Archive for the ‘Human Resources’ Category

Winter Months Bring Seasonal HR Challenges

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Winter months are just around the corner and with them comes colder weather.  We don’t get as much “white stuff” as our Northern Brethren but when we do things get messy.  Be reminded that employee injuries on employer owned and maintained parking lots may be covered by workers’ compensation and may be OSHA recordable depending upon circumstances relating to the injury.  If injuries occur at a reasonable time (just prior to or just after work) and injuries result in medical treatment, days away from work or restricted activity, both workers’ comp and OSHA record keeping come into play. winterweather

Winter weather poses a particular problem regarding parking lot and sidewalk injuries.  Both should be maintained free of snow and ice to prevent employee injuries.  Potential costly injures to customers, vendors and to the general public would not be covered by workers’ compensation but by an employer’s liability insurance.

Employers also need to be aware of the dangers of overexertion in winter months.  Liberty Mutual Insurance Company conducted a study a few years ago revealing that more than 25% of disabling workplace injuries resulted from overexertion.  Overexertion also poses a major threat to ones’ health and life outside of work, especially in geographical areas that experience extreme snow and ice accumulation like the Northeast this past winter.  Around 100 people die in the US every winter as a result of shoveling snow. For more tips dealing with colder weather go to https://www.ready.gov/winter-weather.

Perhaps a more vexing issue we deal with each year surrounds pay practices during inclement weather.  Exempt employees are paid on a salaried basis. If the company is closed, the exempt employee must be paid for the day(s) to maintain the exemption status. It is the company’s decision as to whether or not exempts are required to take a vacation day.  Keep in mind that if the exempt does not have vacation or PTO to cover the absence, the exempt must be paid.

If the office is open and the exempt decides not to report to work, the day can be charged to vacation or PTO. If in this situation the exempt does not have vacation or PTO, the company is allowed to dock for the day due to personal reasons. This is one of the allowed deductions under the FLSA without destroying the exemption status. Be reminded, however, that if the exempt works any part of the day, the exempt must be paid for the entire day. This often comes in to play when the exempt does not come into work but works a partial day from a laptop or other electronic device.

If you have more questions regarding your Inclement Weather Policy, contact CAI’s Advice & Resolution team today.

Creating a Performance Culture

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

What is a Performance Culture?

Performance cultures have great focus on results and accountability and have the following traits:employeeperformance

  1. Accountable, results driven
  2. A focus on people
  3. Long-term orientation
  4. Proactive and decisive
  5. Open and transparent

How do you create a Performance Culture?

Changing a culture is really about changing the behaviors of the people in the organization. Changing behavior is not accomplished through a one-time training class or some special incentive. Instead, it requires a long-term view with regular and frequent support from the top of the organization.

Leadership’s Role is to Provide Clarity & Ensure Accountability

Senior leaders have the greatest impact in terms of creating a performance culture. It starts with the creation of a strategic direction, delivered with great clarity. Employees must get a sense that those leaders are taking the company in the right direction. A second element involves leadership’s focus on people. Part of that focus must be that the leaders are seen as being concerned for the well-being of their employees. In addition, they must be viewed by the ‘rank-and-file’ as being accessible and approachable.  Finally, leaders must model the desired behaviors (and values) every day and with every employee interaction. Their most critical behavior is demonstrating accountability.

Many companies struggle to hold their employees, managers, and leaders accountable for performance. Likely a big reason for this is that people struggle to set clear expectations and have difficult performance conversations. The truth is that there must be consequences for failing to meet expectations and commitments. That is the essence of accountability. Without consequences, there is chaos.

A terrific resource for helping to people better understand and deliver accountability is ‘The Oz Principle.’ The book is dedicated to sharing practical methods on how to improve both individual and organizational accountability. The spirit of the book is that both people and organizations have a choice to either act above or below the accountability line. This thin line separates success from failure.

Below the line lies excuse making, blaming others, confusion, and an attitude of helplessness. Conversely, companies and people that act above the line have a sense of reality, ownership, commitments, and are solutions oriented.

Answer these questions to determine if your organization is operating below the line:

  1. Do our employees tend to ignore or deny problems?
  2. When something needs to be done, do our employees say “It’s not my problem”?
  3. Is there finger pointing behavior in which people seek to shift the blame to others?
  4. Do our employees say “I’m confused, tell me what to do to solve the problem”?
  5. Is there a CYA mentality?
  6. Do employees take a “wait and see, maybe things will get better” approach?

The Role of HR

How can you as an HR professional influence the performance culture? Here are a couple of suggestions:

  1. Train on Accountability
    • Train both leaders and their teams on the crucial relationship between accountability and organizational results
    • CAI has an excellent training program called, Becoming the Totally Responsible Person ® (TPR). This program reinforces the importance of personal accountability.
  2. Coach Accountability
    • Ensure that continuous feedback becomes an everyday part of every manager’s job
    • HR needs to assume that managers will need formal training of how to provide performance feedback
  3. Reward Accountability
    • Recognition programs should spotlight those who consistently are highly accountable
    • Reward project teams that deliver on their commitments
  4. Measure Accountability
    • Train managers on how to have difficult conversations with their team members
    • Use metrics, tools and resources to make the process easier
    • Use success factors (profiles) rather than generic job descriptions to clarify expectations

For further information on this topic contact CAI’s Advice & Resolution team today!

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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.

Performance Management is Changing

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

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

Almost no one likes the performance management system at work, including employees, managers and HR.

Employees dislike infrequent feedback, the high-pressure focus on negative comments, ratings under 4 or 5, reviews given by untrained managers and too much subjectivity in ratings or comments.

Managers dread the time required, confronting problem performers, the disconnect with important work, rigid forms and barriers to paying high performers more. performance

HR really gets edgy when managers use the system to manipulate pay, submissions are chronically late, the total time and cost required is excessive and unjustified halo reviews damage legal defenses in terminations.

What to do?

WorldatWork* published an extensive review of performance management trends in its Q2 2016 Journal. HR experts, practitioners and consultants put forth their best current practices and strategies.  Surprisingly, much of the action is with smaller employers (under 500 people) and manufacturers.

The big trends are 1) frequent conversations rather than annual reviews, 2) simplified or eliminated ratings scales, and 3) input from peers and others. In fact, most organizations using these trends have some combination of new techniques plus the best features of their former system.

Frequent Conversations

Ongoing feedback strengthens relationships and promotes clarity. Sometimes these conversations are difficult, but frequency allows timely correction and coaching rather than delayed criticism. When managers talk monthly or quarterly with employees, everyone knows more about expectations, successes and hurdles.  The conversation is less of a review and more of a check-in.  There might be a simplified annual review and a year-end pay discussion as well.

Get Rid of Ratings

In general, top performers are offended by any rating below perfect. A debate over 4.6 versus 5.0 is not useful and may damage retention.  Reviews are not good at delivering precision and repeatability in ratings, anyway.  So, if we are irritating our best people, overrating our average performers and super-overrating poor performers to get them a raise, stop the madness!

Peer Feedback

A less common but interesting option is peer feedback. Usually, peer feedback is ongoing in the form of kudos and applause for work well done.  Software makes this easy to do and is readily available (such as SoundBoard).  Targeted comments on specific dimensions such as company values, results achieved and leadership skills might be sought.  When you seek constructive feedback from peers, everyone needs training in the how and why. The impact of good data is powerful.

So far, the experience with new approaches is good. They still take time, but improved linkage to company values, to the work required and to employee skill growth is significant.  Traditional and annual systems are slightly better at identifying the poorest performers.

HR has driven most of this change.  Successful users say you must get top leadership buy-in. Managers need training to understand the new processes and why the changes were made.

The right performance management system can be a competitive business advantage and retention tool. The wrong one can be, well, like the one you have right now. Contact CAI’s Advice & Resolution team to help your goal of the right performance management system.

Bruce Clarke c

Bruce Clarke serves as CAI’S President and CEO, and has been with CAI since 2001. Bruce practiced labor and employment law with the national labor law firm of Ogletree Deakins for 18 years. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and was selected as one of North Carolina’s Legal Elite by Business North Carolina Magazine. Bruce is 100% committed to helping companies maximize employee engagement and minimize workplace liabilities.

Help Your Company Remain in Compliance in 2017

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

CAI’s 2016 Triad Employment Law Update was attended by nearly 200 HR professionals seeking information and updates on federal and state laws and regulations facing North Carolina employers.  HR experts from CAI along with attorneys from Costangy Brooks Smith & Prophete LLP presented on a variety of topics of significance to North Carolina employers. 2016_telu_header_2

A few highlights from this year’s conference:

  • On December 1, 2016, the Overtime Rule goes into effect and raises the threshold to $913/week or $47,476 per year; $134,004 for highly compensated employees. Be sure you fully understand the differences between an employee and an independent contractor.  The USDOL and NCIC have signed an agreement to oversee compliance with various regulations and work together to reduce employee misclassification, among other things.
  • Review your handbooks regularly.  Many employee handbooks contain a policy or language that may trigger a complaint by the NLRB. Ensure that your policies are not too broad or too vague, as this will leave them open to interpretation.
  • Regarding enforcement protections for LGBT, the EEOC states that employers must comply with federal law, even if state law conflicts or offers no protection for this group. LGBT charge filings and resolutions are on the rise as more employees become aware that they can file claims.  For further clarification, you can view the EEOC Fact Sheet on protections for LGBT workers here.
  • Workplace bullying can be physical, physically threatening or non-physical.  In North Carolina, there are currently no laws against workplace bullying but employers should not tolerate bullying on any level.  High turnover, low productivity, lost innovations and difficulty hiring quality employees can all result from workplace bullying.
  • According to ADAAA, employers have an obligation to engage in good faith in the interactive process to determine if an employee has a disability and whether there are reasonable accommodations that can be implemented. Reasonable accommodations under the ADAAA can include assistive devices, change in assignments, service animals and telecommuting.  Many employers have found individuals with disabilities to be productive and loyal employees.
  • Employers may use bonuses to satisfy part of the new standard salary level test. The DOL allows nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10 percent of the standard salary test requirement. Such bonuses include, for example, nondiscretionary incentive bonuses tied to productivity or profitability (a bonus based on the specified percentage of the profits generated by a business in the prior quarter.)
  • North Carolina law does allow employers to test job applicants and employees for drug or alcohol impairment and regulates the procedures that employers must follow in implementing such testing. State law does not require employers to drug test, but it does regulate those employers who voluntarily choose to implement a drug-testing program.
  • Don’t put a non-compete clause in an employee handbook.  Have a standalone non-compete or employment agreement with a non-compete provision. When developing a non-compete, keep in mind that the narrower in geographic scope the better.  Be sure to have your job candidate sign this agreement before or on the first day of employment with your company.
  • Penalties for non-compliance of the ACA are $1,000 per enrollee for willful failures.  However, good faith compliance efforts can excuse penalties. The DOL has more information on their website.
  • Title VII prohibits religious discrimination and requires reasonable accommodations as it pertains to religion. Broadly defined, religion includes “Ultimate ideas” about “life, purpose, and death.”
  • Under FMLA an employee who has given birth is entitled to 12 weeks of leave.  Mothers who return to work and are breastfeeding must be provided breaks to express milk and have access to a clean, safe, private place for this purpose.
  • As November 8th nears, employers may want to consider allowing employees some paid time off to vote, if there is insufficient time for the employee to vote outside of working hours. Although there is no statute in North Carolina that mandates time off to vote, terminating an employee for taking time off to vote could be the basis for tort action for wrongful discharge. Employers should encourage their employees to exercise their right to vote.

More than 1,100 North Carolina employers trust CAI to help them minimize liability and maximize employee engagement, contact CAI at 919-878-9222 or email leeann.graham@capital.org to learn more about the many ways we can help you.

 

How to Stop Poor Performance From Draining your Company

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

I obviously don’t work for your company, but my experience tells me there is a better than average chance that you have subpar performers that you’re letting work at your company and it is draining your company’s productivity, profit, and growth.  I wish I was wrong but I see it everywhere, every day in every industry.

Think about the poor performers in your life.  At work, at school, at church, at the stores you frequent, maybe even at home. Infuriating isn’t.  Missed deadlines, waiting in line, poor customer service, sloppy or slow processes, etc. Do you feel your blood pressure rising?  Believe me, top performers really appreciate having to do more work to cover for their uninspired co-workers. In fact that’s a leading cause of turnover for top performers – burn out over cleaning up the messes made by their slack co-workers AND frustration that their managers will not clean it up.poorperformance

Bruce Tulgan, noted management author and thought leader and past speaker at CAI’s HR Management Conference believes that “undermanagement” is one of the most detrimental phenomenon affecting business today.  He wrote a best-selling book called “It’s OK To Be The Boss.”  Why are so many managers not “being the boss” and letting poor performance slide?   We hear things like…

  • “Well Sally is better than having no one in the job and it’s hard to find good people.”
  • “At our pay Jim is the best we can afford.”
  • “I’m not dealing with this behavior because I know other managers let it slide.”
  • “I don’t have time to deal with Terry.”
  • “Don has been here forever and he’s always been this way, why should I have to deal with it?”

HR is blamed a lot.

  • “Our HR Department won’t let us fire anyone around here.”
  • “I would address it, but HR won’t let me because Joe is in a protected category.”
  • And on and on.

Poor Performance generally comes in three categories:

  1. Don’t know what to do.  Many employees regularly wander around our workplaces not knowing what is expected of them.  This category of poor performance rests with Managers, who simply need to take the time to provide clearer expectations for their employees.  Most people will perform just fine when they know what to do.
  2. Can’t do what you’re asking.  Sometimes we can salvage this “can’t-do” category with training.  Sometimes, though training will not correct the performance and in those cases the employee should be transferred to an open job they can do or they need to go work for someone else.
  3. Won’t do what you’re asking.  This is the most dangerous category.  Employees who won’t do what you’re asking create tremendous problems in the workplace every day.  Whether they vocalize their refusal or utilize more subtle activities, like slowing down, or overlooking things, there is only one solution for these people – they need to leave, and soon.

I once heard it put, hire slow and fire fast.  Good words to live by.  Yet I frequently find companies actually do the opposite – they hire quickly and impulsively and then take forever to separate the problem employee.  Many performance problems are really hiring problems in disguise.  So my advice, take more time assessing candidates. Most HR professionals know within the first five minutes of orientation if a new hire will make it or not.  Why didn’t they uncover that earlier?  HR professionals sometimes tell me the line managers decided to hire the person against HR’s advice.  So who is at fault?  I advise HR professionals to stand their ground and use turnover data to make your case.  And once you know someone is a poor performer, address it quickly. Fairly and respectfully, yes, but quickly.

The time between losing confidence in someone and them leaving is one of the most expensive in a manager’s life.  So if you’re a manager, start being the boss and quit letting poor performance slide and quit hiring people that should not work for your company because you are desperate. Your employees will thank you, because believe me they know who shouldn’t be there and they talk about it and suffer through it every day.  If you’re in HR do not let a lawsuit that will probably never happen overly impact how you deal with problems.  The EEOC actually dismisses two-thirds of all claims filed and only finds cause in about 3% of the charges it receives each year.  However, letting poor performers remain is a real problem that is draining your company every day.  I’m not advocating for a wild west management style absent of warnings and second chances.  I am suggesting we run our companies in a way that maximizes results versus running it out of fear.  After all a rising tide lifts all boats right!

I know this sounds pretty straightforward.  Who doesn’t get this right?  Ask yourself that question the next time as a consumer you have a bad customer experience at the hands of a problem employee.  You’ll be in that situation sometime this week and you’ll ask yourself why that company lets that person treat its customers that way.  Well, for the same reason it’s allowed at your company.  Think about it.

If you need help dealing with problem performance at your company please reach out to our Advice and Resolution team.  They answer thousands of questions each year that deal with performance management.

 

doug

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.

 

Learning the Best Practices for Total Rewards in 2017

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

Nearly 250 North Carolina HR professionals and executives attended CAI’s 2016 Compensation & Benefits Conference on September 15 and 16. Conference participants were eager to interact with one another and hear the latest on engaging and retaining top talent in this challenging economy.

Our three keynote speakers: Kerry Chou, of WorldatWork, Michael Patrick, of Willis Towers Watson’s Atlanta Talent & Rewards Practice, and CAI’s very own Molly Hegeman broke down ways to evaluate existing total rewards strategies using current trend information and insight from survey data. img_0076Employee engagement and success rate were a common trend shared by all speakers.

In Performance Management 101, Kerry Chou discussed the three questions an employer needs to ask themselves about an employee for the employee to be successful:

  • Is the employee CAPABLE of doing the job?
  • Does the employee have the TOOLS to do the job?
  • Does the employee PERFORM?

Michael Patrick stated only four in ten employees globally are highly engaged. In order to optimize employee engagement, employees need to be capable, have the tools and resources readily available to them and have the performance rate their employers want. “Know your Market Position,” Molly Hegeman, VP of HR Services at CAI stated, what is your philosophy? Are you going to be a market leader, match the market or lag behind? Molly suggests determining your market position by looking at the external and internal values.

In addition to the keynote sessions, conference participants chose from 9 breakout sessions from creating salary structures, managing costs related to the ACA, transforming performance management and using culture as a competitive advantage. Jay Burchfield from Teamphoria shared that companies with engaged employees outperform their competition by 202%, yet one negative employee with a bad attitude can affect four or more employees around them. Employers need to strive to make their employees feel excited about their work. Rebecca Bottorff, Bandwidth, stated, “We should be rewarding people more often.” Reward your employees with what matters to them – and that will vary from person to person. Companies should be conducting quarterly reviews, and providing employees with on-going feedback from their managers. This will help both the employee and the manager keep the lines of communication open.

As expected, our interactive panel session featuring CAI’s experts fielded many questions on the hot topic of implementing the new overtime rule. The experts cautioned employers to not wait until December, to take this time to understand those potentially impacted positions. For example, if a position is currently below the threshold of $47,476, and that employee works very little overtime, then raising them to the exempt level may cost you more in the long run. There are many different situations depending on the employer, number, and type of employees. You’ll want to choose the option that works best for your employees and your company.

Trying to plan for implementation of the new rule can get overwhelming quickly. Learn more about how CAI can help you with implementing the Overtime Rule.