Archive for June, 2013

Your Onboarding Program Can Determine Whether a New Hire Stays Long Term

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

A new hire’s first day can spur a number of emotions. Excitement, fear, anxiety and happiness are just a few. In today’s video post, CAI’s Director of Membership, Doug Blizzard, takes you through two examples of a new hire’s first day on the job. Which experience sounds like your company’s onboarding process?

Story A

In the first senario, Doug introduces us to Jane Regret. Jane arrives early on her first day. The receptionist asks Jane if she has an appointment, not realizing she’s the company’s new hire. She rings Jane’s supervisor. The receptionist says she hasn’t seen her manager, Joe Smith, today, but she tracks him down. Joe is in a meeting but wants Jane to fill out paperwork in HR, and he assures Jane they’ll speak later.

Jane spends time learning about benefits and filling out documents. Then HR takes her to her temporary office. They’ll  find a permanent home for her soon. Jane then receives the policy manual and a catalog to order supplies. She doesn’t have a computer but is told one should arrive in the next few days. Her manager finally pops in but encourages her to get settled.

After going to lunch by herself, Jane attends the party for her coworker who’s leaving the company after five years and she never gets a chance to connect with her manager. When she gets home, she tells her husband, “I think I made a big mistake.”

Story B

Before arriving t0 his first day of work, Tom Happy’s wife finds a package from her husband’s new employer. The two are surprised and interested to see what‘s inside. Tom opens the package to find company gear and two tickets to a baseball game with a note from his boss: Welcome Aboard! Can’t wait to start hitting homeruns together. See you in a month.

Tom arrives at his first day of work and notices his picture in the lobby with a message that read: Welcome, Tom! The receptionist tells Tom they’re glad to see him and his boss will be right there. Jack, the boss, greets Tom and says that he needs to get to HR to fill out paperwork. However, he wants Tom to meet his new teammates first.

As they approach his new area, Tom sees that his teammates have gathered with coffee and bagels to welcome him. All of his supplies are in his office, and after a quick visit with HR, Tom meets with Jack to review his 90-day performance plan.

Tom gets home and tells his wife, “You can’t believe the day I’ve had!”

A few thoughts from Doug on onboarding:

  • Don’t start a new employee unless their manager is able to commit time to them
  • The first day is the most important day for a new hire
  • You won’t overcome first impressions easily—if ever
  • Think about what you want your new employee to say to their friends and family about their first day and your company
  • Celebrate your new employees. Don’t just throw parties for your employees who are leaving
  • Do your new hires have a clear onboarding program?

Please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 if you need help improving your company’s onboarding practice.

Our Employee Was Unauthorized to Work in the US But Is Now Legal

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team answers several questions from members daily. A recent question the team received was– We had an employee who has worked for us for years come forward with new documents and advise us that he is now legal. What do we do?

 Pat Rountree 5x7 300dpiIn today’s post, Advice and Counsel Team Member Pat Rountree supplies an answer to this workforce-related issue:  

If an employee tells you they were illegal but now have legal documentation, you have a choice:

  1. accept the new documentation and keep the employee if the documentation appears valid; or
  2. take disciplinary action under your policy if you state that falsification of employment records is grounds for discipline.

There is nothing illegal about keeping the employee if you accepted the original documentation in good faith and it appeared valid, and if the new documentation appears to be valid. If you are using E-Verify, you will find out whether the new information is indeed valid.

The next question you have to ask is, “what is our policy in regards to employee falsification?”

If you have a policy that results in discipline for falsification of records and you treat this situation differently because it is a “good employee,” it begs the question of whether you are being inconsistent with your policy. Also, if you want to terminate the employee and rehire for the same reason, you should review your policy on rehires to see if employees who are terminated for cause for other reasons are allowed to return. Other employees often are aware of these situations and look to see how they are handled by the employer.

Review the situation, your policy and past practice. If your policy does not require you to terminate, verify that the new documents are valid and complete a new I-9 and attach it to the original, along with a memorandum for record describing the actions taken by the employer in regard to the I-9 form.

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

4 Ideas to Show Your Employees Appreciation During the Summer Months

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Summer activityThis Friday marks the first day of summer and calls attention to all of the activities that go along with warmer weather. Many of your employees will plan vacations during this time period.  For your staffers who elect to stay in the office, treat them to some summertime fun. Show them you appreciate the contributions they make to your organization by coordinating activities that are most enjoyable in the summer. Reminding employees that you value their efforts is helpful in increasing a number of metrics, such as engagement, satisfaction and morale.

Try some of the following fun ideas at your organization:

Company picnic with family and friends

The warm weather season is a perfect time for a company picnic. Encourage your employees to invite their friends and family to make the event more memorable for them. By allowing your employees to bring guests, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with the people who are the most important to them. Rent a picnic shelter from a local park, provide food, and make sure you plan activities that cater to all of the age groups that will be present.

Refreshing treats

The summer months provide plenty of opportunities for fun, but they also bring a long supply of blazing hot days. Help your employees get some relief from the sun. Stock your company fridge with popsicles or mini containers of ice cream. If you purchase these items in bulk at a warehouse, such as Costco or Sam’s Club, you won’t break your budget to provide your employees with nice refreshments.

Relaxed Dress Code

If your employees wear business casual or business attire each day of the week, let them enjoy a more relaxed dress code during the summertime. Giving them the option to dress more comfortably during the hottest months of the year will show your employees that you care about their happiness while they are at work. Whether you implement casual Fridays throughout the summer or allow your employees to sport sandals instead of loafers, this gesture will show them that you appreciate them.

Parking lot tailgate

Everyone loves a good tailgate! You don’t have to be celebrating a particular sporting event to incorporate some of the fun aspects of getting together before a big game. Utilize the resources you have by hosting the tailgate in your company’s parking lot. Set up cornhole, ladder ball or play Frisbee to create some bonding moments for your staff. Treat your team to traditional tailgating foods and drinks like BBQ, hamburgers, hotdogs, lemonade and sweet tea.  If you decide to provide alcoholic beverages for your staff, make sure they are of age and limit them to two drinks each for their safety and yours.

For more ways to raise employee morale at your organization, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-9222.

Photo Source: Rob Boudon

Considering Voluntary Benefit Offerings As Part Of An Employee Benefits Package

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

The post below is a guest blog from Jay Lowe, who serves as Principal, Health & Welfare Consultant for CAI’s employee benefits partner, HCW Employee Benefit Services.

Blog 015 PictureAs the cost of providing benefits to employees continues to rise, an often underappreciated benefit employers can offer at little expense is voluntary benefits. These include such products as life insurance, dental insurance, critical illness insurance, vision benefit, disability income replacement coverage, and home owners/rental and auto insurance.


Voluntary benefits allow an employer to maintain a robust offering of services that enhances the overall package, while letting workers handle the total cost of benefits through their payroll deductions.


With voluntary benefits, employers can set themselves apart from competitors that offer only the traditional lines of medical coverage. Since many workers have indicated through several surveys (including some cited below) that they want a suite of benefits, voluntary benefits should be a popular item to implement. This can ease employees’ worries relating to future costs that may be incurred in these areas and shows them the value of their employment, thus serving as a strong retention tool.


The annual “Study of Employee Benefits Trends” white paper released by MetLife this year suggests that many employers nonetheless are failing to recognize the appeal of voluntary benefits and take advantage of them. With the exception of 20 percent who offered life insurance, at most only 10 percent of businesses with up to 499 employees surveyed offered any other voluntary benefits. At the same time, at least 26 percent of Baby Boomers and 38 percent of younger workers (Gen X and Y) said they were interested in each of those products even though they had to pay 100 percent of the cost.


The white paper reported that 38 percent of workers surveyed cited a choice of voluntary benefits as a factor that drives loyalty to their company. More than 50 percent of both younger workers and Baby Boomers said they would rather pay for benefits than lose them. The white paper noted that “Voluntary benefits … can serve to fill gaps and supplement employer-paid programs to provide a more holistic benefits offering.”


Another recent survey by Guardian Research discovered that participation rates in voluntary benefits have been climbing and will continue to increase, especially for non-dental and non-vision offerings. The study said that addressing the lack of perceived need for voluntary benefits has been and will continue to be the biggest opportunity moving forward for employers in this area.


These findings suggest adding voluntary benefits can be part of an effective employee recruitment strategy for employers, but several considerations need to occur for successful implementation. One is the wide variety of products available. Beside the voluntary benefits listed in the white paper, employers can provide additional lines such as supplemental life and dependent life, critical illness coverage, cancer coverage and hospitalization. Should any or all of these benefits be included in your package?


healthcare_industry_issuesAnother concern is making sure employees understand what the benefits involve. Employees frequently overlook voluntary benefit offerings during orientation and open enrollment because they are focusing on other tasks they consider more important, such as adjustments to their existing plans. If employees concentrate on other items than voluntary benefits when they are presented, chances are strong they will avoid taking full advantage of the products and programs. The time and money spent on presenting such benefits to employees will have been a waste for the employer.


When selected and presented properly, voluntary benefits are a great way for employers to enhance their traditional lines of coverage at little or no cost to the company’s bottom line. There are convenient, web-based enrollment tools which provide a simple, quicker enrollment and reduce costs and free up time to focus on running the business in the process. The process serves as an effective recruitment and retention tool in attracting and maintaining top talent in the organization.


From an employee perspective, the ease of purchasing these types of products via payroll deduction can be a great benefit. The simplicity of accessing this protection at the workplace avoids wasted time by the employee looking for this coverage during their free time.


Employers should be cautious and limit the lines of coverage when initially launching these benefits.  Gauge employees’ interest in the proposed products before deciding what coverage to offer. Employees who believe programs are of limited value in what they can buy likely will not participate in them. Identify employee needs and interests, and match product options to them to produce better results. Involvement in voluntary benefits is particularly crucial for smaller employers, as minimum participation percentages or signup of enrollees may be required in order for the plan to take effect.


It’s important to consider your communication methods around these benefits as well. For effective communication of voluntary benefits, provide information beyond orientation and open enrollment sessions. Send out emails, put up flyers, devote special meetings to provide an overview and answer questions. Talk about the voluntary benefits year round. Help employees fully understand and appreciate what voluntary benefits do for them and how they are relevant.


One final key consideration is making sure that any voluntary benefit offering supports and integrates with the core health and welfare strategy. This is another area where HCW consultants assist in ensuring alignment with your organization’s entire benefit strategy.

Do Your Job Candidates Fit the Job and Your Workplace Culture?

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

new talentIf you want a new employee to be a great addition to your team and not jump ship after a year or sooner, you should assess whether or not they fit your company culture. Don’t just pick a candidate because they nailed the interview or their last job title matches the name of your open position. Choosing a candidate with the right experience and the required jobs skills is extremely important when narrowing the pool of job seekers. Incorporating company fit will help you winnow down the list of candidates to those who can add the most value to your organization.

Here are three reasons why recruiting for company fit is advantageous to your organization:

Avoid the Cost of a Bad Hire

Hiring a dud of an employee can be costly. You’ve spent money recruiting the candidate, advertising the position, reimbursing travel and training the new member. If the new employee doesn’t work out, you’ve lost money and time that you can’t recoup. Choosing a candidate who has values similar to your company’s, as well as a work ethic similar to several members of your team, will likely result in a better hire than those who don’t.

The Job Will Get Done

Employees who like their workplace culture and the people they work with are more likely to be engaged with their assignments. Better engagement means increased productivity and higher morale, which are two metrics you want to achieve. When employees have high morale and are satisfied with their positions, their work becomes less of a chore and more of a task they want to complete.

Your Team Will Be Welcoming

Remember how a bad hire can be dreadful to your company finances? Well, bad hires can also be dreadful to your other team members. They had the skills, but not the values, so your other employees are dealing with your hiring decision. Staffers who don’t fit your culture and are difficult to work with can have negative effects on your other employees, such as lower productivity and increased stressed.

Choose wisely for your next open position. Emphasize your culture to candidates during the hiring process, so they know that’s an important aspect of your workplace.

For more information on the importance of cultural fit when looking for a new hire, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Picture: Victor1558


9 Ways to Turn Workplace Conflict into Opportunities

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

The following is a guest post from Carol Hacker. Carol is the President and CEO of Hacker & Associates. She specializes in helping HR professionals and teaching managers, supervisors, team leaders, executives and business owners how to meet the leadership challenge. She’s the author the bestseller, Hiring Top Performers-350 Great Interview Questions for People Who Need People.

Carol Hacker portraitThe common denominator in workplace conflict is often a breakdown in communication.   Although conflict is normal and a part of everyday life, when it gets hurtful, it’s not only a problem, but it can be dangerous.   Conflict offers an opportunity for change and improved communication if employees are open to looking at conflict from a new perspective.  The sources of conflict can be almost anything; the resolve to turn conflict into opportunities is a choice.

Here are nine ways to turn conflict into opportunities:

Opportunity #1–Conflict can lead to opportunities when it involves a team of people.  Teams often try to resolve a problem as a group.  When they make a decision, it is often based on additional information that probably wouldn’t have been obtained had the conflict occurred and impacted more than just a handful of people.


Opportunity #2–Conflict can positively impact communication. Conflict and the escalators that sometimes make matters worse can actually improve communication.  If employees are confused, or don’t understand your expectations it can lead to conflict.  Your job is to solicit feedback. Engage them in discussion and get their buy-in.  The more input you get from your staff, the easier it will be to resolve conflict and grow as a team.


Opportunity #3–Conflict can alert you to morale problems.  If you suspect that morale is low, it’s a tip-off that conflict may be behind the problem.  Most employees hate conflict and their morale and eagerness to engage will be stifled if you allow it to continue.  As a leader in your organization you have an obligation to step up to the plate and work toward making changes for the better.


Opportunity # 4–Conflict can be energizing when it forces people out of their comfort zones.  Conflict evolves and is fueled by opposing interests.  It intensifies when values are different and trust erodes.  When conflict is commonplace, some employees tend to get comfortable and sometimes lazy when it comes to job responsibilities and meeting expectations.  Your role is to use conflict as a springboard for dialogue and rallying your employees to talk about what’s on their minds, but still recognize that many people don’t like to leave their comfort zone.  Don’t get stuck on start when it comes to a goal of energizing your employees via conflict.


Opportunity #5–Conflict can help improve productivity.  Conflict is definitely a problem when productivity is impacted because one or more of your employees is not getting along or is verbally fighting with someone else every time you turn your back.  Don’t avoid it or pretend it’s not happening.  Work to turn conflict into improved productivity.  But how?  State your position:  “I feel… I think… or we have a problem that’s impacting our productivity.”  Be ready to share specific examples—actions that you’ve observed.  Generalizations will get you nowhere.  Your goal is a “win-win” or “no-lose” outcome or solution to whatever is causing the conflict.


Opportunity #6–Conflict can provide opportunities for negotiations.  Negotiations often start with conflict—conflict with or among employees; conflict with vendors or suppliers; conflict with customers—not something we want to happen, but the reality is that it does from time to time.  You can improve your opportunities for successful negotiations by   gathering information to learn as much as you can about the situation,  checking to be sure what you’ve said has been understood, and looking at both sides of the story.


 Opportunity #7–Conflict provides an opportunity for growth.  On-going conflict can stymie your operation and cause people to shut down.  The more you know about how you and your employees prefer to deal with conflict, the easier it will be for you to resolve it.  As the HR professional, there are times when you will find yourself in the middle of arguments or angry employees who won’t listen.  The more you know about the importance of how conflict hurts growth, the easier it will be to train managers and supervisors how to handle workplace conflict, as well as the costs associated with doing nothing about it.


Conflict #8–Conflict can improve your meetings.  If the manager as well as the team members are open to listening and working on solutions in a group setting or staff meeting, everyone may get a different and valuable perspective regarding where there’s a problem and how the problem can be resolved.  In addition, make sure there are ground rules for how conflict in meetings will be handled when they arise.  Use team-building exercises, such as brainstorming or mind-mapping to get to the root of problems.


Conflict #9–Conflict can be a very good thing.  The way that you handle conflict can make the difference between a good and a no-so-good outcome.  If you choose to adopt behavioral changes in the way that you react to conflict, you can lead others toward building a closer, stronger bond.  Remember that you have a choice in everything you do and say, all of which is a direct reflection on you as a leader.


In summary, we all have to deal with conflict at work and in our personal lives.  Yet, inherent in conflict are opportunities.  The two keys to getting the positives out of conflict are to: 1) Recognize conflict as a springboard to improvement and 2) Learn and then practice the skills for managing conflict.  Whether in one-on-one interactions, in meetings, or during negotiations, conflict is manageable although at times uncomfortable.  Don’t allow it the bad press that it always seems to get.  Look for the hidden opportunities and then make it happen!

Carol can be reached at: or 770-410-0517

7 Things You Should Know From the 2013 Employment and Labor Law Update

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

2013ELLU-FlashCAI hosted its annual Employment and Labor Law Update at Raleigh’s McKimmon Center on May 22 and May 23. More than 430 people attended the conference to hear the latest updates in state and federal law.

Attorneys from Ogletree Deakins imparted important information to conference attendees about issues currently facing employers. Some of the topics included health care reform, unemployment insurance reform, North Carolina legislative updates, and wage and hour audits.

Below is a list of some of the pertinent information shared at the conference that company leaders should know:

Health Care Reform

1) The “pay or play” mandate of the Affordable Care Act  applies to “Applicable Large Employers”

  • An “Applicable Large Employer” is an employer with 50 or more full-time employees
  • “Employer” includes all entitles within the same controlled group of entities, including parent-subsidiary relationships and brother-sister relationships.

2) According to the “pay or play” mandate of the Affordable Care Act, Applicable Large Employers can choose to:

  • “Pay” by not offering coverage to all of their full-time employees and their dependents  OR
  • “Play” by offering coverage to their full-time employees and their dependents

3) Penalties Associated with the “pay or play” mandate include:

  • “’No Coverage‘ penalty”: Employer fails to offer coverage to all full-time employees and their dependents AND one or more full-time employees purchases coverage through the Exchange AND is eligible for premium tax credit or subsidy
    • § Penalty is $2,000 per full-time employee excluding the first 30 full-time employees
  • Employers that choose to “play” can still be subject to a penalty if they offer “Inadequate Coverage.” For example:
    • § Employer offers coverage to all of its full-time employees and their dependents but that coverage is NOT “affordable” OR does not provide “minimum value”
    • § Any full-time employee purchases coverage through the Exchange and receives a subsidy or tax credit

Complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

4) The ADA prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with a disability, and it requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for disabled individuals where no undue hardship results for the employer.

5) Employee must be a qualified individual with a disability, meaning:

  • Must meet qualification standards for position
  • The individual must be qualified to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation
  • Employers do not need to eliminate essential job functions

Workplace Violence

6) Workplace violence is any act of aggression, or threat of an act, that threatens the safety, security, or well-being of an individual who is at work or on duty.

  • One in six violent crimes occurs at work, including 7 percent of all rapes, 8 percent of all robberies and 16 percent of all assaults

7)  Workplace bullying is defined as repeated infliction of intentional, malicious, and abusive conduct that interferes with a person’s ability to do his/her work and is substantial enough to cause physical or psychological harm and a reasonable person would find hostile or offensive.

  • There is a strong correlation between bullying and violence
  • 43 percent of bullying comes from coworkers
  • 25 percent of bullying targets have protected status (other than gender)
  • 80 percent of bullying targets are women

If you are interested in attending CAI’s next Employment and Labor Law Update in 2014, please contact an Account Manager at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Use Training and Professional Development to Encourage Employee Engagement

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

 June 3 2013 quote blog

If you think the only way to boost employee morale and job satisfaction is increasing salaries or offering large bonuses, you are wrong. Competitive pay rates and earned raises are important to your employees and you should give them. However, if you don’t have the money to increase everyone’s salary, you can offer your employees opportunities for training and professional growth.

Providing employees with education that will be beneficial to their careers is a cost-effective way to increase job satisfaction at your workplace. You don’t have to max out budgets to illustrate to your staff that you want to help them achieve their goals. Help them feel appreciated by investing in their futures.

The list below shares several ways you can help your staff learn more, become engaged and be more productive. Try some of the examples at your workplace:

Encourage employees to join professional groups and associations.

Groups related to their jobs will help your staff members connect with similar professionals, learn best practices from their peers, and even gain new business and clients.

Set up a company mentor program.

Seasoned employees can teach your new additions a lot about the company. Your green employees can also give out important lessons. Organize a program that will be beneficial to most of your staff.  

Buy subscriptions to industry-related literature.

A budget-friendly way to increase the knowledge of your workers is to supply your workplace with magazines, journals and books that teach them valuable information.

Provide employees with professional training

Sign your staffers up for training classes to help them develop into strong leaders and better communicators. Experienced trainers will teach them applicable information to take back to the organization.

Capitalize on the information on the Internet.

Improve your employee’s technology skills while they receive training on the internet. Use webinars and blogs to cut costs or save travel time.

For additional ideas to increase employee morale and productivity at your organization, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.