On January 19, 2023, Gunster’s Labor & Employment group hosted the “Future of Work in Florida” event, presenting the latest research on practices that high-performing organizations are implementing to attract and retain the best employees. EEOC Commissioner Keith Sonderling and Gunster Shareholder Joe Santoro kicked off the program with an insightful conversation highlighting the post-Pandemic shift the labor market has seen, followed by an interactive workshop and discussion featuring Jay Jamrog, Futurist & Co-Founder of i4cp, and a dynamic presentation by Former U.S. Senator and Gunster Chairman George LeMieux on how businesses can strengthen their culture and assess their footprint in Florida.

Following are some key takeaways that Commissioner Sonderling, Jay Jamrog and Senator LeMieux presented to a very engaged audience:

Conversation with EEOC Commissioner Keith Sonderling:

  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is an independent agency separate from the Department of Labor (DOL). The bipartisan Commission is comprised of five presidentially-appointed members, including the Chair, Vice Chair, and three Commissioners (currently with one vacancy).
  • While retaliation claims comprise 56 percent of charges of discrimination processed by the EEOC, disability claims are the second most common (including both alleged failure to accommodate and discrimination). Sexual harassment claims are trending downwards.
  • Employers faced with a lawsuit filed by the EEOC should consider moving to dismiss the lawsuit if the EEOC did not properly engage in the conciliation process.

The War for Talent is Over…Talent Won” by Jay Jamrog

  • Attracting talent requires more than monetary and other tangible benefits; employees are now looking for flexibility (where, when, and how they work) and meaning (a sense of purpose or fulfillment from work).
  • High performance organizations have intentional plans to listen to employees to develop empathy, community and transparency.
    • Listening plans can include employee surveys, pulse surveys, focus groups, exit/stay interviews, CEO messaging and town halls.
  • Skills shortages post the greatest threat to business (ahead of inflation, supply chain disruption and other factors). Before developing their employees’ new skills for the future, employers must first gather sufficient data about their employees’ existing skills.
    • Develop a skills database and encourage internal mobility through transfers or internal talent marketplaces.
  • Fostering a positive workplace culture is essential.
    • In addition to listening strategies, employers must establish a clear vision and reward managers and supervisors showing tangible progress towards goals.

Future of Work in Florida: Rethinking Your Corporate Footprint in Florida” by Senator George LeMieux

  • New technologies (AI, robotics and automation) and new methods (remote work, gig workers and crowdsourcing) have created The New Work Paradigm.
    • Workforce will grow more dispersed and leveraging remote-work options will require understanding of various employment, tax and immigration laws.
  • Florida’s development was heavily influenced by Henry Flagler’s railroad and Walt Disney’s Disney World. Migration to Florida continued to increase due to sunny weather and lack of state income tax.
  • Businesses will continue to come to Florida because of available talent (thanks to #1 state university system), strong business tax climate, and good legal and regulatory environment.
  • Two “Super Regions” are developing:
    • “Orlampa” along the I-4 corridor between Orlando and Tampa
    • “Capital of the Americas”: Hedge funds, investment banks and other financial firms are looking to South Florida as the gateway to Latin America.
  • Four key obstacles to take into consideration: sea level rise, congested roadways, affordability (wages not keeping up with rising housing costs) and workers.

Gunster’s Labor & Employment team remains at the forefront of addressing statewide trends in migration, housing, education, and more. Should you have any legal needs or questions about how we can partner with you and your team, please contact Brian McPherson, who leads the firm’s Labor & Employment practice.


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