Posts Tagged ‘employees’

4 Tips to Help Your Employees Succeed Through a Merger or Acquisition

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Several ideas pop into the minds of employees when they learn that their company is planning a merger or acquisition with another organization. Staff members worry about being laid off, not getting salary increases and competing with unknown talent. Their anxiety for the workplace transition reveals itself in their assignments and interactions with their coworkers. Managers often have several battles to deal with as they try to control emotional employees and dispel nonsensical rumors.

Mishandling this sensitive process can affect your business negatively. Absenteeism, loss of key employees, low morale and low productivity are some of the damaging consequences for not addressing a merger or acquisition appropriately.

Preparation is imperative for keeping your organization composed. The following four tips should help your organization navigate through the transition of a merger or acquisition with less difficulty:

1. Make Leadership Present

Forming a strong leadership team with members from both sides of the merger or acquisition will help smooth out the kinks of the transition. When both sides align to share the same vision, mission and strategy, employees have a solid support team to turn to. Before the transition is announced, make sure you indentify the key leadership players and begin to strategize steps to handle the change gracefully.

2. Communicate Often and Through Several Channels

To combat rumors and twisted facts, create a solid communications plan for your employees, leadership and other key stakeholders, such as customers and board members. Remember that your employees will want to know more than the details of the merger. They’ll want to know how their job will be affected, what their benefits will look like and who will manage them. Cascade messages through a variety of channels to ensure your stakeholders receive them. Additionally, practice two-way communication and readily take questions and suggestions from your team members.

3. Align Culture and Business Processes

A merger or acquisition requires the blending of two companies with distinct cultures and ways of completing work. Similar to your communications plan, knowing how you want to cultivate your organization’s environment early on will help you get your workforce on board. Carefully plan your new business processes before the transition takes effect. Educate your staff on the new changes and how they might affect their workflows. Communication is again important when telling employees that aspects of their job could be significantly altered. Always keep them in the loop.

4. Take Care of Employees

Agreeing to merge with or acquire another organization may benefit your company financially, but it could hurt other areas of your business, specifically your talent. News of a merger or acquisition can leave even your star performers feeling nervous about their fate and the new set of employees they’ll have to work with. The period before the official transition is a great time for competitors to pluck your top talent. Prevent this from happening by involving your staff through the transition process and getting them to understand how their role will fit into the changing organization. Develop a retention strategy, such as stay-bonuses or packages, to make sure your stellar staffers don’t become enticed by competition.  For employees you won’t be able to retain, let them leave the organization with dignity. Provide them with services to help them stay on their feet, such as resume reviewing. Additionally, show them that you appreciated their service by offering them a generous severance package.

For additional strategies to assist your workforce through a merger or acquisition, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Souce: Victor1558

The Six Criteria for Unpaid Interns

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

With the U.S. Department of Labor’s (USDOL) Wage and Hour Division focusing so closely on uncovering and investigating violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers need to be sure that they are complying with every part of the wage and hour law.  One area where the actual regulations often fail to match what employers believe them to be concerns the paying of interns.

Thankfully, USDOL released Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs under the Fair Labor Standards Act last year, which provides general information to employers to help determine whether interns must be paid under the FLSA for the service they provide.  For an internship to be unpaid, it must meet the following six criteria:

1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an education environment;

2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;

3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;

4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;

5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and

6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

Along with the six criteria, USDOL also provides some examples and interpretations of workplace situations in the Fact Sheet.

We encourage employers who have an internship program in place, or who are considering one, to review this important Fact Sheet.  A review of the six criteria and the interpretations in this Fact Sheet should help clarify any confusion.  Interns who do not meet the criteria should be paid at least minimum wage, plus any earned overtime.

If you have any questions about intern compensation, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photos Source: Inspiring Interns

Background Checks – Three Questions to Consider

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

These days, most employers include background checks as a mandatory part of the hiring process, as they should.  When conducting background checks it is very important that you follow the letter of the law.  Here are three important considerations for your background checking process:

  1. Are you complying with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)? A lot of companies get derailed on the word “credit” – they feel that since they are not looking at the financial record of their applicant/employee that the FCRA does not apply to them.  In reality, the FCRA actually applies to any sort of background check that is compiled by a third party, such as your background checking company.  It is almost impossible to avoid using a third party in some part of the background check.  Many companies and a lot of universities refer verification inquiries to third party companies that act as the repository, instantly bringing your background check under the purview of the FCRA.
  2. Is your decision point job related? The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rules are clear—you should only hold items against your applicant that are job related.  If you are unable to show a correlation to the work your applicant needs to do, you are better off not considering the unrelated negative background check results when making your hiring decision.  In fact, the EEOC has said that you must take into accountthe nature and gravity of the offense or offenses for which the applicant was convicted; the time that has passed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence; and the nature of the job held or sought.
  3. Should you look at financial credit reports? The answer is yes, if it is important to the job requirements of the position for which you are hiring.  Recent actions by legislators and the EEOC should make you take pause before requiring a financial credit report on all applicants.  A good litmus test (unless you are in Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Illinois) is if the position includes any of the following characteristics:
  1. is a managerial position which involves setting the direction or control of the business;
  2. involves access to customers’, employees’ or the employer’s personal or financial information other than information customarily provided in a retail transaction;
  3. involves a fiduciary responsibility to the employer, including, but not limited to, the authority to issue payments, transfer money or enter into contracts; or
  4. provides an expense account.

CAI works closely with its Background Checking clients to ensure they are fully compliant with local and federal laws.  If you have questions about background checks, please contact Kevin von der Lippe at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: HaxNetwork

What is More Valuable, HR Certification or a Master’s Degree?

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

A record number of candidates sat for the Professional in Human Resources (PHR), Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR) certification exams from the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) in 2010.

Despite that fact, only 13 percent of eligible HR professionals are certified. However, recent estimates show that between 40 and 60 percent of open mid-level or higher HR positions either “require” or “prefer” certification. In plain language, 13 percent of the workforce commands roughly half of the open HR labor market.

In this tough employment landscape, candidates need every advantage. Professional certification is a no-brainer. There is a raging chat room argument as to what is more valuable, a master’s degree in HR or HRCI certification. There are pros and cons to both sides. The fact that this argument won’t go away tells most experts they are equally valuable to one’s career. However, a master’s degree costs about $35,000 and takes two years of effort, while HR certification costs about $1,500 with a prep class, and takes 10 weeks.

Many people mistakenly assume the new eligibility requirements from HRCI will make it tougher for candidates to qualify for admission to the certification exams. For some, this is true. For others, it is easier to qualify.

While the PHR and GPHR exams require four years of professional HR experience and the SPHR requires seven, all three give credit for education. Subtract two years from the eligibility requirement if the candidate has a bachelor’s degree and subtract another one if he or she holds a master’s. This means that some PHR candidates only need one year of professional experience before they qualify to sit for the exam.

It is not a question as to “whether” you need certification; the question is “when.”  CAI offers a Web-based, evening PHR/SPHR Certification Study Course.  For additional information visit http://bit.ly/phr-web.

Photo Source: Corey Ann

The Benefits of Building Mentor/Mentee Relationships

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

All professionals, no matter the industry, utilize outside resources to fulfill specific needs. Whether employees are engaging with personal contacts, industry networking groups, the Internet or management leaders, there is always an underlying professional motivation – to achieve career growth and advancement by properly accessing available tools. These resources provide specific benefits and assist in addressing career challenges, uncovering new industry information, and enhancing personal skill sets, but often employees overlook and neglect the advantages that professional mentoring relationships have to offer.

A mentor can be defined as a source of career guidance and counseling.  An untapped resource, mentor relationships have long existed, but in many organizations have yet to be fully incorporated as a critical component of successful career strategies. Establishing a solid mentor relationship has proven advantageous for both the organization and the individual, so consider the following benefits that mentors have to offer and encourage your staff to build their own relationships.

Open and honest communication – To avoid a tense working environment, straightforward dialogue among coworkers is often avoided. But if the majority of mentors reside outside the company walls, employees can feel comfortable being honest and frank about their experiences, struggles and concerns, and mentors can provide sincere feedback without becoming involved in office politics.

Network Expansion – Mentoring relationships aren’t solely focused on conversation. Often mentors open windows of opportunity by connecting mentees to their own professional networks. With new exposure, employees broaden their industry connections, bring recognition and awareness to the company brand, and provide the organization with additional connections and business contacts.

Outside perspectives – Relationships that are not directly involved within the heart of an organization help provide a clear point of view. As a sounding board for direction, mentors can support, counsel and provide clarification for employees from a third-party perspective.

Healthy workplace culture – With a fresh perspective, employees return to the job with a better insight and understanding of work-related issues and how they individually function within the overall goals of the company. This outlook inevitably benefits the organization at large by promoting a stronger commitment and increase in productivity levels.

Bridging the gap – Miscommunication is bound to occur in the workforce, and often happens between the generational gaps. With the communication, trust and insight that come from mentoring relationships, the gap of communication can be closed and replaced with an improved understanding among employees.

Have you experienced the benefits of serving as a mentor? Are you a young professional seeking career guidance and support?  Tell us about your experiences.

For additional information, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

“ALL OF YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.”

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

By Robin E. Shea, Attorney, Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP

The U.S. Department of Labor is planning to impose new “affirmative action” requirements on employers, requiring them to develop “plans” to address workplace safety, equal employment opportunity, and wage and hour/employee classification issues.

For the most part, these requirements – called “Plan/Prevent/Protect” – will not be limited to federal contractors but will apply to all employers covered by the relevant laws.

The proposed changes are dramatic, and shift from what the DOL calls “catch me if you can” (in other words, employer is presumed compliant unless the government is given reason to believe otherwise) to “Plan/Prevent/Protect” (in other words, employer is presumed guilty unless it can prove otherwise). “[E]mployers and other regulated entities will be asked to assemble plans, create processes, and designate people charged with achieving compliance,” says the DOL, and “compliance will be non-negotiable . . . .” (Emphasis added.)

Here are the basic guidelines of “Plan/Prevent/Protect”:

The “Plan” component will require employers to enlist employees in “identifying and remediating risks of legal violations and other risks to workers.” The plans must be made available to the workers “so they can fully understand them and help to monitor their implementation.”

The “Prevent” component will require employers to “thoroughly and completely implement the plan in a manner that prevents legal violations. . . . The employer . . . cannot draft a plan and then put it on a shelf. The plan must be fully implemented . . . .”

The “Protect” component will require employers to ensure “that the plan’s objectives are met on a regular basis. Just any plan will not do. The plan must actually protect workers from violations of their workplace rights.”

In the context of compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act, Plan/Prevent/Protect will require that employers provide information to employees about how their pay is calculated, and prepare a “classification analysis” with respect to any job that it treats as FLSA-exempt. Of course, the analysis will have to be made available to the employees and the government.

The DOL will issue proposed regulations on Plan/Prevent/Protect at some point in the future.

Robin Shea will be a presenter at CAI’s Triad Employment Law Update on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010 at the Koury Center in Greensboro, N.C. For additional information on the conference, visit www.capital.org/triadlaw.

Photo Source: my.aegean.gr