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Future Shock: What the Election Results Mean For the U.S. Workplace

Ah, it's finally over. The United States has been relieved of an increasingly uncomfortable case of electoral constipation, but what does it mean for the American workplace?

someecards.com - I hope you get the president you want for your birthday.

I'm a bit fuzzy from a very late night of cable news viewing, but I'm game to make a few, quick workplace predictions. First, the Affordable Care Act (e.g., "Obamacare") is here to stay, and a little over a year from now employers and employees will begin to feel the ACA's full force impact on the workplace. The ACA's full implementation will be incredible to watch. How will employers react to it? How will uninsured employees, who suddenly have access to a healthcare plan thanks to state-based exchanges, feel about it? How could the ACA affect morale, productivity, sick rates, and the average employee's willingness to stick with a job simply for the employer's health plan? The effects of the Affordable Care Act on the U.S. workforce will be seismic.

Second, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act will stay in place. On the campaign trail, President Obama called it "a big step toward making sure every worker . . . receives equal pay for equal work." Bills attempting to repeal it might pass the House, but they won't go anywhere in the Democratically-controlled Senate. In the meantime, equal pay claims are up, which could put the onus on employers to pay more attention to issues of equal pay.

Third, employers can expect the Obama administration to push immigration reform. If recent history is any precedent, however, the odds of it going anywhere could be small with the House still firmly in Republican hands. Hello, gridlock! Or could Republicans feel added pressure amid changing demographics to compromise and support some sort of major immigration reform package? Stay tuned.

Finally, jobs. What will the unemployment rate look like a year from now? Ah, it's the $64,000 question, which also happens to be a salary figure many under-employed and self-employed Americans would love to get back to in this economy. Exit polls reveal unemployed voters were split right down the middle yesterday, with half voting for Gov. Romney and the other half voting for President Obama. So we're evenly split in our pessimism or optimism, depending on how you want to look at it. Things are getting better slowly, but it's been an uneven recovery. With any luck, getting the election out of the way will give employers more certainty to assess future hiring decisions.

Predictions can make one look foolish in hindsight, unless you're Nate Silver of The New York Times, who was pretty much spot-on with his pre-election electoral analysis. The guy is amazing. But one thing is for sure: The traditional practice of voter polling will need to be re-assessed in the wake of this election, as well as the waning influence of the billions spent on negative advertising during this election cycle. Secretive special interest groups can run all the ads they want, but the American electorate will make up its own mind in the end. Perhaps that's the biggest shocker of all.

For now, the pundits engage in post-game analysis mixed with random bouts of navel gazing as the American public collectively exhales after a breathless finish to the presidential election. We massage our tired feet still feeling the effects of a long wait in the voting line as we marvel at the sudden lack of political ads on television and the notable absence of political mailers in our mailboxes. Now we look to the future, perhaps in a slight state of shock that the election is finally, conclusively over. I vote for rebuilding this economy together, with less partisan rancor and more bipartisan "can do" attitude. As President Obama said in his victory speech last night, "The best is yet to come." Let's hope so. After all the political ads we've had to watch, we deserve it.

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