Performance Evaluations: Time for Some Spring Cleaning?

April 17th, 2014 by

In today’s video blog, CAI’s Vice President of Membership, Doug Blizzard, discusses performance evaluations. He starts by offering information from several surveys that indicate that many employers are finding little value with their current evaluation system and have plans to revamp their process.

Doug says that annual reviews can be valuable and a necessary tool to improve performance if they are done right. When defining the right way to do a performance review, Doug starts by saying that most performance issues are hiring issues. An employer may hire an employee based on their skills, but then realize that employee does not fit the company culture. The employer then has to spend time helping them fit in.

He also says there should be no disagreement about what a successful performance should look like for a specific team member. Employees should receive clear expectations from their managers to ensure they understand what they need to achieve. Doug also suggests meeting with your employees regularly to check in with them to see how they are working towards their goals. The last point that Doug emphasizes is for employers to not make the review about the form, but to focus on the conversation instead.

If you’d like additional tips on creating a valuable performance evaluation system at your organization, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7756.

9 Things You Should Know About Immigration Law and I-9′s

April 15th, 2014 by

I9 paperworkImmigration law can often be a tricky subject for employers to tackle. To ensure you’re keeping your organization compliant, here is some helpful information to remember:

1. Employers who have constructive knowledge that an employee is not authorized to work, but continue to allow the employee to work are subject to fines.

2. Although employers are not required to do I-9’s for contractors, they have a duty to ensure to the best of their ability that contractors are legally authorized to work in the United States.

3. Employers who hire out-of-state employees where there is no company representative to handle the I-9 process may contract with someone to complete I-9’s on their behalf, such as a notary public. (Note: Texas does not allow notaries to perform this service.)

4. Employers cannot require an employee to present documentation to support the Section 1 information. The employee attests by signature that this information is correct.

5. Employers or their agents are not required to notify the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of illegal aliens discovered through the I-9 process, and it is not recommended that you do so.

6. The I-9 form cannot be completed until a job offer is made and accepted. Because the I-9 requires date of birth and identifies whether the person is a U.S. citizen or alien, it could be a source of potential discrimination charges if an applicant were required to complete it pre-offer and then not be hired.

7. The I-9 Form states that Section 1 should be completed and signed by the employee on the day employment begins. This is defined as the first day of work where the employee is providing labor or services in exchange for pay.

8. It is fraud if someone other than the employee fills in Section 1 but does not provide the required information and a signature in the Preparer and/or Translator Certification box, or if HR or a company representative fills in missing information in Section 1 for the employee.

9. ICE investigations are lead-driven. Leads that appear to have some merit must be further investigated to avoid constructive knowledge and to resolve the issue.

Ogletree Deakins’ attorney Bernhard Mueller will provide additional information and updates regarding immigration law at the 2014 Employment and Labor Law Update. The conference will take place at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh on May 14 and May 15. In addition to immigration law, presenters will cover wage and hour issues, NC legislature, ADA, minimizing lawsuits, protecting proprietary information, and more. Register today at www.capital.org/lawupdate.

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When Must Employers Seek a Religious Accommodation Regarding a Personal Appearances Policy?

April 10th, 2014 by

In today’s post, John Gupton, CAI’s General Counsel and HR Advisor on CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team, shares important information with employers about religious accommodations for employees.

John Gupton, General Counsel and HR Advisor

John Gupton, General Counsel and HR Advisor

Religious discrimination involves treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs and is prohibited by the federal law known as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is a federal agency, is responsible for enforcing this law. The law protects not only people who belong to traditional organized religions, like Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism, but also others who have sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs. Religious discrimination can also involve treating someone differently because that person is married to (or associated with) an individual of a particular religion or because of his or her connection with a religious organization or group.

Unless it would be an undue hardship on the employer’s operation of its business, an employer must reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices. This applies not only to schedule changes or leave for religious observances, but also to such things as dress or grooming practices that an employee has for religious reasons. These might include, for example, wearing particular head coverings or other religious dress (such as a Jewish yarmulke or a Muslim headscarf), or wearing certain hairstyles or facial hair (such as Rastafarian dreadlocks or Sikh uncut hair and beard). It also includes an employee’s observance of a religious prohibition against wearing certain garments (such as pants or miniskirts).

Also, as mentioned above, an employer does not have to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices if doing so would cause undue hardship to the employer. An accommodation may cause undue hardship if it is costly, compromises workplace safety, decreases workplace efficiency, infringes on the rights of other employees, or requires other employees to do more than their share of potentially hazardous or burdensome work. For example, workplace safety issues, like the prohibition of wearing loose garments around machinery, don’t need to be overlooked for the sake of accommodation.

When an employee or applicant needs a dress or grooming accommodation for religious reasons, it is the employee’s responsibility to notify the employer that he or she needs such an accommodation for religious reasons. If the employer reasonably needs more information, the employer and the employee should engage in an interactive process to discuss the request. If it would not pose an undue hardship, the employer must grant the accommodation.

The EEOC has issued guidance on religious discrimination issues in the workplace, which is located at http://1.usa.gov/rel-dis. In addition, the EEOC has a listing of best practices in the workplace regarding religious issues, which is located at http://1.usa.gov/bp-rel.

If you have questions about religious accommodations, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution team at 919‑878‑9222 or 336‑668‑7746.

 

Enhancing Employee Strengths Will Help Your Company Perform Better

April 8th, 2014 by

Business meetingFindings from decades of research by Gallup indicate that employees who use their strengths daily are six times more likely to be engaged at their jobs. Gallaup’s research shows a clear connection between strengths and employee engagement. This connection can increase overall business performance when organizations work on enhancing both.

According to Gallup, the best way for employees to grow and develop is to identify how they most naturally think, feel and behave, which will unveil their talents. The next step in the process is to then build on their talents to create strengths.

The extensive research shows that building employees’ strengths is a more effective approach to improving performance than trying to improve weaknesses. Benefits of focusing on strengths include employees who are more engaged, perform better and are more loyal to their organization. Yet, studies also show that the majority of US businesses don’t focus on helping employees use their strengths.

When companies put the spotlight on the strengths of their team members, they are more likely to have employees who are more committed to their business. Gallup found that the best way for employers to maximize the strengths of their workforce is through company managers. However, many managers aren’t adequately trained, choose to ignore their direct reports, or worse—highlight and focus on the weaknesses of their employees.

If your managers aren’t equipped to focus on employee strengths, read some of the blogs below to help you get them on the right track:

Ongoing Training Helps Managers Reach Success

Making sure your managers are adequately trained to handle their projects and supervise people is important no matter if your budget is large or extremely limited. Considering multiple budgets, here are a few ways to train your managers…read more: http://blog.capital.org/ongoing-training-helps-managers-reach-success/

Coaching Your Managers Will Bring Business Success

Help your managers communicate and connect with their employees better. Having strong connections between coworkers at your workplace will raise employee morale, increase productivity and affect your bottom line positively. Here are a few areas that your managers should be coached in…read more here: http://blog.capital.org/coaching-your-managers-will-bring-business-success/

How HR Can Help New Internally Promoted Managers Succeed

Supervisors and managers who are promoted from within an organization face unique challenges to their success in their new role and in their relationships with peers, supervisors and subordinates. Here are six tips for how HR can contribute to the success of an internal employee who is transitioning into a new supervisory or management role…read more here: http://blog.capital.org/how-hr-can-help-new-internally-promoted-managers-succeed/

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Cash Shortage Deductions from Commission Payments

April 3rd, 2014 by

CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team answers several questions from members daily. Many questions the Team receives deal with Wage & Hour issues and what is right under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Here’s a recent question the team received:

George Ports, Senior Executive and HR Advisor

George Ports, Senior Executive and HR Advisor

Are Employers Allowed to Deduct Cash Shortages from a Salaried Exempt’s Commissions?

In today’s post, Advice and Resolution Team Member George Ports offers guidance for this employer question:

According to the US Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division, cash shortage deductions from commission payments made to salaried exempt employees would not affect their exempt status under section 13(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as long as the affected employee meets both the duty and the guaranteed salary level tests required.

An employee will be considered to satisfy the salary level test if the employee is paid on a salary basis at a rate of not less than $455.00 per week. The salary basis test is met if the employee regularly receives each pay period “a predetermined amount constituting all or part of the employee’s compensation, which amount is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of the work performed.” An exempt employee must receive the full salary for any week in which the employee performs any work without regard to the number of days or hours worked. [Note: There are limited exceptions regarding deductions from exempt pay. For more information, go to http://j.mp/ex-su.]

An employer may provide an exempt employee with additional compensation without losing the exemption or violating the salary basis requirement, if the employment arrangement also includes a guarantee of at least the minimum weekly-required amount paid on a salary basis. Thus, for example, an exempt employee guaranteed at least $455 each week paid on a salary basis may also receive additional compensation of a one percent commission on sales.

An exempt employee may receive a percentage of the sales or profits of the employer if the employment arrangement includes a guarantee of at least $455 each week paid on a salary basis. Similarly, the exemption is not lost if an exempt employee who is guaranteed at least $455 each week paid on a salary basis also receives additional compensation based on hours worked for work beyond the normal workweek. Such additional compensation may be paid on any basis (e.g., flat sum, bonus payment, straight-time hourly amount, time and one-half or any other basis), and may include paid time off. In other words, additional compensation paid on any basis besides the guaranteed salary is not inconsistent with the salary basis of payment.

Wage and hour regulations require only that exempt employees be paid a guaranteed salary of at least $455 per week, and any additional compensation above this salary amount is generally something that may be agreed upon between the employer and the employee. The prohibition against improper deductions from the guaranteed salary does not extend to any such additional compensation provided to exempt employees.

Cash shortage deductions, therefore may be made from a salaried exempt employee’s commission payments without affecting the employee’s exempt status as long as the commission payments are bona fide and are not paid to facilitate otherwise prohibited deductions from the guaranteed salary.

If you have wage and hour regulation questions, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919‑878‑9222 or 336‑668‑7746.

The Me Generation

March 27th, 2014 by

In today’s video blog, CAI’s Vice President of Membership, Doug Blizzard, tackles the topic of different generations working together. Doug says he is not crazy about how generational issues in the workplace are being reported and presented.

His beef with generational analysis is that the results tend to broadly characterize members of one generation possessing the same characteristics, and this can lead to helpful and harmful stereotypes.

Doug gives an example of a typical stereotype for Millennials—members of this generation want to work how, when and where they want, but lack loyalty and communication skills.  He says this generational phenomenon is not a new thing. This isn’t the first time a younger generation has challenged the status quo, and in the video, he lists several examples.

Doug wants employers to be mindful that there are as many differences in attitudes, values, behaviors and lifestyles within a generation as there are between generations. He advises managers to be careful to not write off an entire generation due to general characteristics they hear.  Doug says that employees, regardless of generation, should be managed in a respectful and supportive manner to maximize their possibility of achieving success.

Employees of all generations look to their company leaders to set the values and beliefs that drive the company. Doug says your company values should be developed independent of any particular generation. Instead of catering to a specific generation, define the characteristics that you find important in an employee and find people of all generations, cultures, ethnicities and so on who have those characteristics. People are attracted to a clear vision and clear values regardless of their age.

If you have questions about managing different generations at your workplace, please call CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

 

6 Fun Ways to Keep Your Employees Engaged in the Springtime

March 25th, 2014 by

spring flowersSpring has officially started. Although it’s still a little chilly, the weather will warm up and your employees will be energized for the new season. Spring brings longer days and additional opportunities to keep your employees satisfied, as well as reward them for the hard work they contribute to the company all year long.

Try some of the springtime activities below to keep your staff motivated and productive in the warmer months ahead:

  • March Madness is upon us! Have the basketball games playing in your break room for people who are fans of the tournament.
  • Spring is a great time for a company picnic. The season isn’t too hot or too cold to enjoy an outdoor gathering with your employees and their families. It will be a great opportunity to get to know them and the people who are most important to them.
  • Warmer weather means more chances to enjoy frozen treats. Show your staff some appreciation by throwing an afternoon gelato or ice cream party. You can buy the tasty treats and serve them yourself or have a vendor dish out the goodies.
  • Your employees will enjoy a more relaxed dress code when the weather is warmer. Giving them the choice to dress more comfortably throughout the spring will show your employees that you care about their happiness while they are at work.
  • Plan a warm-weather potluck lunch. Have staff members sign up for different food dishes to bring during the lunch hour. If the sun is shining, eat outside!
  • Encourage your team members to add some fitness into their schedules by planning a company walk in the late afternoon or after work. Walking and talking with your coworkers during nice weather is a great way to bond and burn calories.

For additional ideas for employee engagement activities, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

5 Things to Know From the 2014 HR Management Conference

March 20th, 2014 by

Branded ppt slideMore than 300 HR professionals and company executives attended CAI’s annual HR Management Conference this year. The conference took place on March 5 and March 6 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh, and the theme was HR 20/20: Evolve. Focus. Lead.

The keynote presentations and breakout sessions featured several topics aimed to help HR professionals and company leaders stretch out of their comfort zones, acquire new skills and understand the power they hold to lead their organizations and achieve their business goals.

Speakers covered several subjects relevant to the ever-evolving HR Industry, such as optimizing employee potential, future proofing technology, eliminating organizational inefficiency and utilizing emotional intelligence. Below are five takeaways from the 2014 Conference:

  • Diana Newton discussed emotional intelligence in the workplace during her conference presentation, Why Emotional Intelligence Matters at Work.
    • Diana says the first step to understanding your emotional self is to be aware and understand your feelings and their impact
    • You must also respect and accept your strengths and weaknesses
    • You can improve your emotional intelligence by improving yourself, pursuing meaningful goals, and realizing your potential capabilities

 

  • For her presentation, Leadership Transition: How to Assess, Plan, and Implement a Successful Strategy, Cindy Anderson shared with participants the tools and steps for developing a sound succession plan at their companies. Here’s some information she imparted:
    • In order to get buy-in from company leaders to start a transition plan, you should:
      • Approach leadership with the specific reasons why a plan is important
      • Focus on how the transition plan will add value to the organization
      • Think about why leadership has resisted in the past and deliver a message that minimizes those fears
      • Propose a timeline
      • Consider the potential candidates for leadership (if any internally)

 

  • Shane Yount shared helpful information in his presentation, HR Metrics – Training to Drive Sustainable Business Processes. He gave the following tips for implementing a scorecard matrix to track business productivity:
    •  Identify key business focus areas
    •  Develop SMART objectives
    •  Create standards to measure results against
    •  Establish target thresholds and color code by performance
    •  Delegate responsibilities and hold people accountable for the tasks
    •  Set how often you plan to compare results – weekly, biweekly, quarterly, etc.

 

  • During Ellen Baker’s presentation, Working and Thriving in a Multicultural World, she shared some useful information for interacting in global work scenarios:
    •  Observe, observe, observe
    • A handshake or nod works almost anywhere
    • Use your right hand or both hands when making contact, but don’t use your left hand
    •  Err on the side of formality
    •  Respect and honor cultural norms, but be yourself
    •  Be compassionate, tolerant and flexible
    •  Success lies in humility- admit that there’s a lot you don’t know
    •  Keep your sense of humor
    •  Minimize gestures
    •  Smile, smile, smile

 

  • CAI announced the 2014 Ovation Award Winners:
    • Farragut Systems won the small company award for its Employee Performance and Development program
    • Tanger Outlet Centers won the mid-size company award for its Peer Assisted Learning program
    • AICPA won the large company award for its Grow the Ranks program

 

For additional information on CAI’s conferences, please go to https://www.capital.org/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?site=cai&webcode=cai-training-conferences.

 

The Movement Towards Performance Based Pay In Healthcare

March 18th, 2014 by

The post below is a guest blog from W. Hunter Walton, JD who serves as Principal, Health & Welfare Consultant  for CAI’s employee benefits partner Hill, Chesson & Woody.

 hcw 3 14 2014Recently, Congress passed a clean debt ceiling bill that raised the nation’s debt limit without any strings attached. Before the vote, however, there were serious discussions to revamp the way physicians are paid under Medicare.

Under current law, physician pay is tied to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), a formula which many doctors and politicians think is insufficient to adequately compensate doctors for their work. For the past several years Congress has adopted a kick-the-can-down-the-road approach, which just delays scheduled reductions in pay. But after years of searching for a solution, members of Congress this week appeared to have reached a permanent solution to repeal the SGR and replace it with a system of payment tied to performance. This would be in line with trends we are seeing elsewhere in Medicare – with the growth of Accountable Care Organizations – as well as in some aspects of private insurance.

While the provision was eventually dropped from the debt ceiling bill, it will likely provide an important starting point from which future negotiations will be based. As we see an increase in preferred and high-performance networks in private insurance and a movement to tie payment in government health programs to performance, expect to see the effects of performance based pay trickle down to your health benefit and medical management strategies. Find out more about this in the February 10th edition of The Fiscal Times.

 

Top Reasons Why Employees Voluntarily Leave Your Company

March 13th, 2014 by

FiringThere are several reasons employees decide to leave their jobs. Every employee has specific criteria that makes a job enjoyable or worth making a commitment to. Below are some of the top reasons employees quit their employers to start new positions at different companies.

Some employees do not want to tolerate the demands of their job position or suffer while their company is going through a hard time. Employees in this position may not want to put up with the following:

  • Weekend work, long hours or frequent travel
  • Additional administrative duties added to current job responsibilities, such as copying or filing
  • Raises and promotions currently unavailable
  • Corporate relocation of offices or manufacturing plant

 

Other employees are looking to work on their professional development and won’t stick around long at a place that doesn’t value employee training. To avoid this scenario at your company, consider providing your staff members with the following opportunities:

  • Training programs to develop and gain skills
  • Access to conferences related to their field or industry
  • Subscription to an industry or trade magazine

 

Many employees want to know if they can have a career at their current company. If there’s not a future in it for them, they may look for another company that will need them. Here are some ways to make sure you’re considering your employees’ long-term goals:

  • Ask your employees what they would like to gain from working with your company
  • Implement a program that identifies and trains high performers for leadership positions in the future
  • During your regular employee feedback meetings, get their input on the types of projects they enjoy working on and what they’d like to work on next and in the future

 

A poor company culture is a big reason why employees quit their jobs. Some of the specific reasons related to poor company culture that drive employees to leave include:

  • Constant reorganization of management structure and company direction
  • Rejection of ideas or suggestions to improve the environment
  • Favoritism of some workers over others by team leaders
  • Competition among departments or teams, creating an environment that is more about competing than cooperating.
  • Promoting employees with less training or experience over  more deserving and/or skilled employees

 

If you have questions regarding your organization’s retention strategy, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919‑878‑9222 or 336‑668‑7746.