How Not to Present During Open Enrollment

Presentations may not be your favorite thing, but as an HR professional or a business executive, you’ll have to put on your fair share of presentations in the workplace. As the close of 2015 comes closer, we wanted to give you a few tips on how NOT to present during open enrollment for benefits this coming year. However, these tips can be applied for any business presentation – all of which we happen to be experts at doing! Contact us today to schedule your new hire orientation, sexual harassment training, yearly company training, open enrollment planning, managerial training and much more!

Ten things to avoid when presenting!

1. Turning your back to the audience – don’t turn completely around, even if using a powerpoint or other presentation materials on a screen/board behind you. Turn partially, never completely! It can come off as rude or unprofessional.

2. Staring at one spot throughout the entire presentation. Be engaging!

3. Avoiding eye contact – Be confident, engage the audience, and show emotions/concern. Being a real person during your presentation, not a robot, is highly beneficial to the entire room.

4. Crossing your arms or placing your hands on your hips – this never gives a good impression. Do you know an angst-ridden  teenager? Have you seen him or her do this? Then don’t do it (trust us!)

5. Don’t stand in one spot the entire time – move around, be animated and your audience will be more engaged as well.

6. Stand up and use good posture – professionalism is key during open enrollment and other meetings/presentations when you are the expert!

7. Please don’t fidget or play with your hair or clothes – nerves are expected during a presentation, but don’t let that be seen in your movements. Stand tall and proud, and play the part of the expert, and it will come through to your audience.

8. Don’t complain – even if you’re having technical difficulties, keep it positive.

9. Don’t exaggerate the facts – be honest and upfront about the subject matter, and don’t try to pass off your opinions as facts. Employees always appreciate honesty from their organization.

10. Please do not forget this last one….SMILE!!!! Try to have fun with it, and the more you practice your presentation skills, the easier it will be.

Let’s Give Thanks

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, he could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.” – Winnie the Pooh

Thanksgiving is a time for all of us to sit back and evaluate what we are grateful for. In America, this holiday has a competing message because of the history behind it. But let’s put that aside for a moment and concentrate on what truly matters. Let’s Give Thanks! What are you thankful for in your life? Of course, family and friends should top the list! But what about your job? Are you thankful for your workplace? Are you thankful for your co-workers and team leaders? What about your boss? Creating a culture of gratitude at your work, in which every employee recognizes the successes of one another, can go a long way to team-building at your organization. In honor of Thanksgiving, here’s a quick bit about how to do that in your own workplace.

1. Start at the top – if the boss is thanking his employees for a job well done, chances are the employees will follow that trend. Be a leader in expressing gratitude!

2.  Thank those who usually get overlooked – Make sure the mail clerk and the receptionist and the guys in the warehouse get thanked for their job too, not just the top salesman in the company!

3. Quality gratitude, not quantity thanks – Sincere thankfulness can be seen and heard, don’t fake it!

4. Get creative and provide opportunities for thanks – Consider a “gratitude wall” or bulletin board where co-workers can write a nice note about someone they work with, allowing for a public recognition of their gratitude.

5. Lean on gratitude in times of stress or change in the workplace. Making everyone feel appreciated is key to keeping things calm in a storm.

Happy Thanksgiving from the team at Peoplescape to all of our lovely blog followers, clients, colleagues, and friends!

5 Reasons Employees Leave Too Soon

As a manager, when you see that resignation letter cross your desk, what thoughts go through your head? Is it a gift you’ve been waiting for, finally seeing that problematic employee headed out the door? Or is it your worst nightmare signed, sealed and delivered on your desk at 8:00am on a Friday morning? Here are a few reasons why employees leave a job too soon (and ways that you as the employer can prevent it from happening at your organization!)

1. Changed his or her mind on job type (new hire wasn’t clear about the job duties to begin with…or maybe unsure of their own career path)

2. The work didn’t accurately match their expectations (the job ad was not clear or left too many “duties as assigned” unanswered until the job began)

3. Boss was a jerk (don’t be a jerk!)

4. Didn’t receive enough training (don’t throw new employees to the wolves too soon!)

5. The job wasn’t fun (aka the job wasn’t what they expected – job description unclear or the interview team sold the new hire on a job that doesn’t exist)

One way to avoid this type of early departure is to make sure your employees are provided with onboarding from start to finish. We specialize in new hire orientations, onboarding, and fun seminars to get your employees excited and involved. But, if you aren’t ready to give us a call, we’ll offer these tips to all of our blog readers because we like you.

1. Provide on-the-job training – do not tell a new employee to do something without showing or explaining or supervising or shadowing. Training means a supervisor or trainer is present. Be there. Answer questions. Don’t leave the newbie alone for too long. It scares them.

2. Take the time to review your company policies and handbook with each new hire. This can be done as a group orientation or one-on-one with the manager.

3. Take the new hire on a walking tour of the company. Introduce him or her to team members, the front office staff, security guards, and the bathrooms. These are important pieces to feeling welcome and comfortable in a new environment.

4. Make sure the equipment for each new hire works. Email set up, telephone extension in proper working order, etc.

In a nutshell, invest in your investment to reap the rewards!

Onboarding is often forgotten with the excitement of a new hire, because the recruitment and screening process itself can be so demanding and time-consuming. Instead of taking a break after you sign the offer letter, take the proper steps to make sure your new hire is set up for success plans to stick around, otherwise you’ll be back to the drawing board much sooner than you’d like.

The Folly of Employee Misclassification: Law Suits on the Rise!

The list of lawsuits against Uber is long, and appears to be growing. From rider safety and information security to employee misclassification, the legal team over at Uber has its hands full! Back in September, California drivers for Uber were granted class-action status over the company’s failure to pay for necessary benefits in an employment relationship.

Currently, all Uber drivers are classified as independent contractors, which means that these self-employed drivers are responsible for paying for gas, insurance, and car maintenance – expenses which would typically be covered by the company in an employment relationship. The issue with Uber’s classification appears to be mostly over the issue of “control of work.” Uber’s independent contractors are required to log their hours, comply with performance standards, and are subject to at-will termination and investigation.  Yes, the drivers have the right to control when they work, but they also contribute to the company’s regular business processes. The nature of their relationship is certainly in a gray area. This class action lawsuit is confined strictly to California drivers, however the decision over this suit will likely influence judgments in other states. Stay Tuned!

Uber isn’t the only company under the spotlight for misclassification issues! A number of On-Demand and Sharing Economy companies are under fire. Other companies with pending litigation include: Grubhub, Lyft, Postmates, Homejoy, DoorDash, Washio… to name a few!

So what’s a business owner to do? Deciding whether to classify a worker as an employee or independent contractor can be critical. The Labor Department has issued this 6-question test to identify contractors that should potentially be classified as employees:

1. Is the Work an Integral Part of the Employer’s Business?
2. Does the Worker’s Managerial Skill Affect the Worker’s Opportunity for Profit or Loss?
3. How Does the Worker’s Relative Investment Compare to the Employer’s Investment
4. Does the Work Performed Require Special Skill and Initiative?
5. Is the Relationship between the Worker and the Employer Permanent or Indefinite?
6. What is the Nature and Degree of the Employer’s Control?

If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, it could increase your liability should a question over classification arise. When in doubt, consult an expert! Give Peoplescape a call!

Natural Disasters at Work: Are You Prepared?

Natural Disasters are unpredictable and always seem to strike at the most in-opportune times. In California, the natural disasters we tend to plan for most are fires and earthquakes. Many people have at least one, if not multiple earthquake kits should a disaster strike while you are at home, but what about natural disasters at work?  What are the emergency supplies you have at the workplace? Who knows where these supplies are and how to access them? Responsibilities like these tend to be the responsibility of HR professionals, owners, and operators. If this blog is setting off the “panic” alarm for you, have no fear: We’ve got a few pointers and considerations for you!

1. Be Informed! Know about the potential natural disasters you may face in your company (i.e. flooding, earthquakes, tornadoes, Winter storms, etc.). Consider what precautions should be put in place BEFORE the disaster strikes! Perhaps it’s time to invest in emergency kits for the workplace!

2. Make a Plan! Time to round up key members of the organization, maybe the facilities manager, the President or General Manager, a line employee and talk about what makes the most sense for your organization. This plan could include meeting points, communication chains, key personnel that will be responsible for securing emergency kits and taking attendance.

3. Consider the Kit! Depending on the disasters your area faces and the size of your workforce, the items needed could change. Buy the items NOW! Don’t wait the storm to be moving in to buy supplies. I can tell you from experience, if you wait it will be difficult, if not impossible to find supplies.

4. Practice! We all remember being in school and having a fire drill or earthquake drill. That wasn’t just an educational exercise for the students, it was for the adults too! In a situation where emotions run high, like natural disasters, you can’t rely on logic to kick in. Practice what you are going to do!

No matter the disaster you might face, it’s always better to be prepared. If you need some specific help in planning for your disaster, you can start with Ready.gov. This handy resource helps you plan for each kind of disaster. Don’t be caught unprepared!

Top 10 Compliance Considerations for 2016

A few weeks back we brought you the top ten list of issues that could get employers sued in 2015. This week we are reviewing Mercer’s Top Ten Compliance-Related Issues for Employers!

As you are finalizing the 2016 health benefit programs, contribution strategies, vendor terms, and employee communications, here is Mercer’s list of things to think about:

1. Employer shared-responsibility (ESR) strategy. Ensure the intended goal of avoiding or paying ESR assessments for 2016 coverage is supported by coverage offers, administrative and recordkeeping processes, and benefit documents.

2. ESR reporting. Arrange data sources, systems, and administrative processes to collect all information about enrollees with minimum essential coverage (MEC), full-time employees, and coverage offers needed for reporting on 2016 coverage. Create a process for correcting any erroneous IRS filings and personal statements.

3. Preventive care. Ensure “non-grandfathered” group health plans comply with the final ACA rules and recent guidance on cost-free preventive services.

4. Other ACA reporting and disclosure requirements. Review delivery operations for summaries of benefits and coverage (SBCs) and watch for revised SBC templates. Prepare for round two of online submission and payment of ACA’s reinsurance fee.

5. Midyear changes to cafeteria plan elections. Decide whether to permit midyear changes to cafeteria plan elections for either or both of the status-change events in IRS Notice 2014-55.

6. ACA’s out-of-pocket maximum. Verify that self-only and other (e.g., family) coverage tiers in “non-grandfathered” plans meet ACA’s 2016 out-of-pocket (OOP) limits for in-network care. Confirm that family coverage also satisfies ACA’s self-only OOP limit for each enrollee.

7. Same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships. Assess how the US Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling that legalizes same-sex marriage nationwide affects your benefit programs and employment policies. Also consider the decision’s indirect implications for domestic partner coverage.

8. Mental health parity. Check that plan designs and operations provide parity between medical/surgical and mental health/substance use disorder (MH/SUD) coverage. Federal audits of health plans now evaluate compliance with the final Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) rules that took effect in 2015. In addition, state legislative activity and litigation around parity issues continue.

9. Wellness. Review employee wellness programs against the proposed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rules requiring voluntary participation and restricting incentives for completing health risk assessments and/or biomedical screenings. Be prepared to make changes after EEOC finalizes these rules for nondiscriminatory wellness plans under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

10. Fixed-indemnity and supplemental health insurance. Review fixed-indemnity and supplemental health insurance policies to ensure they qualify as excepted benefits under the ACA and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Do benefits and the ACA make your head spin? Do you feel completely overwhelmed in navigating the countless benefits companies and brokers? Contact Peoplescape! We can help you navigate the benefits world and get you set up with a broker that will meet (and exceed) your company’s needs.

What do the Proposed New Overtime Rules Mean?

It’s been talked about in the news a lot lately. The Labor Department has made recommendations to raise the threshold on the salary rate that would makes employees exempt from being paid overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Currently under the FLSA, employers are not generally required to pay employees overtime premiums (time and a half) if they earn more than $23,660 per year. (NOTE: In California the Minimum Wage is higher than the federal rate) The proposed change is to raise that threshold to $50,440 per year. This plan also proposes raising the rate each year to follow inflation amounts and ensure salary rates do not fall below the cost of living again. What’s worse? This change could happen as early as 2016! That means an estimated 4.9 million white-collar, salaried workers would become overtime eligible NEXT YEAR! Overtime

So what are employers going to do? Some suggestions have been to make several of the employees affected hourly employees. While this is a practical response, the blow to morale and engagement could be devastating. Whether we want it to be or not, some individuals view salary as a “status thing”, so making employees hourly again could feel like a step backward to them. It will also be a stretch for employers to suddenly raise everyone’s salary to above the proposed threshold.

This proposed policy was put up for public comments and has since closed. Now employers anxiously await the ruling on these proposed new rules.

Stay Tuned! When there’s an update, we’ll share with you!!!

It’s Not Just Customers. Employees are Reviewing Your Company, Too!

Yelp!, Google, Angie’s List, TripAdvisor…. There’s no question that consumers truly have a wealth of information on other customers’ experiences online, but did you know your employees are reviewing your company as well? With sites like Glassdoor.com, CareerLeaks.com, and Vault.com on the rise, it’s time to start thinking about how you will respond to reviews – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Like most consumer sites, the ability to have reviews removed can be very difficult, but responding to reviews can show that your company is actively engaged in what current and former employees are saying about your company! Here are some tips and tricks on responding to reviews.

1. Make sure the person responding is someone who can speak, and speak positively on behalf of the organization. This could be HR, Marketing, PR, or Executives.

2. Always say thank you – even if it is a bad review. Thanking someone for their input shows that you acknowledge their response, even if you don’t agree. The message you are sending to potential new hires is that your organization is listening to what employees are saying.

3. Be Specific – If employees mention specific shortcomings, be specific in your response on how things are being changed or reviewed. For example, a former employee mentions that the recruitment and selection process takes  forever, this could be a good time to announce that your company is bringing in a new Applicant Tracking System to help improve the time to hire.

4. Be Genuine – This is definitely NOT the time to use the copy and paste button! Potential employees are likely to read more than one review and if the employer response is the same after each and every review, you’re going to lose points! These might not just be Brownie points… this could be the loss of your next “rock star” hire.

5. Accentuate the Positive – It’s so easy to over look the positive reviews and only respond to the negative, but there’s no harm in celebrating the “pat on the back.” In fact, it’s almost more important to celebrate the positive reviews – shows that listening and engaging is working!

Glassdoor for Employers has a wealth of information on how to respond to reviews. It may also be time to see what’s already been written about your company! Consider all the sources – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Glassdoor… Again, the goal of responding is to show you are listening, you care, and you are actively engaged in hearing what your colleagues have to say.  Now that you’re reading, see a recurring theme that you need help tackling? Call Peoplescape! We’ll help you tackle even the most challenging of issues!

It’s GAME DAY!!! Does Fantasy Football Belong At Work?

Every year, near the end of summer, as Football season approaches, people start to get really amped up about the Football season. More specifically, people get excited about their fantasy football leagues.

As business owners and operators, the idea of a company-sponsored Fantasy Football league might be cringe-worthy, but maybe it’s not as bad and scary and it seems. Sure, a study came out last year from Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. that had employers absolutely terrified that Fantasy Football was costing BILLIONS! Headlines read “Study Shows Fantasy Football costing $13 Billion Annually” or “Employers Paying Billion Dollar Price for Fantasy Football”. As an owner or operator, I would read that headline and panic… What the headlines conveniently left out was the study’s full title. The second half of the title – “Should you care?”

The study did its best to quantify losses to employers through dips in productivity and time lost by employees spent poring over injury reports, planning for the draft, and team management throughout the week. The reality is, however, workers have more distractions at work than ever before. If we’re honest with ourselves, few (if any) of us could claim we have never checked our Facebook, responded to a text message, or hopped on Amazon.com for non-work related reasons during working hours.

So let’s focus on what Fantasy Football can bring to your organization by embracing a company league. Think about your office or workplace for a moment:

Does your Tech department ever interact with Sales? Does the kitchen staff say much to the serving staff? What about the Receptionist, does the rest of the office intermingle with him/her very often? Fantasy Football engages all kinds of people (male and female) and it could bring people from different departments together that otherwise would not interact. Could this be that team-building exercise you’ve been looking for?

MORALE-Booster! This is like hitting the “kick start button” on camaraderie. When people look forward to coming to work to talk to their buddy about the crazy game Denver’s Defense had or the impressive numbers Calvin Johnson put up this weekend, engagement levels increase. The case for increased engagement is undeniable. According to Talent Culture, increased engagement leads to increased productivity, higher service levels, and lower turnover. In fact, according to a 2006 Ipsos survey, one in five respondents reported that their involvement in Fantasy Sports enabled them to make a valuable business contact.

So sure, the first 15-20 minutes on a Monday morning may be lost to discussions of the developments over the weekend, but if the result is increased engagement – I’d say that loss is pretty much a wash! If you have previously banned fantasy football in the workplace, you may want to reconsider your position next season!