Connecting with Peers Encourages Professional Growth

April 23rd, 2015 by

CAI’s Peer Learning Recruiter, Jennifer Montalvo, shares the many benefits of collaborative learning in today’s post.

Jennifer Montalvo, Peer Learning Recruiter

Jennifer Montalvo, Peer Learning Recruiter

Whatever the phrase you choose: Masterminds, Power Circles or Peer Learning Groups, professionals are realizing that joining forces with others increases their ability to attain their goals.

According to Mia Taylor’s recent article on MainStreet.com,  Why Women Entrepreneurs Love New “Power Circles” Concept, where you meet, whether in a traditional group setting or virtually through an online community, is not as relevant as the genuine support that you receive as a participant. Members of these circles find power through the following:

FACILITATION & SCHEDULED MEETINGS:   Having set times to meet and a facilitator to drive conversations forward while seeking resolutions allows members to really get to know and trust one another.  This also creates an environment of safety and encouragement to step out of his or her comfort zone and engage in deep reflection.

AUTHENTICITY & STRENGTH:  There is power in joining forces and finding support with other peers.  When relationships are formed and trust is present, members are encouraged to dig deep, find their vision and pave a path to accomplish their goals.  Conversations become authentic rather than superficial.   They are able to draw from the strengths and experiences of others and solve problems.

CONFIDENCE & CLARITY:  Members are continuously reaping the rewards of these groups with increased knowledge and understanding of their field as well as the insight into “what comes next” in their professional path.  Members have been known to walk away from meetings stating they have never been so inspired due to the perspective and experience of others. 

Relationships are the currency in this economy of professional peers.  The value they find lies in each individual who is committed to contribute on a reoccurring basis.  In the end, members who may have been alone or isolated in their workplace are able to build partnerships, collaborate and strengthen alliances due to the power of their circle of peers.

If you would like more information regarding Peer Learning Groups offered here at CAI, please contact Jennifer Montalvo at 919-431-6093 or Jennifer.Montalvo@capital.org. If you are interested in learning  about CAI’s online community myCAI, please contact Jamie Roberts, CAI’s Virtual Peer Community Leader, at Jamie.Roberts@capital.org.

Survey Reveals NC Employers Are Finding Strategies to Contain Healthcare Costs in 2015 and Beyond

April 21st, 2015 by

The results of the 2014/2015 NC Healthcare Benefits & Cost Survey are officially in! Serving as the premier health plan benchmark survey for companies in North Carolina, employers in the state can use the data to help manage their employee benefits plan and see what other companies of similar size or industry are doing.

More than 600 organizations from across the state of North Carolina participated in this year’s survey. The majority of participating organizations are located in the Research Triangle region.

Here are some highlights from this year’s survey results:

  • employer individual contributionThe number of employers who provided data for a traditional plan only is 405. The number of employers who provided data for consumer driven health plans is 85. The number of employers that provided both traditional and consumer driven health plans is 144.
  • Seventy-two percent of employers are fully insured, 25.9 percent are self-funded and 1.9 percent of employers report other funding arrangements.
  • Employers with traditional plans reported an average original premium increase of 11.1 percent and an average final premium increase of 5.8 percent. Those with consumer driven health plans saw an initial increase of 10.1 percent and an average final premium increase of 5.6 percent.
  • employer family contributionUnder traditional plans, the average monthly healthcare premium for a family is $1,458.56 and for a single individual is $498.75. On average, employers cover 81 percent and 54 percent of individual and family premiums respectively.
  • To better understand what local employers are doing to navigate the rapidly changing healthcare landscape, the survey asked participants about their top three healthcare cost containment strategies that are currently being implemented or will be put in place. Fifty-eight percent of the 634 unique organizations participating provided an applicable response. The three most popular cost containment strategies include:
  1. All things wellness: encouraging wellness and a healthy lifestyle, establishing formal and informal wellness programs, health education and coaching, providing smoking cessation, etc.
  2. Plan Redesign: taking a close look at their plans and dissecting them, figuring out what is needed and what is not, shopping around for the best deal, opting for leaner plans, increasing the deductible and copays, etc.
  3. Healthcare Consumer Education: teaching employees about health plans and proper utilization, encouraging preventative/annual exams, discouraging emergency room visits or opting for urgent care first, etc.

Most benchmark surveys out today are based on national data with regional breakouts. Our 2014/2015 NC Healthcare Benefits & Cost Survey is unique in that CAI collects data specifically from North Carolina employers for use by North Carolina employers. The information found in this year’s survey results can help you see how your benefit plan design and premium costs compare to other local companies.

The NC Healthcare Benefits & Cost Survey is conducted annually by CAI, with design assistance provided by Hill, Chesson & Woody (HCW). The Employers Association (TEA) of Charlotte, North Carolina co-sponsored the 2014/2015 survey.  For more information on this survey and how to participate in our other surveys, please visit our survey page here.

Are We Beginning To See Price Transparency In Healthcare?

April 16th, 2015 by

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

healthcare transparencyAs pricing in the healthcare market continues to rise, we, as consumers of this healthcare, will begin seeking more cost-efficient ways to pay for this. Many experts agree that one way to begin to slow this rise is to become smarter with our healthcare buying decisions. A ‘smart healthcare consumer’ is one who seeks out the highest quality of care at the lowest price and understands the impact of their healthcare buying decisions.

One of the major hurdles to this is the lack of understanding on where to find information. In areas where there is a lot of competition for healthcare, costs can vary for the same procedure at different facilities. However, based on one’s medical plan, the cost to the patient may be the same by the time the deductible and coinsurance limits are met. The patient doesn’t realize there is a cost difference because his or her out-of-pocket expenses remain the same. It is the insurance company that is ultimately paying the difference, which causes potential increases to premiums at the next renewal.

This disconnect of the user of the healthcare (the patient) and the payer of the healthcare (the insurance company) is beginning to shrink as we see a shift to more consumer-driven health plans like high deductible plans and HSA-qualified plans. More of the actual charges are now being paid by the member on these types of plans. Due to this, the demand for greater pricing transparency is increasing.

We are now beginning to see the marketplace respond as third party companies are unveiling new technology designed to give us more precise information on the cost and quality of the services we seek. The Milkin Institute School of Public Health points to a number of new resources designed to give consumers cost information. Additionally, the health insurance carriers are redesigning their cost comparison tools on their member websites. Just recently, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC introduced a new pricing tool that integrates the member’s underlying health plan to show actual out-of-pocket cost for procedures at different facilities. This gives members a true shopping experience when seeking care.

Some carriers have developed phone apps that compare expenses and outcomes for many services and procedures, allowing consumers to find healthcare providers, urgent care centers, and emergency facilities, as well as average costs for medical services.

Ultimately, we will be able to evaluate our healthcare costs quickly and easily. It will be our responsibility as consumers to use this information efficiently and hopefully make an impact to our premiums.

New Legislation Activity Will Affect NC Employers

April 14th, 2015 by

George Ports, CAI’s Senior Executive and HR Advisor shares important legislation updates for NC employers in today’s post.

George Ports, Senior Executive and HR Advisor

George Ports, Senior Executive and HR Advisor

The 2015 Session of the North Carolina General Assembly officially convened on January 28, 2015.  As we expected, there has been a lot of activity pertaining to legislation introduced affecting day-to-day workplace issues, legislation that I will be covering at CAI’s 2015 Employment and Labor Law Update in May.

Bills introduced in the House and in the Senate aim to make changes to North Carolina’s unemployment laws.  Some of these changes such as requiring a photo ID to receive benefits, requiring more weekly attempts by claimants to obtain employment and authorizing the NCDMV to release social security numbers to the NCDES to prevent fraud were contained in legislation passed in the 2014 Session but vetoed by Governor McCrory.

Other legislation addresses criminal record expunction laws, one bill places restrictions on credit history checks for applicants, and another provides NC Industrial Commission fraud investigators more authority (investigators would be sworn law enforce officers with arrest powers).  Oh yes, and there is a bill that attempts to revise North Carolina’s E-verify law, increasing the number of employers required to use e-verify (employers from 25 or more employees to employers with 5 or more employees).

For many years “employee misclassification” has been a Hot Button for USDOL’s Wage & Hour Division—is the individual providing services to an employer an employee or an independent contractor?  This misclassification issue has garnered quite a bit of attention from North Carolina regulatory agencies and legislators.  Employers don’t pay payroll taxes or unemployment taxes on independent contractors nor are independent contractors covered by employers’ workers compensation insurance.  Independent contractors therefore are not eligible for unemployment or workers’ compensation benefits.

As this article is being written, there are at least four bills that have been introduced in attempts to address “employee misclassification.”  All four have their own definitions of employee and independent contractor.  Two bills are similar in their definitions and that they allow employers a “second bite of the apple” before penalties are imposed.  There is one bill’s definition of an independent contractor, however, it is quite narrow and its penalties for misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor are severe.  Civil penalties can range from $500 to $4000 per violation.  The amount of the penalty will be determined by “the size of the business of the person charged and the gravity of the violation”.  This legislation also contains a provision giving regulatory agencies the authority to issue a stop work order, in other words, shut down business operations. 

During my presentation, I’ll be giving status updates on each bill, stating whether they’ve passed and providing insights as to the probability of them passing or not.  We at CAI look forward to hosting our annual Employment and Labor Law Update on May 14th and 15th at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh.

The Employers Coalition of North Carolina (ECNC) was created to give the business community a more focused avenue of public policy input concerning day to day employer-employee workplace issues. ECNC is a partnership of three North Carolina employers’ associations: CAI (Capital Associated Industries), TEA (The Employers Association) and WCI (Western Carolina Industries) and their 2500 members.

9 Steps to Elevate Your Employer Brand

April 9th, 2015 by

recruitingBersin by Deloitte’s “Predictions for 2015: Redesigning the Organization for a Rapidly Changing World” included this important guidance:

Invest, refocus and redesign talent acquisition — leveraging network recruiting, brand reach and new technologies. In addition to marketing their organization and career opportunities, organizations should also market their mission, purpose, leadership team and work experience. Millennials and high performers look at all of these factors in an employer today.

The ten predictions from Bersin by Deloitte for 2015 cover topics from employee engagement to culture to new HR technologies and more. According to the report, the big overall trend for this year is that companies will have to re-engineer the way they do HR. What makes the prediction above so important is that last line, specifically the reference to high performers.

We are now in a job market where high performers can choose whichever company they want to contribute their talent and knowledge.  They can also much more easily walk away from a company that they feel is not allowing them to be as successful as they could be, or that they don’t believe in.

And these high performers are critical.  How critical?  A study by Ernest O’Boyle and Herman Aguinis published in 2012 found that a high performer can deliver 400% more productivity than the average performer.  400%!!

So if your top performers, or 4Xers, and the 4Xers you’d like to recruit to your organization, are paying extra close attention to your mission, purpose, leadership team and employer brand, you want to make sure that you’ve put the time in to develop those key items in a way that will attract and retain that top talent.

How can you go about doing that?  Here’s a suggested approach:

  1. Watch Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” TED Talk video. Now, how can you apply that to your organization?
  2. Take a look at your Employee Value Proposition (EVP). If you’ve got it documented, great. If not, document it. What makes your organization a special place for employees to work? What differentiates you as an employer from those other companies that you compete with for employees?
  3. Evaluate your EVP. Is it what you want it to be? What will you need to do to continue to attract and retain 4Xers over the next two to three years? If you are where you need to be, great, continue on. If not, how can you get there?
  4. Use that EVP in your discussions with candidates and employees. Make sure your executives and managers use it. And most importantly, make sure you deliver it to employees. Nothing can be worse than saying one thing and doing another.
  5. Develop your core “talent” messaging by choosing three to five key points of your EVP to highlight. What are the things that matter most to your audience? Not sure what they are? Ask your best employees.
  6. Determine the demographics of your target audience (4Xers) and how to reach them. Social media? Websites/blogs? Trade publications? Newspapers?
  7. Establish your presence in those areas and start your messaging. Maximize your social media presence on whatever channel(s) your target audience loves. Learn how best to use these mediums so that you are not just blasting “advertising” at your audience.
  8. Highlight employees. Ask your best employees to shoot a video or offer a statement about what working for your organization means to them. Recognize your employees for accomplishments or for extra effort. Encourage them to share with family, friends and networked connections.
  9. Evaluate your progress. What’s working and what’s not? Keep and expand on the things that are working. Get rid of the things that are not (once you’ve given them a sufficient amount of time – roughly six months). Add something new that you think may have an impact. Then start over at whatever point in the process that makes sense for you.

Please consider these nine steps as a template to get you started and build on them.  You want to begin this process sooner and not wait until later.  Don’t wait to get it perfect.  Start influencing your future 4Xers now and step up your efforts to keep the ones you’ve got.

Questions?  At CAI we can walk you through this and most other employer challenges.  Feel free to contact me at martin.morgan@capital.org or 919-878-9222.

Quick Tips for the Social Media Newcomers

April 7th, 2015 by

employer and social mediaIn the past 5-10 years, social media platforms have taken the Internet by storm. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr and countless other social platforms are used by businesses and organizations for marketing, recruiting, thought leadership and overall brand awareness. With the vast variety of social media platforms and uses, it can be a challenge to know everything about social media and how it can fit in with your company’s goals.

For those businesses that have just started out in the social media world, here are a few tips to help you start your social media use.

 

Target Your Desired Audience

Like other types of marketing and communication tools, audience targeting is extremely important on social media.  Building your audience is extremely important, but you also need to target your audience so you can reach your customers, investors, employees and surrounding community. Make a note of who likes your Facebook page and follows you on Twitter instead of just setting a target number. That way you can reach a large audience that will actually want to engage with your business.

 

Connect With Your Audience

Once you have targeted your desired audience, it is time to connect with them. Connecting is important across social platforms and can be done in a variety of ways. It may seem easier to put out content every day or every week and then let people read it, but social media has the capability of generating two-way communication. Take advantage of what it has to offer and message followers on Twitter and Facebook or tweet at someone to engage in conversation. Don’t limit yourself – start a dialogue!

 

Choose the Appropriate Platform(s)

There are numerous platforms, but you may find that only a few work for your company and actually reach your target audience. It is important to focus on the appropriate platforms that your audience is on instead of spreading yourself thin amongst five or more platforms when only two are actually connecting with your audience. For example, Facebook is an extremely popular and valuable platform, but that does not mean it is appropriate for every company. Evaluate multiple social platforms to figure out which ones work best for your company.

 

Engage Employees

While you may only have a few people running your company’s social media pages (or only one!), it is helpful to have employees engage on social media with the business as well. Encourage employees that have social media accounts to share and like content so that you can reach more people. This can help generate credibility and exposure.

 

Social media use is perfected through practice, exposure and research. For more information on social media for businesses go to www.facebook.com/cai.hr.nc or www.twitter.com/caihr.

Photo Source: mkhmarketing

 

When Can I Be Held Personally Liable for Employment Actions?

April 2nd, 2015 by

CAI’s Advice and Resolution team member Pat Rountree shares valuable information regarding liability for employment actions in today’s post.

Pat Rountree, HR Advisor

Pat Rountree, HR Advisor

Employment laws outline employer responsibilities for compliance under the various regulations. From time to time, the Advice and Resolution team is asked, “Can I be held personally responsible?” The answer is, it depends. It depends on the definition of employer under the regulation and/or the interpretation of that definition by the court if it is ambiguous.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) defines employer to include any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of the employer in relation to an employee. That definition could include HR Managers and other managers or supervisors who have the authority by the employer to exercise control over the employee’s job. HR Managers and managers who review job classification could be held liable for misclassification of a job as exempt when it should have been non-exempt, resulting in failure to pay overtime.

Individuals who qualify as employers as explained above may also be liable under the Equal Pay Act if they are responsible for paying a male more than a female for the same job unless there are factors to support the differential (more experienced, merit based on documented performance, etc.).

The Family and Medical Leave Act follows the same definition as the FLSA. Supervisors and managers who have authority over an eligible employee can be held responsible for denying FMLA or failing to fulfill other requirements of FMLA. Examples of individual responsibility include failure to designate absences that qualify as FMLA resulting in disciplinary action for absences (train your supervisors), and failure to provide FMLA notices (HR take note).

Other employment laws that can hold individuals personally responsible for violations include:

  • USERRA – failure to hire or taking negative action against a person because of their military service or other actions in violation of the Act
  • Section 1981 Civil Rights Act – discrimination based on race/color (Title VII does not consider individuals as employers; Section 1981 permits individual actions)
  • HIPAA – revealing personally identifying health information
  • ERISA – fiduciary breach of responsibilities under health care plan, retirement or 401(k) plan, or other covered plans
  • Immigration and Reform Act – knowingly hiring an illegal immigrant

Employees can also sue personally responsible individuals under state tort laws for wrongful discharge, or other conduct that violates a duty of care that a supervisor, or manager may have in their role.

While employees may not know that they could sue individuals, plaintiffs’ lawyers do. Where there is individual liability, the opportunity for monetary gain increases as individuals can have the same penalties as employers.

Please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution team with questions at 919‑878‑9222 or 336‑668‑7746.

I Didn’t Come to Work Because I Dreamed I Got Fired

March 31st, 2015 by

work and tardinessNo, this isn’t an April Fools’ joke. An employee actually told his employer that he missed a day of work because he dreamed he got fired. Getting to work can be a challenge, but with added obstacles like life-changing dreams, shower accidents and drunken forgetfulness, the commute can become harder.

A recent survey from CareerBuilder with help from Harris Poll found that participants gave reasons like the ones from above as to why they arrived to work late. More the 2,100 HR managers and more than 3,000 employees in several industries participated in the nationwide survey from November 4 to December 2, 2014.

The survey found that more than one in five employees admitted to being late to work at least once a month and 15 percent of participants said that arriving late to work is a weekly occurrence. Of the employees who admitted to arriving late, 30 percent also admitted to lying about the reason for their tardiness.

Responses from the survey revealed that traffic is the most common factor for tardiness, followed by lack of sleep and bad weather. Not as common, but still culprits of causing tardiness include getting kids ready for school or daycare, public transportation issues and wardrobe malfunctions.

CareerBuilder’s survey also asked employees what was the most outrageous excuse they’d ever given and they shared the following:

  • I knocked myself out in the shower.
  • I was drunk and forgot which Waffle House I parked my car next to.
  • I discovered my spouse was having an affair, so I followed him this morning to find out who he was having an affair with.
  • Someone robbed the gas station I was at, and I didn’t have enough gas to get to another station.
  • I had to wait for the judge to set my bail.
  • There was a stranger sleeping in my car.
  • A deer herd that was moving through town made me late.
  • I’m not late. I was thinking about work on the way in.
  • I dreamed that I got fired.
  • I went out to my car to drive to work, and the trunk had been stolen out of it.

If you receive an excuse similar to the ones above from an employee tomorrow, you may want to wait for them to say “April Fools!” before you start to doubt. You can read more about the survey here.

Photo Source: Tiffany Bridge

Unlocking LinkedIn’s Recruiting Potential

March 26th, 2015 by

HR on Demand Team Member Carolyn Ulrich shares helpful tips for using LinkedIn as a recruiting tool:

linkedin and recruitingAs a recruiter for CAI, social media plays an invaluable role in my career. While we can arguably debate the usefulness of Facebook and Twitter, no one can deny that Linkedin is the holy grail of professional social networks.

Originally launched in May of 2003, Linkedin was created as the professional response to MySpace, gaining only a few new members a day. Within the first 3 years, Linkedin had 20 million users and surpassed MySpace in 2011 with over 33 million. Within the past 4 years, Linkedin has grown to more than 347 million users in over 200 countries and is the largest professional networking site in the world.

By investing a little time and effort into Linkedin, you can take your recruiting efforts to the next level. Here are my top suggestions on how to unleash the full recruiting potential of LinkedIn:

Start with a great profile!

Take the time to invest in a good headline and descriptive summary that helps people understand who you are and what you do. Don’t be afraid to highlight pictures, videos, presentations, skills, recommendations, certifications and clearances that will stand out to others in your profession. This will make you seem more credible and in turn, more approachable.

Expand your Connections!

Don’t be shy about accepting invitations from people you’ve met and even sometimes those that you haven’t. The more connections you have, the more users will be able to see you in their 2nd and 3rd degree network. Make it a point to reach out and connect with people you have heard about or met at events, trainings and conferences. Remember, there’s only 6 degrees of separation!

Post Often!  

Is something interesting happening with your company or in your office? POST IT! Once you have built your network connections make use of all your connections and post content as it relates to you, your profession and your company. Make sure you’re also posting jobs on your page and highlight why you LOVE your company! Never underestimate the power of social media. If you’re always posting about how much you love your job, your connections perceptions of your company will fall in line. Even connections that aren’t actively looking for a new position might be interested so don’t be afraid to put that job in front of them!

Leverage Your Connections!

Send notes to your connections that may be a great fit for your job openings. But make sure you’re not being too aggressive…. No one likes to be sold and you don’t want them to look at your messages like spam. This will keep you current with your connections and is a great FREE marketing tool!

Our recruiting team is dedicated to helping you with all of your recruiting needs. Whether it’s learning more about leveraging Linkedin as a recruiting tool, having us recruit for and fill your vacant positions, or simply answering a few questions, we’re here to help! Please feel free to contact our recruiting team directly at 919- 431-6084 or jill.feldman@capital.org.

Photo Source: Link Humans

 

 

10 HR Practices that Destroy Small Business Productivity – Misguided Meetings

March 24th, 2015 by

In today’s video blog, CAI’s VP of Membership, Doug Blizzard, continues his series on HR practices that destroy productivity.  This month’s focus is misguided meetings, and he starts the video by giving examples of what misguided meetings might look like.

Doug then shares that Salary.com for Business recently surveyed over 3,200 employees, asking them to rank their biggest time wasters at work. The number one reason, with 47 percent of participants agreeing, was attending too many meetings.

Running bad meetings isn’t due to a lack of available resources, Doug says in the video.   There are several books and other learning tools that offer predictable meeting advice. However, meetings with good elements, such as a detailed agenda or clear purpose to solve an issue, can also go south and waste valuable time.

Doug offers insight from business expert Pat Lencioni who argues that most meetings lack drama. The expert suggests putting the more controversial issues at the beginning of the meeting and seeking solutions before moving on to the next topic.

Another reason why meetings are often time consuming is that they lack context and purpose. Doug suggests getting into a rhythm by scheduling reoccurring, tightly-run meetings with your employees. The meetings should happen as scheduled and with specific agendas.  This will help you focus on what’s important and solve problems faster.

So stop letting bad meetings kill productivity at your office.  If you need help around your company’s meeting or communication strategy, please reach out to our Advice and Resolution Team  at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.