Posts Tagged ‘NC’

Government Audits: Readiness is Key

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Preparing your company for a government investigation is important as the current administration increases the amount of money and resources allocated to auditing companies from different industries and of various sizes. Although your company might follow correct policies and procedures mandated by the government, communication from a displeased worker or fault-finding town citizen can create cause for an investigator to review your workplace standards.

For some audits, such as an OSHA audit, inspections are conducted without advance warning to the organization, so attentiveness to rules and regulations is vital. Creating an action plan for the possibility of an inspection is critical to avoiding costs, penalties and loss of credibility associated with a bad review. Here are a few tips that are applicable to all audits and will ensure a successful evaluation:

  1. Keep Staff Informed! Even though some audits occur without warning, audits or investigations that are expected should be on everyone’s radar. Managers should be aware of the scope of the audit and when it is slated to take place. Company leadership should also inform employees that cooperating with the auditor is necessary to ensure a smooth review process.
  2. Organize! Organize! Organize! Employee documentation, computer files, financial information and similar records should be neatly arranged and easily accessible for the auditor. Retrieve records kept at off-site locations as well. Organizing documents before the auditor’s arrival will allow you to identify and locate missing or misfiled information. Failure to keep records readily available can result in a slower investigation process or several follow-up visits from the auditor.
  3. Take Interviews Seriously! No matter which type of audit your company encounters, preparing for questions that might arise is crucial. Some report that the initial management interview is the most influential part of the process, because it sets the course for the remainder of the audit. Demonstrating preparation during this component will alert the auditor that your company takes the investigation process seriously. For interviews with employees, allow the auditor to speak with them during work hours to avoid contacting them at home. Although you should avoid explicitly telling your employees what to do during an interview, it is important to make them aware of their rights during the process.

CAI offers an Investigation Survival Webinar Series for more information and tips that apply to audits. The program includes seven 90-minute webinars designed to guide you through various government investigations, including ICE, EEOC, Wage and Hour, and OSHA audits. Led by experienced professionals who have supported many employers through different investigations, the series will help answer any specific questions you have concerning audits. You can take the courses individually, or you can register for all seven and receive a volume discount.

For additional information or to register, please visit www.capital.org and use the search code CISWS.

Photos Source: erix!

2011 Ovation Award Spotlight: The Accreditation Commission for Health Care, Inc. (ACHC)

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

As the first health care accrediting agency in the world to achieve the international quality management distinction of certification to ISO 9001:2000, the Accreditation Commission for Health Care, Inc (ACHC) holds a commitment to quality service. The firm stays proactive in learning new quality principles that benefit its customers and employees, and its recent employee engagement program earned ACHC a 2011 Ovation Award in the small employer category (companies with 250 employees or less).

ACHC strives to provide exemplary support to its customers and employees. However, when the company reviewed less than ideal results from a 2008 employee satisfaction survey, its leadership team resolved to implement change.  Because ACHC believes that employee engagement is the central driving point for its business, the agency knew addressing employees’ concerns would be critical to business sustainability and productivity. So, ACHC embarked on its next level of quality: optimal employee engagement.

The company first investigated the reasons for employee dissatisfaction in order to address items from the survey. After uncovering the roots of its employees’ sentiments, ACHC turned to its human resource team and quality assurance department to spearhead the “Total Quality Improvement Initiative.” The program was a comprehensive employee engagement system designed to include every staff member in the planning and execution process for business programs. Based on the Malcolm Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence, the initiative indentified the agency’s strengths and opportunities for improvements in employee satisfaction while also encouraging total workforce involvement and innovation.

The new initiative showed the company that each employee has valuable insight into what customers want, so ACHC tapped into their valuable resources to gain knowledge and ideas that would drive business. Through the program’s whole-team brainstorms, employees learned more about the business planning process and ACHC listened to the ideas of its employees, creating team unity.

Overall, the initiative proved to be a beneficial endeavor for both employees and customers. ACHC understood that developing this program was necessary because of its belief that employees who are fully involved in and enthusiastic about their work provide superior customer service and reach business goals.  The unique approach accomplished three measurable outcomes for ACHC:

  1. Increased employee satisfaction scores
  2. Reduced employee turnover
  3. Increased employee team involvement

Since its introduction, “The Total Quality Improvement Initiative” has expanded, and regular cross-sections of employees are involved in ACHC’s strategic planning, including choosing medical benefit plans and new facility locations.

With employee satisfaction at an all-time high and overall employee turnover reduced, it is clear that the ACHC staff is fully engaged. Employee satisfaction directly affects customer service positively and yields more success for the agency. ACHC’s dynamic program that empowered and engaged its business process made the company a clear winner for CAI’s Ovation Award in the small employer category. Companies looking to increase employee morale and productivity should consider implementing a similar initiative.

CAI recognizes North Carolina companies for innovative HR/People solutions with Ovation Awards during its annual HR Management Conference in February.  If you’d like to be considered please send a 2-3 paragraph description of your program to doug.blizzard@capital.org.  The description should summarize the business need, describe how the solution was implemented, and highlight the measurable and/or forecasted business results.

Photo Source: jModus

Are You Using Social Media for Employee Communications Yet?

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

The post below is a guest blog from Stephanie Clark who serves as the Marketing Coordinator and Social Media Manager for CAI’s employee benefits partner Hill, Chesson & Woody Employee Benefit Services.

Have you seen the social media traffic stats on the night of Sunday, May 1, 2011? While President Barack Obama announced to the world that a U.S. military team killed Osama Bin Laden, Twitter topped 5,000 tweets per second.  Care to guess how many of your employees updated their Facebook status that night? The news spread like wildfire on various social media channels, per CNN’s report, as details unfolded through reputable and highly-followed twitter users.

More and more businesses are jumping into social media to educate consumers and create brand awareness. At the same time, this way of communicating has also changed how organizations approach their own workforce, by offering another method of sending out information. A 2010 Watson Wyatt survey showed the most popular topics to engage employees through social media are collaboration and team building, adapting to change, and promoting health and wellness. On the other hand, for messages around business changes, employees widely prefer face-to-face communication. Social media provides another avenue to engage employees in a way they like to receive information.

Paper memos are a thing of the past. Long-winded emails may be going in that direction as well. Here’s a thought: Try pasting the next employee memo you compose into Microsoft Word and conduct a Flesch-Kincaid readability test. If your memo scores higher than a seventh or eighth grade level, some employees may not understand it. It’s hard for employees to genuinely care about what goes on in your company when information is presented at a level they don’t understand. Keep it simple if you want to reach everyone in your company with the message.

For years now, IBM has engaged with employees through social media, even before they used social media externally for marketing. Companies such as Virgin Media have gone the route of video blogging on a YouTube channel exclusively for employees. Viewers see and hear someone as if they are speaking only to them, and yet a wide audience is being reached.  Also, this offers workers the opportunity for commenting in a public forum.

Who doesn’t like to hold the remote? Like most individuals, your employees probably prefer to control their own communication experience. By asking questions, offering suggestions and learning other employees’ perspectives, they create news that is relevant to them on a level that makes sense. What is a better way to become a true stakeholder? Forums, blogs and social networks are a great way to encourage employees to connect and interact.

If you’re not using social media in your organization yet, internally or externally, it’s never too late to start. Many resources are out there to help you get started. A few helpful links are listed below.

How to create a LinkedIn company page
http://learn.linkedin.com/company-pages/

How to create a Facebook page for your business
http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php

How to create a YouTube channel
http://www.ehow.com/how_4493894_create-youtube-channel.html

How to create a Twitter account
http://support.twitter.com/entries/100990-how-to-sign-up-on-twitter

How to optimize your Facebook privacy for business
http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/12067/How-to-Optimize-Your-Facebook-Privacy-for-Business.aspx

Six non-fluff answers to your social media questions
http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/10268/6-Non-Fluff-Answers-to-Your-Social-Media-Questions.aspx

Benefits for Part-Time Employees

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

According to the U.S. employment statistics reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 26,560,000 employees working part-time in February 2011.  Approximately 31 percent worked part-time because of economic reasons (unable to find a full-time job, full-time hours cut to part-time or seasonal declines in demand).  The remainder worked part-time out of choice or due to personal reasons such as child care, attending school, limits on social security earnings, etc. Women accounted for 62 percent of the part-time workers.

Because they are not as common for part-time employees as they are for full-time employees, benefits packages can be a huge recruitment and retention advantage for employers with part-time workers.  Although involuntary part-time employees will be moving on to full-time jobs as the economy improves, voluntary part-time employees are likely to seek out part-time jobs that offer the best benefits.

The latest data available from BLS regarding benefits for part-time employees was released in July 2010.  From that data, here’s the percentage of employers who provided specific benefits to part-timers (working 1-34 hours):

Retirement plan         39 percent

Paid vacation             37 percent

Health care                26 percent

Paid sick leave           24 percent

The CAI 2011/2012 Policies & Benefits Survey reports that roughly half of employers provide some benefits to part-time employees, with some on a pro-rata basis.  The majority require a minimum of 30 hours per week to qualify for benefits (although some only require 20).

Approximately 50 percent of employers (total responses) who provide part-time benefits provide 401(k), medical and dental insurance, life insurance, AD&D insurance and bereavement pay.  Sixty percent of non-union employers provide vacation and holiday pay.

Benefits provided may vary by size of employer.  For full data on the local provision of benefits to part-time employees and other benefits data, please see the CAI 2011/2012 Policies & Benefits Survey.

Photo source: Earls37a

http://www.flickr.com/photos/indraw/4857101224/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Improving and Maximizing Employee Efficiency

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Productivity is the name of the game. It is easy for employers to fall into the trap of believing that high levels of stress combined with a busy work life create the most effective results from employees, but that may not be the case. Employees are often just as effective without operating under high tension and hectic work/life schedules. Consider Fortune magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies To Work For” and you will see that a common thread spanning the majority of top organizations is the repetitive mention of high productivity and happy employees.

Shifting the workplace environment may be easier than you think. By adjusting your company mindset and assisting employees in becoming their most productive selves you promote a more efficient organization overall. Here are three ways to do that:

Make information fully accessible – Can your employees work easily from airports, hotel rooms and the home office? When completing assignments offsite runs as seamlessly as sitting in the company office, efficiency will inevitably increase. Employees may surprise you with the additional work they can complete outside the regular 8 to 5 routine when the proper systems are put in place for continuous access.

Become more flexible – Does last year’s model still fit the current staff and system of your company? Though structure is essential to the livelihood of an organization, your company’s working hours should occasionally be reevaluated. Early mornings, late evenings or longer work days – the level of productivity will improve when you identify the various ways your employees operate best.

Provide for employee needs – Have you evaluated the needs of your staff and if those needs are being met? Discuss with employees what they need to be more effective in their job, as they may vary from what you believe is best suited. Employee needs can be as small as a file folder for better organization or as large as dual monitors for completing assignments, but hear them out and consider the benefits as a whole.

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

Photo source: Hugo90

CAI’s Ovation Awards: 2011 Spotlight

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

CAI has presented Ovation Awards to a number of diverse companies for their even more diverse “people practices” for the past four years. CAI created the Ovation Awards in 2007 to honor exceptional workplaces that have implemented innovative people practices that directly and positively affect their business results. Organizations are encouraged to showcase their HR tactics by submitting a nomination for one of the three award categories, which are separated by size of company: small (less than 250), mid-size (250 to 500) and large (more than 500).

Once nominations are submitted, a panel of HR experts reviews the different programs and selects winners based on whether the companies’ strategies solved an HR or business problem. Some examples of applicable programs include enhancing employee engagement and improving business productivity. Award winners are then announced during CAI’s annual HR Management Conference.

Past recipients of the Ovation Award have included Krispy Kreme (2010, large) for its “Healthy Lifestyle Program,” The Bank of Oak Ridge (2008, small) for its “e-Awards Program” and PPD (2007, large) for its “Employee Engagement” project. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Burt’s Bees and Capitol Broadcasting Company are also among previous award winners.

The panel of HR experts saw stellar submissions for 2011’s nominations, and at the 2011 HR Management Conference, CAI revealed the three companies that displayed outstanding HR practices for the year. The Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC) received the small company award for itsinnovative “Total Quality Improvement Initiative.” For the mid-size company category, Novo Nordisk Pharmaceutical Industries, Inc, won by building a “Strengths-based” organization, and Rex Healthcare collected the large company award for its workforce planning efforts.

To highlight the 2011 award winners’ accomplishments in HR planning and execution, CAI will spotlight each winner in a blog post that extensively details its award-winning programs.  In the meantime, please take a look at past award winners and their presentations here.

We are also always on the lookout for Ovation Award nominations, so if your company has implemented an efficient HR-related program, please consider submitting a nomination for 2012. We will post more information on the nomination criteria and deadline at a later date. Please contact Doug Blizzard at doug.blizzard@capital.org with any questions regarding the awards.

Image Source: Werner Faymann

Retaining and Benefiting From Long-Term Employees

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

All successful company leaders and senior management executives understand the value that comes from long-term employee relationships. With low levels of turnover, organizations are better positioned for success, internal consistency and stability, but how can companies get to the point where employees consider their place of employment permanent instead of temporary? It all comes down to maintenance, recognizing individual and departmental needs and making those needs an overall company priority. Here are five ways to keep your employees’ loyalty at a high level:

Motivating and challenging workload – Boredom is one of the fastest ways to have your staff turn to job employment search engines. There is little or no excitement that comes from performing the same routine day-to-day. Even though the mundane tasks still need completion, make sure employees are participants in interesting projects and that their workload is challenging.

Acknowledgement and appreciation of work well doneConfirmation of strong performance is more effective than you may realize. By publicly acknowledging the achievements of your staff, you remind individuals of their own personal value to the organization, which is critical. When employees can visually recognize that the work they do not only matters, but makes a difference on a companywide scale, they have little reason to find satisfaction elsewhere.

Upward growth opportunities – When given a challenging workload and excelling at the tasks at hand, employees sooner or later are going to inquire about internal advancement. Be open to discussing growth opportunities and remember, employees are not looking for instantaneous promotion; they just want to know that there is an open path for management consideration.

Healthy working environment – Does your company operate under high levels of tension, stress or anxiety? Monitor the environment your employees are exposed to and try to keep high levels of stress and concern within executive offices. When employees are aware of all elements of the organization, performance levels may decrease because of the concern and worry that arises.

Personal relationships and understanding – Employees are likely to remain loyal when relationships have a personal component. It’s important to maintain the subordinate-management roles, but make sure that employees understand you are there for support, mentorship and guidance.

Long-term employees have a strong organizational knowledge base that will assist in the teaching and training of new company members. Investing in your current staff will always benefit you and your company in the long run.

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

Photo source: A Pillow of Winds

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

Employing Career Changers

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Lifestyle adjustments have become the new norm for most Americans. Many of those modifications have been small and easy to make, such as cutting back on splurges, carpooling or dining at home, but for those whose career has been impacted, the changes can be significant. Unemployed workers have altered both their lifestyle and career expectations of growth and stability. When seeking new employment, many professionals have turned to positions of lower income, employment outside a previous career or an additional part-time job to make ends meet.

Rutgers University researchers revealed that 26 percent of the unemployed workforce in 2009 was successfully employed by 2010. Within this group of newly employed professionals, nearly 50 percent found employment in a different career or new position. Though the career transition may have been paired with a salary decrease, the majority felt satisfied and content in their new line of work.

The Assumption and Benefit

Many organizations may be hesitant to employ staff outside their industry because seasoned professionals often eliminate the necessity for a majority of the training process, making for an overall smoother transition. It is obvious why companies pursue top talent, but that mindset can be expanded to a variety of potential job candidates, not just industry experts.

Though career changers will need additional time invested up front with training and support, they come with long-term benefits for the organization as a whole. Consider these career changers as new sets of eyes for the company. Your staff and those who have previously worked in similar environments function under related concepts concerning operations and processes. Bringing in new talent allows for an innovative and fresh perspective that may not have been previously available to employers under different economic conditions. The economy has forced everyone to think and maneuver in new ways, so consider seizing the current job market and taking the opportunity to bring in a different kind of talent.

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

Top 5 Things An HR Manager Should Focus On To Ensure Company Success

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Since 2007 Fortune magazine has recognized Google, the world’s largest search engine, as one of the top companies for employment. Before taking over the Internet business, becoming a household name and employing more than 12,000, Google leaders developed its Internet operations humbly, from a basement. So how did the basement headquarters transition into today’s national brand? The on-site gym, Laundromat, car servicing and gourmet cafeterias put Google on the map for its outlandish employee perks, but the company remains best in breed by evenly focusing on the individual employee and overall organizational success.

Your company may not be the size of Google or have comparable national brand awareness, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be equally successful in your own right. What is the long-term focus of your company, and how do you make your plan an achievable goal? The following are areas to consider while striving to ensure companywide success.

1.     Devote yourself to hiring and retention – Avoid employing seat fillers by making it an HR focus to hire right the first time. Investing in the hiring process produces lower turnover rates, and allows current staff to foster continuous close working relationships with coworkers, making for more effective and fluid results. Once the right team is in place and working cohesively, craft retention as a focal point. Organizations often find success in employee retention by encouraging open communication and acknowledging professional achievements.

2.     Cultivate a company centered on trust – Companies centered on trust, honesty and open communication provide employees an environment where thoughts and feelings can be disclosed without judgment. When employees feel comfortable being their authentic selves, the work produced is a reflection of their highest level of talent.

3.     Focus on ownership – When problems or challenges arise, do employees approach management with questions or proposed solutions? By employing a solutions-based mindset, staff transition into being their own boss – they face the challenge, contrive a solution and confer with management for implementation.

4.     Discover and integrate raw talent – Employee personality evaluations tap into the natural skills and passions of your staff. Once you have discovered an employee’s “sweet spot,” apply those abilities within the company. By uncovering specific talent and allowing staff to practice that talent, you can increase employee satisfaction and company growth.

5.     Embrace change – Take a step back and evaluate the overall picture of the company. Are you growing? How do you compare to the competition? When was the last time you made a major change? Successful companies don’t become comfortable or complacent. For success, keep your company ahead of the curve.

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

Photo source: Richard Masoner