Wall Street Journal article predict that his hard-line on trade could drive up the value of the dollar and increase the trade deficit by $275 billion.

Clinton: According to CNN, Moody's Analytics estimates that, if Hillary Clinton's proposals come to fruition, our economy would create 10.4 million jobs during her presidency. That's 3.2 million more than experts predict under current economic policies.

Minimum Wage

Across the nation, states and cities are increasing minimum wage. But although President Obama raised the wage floor to $10.10 for employees of federal contractors, our nation's government hasn't increased the federal minimum wage since 2009.

The simple truth? Both candidates face intense pressure to dramatically increase wages for American workers. And both have been hard to pin down. While Clinton says she supports raising the minimum wage to $12 (not the $15 supported by her party's platform), she's in favor of state and local efforts to push it higher. Trump's position is vaguer. He has expressed interest in increasing the federal minimum to $10, but believes that states should really set wage floors.

If you operate in a state like California (where the minimum salary for an exempt employee who does not qualify for overtime is determined by the minimum wage), it's imperative to begin reevaluating salary levels for your exempt employees. And regardless of where you do business, you ultimately need to create an overall compensation structure that attracts top talent, complies with wage laws, and still allows you to make a profit.

Whatever changes you contemplate, think long-term. Raising wages may cause an immediate hit to your profitability, but the long-term payoffs (e.g., higher caliber employees, improved retention and quality) may more than compensate for the change. Crunch the numbers for several months or years into the future, not merely for this quarter.

Paid Family Leave

Currently, the U.S. has no federal law mandating paid parental leave. Only three states have state laws that require employers to provide it, and only about 12 percent of U.S. employers offer this benefit.

Congress, however, is currently considering several bills that would require companies to offer paid leave for expecting or new parents. These include:

  • The Healthy Families Act (HR 1286), which would require companies to allow workers to use paid sick leave as paid parental leave.
  • The Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act, which would provide paid parental leave for federal employees expecting the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child.
  • The Family Act, which would require three months of paid leave at 66 percent salary to new parents.

New legislation is already in the works, and a majority of voters from both parties is in favor of a national paid leave law. So, it's no surprise that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have expressed their support for paid leave.

Since passing a law that requires private sector employers to offer paid leave appears highly likely for our 45th President (whomever that may be), you should begin devising paid leave policies now that are gender-neutral and equally available to all employees. While it's an expensive proposition, it also offers huge recruiting and retention advantages that will make your organization more competitive in the long-term.

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