Our current HR News Roundup features items on conflict at work, leadership, how to avoid viral layoffs, accommodating cannabis, retirement wave & more.

Conflict debt: What it is and why it’s crushing teamwork today
Jonathan Kirschner, Human Resource Executive

What is conflict debt? Conflict debt, just like financial debt, is the accumulation of unresolved conflict over time.
Since the start of the year, leaders and their teams have been dealing with an unpredictable economy, an unstable geopolitical environment and an unbroken chain of crises. Layered on top of these challenges is a return-to-work stalemate, disengagement and degraded morale, and rounds of layoffs and budget cuts that have them doing more work with fewer resources.
In this challenging context, conflicts inevitably arise. However, our data showed that rather than dealing with them head-on, teams have been pushing them to the side and accumulating conflict debt.

How to Deal with Political Conflict at Work
Karin Hurt and David Dye, Let’s Grow Leaders

You can hear the tension in the voice of many managers and leaders who call to ask for advice. “We’ve got a presidential election coming up and I’m worried about the polarization and potential political conflict. Do you have any advice?”
It’s easy to understand their concern. Just this past week, we saw a range of seemingly “normal” online conversations turn political (with people explicitly assuming, labeling, and insulting one another’s political affiliation).
What were these juicy conversation topics, you ask?
Taylor Swift. Workplace performance reviews. Cheering on a sports team that’s not your usual team. Whether hens lay eggs with or without the presence of a rooster (No joke! This truly degenerated into political party name-calling). Wow.

Are you using the most appropriate leadership style?
Paul Thornton, SmartBrief

Leaders influence and inspire people to make positive changes. They diagnose each situation and determine which leadership style will be most effective.
… Using the appropriate leadership style motivates people to be fully engaged and motivated. Each leadership style also builds people’s knowledge and skills, making them more effective employees.
Here are several examples of leaders in different professions using the three leadership styles.

Shifting from Manager to Leader
Christina Beaulne, HR Daily Advisor

The best leaders know when to manage and when to lead, shifting seamlessly depending on the present demands. They read the situation and behave in a way that is most impactful for both the team and the organization.
This adaptability stems from the recognition that there are suitable contexts for both management and leadership, making it crucial to excel in both domains. Each of these roles also entails distinct mindsets and skill sets that must be honed to achieve effectiveness.

As many 2024 layoffs go virtual, how HR can reduce risk of going viral
Tom Starner, Human Resource Executive

From Condé Nast executive Anna Wintour wearing sunglasses during last month’s layoffs at music site Pitchfork to the Los Angeles Times using a mass Zoom meeting to deliver its bad news, a wave of 2024 layoffs has highlighted the risks of letting employees go virtually. While experts say there can be sensitive ways to deliver such news online, if virtual layoffs don’t meet that threshold, the employer could face PR backlash, future hiring troubles and even legal problems.

Accommodating cannabis: A “how-to” for employers
Robin Shea, Employment & Labor Insider

These steps could help keep you out of trouble.
An employee in a safety-sensitive job who has been diagnosed with cancer is selected for a random drug test. The test result comes back positive for TCHA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid — are you sorry you asked?). The employee claims he’s using a legal cannabis product, not smoking pot, to help with the pain from his medical condition. The employer allows the employee to get his urine sample retested by a different lab. The retested sample also comes back positive. The employee is fired for violating the employer’s drug policy.

Related: Younger workers injured at higher rates in recreational pot states

How to Avoid a DEI Disaster Like the MS Society Just Had
Suzanne Lucas, Inc

Terminating a 90-year-old volunteer with 60 years of service in the name of diversity and inclusion is a bad idea
But the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society recently forgot what those words “diversity, equity, and inclusion” mean — to their detriment. It’s a valuable lesson for how not to act when approaching diversity in your organization. Here’s exactly what happened, and what your business can learn from this.

An Unanticipated Retirement Wave Is Happening Right Now in the U.S.
Kathryn Mayer, SHRM

The U.S. currently has roughly 2.7 million more retirees than predicted, Bloomberg reports, according to a model designed by an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. That’s up 80 percent from six months ago, when there were roughly 1.5 million more retirees than anticipated. By contrast, prior to the pandemic, there often were fewer retirees than expected.
… “Retirements among older workers in 2023 and 2024 are at least as much psychological retirements as they are financial,” he said. “In fact, in many cases, I think those people are retiring despite knowing that they really can’t afford to. They are, in many of those cases, burnt out. I suspect that having to return to an office was a tipping point for many.”

Related: America is hitting “peak 65” in 2024 as record number of boomers reach retirement age. Here’s what to know.

HR News Roundup: Quick Takes


From the Lighter Side  …

This is a heartwarming and inspirational video. Nature’s beauty can be easily missed – but not through Louie Schwartzberg’s lens. His stunning time-lapse photography, accompanied by powerful words from Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, serves as a meditation on being grateful for every day.

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