Posts Tagged ‘time off’

The Problem with Time Off

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

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

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

What could be wrong with time off from work?  Plenty, if you are a manager trying to get things done, or an employee who cannot get time off for family issues.

Time off problems generate phone calls to our HR advisors every day.  Most of the problems come in three categories, each with an employee and employer viewpoint.

Do I Have To?

Government regulations mandate time off in several dozen ways.  No single requirement is back breaking, but their total weight causes employers to dread these regulated requests.  The question often becomes “Do I have to grant the time?”  It depends.

Earned vacation is owed to the employee and the only question is timing.  An employer can deny its use at inconvenient times unless the vacation is to be used during a “Family and Medical Leave” event.  These FMLA requests give employees and their doctors so much power over timing that employee abuse is too common, paid or unpaid.  Even if laws like FMLA do not apply, sick day and personal day policies are common.  Plus, everyone has a personal need now and then.

Help employees understand the business issues so that time off can be made to fit business AND personal needs.  Employees, if you will start out showing concern for business needs and some flexibility on timing, you will find the process is much smoother and more pleasant for all.  It is rare that something has to happen on Monday morning, or on the busiest day of the month.  Everybody wants to be met halfway. (Emergencies are different.)

Do I Want To?

If time off is discretionary, do you want to say “yes” to the employee for an inconvenient day off?  Managers might say “Yes to my best employees and no to my worst.”  You can use some discretion here, maybe rearranging work so that a star can get the day off he or she needs in busy season, but be sure you can defend that choice when the poor performer seeks the same. “Sally works exceptionally hard each day, and you do not” is what you may feel like saying, but refrain.  Describe ways the employee can earn future approvals.

Employees who want time off or certain vacation days in this “discretionary zone” should bring either a good plan for getting needed work done, or a record of always doing so, or both.  I have never met a manager who liked to say no to a personal request if it is reasonable and if the employee always meets them halfway.

Should I?

Maybe no law requires it and maybe the employee does not deserve it based on past behaviors, but sometimes it is good business to grant that inconvenient time off request.  You gain nothing by punishing an employee’s family member, for example.  Maybe you should have dealt with this poor performer more directly last month rather than indirectly punishing him or her through a time off denial today.  It is a judgment call, but denial of needed time off is an act this employee will not soon forget.

Time-off discussions require adult behavior and open discussion on both sides.  Approach your next time off discussion with that in mind.

For additional guidance, please give our Advice and Resolution Team a call at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

10 HR Practices that Destroy Small Business Productivity – Over-Limiting Sick and PTO Policies

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

In today’s blog, Doug Blizzard, CAI’s Vice President of Membership, shares his first practice that destroys productivity for small businesses. He highlights over-limiting sick and PTO policies in this video session.

There is no perfect solution for sick time according to Doug. However, poorly designed policies encourage staff members to come to work sick or risk losing pay. Sick employees are likely not at the top of their game and are more likely to commit costly mistakes and infect their coworkers.

Instead over-limiting sick and PTO time, Doug suggests some alternatives. He says as a leader, model the behavior you want. If you don’t want people to come in when they’re sick, you shouldn’t come in sick.

He also encourages offering unlimited sick leave, which empowers workers to use their judgment and also serves as a valuable recruiting tool. Additional suggestions he gives include allowing employees to carry over unused time off from year to year and creating a trained pool of Per Diem workers.

If you would like help thinking through your sick and PTO policies, please give a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

 

Make Time-Off Decisions Together

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

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

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

What could be wrong with time off from work? Plenty, if you are a manager trying to get things done, or an employee who cannot get time off for family issues.

Time-off problems generate phone calls to our HR advisers every day. Most of the problems come in three categories, each with an employee and employer viewpoint.

Do I have to?

Government regulations mandate time off in several dozen ways. No single requirement is back breaking, but their total weight causes employers to dread these regulated requests. The question often becomes, “Do I have to grant the time?” It depends.

Earned vacation is owed to the employee, and the only question is timing. An employer can deny its use at inconvenient times unless the vacation is to be used during a “family and medical leave” event. These FMLA requests give employees and their doctors so much power over timing that employee abuse is common, paid or unpaid. Even if laws like FMLA do not apply, sick day and personal day policies are common. Plus, everyone has a personal need now and then.

Help employees understand the business issues so that time off can be made to fit business and personal needs. Employees, if you will start out showing concern for business needs and some flexibility on timing, you will find the process is much smoother and more pleasant for all. It is rare that something has to happen on Monday morning, or on the busiest day of the month.

Everybody wants to be met halfway. (Emergencies are different.)

Do I want to?

If time off is discretionary, do you want to say “yes” to the employee for an inconvenient day off?

Managers might say “Yes to my best employees and no to my worst.” You can use some discretion, maybe rearranging work so a star can get a day off, but be sure you can defend that choice when the poor performer seeks the same. “Sally works exceptionally hard each day, and you do not” is what you may feel like saying, but refrain. Describe ways the employee can earn future approvals.

Employees who want time off or certain vacation days in this “discretionary zone” should bring a good plan for getting work done, a record of always doing so, or both. I have never met a manager who liked to say “no” to a personal request if it is reasonable and the employee always meets them halfway.

Should I?

Maybe no law requires it, and maybe the employee does not deserve it based on past behavior, but sometimes it is good business to grant that inconvenient time-off request.

You gain nothing by punishing an employee’s family, for example. Maybe you should have dealt with this poor performer more directly last month rather than indirectly punishing him or her through a time-off denial today.

Time-off conversations require adult behavior and open discussion. Approach your next one with that in mind.

 

2014 NC Policies & Benefits Survey Reveals Total Rewards Practices of NC Employers

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

survey dataDuring last month’s Compensation and Benefits Conference, Molly Hegeman, CAI’s Vice President of HR Services, shared information on what NC employers are doing in regard to their total rewards packages. Her presentation included statistics from the 2014 NC Policies & Benefits Survey. The only local survey of its kind shares employers’ answers to 320 questions related to workplace policies and employee benefits practices.

This year’s survey had participation from 384 employers located throughout North Carolina. Forty-four percent of participants are located in the Research Triangle region, 25 percent are in the Charlotte area and 17 percent are located in the Piedmont/Triad region with the remaining participants in the East/Southeast region.

Some key findings from the survey revolving around health and welfare benefits include:

  • Nearly all employers provide medical insurance to their employees. About 78 percent of employers offer a traditional PPO plan, about 27 percent offer a consumer driven HAS plan.
  • Regarding employer contribution to the insurance premium, on average, employers pay 80 percent of the premium for employee only PPO coverage and 55 percent of the premium for family PPO coverage for full-time employees.
  • About 71 percent of employers do not offer domestic partner benefits. In turn, about 18 percent of employers do offer domestic partner benefits regardless of sex of partner. About 11 percent offer benefits with sex restrictions.

The survey also covered time off and results revealed several things, such as:

  • About 72 percent of employers have a PTO policy. On average, employers provide 6 days of PTO upon hire, 13-14 days of PTO after 1 year of service, 15 days of PTO after three years of service, 17-18 days of PTO after 5 years of service and 20-21 days of PTO to employees after 10 years of service.
  • About 68 percent of employers have a formal sick plan that is separate from a PTO policy. On average, employers provide 9 sick days to full-time employees per year.
  • On average, employers provide 9 paid holidays to full-time employees and 5 paid holidays to part-time employees per year.
  • About 9 percent of employers offer a maternity leave policy separate from short-term disability or FMLA.

Pay practices is another subject the survey tackled. Participant responses include:

  • About 61 percent of employers indicated a pay philosophy of paying employees at or above market rate. In turn, 34 percent have no formal pay philosophy.
  • To determine compensation decisions, about 77 percent of employers use external market analyses, about 70 percent use internal job evaluations, about 58 percent use skill or competency-based methods, and 11 percent have no formal method.
  • The most common type of base pay increase employers give is performance based according to up to 83 percent of employers. About 22 percent give an across the board increase, about 17 percent give a cost of living increase, and about 6 percent give some other type of increase.

CAI provides this survey every two years. Other topic areas the survey covers include retirement plans, workplace culture, recruiting and staffing, termination and HR metrics.

The 2014 NC Policies & Benefits Survey can be purchased from CAI’s store here. If you’re interested in participating in next year’s survey, please contact a member of CAI’s survey team at cai-survey-team@capital.org.

 

 

4 Ways to Keep Company Productivity High in the Summer Months

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

work summerSummer can be full of distractions. The hot weather of the season encourages employees to dedicate fewer hours to the office or take vacations with their friends or families. Your clients may also be making vacation plans, so their requests may decrease temporarily. For these reasons, productivity during the summer months can slow down. However, with proper planning and participation from managers and direct reports, you can keep business moving as usual. Try the four ideas below to keep your company productive:

Devise a plan

Because it’s vacation season, fewer people will be in the office. Missing a few employees doesn’t mean you can’t continue company projects in an efficient and effective way. Schedule a few minutes with your employees before they take time off to discuss the tasks and assignments that need to be completed while they are away. Teamwork will be instrumental in meeting or exceeding deadlines.

Practice flexibility where you can

Many employees prefer to spend their summer evenings and free time with their friends and loved ones. Being more flexible in the summer months to allow your employees to get home and spend quality time with people outside of work will be appreciated. Several companies are partaking in the trend of letting staff members leave early on Fridays. Similar to the effects of a nice summer break, leaving early on Fridays will have your employees returning invigorated and ready to perform on Monday morning. Another option to encourage flexibility is to have your employees come in earlier or work through their lunch breaks to leave the office sooner.

Work ahead of schedule

The demands of your top clients might slow down as people begin to make plans for summer trips. Instead of waiting for a request, work on a project that has been on the bottom of your to-do list for the past several months. Be productive and efficient with the tasks you decide to tackle during the summer months. If you know of a project that you’ll be working on in the future, go ahead and start working on it. The more you get done during the slower months, the less stressed or pressed for time you’ll be in the busier months.

Have some summer fun

Maintaining stellar productivity over the summer is a goal of most companies. Although everyone is in agreement that keeping up productivity is important, summer is all about having fun. Don’t lose opportunities to engage your employees and show them that they are valued. Plan a fun activity, like a pizza party or a trip to a local baseball game, to show them that you appreciate their contributions throughout the year.

For additional tips for keeping business productivity high, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

 

 

6 Reasons Taking Your Vacation Will Improve Your Work Performance

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

7956465780_5fb7b6d55a_zSummer is on its way. If you haven’t taken a vacation already and aren’t planning to do so, I would ask you to consider taking your time off.

You will enjoy a number of benefits when you use your vacation days. Some people prefer to work all of the time and some people have to work all of the time, but in either case, taking some time off, even just a few days, will improve your work performance.

Productivity generally lowers during the summer months. Taking a vacation will help you avoid being sluggish around the workplace. Check out the six benefits of using your vacation time below:

  • Spending time outside of work will help you focus on the important things in your life that do not revolve around your work, such as family and friends.
  • Your mind can relax. Taking time off will allow your mind to take a break, get some rest, and work at its optimal level when you return to the workplace.
  • A good vacation is greatly beneficial for those in roles that require creative and innovative thinking. Not focusing on your busy work week will enable you to get inspired and recharge your creative energy.
  • You can use your free time to complete tasks, get errands done or dedicate to yourself. Carving out time for the things you enjoy will improve your satisfaction in other areas of your life, like work.
  • Time away from work can help you figure out an issue that is currently stumping you in the workplace. Walking away from the problem and returning after a relaxing vacation can have you looking at the same issue from a different perspective.
  • Keep yourself healthy by taking a breather from your position. Stress and pressure are released when you’re not focused on your responsibilities at work, which allows you to sleep better, concentrate longer and be happier.

Make sure to use your vacation time this summer. For any questions regarding vacation time and its many benefits, please call CAI’s Advice and Resolution team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Kevin Dooley

 

 

 

4 Tips to Beat Summeritis and Keep Your Employees Productive

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Summeritis is a common term heard among high school and college students when the warm weather season is quickly approaching. Symptoms of this seasonal disease include excessive daydreaming about trips to the beach or pool, a decreased ability in retaining information, sluggish performance and producing poor quality work. Yesterday marked the first day of summer, and you may have noticed some symptoms of summeritis floating around your workplace. While summer months tend to be slower for companies because of vacations from your staffers and clients, maintaining high productivity is still achievable. Prevent the symptoms of Summeritis in your staff by utilizing these four tips:

Plan for Vacation

With school out and an increase in nice weather, summer months are the ideal time for employees to go on vacation. Research shows that Americans are notorious for not using all of their vacation. While a strong work ethic is admirable, taking a vacation allows you to rest, recharge and come back to the office full of energy to be productive. Make sure you and your employees plan a solid vacation with family or friends.

Utilize Flexibility

Many companies are offering their workers flexibility during the hottest time of year. Some companies allow their staff to leave early on Fridays to enjoy the weather and spend quality time with people who aren’t their coworkers. Like the effects of a summer vacation, employees return to the office on Monday feeling refreshed and ready to perform again. If this set up isn’t feasible for your company, try a variation. Have employees come in earlier or work through their lunch break to leave the office sooner.

Delegate When Needed

Don’t let important tasks go unfinished because fewer people are around the office. Before an employee leaves for vacation, meet up with her to go over tasks that she is currently working on and ask her if she needs assistance while she’s away. Using strong teamwork during the summer months ensures that deliverables are met.

Have Some Fun

Keeping your workers productive during this time of year is important, but don’t ignore the fact that this is one of the most fun times of the year. Celebrate the season and all of the accomplishments your team has made throughout the first half of the year with an office party or celebratory lunch. Recognizing their efforts and letting them have some workplace fun will keep their morale high and performance stellar.

For more tips to keep you and your employees productive during the summertime, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: turbulentflow

4 Reasons Why You Should Take Your Vacation Days

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

I hope everyone enjoyed a relaxing and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend—free from work and even email! Taking vacation is underutilized by many employees, and the reasons why vary. Some workers believe that they must always be in work mode to get a promotion or even keep their jobs. Others plan poorly and realize at the end of the year that they didn’t take enough vacation and that their allotted days have expired.

Forgoing your vacation days isn’t advantageous. Taking time to unplug from work is helpful for both employees and employers because several benefits emerge from taking regular time off. Here are some of the top reasons why you should use your vacation days and encourage your staff to do the same:

Maintain Health

    • Leaving the office for several days reenergizes your mind and body. Worry and tension is released when you’re not focused on your responsibilities at the office, allowing you to sleep better, concentrate longer and be happier. Studies reveal that vacations can also reduce feelings of depression.

Prevent Stress

    • Always pushing yourself and working past your limits without breaks causes stress. The high-anxiety atmosphere you create for yourself will ultimately catch up with you, whether the result is business failure or poor health. Take your vacation throughout the year to decrease workplace stress and keep it at a manageable level.

Inspire Creativity

    • Vacations are great for inspiring creativity because your brain isn’t focused on the long list of tasks and projects you left at the office. Time off allows your brain to recharge from your busy workweek. A good recharge is especially beneficial to employees who have positions requiring creative and innovative thinking

Improve Job Performance

    • Taking your vacation time helps you return to the office fresh and motivated to take on your goals and workplace challenges. With your stress levels down and your brain fully charged, your productivity and job satisfaction will increase. Additionally, you will have a more positive outlook, which will help you nurture and maintain better relationships with your coworkers.

Cut the number of long days you spend at the office and raise your number of requests for time off this year. For any questions regarding vacation time and its many benefits, please call CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Nicolas Mamberti