Harassment, workplace violence, cybersecurity, workforce planning, are among the most difficult HR challenges facing employers in 2018, according to a new XpertHR survey. The survey found changes in the workplace, government, society, culture and legal landscape translate into considerable challenges and obstacles for employers.

"An employer needs to be particularly vigilant regarding acts of harassment in the workplace because the employer may be liable and face Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charges, legal complaints, fines, and penalties on top of negative press and damage to its reputation," says Beth Zoller, JD, Legal Editor, XpertHR.

Another issue keeping employers up at night is workplace violence. In this age of mass shootings, bomb threats and terrorist attacks, workplace safety and preparing for an act of workplace violent is paramount. Active shooter situations and other violent events are devastating and unpredictable and can evolve and escalate very quickly. Unfortunately, the frequency of these incidents has increased in recent years, often occurring in a place of business. The XpertHR survey found that 45% of respondents identified preparing for, or responding to, an active shooter or workplace violence as very or extremely challenging.

In the age of marijuana legalization, addressing and managing drug use and drug testing remains one of the most challenging issues for employers. Thirty-five percent of survey respondents feel very or extremely challenged by managing employees who use marijuana medically or recreationally and 32% found addressing the impact of substance abuse (such as heroin and opioid addictions) on the workplace to be very or extremely challenging.

In today's increasingly digital world with so much information is stored on the cloud, data breaches carry high costs in terms of time, money and resources and may also tarnish an employer's public image and reputation. In fact, the XpertHR survey revealed that 64% of respondents viewed data security and the threat of a cyber breach as very or extremely challenging. Thus, employers must be particularly vigilant about safeguarding and protecting confidential information and protecting against cyber breaches, the survey said.