Remote Work Pitfalls

“When you work from home, a Tuesday looks pretty much like a Saturday.” – Anonymous

In a recent presentation made by attorney Christine Hanley at SHRM’s annual conference, the dangerous triangle of telecommuting was discussed at length. Hanley argued that the “triangle” formed between the points of remote work, online connectivity and the FLSA regulations, “often seems like a dangerous and mysterious expanse of uncharted territory, full of ominous beings such as the Department of Labor (DOL) and an enthusiastic plaintiff’s bar.” She’s not wrong in arguing that there are definitely dangers ahead for businesses that allow workers non-traditional hours, telecommute options and flex schedules. But it’s not something that you should completely discount because of the extra effort involved in setting up a system that truly works for everyone.

Remote Work Pitfalls to Avoid: Danger Ahead!

  1. Don’t forget to train your managers – employers need to be able to rely on their managers to properly identify the hours and tasks a worker is taking on.
  2. Don’t go blindly into a telecommute option. First, identify the answers to these key questions and move forward (or not) appropriately.
          1. Who is doing what for whom? Exempt or not?
          2. What are they doing? What is the business purpose?
          3. How are they doing the work? Are they connected?
          4. Where are they doing it? Are they doing it remotely?
          5. When are they doing it? Does FLSA play into this?
  3. Do not assume anything – create documentations to outline your agreement, contract, etc. with your telecommute workforce.
  4. Do not take all the responsibility on yourself – hold the employee accountable as well by creating a safe harbor policy.

Is it true that telecommuters all wake up, drink coffee, and wear pajamas all day until they have that 3pm video conference with their boss? Is it true that all telecommuters waste time browsing online when they would NEVER do such a thing in the office? Is it true that a Tuesday looks like a Saturday looks like a Monday looks like a Sunday if you work from home?  As with most things, I’d argue that telecommute work is what you choose to make of it. Someone who is disciplined in the office is most likely going to remain disciplined and driven and self-motivated when working from home. Is it possible that telecommuters can take advantage of their employer’s time and resources? Absolutely. But isn’t that true also of employees that you pay to come into a building that you spend money on, desks that you paid for, electricity that you write a check for each month? Absolutely! Truth be told, what this argument comes down to is whether or not the pro’s outweigh the con’s for your particular company and your specific market. If the pluses outweigh the negatives, then full speed ahead!

Are You Making These 3 Mistakes on LinkedIn

“We all know that with more than 310 million members in more than 200 countries and territories, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. It has executives from all of the Fortune 500 and most businesses are at least represented, but most have their entire executive teams connected.” – Ryan Bradley

LinkedIn has quickly become the professional face of the next generation. If you do not have a LinkedIn identity, you should probably think about creating one!  Instead of scouring the newspaper looking for job ads, job postings, group posts and status updates are all free for the taking on LinkedIn.

Like MySpace of the 1990s has been replaced by Instagram and Facebook, newspaper ads of the 1990s and craigslist postings of the early 2000s are now being replaced by LinkedIn advertisements – whether that be free or paid job ads within the professional networking capabilities of this digital media giant.

So knowing these statistics, and seeing how big LinkedIn can be for your business, are you doing the right things to get positive feedback and responses on LinkedIn for your company? If your answer was yes or no to that question, we have a few tips to offer to improve your LinkedIn presence or to create one if you haven’t yet jumped on the LI train!

Don’t Make These 3 Mistakes!

1. Not having a complete profile – take the steps that LinkedIn guides you through to complete your profile. Just like you wouldn’t leave a photo off your Match.com profile, don’t leave a photo or work experience or education off your LinkedIn profile. (And yes, I just took it there to the online dating realm…because let’s get real, people. That’s the way these things happen sometimes!)

2. Failing to make connections and only focusing on selling your services or product – LinkedIn, like other social media avenues such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, are all about building relationships, making connections, and really plugging in to your audience BEFORE you start bombarding them with ads or services or anything that you want them to pay attention to. Make those relationships your first priority.

3. Don’t just join a bunch of groups; participate in them! Responding to questions, commenting on blog posts, and reaching out to those looking for help that you can actually assist with is a great way to build that LinkedIn network!

Nickels & Dimes: Examining Your Wage Practices

“There has been a 77% rise in lawsuits tied to wage-and-hour disputes since 2004.” – Replicon.com

Wage and hour lawsuits continue to be the hot ticket for employment related litigation. It is critical for employers to provide specific and concise guidelines for overtime, clocking in and out, and meal and rest periods to name a few! Without these policies in place, employers open themselves up to liability and potential for astronomical amounts of money and time lost due to costly legislation. Conducting a self-audit and analyzing the “nickels and dimes” of it within your organization can really help to beef up your policies and defense against claims of unfair wage and hour practices. Here’s how to prepare for a self-audit in your organization. And if this all seems too daunting, time-consuming, or otherwise out of your wheelhouse, give us a call and we’d be happy to discuss our human resources audit services with our qualified team of HR professionals who know exactly what to look for and what to avoid.

Key Steps for Self-Audit:

  1. Decide if you need an attorney or 3rd party expert
  2. Define the scope of your audit – what does this audit include? Wage and hour only or a full-scale HR audit?
  3. Identify the laws and regulations that apply to your specific workplace
  4. Get your toolkit ready – how will you go about conducting this audit? What tools will you use (and do you have them, need them, and know where to find them)?
  5. Get your team together – who’s on board for this project and who will conduct business as usual (because trust us, this will take up a LOT of the time of those involved!!)
  6. Execute the audit – easier said than done, but this step is critical to actually getting the work done!!! The other steps are useless without follow-through here.
  7. Summarize the results of your audit

Implement the changes needed as a result of your audit and results summary

Workplace Bullies: Do You Know One, And How to Stop Them

Workplace bullies, like schoolyard bullies, have always existed. But only recently, with revisions to sexual harassment legislation and inclusion of anti-bullying policy in company handbooks nationwide, have the bullies been identified as harmful to productivity and legal liabilities for employers. Studies have shown that an estimated $200 billion is lost annually due to higher absenteeism, lower productivity, and litigation caused by workplace bullies. Here’s a handy list of potential problem employees to watch for. Do you know someone in your organization that fits the bill? Or an even tougher pill to swallow: are you one of these bullies? If you answered yes to either of those questions, the first step is to train your employees (and yourself!). If you’re not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. Equip your employees and protect your business from the plague of workplace bullying. #bullyfreezone #nobullying

Portraits of a Bully:

  1. The Screamer – This person lives for the fear that creeps into co-workers eyes when she walks in the room. Their only volume seems to be LOUD and ANGRY.
  2. The Sneaky One – This guy will smile to your face, and then sign his name to your efforts, badmouth you, and belittle you behind your back.
  3. Everyone’s Worst Critic – This one is always finding flaws, even when they don’t exist.
  4. The Gatekeeper – This lady just wants to be in charge of SOMETHING in her life…so she chooses the most ridiculous ways to hold on to tools that would assist someone else with getting their job done.
  5. The Attention Seeker – Aka the drama queens and kings in your “real” life outside of work. Just like the friends you try to avoid going out with in public because the scene they’ll cause is inevitable. Same rules apply to this guy.
  6. The Faker – This lady just wants to be an expert, so she’s convinced herself she’s basically the expert of everything.
  7. The Expert – This one actually is an expert…but uses that against others.
  8. The Sociopath – Oh, this one. The expert manipulator, lacking in empathy or concern for anyone else, ever.
  9. The Domineering Boss – This is the boss that everyone hides from because all he knows is yelling, and his tone is similar to that of a college football coach demanding things of his team from the sideline, while actually not getting much done himself. This person is always in a position of authority, and uses that to instill fear in his subordinates. Think military sergeant gone bad. Things are done his way, or you’re off the team or tormented until you comply.

Anti-Bully Protection for Employers:

In order to be protected from workplace bullies, or at the very least, equipped to handle them, here’s a short list of what you can include in the bullying policy of your company’s employee handbook.

  1. Define bullying, and provide examples of what it can look like.
  2. Outline the steps for employees to take when they feel they’ve been bullied. INCLUDE steps on how to proceed if the alleged bully is the employee’s direct supervisor or a manager/executive.
  3. Provide details on the complaint and investigation procedure.
  4. Include a “no retaliation” clause.
  5. List the consequences for violating this policy.

Why is Employee Retention Getting Worse?

Today the average worker’s tenure is just 4.4 years, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics with expected tenure of the workforce’s youngest employees at about half that.”

– Seth Ollerton, www.decision-wise.com

 

I remember as a kid, we would visit my dad at work on his lunch break, or stop by to say hi on our way home from running errands. My dad’s workplace was a familiar place for all of us, because he has been employed at the same employer for over forty years. He’s switched buildings a couple times, but has held the same role in the corporate office in the same city for a large majority of those forty years. My dad instilled in us his extremely high work ethic, but also taught us that there’s a generational difference in the way we view work, and the way his generation views work. Loyalty is a big thing for the baby boomers, while the boomers’ kids (millennials, Generation X, and Generation Y) are looking for a career that provides personal fulfillment, growth, and opportunity to learn more throughout their career. Because the baby boomers were more likely to grow up with less than ideal circumstances, they over-parented their millennial children, and sacrificed their happiness for security when it came to career paths and company loyalty.

While this personal tidbit may not strike a chord in all of you, it is an accurate anecdote to the reality of employee retention in 2015. Let’s take a closer look at why this is the case.

  1. The economy is hot, and only expected to get hotter in the coming years. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, job openings exceeded number of hires in May 2015. This mean there are more jobs available than are being filled. Great news for job seekers, because they can be picky. Not so great for employers, because candidates can be picky! Top talent will go wherever they choose….so employers have to work to attract those candidates.
  2. Millennials (adults ages 18 – 34 in 2015) are now the largest group in the workforce. Scary, right? If you said no, and you’re a small business owner, you may want to rethink that answer. Millennials expect to stay in a job for no more than three years, which means if you want to keep them around, it’s your responsibility as the business owner to attract and keep their attention. Need ideas on how to do this? Contact us today and we can guide you on the key factors for your organization to retain your talented yet difficult employees.
  3. Mobile job searches are taking over – is there an app for that? If not, chances are your company may be missing out on top talent. Mobile recruiting, mobile job applications, and mobile screening processes such as interviews are becoming critical to the technology-obsessed job seekers of 2015. This is a trend that is only expected to continue and become bigger over the coming years.
  4. Non-traditional side incomes are becoming more and more popular, so the traditional nine-to-five jobs are not becoming as necessary or prominent for a portion of today’s workers. From bloggers to Etsy shop owners, to distributors of health care and beauty products. Today’s worker has options!

So what can you do as an employer to attract and keep your talented employees? Make your company an attractive place to work, and speak to your audience. For specifics on how to build a high quality selection and retention strategic plan into your business, give us a call, we’d love to help!

Chipotle’s Big Day

Job fairs are one way that employers attempt to lure in a large number of applicants all in one shot. Chipotle took this idea to another level when they decided to hire 4,000 employees in one day! Chipotle set aside time on September 9, 2015 (by opening early at each location) to hopefully hire 60 new employees at each location. This would increase their employee pool by almost 7%. While this may seem like the easy way out, is it really that simple? And what is the product – quality candidates or just a large number of candidates? From a human resources perspective, it’s always important to analyze the quality of your talent pool over the quantity, because in the long run, the quality employees are the ones that employers will choose to spend their time developing, growing, and incorporating into the organization. So let’s take a deeper look at Chipotle’s big day!

Chipotle did make a point of advertising the growth opportunity for its employees, stating that 95% of the company’s managers have moved up through the ranks at Chipotle, rather than being hired straight into a management position from outside the company. This number could definitely be useful in attracting quality employees who want to stick around for the long term, rather than find a quick solution to their current unemployment status, with the hopes to move on to something bigger and better outside of Chipotle should the opportunity arise.

Chipotle was also smart in labeling this event, “National Career Day” so that not only was the company targeting those individuals who want to build a career (not just a job), but they were also advertising to the public at the same time. By creating such buzz, they were bringing in more business and customers at the same time. Genius!

Chipotle set up an interview time frame from 8am – 11am (before regular store hours) so this event did not interfere with their normal business hours. Chipotle brought in managers to conduct interviews in a first round on September 9th, to be followed up with a second round for those qualified candidates moving forward in the process.

All in all, although this is a unique approach to mass hiring, it seems to fit the bill for what Chipotle is looking for. Only time will tell if the quality of these applicants proved to be of the caliber that Chipotle would like, but overall, the process was well-founded and followed guidelines to keep the quality of candidates as the top priority, despite the media’s emphasis on the sheer volume of applicants. Like with most recruitment practices, the larger the pool, the higher the chance that you will find your superstar. But there is an argument to be made for events like Chipotle’s National Career Day creating a buzz, bringing in large numbers, and then turning up empty in terms of quality hires. But, couldn’t the same be said for posting an ad on Indeed or LinkedIn? The screening process for an event such as this may take a bit longer, but the outcome could very well yield amazing results. For a company as large as

Chipotle, looking ahead to major growth this year with the creation of an additional 200+ stores this year alone, mass hiring may be the way to go. How does your company view quality vs. quantity when it comes to recruitment?

What Can Social Media Do For Your Selection Process

When meeting new people, whether in social settings or professional meetings or conferences, instead of asking for business cards or phone numbers, we’re seeing a new trend. “What’s your LinkedIn profile?” or “What’s your IG?” These social media avenues have become a personal stamp or signature, putting our own personal brand into the mix of celebrities, companies, and products. Of course, it makes sense then that companies would use social media to target new superstars to join their organization. But like with any new technology tool, companies must be careful with how they use social media for recruitment. It’s critical to represent your organization in the same way online as you would in a face-to-face meeting, and to be consistent with your approach. Here are a few do’s and don’ts for playing the social media recruitment game! Good luck!

Do’s

  1. Do have a presence across various avenues of social media – Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, YouTube…the options are endless!
  2. Do make deliberate decisions – use a social media tool such as hootsuite.com to schedule posts and do your research to make sure you are posting at a time that will be effective for job seekers!
  3. Engage in conversations – use LinkedIn group forums or respond to tweets and posts in order to engage your audience. If your presence is real and known, your results will be better!
  4. Do use social media to conduct mini background checks…Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram all give a sneak peek into the candidate behind that professional resume. Social media is public information that you have access to, so use it!
  5. Be consistent – this is a good business practice in general, but definitely applies to social media recruiting. Fair, equitable, and consistent postings and interaction with your audience are key to success in utilizing social media to benefit your organization and the HR department!

Don’ts

  1. Miracles CAN happen….but don’t expect them to! Patience and diligence will pay off in the long run, even if it seems like a really long journey to get there.
  2. Don’t count solely on social media. There are (GASP!) some people who do not use social media at all, so when advertising for certain positions, analyze the best places/tools to utilize to find your target audience.
  3. Don’t make any guarantees online…again, social media is a public forum. Encourage everyone to apply equally, and follow up with qualified candidates by phone or email. Keep the process under wraps, while utilizing social media to broadcast open positions. Be smart about your postings, because EVERYONE can see them!
  4. Don’t make decisions based solely on a candidate’s profile…follow all legal obligations and EEO guidelines throughout your recruitment and selection process.

Don’t write social media off as a passing trend…from MySpace in the early 2000s to the world of Instagram today, social media is here to stay. So accept it and use it to your advantage!

The Mindfulness Movement: Finding Your Zen in the Office

Her lunch break consists of pulling on a pair of colorful leggings, some running shoes and a tank, then heading two blocks up the street for her daily dose of zen. His quiet place on the way home from work is next door to the coffee shop he used to frequent for his twice-a-day cup of joe. Her evening activities went from drinks with friends to quiet reflection in a room designated for nothing but thoughts.

The mindfulness movement is sweeping the nation, from yoga classes to meditation to tai chi massage, as Americans are taking a different approach to stress management than in the past. Taking a cue from Eastern traditions and Buddhist beliefs and practices, men and women are recognizing that training your mind is just as important as keeping your body fit and healthy. Bringing a new dimension to workplace health and wellness programs, mindfulness can become the wellbeing initiative to increase productivity, engagement, and make positive changes to your workplace culture all around!

Mindfulness is more than just adding a few programs that employees can choose to join, it’s about encouraging change on a cultural level. Helping employees become more connected to their own bodies and fostering collective awareness of each individuals’ connectedness to one another. It’s about giving employees the ‘space’ to be more connected with oneself, so they can then appreciate and engage more readily in the activities and initiatives of today.

What Can Companies Do?

  • Encourage and/or sponsor meditation – the company could spring for a meditation seminar, or simply encourage employees to take five minutes at their desk to meditate, focus on their breathing and quiet their mind from the distractions of the world.
  • Take a hint from Fortune 500 companies such as Nike and General Mills (and of course, the leaders in mindfulness movement in the workplace, our friends at Google and Apple!) and set up “quiet rooms” where employees can effectively get away from it all and truly re-energize.
  • Offer tea along with coffee in the break room or offer discounts to yoga studios or other Eastern wellness programs along with gym memberships.
  • Set an example for your employees and start practicing mindfulness yourself. It’s a focus on being observant of yourself. Start small – Today I will become more aware of__________. Then spend your day focusing on it.

Are You at Risk? The Top 10 Reasons Employers May Get Sued This Year!

Earlier this year Cal Chamber came out with a lengthy white paper on the Top Ten Lawsuit Risks of 2015. To save you some time, we’ve got the list here for you, and we promise to keep it brief!
Here are the Top 10 Reasons Employers May Get Sued in 2015:

1. Salary for everyone! Classifying your entire workforce as exempt could put you in some serious hot water with both State and Federal Law! It may make payroll easier and make your employees happy to know they’re getting paid the same amount each pay period, but it’s not that simple. You must consider their job responsibilities, not just title, in classifying employees.

2. Take lunch anytime! It’s nice to be flexible with employees as to when they take their break, but if the employee is non-exempt, California has specific rules about breaks. A 30-minute unpaid, uninterrupted meal break must be provided before the employee enters their fifth hour of work. Penalties for taking breaks too late will result in penalty pay and can add up quite quickly!

3. You’re an Independent Contractor! Sure, making everyone an independent contractor is easier and at times cheaper, but in recent years there have been a number of rulings on worker classifications. Remember a good rule of thumb is control of work: who determines the manner in which work is performed, how the work is done, where the work is performed and the supplier of equipment and tools.

4. No Sexual Harassment Training. This training can be uncomfortable and employees often leave the training feeling like they cannot make a joke about anything. If, however, your business is ever facing a claim of harassment, you will need to prove that your team has received proper training! Remember, in California, if you have over 50 employees, sexual harassment training for supervisors is required every two years. Investing in training supervisors and managers on harassment and other topics may cost a few dollars, but it’s a lot less costly than the fees of defending even one claim and potentially having to pay a settlement.

5. Being overly flexible with work hours. By letting employees work longer, but fewer days, you could put yourself at risk of owing back pay for overtime hours. California does allow for an alternative workweek schedule, but the parameters around it are stringent. If you want to have flexible scheduling, be sure you have a policy around it and ensure it’s compliant with state laws.

6. Terminating Employees who take Leaves of Absence. When taking time off work, employees have a number of protections depending on the reason for the leave. These can include: Workers’ Compensation, Family and Medical leave, Military Leave, Jury Duty, sick time and others. There are also protections against retaliation for taking leave. If it becomes necessary to terminate an employee after a leave, make sure it is for a legitimate reason that is not connected to the leave.

7. Refusing a final check. It’s always important to recover company property, but refusing to give an employee their final paycheck until property is recovered is unlawful. Remember if an employee is terminated or quits and gives more than 72 hours notice, final paychecks for all due compensation must be provided on the last day of work. If you are not given 72 hours notice, then you have 72 hours to get the check prepared.

8. Providing loans to employees and securing repayment through payroll deductions. There are a number of deductions made from employee paychecks under state and federal law, and there are some voluntary deductions that employees can opt into for benefits such as health insurance. No other deductions are permitted. If a loan is made to an employee, you should involve legal counsel in the agreement and repayment can only be scheduled outside of payroll deductions.

9. Using non-compete agreements to protect confidential information. California is pretty cut and dry on this matter, with very few exceptions. It’s important to protect customer lists and pricing information, but this cannot be done through a non-compete agreement. Also, California is very clear about preventing employees from leaving your company and from their ability to work and earn a living.

10. Use it or lose it Vacation Policies. California considers earned vacation/time off as a part of wages for an employee. Accrued time off can be capped within reason, but taking away vacation that is earned, or refusing to pay it at the time of separation, could put your company in hot water, even if you advised employees that this would be the case.

Are you panicking? Did you read one or more of these and think that you may need some expert guidance? Peoplescape is here to guide you through the steps involved in all of these issues! From sexual harassment training to review of employee classifications, we’re here to support you and your business. Contact us anytime. It’s free!