Is it Time for a Workplace Clean Up?

July 20th, 2017 by

Nobody would accuse me of obsessive neatness.  Clutter and Creativity both start with “C” for a reason!

Even I agree there are some important HR functions that need an annual power washing.

Old Policies

Most companies have old workplace policies that no longer function, like two left shoes missing the rights.  Often a written guideline is tighter (or looser) than actual practice, or we are doing something altogether different than the “handbook” states.  Paid time off, sick days, adverse weather, expense reimbursement, call-in pay, vacation accrual, after hours work and dress codes may have changed over the years.  Check your policy closet for all the things that no longer fit.

Performance Reviews

What rating would you give to your own performance review process?  Does it meet or exceed expectations?  Most HR managers say “no”.  Too often, reviews are defensive or perfunctory.  If you accept inadequate reviews because you believe they will support you in a future employee claim, think again.  The opposite may be true.

This year, ask what you expect from a review process.  Is it about rewarding the right people for the right things?  Is it about tying company goals to individual behaviors?  Is it simply a way to ensure managers and employees are talking about important things?   Get clarity around the purpose of reviews and you will find the right method for you.

Stop the Insanity

Data is a funny thing.  Most of us have more than we will ever use, like that out-of-date case of alfredo sauce from Costco (“it was a good deal”).  Data can create important insights or become a source of confusion.  Every year, judge how well you collect, access and use data in your workplace.   Smart business leaders say useable, meaningful data is important for solving people challenges and making better decisions.  So often, data about hiring, employee retention, market pay, satisfaction and exit interviews prove our gut instincts wrong. (Alfredo sauce is cheaper by the single jar in the long run.)

Let’s be Different

We spend so much mindshare benchmarking with others.   Each Spring, consider how your workplace can be different.  Do you have an answer for the candidate who asks “what makes this place special”?  Is it hard to find great people for key roles?  Maybe you look and act too much like everybody else.  Paint your front door a bright color and add a catchy door chime.  Be different than your competitors for talent!

Merit Pay

Merit is defined as “superior quality or worth” by Webster, so why do we call our annual pay increases “merit” raises?  This Spring, away from the pressure of pay review time, decide if your system is working.  Is it overcompensating some roles because of the power of the annual “merit” raise?  Is it making you non-competitive in the market for scarce skills when the dollar pool is spent on all those non-merit raises?

Few enjoy the clean up process but all appreciate the results.

At CAI we build engaged, well-managed, low-risk workplaces. If your company could use an HR partner, please contact us at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 or learn more at CAI.

Bruce Clarke serves as CAI’s President and CEO, and has been with CAI since 2001. Bruce practiced labor and employment law with the national labor law firm of Ogletree Deakins for 18 years. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and was selected as one of North Carolina’s Legal Elite by Business North Carolina Magazine. Bruce is 100% committed to helping companies maximize employee engagement and minimize workplace liabilities.

Separation Checklists are a Must!

July 18th, 2017 by

An employee’s separation requires a lot of preparation both prior to the last day and following the separation. This includes items such as a  replacement requisition, job knowledge sharing activities, file reviews, preparation for termination meeting, etc. Additional items may include everyday tasks like removing voicemail and email (so that you don’t have clients leaving messages in a “black hole.”) From a compliance perspective there are items like final payroll calculations, and benefit information processing.  With so many related activities there many opportunities for ‘misses’ that can create headaches for any size company. Because of all of the moving parts involved in employee separations, it is important for companies to have a checklist of action items to address upon the separation of an employee.

CAI recommends having two separation checklists –  The Involuntary Separation Checklist and The Separation checklist. The Involuntary Separation Checklist  can be used in situations where the employee is not aware of their upcoming departure from the company. The checklist is broken down into sections for the preparation of the separation (prior to the employee knowing about their termination) to after the employee has been notified. The Separation Checklist should be used for most employee separations.

Having a checklist in place will ensure employee exits go smoothly and that tasks aren’t missed. A smooth exit can also help minimize employee relations issues in knowing that the employee has all pertinent information needed for their separation (pay, benefits, etc).  It can also provide a paper trail if later down the road there are questions regarding an employee’s exit (“did the employee return their company keys?”)

CAI delivers HR, compliance, and people development solutions to 1,100+ NC companies to help them build engaged, well-managed and low-risk workplaces. Contact us to find out how we can help your company.

Emily’s primary area of focus is providing expert advice and support in the areas of employee relations and federal and state employment law compliance as a member of the Advice & Resolution team for CAI. Additionally, Emily advises business and HR leaders in operational and strategic human resources areas such as talent and performance management, employee engagement, and M&A’s. Emily has 10+ years of broad-based HR business partnering experience centering around employee relations, compliance & regulatory employment issues, strategic and tactical human resources, and strong process improvement skills.

The Value of a Strong Company Culture

July 6th, 2017 by

We hear the phrase “corporate culture” in conjunction with any description of any business these days.  In fact, the phrase is so commonplace it sounds less and less important the more it is used.  Still, those responding to the aforementioned survey all agree that workplace culture is an extremely important component in the success, or failure, of a business.

A 2016 survey from the Workforce Institute at Kronos and WorkplaceTrends concluded that HR professionals, managers and employees are not in agreement when it comes to who actually has the power to create, influence or destroy corporate culture.  The survey included 600 HR professionals, 600 managers and 600 non-managing employees across the U.S. workforce.

Most of us are aware of the perils of a negative corporate culture when we read about yet another company who gets it wrong. When there are multiple and frequent changes in leadership style combined with a creating  a culture so focused on success at any costs, quality and ethics can be sacrificed and trust within an organization spirals downward. 

Netflix is know for getting it right. They promote a corporate culture built on trust and a certain amount of autonomy among its employees.  When the company shifts focus or enhances their product offerings, employees are immediately on board and driven to be a part of its success.  

So, who should be responsible for defining corporate culture? Thirty-three percent (33%) of HR professionals surveyed believe HR should define corporate culture. Twenty-six percent (26%) of managers felt the executive team should define the corporate culture, while 29% of employees surveyed felt they should define the corporate culture.  Strangely, another 28% of the employees felt that no single group actually defines the culture in the workplace. 

Employees ranked the three most important factors impacting corporate culture. Fifty percent (50%) felt compensation was the #1 factor.  Number two (#2) was co-worker respect and support, and #3 was work-life balance.  However, only 29% of managers and 25% of HR professionals felt compensation would be the #1 factor to impact corporate culture. 

HR professionals responding to the survey felt the #1 factor would be “managers and executives leading by example,” followed by #2 “employee benefits”, and #3 coming in as “a shared mission and values.” 

Assuming this survey is representative of corporate America across the board, perhaps the truest answer and most successful strategy for defining corporate culture is for all three groups to work together.  Corporate culture is an important recruiting and retention incentive.  Likewise, the wrong corporate culture will impair your recruiting efforts and drive away your existing employees.  Collaboration across the employee, management and Human Resources components of your organization is key to creating a corporate culture which appeals to your employees, can be fostered by your managers, and can be supported by HR. Work together to stand united and to create a stronger brand for your organization.

CAI delivers HR, compliance, and people development solutions to 1,100+ NC companies to help them build engaged, well-managed and low-risk workplaces. Contact us to find out how we can help your company.

CAI’s Advice & Resolution Advisor Renee Watkins is a seasoned HR professional with a diverse background in Human Resource. Renee provides CAI members with practical advice in a wide range of human resource functions including conflict resolution, compliance and regulatory issues, and employee relations.

 

Photo Credit: Pixabay

HR’s Role in Organizational Change

July 3rd, 2017 by

Nothing remains constant except change itself.”  “Change is inevitable. Change is constant.”  “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”

We have all heard the adages about change and are acutely aware of how important change is to the success of an organization. So why is organizational change so challenging?  Based on the details of a recent study, ‘Where Change Management Fails” from Robert Half Management Resources, the reason organizational change usually fails is basic.  It’s communication.  Or more specifically, lack of communication.  The study (which included 300 senior managers at U.S. companies with 20 or more employees) notes that most organizational change efforts struggle in the executional phase on the foundation of insufficient or disjointed communication.

Survey respondents were asked, “Where do most change-management efforts commonly fail?” Only 10% said “strategy development,” for example, while 46% said “execution.”

Drilling down a little further, the research asked, “What is most important when leading your company or team through a major change?” 65% answered “communicating clearly and frequently” – far outdistancing “managing expectations” at 16% and “outlining goals” at 9%.

The research concluded: “The survey findings further suggest clear and frequent communication can be the remedy for what ails change-management efforts.”

To counter the tendency of employees to rely on past practices and the old way of doing things, clear and frequent communication of the facts is the ideal. Even if this is not possible, open communication about why decisions or facts cannot yet be released and an honest statement about when they might be known, and what people can do in the meantime, is better than nothing.

In a communication void the rumor mill takes over, usually with damaging results, and HR practitioners can use their knowledge, skills and opportunities to minimize the chances of this happening.

HR has a role to play in making sure implementers understand the importance of communication in engaging people, stabilizing the environment, reinforcing the important change messages and preparing for the future. HR can help clarify messages and ensure that people understand the multiple channels available and the many forms communication can take such as one-to-one and team meetings; formal briefings; town halls; emails; newsletters; intranet; podcasts and many more. HR can also use its many touch points with employees to play its own part in the communication process and can ensure that others are equipped to do the same.

Communicating with employees doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition. It’s largely an investment of management time and thought.  As this study demonstrates, it’s a most worthwhile investment.

CAI delivers HR, compliance, and people development solutions to 1,160+ NC companies to help them build engaged, well-managed and low-risk workplaces. Contact us to find out how we can help your company.

Guest post by Lauren Hardwick, CAI’s HR Manager

 

Address These 4 Employee Needs for Maximum Retention

June 20th, 2017 by

Recruiting top employees involves a relevant understanding of what attracts candidates to an opportunity; what do they want, and what are their priorities.  Once you have them on board, how do you retain them?  The needs and priorities of an employee can be different than those of a candidate.

In addition to the usual priorities like compensation, benefits and a flexible work schedule, most employees have four (4) basic needs to be happy and engaged in the workplace.  Those four needs are:  Caring, Respect, Appreciation, and Praise.

CaringMost people can tell if you genuinely care about them or not.  Something in your voice, the way you address them, or even your body language can tip them off.  Sincerity is difficult to fake and insincerity is difficult to hide.  Employees need to know their management cares about them for more than just what they bring to the business each day.  Be sure they know your door is always open.  Make certain you are responsive by setting aside sufficient time to understand their concern and to try and help address it.  Remember, for them, coming to you is a big step.  If you seem at all as if you do not care, or that you do not have time for them, they may not come to you again.

Respect – Everyone wants respect.  Respect for what they do and respect for how they do it.  One of the quickest ways to demonstrate a lack of respect for your employee is to micromanage.  Micromanaging suggests a lack of trust in your employee’s ability to get the job done.  On the other hand, one of the best ways to demonstrate respect for your employee is to allow them to grow to their full potential.  Offer your leadership and mentoring to help them succeed.  Provide training for employees who demonstrate initiative and show true promise for advancement.

Appreciation – Showing your appreciation for an employee’s results and work ethic is not difficult, and it does not have to be expensive.  We sometimes focus far too much and far too often on the negative, and not enough on the positive.  A simple “Thank You” can go a long way.  A pair of movie coupons or recognition in front of peers is a great way to show your appreciation.  Without appreciation, an employee may feel beaten and defeated.  They will eventually come to believe they can do nothing right, and will not want to come to work.

Praise – This is really just “appreciation” kicked up a notch or two.  It is always nice to feel appreciated, but to receive praise is an entirely different feeling.  Praise is larger, and therefore should be reserved for recognition of an employee going above and beyond their everyday job function.  An innovative idea, a new time-saving process, or productivity metrics well over 100% are just a few reasons to award special praise over simple appreciation.  Praise for employee who exceeds their expectations can also serve to incent other team members to “step up their game” in order to receive similar recognition.

This all sounds very simple, but in fact it takes time and thought.  These are very deliberate actions on the part of leaders, and time must be built into the day to accomplish even two or three of these for at least one or two individuals.  Over time, Caring, Respect, Appreciation and Praise will begin to filter across the workforce and you will have employees who not only trust you, but are loyal to you and your organization as well. Employees will feed off of the positive culture and demonstrate care, respect, appreciation and praise for co-workers.

CAI’s Advice & Resolution Advisor Renee Watkins is a seasoned HR professional with a diverse background in Human Resource. Renee provides CAI members with practical advice in a wide range of human resource functions including conflict resolution, compliance and regulatory issues, and employee relations.

5 Great Ways to Annoy the HR Manager

June 15th, 2017 by

Stay in the HR profession long enough, and you will begin to realize that there are certain ‘universal truths’ that every company faces. One of those truths is that some employees will not pass up a good opportunity to get ‘under the skin’ of their HR manager.

Here are just a couple of ways those employees can skillfully accomplish that mission:

1. If you are a line manager and you need to provide bad news to an employee, simply blame the decision on HR.

For example, “I proposed a higher salary increase for you, but you know HR, they disagreed. If you have problems with your increase, go talk to HR.”

This is most effective when you can further add, “I’m only doing this because HR told me I had to………….”

2. Fail to read and respond to information regarding benefits or any other important items.

Even though clear communication was repeatedly provided to you, along with specific instructions and deadlines for a response, ignore it. If HR talks about it at a meeting, act like you weren’t present at the meeting.

This method also works well when you say, “Oh yeah, I got it but I didn’t read it.”

3. Wait until you want to fire an employee before coming to HR for help.

Don’t bother wasting time with performance improvement coaching, disciplinary action, and/or that pesky documentation that must accompany all such actions prior to firing an employee.

This works best when the employee issues have festered and gone unchecked for months.

 4. Present an unqualified close friend or relative as the ‘perfect’ candidate.

Become indignant when the HR manager requires that normal hiring filters and protocols must occur. Act as if it is some sort of personal attack against your integrity.

This approach is most annoying when you can bring up an example of someone else who was hired as a referral, and they didn’t have to ‘jump through all of these hoops.’

 5. Become a world-class tattletale.

Feel the need to report every perceived slight or unfairness to the HR manager. Don’t take responsibility or try to resolve the problem yourself, instead go directly to HR for a ‘quick fix.’

Make sure that everyone is aware that you are only sharing this information for the good of the organization, and not personal gain.

CAI delivers HR, compliance, and people development solutions to 1,100+ NC companies to help them build engaged, well-managed and low-risk workplaces. Contact us to find out how we can help your company.

Source material: thebalance.com

Photo credit: Pixabay

New Rules About the Manager-Employee Relationship

June 6th, 2017 by

Once upon a time, there were “rules” about a professional reporting relationship.  The manager was clearly the authority and was to be revered by the employee.  Often, the manager was older than the employee and the assumption was that he or she possessed greater wisdom.  Therefore, the employee was obliged to listen and generally heed that wisdom.  A clear delineation of power existed between the two and everyone recognized that the manager was to be held in high regard and treated with deference by the employee. Both parties understood that becoming too familiar with the other was not in his or her best interest when it came to success in the workplace.  Managers were discouraged from socializing with their charges outside of work and in all cases, the employee was expected to take a subordinate role to his or her “superior”.

Fast forward to today.  In many organizations, a far more egalitarian approach exists. Managers serve more as coaches, facilitators and partners. For one thing, they are no longer the sole guardians of information that formerly gave them so much power.  With technology changes, nearly everyone can get vital information at the touch of a keystroke.  Management is no longer reserved for those with seniority, and workers of any age may rise to positions of authority due to their technical prowess, their ability to relate to others and their leadership qualities.  So, in many environments, one person may carry the title of manager, but the employee is considered more of a colleague than a direct report.

So, what is the “etiquette” of the reporting relationship today?  The manager has many responsibilities; among them the obligation to share information, encourage and support growth, and to hold employees accountable for their work.  The employee is expected to learn as well as to teach, to take responsibility for their work and to share ideas and concerns with their manager.  Both parties are expected to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Can a manager and an employee also share a personal friendship outside of work?  The question is more “How do I differentiate between friend and boss?”  And what do I need to do to avoid the perception of favoritism?  Some guidelines include:

  • Having a conversation with employees to let them know that at work, your responsibility includes assessing their professional performance.  Providing feedback is part of your job as a manager and your intent is to support them to do their very best.
  • Having a conversation with the team to let them know your clear expectations and how they can contribute to the team’s success.
  • Holding regular one-to-one meetings with employees to discuss their progress and to find out how you as the manager can help them achieve their goals while continuing to do the work of the organization

CAI offers hundreds of training courses and programs to improve the skills and performance of managers, supervisors, professionals and HR. Classroom training is offered in Raleigh, Greensboro and Greenville. If you prefer remote access, visit e-learning. Find out more here about why you should choose CAI to optimize your employees’ potential.

Blog post by: CAI’s Linda Taylor, Learning & Development Partner

Photo credit: Office Space, Twentieth Century Fox

2017 Employment & Labor Law Conference Recap

May 30th, 2017 by

Last week, over 450 professionals attended the Employment and Labor Law Update. For two days, attendees heard from Ogletree Deakins attorneys about the latest developments in state and federal employment law, recent court decisions and how they affect employers now and in the future.

Workplace regulations are constantly evolving, especially this year as new administrations have taken office at a state and federal level. To help you stay up to date, we’ve gathered the top takeaways from the conference.

1. The process for employee exit just as important as onboarding. Don’t let shoving an employee out the door trip you up down the road. Make sure you are consistent, prepare for possible claims, recover company property and learn from past mistakes.

2. Well-demonstrated training and well-written policies for employees are the best defense to prevent sexual harassment. To be proactive, you must consider the quality of both. Related – don’t make legal claims and document that sexual harassment occurred; state that the employee violated employer’s policy.

3. There are many ways to effectively manage the risks when conducting a Reduction in Force. Most importantly, PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. Determine your departments and target positions, then develop RIF selection criteria. Also, be sure to train your decision makers. There are so many moving parts – so if you must implement an RIF, the team at CAI can help you develop a plan.

4. The OFCCP will possibly merge into the EEOC. This speculation is supported by a recent report from the Heritage Foundation and from the Trump Administration’s fiscal year 2018 budget. Read more about this topic and potential effects here – White House Budget Released: EEOC Will Absorb OFCCP.

5. Return to the fundamentals of HR. Too often, we know the HR basics and exactly what we should do, but we forget to practice that. We sometimes choose to take shortcuts for the sake of expediency. The attorneys reminded us the risks associated with doing so, so make sure you revisit – and regularly revisit – the basics in your HR department.

Next up CAI’s 2017 Compensation & Benefits Conference. Save the Date! September 14 & 15, 2017

 

EEOC Record Keeping Comes to Background Checks

May 23rd, 2017 by

For many years now, the EEOC has required specific record keeping when a company uses some sort of applicant testing as a screening tool for employment.  Testing broadly refers to any part of the recruiting process where a decision can be made on an applicant as to them advancing in the process.  According to the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (UGESP), companies have to collect applicant data when they make adverse decisions of employment based upon the performance of protecting status people through the use of “interviews, review of experience or education from application forms, work samples, physical requirements, and evaluations of performance” (UGESP).

While there is a partial reprieve for employers with less than 100 employees, these guidelines require employers to keep race, sex and ethnicity data on applicants, hires promotions and terminations (Section 15, UGESP).  This requirement is nothing new for those employers covered by federal affirmative action guidelines.  For all other employers, this news may be a bit unsettling.  As it was for Crothall Services Group.

In 2015, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against Crothall Services Group, Inc., ( 2:15-cv-03812, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania) for not keeping the above prescribed records as they related to their use of background screening.  The case was recently settled through the signing of a consent letter where Crothall, in regards to conducting background checks, agrees to “keep records identifying the person’s gender, race, and ethnicity. Once Crothall has reviewed any person’s criminal history information or conducted any criminal history assessment, it also has to keep records of the criminal history information, the results of any criminal history assessment, and any employment decision made based on any criminal history assessment. The decree further requires record keeping relating to complaints about Crothall’s use of criminal history information and assessments, including complaints of discrimination, and regular reporting to EEOC throughout the decree’s duration” (EEOC).

So this leaves employers with an interesting choice.  If you adhere to the letter of the guidelines and collect race/gender information on all applicants, then that means the government will have the data it needs to potentially extract backpay and other monies from your company for applicants adversely impacted by your selection procedures.  If you collect that data, you are strongly advised to document why each applicant didn’t progress through the various levels of your selection process.  You would also would want a clear process on how long you maintain such records (one-year requirement from EEOC for non-federal government contractors).  If on the other hand, you chose to not collect data on applicants, then you could potentially find yourself in a situation like Crothall and be forced by the EEOC to adopt such practices going forward.  It’s also yet to be seen how an NC court would rule in such a case.

Regardless of the direction you go, we strongly recommend reviewing your applicant recordkeeping procedures and all “tests” you use during the selection process.

We can also help you with your background checking needs.  For more information please contact Kevin W. von der Lippe at (919) 878-9222, (336) 668-7746 or by e-mail; kevin.vonderlippe@capital.org.

Kevin W. von der Lippe is a licensed private investigator at CAI and for 19 years has managed our detective agency and background checking business.  He is security minded and proficient with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the enforcement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as administered by the EEOC as it relates to background checks. Capital Associated Industries Services Corporation is a licensed investigative agency, specializing in corporate pre-employment background screening. Our corporate agency license is BPN 001473P11.

Prescription Drug Abuse in the Workplace

May 16th, 2017 by

More than 70% of US employers are feeling the direct impact of prescription drug misuse in their workplaces, according to a survey released by the National Safety Council. The survey also found that although 71 percent of employers agree that prescription drug misuse is a disease that requires treatment, 65 percent feel it is a justifiable reason to fire an employee.

“Employers must understand that the most dangerously misused drug today may be sitting in employees’ medicine cabinets,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president, and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Even when they are taken as prescribed, prescription drugs and opioids can impair workers and create hazards on the job. We hope these findings prompt employers to take the lead on this emerging issue so that workplaces can be as safe as possible.”

Drug poisonings, largely from opioid painkillers, now eclipse car crashes as the leading cause of preventable death among adults. Nearly half of Americans are personally impacted by prescription drug addiction, with 44 percent knowing someone who is addicted to a prescription pain reliever. Seventy-five percent of those struggling with a substance use disorder are in the workforce, revealing a hidden epidemic that many employers are struggling to address.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Only 19 percent of employers feel ‘extremely prepared’ to deal with prescription drug misuse in the workplace.
  • Although just 13 percent are ‘very confident’ that employees can spot the signs of misuse, 76 percent do not offer training to help close that knowledge gap.
  • 81 percent of respondents’ policies are lacking at least one critical element of an effective drug-free workplace program.
  • Just 57 percent are drug testing all employees. Of those employers who conduct drug testing, 41 percent are not testing for synthetic opioids.
  • 88 percent are interested in their insurer covering alternatives to pain relief treatment so that employees can avoid taking opioids, and nearly 60 percent believe the insurance company will be responsive. However, 30 percent of those employers will not act on that interest.
  • Encouragingly, 70 percent would like to help employees who are struggling with prescription drug misuse return to their positions after completing treatment.

The Council provides a free Prescription Drug Employer Kit to help employers establish policies and manage opioid use at work. For resources and information about prescription drug abuse both in the workplace and at home, visit here.

CAI delivers HR, compliance, and people development solutions to 1,100+ NC companies to help them build engaged, well-managed and low-risk workplaces. Contact us to find out how we can help your company.

Source: National Safety Council

Doug Blizzard brings a wealth of knowledge to CAI, serving as Vice President of Membership. During his first 15 years at CAI, he led the firm’s consulting and training divisions and counseled hundreds of clients on HR and Employee Relations issues. If he isn’t speaking at North Carolina conferences, teaching classes on Human Resources or consulting clients on EEO and Affirmative Action, Doug is leading the company’s membership services.