Archive for August, 2010

Employee Social Media Use at Work – What Can (Or Should) You Do?

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

While more than half of CIOs report completely restricting their employees from accessing social media sites during work hours, there has been at the same time a general rise in social media use at offices. Such an apparent contradiction can result in confusion and even anger at the workplace, particularly for new hires who could visit social media sites at a previous job but now encounter restricted or no availability at all for those sites at their new positions.

To add to the dilemma, how can an organization forbidding social media activity monitor employees who partake of them on their personal mobile devices? It is a growing concern among owners and operators of businesses in all sizes, and unfortunately, according to the latest word from the American Bar Association, it is still unclear legally how much control employers can exert over their employees.

Yet there are some basic measures you can take, if you feel uncomfortable about an outright social media ban yet do not want your employees to spend an excessive amount of time updating their status on Facebook, Twitter and the like. They include the following:

  1. Inform employees that the terms of your company’s equal employment opportunity, sexual harassment and other policies extend to social media use at work as well. They do not have a license to blog on whatever they feel like on your company time.
  2. Review with your employees the fact that commenting about legal matters or litigation involving your organization via social media is not allowed. The same rule applies to any work-related grievances.
  3. Encourage employees to ask questions and discuss issues with their supervisors regarding whether their social media activity may affect their workplace. This dialogue can help them realize the differences between their personal opinions and the positions taken by your organization, and why it is essential to separate them.
  4. Remind them that the Internet is permanent, even if they “remove/delete” the comment later or attempt to make it anonymous. They should know they can be held personally responsible for any content you post online. That warning alone may curtail them from extraneous social media activity.
  5. Employees should know they can be held legally liable for anything they write or present online. That includes, but is not limited to, commentary, content, or images judged defamatory, pornographic, proprietary, harassing, libelous, or creating a hostile work environment.

For more details on how you can establish social media use policies for your employees, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo Source: heyjudegallery

Five Tips for Employee Motivation

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

One of the many discussion points brought up by the recent actions of JetBlue flight attendant Steve Slater was this: when treated poorly, employees will not be motivated to do their best at work. They will have no connection to the organization, and will feel that their employer takes them for granted. That results in an unhappy workplace that can lead to poor performance by a company.

If you really want to make sure your employees have reasons to be committed to your organization, here are five tips we recommend:

  1. Make clear to employees that they play a key role in fulfilling your company’s mission and goals. Workers must make a connection as to how what they are doing every day will pave the way to what will be better for them, as well as the company in the future. Otherwise, they have no incentive to stay with you, they seek and find other jobs, and you have a turnover problem.
  2. Understand what motivates your employees to perform better. The answer is not always just a wage hike – many top workers have left companies for other lower-paying positions for a variety of reasons, such as a better work environment or to have more time to spend with their families. Knowing what each of your employees want and then trying to accommodate those desires individually takes time in the short term but should pay off in the long run.
  3. Find ways to promote ideas from your employees and encourage collaboration among them. When people feel that their opinions about what should be done to improve the business are being heard, they will be much more loyal to the organization and its leaders.
  4. Discuss with each of your employees individually how he or she feels about his or her current position and see if job duties need to be adjusted. The worker may well be “burned out” over performing certain tasks repeatedly and no longer feel challenged to work up to his or her potential as a result.
  5. Recognize your employees publicly for good work. This does not have to be anything elaborate. For some basic ideas, read our previous blog on “Five Free Ways to Show Appreciation in the Workplace.”

For more details on how you can assess and improve employee engagement, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

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10 Key Strategies to Increase Employee Commitment and Retention

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

How much does it cost to replace an employee?  A recent article says the average cost is 100 percent to 125 percent of the employee’s annual salary.  With those numbers in mind, it is clear that it pays to retain your workforce.

Some turnover is unavoidable, but most can be prevented.  Here are 10 proven strategies for increasing your employee retention rate:

  1. Clearly define responsibilities:  Each position should have a formal job description.  Employees should know up front to whom they report, what kinds of decisions they are allowed to make, and what is expected each day.
  2. Properly train supervisors, administrators, and managers: Managers and supervisors should receive appropriate training in management and people skills.  Most employees leave a company because of a poor relationship with their boss, not because of the company.
  3. Map out career plans: When employees feel there is a career plan for them, they will be more likely to stay with a company.  Regular performance reviews should be a part of the plan to provide feedback to the employee and to reinforce their career goals.
  4. Ask employees for feedback: Don’t wait until it’s too late – conduct employee satisfaction surveys often.  Ask employees what they want more in their positions, and what they want less.  Then, do what you can to show them you were listening.
  5. Provide fair and competitive salaries: While fair and competitive wages do not guarantee employee loyalty, you can be certain that below-market wages will guarantee that employees will look elsewhere for employment.  Stay informed on what other companies are paying for similar work.
  6. Have an effective orientation program: Make sure you have a formal and consistent orientation program for all new employees.  An employee will feel more like a part of the team if there is interest demonstrated in their success from the onset.
  7. Communicate, communicate, communicate: Employees want to know what is going on with their employer.  Make an effort to keep them informed of any changes being made.  Let them hear it from their managers first, and it will create a sense of loyalty and trust.
  8. Create learning opportunities: Employees interested in advancement will want to learn new things and create value in their position.  Provide those opportunities either with internal or outside education, sponsored by the company.  Make their professional development a part of their review process, goals and objectives.
  9. Don’t forget the benefits: Many employees will tell you they are more concerned and focused on benefits than on wages.  With this in mind, be sure you are offering equal or better benefits than your competitors.
  10. Make sure your employees know they are valued: Take some extra time and resources to recognize your employees publicly for their achievements.  A little recognition can go a long way to retaining an employee who might otherwise have been on the fence.

Photo Source: ogilvyprworldwide

CAI is on Twitter

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

We are pleased to announce the introduction of CAI’s new Twitter account, @CAIHR!

Our new Twitter account will be used as a forum to share and discuss current stories and events in the world of HR.  Through this account, we look forward to connecting more personally with other professionals and discussing the latest employer issues.  We are constantly finding interesting articles and cases that we can now offer immediately with others who hold common interests.

We also look forward to hearing what other HR professionals have to say and learning from them.  We are excited about the dialogue that will come from our page as well as meeting new people throughout the world of HR.

We invite you to follow us to keep up with the latest information and stay involved. We hope you will take the time to visit our page, share your thoughts with us and tell others who are interested to join us as followers as well.

Revisions to the Family and Medical Leave Act: Everything You Need to Know

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

As the definition of family in America has changed over the years, so have the U.S. Department of Labor’s terms about who qualifies for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The department’s revision on June 22, 2010 to its definition of sons and daughters has extended coverage for certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year to include caretakers of a newborn, newly adopted or ill or injured child.

By caretakers, the revision means more than just parents with biological or legal connections to a child are eligible under the FMLA. Now aunts, uncles, step parents, lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender (LBGT) parents and any others entrusted with care of a child are covered. In essence, any employee who assumes the responsibility of caring for a child receives parental rights to family leave.

While this may appear to be a huge change to employers, your company may not be affected by it. Remember the following fact about the FMLA: Employees are eligible for leave only if they have worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months for their employer, and they work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles of the workplace.

If your company meets these qualifications, it would be a wise step to update all employees about this expanded benefit, so that your staff realizes what is happening and why more workers may now be eligible to take time off. A quick review about the FMLA can prevent confusion for you and your employees on this issue and its impact on your office. Some businesses may not have to go to such measures if they already have extended unpaid leave to non-married and/or nontraditional parents.

Keep in mind as well that this benefit most likely will not result in major upheavals or workload problems for a majority of companies. In today’s economy, most employees are reluctant to take up to three months unpaid leave unless absolutely necessary for their child’s welfare.

There have been other updates to FMLA since it took effect in 1993. CAI will keep you informed of future ones as they occur.

For more details on the FMLA, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photos Source: storyvillegirl

Economic Recovery, Healthcare Reform and Changing Regulations

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

The three themes of CAI’s upcoming 2010 Compensation and Benefits Conference are economic recovery, healthcare reform and changing regulations.  In the past, the content of this event has focused exclusively on trends and issues regarding the utilization of the complete compensation and benefits package by employers to attract, motivate and retain employees.  This year, because of the massive change that is taking place with healthcare reform, and a constantly shifting regulatory environment, we feel it is important to include those two big categories that are affecting, and will greatly impact in the future, the decisions that organizations are making about compensation and benefits strategies.

Economic Recovery

The rapid recovery from recession that was anticipated does not appear to be in the cards.  Instead, the economy is moving in a generally good direction in fits and starts.  Two pieces of good economic news always seem to be followed by one piece of bad economic news.

Many employers would like to reward the employees who helped them through the last two years but are not yet comfortable enough to make strong decisions on pay raises and benefits packages.  To help employers understand the recent trends and discover how other organizations are handling these challenges, the Compensation and Benefits Conference will feature these sessions:

  • The Road to Recovery: How Are Employers Reacting Post-Recession
  • Hot Off the Presses – 2010 Salary Survey Results
  • Too Much Pressure on the Compensation Package: What About the Rest of the Value Proposition?
  • A Wellness Approach that Works: A Case Study
  • What’s Hot in the World of Retirement Plans?
  • Roundtable Discussion – What Have You Done to Manage Employee Morale?
  • Optimizing the Hierarchy of Pay

Healthcare Reform

If you are trying to determine how healthcare reform will affect your organization, you are likely to be waist deep in government documents, private sector predictions and expert publications.  The healthcare reform focused presentations at the Compensation and Benefits Conference will help you push the clutter to the side and identify the important decision points for your organization and what you’ll need to pay attention to as key dates approach.

Those sessions will include:

  • Got Reform, Now What?  Redefining Your Employee Benefit Strategy
  • What Does Healthcare Reform Mean to Healthcare?
  • What Impact Will Reform Have on Long-Term Medical Costs for Employers in N.C.?
  • Wellness and Reform: What is the New Potential Within Your Organization?
  • What Every HR Professional Needs to Know About the Administrative Reporting Requirements for Healthcare Reform

Changing Regulations

New regulations, methods and rules from federal agencies are outpacing new laws as the primary challenge to employer pay practices.  You can expect the U.S. Department of Labor and other agencies to focus on “employer abuses” and on self-identification by employers in the near future.  Two sessions at the conference will showcase these changes, clarify how they affect your organization and help you prepare to make key decisions:

  • A New Attitude at U.S. Wage and Hour: Are You Ready?
  • Wage and Hour Compliance

CAI’s 2010 Compensation and Benefits Conference will take place on Thursday, Sept. 16 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and Friday, Sept. 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh.  If you are involved in attracting, motivating and retaining employees, or tasked with determining how healthcare reform will affect your organization, you will not want to miss this event.  For more information and to register, go to

Photo Source: Scott Ableman

Six Things N.C. Employers Need to Know About Workers’ Compensation

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Michael Sigmon of the law firm Brooks, Stevens and Pope, P.A. recently provided CAI members with insight on the fundamentals of workers’ compensation benefits and claims in North Carolina. Some of the key points from the presentation include the following:

1)      Basic Facts. Recovery under North Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Act is an employee’s exclusive remedy for work-related injuries or diseases, except in the case of an injury resulting from the intentional misconduct of the employer.  Absent an intentional injury, an employee cannot sue his employer outside of workers’ compensation for damages resulting from occupational injuries caused by the employer’s negligence.  The employer in turn cannot avoid a workers’ compensation claim by showing that the employee’s negligence caused the injury or disease.

2)      Coverage. All employers in the State with three or more employees must provide workers’ compensation coverage.  Employers can obtain workers’ compensation insurance through an insurance carrier or be self-insured upon meeting certain requirements established by the Commission.

3)      Injuries in General. Except in the case of back injuries and hernias, an injury is compensable under the N.C. Workers’ Compensation Act if the injury was caused by accident, arose out of the employment, and was sustained in the course of employment.  The Act specifically provides that an “accident” shall not include “a series of events in employment occurring regularly, continuously, or at frequent intervals.”  The courts have defined the term “accident” to mean a separate, “unlooked for and untoward event which is not expected or designed by the injured employee,” such as a slip, trip, fall or other unexpected event that interrupts the usual work routine.

4)      Back Injuries. As noted in #3 above, a limited exception to the “injury by accident” requirement is made for back injuries.  To be compensable, back injuries need only to arise out of and in the course of employment and be a direct result of a specific incident.

5)      Routine Events. Injuries that occur during the performance of events that occur regularly during employment are generally not compensable under the Act.  For example, if an employee routinely performs heavy lifting and he or she injures his or her shoulder while performing their regular duties, the injury may not meet the definition of an “accident” as defined in bullet #3 above.

6)      Occupational Diseases. North Carolina General Statutes contain a list of recognized occupational diseases that are compensable under the Act.  However, any disease, other than hearing loss covered elsewhere in the Act, which is proven to have originated from employment or due to a particular trade and not as a result of a risk shared by the general public may be compensable.

It is unlawful for an employer to inhibit an employee from exercising their rights under the Workers’ Compensation Act or to retaliate against an employee for filing or collecting a workers’ compensation claim.  When in doubt, an employer should contact their workers’ compensation insurance carrier and seek advice regarding claim filing and management.

If you have questions in regard to workers’ compensation issues, please contact a member of the CAI Advice and Counsel team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Jeff Kubina

Federal Contractors Face Additional Restrictions

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

A new law requires federal contractors and subcontractors to post notices regarding employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Effective June 21, 2010, federal contractors must display notices to all employees explaining their rights under federal labor laws throughout the term of the contract.

The regulations require federal contractors to post the notices in “conspicuous places in and about its plants and offices” at all locations where employees “engage in activities relating to the performance of the contract.” The posters must be physically and electronically displayed. This new law also requires federal contractors to insert conditions in their subcontracts that require subcontractors to submit to the same posting requirements. This rule only applies to contractors under the Simplified Acquisition Threshold of $100,000 and subcontractors below $10,000.

These notice posters will outline the employee’s right to form and join labor unions, to bargain collectively through one representative, to discuss terms and conditions of employment with co-workers, to strike, and their right to not partake in any of the behaviors listed.

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is responsible for enforcing this new law and ensuring that all complaints are investigated. In order to submit a complaint, an employee must file a written complaint to the Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS). Penalties for violating the Executive Order may include cancellation, suspension or termination of the contract or subcontract. Punishments also can include debarment of the employer from future federal contracts or subcontracts until there has been demonstration of compliance with the new ruling.

The required poster can be downloaded directly from the Federal & State Posters page on CAI’s website.

Please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746 with questions on how this new law affects your organization.

Photo Source: steakpinball

HR Success – Krispy Kreme

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Besides being a place where you can get “Hot Doughnuts Now,” Krispy Kreme is home to an innovative health care program that earned them a 2010 CAI Ovation Award in the large employer category (companies with 500 or more team members).

The Winston-Salem firm started promoting a wellness program for its team members in 2004 as medical claims were climbing and negatively impacting their health insurance renewals. Five years later, Krispy Kreme elevated the program by adding biometrics (the science and technology of measuring and statistically analyzing biological data), a Health Risk Assessment and a requirement for team members to follow their individualized Action Plans.

The action plans in 2009 advised each participant what his or her personal actions should be within the next 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. These actions were determined based on the individual’s self reported behaviors and lifestyles on the Health Risk Assessment, as well as the actual scores from their biometric screening.

For example, one action plan might call for a team member to visit his or her personal physician for follow-up tests if their biometrics indicated a possible high risk. If someone was considered healthy and a low risk, their action plan may only be their annual physical and/or age appropriate screenings within 12 months.

Team members can complete the risk assessments on their work time, and they may participate in a Health Coach call during work hours. This is because Krispy Kreme does not want any barriers to participation in their wellness program, or any excuses not to take part in it either.

Those who completed the requirements received what Krispy Kreme described as a very attractive monthly wellness credit. More importantly, the company felt strongly it was able to avoid possible high dollar medical claims through an early detection of conditions in several team members with this revised program.

Roughly 33 percent of Krispy Kreme’s covered team members participated in the program in 2009. As a result, their health insurance renewal rose only 0.8 percent last year, versus the national average of 18 percent.

The Health Risk Assessment for 2009 was paper only. With a wellness vendor change in 2010, Krispy Kreme offered its team members the convenience of online and telephonic risk assessments as well. When the company performed the health screenings again this year, they found significant aggregate improvement on most all of the tests.

The willingness of Krispy Kreme to pursue more options for its health plan for team members, as well as make it as accessible as possible for all to participate, shows its commitment and dedication to making what was already a successful endeavor better for everyone involved. Their Happy and Healthy Wellness program is a model that other companies should consider emulating if they are serious about wanting team members on the job in the best physical condition while at the same time saving money on health care costs.

Photo Source: Wikimedia – Creative Commons

CAI recognizes North Carolina companies for innovative HR/People solutions with Ovation Awards during its annual HR Management Conference in February.  If you’d like to be considered please send a 2-3 paragraph description of your program to  The description should summarize the business need, describe how the solution was implemented, and highlight the measurable and/or forecasted business results.