Sunday June 16, 2019

Maternity leave benefits: Customizing options for the small employer

All companies can custom-design maternity leave benefits as a tactic to compete with larger firms in attracting and retaining talent while also creating a great company culture.

Under FMLA, employers with 50 or more employees must provide new and adoptive moms up to 12 weeks to care for themselves and their infant. (Also, check your state laws on maternity leave.)

The law only requires unpaid leave, but a growing number of employers are choosing to offer some form of paid parental leave as part of a more attractive benefits package.

While fully paid leave may not be in the budget for small businesses, there are other options to create policies that help expectant and new moms and new dads feel valued and more likely to be loyal long term.

Making accommodations

Employers with more than 15 but less
than 50 employees aren’t required to guarantee maternity leave under FMLA, but
still have to abide by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Under the Act, a worker can’t be
discriminated against based on pregnancy, childbirth and related medical
conditions. For example, accommodations made for a disabled employee, like
being allowed to work from home, must also be provided to a pregnant employee.

Also beware of your own precedent. If
you allow one mom work flexibility, you have to allow other expectant or new
mothers the same concessions or risk being sued for discrimination.

A good fit

The Society for Human Resources
Management (SHRM) studied trends in maternity leave between 2005 and 2016. The
number of firms offering some form of replacement pay during maternity leave
rose from 46% to 58%.

Not being bound by FMLA means small
businesses can custom-design maternity leave programs that are a good fit for
the company and its staff.

For example, an employer might offer
two weeks of paid leave, followed by 10 weeks of unpaid leave and the promise
that the job will be waiting for her when she returns.

To help financially, you might consider
allowing the employee to save vacation days to use during maternity leave.

Another option is to offer short-term disability plans through the benefit menu so the health insurance would replace some percentage of an employee’s full-time salary.

As an alternative to giving paid leave,
the SHRM study found businesses with less than 99 employees showed they value
their talent by finding ways to be more flexible, such as part-time return to
work, flex time and work-from-home arrangements.

The post Maternity leave benefits: Customizing options for the small employer appeared first on HRMorning.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Some states aren’t waiting for feds to update OT rules

Not content to wait on the federal Dept. of Labor (DOL) to update exempt/nonexempt OT rules, the state of Washington announced this week it’s moving ahead with consideration of a new limit of $80,000, more than three times the current salary exemption level of $23,660.


The proposed rules being
finalized by the state would be phased in starting next year, unless changes
are made during the coming public comment period.

By 2026, a salaried
executive, administrative or professional worker would have to be making nearly
$80,000 per year to be exempt from overtime pay after working more than 40
hours in a work week.

Business groups in the state refer
to the proposal as a  “super minimum

Other states’ updated OT rules

California is currently phasing its overtime threshold up to $62,400, New York is phasing its up to $58,500, and Pennsylvania has announced a rule raising its threshold to $47,000. Massachusetts is holding a hearing on a bill to raise its overtime threshold to $65,000.

“The Washington proposal is the boldest overtime pay restoration effort currently among the states,” Paul Sonn, state policy director with the National Employment Law Project, told the Associated Press.  “We think it will spur other states to follow Washington’s lead.”

Current federal overtime
provisions are contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Unless exempt,
employees covered by the FLSA must receive overtime pay for hours worked over
40 in a workweek.

The salary test presently
requires workers to make at least $23,660 on an annual basis to be exempt from

In March 2014, President
Obama directed the Secretary of Labor to update the overtime regulations in the

In May 2016, the DOL issued a
final rule that raised the minimum salary threshold to $47,476 per year.
That rule was declared invalid by the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of Texas, and the Fifth Circuit dismissed the Department of
Labor’s appeal – at the DOL’s request – in September 2017.

The DOL is now proposing to formally rescind the 2016 rule and is proposing a new rule that raises the salary threshold from $455 per week ($23,660 per year) to $679 per week ($35,308 per year).

The post Some states aren’t waiting for feds to update OT rules appeared first on HRMorning.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Workers are looking – and leaving – for career development

Prospective employees see career development as among the
most important reasons to sign with —and stay with — with your organization.

And, while you may think you are offering top-notch learning
and development programs, they don’t think you are doing such a great job.

Surveys show that workers and employers don’t agree on how well organizations are meeting employees’ development expectations.

And when they don’t see a commitment to helping them gain the skills they need to advance their careers, your employees are open to offers from competitors who are investing in learning and development.

Employee development

Employee development
is at the heart of successful talent management.

Company leadership needs to set the stage by establishing
and supporting formal and informal orientation and onboarding processes that
give both new and reassigned employees the resources they need to succeed.

Those resources range from a knowledgeable guide to help
them get settled into a new job to the ongoing training needed to acquire and
apply new and advanced knowledge, skills, and abilities.

But it’s the ongoing training that’s at the core of talent
management —and of retention.


Surveys make it clear just how strongly employees feel about the importance of career development opportunities.

Software analysis and review site Better Buys conducted exclusive research into what companies are offering employees and what those employees really value the most.

Over 2,000 respondents shared their views with Better Buys.
Some of the key findings:

  • 92% of respondents think having access to professional development is important or very important, second only to compensation
  • but only 78% of those employees report they have access to professional development opportunities and tools
  • employees with access to career development opportunities are 15% more likely to say they are engaged at work
  • three quarters of respondents with access to career development opportunities said they planned to stay at their jobs for five years
  • only 56% of employees without those career development opportunities said they are likely to stick around


The survey also found many employees who that who say they are not engaged at work still see availability of development opportunities as a reason to stick around.

Employees who call themselves unengaged and say they don’t see career development opportunities? You can expect to replace about 85% of them over the next five years.

Ensuring that employees continue to progress in the
organization through learning and development activities not only prepares them
to take on more and more responsibility.

It keeps them engaged and invested in your strategic goals.
And, over time, it will prepare them to participate meaningfully in setting
those goals.

And in the meantime, savings from lower turnover almost certainly outweigh the cost of offering development benefits.

While the cost of replacing a worker varies by wage and role of employee, estimates of the average costs to replace an employee are eye-opening:

  • SHRM estimates that replacing a salaried employee costs, on average, the equivalent of 6 to 9 months’ of that worker’s salary
  • Other estimates range from 16 % of annual salary for high-turnover, low-paying jobs to 20 & of annual salary for midrange salaried positions
  • If your development program fails to satisfy one of your highly-skilled, highly paid stars? It could cost you the equivalent of two full year’s salary to find and hire a replacement even before you try to figure out what the lost experience was worth.

Turnover costs include hiring, onboarding, training, ramp time to peak productivity, decreased engagement by remaining workers, higher business error rates, and general culture impacts.

Leadership development

So what are employees looking for and how can you help them maximize career development opportunities?

To get the most out your strongest workers, organizations need to expand training activities that increase supervisory, managerial, and executive competencies.

That can also help you to identify mismatches between talented employees and the jobs they are doing — one of the leading causes of disengagement at work.

Tracking employee development activity and results is key to identifying individuals who have the talents, insights, and energy to keep your company competitive over the long term.

By keeping the talent pipeline full, organizations improve
the quality of leadership across all levels and business functions.

Organizations with reputations for developing — and hanging on to— leaders who in turn support their teams’ career development needs have a clear competitive advantage in the marketplace.

For that advantage to persist, organizations need to look even farther down the career development road.

Succession planning

Succession planning is a talent management must-do for
organizations of all sizes, whether a global corporation, a small non-profit, a
mid-sized college or a family business with a dozen employees.

For employees, the succession planning process translates
into stretch opportunities that can help them learn new skills, advance their
careers, increase their value to the team and boost earning power.

All those positives can translate into an increased
commitment to your organization.

Institutional knowledge/Knowledge management

Whenever employees leave, organizations lose hard-to-replace
knowledge about what has been successful and unsuccessful in moving strategy

Unfortunately, relatively few organizations have developed formal programs to proactively prepare for such losses of knowledge.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) publishes
talent management recommendations for federal government agencies.

While those are huge organizations, the advice applies to
organizations of all sizes.

The OPM urges agencies to identify leadership competencies
(and gaps) among existing employees to create a pipeline of new leaders ready
to step in as positions open up or new needs are identified.

Without a knowledge management program in place,
organizations risk losing critical knowledge about business processes, policies
and practices, and historical knowledge.

The result? Threats to business continuity and costly

Workforce demographics

Demographic trends are making this a more immediate threat –
we are now well into the first phase of boomer retirement, with an accelerating
exodus of experienced managers and executives looming.

And it can be even more critical for smaller employers to
focus on knowledge transfer.

Many smaller organizations fail after losing their early
employees to retirement.

One potential strategy is to create function-specific Wikis,
crowdsourced repositories of institutional knowledge.

The feds provide another useful example in this area. The HR
pros at the National Institutes of Health faced the challenge of “how to
transfer complicated [human resources] programs to new owners with no

So, they decided to build a Wiki to “provide a simple, yet
comprehensive technical solution for the age-old problem of capturing
institutional knowledge before the people who hold it leave an organization.”

Unused tools

But its crucial to recognize that, unless they are
integrated into a well-designed talent management framework —and publicized as
an important development resource — Wikis and other knowledge transfer tools
will sit unused.

About 98% of U.S.-based employers say they offer career development
tools to employees. And still  a
national survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of HR platform
vendor Instructure found that only 26% of the employees surveyed rated those
tools as very effective.

To be sure, employers aren’t blind to the problem — twice as many poll respondents selected development tools as their most important investment than chose any other software category.

And that points up another issue that employers need to take a careful and honest look at — is the money you’ve invested so far into building your career development platform giving you an acceptable return?

Is it the tool?

If not, is it the tool or your career development program that’s failing? In most cases, it is a combination of both.

“We are now in a stage where most companies have too much technology, and not enough time,” said Josh Bersin, global industry analyst.

And much of that technology – including learning management systems (LMS) that support most career development programs – has been implemented in silos and reflects business processes rather than how employees want to work.

Bersin recommends simplifying the technology experience and designing employee-centric HR programs that happen ‘in the flow of work’.

Employees are looking for career development tools that are easy to understand, he says, and “put employee development at the center of the employee experience.”

Building an integrated employee career development program

Small and mid-sized organizations often don’t have the budget or staff to administer comprehensive career development programs, which can require costly and time-consuming tasks like developing course content, hiring instructors and keeping track of compliance training.

But integrated employee development platforms from vendors like Instructure, Ascentia, Gnosis Connect, Lanteria and others seek to help organizations increase engagement by making learning and training a part of employees’ and managers’ day-to-day workflows while offloading some of the administrative and other overhead.

These platforms, most available as cloud-based services, integrate performance, mentoring and coaching, and analytics tools.

You can find unbiased reviews and comparisons of many of these tools at Better Buys.

Career development coaching

A formalized coaching program is another key to talent development.

Employees come into a new job with a set of talents and
competencies but how well they adapt and improve depends a lot on how —and how
well — they’re coached.

But a national survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of HR platform vendor Instructure found that three out of four respondents feel they are own their own in finding opportunities for career development.

Coaching can include sharing with employees examples of what
has and hasn’t worked in the past and discussing how those examples relate to
overall strategic goals.

With technology speeding up how quickly companies can judge
success or failure, those examples will move closer and closer to real-time,
helping to drive lessons home.

Remember, along with changes in how performance reviews are conducted, coaching helps to focus discussions on what is needed for future success rather than on post mortems.

Talent management is a strategic “must-have”

Talent Management starts with recruiting and hiring good
people, but there are critical strategic steps that come before and after
you’ve brought them on board.

While performance management metrics, such as those captured
by traditional reviews, may be inputs into the talent management process,
talent management is far bigger than that.

It includes strategic workforce planning, employee
development, leadership development, talent retention and institutional
knowledge management.

Workforce planning is similar — and strategically equal — to other resource planning and management functions.

And, anyone who questions this point should consider that companies spend, on average, about a third of total revenue on employee wages and benefits. Maximizing the return on that spending is clearly mission critical.

Aligning career development with strategic goals

For HR to do a good job of identifying, attracting, and
retaining the right people, organizations need to first clearly identify
strategic organizational goals and analyze any competency and skill gaps that
can stop you from achieving those goals.

As part of that analysis, talent management team members also
need to assess whether the organization is structured effectively and make any
needed changes to align that structure with strategic goals.

Then the talent management team needs to work with HR to
build a strategic recruitment plan to close any current or expected gaps.

That plan, among other things, needs to describe the characteristics and experience you’ll want candidates to bring to the job. And it should lay out how you’ll train current and future workers to tackle new challenges and achieve their career development goals.

But even when you are successful finding and hiring
top candidates, that is just the start.

Achieving the best return on your recruiting investment requires
a lot of work after candidates sign
on to keep them learning, engaged, and on your team.

The post Workers are looking – and leaving – for career development appeared first on HRMorning.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Innovative debt relief benefits: They can help attract, keep workers

Employee surveys show that financial worry is a leading cause of workplace stress in the U.S., contributing to $250 billion in stress-related lost productivity each year.

Because employee debt’s the biggest contributor to those worries, more firms are looking at offering debt relief benefits alongside more traditional benefits.

Debt assistance is also proving a powerful tool for attracting, hiring and retaining new workers, especially young people with heavy student loan burdens.

The Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) says 70% of recent grads enter the workforce with debt.

Debt relief benefits for firms of all sizes

Large companies able to design, implement and fund debt assistance programs are leading the way.

Pharma giant Abbott Laboratories, insurer Aetna, and accountancy firm PWC all offer student loan relief. And insurer Unum offers an innovative perk that allows its workers to trade PTO for student debt assistance.

But even for smaller organizations, a number of third-party providers offer debt assistance solutions that run the gamut from medical bill audits and negotiation to emergency loans.

Fidelity’s Student Debt Employer Contribution program manages contributions to workers’ retirement accounts that kick in if they commit to pay down student loans.

MedPut and Remedy help with medical debt by auditing bills for errors. MedPut negotiates lower amounts owed and offers interest free loans to help pay off doctors’ bills.

Companies like HoneyBee, SalaryFinance and TrueConnect provide debt relief benefits like salary advances and low-interest emergency loans to help avoid payday loans with sky-high interest rates. HoneyBee’s unique plan secures loans with employees’ PTO.

Debt assistance can pay off for employers of all sizes through improved retention and engagement, lower health costs and other benefits.

It’s worth looking into whether there’s an option that works for you.

The post Innovative debt relief benefits: They can help attract, keep workers appeared first on HRMorning.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Walmart sweetens its college tuition offerings

As it struggles to fill open
positions, Walmart is redoubling its efforts to attract high school students by
sweetening its tuition assistance offers with free SAT and ACT prep as well as
extending its $1 per day college degree program, according to published reports.

Walmart is also offering
graduation bonuses of up to $1,500 to select associates who earn their degree
while employed there.

The retailer announced this
week it will also subsidize the cost of tuition, books and fees at six
non-profit colleges, including the University of Florida.

Students who go through the program while they work at Walmart will be eligible for various types of bachelor’s and associate degrees, such as computer technology, business management and supply chain management.

Tuition assistance after 90 days

Employees become eligible for
program after working at Walmart for 90 days.

Unemployment in the United
States has fallen to its lowest levels in decades, posing a challenge for even the
largest private employer in America.

Earlier this year, Walmart
raised its starting hourly wage from $9 to $11 and began offering paid parental
leave and adoption benefits to full-timers.

Walmart employs more than 1.5
million U.S. workers, of which just 25,000 are in high school today. That’s below
the retail industry’s entry-level average, according to Walmart.

Though retail jobs were once
attractive to high school students, Walmart blames scheduling difficulties for
the growing difficulty of luring high schoolers.

And they are far from the only company having trouble finding high school students.

Focused on college

The youth employment rate has
been declining for years as fewer teens enter into the workforce.

That’s because many higher
schoolers are focused on activities that are more likely to get them into a
good college, like summer internships or volunteer programs.

But Walmart believes its offerings,
along with flexible scheduling and the option of working steady shifts, can cut
into that.

Walmart boasts a history of supporting
high school students. More than 300 of Walmart’s approximately 4,700 store
managers in the U.S. began as hourly workers in high school. Walmart’s current
CEO, Doug McMillon, started working at Walmart in high school, too.

The post Walmart sweetens its college tuition offerings appeared first on HRMorning.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Attract more applicants: 7-step guide to stellar job postings

You might have a streamlined interview process, an eager hiring team and even a perfect onboarding experience for your new hires.

But none of that matters if you aren’t nailing the very first step in the entire hiring process: Job postings!

Getting it right

When it comes down to it, your job postings are the most-seen aspect of your company. They’re the thing all candidates and would-be candidates interact with.

One quick glance at a job posting sparks the candidate’s first impression of the company — and how the post is composed ultimately determines if the person will apply or keep scrolling.

Some companies may make job postings a little too fun and creative, which can cause confusion about what the job actually is. Others may oversimplify them, leaving job seekers wanting more.

But according to employer brand consultant James Ellis, job postings don’t have to be a jumbled mix of bulleted duties and requirements.

Ellis recently shared his foolproof blueprint for writing great job postings at the ERE Recruiting Conference in San Diego. Here are the steps he laid out:

1. Job title

Ellis warns employers away from being creative here. It’s best to be simple and direct, so anyone reading the title could understand what the job is. (This means avoiding words like “guru” and “hero.”)

This also isn’t the place to try and grab job seekers’ attention. Ellis says to avoid phrases like “excellent pay!” and “great opportunity!” in the title. All that should be here is the clearest, simplest job title you can manage.

2. Headline

Here’s the place you should grab someone’s attention, Ellis says. It’s also your first chance to express your brand.

Ellis recommends a question to keep the candidate reading. Try something like, “Ready to work in a place that actually cares about its employees?” or “Interested in working for a company that builds amazing things?”

3. First paragraph – company info

Here’s your chance to paint a picture of your company in the applicant’s mind. The first paragraph is a good place to speak about your culture and values, as well as the meaning of the work you do.

Ellis says ideally this should be 3-4 sentences. The good news? Once you have this little intro perfected, you can use it in all your future job postings.

4. Second paragraph – team

Now you should delve into what the team or department does. Why does it exist? How does it help the company?

This should also be 3-4 sentences, and you can reuse this part for every job posting from this department.

5. Third paragraph – the role

Here’s where you begin to get into what the job is, Ellis says. In 3-5 sentences, explain what role the job plays in the department, and ultimately, the company.

You don’t want to get into too much detail here, Ellis says. Leave that for bullet points later in the post.

6. Duties and responsibilities

Ellis suggests renaming this to “How you’ll spend your time.” This should be a bulleted list of tasks the candidate would work on day to day.

7. Requirements or qualifications

Again, Ellis recommends calling this section, “We’re excited about you if … ” This section will be your second set of bullets. Be aware any legal requirements would go here.

Ellis says only the most important requirements should be listed here. If you have too many, you could be missing out on great candidates who believe they aren’t qualified enough.

He also recommends bullets in this section follow this formula:

“You will need (experience or skill) to (task or job) for (purpose or outcome). For example: “You will need to know Excel to build pivot tables that will identify new leads.”

The post Attract more applicants: 7-step guide to stellar job postings appeared first on HRMorning.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Study: Majority of American workers embrace their LGBTQ colleagues

American workers appear more ready and willing than at any other time to embrace their LGBTQ colleagues and co-workers, according to a study by the PR firm Bospar.

The survey of 2,000 adults just released by the San Francisco-based firm for the 50th anniversary of Pride Month found that 60% of Americans have no preference about with whom they work. Last year Bospar reported that percentage at 55%. 

What’s more, an overwhelming majority of Americans (83%) believe that LGBTQ equality can and will be achieved in the workplace.

When asked how, the top reasons cited included: more LGBTQ colleagues in the workplace; more workplace education about LGBTQ issues; younger professionals joining the workforce; and more employees being open about their sexual orientation.

Another finding from the study: 68% of Americans think equality for their LGBTQ colleagues is improving.

Challenges ahead

However, the study’s authors point out, there are still challenges to overcome:

  • Nearly a third of Americans say they have been harassed at work due to their sexuality.
  • Over a third of Americans disagree with the transgender military ban.
  • Nearly a half of the population (48%) say Chick-Fil-A’s donation to anti-LGBTQ organizations doesn’t matter.
  • Just under one in three Americans (29%) agree with Alabama Public Television’s decision to ban an episode of the children’s cartoon “Arthur” which featured a gay wedding; 41% thought the ban was the wrong thing to do.
  • A majority of Americans (77%) believe that LGBTQ topics should be taught in schools. Middle school was the most popular choice (25%), followed by high school (21%) and K-6th grade (19%).

Americans had an overwhelmingly favorite communicator of LGBTQ equality in 2019 – Ellen DeGeneres.

LGBTQ Top 10

Ellen DeGeneres 

Lady Gaga 

Neil Patrick Harris 


George Takei 


Ariana Grande 

Pete Buttigieg 


Tim Cook 

 “Right now, several factors are contributing to what is a watershed moment in workplace social dynamics,” said Gabrielle Ayala, a principal of marketing and research firm Propeller Insights, which conducted the survey from May 24-31. 

 “The inclusion of high-profile LGBTQ personalities in mainstream media, especially those that transcend that label like an Ellen DeGeneres, goes a long way in breaking down those stigmas that lead to discrimination and prejudice,” Ayala said.

“Combined with a social movement like #MeToo, the focus is shifting away from what people do in their personal lives to how people conduct themselves at the office.”

“Curtis Sparrer, a principal of Bospar PR, said the results are  “a further sign of progress that the people Americans named as the top communicators of LGBTQ equality include entertainers, straight allies, business leaders, and politicians.”

“That said, we have challenges to overcome. When it comes to equality, I think baseball legend Yogi Berra said it best: ‘It ain’t over till it’s over.’”

The post Study: Majority of American workers embrace their LGBTQ colleagues appeared first on HRMorning.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Employee retention ideas: Student loan perks; weekly profit sharing … and one more great idea

If you’re like most HR pros, you can probably use all the help you can get with employee retention ideas, right?

With that in mind, here are three retention-boosting success stories, implemented in real time, and shared by HR pros just like you.

One idea boosted retention from  57% to 78%

Courtesy of Laura Rodnitzky, VP of people, 3Q Digital, as presented at the 2018 SHRM Conference & Exposition in Chicago)

We had no trouble attracting younger employees to our

The problem was these folks didn’t tend to stick around long. They’d get some experience with us, find another opportunity and be out the door all too soon.

You can imagine the time and effort (not to mention cost) it
took to hire and retrain new people made departures a major pain point for us.

We needed to give our young folks a reason to stick around long term.

Nagging student loans

So we started looking at the biggest challenges facing this
group, and student loan debt was far and away the No. 1 issue. It was causing
stress, causing people to delay milestone moments (buying a home) and, ultimately,
creating a disengaged group of job-hopping employees.

If enough people would use them, say, around a quarter of
our staff, we could offer student loan repayment benefits to sweeten the pot
for turnover-prone staffers.

We wanted to surprise our employees with the new perk. But
we needed some data to support adding the new benefit. In the end, we added a
few questions to gauge interest in our employee surveys.

There was definitely an interest. And that interest wasn’t only among our younger employees.

Tax-based opportunity

Once we found the right administrator, we needed to pick the
right type of program.

In our case, a tiered student loan repayment program, based
on years of service, looked like the best option.

Because student loan benefits are taxable, the money has to
be treated as taxable income.

We saw this as another opportunity. That’s why we decided to
gross up or cover the income taxes on the student loan benefits.

In other words, if an employee gets a $50 per month benefit, they’ll get that amount plus whatever the tax is. Many companies that offer this benefit don’t cover the taxes, so that became a real value-added benefit.

In addition to the student loan repayment benefits, we also
offer tuition reimbursement.

Employees could choose which of the perks they want to

While the majority of employees love the new benefit, there
were a few complaints.

Some grumbled about not being able to use the perk.

In those situations, we reminded folks about all the other
things we offered, as well as the fact we were always expanding our benefits
package. We also stressed one of our core values – “for the greater good” – to
support the decision.

Our student loan repayment benefit is still a relatively new
program, but the results we’ve seen so far have exceeded our expectations.

Around 25% of our employees signed up for the benefit, and
we’ve seen our retention rate increase from 57% to 78%.

This two-tiered appreciation program boosted retention and morale

Courtesy of Kaitlyn Uden, HR manager, Parkland College, Champaign, IL

We put a lot of effort into making our new hires feel welcome, but we also knew we needed to focus on keeping our current employees happy to hang onto them.

That’s when we formed our “Fun Raising” team, solely
dedicated to appreciating our employees through fun activities.

Throughout the year, the team puts on great events like
pop-up escape rooms, free ice cream days and company spirit weeks. Around
Thanksgiving, we always tell our staff how thankful we are for their hard work.

We’ve gotten a terrific employee response to this. But we
wanted to take it even a step further and help our workers show appreciation
toward each other as well.

Kudos for colleagues

As we brainstormed employee retention ideas, we hit on an idea we called the “Kudos for Colleagues” program.

We launched it with a huge kickoff event and an all day
drop-in party in the HR department. People could stop by any time to grab a
donut, play games or just hang out for a while.

But the most important part was the kudos cards we had for
employees to fill out.

They’d write down the name of a co-worker and explain what
made them awesome at their job. It’s a great way for our team to celebrate the
people they work with.

A pleasant surprise

Since the initial launch, we’ve been sending out nomination
cards once a month.

A random winner is chosen each month, receiving a trophy and
prize to share with their department.

We also profile the winner in our employee newsletter and
post their photo outside of HR.

Even those who didn’t win are recognized. Everyone who
received a nomination gets the card with their co-worker’s compliment.

Fun, but effective

It may seem a little silly, but our people are proud to
receive the recognition, and our team has really embraced the program.

Since starting Kudos for Colleagues, we’ve always received
at least 40 nominations each month. Sometimes, we’ll get as many as 100 out of
an employee pool of
about 500.

While it’s hard to get solid numbers backing the program’s
effectiveness, our employee surveys show widespread satisfaction with it.

Positive atmosphere

By employees recognizing and complimenting each other, the
atmosphere here has really become supportive and positive.

We’ve also heard from managers that morale and enthusiasm
are strong, and they’re seeing employees going above and beyond in providing
customer service.

Not to mention, retention has vastly improved since we
started the program.

Another bonus: It’s been months since we’ve started the
program and participation is still going strong.

Boosted retention with retirement perk tweak

Courtesy of Lorna Dickinson, payroll coordinator, Union Bank, Lake Odessa, MI

Like most companies, we wanted to keep our people around long term. And we were willing to try some unique strategies to improve retention. 

As a way to brainstorm employee retention ideas, we formed a committee of employees from several departments to ask for suggestions. And one idea really caught our attention.

Our company already offered a profit-sharing plan where a
portion of the company’s annual profits was distributed to employees’
retirement accounts based on a percentage of their salary.

Usually, we made these contributions as a lump-sum payment
every year.

But an employee suggested we change our strategy and
contribute each pay period instead.

Noticeable reward

This person made a really good point: By making
contributions each week, employees were more likely to relate the extra money
to the work they’d recently completed.

Because they’d see this reward on a regular basis, they’d
feel more invested in the company’s success – and they’d want to stick around
to reap the benefits of that.

It didn’t take much extra work on my part to add
profit-sharing contributions to each payroll.

The best part: It more than paid off by giving us another way to motivate and retain our employees.

Tim McElgunn and Rachel Mucha contributed to this article.

The post Employee retention ideas: Student loan perks; weekly profit sharing … and one more great idea appeared first on HRMorning.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Employee burnout defined by World Health Organization

When work stress escalates to the level of a chronic mental health issue, the UN health agency says, it becomes employee burnout and hurts employee’s ability to do their jobs.

Everyone gets stressed at work once in a while, but a couple of productive days or a relaxed weekend is usually enough to move past the tough days.

However, when workplace stress never lets up, employees are in danger of going past the point where a little R&R can set things right.

Defining employee burnout

The World Health Organization said Tuesday that its latest revision of its International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11) redefines “burnout” as an “occupational phenomenon.”

That means that, while employees experiencing burnout might seek care, it is not considered a disease by the WHO.

According to the latest edition of WHO’s ICD-11, workplace burnout has three defining components:

1) Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion,

2) Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of
negativism or cynicism related to one’s job,

3) Reduced professional efficacy.

WHO members adopted ICD-11 on May 25 and it will go into effect in January 2022.

The cost of employee burnout

It will be some time before any employer sees an FMLA claim with a doctor’s certification that a worker suffers specifically from “a syndrome … resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed,” as the official WHO definition says.

But there is little doubt that many organizations see the impact of employee burnout in absenteeism, presenteeism, reduced productivity, and higher accident rates.

And that makes it important for organizations to watch carefully for signs of burnout. They should help employees to achieve a healthier balance between the demands of their jobs and their mental and physical well-being.

Workplace wellness experts recommendations range from increasing employees’ participation in decision making to reviewing how well workers’ skills match their jobs’ requirements.

Other recommendations include cross-training employees and ensuring employees take vacations and other time off they are entitled to.

Multiple studies show that employee burnout left unaddressed is expensive in terms of short-term productivity, employee retention and long-term health care costs.

The post Employee burnout defined by World Health Organization appeared first on HRMorning.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Better training to help managers enforce attendance rules (and stay FMLA compliant)

businesses are struggling to keep track of employee absences, and it’s costing
them big in productivity, revenue and legal fees. And it’s only getting worse.

Recent stats
from The Standard’s Absence and Disability Readiness Index show a growing need
for HR and training managers to get out front and develop programs and policies
that employees understand and can follow.

Only 1 in 4 HR pros report having successful absence management programs, according to the survey. Many HR pros will tell you that managing absence is one of their biggest headaches. And a lot of it has to do with the federal laws that regulate employee absence – the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Unexplained or excessive absences

In fact, one
employer is now in court because it fired an employee for missing two weeks of
work ­­– an absence that it approved as FMLA leave until its FMLA coordinator
realized the employee wasn’t eligible for FMLA coverage because she hadn’t
worked 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months.

In Byrd v. City of Houston, The Houston
Emergency Center fired 911 operator Iyhana Byrd and she is now suing for
violation of her FMLA rights.

That’s why
it would be important for HR to choose an FMLA point person or persons to know
how much FMLA leave each employee has used, including dates and reasons.

company, Alcon Laboratories, fired an employee on FMLA leave, but was justified
in its firing, said a court ruling.

In Shoemaker v.
Alcon Laboratories
, a female employee experienced back pain,
headaches and dizziness, but she never told her employer that these symptoms
prevented her from doing her job.

one occasion, she passed out at work and was sent home. She returned with a
doctor’s note recommending that she work in a different job until further
evaluation, but she’d already been removed from that job.

few weeks later, she called to say she would not be at work but provided no
excuse for her absence. She’d exhausted her paid time off, so she was issued a
final warning. She was subsequently fired for, among other things, her
unexplained absence.

employee sued, alleging that the company interfered with her rights to receive
FMLA leave and retaliated against her. The court, however, disagreed.

employee must “provide sufficient information for an employer to reasonably
determine whether FMLA may apply to the leave request,” and she failed to
do so, the court said.

aren’t required to read the minds of their employees or guess the reasons
behind absences.

employee needs to mention a medical condition or even something as vague as “I
need time off.” This would trigger the interactive process.

Growing trend

of these cases points to a growing trend of employers’ inability to manage their
attendance policies. These rulings highlight the need for employers to maintain
written attendance policies that detail disciplinary action.

 “Employers are in a much better position to
defeat FMLA interference and retaliation claims with meticulous tracking of
time off and communication with the employee regarding unexcused absences,”
says employment attorney Tasos Paindiris, Jackson Lewis in

keep up with employee absence regs and DOL guidelines, employers need to put in
place a robust management program – to define, measure and benchmark absence –
to help avoid a lawsuit. Here’s how:

If your policy requires employees to
call in if they’re going to be late or absent, you can discipline employees on
leave for not complying with it. However, call-in policies must be applied
consistently for all forms of absences. Another best practice: Requiring
employees to use specific absence forms to make sure they stay compliant with
your policies.

with chronically absent employees can be tricky, especially when those
employees are disabled. But there’s good news: Courts are confirming that regular
attendance is an essential function for many jobs under the ADA.

Get help from vendors.
Work with outsource providers that have ADA and FMLA compliance built into
their offerings.

absence management.

Get your entire HR team involved in compliance and absence management. For
example, assign one employee FMLA absences, while another concentrates on ADA

Provide training.
Employers might offer training to their managers on how to best manage absences,
as well as the basics of employment law. The Society for Human Resource
Management offers onsite training or an online learning platform like Degreed
can offer company-specific courses to managers to be able to identify
conditions, communicate with employees, implement  accommodations and track absences.

Establish procedures.
Give employees a set of guidelines to follow when reporting they’ll be absent
or late for work, including:

  • a
    method for tracking attendance (this might include time clock attendance
    software that tracks PTO, FMLA, etc.)
  • a
    list of approved absences (and required documentation)
  • when
    disciplinary action is taken, and
  • a
    procedure for requesting time off.

every accommodation request.
 In an ADA case, Vitti
v. Macy’s Inc.
, an employee claimed the company didn’t accommodate her
illness, then fired her because of her condition after she returned from
medical leave. But the employer said the worker had chronic attendance issues
even before her medical leave. She also never submitted the proper paperwork
for an accommodation. The court said the worker couldn’t be denied an
accommodation she didn’t ask for.

That’s why employers need to make it
clear to employees how to ask for accommodations and then track all those

The post Better training to help managers enforce attendance rules (and stay FMLA compliant) appeared first on HRMorning.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post