Author Archive

Organ/Marrow Donation: FMLA Eligible?

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

I recently had a member call to inquire as to whether their employee’s leave to donate bone marrow would qualify as covered FMLA leave. In this particular instance, the bone marrow donation was not directed at a specific family member (rather just a donation to a bank for qualified donors/recipients) and the donation wouldn’t require an overnight stay at a medical facility. When it comes to marrow/organ donation how does the FMLA view the leave?

First, you have to remove the emotional aspect from the decision.  Donating marrow is clearly an exceptional act, however, you want to focus on whether it meets the qualifications necessary to be considered a serious health condition. Let’s review the six categories that a condition must fall in to meet a serious health condition as defined by the FMLA:

  • Inpatient care
  • Incapacity for more than three days with continuing treatment by a health care provider
  • Incapacity relating to pregnancy or prenatal care
  • Chronic serious health conditions
  • Permanent or long-term incapacity                                                                                       
  • Certain conditions requiring multiple treatments

So if we take bone marrow donation as an example, we can assume it would not meet the qualifications at face value since the employee will not be receiving inpatient or ongoing care.  In essence, they will go for the transplant donation procedure and then may have some recovery time but can expect to go on with their normal activities. Organ donation may meet the qualifications based on the fact that the individual will probably have an inpatient care several day stay and potential follow-up treatments.

As with any procedure, if the individual develops complications from the transfusion or donation and needs to have additional care, the original donation might not have met the qualification at the time of the request but the complications may now qualify. An example would be an infection or surgical complication.

There are several states that have organ/marrow donation leave laws.  North Carolina does not have an organ/marrow donation leave law for private employers.  State employees may be given reasonable time off with pay for whole blood donation, pheresis procedures and bone marrow transplants.  State employees may be given up to 30 days with pay for organ donation.

Bottom Line: As with any FMLA request, employers should review all of the request details and have a conversation with their employees to understand the circumstances regarding the request. Take the request and compare it to the items necessary to qualify for a serious illness under FMLA regulation. If it doesn’t meet the qualifications you can deny the request, but be prepared to offer another solution to the employee, for example, if the company offers personal leave or sick time that might help cover the leave. It’s important to have an open communication with the employee to help find the best solution for the business and your employee.

Complying with state and federal laws that affect your workplace is not always straight forward. That’s where CAI’s HR experts come in. Find out more about how CAI can help you in building an engaged, well-manged and low-risk workplace.

Emily’s primary area of focus is providing expert advice and support in the areas of employee relations and federal and state employment law compliance as a member of the Advice & Resolution team for CAI. Additionally, Emily advises business and HR leaders in operational and strategic human resources areas such as talent and performance management, employee engagement, and M&A’s. Emily has 10+ years of broad-based HR business partnering experience centering around employee relations, compliance & regulatory employment issues, strategic and tactical human resources, and strong process improvement skills.

 

Organ Donor Image Credit: Catherine Lane, 2015

How HR Creates a Culture of Recognition

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

When you take into consideration the high cost of turnover and its disruptive impact on the business, it should get you thinking about your own recognition strategies. How can you expect employees to stay at your organization if they’re not getting the appreciation they deserve?

We all know that retention is closely tied to recognition. Employees want to work for an organization that not only values their work but also shows them appreciation. Accordingly, there is a strong relationship between recognition and likelihood to stick around at the job.

We also understand that praise sways the perception of the work environment. No one wants to work at a place that ignores its employees. Here again, there is a positive link between recognition and an employee’s perception of the workplace.

Finally, a healthy employee-supervisor relationship relies on some sort of positive recognition. Simply put, employees want to work for someone who appreciates their contributions to the organization.

But getting occasional recognition from your boss is not nearly enough.

The Role of Peer-to-Peer Recognition

A quick telling stat: 70% of employees credited their peers for creating an engaging environment, while perks such as work functions, parties, or amenities only accounted for 8%. (Source: Tiny Pulse)

The following employee comments underscore the role that peers play in the workplace:

  • “I look forward to coming to work every day. The people are great, and we have lots of celebrations for the good work that we do.”
  •  “I’ve never once wished that I didn’t have to go into work. Everyone here is awesome, and there is not one day that has gone by where I haven’t laughed out loud about something, with someone here.”
  •  “Great people to work with, people I share my life with, people I trust, that support, and encourage me and my ideas. There is a team here that is for each other and builds all the others up instead of climbing over the backs of others. We laugh with each other and seem to truly enjoy each other. We get silly, eat too much, and treat one another as a family.”

Creating Collaboration Spaces

Peers play such a vital role in creating a fun work environment. So at CAI, we give staff the space to collaborate and work together. This is especially important with the influx of millennials in the workforce, who live and thrive on collaboration. We also utilize informal and formal ‘we’ spaces where our employees can spontaneously come together to collaborate:

  • Meeting tables: Scatter these around the office so people can quickly come together. Put up a whiteboard (or better yet, whiteboard paint a wall) nearby, and you’ve got an impromptu meeting room. These tables are perfect for encouraging and promoting spontaneous ideation.
  • Break rooms: Idle chitchat around the water cooler isn’t a time waster. In fact, it typically revolves around work-related topics, so you never know when a brilliant idea might pop up. At CAI, we have created a breakroom that allows staff and training class visitors to actively network and intermingle.
  • Casual meeting rooms: In addition to more traditional conference rooms, we have included casual enclosed spaces that are ideal for when you need to discuss sensitive topics or gather for team meetings.

By dishing out praise, leveraging peer-to-peer recognition tools, creating collaborative spaces, and assessing cultural fit, you are laying down the right groundwork to retain your star employees. CAI members have access to numerous recognition information and tools. Contact CAI to learn more about membership.

Tom Sheehan brings 20+ years of extensive, broad-based strategic, tactical and practical HR experience to CAI’s Advice & Resolution team.  He advises HR and other business leaders on talent management, organizational effectiveness, employee engagement, M&A’s, and employee relations.

WARNING: OFCCP Sends “Audit” Letters February 17th

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Federal contractors and subcontractors be warned the Office of Federal Contracts Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has mailed a new round of Corporate Scheduling Announcement Letters (CSAL).  These letters are considered courtesy letters and are sent to federal contractors/subcontractors as an early notice that the company may be selected for an OFCCP audit.  The last time the OFCCP sent these notices was November 2014 and many of the audits since then have been based on that list.

These letters are sent to the company location that may receive the official audit letter later and are typically sent to the HR Director. Previously, these letters were sent to the company headquarters.  So advise your HR staff & directors at your locations to be on the look out for these letters.

If you do receive a CSAL letter, CAI encourages you to ensure your AAP is up-to-date.  You should also carefully review your data and be prepared for the official audit letter. Once you receive the actual audit letter, you only have 30 days to prepare the requested material.  So use the advanced notice to take the time to review all of your AAP obligations and records.

If you have a company location that receives the CSAL letter, it does not guarantee that you will receive an actual OFCCP audit.  You may also receive an actual audit without receiving the CSAL. If you need help putting together an affirmative action plan, contact Kaleigh Ferraro at CAI at kaleigh.ferraro@capital.org.

Office Romances Pose Challenges for HR

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

According to CareerBuilder’s annual Valentine’s Day survey, 41 percent of workers have dated a co-worker (up from 37 percent last year and the highest since 2007). Additionally, 30 percent of these office romances have led to marriage, on par with last year’s findings. The national survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from November 16 to December 6, 2016, and included a representative sample of 3,411 full-time, private sector workers across industries and company sizes.

Office romances are just not happening between peers: Of those who have had an office romance, more than 1 in 5 (29 percent, up from 23 percent last year) have dated someone in a higher position than them — a more common occurrence for women than men (33 percent versus 25 percent). Fifteen percent of workers who have had an office romance say they have dated someone who was their boss. And as if dating a superior weren’t risky enough, 19 percent of office romances involved at least one person who was married at the time.

Additional survey findings include:

  • Nearly two in five workers who have had an office romance (38 percent) had to keep the relationship a secret at work. Male workers were just as likely to keep their office romances secret (40 percent) compared to their female counterparts (37 percent). By region, of those who have had office romances, 45 percent of workers in the Northeast say they kept their office relationships secret compared to 41 percent in the South, 34 percent in the West, and 31 percent in the Midwest.
  • About 1 in 5 employees (21 percent) say what someone does for a living influences whether they would date that person (18 percent of men and 24 percent of women). Seven percent say they currently work with someone they would like to date this year. Five percent of workers who have had an office romance say they have left a job because of an office relationship gone sour.

These trends serve as a good reminder to employers to conduct regular sexual harassment training.  CAI members have access to these online training tools: Sexual Harassment Prevention Training for Employees and Sexual Harassment Prevention Training for Managers and Supervisors. CAI helps 1,100+ member companies build an engaged, well-managed and low-risk workplace. We can help you today!

 Doug Blizzard brings a wealth of knowledge to CAI, serving as Vice President of Membership. During his first 15 years at CAI, he led the firm’s consulting and training divisions and counseled hundreds of clients on HR and Employee Relations issues. If he isn’t speaking at North Carolina conferences, teaching classes on Human Resources or consulting clients on EEO and Affirmative Action, Doug is leading the company’s membership services.

4 ‘Must-have’ Leadership Behaviors

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

There are four behaviors that every effective leader must possess:

1. Effective problem solving

The process that precedes decision making is problem-solving when information is gathered, analyzed, and considered. This is deceptively difficult to get right, yet it is a key input into decision making for major issues as well as daily ones. 

Effective problem solving is a rare commodity. This is because most individuals do a poor job at root cause analysis. Their natural inclination is to bypass the analysis and jump right into the ‘solve.’ The end result is often a quick fix, Band-Aid approach that addresses the symptom and not the actual problem.

 

HR leaders can help by coaching business partners to avoid the immediate ‘jump to solve.’

2. Operating with a strong results orientation

Leadership is about not only developing and communicating a vision and setting objectives but also following through to achieve results. Leaders with a strong results orientation tend to emphasize the importance of efficiency and productivity and to prioritize the highest-value work.

Results orientation begins with clearly articulated expectations relative to key performance indicators. HR leaders should work with their operations partners to ensure that managers are having weekly discussions with their staffs regarding, actual vs. expected results.

3. Seeking different perspectives

This trait is exhibited by managers who monitor trends affecting the organization, grasp changes in the environment, encourage employees to contribute ideas that could improve performance, accurately differentiate between important and unimportant issues, and give the appropriate weight to stakeholder concerns. Leaders who do this well typically base their decisions on sound analysis and avoid the many biases to which decisions are prone.

On the other hand, leaders who suffer from the ‘smartest person in the room syndrome’ consistently think they have all the right answers. They tend to alienate others and consequently miss out on other, better alternatives.This is typically a self-awareness issue that can be mitigated through effective coaching.

4. Supporting others

Leaders who are supportive understand and sense how other people feel. By showing authenticity and a sincere interest in those around them, they build trust and inspire and help colleagues to overcome challenges. They intervene in group work to promote organizational efficiency and help to prevent non-productive internal conflict.

As a result, these supportive leaders tend to have a much greater enterprise value.  By that, we mean that they are actually synergistic in their value. They help to ‘lubricate’ the organization and reduce unnecessary problems and issues.

CAI has multiple ways to build leaders within your organization. We offer a wide variety of instructor-led courses in our Management Advantage program to train your leaders, managers, and supervisors. And, CAI members have access to leadership tools and templates along with the opportunity to receive guidance and coaching from our local, experienced HR experts. Learn more about how CAI can help with leadership training and workforce planning.

Tom Sheehan brings 20+ years of extensive, broad-based strategic, tactical and practical HR experience to CAI’s Advice & Resolution team.  He advises HR and other business leaders on talent management, organizational effectiveness, employee engagement, M&A’s, and employee relations. 

 

Why Human Capital Isn’t Enough

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

It’s pretty common today to hear leaders and organizations talk about “human capital.”

I can still remember when that term started frequenting our vocabulary a few years ago. As an HR leader, it felt like we’d stumbled onto something that might finally help us earn our legitimate seat at the executive table.

After all, most executives worship capital. Possessing financial capital usually means we are flourishing and able to seize opportunities. Capital is power.

So, finding a way to talk about employees and talent as a form of capital was brilliant. Even the CFO seemed to be on board with acknowledging that there was a real value in the collective knowledge, skills, and abilities of our employees. And, like any asset, if you make continued investment in it over time, the value steadily increases.

As a result of human capital being more widely used and understood, our talent management practices became intensely focused on developing employees’ individual competencies. The more each individual acquired skills and abilities, the more our human capital grew.

This model was highly effective when executed well. Jack Welch became a legend in part because of the training and development efforts he funded at GE. Human capital was seen as a competitive advantage by many.

But, then the game changed. The internet and social technology emerged to connect the world together in a way that had been unthinkable in the past. The days of doing work independently faded rapidly, and it became imperative to work together in collaboration.

Evidence of this shift can be seen everywhere. An online encyclopedia populated exclusively with user-contributed content nearly put traditional encyclopedias out of business. And, the most powerful operating system in the world was created by a community or programmers with no formal organization to manage their work.

The very nature of how we work and create value shifted.

The human capital model of human resources is incomplete, because it doesn’t account for the importance and value that exists through relationships. In today’s world, work is done together. And because of this, a new and highly valuable kind of capital has emerged: social capital

In order to compete effectively today and in the future, human resources professionals must not only work to build human capital, but also social capital. This will requires taking on new roles and skill sets for our organizations.

If you are are an HR professional or manage HR for your company, please join me on March 9 at the HR Management Conference to explore how HR must embrace our new role as Social Architect.

 

This is a guest post from Jason Lauritsen who will be speaking at CAI’s upcoming HR Management Conference on March 8 & 9th in Raleigh. Jason has been described as “a corporate executive gone rogue.” For nearly a decade, he spent his days as a corporate HR leader where he developed a reputation for driving results through talent. As Director of Client Success for Quantum Workplace, he leads a team dedicated to helping organizations make work better for employees every day.

5 Tips For Implementing A Group Benefits Plan

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

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

If you operate a startup company, or your established business has recently grown larger than 50 employees, one of the most daunting items on your 2017 to-do list may be implementing a group benefits plan for the first time.  Starting a benefits plan from scratch can be an intimidating – not to mention time-consuming – process, especially without a partner to help you understand the background and minutiae of it all. Here are some tips if you find yourself staring down a brand new group benefit plan in 2017:

  1. Know your timeline and stick to it

Whether you want your benefits plan to begin in June or January, you’ll want to begin the process at least six months in advance of your anticipated start date. That will give you ample time to evaluate different benefit options, plan designs, funding platforms, and other factors that you will need to consider. Medical carriers will generally be able to offer early numbers about three months prior to your effective date.  You’ll want to approach the carriers as close as possible to that date in order to start understanding your potential rates.

  1. Firm up your census

Changes in your workforce are bound to happen, especially if you operate a rapidly growing business.  But beware, medical carriers reserve the right to re-rate your population if your census changes by more than 10% between the date of the quote and the date of final implementation.  If possible, holding your workforce numbers relatively stable for several months before your first open enrollment will help alleviate any stress that a re-rate would generate.

  1. Know your population

All workforces are different, but knowing your employees wants and needs can be a big help when designing your first benefit plan.  A brief employee survey could be a valuable tool in determining what benefits your employees are most interested in.  By the same token, many benefit plans have participation requirements – a percentage required to guarantee rates in the first year.  If you have less than that, the benefits may be more expensive than originally thought.

  1. Beware individual underwriting

Depending on the size of your group, some medical carriers may require individual employees to go through an underwriting process to help the carriers determine the risk associated with your group. If you have a stable workforce and know everyone wants coverage, that may not be a problem; but groups with a geographically or economically diverse workforce will want to think twice before committing to the individual underwriting process. Either way, you should understand that the first numbers a carrier presents may not necessarily be their final proposal!

  1. Tie it all together

Once you have all of your plans in place, you’ll want to make sure that the benefits are working effectively for you and your employees.  Ensure that the appropriate plans are written under Section 125 of the IRS code so that employees are able to pay their premiums before any taxes are deducted from their paychecks.

If these tips sound like things that you’d like explained or explored further, contact a consultant at HCW today.  Implementing the plan is just the beginning – next comes developing your long-term strategy, ensuring regulatory compliance, and managing your costs. We’re ready to help guide you through the process from start to finish.

Enjoyment: the Spark that Ignites Passion & Enthusiasm

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

The following post is from motivational speaker, Steve Rizzo, who will be a keynote speaker at CAI’s 2017 HR Management Conference: The Shifting Landscape | Rethinking Talent Organization & Culture.

Did you know that studies have shown that those who make conscious choices to enjoy themselves and laugh throughout the day are more
creative, productive and resilient to challenging situations?  They are also more likely to easily find solutions to complex problems.  In other words, focusing on your happiness makes you smarter.  How smart are you?

The greatest benefit of genuinely enjoying the day is that you generate a massive amount of positive energy.  It’s manifested in passion and enthusiasm, and both are very contagious. Put another way, enjoyment is the spark that ignites passion and enthusiasm.  Read that again and remember it.  C’mon, I said read it again!

I’m not claiming that by making a commitment to enjoy the day that you won’t be confronted by challenges.  Of course, you will!  There will always be obstacles of some kind to overcome.  True, there will be times when chaos and negative forces surround you, but you don’t have to let them inside.

It may not be easy at first, but as you condition yourself to prepare for the day ahead with gratitude, joyful statements, positive visualization and by focusing on what’s working, rather than fixating on what isn’t working, you will notice that stressful outside forces don’t bother you as much.  Ultimately what you are doing is creating the ability to bounce back and that’s an all-important life skill.

It comes down to this: the unexpected is waiting for you.  Countless outside factors can make or ruin your day, many of which are not in your direct control.  So, it makes sense to seize control of what you can – no matter whether you’re in an up or down period, remind yourself that true happiness (and inner peace) is your number one priority.  And focusing on what makes you grateful puts you on the path to that happiness and the ability to enjoy the day.  And that is exactly why you have to make the shift to start your day in a good mood and maintain your feelings of appreciation throughout.

Even one situation a day in which you are able to invoke your grateful feelings and choose to be happy in the moment can have a tremendous impact on your life.  I don’t mean to suggest that you become the Dalai Lama, but if you do, please smile and bless the rest of us.

One last point (I promise), is the necessity to take action with passion and enthusiasm, instead of just going through the motions.

When times are tough, it is passion and enthusiasm that push you to go that extra mile.  Passion and enthusiasm propel you into a zone where you feel confident, courageous and victorious.  Failure is not an option and every mistake is viewed as a do-over.  When something doesn’t turn out the way you planned, you don’t even consider defeat.  You’re in such a high state of mind that you’ll find yourself saying, “Okay, that didn’t work.  What do I have to do to turn this around?  Who can I go to for help?” and,” I know I can do this!”

So, always nurture your passion and enthusiasm. Allow yourself to get excited about it. Feel it, sense it, smile about it and embrace it! Talk to it! Visualize your goals and dreams with it!

When you fervently hold on to your vision with passion and enthusiasm you will access s higher guidance system, which will lead you to a pathway of new circumstances, opportunities, and serendipitous events.  Do whatever it takes to make sure that its flame is always burning. If you do, I promise that you will come to know what so many truly successful people have come to know: That passion and enthusiasm are forces that will take you to a better place in business and in life.

I’m repeating myself, I know, but I really want you to get this.  (Plus, it’s my article and I’ll do what I want!)  Enjoyment is the spark that ignites passion and enthusiasm.  Remember that always.

In 2017, make a resolution to yourself. Learn the secrets to true happiness in your personal life and at work. Join 400+ HR executives, managers, professionals and company leaders at CAI’s HR Management Conference in Raleigh, NC, on March 8-9, 2017. My keynote presentation will be “Get Your Shift Together: How to Think, Laugh and Enjoy Your Way to Success in Business and Life.” I’m looking forward to meeting you!

Two Considerations For The Marketplace Open Enrollment Period

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

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

The Affordable Care Act provides the ability for individuals to buy coverage regardless of any underlying medical condition.  This guaranteed issue provision has provided millions of Americans the access to health care that was not there before.  Many who had access to group coverage have also shifted either themselves or dependents to individual plans when their group plans were too expensive or did not provide the coverage they needed.

This year’s annual Open Enrollment Period for the Marketplace has opened and we are seeing, on average, a 25% increase to the cost of individual plans.  This cost increase is forcing many who are enrolled there to re-evaluate if an individual plan is still the best option for them when other group coverage is available through an employer.  When making this decision around where to be covered, there are two important items that should be understood about moving onto or coming off of an employer-sponsored health plan.

First, the annual Open Enrollment Period for the Marketplace is not considered a qualifying event under the IRS guidelines to allow someone to drop their individual policy and enroll in an employer-sponsored group plan.  There seems to be a common misconception around this with both employers and employees.  As the costs for individual plans continue to rise, many are looking for ways to move back to an employer’s plan.  The only instance in which someone could leave their individual plan and move onto their employer’s group plan is if the group plan is in an open enrollment period.

Another thing to consider is that the Marketplace Open Enrollment Period is not a qualifying event that will allow someone to drop a spouse or dependent from their group plan (unless the group plan’s annual open enrollment period coincides.)  So those who may be considering moving a dependent to an individual plan would not have the ability to do so at that time.  However, a special provision in the rules does allow an employee the ability to make a mid-year revocation of their group plan (outside of the group’s open enrollment) and enroll in Marketplace coverage.  In order for an employee to move a spouse or dependent to an individual plan during the Marketplace Open Enrollment Period, the employee must also drop coverage for him or herself too.

Given the rising costs of individual plans it seems unlikely that many will want to shift away from the group coverage.  It is important for employers to know the rules around allowing employees to come on and off of their plans outside of their annual open enrollment period.  Employees should understand the potential pitfalls of shifting away their group plan as that could create the opposite impact of what they are trying to achieve.

Making It A Great Day Every Day

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

What does it take to have a GREAT day?  Here are a few simple things you can do to begin your day, practice throughout your day and end your day to make each day a GREAT day:large_give-thanks-title2

Begin Each Day with Positive Thoughts

Start the day by reading or listening to an inspirational story or even a single thought.  Some desk calendars have a positive “thought of the day” which are very helpful.

Complement Work Goals with Life Goals

Almost always, work is tied to something personal in an employee’s life. It may be compensation or benefits, or it could be just personal satisfaction.  Work success affects life success and the reverse is also very true.

Mental Preparation

Most employees have a commute of some kind to work each day.  Instead of using that time to accomplish work-related tasks, use that time to prepare for the workday ahead.  Likewise, use the commute home to decompress so work does not interfere with personal time once you arrive.

Smile

A smile can be contagious.  If there is genuine happiness behind the smile, that is great.  If not, force a smile and spread some happiness anyway.  Spreading happiness contributes to being happy.

Be Positive

Keep a positive attitude around others.  Similar to a smile, a positive attitude will spread and affect the entire group.

Prioritize

Everyone has too much to do, so it is important to prioritize.  Twenty percent (20%) of all activity contributes to 80% of results.  So, hit that 20%  hard to maximize productivity and ensure a successful day.

Ignore Negativity

There is always someone around with a negative attitude who wants to get everyone else feeling negative as well.  Misery loves company!  Do not let them ruin a positive day or take away from significant accomplishments.  Avoid them and focus on the tasks at hand.

Avoid Long Workdays

Extra hours do not always equate to additional productivity. Chances are, most of the productivity will happen early in the day during the completion of those 20% of higher priority tasks. Adding more hours will not increase overall productivity.

Take Time to Relax

After work, take time to enjoy a relaxing activity and use that time to re-charge for the next day. Put the previous workday aside and leave it for tomorrow. This is part of the overall work-life balance.

End The Day With a Grateful Thought

Before turning in for a night’s rest, give some thought to events of the day for which to be grateful.  In other words, any day “could have been worse.”  Be grateful it was not worse, and attribute that to a positive attitude. Your grateful thought could be either professional or personal.

People like being appreciated. Simple efforts of recognition, particularly when made public to their managers and/or co-workers, encourage a supportive and productive working relationship.

Happy Thanksgiving from CAI and remember sometimes, the simplest gestures are the ones that mean the most.