You've gathered the absence data ... but now what?

Today's post comes from G.Neil's HR News Weekly:

You’re well-versed in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) time and pay laws, you keep careful records of each employee’s attendance and you’ve even identified your company’s biggest attendance issues. But that’s where it stops, according to a Liberty Mutual survey of 300 human resource and benefits professionals conducted in April 2011.

The survey found that employers are making the effort to stay informed and track attendance, but they’re not using the numbers to address the bottom-line impact of employees missing work. Specifically, 53% of respondents ranked compliance with state and federal leave laws as their greatest concern, yet nearly 50% didn’t know the cost of absence within their own workplaces.

That can be an expensive mistake! The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) calculates that uncontrolled employee absence costs employers $100 billion per year, based on 2009 data.

“While employers are clearly aware of how important it is to comply with leave regulations — and are therefore tracking these leaves — many haven’t taken steps to use the data they collect to proactively manage absence and control the total financial impact on their companies,” says Heather Luiz, disability product manager for Liberty Mutual Group Benefits.

From at-a-glance tracking sheets to software, G.Neil offers a variety of practical tools to help you manage attendance, employee vacations, sick time and other time off.

Beyond the tracking, it's up to you to review the data and look for weaknesses in employee attendance. Is it a certain handful of employees who call in sick or come in late month after month? It may be time for these employees' managers to have a heart-to-heart talk with them about what is going on and what they expect going forward. If your attendance rules are clear and you enforce them consistently, this type of counseling shouldn't pose any problems.

Managing medical leave - and preventing FMLA abuse - can be a little trickier. In addition to the administrative side of FMLA leave (requiring leave request forms and medical certifications, for example), you'll need to track used and available FMLA time based on the latest federal regulations.

Dos and dont's for a successful, company-sponsored fundraising program

It’s been said, “Charity begins at home, but should not end there.”

Indeed! Charity fundraising within the workplace is an excellent way to support worthwhile causes while giving back to the local, regional and national community. At the same time, it offers distinct benefits to your employees who participate, including enhanced camaraderie and team-building.

So what does it take to build a successful fundraising program that raises valuable dollars AND employee engagement? Here are some important dos and don’ts to keep in mind:

Do choose charities and nonprofit organizations that complement your corporate culture. Which charities pair well with your company’s mission statement and overall image? Generally speaking, there are eight types of charitable organizations, including religion, education, foundations, health, public-society benefit, humanities, international affairs, and environment and animals.

Do survey your staff to determine which charities interest them most. Involving your employees in the selection process early on should boost the support for your fundraising efforts later.

Do your homework and only choose charitable organizations with a solid reputation and strong service record. Remember: Your company will be associated with the cause – for better or for worse.

Don’t neglect to set goals for your fundraising efforts. Your objectives might include raising a certain amount of money, volunteering a set number of hours, getting a certain percentage of employees involved or establishing your company as a community leader.

Do consider the various ways your company can raise funds, such as monetary donations, special events (like auctions, bake sales and walking relays) and contests. Securing monetary donations is probably the most common, where companies may choose to match employee dollars to raise even more money.

Do get your employees involved. Fundraising activities are a great way to connect employees and unite them on non-work related projects. You might be surprised at how energized employees become for certain causes and what they so willingly bring to your program.

Don’t overlook the resources required for certain fundraising activities, such as up-front expenses and the time employees will need to volunteer to coordinate and participate in activities. Be careful that events aren’t too disruptive or interfere with your company’s workflow.

Do celebrate your success. Talk up your efforts and achievements through social media channels like Twitter and Facebook, as well as on your website and corporate blog. Contact your local papers and radio stations, too, to share especially strong results.

No more pity parties ... time to throw a pizza party!

Ahhhh, the power of pizza. It's amazing how a fresh-baked pie, piled high with your favorite toppings, can make any gathering or get-together that much better. Recruiting a group of friends to help you move? Order pizza! Staying in to watch the big game? Order pizza! Hosting a backyard birthday bash? Order pizza!

Want to show 14,000 employees that you appreciate all their hard work and dedication? Order a truckload of pizza!

You heard that right. Men's Wearhouse Inc. recently arranged a surprise pizza delivery to every store across North America - to the tune of more than 42,400 pizza slices at 1,200+ store locations throughout the U.S. and Canada.

The reason? "The belief that our company should be a fun and rewarding place to work is central to our corporate culture," said Julie Panaccione, VP of Events, who coordinated the delivery. "Pizza was just one way to express our gratitude for each and every one of our associates' efforts."

The pizza extravaganza is another example of how Men's Wearhouse puts its money where its mouth is. It also throws annual black-tie parties, maintains on-site child care and offers fully paid work sabbaticals. The company, which was founded on the principle that it's more than "just a job," is obviously doing something right. Earlier this year, Men's Wearhouse made FORTUNE's "100 Best Companies to Work For" list for the 10th time since 2000.

Although I recognize that times are tough and that not every company can afford an all-out pizza blitz to reward its employees, I'm certain we can all learn something from this retailer's initiative. Whether it's a hand-written thank you note or a shout-out at the next company meeting, making an effort to single out and applaud your employees matters. That is, if employee motivation, employee morale and employee satisfaction matter. Human resource management means many things, but nothing will contribute more to your company's success than employees who feel necessary and needed.

And I repeat ... Nothing will contribute more to your company's success than employees who feel necessary and needed.

So you might hold the onions or anchovies, but don't hold the praise! For more ideas and insight on employee motivation, take a look at this article in our HR Library.

Survey reveals doubts that businesses are doing enough to prevent discrimination and identity theft

Today's post comes from G.Neil's HR News Weekly:

According to a recent survey of 1,000 people for the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, approximately one out of every three Americans has concerns that businesses are:

•    Protecting employees from gender discrimination – 30%
•    Guarding employees from other forms of workplace discrimination – 32%
•    Shielding consumers from theft of personal information – 32%

Chubb executives offered an explanation for the survey results, as well as precautions for businesses operating in such a legally sensitive and tech-driven environment.

Pointing out that a record-high number of discrimination charges have been filed with the EEOC, Catherine Padalino, vice president and employment practices liability product manager for Chubb, advised, “ … employers should continually review and adhere to anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation policies and procedures, keep abreast of changes in employment laws and seek outside counsel when facing discrimination charges or considering employee layoffs.”

Regarding potential cyber breaches, Tracy Vispoli, senior vice president and Chubb’s worldwide cyber security liability manager, shared, “A company’s board of directors needs to understand the risk associated with the theft of employee and customer information. This is more than just an IT issue. Although companies can help mitigate the risk by following best practices, they also need to have contingency plans in place before a data breach occurs.”

Train your staff to prevent harassment and protect your business from legal claims with Harassment-Free Workplace – Take Control, an easy-to-use, four-module DVD training program.

What's credit got to do with it, anyway?

As we discussed in an earlier post, more than a dozen states are working toward banning credit and employment checks on job applicants. It's a move that has gained widespread support. In fact, in a public meeting held by the EEOC last fall, a group of experts examined whether it's even appropriate to consider credit history as a screening tool. The general consensus? With unemployment reaching record levels throughout the country, credit checks are unfairly excluding otherwise qualified applicants from legitimate job opportunities.They can negatively impact certain protected groups, such as women and people with disabilities; they are a poor, or unreliable, predictor of job performance; and they are often inaccurate or riddled with errors.

Here's the latest on the state front:

Maryland has joined Hawaii, Washington, Illinois and Oregon in curbing the use of employment credit reports. The Maryland Job Applicant Fairness Act prohibits employers from exploring a person's credit history as a condition of employment. Of course, there are exceptions for financial institutions and for a "bona fide purpose that is substantially job-related," such as for positions involving money-handling or other confidential job duties. And in those cases, employers must disclose in writing to the employee or applicant their intent to pull a credit report.

For Maryland employers, the law goes into effect October 1, 2011. Violations of the law are subject to fines up to $500 for an initial offense and up to $2,500 for repeat violations.

For the rest of the nation's employers not affected by state-specific screening guidelines, you may want to revisit your hiring practices - and determine just how essential (or necessary) credit checks are to securing qualified applicants.

Why accommodating nursing mothers is the right thing to do

In spite of the intensive coverage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law last spring, many employers have overlooked a section that benefits breastfeeding mothers in the workplace. The federal law requires employers to provide mothers with "reasonable break time" and a private, non-bathroom location to express breastmilk during the workday (up until the child's first birthday).

Unfortunately, the lack of awareness is shared by employees. In a recent poll commissioned by Workplace Options, 57% of workers admitted to not knowing about the new law. Yet, 63% of respondents agreed that if an employer offered lactation support, they'd be more willing to work for that employer. This is especially true for hourly employees.

The takeaway, obviously, is to provide adequate workplace accommodations for breastfeeding moms.

"Employers must recognize what tools new mothers need to achieve work-life balance," said Dean Debnam, chief executive officer of Workplace Options. "New legislation is in place for nursing mothers in the workplace, but employers still need to find ways to support these employees in the office."

Is your workplace breastfeeding-friendly? Display a poster to let nursing mothers and other employees know you provide accommodations for breastfeeding.

Women continue to earn less than men - but why?

Today's post comes from G.Neil's HR News Weekly:

For all the professional gains women have made over the years, gender-based wage discrimination persists. This was a key finding in a public forum held by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in late April.  The forum, which was attended by government and private-sector experts, was just one of 24 events the federal agency is sponsoring nationwide in April and May to bring attention to the problem of wage discrimination. The EEOC is a primary member of the National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force, created by President Obama to “improve compliance, public education, and enforcement of equal pay laws.”

A representative from Catalyst – a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to expanding opportunities for women in business – expressed concern about the gender leadership gap that accompanies the pay gap. She shared that over 98% of Fortune 500 companies are led by male CEOs, and that women at these companies start off with salaries $4,600 less than men.

“ … studies show that a significant portion of the wage disparity cannot be explained by differences in experience, specific work performed, education or other nondiscriminatory factors,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien. “This persistent disparity is a stark reminder that the EEOC’s work to end every form of sex discrimination in the workplace – including compensation discrimination – is still unfinished business.”

How to prevent unions from gaining a foothold in your workplace

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has proposed a rule that would require all private employers to post a notice informing employees of their National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) rights. Simply put, the new workplace poster would communicate to employees their right to unionize under federal law.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Unionization is a hot topic in the news right now, as we witnessed in the recent showdown in Wisconsin. State legislators asserted that the bill was necessary to reduce budget shortfalls, while public workers fought vigorously to preserve their collective bargaining privileges.

Although union membership is on the decline (falling to 11.9 percent of the nation’s workforce in 2010 and representing approximately 14.7 million employees), the events in Wisconsin highlighted the divide between workers, legislators and businesses regarding union activity.

As a responsible employer, what can you do to foster an environment where your employers feel respected and well-treated – and as a result, aren’t as vulnerable to unionization?

Strategy #1: Encourage Honest, Open Communication
Employees typically join unions because they’re dissatisfied with how management treats them, and they believe a union can improve conditions in the workplace. If your company is viewed as unfair or unresponsive to employees’ concerns, you’re opening an unwanted door to possible unionization.

That’s why clear and constructive lines of communication between management and employees are so important. To support an open-door communication policy, you should:

• Use meetings, workshops, bulletin boards and suggestion boxes to learn about employees’ needs and concerns
• Conduct a workplace survey to identify employee views on management, company culture and general working conditions
• Make appropriate information available to employees to avoid unnecessary speculation about the company’s position, financial standing or business objectives
• Allow employees to discuss wages, benefits and other working conditions with their coworkers, which the NLRA considers “concerted protected activity”
• Promote your open-door policy – and encourage employees to voice their concerns directly with management - through emails, distributed materials and even workplace postings, like our attorney-approved “You Have a Voice” poster

Strategy #2: Scrutinize Compensation and Other Benefits
Certainly, the economic recession has created a lot of budgetary belt-tightening for businesses. But no matter how tough the times, denying employees fair wages is a recipe for disaster. Now, more than ever, you want to be confident you’re compensating your workers fairly and setting wages at or above industry levels. Similarly, you want to check that you’re being consistent about the criteria used to determine wages, such as length of service and experience.

This is a good time to track other benefits related to your industry. In addition to decent pay, providing a robust benefits package can lead to more satisfied employees. Consider distributing a statement to each of your employees that summarizes the various benefits (both the obvious and the more subtle) he or she enjoys by working for your company.

Strategy #3: Train Supervisors on Proper Attitudes and Actions
Because your supervisors and managers are on the “front lines” in the workplace, it’s important to train them on how to address employee concerns and support open communication. Guide them on the skills they need to diffuse issues and resolve conflicts in their day-to-day interactions with employees.

At the same time, be careful about enforcing company policies fairly and uniformly. Employees are more likely to form a union if they feel their leaders take sides and treat certain individuals better than others. As an added precaution, carefully document any disciplinary actions to demonstrate compliance and appropriate response to the situation.

Labels :

Copyright (c) 2010. Blogger templates by Bloggermint