Archive for August, 2012

3 Tips to Transform a Bad Start into a Positive and Productive Work Day

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Or maybe your alarm didn’t go off and you overslept. Maybe traffic is unimaginably heavy because of an accident, making you late for your morning meeting. And you didn’t have time for breakfast so you’ve assumed your energy level for the day will be low. You’ve already predicted that this is going to be a bad day even before you make it to your office

Instead of fulfilling your prediction, try to prevent a bad start from controlling the rest of your workday. You can still achieve a productive day even if the beginning was rocky. The tips below will help you stay positive while also maintaining your productivity:

Eliminate Negative Talk

Nothing can make your day worse than your own negative talk about how you think the day will fare. If you do find yourself cursing the day or lamenting over a missed opportunity, change your mood by switching to a topic that’s more positive.  Negative words from your coworkers can also steer you off the track to a positive day. Tune out their gossip and treat them with kindness so they know you’re not interested in participating in deprecating conversations.

Focus on Being Positive

So we’ve established that the start of your day wasn’t very good, but that doesn’t mean the rest of your day will hold a similar fate. Instead of focusing on what went wrong during your day, shift your focus on all the things that went well or right. You are in charge of your attitude, thoughts and actions. Choose to react to your bad day with positivity and determination that you’ll make it better. Having this attitude will help you end your day well.

Treat Your Body Well

Being negative or frequently complaining is not good for your overall health. Not getting out of a bad mood can increase your stress levels, making you more irritable and fatigued.  Treat your body well to boost your mood and give you more energy. Get a solid amount of sleep each night, eat healthy and exercise regularly to squash a bad mood.

Training yourself to be more optimistic takes time and a conscious effort, however, attaining this goal will significantly reduce the number of bad days you have.

Photo Source: baka_san

5 Things Managers Should Implement To Avoid Office Injuries

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

The following post is a guest post from Connect Physical Health. Connect Physical Health has been providing both on-site and off-site Occupational physiotherapy services including training packages since 1989 and has a proven track record across a wide range of public and private business sectors.  Connect delivers significant financial savings, typically £4 for every £1 invested and helps to improve the wellbeing of your greatest asset – your workforce!

In businesses across the nation, millions of employees sit at desks for at least 40 hours each week. That means 2,400 minutes of shoulder slumping, wrist twisting, and eye straining. You may not know it, but your employees may be experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, or even tendonitis. Many suffer from general aches and pains—back pain, joint pain, neck stiffness, sore eyes, and the like—because of improper ergonomics in the workplace.

We know that, as an employer, you can’t risk these injuries in your workforce. That’s why we researched ways to avoid injury at the office. Here’s what we found:


1.       Well Designed Office Furniture Is Worth The Investment

One of the direct culprits of office injuries is disproportional office equipment. We know that each individual is different so tailoring to each body type may be difficult. But having adjustable office chairs and desks may be a great solution.

Investing in quality office furniture can be expensive but paying medical bills associated with office injuries can be even more costly to your bottom line. Having furniture that fits your employees comfortably can go a long way in preventing aches, pains, and rising health care costs.

You’ll want to choose a chair with a stable five-point base that’s on wheels. The height should be easily adjustable so that each employee can rest his or her feet on the floor. Also, consider chairs with adjustable armrests that allow your employees to rest their arms at waist-level.

Just like the chair, the desk should be adjusted to fit the user. While the employee is seated, the desk should come up to elbow level. Employees should not have to hunch over to reach their work. There should be enough room beneath the desk to comfortably fit the worker’s knees and thighs.


2.       Make Sure Each Computer Is Properly Placed

 The majority of your office workers probably use a computer to complete their tasks. Employees with a standard desktop should have the monitor centered at eye-level. It should be ‘arms distance’ away from the employee’s body.

For those employees using a laptop, proper ergonomics can be difficult. Keeping the head and neck in line, while also finding a comfortable position for the hands and wrists, can be a challenge. That’s why we suggest an external monitor or keyboard for frequent laptop users. This way, you can be sure that each employee has the office design they need to keep proper posture and spine alignment.


3.       Encourage People To Have Good Posture

Even with the proper office design, employees sitting with incorrect posture are bound to need a trip to a physiotherapist eventually. While sitting in an office chair, users must keep the bones of the spine properly aligned in order to avoid injury. Having diagrams of proper office posture  in the break room can be a great reminder for your staff.

Here are some guidelines to suggest to your office employees:

  • Sit with hips and backside as far back as possible in the chair. Use a rolled up towel or the chair’s lumbar support to keep the lower back comfortable.
  • Knees should be positioned slightly lower than the hips.
  • Let the arms hang natural and relaxed. Rest the forearms on the chair’s armrests. Keep elbows in close to the body, especially when keying and using the mouse.
  • The head should always be level and in line with the torso.
  • Sit close to the desk. Never slouch or slump.


4.       Schedule Rest Breaks

 With the hectic pace of corporate America today, “rest breaks” have all but been eliminated from our vocabulary. As the employer, we recommend that you promote breaks and brief walks to help keep your employees energized and relaxed. We recommend a short break every 30 to 60 minutes. Encourage your workers to stand up, walk, or stretch during this period. Here are some specific stretches for employees who need to alleviate tight muscles:

  • Stretch arms over your head and link fingers. Lean back slightly, pushing the chest out.
  • On one side, tilt ear to shoulder. Hold for five seconds and return to vertical. Repeat on the other side.
  • From a relaxed position, bring shoulders up to ears. Hold briefly and then relax.


5.       Have Proper Ergonomics Training

 Taking a class on ergonomics can give your company the in-depth knowledge you need to keep your workforce functioning at an optimal level. Organizations like the National Safety Council or OSHA, along with universities and private organizations, all offer ergonomics training. You may also contact occupational physiotherapy professionals, like Connect Physical Health, for advice on preventing and healing any musculoskeletal ailments that occur in the workplace. Just being aware of ergonomics safety can greatly impact your office.

For the untrained eye, improper ergonomics can be difficult to detect. We hope this blog post will encourage you to promote better office design and posture in your workplace. With your hard work in office ergonomics, we bet you’ll find improved productivity and happier employees.

Note: The content of this article is for general information purposes and is not meant to replace physiotherapy or medical consultation.

What is the current state of ergonomics in your workplace? How do you think improved ergonomics could benefit your workforce?

Photo Source: Army Medicine

4 Steps for Building Positive Employer-Employee Relationships

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Aiming to create a strong employer-employee relationship within your organization is commendable.  Many positive results arise when employers and their workers respect and trust each other. But getting to the point of reciprocal trust and respect can be challenging for many companies. Some businesses fear giving their employees too much buy-in or power. Other organizations don’t realize that there are several actions they can take to make their workplace run smoother.

A good employer-employee relationship requires constant nurturing and set expectations and results. Although hard work from both sides of the company is needed, the benefits are worth it. Here are some of the top advantages: increased morale and job satisfaction, high retention rate, less absenteeism, better customer service and higher quality products.

Utilize the following practices in your organization to see your employer-employee relationship flourish:

Communicate Openly

Good communication between an employer and its employees is imperative for building a positive workplace culture. As an employer, don’t hide important information from your staff or only grant the information to a select group of workers. Being aware of how the company is performing and what projects are getting started help employees see how their role fits into the organization; it also makes them more likely to respect and trust their company. Always keep your team members in the loop.

Gratitude and Appreciation

Saying “please” and “thank you” go a long way at an organization. Be empathetic to your workforce and appreciate the efforts that they contribute to your company. When an employee consistently turns in great work yet receives no recognition, you can be sure that his job satisfaction and morale is low. He might even consider finding a company that does appreciate his work. To make this scenario unrealistic at your workplace, be grateful for the work your employees do and show your appreciation through public or private recognition, parties, gift cards or whatever else would appeal to your team.

Consistent Feedback

In order to improve their work performance, an employee must receive feedback, both positive and critical. Employees find it frustrating when their work has been changed or a project isn’t approved but receive no feedback as to why these actions have happened. Help your employees grow by offering them frequent feedback on their work. Set up monthly or weekly meetings to check in with them about their progress and what goals they want to accomplish. When you take these steps, you’ll see your employees more engaged with their work.

Following Through

Nothing makes you lose credibility faster than when you overpromise and don’t deliver expected results. No matter what the scenario is, as an employer, you owe it to your staff to follow through on your commitments. If you told one employee they can attend a training to improve their skills, quickly approve the expense report when they turn it in. If another employee wants to meet with you to discuss her future at the company, don’t blow her off for another meeting or lunch date. Evoke trust and respect from your staff by showing that your commitment to them is important.

For more tips on creating positive work relationships, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Victor1558

Gain Knowledge on Total Rewards Strategy at CAI’s Upcoming August Conference

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Compensation and benefits play integral roles for attracting top talent and retaining key employees within your company. With the economy leaning towards recovery, focusing company resources on projects that encourage employee engagement and retention is a smart strategy. State and federal employment law changes constantly, leaving many employers asking questions, like, “How will the health care reform law affect our current wellness plan?” and “What market trends should we consider when designing a total rewards program?”

CAI’s 2012 Compensation and Benefits Conference will provide you with answers and solutions for your questions regarding successful total rewards strategy. The following are a few reasons why you should join us for this year’s conference at Raleigh’s McKimmon Center on August 28 and 29:

  • To understand the latest trends in compensation, benefits and total rewards, and how they will affect your organization.
  • To receive the most recent updates on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and how it may alter your organization’s benefits and wellness plans.
  • To discover the unique retirement needs of the four generations that make up the current workforce and how you can help each of them reach their goals.
  • To identify techniques and strategies for creating a sales compensation plan that leads to maximum revenue.

Speakers at the conference will cover a wide range of topics relating to compensation and benefits. This year’s conference includes four featured presentations and eight breakout sessions for HR professionals and company executives. Below are a few of the presentations that you don’t want to miss:

Where Are We Now with Health Care Reform?

Peter Marathas, Partner in the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Group at Proskauer Rose, will discuss what the Supreme Court’s decision means for health care reform, employers, providers, insurers and consumers. He’ll also take a look at the next steps.

2012 Marketplace Trends for Salaries and Benefits in NC

Molly Hegeman, CAI’s director of HR Services, will go over the most recent salary and benefits trends of North Carolina businesses.  Her presentation will feature specific market data on salary-increase budgets for 2012, salary-increase projections for 2013, average health insurance premiums for 2012, and other pertinent information about reward and pay practices.

Total Rewards: Moving Forward?

Sara McAuley, Managing Partner for McAuley Consulting Group and a member of WorldatWork’s Board of Directors, will provide insight into the delivery of total rewards and the direction it has been taking following the recession. She will share eight tips for success for HR and total rewards professionals.

Register for the 2012 Compensation and Benefits Conference today at


7 Updates on NLRB and OFCCP Proposed Rules and Posters

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Make sure your company is complying with recent changes in employment regulations and up to date on the newest proposals from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). There are several rules “in limbo” right now due to delays or court challenges. Review the seven updates below to avoid costly fines:

1. The NLRB Poster Rule

The controversial NLRB poster highlighting the right to strike, pass out literature and join a union is on hold due to litigation. The final briefs were just filed with the federal court in Washington, DC. Oral arguments are set for September 11 in the case. No one can say when there will be an answer. In the meantime, the poster is not required. [Note: Federal contractors fall under older, different rules.]

2. The Micro-Unit Issue

The NLRB ruled in favor of the International Association of Machinists in the Nestle Dreyer Ice Cream case, allowing a “micro-unit,” or historically-small unit, to proceed to election. The union won the vote and the company has appealed. CAI is supporting the amicus brief by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) to prevent these “micro-units” from being carved out of facility-wide voting units. [Note: The IAM lost three prior elections in the broader, traditional voting unit.]

3. The Ambush Election Rules

The NLRB issued rules in December 2011 changing key provisions of their election procedures. The most controversial changes shorten the time between an election petition and voting day. Court challenges were filed on two theories: (1) the Board has no authority to do this by rulemaking and (2) there was no quorum during the Board vote on the rules. The district court ruled on May 15 that there was no quorum (since only two Board members voted) and the Board agreed to “temporarily” suspend these rules. On July 29, the Board asked the court to reconsider its order because a third Board member was arguably “present” for the vote. No court has yet ruled on the Board’s authority to issue the rule in the first place. About 150 election petitions were processed under the new rules before they were suspended.

4. The USDOL Persuader Rules

The US Department of Labor (USDOL) issued proposed rules to broaden the definition of a “persuader” in union election campaigns. In summary, the revisions could require disclosure of the costs and sources of any activity that could affect an employee’s vote, such as management training to help supervisors do a better job. There is no recent activity on this and it is unlikely we will see a final rule before the elections. The American Bar Association is now officially opposed to the rules.

5. Congressional Attempts to Override Recent Rulings

There is activity in the US House of Representatives to legislatively override the NLRB ambush election rules, the USDOL persuader rules and the micro-units case. The bill has made it through “markup” and into the assigned Committee. It is hard to see how passage by the House would have any impact given the vote count in the Senate and the need for Presidential approval.

6. OFCCP Disability Rulemaking

The OFCCP (part of USDOL) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking December 9, 2011 seeking comments on a possible rule to set a seven percent national “utilization goal” for hiring of disabled employees. No action has yet been taken to put the rule in place. The NAM and its allies just sponsored a study by the Center for Corporate Equality assessing the costs and issue raised by the Proposed Rule. That study has been sent to OFCCP and to the Office of Management and Budget, which must assess the cost of employer implementation. We do not expect action before the November election.

7. NLRB Sues Hyatt Hotels for At-Will Statement in Handbook

The NLRB filed a complaint against Hyatt Hotels in February for maintaining a handbook statement on at-will employment. Apparently, the Board does not object to defining “at-will” employment, to reserving the right to change rules at any time, or to saying that nothing in the handbook alters at-will status. The Board does object to seeking an employee acknowledgement form and signature where the handbook stated that at-will status could not be changed by any manager other than the President or COO. The Board viewed this as waiving the right to seek a union to bargain away those terms. This is common language in handbooks to prevent an employee from alleging a mid-level manager made a promise of employment for a fixed term or for “life.” The Board said since a union contract could alter that language, the employer’s statement was “overly broad” and violated the law. Hyatt agreed to change the wording before it went to court. This is just the latest in a string of questionable interpretations of handbook language by the NLRB. As a result, it has become difficult to predict what part of a typical employee handbook will be challenged next.

If you have questions regarding any of the issues mentioned in this article, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at 919‑878‑9222 or 336‑668‑7746.

Photo Source: Victor1558

Four Tips for Onboarding Success

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Starting a new job is overwhelming. Trying to perform your best and learn a load of information can be stressful. Help your new hires make a great start by preparing them with a strong onboarding process. Plan a schedule of action items  that will  get them familiar with your organization. Sharing company policies and resources available to all will help your new employee adjust well to their new position.

In addition to a thoroughly planned onboarding schedule, several personalized actions will show your new employee that you’re glad they joined your team. Implement some of the practices below when your new hire starts:

Start on Tuesday

Starting your new employee on your busiest work day will not allow you to spend the proper amount of time getting him acquainted with the organization. If your busiest day is Monday, start your employee on Tuesday or another day with a lighter work load. You can answer his questions, show him where supplies are and take some time to get to know him when you start your new hire on a less busy day.

Break Out the Welcome Wagon

Help your new employee settle into their new position by making them feel welcomed and part of the team. Stock their workspace with pens, notepads, a handbook and other materials that will ensure a successful start with the company. Let them know it’s okay to ask questions or to be confused. When a week goes by, check in with them to see how their first week went. If you can help them out with anything, make sure they know it.

Give Introductions

Trying to get things done without knowing who people are or where their office is can be frustrating for a new employee trying to give a good impression. Help her out by introducing her to members of your organization that she’ll be in direct contact with. Make sure she knows where different departments are and who she needs to reach out to for various tasks around the office.

Take Them Out

Show them you’re excited for them to be on your team. Take them out for lunch and ask the other members of your department to join. This is a great time to get to know one another. Ask your new employee how their first day is going. Also encourage them tell more about themselves, like what they like to do in their free time or what their favorite sports are.

For more tips for a great onboarding process, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7786.

Photo Source: Victor1558

A Tale of Two Cultures

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

The post below is a guest post from Buzz Rooney, a practicing HR professional with more than 10 years of experience in the production, manufacturing and retail industries. She currently works for a large retail franchise handling employee relations, health benefits, compliance and more. Read more of her writings, connect and contact her through her website, The Buzz on HR.

Company A had a very strong culture. When you entered their offices, you could feel the positivity exuding from every cubicle. It was clear that people loved working there and that the company worked hard to make the employees feel valued. The office was brightly decorated, the equipment was state-of-the-art, and the break area was stocked with yummy snacks and fun games. The employees always spoke of the company as “us” and “we.” They could recite the history of the organization. They knew how their work connected to the work of others and how it impacted the bottom line of the organization.

Their pride in their practices made them cocky. Over time, the organization began to think their way was the only way to do business. They criticized and ridiculed organizations that weren’t like them – including clients and vendors.

Company B also had a very strong culture. When you entered their offices, you could feel the negativity exuding from every cubicle. It was clear that people resented working there and didn’t feel valued. The office walls were dingy white and undecorated, the equipment was older, and the break area was tiny and full of not-so-gentle reminders (don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink; don’t take people’s stuff out the fridge, etc).  The employees spoke of the company as “they” and “them.” No one knew the history of the organization. They didn’t know how their work connected to the work of others or impacted the bottom line organization.

Their acrimonious attitude made them tense and guarded. Employees were constantly fearful of losing favor with decision-makers. Bullying and passive-aggressive behavior abounded. Every change was met with resistance, reluctance and reticence. When asked to define the culture of their organization, everyone from the owner to the receptionist said “We don’t really have one.”

Wrong! Every organization has culture. It might be a cult or it might be a crock – but it exists and is always there.

Culture is what your employee’s think, feel and express about working there. Most companies actively work to define their culture. Others let it develop organically.

How can you figure out and fix the culture of your organization?

Ask. Employees generally want to give feedback. They want to tell management how they are feeling. Give them the opportunity to do it without fear of retaliation. Also ask your customers and vendors about their experiences working with the employees of your organization and their perceptions of your culture.

Assess. Once you have the feedback from your customers, employees and vendors, examine it against the mission, vision, values, goals, policies and procedures against the organization. See if the feedback matches. Where it doesn’t match up, determine the cause. Watch for patterns and common threads, such as employees from one area being more or less happy than others. Stay open and willing to embrace the feedback, especially the hard truths.

Adjust. Now that you have the information, it’s time to do something with it. That starts by deciding if you are OK with the feedback received. If the organization does not disagree or isn’t disturbed by the perceptions, there is no need to do anything. However, this isn’t usually the case. More often, organizations are horrified to learn what everyone thinks about them. You have to own the shortcomings in your organization that created those perceptions. Then you have to address the issues at every level. For awhile, all of your decisions and business actions will have to be scrutinized for culture alignment. Eventually, if you don’t give up, the culture you want will take root, blossom and grow.

Culture manifests itself either positively or negatively in the effort and attitude of the employees. Regardless of how it develops, we must know what the culture is – and take the steps to change it when it is not what we want it to be.

Photo Source: Victor1558

Don’t Let Your Top Employees Leave: 4 Tips to Encourage Employee Loyalty

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Do you know what it would take for your employees to leave your organization? If you ask them, the responses you receive might surprise you. The responses will also provide you with valuable information. Knowing the circumstances that could cause your employees to leave will help you find areas in which your company can improve. Instead of finding the answers when your employees leave your company, find time now to ask your top talent what factors would drive them to move to another organization.

Before you ask your staff members what would make them leave, review some of the reasons below why employees stay at their organizations. Are you providing your employees with these opportunities?

4 Reasons Why Employees Stay Loyal

Company Culture

The environment your company creates is a major factor that determines whether an employee will stay. Not every employee will appreciate or desire the same workplace aspects so it’s important to make sure you’re hiring employees that are interested in your company culture. For the most part, employees want to work for companies that respect their work/life balance and take a genuine interest in them and their career.

Challenging Work and Career Growth

Employees who are growing in their positions and like what they do find it hard to leave their employers. Make sure your staff members don’t leave because of workplace boredom, meaning their assignments aren’t challenging them. Meet with your employees on a weekly or monthly basis to gauge their thoughts on their job assignments and related performance. Help your team members grow by offering them opportunities to strengthen their skills, learn more information, and work on larger or more important projects.

Sound Leadership

Leadership is a top reason why employees decide to hold a long tenure with an organization. Many employee opinion surveys reveal that employees leave or are likely to leave because of the actions of their managers, supervisors or senior leaders. No one likes a micromanager or a leader who never checks in. Treat your employees with respect, be considerate of their time, communicate openly with them, and in return they will more likely stick with your organization.

Feedback and Recognition

Receiving positive and constructive feedback consistently is critical for the success of your employees. When employees don’t receive feedback, several consequences can result—employees feel frustrated, bad manager-direct report relationships develop, or employees search for new jobs that fulfill their needs. In addition to constant feedback, workers want to know that they are valued for the work they put into the company. Regularly demonstrate that you appreciate your workforce’s efforts. Whether you send them an email congratulating them on a sales win or take them out to eat on Friday, make it clear that they’re valuable team members.

For additional guidance for retaining your key employees, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Victor1558