Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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.

Are you using the new Form I-9?

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Beginning January 22nd, 2017, all employers are required to utilize the new Form I-9.  The new form was created to reduce confusion and the resulting technical errors by both employers and employees.  This new form can be completed digitally and contains pull-down menus, embedded calendars and the like.

However, employers who complete the new Form I-9 online using Adobe Reader or other PDF reader, will still be required to print the form, procure handwritten signatures and store in a safe and accessible place.  Furthermore, employers will also need to monitor re-verifications and updates with a calendaring system.  You will also have to use E-Verify as a separate system.    You can read more about the new form at the USCIS website; https://www.uscis.gov/i-9.

If this system still sounds complicated to you, CAI has an easier solution.  Our Form I-9 service offers a version of the electronic Form I-9 that allows you to complete and store your I-9s paperless, and with the assurance that you are filling out the form in a compliant manner.

In addition to the electronic I-9, our system can seamlessly incorporate E-Verify.

Highlights of our service include:

  • Electronically complete, sign and store the Form I-9.
  • Real time validation of data entered into the Form I-9.
  • Instant Employment Authorization.
  • Expiration Notices – Email notification of an employee’s expiring work authorization is sent out before it becomes a problem.
  • No servers or software to install or maintain.
  • Easy Searching – Search for stored forms to export, or print the PDF.
  • Audit Log – All actions (creation, view and print) relating to a form are tracked in the audit log.
  • Multiple permission levels for increased security.
  • Duplication Alert – User is notified when entering a form for an employee who already has a form on file, thus preventing employees from using the same SSN.
  • Remote employee authorization – we have notaries around the country who can verify documents.
  • Great Customer Service – You know and trust us, we are just a phone call or email away.

If you would like to learn more about our electronic I-9 services, please give us a call and ask for Brielle Earley or Kevin von der Lippe at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Kevin W. von der Lippe is a licensed private investigator at CAI and for 19 years has managed our detective agency and background checking business.  He is security minded and proficient with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the enforcement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as administered by the EEOC as it relates to background checks. Capital Associated Industries Services Corporation is a licensed investigative agency, specializing in corporate pre-employment background screening. Our corporate agency license is BPN 001473P11.

Don’t Overlook the True Value of Your Employee Handbook

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Employee handbooks are a vital part of outlining and communicating your company policies while creating a “picture” of your company culture and mission.  All companies–regardless of their size, industry, or number of employees should have an employee handbook in place, be it hard copy, e-version, or on-line. A company handbook can be as robust and detailed or as simple and short as needed depending on your business and culture. Let’s review several of the major purposes and benefits of having a company handbook.

Legal Protection: A handbook should outline the company’s position on important legal or regulatory issues such as At-Will Employment, anti-harassment or discrimination policies, wage and hour compliance or drug testing policies. Should one of these situations become a workplace issue, an employer can support their actions based on what is outlined in their handbook. Handbooks are a great tool in helping set employee expectations.

Company Culture/Mission: A handbook provides employees with an understanding of the company’s mission and culture. By placing an emphasis on aspects of employment that the company values (volunteerism or code of conduct) the employees will have a better idea of the culture that is desired and supported by senior management. Understanding the company’s culture will allow employees to have clear and consistent expectations of conduct and performance.  The handbook is also a great place for the CEO to “tell the story” of the company to help employees understand why the company exists.

Guide for Employees: An employee handbook should be written with the employee in mind. The handbook should outline policies, practices and other key information that is pertinent to the employee.  Providing relevant and pertinent information to employees allows employees to understand and manage that what is important to them (such as benefits, pay cycle information, vacation schedules, etc.) as well as develop an understanding of the expectations and consequences of their actions.  An employee handbook can also serve as a source for creating positive employee relations such as internal dispute resolution rather than through an external source such as government agency.

Guide for Supervisors/Managers: Managers and supervisors need reference materials in order to help them lead their teams. Having an understanding of policies such as PTO (how to earn it, when to use it, what happens if it isn’t used at the end of the year) is just as important as reviewing the company’s discipline policy or time management policies. A handbook is a great starting place for supervisors and managers but they should refer to specific company policies and or consult with their HR team.

CAI members have access to handbook guides to help you get started. Our Advice & Resolution team also provides complimentary handbook reviews and our HR On Demand team can work with you to create a custom handbook for your organization.

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.

4 Ways Managers Can Help Improve Employee Performance

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

When a manager says “meet me halfway,” what do they mean?

Halfway is never the goal in our work or personal lives. We want 110 percent from each other, right?

In the workplace, meet-me-halfway is shorthand for “I have to decide if you are worth more investment of my time and energy, and if you do not meet me half way, I have my answer.”

Poor performers are so for a variety of reasons. Putting problems clearly on the table, along with solutions, is difficult. Meet-me-halfway can be a useful clarifying tool.

Managers may use these four questions to decide whether a poor-performer will meet them halfway:

Have you contributed in any way to these poor results? An employee who says they have no part to play in their poor work is unlikely to do the things needed to improve. Giving a chance to acknowledge fault is a good way to advance a stalled conversation about improvement. Surprisingly, there are poor performers who will deny any part in the problem. In that case, you have your answer and it may be time to move on.

What are you ready (and able) to do differently, starting now? This question allows a more detailed conversation around specific changes which must be made. Forcing an employee to generate their own list (rather than seeking yet another agreement to your list) is better at this stage. It shows you if they are listening if they understand what good work looks like and if they care. Answers such as “I guess I just need to do what you ask me to do” are not good. On the heels of several performance discussions, and this meet-me-halfway conversation, lazy or passive responses show you do not have their attention or commitment.

What can I do differently to help you succeed? If you get an admission of some fault, and that fault is reinforced by a thoughtful description of the ways behaviors must change starting today, it is time to seal the deal with a genuine offer of your help. The offer does two things. It firms up the commitment to change and gives you a measurement tool for the coming days/weeks.

How will we both know you are meeting performance goals? This is the time to clarify ultimate expectations and timelines. Performance cannot stay at half-way; that was just a place to meet and recommit to something much better. The timeline will depend on the performance gap, the failed efforts to date, the perceived chance for success and such. Whatever that timeline and performance definition, they should both be very clear.

Employees who know or sense their manager is dissatisfied with their work should bring it up. “How am I doing?”, “What can I do to get better at this role?”, “What do you see as the difference between my work and the very best work done in this area?” Make the topic of your performance a welcome and natural one for you both. You will both benefit.

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.

How Effective is Succession Planning in your Organization?

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Succession is defined as the right, act, or process, by which one person succeeds to the office or rank of another.

How is the succession of your organizations’ talent happening?  Do some of your employees have implied “rights” to specific positions? Does their “time in grade” entitle those who have “paid their dues” to simply move into a vacated senior position regardless whether or not they are the most qualified or possess the most potential?

Does your organization use the “replacement” method of succession whereby a successor is simply chosen from a ‘short list” of employees that a select group of managers have compiled behind closed doors?

Or does your HR organization provide a collaborative process that brings leaders together to discuss designated positions and relevant potential talent as possible candidates? This of course, is the most effective and desired state.

If your succession process is not of the “desired state” mentioned above, then you are missing out on an incredible opportunity to enable your
business as well as potentially putting your business at risk by not filling opportunities with the top talent within your organization.

How do you get started?  Here are the first 3 steps:

  • As an HR business partner, you first need to be sure you completely understand your business and its current / future strategy and goals.
  • You then need to understand your organization’s key positions that drive and impact your business.  This includes not only key leadership roles but also positions with specialized skills that are challenging to find and or develop.
  • Next, and most importantly, you need to get buy-in from your GM/CEO, key leaders, etc. in the development and implementation of a succession process for your business. Although HR should own this process, succession is not a standalone HR “project” and needs to be done collaboratively and with the support, understanding, and buy-in of senior leaders and other key stakeholders.

Many small and medium-sized businesses fall into the trap of not implementing a succession plan, just like many people put off creating a will. While there are many other key considerations and variables that go into a developing a succession plan, don’t look at the process as insurmountable. CAI can help bring order to the process and partner with you along the way.

Rick Washburn leads the Advice & Resolution team at CAI. In his role, he advises executives and HR professionals on strategic and organizational issues, tackling subjects ranging from employee engagement to talent management. With his 25 years experience in HR management, Rick is uniquely poised to advice and lead businesses to successful HR strategies.

Avoid Workplace Drama and Spend More Time on Ideas

Thursday, September 1st, 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.

“Management by walking around” is a time-tested method to stay connected with the real work of an organization. When you listen, learn and create unstructured conversations, everyone is better informed.  Sometimes problems are solved or confusion clarified on the spot.Workplace Communication and Gossip

There is another free-form type of conversation between managers and employees which is not productive: management by gossiping around.

Workplace gossip is generally rumor or exaggeration about others, especially about their behaviors. It can relieve stress, and deflect or assign blame.  It might just be a way to make the gossipers feel better about themselves.

I wish it was uncommon, but we see evidence that managers gossip with employees too often. Whether a misguided attempt to create a relationship, or just blowing off steam, gossip is harmful.

When managers gossip with employees, about employees, or about other managers, several bad things happen.

Loss of Respect

The gossiping manager loses every time. Employees hold managers to a higher standard of behavior than their own peers.  A manager who gossips cannot be trusted with personal details and private information.  A manager who gossips will gossip about you!  What does the manager know about you that could be embarrassing or misunderstood?

Loss of Influence

Managers get things done through a combination of formal authority and informal influence. Sometimes unilateral decisions must be made, but real advances and engagement happen in the influence zone.  Gossiping managers lose the high ground that provides a foundation for influence.  Managers who gossip trade a momentary rush for long-term loss of effectiveness.

Loss of Focus

Gossip is idle conversation, not problem solving or relationship-building. Gossiping managers would rather talk about an employee who may be part of a problem than resolve that problem.  Gossip is easier than real work and it prevents true progress.

Loss of Opportunity

Employees with real work problems will not come to gossiping managers for help. Why reach out to a manager who gossips about members of the team?  Managers trying to be “one of the peeps” by joining these high calorie/low nutrition conversations hurt their own chances to learn about real issues.

Future Limits

Finally, gossiping managers put a lid on their own careers. The only thing worse than a loose-lipped manager is a senior leader who talks trash.  A fish rots from the head down and senior leadership sets the tone.  Good leadership will not ask bad leadership to join its team.

Employees living with a gossiping manager have choices to make. Start by avoiding gossip.  Silence is a good response to inappropriate comments.  Even better is a question:  “If that is true, what can you and I do to make the situation better?”

Employees suffering with gossiping teammates might be even more proactive: “Gossip will not make anything better.  What positive steps can we take?”

An old proverb applies: “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people”. Spend more time on ideas and events.

CAI can help your organization grow and succeed by developing your most important asset…your people.  We offer an abundance of learning options and specialize in management development, HR and professional development.

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.

CAI Celebrates Big Move with Open House Bash

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

CAI_Open_House_CollageCAI, Human Resources partner to 1,100+ North Carolina member companies, celebrated its new Raleigh location at 3150 Spring Forest Road, #116,
with a ribbon cutting and open house event. “After 32 years, we needed more parking for class participants, an open floor plan suitable for team collaboration and space for our state-of-the-art training facility,” stated Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO.

More than 220 CAI members, local business leaders, and special guests were in attendance for the big event which was held on August 8.  Guests mingled and enjoyed hors d’oeuvres, wine, and live jazz while touring the spacious, modern facility. Popular guest speaker and author of The Freak Factor, Dave Rendall, delivered a motivating message on “Initiating Change and Inventing the Future.”

Storr Office Environments, Vision Contractors, and Little Design were acknowledged for turning CAI’s vision into reality.  Included as an integral part of the office transformation team were CAI member companies: Precision Walls, Strategic Connections, Stephenson Millwork and Atcom Business Technology Solutions.

Clarke and CAI board member, Randy Neuhaus, CEO of S&ME presided over the ribbon cutting ceremony and champagne toast.  After a warm round of applause, members congratulated CAI on their long-awaited new facility. “I love the new space,” said CAI member Sean Walsh of Red Hat, “it’s really great to see a company make this kind of investment in their members as well as their employees.”

CAI is a trusted resource for HR, compliance and people development. With locations in Raleigh and Greensboro, CAI is a membership-driven organization that helps North Carolina employers maximize employee engagement and minimize employer liability through human resources and management advice, training, survey data, public policy advocacy and consulting services. For more information, visit www.capital.org.

How to Develop Your Employees by Providing Feedback

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

Part of a manager’s job is to help grow and develop talent for the organization.  And, most employees want to know how they are doing.  When managers take the time and effort to comment on an employee’s work, they are helping shape not only that employee, but the organization as well. But, when managers fail to provide feedback, they actually impoverish the individual as well as the organization. Performance-Evaluation-Form-Feedback

Some managers hesitate to give feedback for a couple of reasons:

1 – They may feel that giving positive reinforcing feedback to employees will “spoil” them or that it is not necessary since the employees are just doing the job for which they are being paid.

2 – They may dread the awkward conversation that sometimes happens when they must give corrective or improvement feedback, so they say nothing and hope the situation will improve.

At CAI, part of our mission is to replace fear with action.  We share with our classroom participants a simple formula for doing so.  It’s called the BIT.  BIT stands for behavior, impact and tomorrow.  It’s a handy way to remember that feedback, regardless of whether it is reinforcing or corrective, should have three elements:

  • Behavior – talk to the employee about exactly what he or she has observed or overheard doing or saying.
  • Impact – let the employee know the impact (again, whether positive or negative) that his/her behavior has on the customer, their colleagues or other stakeholders.
  • Tomorrow – finally, explain that you wish for the employee to continue exhibiting the positive behavior and encourage him/her to do more of it OR let the employee know that a behavior change must take place within a given time period.

Examples:

Positive, reinforcing:

  • Jason, I heard you speaking to an upset customer in the lobby this morning.  He sounded pretty angry.  You kept calm and did not raise your voice.  Instead, you asked him for more details and just listened.
  • The impact of your composure was to not only calm our customer down, but to preserve his business with us.  I feel confident that he intended to close his account when he first came into the lobby.
  • Jason, we appreciate your professionalism immensely.  Next week, we have a new employee starting in Customer Service.  Would you please make some time to let her shadow you on some of your customer service calls?

Corrective, need for improvement:

  • Marcy, yesterday I saw you turn your back on our auditor who was waiting for the key to the conference room. It was clear you saw her standing there, but you ignored her until she had to ask you again for the key.
  • The impact of this behavior is that in addition to being impolite, you have sent a message of indifference to the auditing staff, who is here trying to help us.
  • From tomorrow on, please make it a point to greet the auditors when they arrive and ask them how you can assist them.  Please extend the same courtesy to them as you would to our customers.

The BIT statement is a powerful tool that does not diminish the employee in any way.  It does not judge someone’s character or intent; it merely states the facts and their impact and further clarifies the manager’s expectations.

Let CAI help you optimize your management skills.

lindataylor

Linda L. Taylor, MS, SPHR, CCP, is a Learning & Development Partner at CAI. She brings more than 20 years of human resource and organizational experience to her role as a trainer. Linda is responsible for teaching CAI’s various courses, including The Management Advantage™, to train and educate members and clients. Her extensive experience as manager, consultant, and educator provides her with a unique skill set that allows her to effectively partner with member organizations and work to positively impact their business results.

 

Fixing a Broken Performance Management System – Part I

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

As a manager, few things are harder than delivering honest performance feedback to an employee.  Of course giving bad news isn’t supposed to be Performance-Review-Chalkboardfun.  Some managers avoid giving bad news altogether hoping performance improves on its own.  Others sugar coat the news to the point that the employee can’t see the problem.  Then there are those managers who just “tell it like it is” with no filters or tact.  They may succeed in getting their point across but at a cost.  

Many managers struggle equally at giving good performance news.  Some pour on the kudos so much or so generically that employees aren’t sure what specific actions are being praised.  And then far too many other managers don’t take the time to give any feedback at all, usually because they are so “busy.”   It’s no wonder why HR professionals and executives alike regularly bemoan the state of their performance management process.  So it seems that the only people that like how performance management is practiced at many companies are those slackers who aren’t being appropriately addressed …

At what cost? Employee underperformance is at epidemic proportions in some companies.  On average, U.S. managers waste 34 days per year dealing with underperformance.  Tolerated underperformance is also a leading reason top performers, who have to work harder to cover the slack, leave for greener pastures.  Eventually this underperformance affects customers and that of course affects the top and bottom line.  Don’t believe me, think of how frustrated you are as a customer when you’re at the hands of an underperforming employee.  How does that employee’s behavior affect your future buying patterns? 

The Cure.  Fortunately the cure for poor performance management is simple to understand and it doesn’t hurt.  And to be clear, the problem isn’t with whatever appraisal form you use. I’ve never seen an appraisal form that makes up for poor hiring, unclear expectations, infrequent or non-existent 1:1 meetings with employees, poor managers, poor execution,  and so on.  More on the form in next week’s article.

First, most employee performance problems are really hiring problems.  We regularly hire people that don’t fit our culture and then we waste valuable time trying to “fix” them.  I heard it put once, you’re hired [too quickly] for what you know and fired [too slowly] for who you are.  The cure: only hire people that fit your culture.   At this point I normally see executive eye rolling when I speak on this subject.  I realize that “defining your culture” seems like another “squishy” HR thing to a busy executive but the process really can be quite simple.  Minimally take your company values and find people that possess those values.  Of course this assumes we have values, and that we live those values daily.  Applicants either possess the values or they don’t.  This isn’t a 1 – 10 rating kind of thing.  If they posses the value, then take Gino Wickman’s advice in his book Traction and ask yourself for each applicant:  Do they Get it [the role], Want it [to work with you], and have the Capacity [knowledge, skill and capability] to do it (GWC).  I could add twenty more steps for defining your culture, and they probably won’t get you any farther than your values and GWC.

Second, there should be no disagreement over what successful performance looks like at your company. Instead of using out dated and/or generic job descriptions, consider setting clear expectations and measures for each employee that are directly or at least indirectly tied to organizational priorities.  So for example, a typical CFO job description might say “Assure optimum utilization of financial resources through sound forecasting and cash management.”  Alternatively, a success profile would say:

  • Reduce costs by 10% across-the-board to achieve EBIT objectives for the next fiscal year. 
  • Establish cross functional cost reduction teams within three months completing work in 12 months.
  • Within nine months, achieve a 15% price reduction in raw materials.
  • Develop a back-up sourcing plan to ensure cost reduction of $700,000 in year one.

Now imagine you’ve taken the time to establish annual performance objectives like that with each of your employees.  I realize it takes time for the manager.  But think how much easier it would be to measure performance, to deliver feedback.  Think of how much ownership the employee would have over the results.  And think of how much better your company performance would be if all employees were working a similar plan.  Unfortunately, without such specificity, the responsibility rests on each manager to subjectively determine if someone’s performance is satisfactory.  And that is a very uncomfortable place to be and is one explanation for why typical performance ratings don’t reflect reality.

So, hire people that fit your culture and provide crystal clear expectations of success for each employee and you’re well on the way to fixing your broken performance management system.  Tune in next week when I cover more secrets to fixing your broken system.

If you have employees in North Carolina and need help implementing or fine-tuning your Performance Management system, CAI can help with advice, information, tools, templates and more.