Archive for August, 2015

Sometimes I feel like I am selling fear…

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

The following post is from CAI’s Kevin von der Lippe. He serves as CAI’s private investigator and leads the company’s Background Checking department.

Kevin von der Lippe, Private Investigator

Kevin von der Lippe, Private Investigator

Often, clients hear me talking about the pitfalls of not staying compliant with the nitpicky rules of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).  Or, they hear me cautioning against transgression of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and how the onerous Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is in their enforcement.  Sometimes I feel like I am selling fear, but the reality is, the litigation is real, the liability for your company is real, and the long term consequences for non-compliance can be devastating to your company.

The view from today’s perspective is that there is a sea of class action lawsuits over small, technical flaws with the paperwork required under the FCRA.  In particular, the two main points of contention are: proper release from your applicant or employee, and sending out the proper paperwork (or even any paperwork) before you make your adverse employment action based upon the background check.

The problem stems from an infamous $22 million settlement on the East Coast in 2008. This particular case showed that suing companies who fail to comply with the FCRA could be lucrative. In 2009, the Sixth Circuit ruled that a plaintiff did not have to show actual damages because the fact that the company failed to comply with the FCRA was in-of-itself an “injury” to the plaintiff, thus giving him justification in filing his suit. [1]

In February 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (in California) ruled that “a plaintiff can suffer a violation of the statutory right without suffering actual damages.” [2] Contrary to rulings from other circuits, this reignited a firestorm and on April 27, 2015, the argument made its way to the nation’s highest court. While the Supreme Court’s decision has not yet been made, the ruling could change Congress’ role in defining how these cases move forward, and perhaps even reduce the number of class action lawsuits that are based solely on technical flaws.

The good news is, you can reduce your exposure under the FCRA by keeping up with the necessary paperwork.  CAI provides samples of the necessary documents on our website,  We also provide the necessary FCRA paperwork with every report issued by our background checking department.

If you have questions about our background checking services, or how CAI can help you remain in compliance with the federal laws related to background screening, please do not hesitate to contact Kevin W. von der Lippe at (336) 899-1150 or by e-mail at

Capital Associated Industries Services Corporation is a licensed investigative agency, specializing in corporate pre-employment background screening. Our corporate agency license is BPN 001473P11.

[1] Beaudry v. TeleCheck Services, Inc., (6th Cir. 2009).

[2] Thomas Robins v. Spokeo, Inc. (9th Cir. 2010)

Keep Millennial Employee Retention Rates High With These 3 Tips

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

Portrait of three office workers.It’s no secret that Millennials are causing some employers to rethink their views on employee relations and engagement. Growing up with the advent of technology and social media has exposed them to far more corners of the globe than any other generation in history. With the ability to access varying cultures, peoples, and places so readily available throughout their lives, Millennials are not nearly as content as older generations to stay put in one place for an extended period of time.

With Millennials expected to make up nearly half of the nation’s workforce by 2020, it is imperative for HR professionals to develop strategies to mitigate some of this restless energy and improve retention for Millennial employees. Though there is no foolproof plan to keeping Millennials from job hopping, following these simple steps may entice the Gen Y’ers to stick around the office for a little while longer:

  1. Create a flexible work environment

Some say the 9-to-5 is dead. It’s not, but it may need a little tweaking. As we said earlier, Millennials have been shaped by technology.  For this generation, going to a library to retrieve an encyclopedia or a computer lab to write a paper was unnecessary: all the information needed to complete a task was right at their fingertips. This same trend holds true in the office.  Many Millennials simply don’t understand the need to spend hours at a desk every day when they feel they could accomplish just as much in less time working remotely.

While it is important to be in the office, meet the Millennials halfway. Perhaps allow them a day each week to work from home. Remember: everyone’s work habits are different, and there is no one-size-fits-all work model. By recognizing the need for Millennials to work in a flexible environment, you will be creating a space that can adapt to meet their needs and greatly improve their career contentment.

  1. Give them purpose

Having grown up with expanding access to travel, film, the Internet and other media, Millennials are constantly striving to leave their own unique footprint in an increasingly automated, programmed world. In fact, nearly three out of four students polled in a survey considered having “a job where I can make an impact” to be essential to their happiness, as opposed to roughly half of workers. In other words, Millennials measure much of their work fulfillment in relation to the perceived positive impact it has having on the world around them.

Show leadership to your Millennial employees by clearly stating the company’s vision or goals, and what duties or skills they can use to help the company achieve this end. By making Millennials aware of the stakes they have in the organization’s success, they will find fulfillment in their work that could vastly strengthen their satisfaction and loyalty to your organization.

  1. Put together clear expectations of career advancement

Growing up alongside the technology boom, Millennials have always been inclined to look toward the future. When it comes to their careers, this is no exception. Millennials are a competitive crew, so putting clear incentives on the table for possible career advancement will motivate them to put their best work forward and settle in for the long haul. What Millennials may lack in terms of professional experience they more than make up for in enthusiasm and drive. Lay out exactly what’s expected of them in order to advance, and watch them rise to the occasion.

Try to be as transparent as possible about how and when their hard work will be rewarded in the form of promotions, raises, etc. Businesses that invest time and resources into their Millennial employees will earn this generation’s continued loyalty, drive, and unique vision.

If you would like to further discuss how you can improve your company’s retention of Millennial employees, please call our Advice and Resolution team today at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Worksite Wellness Programs Not Just A Fad, Survey Shows

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

The post below is a guest blog from Meaghan Roach who serves as Health Management Advisor for CAI’s employee benefits partner Hill, Chesson & Woody.

BalanceA few weeks ago, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) unveiled the results of their 2015 employee benefits survey at their national conference. The results? Of no surprise to many in the industry, health and worksite wellness programs continue to grow in prevalence and popularity. SHRM attributes much of this to employers’ desires to combat rising health care costs. In addition to slowing the cost trend, health management programs may also increase productivity, decrease absenteeism, and improve a company’s ability to recruit and retain top talent.

Based on the survey, popular health management programs included biometric screenings and health assessments, tobacco cessation programs, lifestyle coaching, and preventive programs targeted at employees with chronic conditions. New to the scene this year are company-provided fitness/activity trackers and fitness competitions, which are offered by 13 percent and 34 percent of the respondents, respectively. New offerings in the past few years seem to have a common theme of physical activity, with standing desks (25 percent of respondents offered in 2015), on-site fitness classes (17 percent), and off-site fitness class subsidies (16 percent) all being added to the survey’s options in the past three years.

Health and wellness benefits that saw the largest increase in prevalence over the past five years involved premium differentials for participation in a variety of activities, including preventive care, completion of an annual health risk assessment, and not using tobacco products.

BenefitsPro summarized several other areas of the survey – including telecommuting, health savings accounts and family friendly benefits – but noted that wellness programs are certainly a key takeaway from this year’s results. In fact, as more millennials enter the workforce and demand a strong company culture, worksite wellness programs are becoming almost expected in the minds of potential employees. Eighty percent of survey respondents provide employees with wellness resources and educational information, and seventy percent indicated that they offer wellness programs, suggesting an attempt to integrate health initiatives into company culture across the majority of organizations in the United States.

Interested in how your company can offer initiatives like the above that can have a positive effect on employee morale and productivity, and ultimately your bottom line? Contact our Health Management team and allow us to help guide you through development of a wellness program to complement your employee benefits package.



How the Department of Labor’s Overtime Changes Will Affect Your Company

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

In today’s video blog, CAI’s Senior Executive and HR Advisor, George Ports, discusses the US Department of Labor’s (USDOL) recent proposed changes to overtime regulations and what employers must do in order to remain compliant. George begins by noting that under the new revisions to the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA), the USDOL will increase the minimum salary threshold for exemptions, opening up eligibility for overtime protections to nearly 5 million workers nationwide.

George believes it is important for employers to know how these changes will affect their company, and goes on to list the specific revisions to the FLSA. Some of these proposed changes include:

  • A vast increase in the minimum salary level exemption for the executive, administrative, and professional exemptions from $455 per week to no less than $921 per week
  • An increase in the minimum salary exemption for highly compensated employees from $100,000 to $122,148
  • A metrics system to automatically increase the minimum salary threshold test on an annual basis

In order to examine the impact these changes could have, George advises employers to make the necessary alterations to salary levels or re-classify positions. For those employers interested in making comments on these proposed changes, head to to make your voices heard. Just make sure to do so before the 60 day comment period ends on September 4, 2015.

Please call our Advice and Resolution team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 with any related questions.

4 Reasons the Candidate Experience is Lacking, and How to Fix It

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

right hire

Turns out the old adage of “earning respect by giving it” may actually be true. A recent survey conducted by Inavero on behalf of CareerBuilder reveals how a candidate’s treatment during the application process can make or break their impression of a company. The 2015 Candidate Behavior Study, which polled more than 5,013 workers ages 18 and over in February 2015, reveals the many facets of the candidate experience in which employers are falling short and ultimately damaging their employment brand. Here are four of their top concerns:

  1. Employer’s don’t understand the importance of the candidate experience.

A troubling statistic from the survey reveals that 82 percent of employers “think there’s little to no negative impact on the company when a candidate has a bad experience during the hiring process.” Candidates, however, feel quite differently: 69 percent of candidates polled said they would be less likely to buy from a company if they have a bad experience in the interview. This stark contrast in the importance of the candidate experience between the two parties could pose a serious issue for employers. By severely undermining the importance of ensuring a positive hiring experience, employers can leave candidates with an unfavorable view of the company and a disloyal customer base.

  1. Candidates desire ongoing communication

This survey found that employers are consistently falling short of candidates’ expectations regarding communication. Of the candidates polled in this study, 36 percent said they expected to be updated throughout the application process, but only 26 percent of employers actively communicate to candidates what stage of the hiring process they are in. This gap in expectations exposes an undercurrent of toxic resentment toward employers by candidates that can derail the application process to a negative experience, leaving a bad taste in the candidate’s mouth.

  1. Candidates are frustrated with the application process

According to the survey, 40 percent of candidates feel the application process has become “more difficult” in the last five years. Of those, 57 percent say the process is “too automated and lacks personalization” and 50 percent said it has “so many more steps than it used to have.” This clear frustration with the process shows that candidates and employers are out of sync. By attempting to truly connect with candidates, employers can help personalize the candidate experience and minimize the emotional disconnect many applicants feel pervades the process.

  1. Candidates are more likely to accept lower salaries from employers who left a good impression

In addition to earning respect, treating candidates well may also be good for your wallet. The study found that more than 3 in 4 of the candidates polled would be willing “to accept a salary that is 5 percent lower than their expected offer if the employer created a great impression through the hiring process.” While a sense of professionalism and manners should be enough for employers to create a strong impression, this creates an extra incentive for employers to positively connect with candidates in order to ensure room for leverage in negotiating an appropriate salary for the company’s budget.

All these findings from the CareerBuilder study reveal a strong disconnect between employers and candidates in regards to the application process. By understanding the importance of making the process personalized and giving candidates the respect and courtesy of proactive communication, employers can develop a stronger and more durable brand for the company and make the candidate experience more efficient and enjoyable for both parties.

If you would like to discuss how you can improve your company’s hiring process, please call our Advice and Resolution team today at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.


Performance Reviews: How Does Your Process Compare?

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Annual performance reviews are often one of the most dreaded and stressful activities for both employees and managers. The process easily creates tension, and is usually directly tied to salary increases and bonuses for the employee.

While the intention behind performance reviews are good, the process itself is typically outdated and can lead to an inaccurate appraisal of employees. This infographic from Findmyshift explains where some of the gaps are in this process, as well as how other companies have improved their performance reviews.


Exploring Why Employees Stay With Your Company

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

In today’s post, Advice and Resolution team member Renee’ Watkins encourages you to think about your employee retention efforts.

Renee' Watkins, HR Advisor

Renee’ Watkins, HR Advisor

Every organization would like to see a high rate of employee retention over a long period of time. What is the best way to achieve this goal? We spend time and effort to understand why employees leave when they give us notice and by then it is often too late to react. Perhaps if we first understood the reasons an employee chooses to stay with the organization it would help us to better reinforce those positive factors and drive retention rates upward across the workforce.

“Stay” interviews are becoming a popular norm among companies taking a pro-active approach to employee retention. If you are relatively new at conducting stay interviews, consider one of the suggested formats below to get you started:

Manager One-on-One

Anytime a manager takes the opportunity to speak one-on-one with a team member, you have invoked one of the most powerful tools for increasing employee retention. Employees want to work for an organization that demonstrates concern for their welfare and happiness in the workplace. Work with managers to encourage such “interviews” and present them with a set of employee engaging questions as a guide.

Human Resources One-on-One

Sometimes an employee may be reluctant to discuss certain issues with their manager. This is where HR can provide another opportunity for direct employee engagement. Do not wait for the employee to come to you. If they are reluctant to speak with their manager, they may also be reluctant to speak with HR. Make it a practice to reach out to employees on a regular basis and simply involve them in conversation regarding their thoughts on the company and their job.

Employee Surveys

To engage employees who are reluctant to speak openly regarding their concerns, provide an employee survey to give them an opportunity to anonymously provide their feedback. An anonymous survey will provide them a forum in which to be completely open and honest. However, also convey the fact the door to HR is always open to them with complete confidentiality and invite them to come forward and discuss in more detail. This will demonstrate your concern for their happiness in the workplace.

Focus Group

A focus group can be used to bring together a small group of employees who work in a similar role and ask for both positive and negative feedback on company activities. Sometimes it only takes one employee to start the conversation and others will jump in as part of the group. When employees feel they are not the only person with concerns, they are more likely to participate in an honest and open discussion.

Stay interviews should be conducted with key employees on a periodic basis and should not coincide with employee reviews. Remember, this is designed to promote your interest in their welfare and job satisfaction. Make sure to put the employee at ease and explain they are not being singled out as a result of anything they’ve done.

For some organizations, it would be impossible to conduct routine stay interviews with every employee, regardless of how great it would be to do so. It is very important to concentrate your focus on key employees who would create a negative impact on the business if they chose to leave.

Also, it is important to remember you will never be able to please everyone all the time. Some concerns may be aired that you are unable to address directly via policies or new initiatives. In these cases, all you may be able to do is listen and offer understanding.

Equally important however, is your effort to address concerns that can be resolved. If your employee has taken the steps required to voice their concerns to you, your efforts to take action will be how they measure their true value to the organization. If you fail here, your efforts to improve employee retention may have the opposite effect.

Be sure also to promote the positives you hear in a stay interview. If several employees mention the same reason they stay with your organization, put that in a newsletter or on the company website, preserving their anonymity of course. Always promote the positive as both a retention and a recruiting tool.

Stay interviews have been developed as a proven methodology for reducing turnover and the added expense of recruiting and training new employees to fill vacated positions.

Please call our Advice and Resolution team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 if you need help thinking through your retention strategy.

The Problem with Time Off

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

The following post is by Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO and President. The article originally appeared in Bruce’s News and Observer  column, The View from HR.

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

What could be wrong with time off from work?  Plenty, if you are a manager trying to get things done, or an employee who cannot get time off for family issues.

Time off problems generate phone calls to our HR advisors every day.  Most of the problems come in three categories, each with an employee and employer viewpoint.

Do I Have To?

Government regulations mandate time off in several dozen ways.  No single requirement is back breaking, but their total weight causes employers to dread these regulated requests.  The question often becomes “Do I have to grant the time?”  It depends.

Earned vacation is owed to the employee and the only question is timing.  An employer can deny its use at inconvenient times unless the vacation is to be used during a “Family and Medical Leave” event.  These FMLA requests give employees and their doctors so much power over timing that employee abuse is too common, paid or unpaid.  Even if laws like FMLA do not apply, sick day and personal day policies are common.  Plus, everyone has a personal need now and then.

Help employees understand the business issues so that time off can be made to fit business AND personal needs.  Employees, if you will start out showing concern for business needs and some flexibility on timing, you will find the process is much smoother and more pleasant for all.  It is rare that something has to happen on Monday morning, or on the busiest day of the month.  Everybody wants to be met halfway. (Emergencies are different.)

Do I Want To?

If time off is discretionary, do you want to say “yes” to the employee for an inconvenient day off?  Managers might say “Yes to my best employees and no to my worst.”  You can use some discretion here, maybe rearranging work so that a star can get the day off he or she needs in busy season, but be sure you can defend that choice when the poor performer seeks the same. “Sally works exceptionally hard each day, and you do not” is what you may feel like saying, but refrain.  Describe ways the employee can earn future approvals.

Employees who want time off or certain vacation days in this “discretionary zone” should bring either a good plan for getting needed work done, or a record of always doing so, or both.  I have never met a manager who liked to say no to a personal request if it is reasonable and if the employee always meets them halfway.

Should I?

Maybe no law requires it and maybe the employee does not deserve it based on past behaviors, but sometimes it is good business to grant that inconvenient time off request.  You gain nothing by punishing an employee’s family member, for example.  Maybe you should have dealt with this poor performer more directly last month rather than indirectly punishing him or her through a time off denial today.  It is a judgment call, but denial of needed time off is an act this employee will not soon forget.

Time-off discussions require adult behavior and open discussion on both sides.  Approach your next time off discussion with that in mind.

For additional guidance, please give our Advice and Resolution Team a call at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.