Author Archive

3 Things I Learned About Recruiting from My Boys and Their Legos

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

In today’s post, CAI’s Peer Learning Recruiter, Jennifer Montalvo, shares how her two sons help inspire her recruiting methods.

Jennifer Montalvo, Peer Learning Recruiter

Jennifer Montalvo, Peer Learning Recruiter

My boys have thousands, no, hundreds of thousands of Legos and are continuously looking for the “right piece.”  Often, I stand over them baffled that they are arguing about “he got the one I wanted.”  I look at the two of them and pan over the vast sea of dumped Legos and reply with, “Really?  You’re telling me out of all of these pieces, that’s the only one you need?”   The reply, “… but it’s the best one, and it fits where I need it.”

Sometimes all my boys needed to do was look deeper at the structure they were building. They had the power to create whatever it was that they could envision.  Many times there was a piece that was overlooked or missed that would fit a.) just as well b.) better or c.) differently. I have learned a lot from this scenario in regard to recruiting. Here are my three takeaways:

Just as well

  • Chances are, amongst the thousands of pieces sprayed across the floor, a piece just like the one they were seeking was there. They may have had to look just a bit harder. The lesson being – don’t give up too quickly. After all, the vehicle that initially came out of the Lego box had four wheels!

Better

  • After a bit of convincing to “think out of the box” when they couldn’t find the exact same piece, they would come across a piece that actually fit better. They would then find that all the little nodules filled the space and consequently made the foundation of their creation even stronger.

Differently

  • Sometimes they would relinquish the desired piece to their sibling, and walk away frustrated and disappointed. However, they would often return with a fresh set of eyes and a different perspective. It was then that their structure would evolve into something unique and dynamic that they didn’t initially intend. And, if they were lucky, their structure would outshine and outlast that of their brother’s.

Recruiting is much like my children playing with Legos. Sometimes you have to look beyond your initial idea, thought or plan to uncover someone whose fit is well-beyond what you ever could have imagined. Keeping an open mind will often lead you to that “diamond in the rough” scenario.

So remember:

  • Don’t give up too quickly
  • Be willing to think out of the box
  • Walk away when needed and return with a fresh set of eyes and a different perspective

If you’re interested in more recruiting tips or would like more information on CAI’s Peer Learning Groups, please contact Jennifer at Jennifer.Montalvo@capital.org or 919-431-6093.

Is The Classic 105 Plan Compliant With Federal Law?

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

The post below is a guest blog from Jon Dingledine who serves as Vice President of Consulting for CAI’s employee benefits partner Hill, Chesson & Woody.

Ahealth cost compliances healthcare costs continue to rise, innovations in the marketplace continue to produce new products and ways to finance your medical insurance. One that you may have heard about recently (or are likely to soon hear about) is being touted as a tax overlay system sometimes called a “Classic 105 Plan.” The arrangement claims to reimburse 75% of unreimbursed medical expenses for employees. The program is supposed to save the employer money in premiums by raising deductibles, copays and out-of-pocket maximums.

Once the plan design has been leaned up, employees can choose to make a significant pre-tax salary reduction (in some cases as high as $15,000-$20,000 per year). The reduction amounts are held by a TPA and made available for medical reimbursements. Any unused portion in the account is forfeited at the end of the year. To make up for the significant reduction in the employees’ take-home pay, the employees are given a loan by the TPA each payroll period in an amount close or equal to the salary reduction amount. No taxes are paid on this amount because it is considered a loan, however there is no evidence that the loan is ever intended to be repaid. The loan is secured by a life insurance policy on the employee, held by the TPA. Fees paid to the TPA for the arrangement are between $150 and $200 each month, taken from the employees’ pre-tax salary reduction.

While the program claims to be ERISA, ACA and HIPAA compliant, our compliance team and other legal experts have serious concerns that this type of arrangement is not compliant with federal law, including the IRS Code. This type of arrangement can also have significant implications for the employee’s social security, the employer’s fiduciary duties under ERISA, and in some instances may subject the parties to criminal liability.

Rest assured that HCW is always reviewing the health and welfare benefit landscape, and we will continue to vet new programs and funding arrangements to ensure that the decisions your company is making are best fitted to your benefit strategy.

Is Turnover Draining your Company?

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

In today’s video blog, CAI’s Vice President of Membership, Doug Blizzard, discusses turnover and offers ways to help you improve it at your company. Doug begins by sharing that CAI has heard from member organizations that turnover has been rising substantially, doubling and tripling at some companies.

Doug believes that the major issue concerning turnover is that some companies are not addressing it appropriately as a company priority, and he shares his detailed opinion on why during the video. Below is a quick review:

  • Underestimating the true cost of turnover and therefore not allocating appropriate resources
  • Partnering HR with the CFO prior to any executive discussions on fixing turnover is critical
  • Spending time in areas in the company where turnover isn’t a problem to see what you can learn and apply in other areas

CAI has recently added two more HR experts on our Advice and Resolution team who specialize in helping companies think through operational and strategic HR issues like turnover, mergers & acquisitions, talent management, and more. Please reach out to Tom Sheehan or Rick Washburn at 919-878-9222 if you need help thinking through those types of issues.

Showing Emotion is a Good Leadership Quality

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

In today’s post, Advice and Resolution team member Renee’ Watkins discourages management and leaders from hiding their emotions and explains why.

Renee' Watkins, HR Advisor

Renee’ Watkins, HR Advisor

As professionals, we are taught and trained to keep our emotions in check when conducting a meeting or having a one-on-one conversation. The result can sometimes be the delivery of a message that seems a little too polished and rehearsed to be believable. These are times when a little more emotion is called for.

True emotion from our management is seen so rarely, when we hear it or see it, we are almost in shock. This reaction can make a message more powerful for us as it appears more genuine and trustworthy. Such a delivery can convey that the message is authentic and not trying to cover up anything behind the scenes.

Hiding our emotions may give the appearance of strength and control, but in reality it hinders our capacity to truly lead. Without emotion, we never really connect with individuals on their level. Employees who feel connected to management also feel an equal part of the company, with an equal stake in its failure or success.

Granted, there is also the other side of this coin. Being too emotional at a management level can sometimes cloud objectivity and lead to rash decisions that may negatively impact the company. It can be a very delicate balance, knowing how much emotion is necessary to connect with the workforce and how much is needed to be a strong leader when called upon.

To discover that balance, pay attention to your emotions. Ask yourself a couple of times a week, “How am I feeling right now?” Keep a journal of your emotions and try to identify what events or issues cause which emotions. Decide the importance of each and investigate how each emotion can be used to either connect directly with an employee or to advance forward in some decision process currently in play. Emotions, when used wisely, can be a powerful catalyst for change.

For more leadership tips, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution team and 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Restricting Transgender’s Use of Restroom Found in Violation of Title VII

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

George Ports, CAI’s Senior Executive and HR Advisor, shares important information on handling the sensitive issue of transitioning and the workplace.

George Ports, Senior Executive and HR Advisor

George Ports, Senior Executive and HR Advisor

No doubt you’ve heard the name Caitlyn Jenner mentioned a few times around your office over the past few months.  Some label Bruce Jenner’s transition as courageous while others label it disturbing.  Either way, when employees decide to make a gender transition, it can create employee relations issues for employers. Is there a best way to handle this situation?

Well first let’s look at what the government says.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found on April 1, 2015 that restricting a transgender employee (transitioning from male to female) from using the common women’s restroom was sex discrimination under Title VII.   The agency also ruled that the continued refusal by one of her supervisors to use her changed name and appropriate gender pronouns established a hostile work environment because it was deliberate and openly practiced in the workplace.

The individual, a civilian employee working for the US Army as a software quality assurance lead, began discussing her gender identity issues with the quality division chief in 2007, began the process of transitioning her gender expression in 2010, and officially changed her name with the state.  She was also successful in getting the government to change her name and sex on all her personnel records. She met with her supervisor and his supervisor in October of that year to request time off for medical procedures and announced her transition to her co-employees in November.  To read this case in its entirety, go to Lusardi v McHugh.

One of the first dilemmas employers face in these transitioning processes is which restroom does the person use? In this particular case, it was understood that the individual would use a “single-user” restroom until she had undergone “final surgery”.  The EEOC stated that an employer cannot restrict access to facilities until surgery was completed determining the individual’s sexual identity.

Another issue in this case dealt with the use of male gender pronouns. The employee claimed that her supervisor intentionally referred to her by her former male name and used male pronouns when referring to her in front of other employees (this was corroborated by witness testimony during the agency’s investigation). The EEOC found that continued refusal to use an employee’s correct name and gender may be sex-based harassment and create a hostile work environment.

While is it understandable that a supervisor persistently calling the individual by her former male name and using male pronouns when referring to her in front of her peers creates a hostile work environment, it is disappointing that the EEOC did not thoroughly consider the major employee relations issues generated by a male transitioning to a female using female restrooms. This could create issues not only with the female employees, but also with the female employees’ spouses and or their significant others.

OSHA has also recently put out guidance for employers on accommodating transgender employees restroom preferences.  That guidance is attached to this article.  OSHA’s core principle is that all employees, including transgender employees, should have access to restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

We frequently receive calls from members about the restroom issue.  What should you do?  First, we believe it’s important to keep an open dialogue with the transitioning employee.  If available and reasonably accessible, single-occupancy or unisex facilities can serve as a temporary facility for transitioning employees during the transition process, but should not be a permanent solution.  If you don’t have such facilities, discuss the sensitive nature of the situation with the transitioning employee.  Suggest that restroom breaks be taken at low traffic times to reduce awkward moments, adding that the transition affects not only the individual going through the process but all other employees of the person’s desired gender.  If none of these options will work, you might also consider requiring the transitioning employee to use the bathroom that matches their biology.  Of course, as noted earlier, the EEOC doesn’t support this option, and it does pose other risks, but sometimes you have to do what’s in the best interests of all employees and not just one.  Especially if you are faced with an employee relations problem with a large group of female employees (and their spouses), or vice versa, who don’t want to use the restroom alongside this transitioning employee.

If you find yourself in this situation, please give us a a call at 919-878-9222 or 3336-668-7746. We can help you think through what course of action makes sense for your organization.

When an Employee Has a Serious Complaint

Tuesday, July 7th, 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

It happens in every workplace.  The same serious and unlawful misbehavior we see in our communities sometimes find its way to the job.  People are the greatest asset of an employer but can be the “crabgrass in the lawn of business,” as my friend says.

What should happen when harassment, discrimination, abusive treatment and other serious misbehaviors rear their ugly heads?

Managers, please view a complaint as an opportunity to make a situation better AND the long-term relationship with the victim stronger.  Psychologists in workplace studies say that an emotional crisis is a key point where your response can make the employee’s attitude much better OR much worse.  Some even say that the best predictor of whether a problem will end in a lawsuit is how fairly you process the problem, not the problem itself.

Good managers do several things.  They embrace the complaint, rather than avoid it, and focus on finding the right solution.  Neither of you caused the problem, so let the chips fall where they may and avoid prejudgment.  You will create a much better investigation and solution if you remain neutral on the outcome.  If you cannot be objective, ask for help.

Follow through with good listening, appropriate pushback to the victim for the whole story, and appropriate speed and discretion.  Take any quick steps needed to prevent repeat behavior while you work.  Ideally, keep the victim informed of your progress.  Get help from HR or a mentor.  Follow your company’s complaint process, at a minimum.  Precedent can be important to consider, but avoid a foolish consistency as the saying goes.

Employees making complaints have an equally important role.  Follow the complaint policy if there is one, but skip to another manager you trust if needed.  Your manager wants to hear how you feel, but must have facts to investigate.  Focus on the facts.  Who can help support your story?  Bring the problem to a trusted manager sooner rather than later.

Be honest about any part you may have played in the problem or steps you have already taken, good and bad.  Have some discretion and give this time to work.  What is your manager going to hear when he or she investigates?  For example, be prepared to hear some things about your performance you may not like (but need to hear) if work quality is an issue.

An important question that employees and managers often fail to ask is:  “What is the ideal outcome here?”  I am often surprised at how reasonable employees can be even in serious situations.  They know employers cannot guarantee perfect behavior by all.  But they have the right to expect help when they seek it.

Solutions to early-stage problems handled properly by all can be simple and effective, preserving relationships and protecting careers.  Problems that are buried like a bone in the backyard will only get worse with age.

For additional guidance for handling serious complaints from employees, please give our Advice and Resolution Team a call at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

The 3 C’s of Candidate Selection

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

In today’s video blog, Tom Sheehan, CAI’s HR Business Partner, shares helpful information for choosing great candidates to hire. He starts by saying there are many factors that should be considered during the hiring process, and he simplifies them into three categories: capability, chemistry and commitment.

Tom then explains what each of the 3 C’s mean:

  • Capability – Can they do the job?
  •  Commitment – Will they do the job?
  •  Chemistry – Will they fit in?

He explains each of these factors in more detail in the video, as well as offers some helpful tips to consider with each.

Tom says a successful candidate selection can only take place when you factor in each of these elements. He suggests using tools, such as the job description and success profiles, to eliminate those candidates that fail to meet minimum qualifications.

If you need further assistance with your hiring process, please give our Advice and Resolution Team a call at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

The New World of Recruiting Great Talent

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

HR on Demand Team Member Jill Feldman shares helpful tips for recruiting top candidates for your company:

Teamwork It’s a brave new world for recruiting talent. No longer can we place a job posting on an online job board and assume the candidates will flock to us. Whether it’s the quantity or the quality of applicants, companies are finding it harder than ever to recruit and hire top talent. It’s a new world out there, and in a candidate-driven marketplace, many of our usual “active-recruiting approaches” simply aren’t working.

Why?

It’s simple. With the rise of technology and a focus on self-gratification, top candidates are in the driver’s seat and more in control of their careers than ever. They’re hyper connected, often having multiple career opportunities available at once and they’re not afraid to “job hop” to satisfy their goals.

Consequently, in order to hire top talent and succeed in this new world of recruiting, we must move away from our traditional methods and old school tactics and move towards “new world” thinking and “new world” tactics.

This kind of thinking involves:

  • Focusing on finding a great employee who will serve the organization well beyond today and into the future.
  • Selling the applicant on those aspects of the job and the company likely to be most appealing to him or her. This approach suggests applying the same tools to identify and appeal to applicants that you use to identify and appeal to customers.
  • Focusing on defining the characteristics and qualities of a great employee and, then, using the methods that are best suited to provide you with information about an applicant’s abilities and aptitudes related to these characteristics and qualities.
  • Identifying your best sources of great employees and tailoring your recruiting and hiring methods to best fit that target audience.
  • Taking a much broader perspective on finding top talent and looking at not only the fit between the person and the job but also at the fit between the person, the company, the boss, the coworkers, etc.

Here are some “new world” strategies you can use to recruit and hire top talent:

Know Your Top Employees

Get to know your top employees. Where did they go to school? Where did they work before they came to you? What newspapers/magazines/blogs do they read (both work-related and non-work related)? What hobbies do they have outside of work? What community and/or charity events do they attend? The more you know about your top employees, the more information you will have to help you identify and appeal to great new sources of top talent.

Owning the Recruiting Function

Recruiting and hiring is NOT the sole responsibility of Human Resources. Anyone who has people reporting to them is responsible for recruiting and hiring. The new world of recruiting and hiring top talent requires that you and your organization help all managers own their role in recruiting and hiring. It also requires that you and your organization provide resources (e.g. training, online resources) to your company’s managers to help them improve and strengthen their skills in this area.

Involve Potential Co-Workers

One of the most important and often, most overlooked, aspects of hiring is the fit between an applicant and their potential co-workers. Employees can be one of your most effective recruiting tools. By sharing information about their work environment, employees have the potential to attract great talent. You can have employees do things like interview the applicant, give the applicant a tour of the facility, and take the applicant to lunch. These activities allow employees to share important, work-related information with the applicant. By creating ways for this happen, it shows both applicants and employees that you care about them.

Know and Sell What Makes Your Company Unique

Organizations that do a great job of recruiting and hiring top talent know their values and they know what makes them unique. Most importantly, they find ways to show who they are throughout the recruiting and hiring process. Organizations who understand this concept know who they are and they use creative ways to show who they are during the recruiting and hiring process.

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is no way to meet the demands of the new world of recruiting and hiring top talent. You must think differently and act differently to get different results. What are you doing to think differently and act differently about recruiting and hiring? If you aren’t thinking and acting differently, I can guarantee you that someone else is.

CAI’s recruiting team is dedicated to helping you with all of your recruiting needs. Whether it’s learning more about strategies for recruiting great talent, having us recruit for and fill your vacant positions, or simply answering a few questions, we’re here to help! Please feel free to contact our recruiting team directly at 919-431-6084 or jill.feldman@capital.org.

 

Summer Interns and The ACA

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

The post below is a guest blog from Rob Kreig who serves as Principal, Health & Welfare Consultant for CAI’s employee benefits partner Hill, Chesson & Woody.

summer intern and acaSchool is almost out for summer, and that means many employers are getting ready to start hiring summer interns. However this year, in addition to determining which students will be the best fit for your organization, you also need to consider how the Affordable Care Act may require you to offer benefits to the interns who you hire.

I’ve been asked numerous times in the last month whether interns who work 30+ hours a week must be offered health benefits on the same schedule as a full-time employee. The answer to this question is generally “yes”. An intern who works more 30 hours a week should be offered benefits under ACA if they are going to be employed for longer than an employer’s eligibility period (can be up to 90 days) if the employer wishes to avoid potential ACA penalties.

However, employers should be aware that there is a possible exception for seasonal workers where some employers are finding that interns may fit.  To qualify, the individuals who fill a particular position will work less than 6 months, and are hired at the same time every year.  For these individuals an employer can apply the look back measurement method to determine benefit eligibility rather than make the employees eligible at the expiration of a health plan waiting period.

For more information on seasonal employees, the 4th paragraph of question #54 in this IRS document has some additional information including the definition under ACA.

If you have questions about your specific intern situation, check out our free, on-demand presentation: “Temporary Employees and the ACA.”

Staying Connected with Remote Employees

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

remote employees

In today’s post, Advice and Resolution team member Renee’ Watkins shares helpful tips for staying connected with your employees who work remotely.

More and more businesses are embracing the use of remote, or virtual, employees. Whether the opportunity to work remotely is provided as a perk, a recruiting tool or for cutting costs, it requires a different mindset on the part of both the employee and their manager to be successful.

Some managers would argue it is difficult to manage employees working on the same floor of the same building, let alone across the country or on another continent altogether. Despite the advent of technology designed to enable team collaboration around the globe, there can be challenges with managing remote employees.

Employees and managers alike wrestle with trust issues in a remote situation. Often remote employees are rarely seen in person on a regular basis. Management can sometimes question whether work is being done when they cannot see it with their own eyes. Remote employees wonder if they are getting the same or as much information as their counterparts at the home office.

Peers who may not have the opportunity to work remotely may show signs of resentment toward remote employees. This can serve to alienate remote employees and lead to being disengaged. In some instances, remote employees do not receive the same level of recognition as local employees upon completion of a significant milestone – “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Hiring the right worker for a remote opportunity usually means someone who is trustworthy and professional enough to work independently and efficiently with little direction from management. For this same reason, management needs to make an extra effort to include remote employees in meetings, announcements and other activities as if they were on-site.

Here are some tips on how to manage remote workers:

Regular Status Updates

These should be held often enough to stay in sync with the remote employee, but not so often as to constitute micromanagement. By definition, a remote worker should not need micromanagement. However, if the remote worker desires more frequent status updates, do everything you can to accommodate them. This is a sign they desire more interaction and you want to keep them engaged in their job and the objectives you are working to achieve.

Work and Play

Remember interaction is not always about work. Employees and managers who work in the same office will naturally establish a bond on a personal level as well and engage in conversations which are non-work-related. Remote employees do not get this type of daily interaction, so it is important to work harder to have conversations about something other than work from time-to-time. Encourage other team members to reach out as well. If feasible, make sure remote employees are brought in for group activities or outings.

Project Share

Where teams are involved, route documents and status emails to the entire group throughout the life of the project. Make sure everyone understands the importance of their own role, as well as others. Keep the remote employees involved and visible to the project and project team.

Open Lines of Communication

Remote workers are less likely to report problems out of fear they will lose the opportunity to work remotely. Also, it is more difficult to recognize a worker who is under stress when they are not in the office each day. Make sure your remote workers know you are there to help them be successful and they have an equal amount of access to your attention as local team members, regardless of distance or geography.

For additional tips for managing your remote workforce, please give our Advice and Resolution team a call at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.