So what are the biggest concerns for human resource managers in 2020?
According to a recent survey of HR professionals, dealing with marijuana legalization and keeping company data secure are the major challenges they anticipate this year.
HR consulting firm XpertHR conducted the survey of over 700 HR professionals and found that nearly one-fourth—24.6%—are "extremely challenged" by medical and recreational marijuana laws.
That's up from 5.7% in 2017, 10.9% in 2018, and 19.5% last year.
The survey notes that "one one hand, medical marijuana is legal in over 30 states and recreational marijuana use is now legal in over 10 states as well as the District of Columbia."
But it also noted that "marijuana remains classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance and illegal under federal law."
Connecticut Explores Legalization
While Connecticut has legalized medical marijuana, it has yet to legalize recreational use, with the state legislature expected to again debate the issue this year.
Concerns over the legalization of recreational marijuana in Connecticut last year prompted lawmakers to adopt employer protections against workplace use of the drug, although legalization stalled.
Legalization is of particular concern to Connecticut's defense contractors, who employ thousands of workers and whose federal contracts prohibit those workers from using marijuana.
Beth Zoller, a legal editor for XpertHR, notes that medical marijuana users may be protected under state or local law.
"So employers should be cautious and avoid making quick disciplinary decisions," she said.
"Further, employers should be wary about taking adverse action against employees based on lawful, off-duty conduct if the state protects employees who engage in such activity."
Nearly one-third of HR managers—29.8%—report being "extremely challenged" over preventing cyberbreaches and maintaining data security in 2020.
In 2017, 13.6% of HR managers were concerned about cyberbreaches and data security. In 2018 it was 27.5% before falling to 21.5% in 2019.
Massive data breaches in recent years include Yahoo, Facebook, and First American Financial Corp.
The reasons for these breaches, which affected billions of people, were either poor security or hacking.
"Organizations are falling victim to data breaches at an alarming rate, exposing not only their own intellectual property and confidential information, but also that of their employees and customers," Zoller said.
"Employers need to protect sensitive information such as employees' Social Security numbers, credit reports, and medical records as well as customers' credit card data—and know what to do in case of a breach."
Mark Soycher, CBIA's human resource counsel, advises member companies on how to defend against phone and cyberscams.
CBIA also provides cybersecurity resources for member companies.