Friday January 24, 2020
 

Gamification and employee engagement: How e-design stimulates training

Introducing gamification doesn’t mean installing PlayStations
all across the workplace. It means using your online training software or any
other eLearning tool to stimulate training by converting work activity into a
more game-like experience.

But, why should you?

Because gamification boosts employee engagement by making training, and other regular tasks, more exciting and appealing.                        

Gamification taps into the same human motivations which make
‘games’ entertaining to incentivize trainees, creating a more proficient
learning and training model.

Whether you’re using your LMS for employee training or any
other kind of training, applying gamification will increase employee engagement
and knowledge retention.

Here are some stats to back that up:

Eighty-three percent of employees who receive gamified training feel driven, whereas 61% of those who receive non-gamified training feel uninterested and uncreative.

Up to 7-times conversion rate has been attained by businesses using gamification.

Eighty percent of employees in the US believe game-based learning is more appealing.

Seventy-eight percent of employees believe that gamification in the hiring process would make a corporation more desirable.

Corporate gamification training features increase by 60% the level of employee engagement and improve efficiency by up to 50%.

Benefits of gamification in employee engagement & training

Wondering how incorporating gamification into your online
learning software can improve employee training?

Here are eight key benefits of using gamification in LMS training.

1. Employee Feedback

By means of gamification, your employees can receive constant, updated, and automatic feedback. You can include different leaderboards in your online training software so that workers can observe how they’re doing compared to yardsticks they’ve set for themselves. They can even compare their performance to their fellow workers within the company.

Undoubtedly, feedback is one of the most significant features
of gameful design, as it allows learners to continuously comprehend how they’re
doing and what measures they can take to enhance their performance.

2. Employee Recognition

Nearly 58% of workers believe employee recognition is how managers could do more to increase employee engagement. This clearly shows that, like financial rewards, recognition at work is equally important.

Who doesn’t want to feel acknowledged and appreciated? We
all want to know that we’re doing a great job, and that our hard work is being
accepted by our bosses.

Gameful training is an effective way to observe which
employee is performing particularly well, which one has improved drastically,
and which employee may have wafted off and might need a slight warning.

The best part is that it’s all carried out automatically,
making it stress-free for supervisors to manage.

3. Skill Development and Improvement

One of the greatest benefits of adding gamification elements
to your online training software is to provide ample opportunities to your
employees for learning and self-improvement.

The feeling of learning a particular skill is a significant
aspect of accomplishment and happiness in the office.

A gameful training design allows you to discover new things,
and see how they’re becoming easier and easier with the passage of time. And
before you even realize, something that used to be exceptionally challenging
could be done more effortlessly.

4. Motivation and Encouragement

To compete and to succeed are innately  human characteristics. We all want to win and
surpass others, don’t we?

By converting boring courses into gamified sessions, you can
encourage employees to compete with one another. 

This way, they feel more motivated to participate in
training and give their hundred percent to appear on the top spot of the leader
board.

5. Employee Engagement

Gamification is a potent engagement tool that produces
actual behavior variation by working with your brain chemistry.

Gamified training feels awe-inspiring as it activates a
strong gush of happy hormones. It makes your brain say, “Whatever you just did,
keep doing it!”

So when your employees enjoy learning, they feel involved
and desire more. But, when learning is uninteresting, the happy aspect
disappears. 

This means you can use gamification to put the happiness
back into your online learning initiatives.

6. Autonomy and Self-paced Learning

Unlike customary class-based training programs, gamified
learning provides your employees with the option of selecting their own
schedule to start a training course or module.

All thanks to technological developments, your employees can
access training content from any part of the world, via any device, and at any
time they want.

7. Emotional Resilience

Did you know, gamification can change your emotional responses and improve resilience?

But, why is emotional resilience important? Because it’s
strongly related to engagement in the workplace.

By incorporating a gamified training program, you can
increase your employees’ resilience and poise. If they know there’s a prize or
the opportunity to level up at the end of a challenging learning task, they’ll
be more determined to do well. 

Rather than feeling frustrated when confronted with a
difficult subject, they’ll rise and shine through the challenge.

8. Teamwork and Shared Success

Only a few things activate that heartfelt, fuzzy sentiment
more than rejoicing success together. No matter how distant your teams are,
gamified training allows them to rejoice their co-workers’ accomplishments on
the online training software.

Computer-generated prizes such as badges and points appear
on every user’s profile area and turn up on the newsfeed of their online
learning software. So every time somebody attains an Acclaim Badge or
Experience Points, their co-workers can applaud them with virtual claps or a
thumbs up!

Plus, you can arrange online tournaments between different
departments that encourage teamwork among employees, along with fun-filled
learning.

It’s important to remember that gamification shouldn’t be
done just for the sake of making training entertaining.

There should be a definite aim, an objective that you want employees to achieve. Without any clear aim, the learning will fail to create an impact, which means no retention and waste of time, funds and energy.

Setting an aim for learning and gamification will allow your
employees to hark back to what’s being conveyed. As humans, we‘re more likely
to recollect actions than words. If the aim is unknown, your employees will
probably get muddled and lose vision.

 And a player who’s muddled can never win the game.
Similarly, your employees who are confused between training purposes will fail
to gain important takeaways.

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Paid family and medical leave should be federal law, CEOs say

Business Roundtable, an association of U.S. CEOs that advocates for business-friendly public policy, last week called for congress to make paid family and medical leave available to as many American workers as possible.

The group sent letters to congressional leaders and the President urging lawmakers to legislate a national paid leave.

The letter comes as support increases for a national paid family leave law.

The latest defense spending bill passed by Congress includes paid family and medical leave for federal workers. The President has said he will sign the bill, which ties the proposed law to the creation of a new U.S. Space Force.

The CEOs say extending such a law to all workers will help “millions of employees in every state address the demands of parenting, family or personal illness, caregiving, and other exigencies that are part of daily life outside of work.”

Most don’t have paid medical leave

In the letter, the business leaders noted that fewer than 17% of workers currently have access to paid family and medical leave through their employers. Fewer than 41% of private-sector workers have access to paid medical or short-term disability leave, they say.

Also, the Business Roundtable sees the current patchwork of local and state paid family leave laws creating challenges for employers and employees.

But the group did not suggest specific rules or benefits that should be included in a national paid family and medical leave law.

They said only that it should adhere to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which mandates unpaid leave for eligible employees.

The group also calls for flexibility for employers to administer paid family and medical leave benefits on behalf of workers, including managing their own plans if self-funded and offering different benefits to different types of workers.

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Payroll tech trends guaranteed to boost employee experience

Is your company evolving with the technology and payroll
policies that support the way today’s employees want to be paid?

Payroll tech trends play a significant role in the employee experience, from payment-on-demand to GDRP compliance for the growing remote workforce.

The way people are paid and how companies keep deductions correct today is a far cry from the days of ledgers and handwritten checks. Automated payroll is changing with the times, reflecting the needs of workplaces where not all employees are on site, not all employees have bank accounts, and workers may even be located in other countries, making your business responsible for compliance to the payroll rules of foreign countries.

What employees want

With record low unemployment, employers must focus on company culture and the employee experience – what it’s like to work for you from date of hire to date of departure. Payroll – including bonuses, commission, loans and reimbursements – must be a positive experience for the employee. If not, it might push them to find greener grass somewhere else.

HR experts say the future of payroll is Rapid disbursement.

According to an Aite Group Study commissioned by Ingo Money
in 2018, 65% of consumers said it’s important to be able to receive instant
payments from businesses or government agencies that owe them money. And 70%
reported they would select an instant payment option if available. Now compare
that to the typical payroll cycle where employees work for two weeks and then
wait a week to be paid for it.

Rapid disbursement is the instant digital delivery of funds with certainty of availability. The money earned could go to the employee’s account, including credit and debit cards, or online wallets and physical cash-out locations. The employee would control where they are paid without the cumbersome process of direct deposit, which requires an approved bank account in a process where the employer controls the timeline (and a new employee’s first and sometimes second pay is in check form). The money would also be available immediately, not stuck for a day in “pending” status.

The rideshare company Lyft improved its drivers’ experience
by offering instant payroll with the option of Express Pay in 2018. Drivers
were able to cash out as many as five times in a day, with 58% of drivers using
Express Pay the first year.

Instant payment is especially important to gig workers, a
growing percentage of the workforce. In a PYMNTS survey, 84% of gig workers
said they would work more frequently if paid instantly. Gig workers are
typically well-qualified in their field and able to weigh the benefits
different employers offer when selecting work. Having instant payment can prioritize
you over others offering work at the same time. That can be huge when big
projects begin, or current employees are unavailable.

Another payroll trend is offering Paycards.

Did you know that as many as 10% of the employees in the U.S. are unbanked? For these folks, direct deposit is not a viable option and payroll still has to cut a paper check and deliver it. Offering Paycards, or debit cards that the employer funds with the employee’s net pay, is not only a desirable option for them, but also for employees who do have bank accounts but split their pay for financial management reasons.

Offering a paycard means avoiding the cumbersome check
cutting for employees without direct deposit. The employees getting those paper
checks often face fees to cash them – even at the bank they’re written on –
which attaches an extra cost to getting paid.

Paycards can be used at the point of sale for purchases and
can be used at an ATM for cash withdrawal.

By offering a paycard, the company reduces the costs
associated with manual checks, lost or stolen checks, stop-payment orders,
check cashing fraud and bank reconciliation fees.

For employees, their pay is eligible for electronic funds transfer without having a bank account, they cannot incur debt on a paycard (which helps with finance management and improving credit scores) and they do not have to ask relatives to cash their check or pay a fee to do so at a bank or check cashing business.

If your company is considering a paycard option, check legal
and regulatory issues affecting paycards. In many states they are generally the
same as those rules governing direct deposit (ACH transactions, employee
privacy and escheatment).

What employers need

Aside from keeping employees happy, effective payroll solutions can help your company avoid IRS penalties for payroll errors, one of the costliest mistakes a company can make. According to HR Payroll Systems, 82 million U.S. employees are affected by payroll problems – that’s 54% of the American workforce.

The IRS issues fines totaling billions of dollars each year
to business owners, primarily for payroll errors. Cutting edge payroll
technology and trends can help a business owner handle these transactions in
the right way.

When looking to upgrade, consider a system that is GDPR-compliant.  For many industries today – small businesses included, there are no longer geographic restrictions on where employees are in proximity to the business. Where once a worker lived in the same town or a commutable distance, today’s worker doesn’t even have to live on the same continent to be a successful part of a team.

Remote workers from European Union countries working for you must be paid in a way that complies with the General Data Protection Regulation. This law makes sure all the personal data collected by an employer is protected. Employers without GDPR can face heavy fines for data carelessness.

With the proper GDPR-compliant payroll system all employee
data entered will be protected by the highest security standards on the market,
avoiding cyber catastrophes and large fines.

When you take ideas for payroll upgrades to the COO,
CEO or board, it’s common to hear that new payroll tech is too expensive.

New payroll systems aren’t as expensive as perceived and can go a long way in avoiding costly mistakes. For example, new programs make time tracking and scheduling easier. Traditional time tracking has been highly susceptible to fraud, from co-workers “punching in” for another who is running late to employers paying for time not worked. The same technology can help manage vacation time and requests for days off, two typically time-consuming efforts for HR and payroll staff.

Payroll software can be part of an HR package that allows
you to customize training courses for team members to develop talent,
promote from within and boost morale.

New payroll programs are also cloud based, which increases efficiency
and flexibility. Remote workers can manage payroll from one dashboard, and
cloud-based systems provide room for growth. If the company grows or more gig
workers are added, the existing payroll system doesn’t need replaced because
your company outgrew it. Remote workers can also clock in and request time off
remotely.

The first step to modernize your payroll process is to find a system that works for the employees and the business. And then, just as importantly, work with IT professionals so the system is properly implemented to maximize its potential.

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Resolve to achieve good health and excel in 2020!

Is today’s corporate environment conducive to good health and happiness? It doesn’t appear that way.

Approximately 80% of companies with 1000+ employees offer wellness solutions for their teams, and another 33% of companies with 50-100 employees offer the same. 

Yet, medical claims are on the rise, employees are experiencing grave amounts of stress, and younger people are getting sicker faster.  Something needs to shift, and it needs to begin with a fresh perspective.

As a wellness coach, it’s been been an honor for me to serve clients for the past nine years, helping them to achieve health as they excel in business.  They’ve increased energy, rid the body of pain, shed pounds, achieved happiness, and more. 

Personal choice

If you asked me what the secret was to their success, I would tell you it was largely due to one key practice, taking ownership of personal choice.  It seems quite simple, yet people struggle with it every day.  Education, inspiration and simple strategies will support you in your journey, but until you decide to shift your mindset and take ownership of your choices, you’ll remain in the same space you are today. 

Every choice you make matters, each contributing to your
long-term health and happiness.  

Here are my five simple strategies to help you achieve good health as you excel in business. Best of all, there’s no need to sacrifice one for the other!

5 steps to good health

  1. Build Awareness:  Demands are great, time is limited, and competition is fierce.  As a result, we run at a fast pace and rarely stop to consider the needs of the body.  The body speaks to us every day and the beautiful thing is that it never over-exaggerates or lies; it just tells it like it is.  One morning you might have the sniffles, another a sore neck, and maybe in the afternoon you feel like you could use a nap.  These are all situations where the body is speaking.  If we take time to stop and listen to the body, we’ll be more aware of its needs and be able to respond accordingly.  This however takes practice!  Pause in the morning and do a little scan of the body, check in to see how it’s feeling, and decide how you’d like to navigate to best support its needs.  We call on the body to care for us every day and perform at its best;  we need to care for it in return.
  2. Create supportive, healthy boundaries.  We must create a supportive environment in order to achieve health and fulfillment.  Take inventory of your daily activities and decide if adjustments are needed to alleviate stress in your life and achieve your goals.  Create buffers in the day so you can move in a fluid way without the anxiousness and stress of being over-scheduled.  Carve out blocks of time to focus solely on a project and to answer emails and voicemails.  In the evening allow space for the activities you enjoy such as light exercise, connection with friends, and quiet time to read.  Once you identify your healthy boundaries be sure to communicate them with your family, friends and colleagues.  Share that you’ll answer voicemails at a certain time in the day, let the family know you’ll take 30 minutes for yourself before arriving home for dinner, or that you’d like to schedule a family date night to increase fulfillment in this area.  Once you become the example for creating healthy boundaries, your family, friends and colleagues will feel empowered to do the same.
  3. Say no.  This can be a challenging but necessary assignment if you want to increase health and happiness.  Before making any decision, ask yourself “What will this provide me?”  This one simple question will help you decide whether your participation will cause you angst or move you in a supportive, healthy direction.  By pausing and asking yourself this question, you will be able to make a conscious choice instead of one out of convenience, haste, or guilt.  Kindly express thanks and gratitude for the opportunity and say no.  It really is as easy as that.  Sometimes, clients will say that this feels very selfish, saying no to others so that they can focus on their own needs.  I’m here to tell you that this is not about selfishness, but rather, it has you check your level of selflessness.  Picking up extra work to cover a need, volunteering for your community, or coaching another of your child’s sport teams can all feel rewarding in the moment. But if it’s pulling you from the necessary activities that will help you achieve your desired level of health and happiness, you have to say no to something.  Every choice matters. 
  4. Focus on Fulfillment:  Instead of trying to achieve work/life balance, focus on fulfillment.  Balance is difficult to achieve and leaves us feeling unsettled and dissatisfied. It’s simply not possible to work 8 to 10 hours a day, and then spend the same amount of time with your loved ones.  However, when we are present in our communication with others and focus on the people, activities, and the things we’re most passionate about in life, we will experience fulfillment which then creates a feeling of balance.  Fulfillment can be defined as a feeling of satisfaction at having achieved your desires.  This is very different from success, which is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.  A young child will feel fulfilled by having your sole attention for 10 minutes versus having an hour of your time while you multitask, answering emails, getting dinner prepped, and cleaning the kitchen.  Consciously choose to be present with the people in your life, focus solely on yourself while enjoying an activity, and get quiet as you offer gratitude for your many blessings.  It is in the consistent practice of conscious choice that allows us to experience fulfillment and provide it to others too!
  5. Fuel the Body:  Fill up on plant-based foods that are rich in phytonutrients!  These naturally occurring chemical compounds that are only found in plant-based foods help heal the body and protect from illness and disease.  Plant-based foods include leafy greens, vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.  No need to start restricting your not-so-nourishing food choices; instead, let’s focus on inserting nourishment into the diet and in time your choices will naturally crowd out the not-so-nourishing food.  Start by incorporating one cup of leafy greens into your daily diet for the next two weeks; you’ll feel an increase in your energy from this one choice.  From there, add an additional cup in the next two weeks that follow, then moving into the same for vegetables, fruit, etc.  Ultimately, you’ll want to consume 2 cups of leafy greens, 4 cups of vegetables, 1.5 cups of fruit, 1 cup of whole grains, ½ cup of beans and 1-2 oz of nuts or seeds per day.  No need to feel overwhelmed about this news; just start small and work your way up one cup at a time every two weeks and build on your success! 

Health is not about perfection; it is all about
progression.  Take ownership of your
choices, make sure these choices you’re making feed the outcome you desire, and
adjust when needed.  We’re all human,
we’re going to make a choice here and there that doesn’t serve us so well.  When this happens, do not fret over it, or
beat yourself up because of the choice you made.  Instead, explore why you went this route,
learn from the situation and know that every choice you make is a new
opportunity on the journey to healthy, vibrant living. 

It is possible to achieve health as you excel in business;
it takes consistent practice of conscious choice and in time you’ll look back
at smile in disbelief of the life transformation that has taken place, one
little choice at a time.  You have all
you need to make it happen and I’m here to support you along the way. 

 

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Letter from a disgruntled ex-employee? How to respond

When you terminate an employee and they leave quietly without incident, you may think that’ll be the end of it.

But “vent letters,” messages in which ex-employees air all their grievances, are becoming increasingly common — and it’s important to know how to respond.

Take complaints seriously

A few old employees might just want to get some things off their chest, but others may raise some serious issues that need to be addressed.

Here’s how employment lawyer Adam Bartrom of the firm Barnes & Thornburg says you should react:

  1. Take complaints seriously and identify legal risks. You should treat these letters as if they were formal complaints raised in an exit interview. The ex-employee may even offer some helpful insights or suggestions. It’s also important to be on the lookout for any potential legal problems raised, such as harassment, discrimination or retaliation allegations.
  2. Investigate and document. If an ex-employee brings up something that needs to be looked into, save the letter and launch a well-documented investigation. Make sure your managers know to send vent letters with serious complaints to HR.
  3. Respond to letters with a PR mindset. Remember that anything you say could end up in court, so respond carefully and follow the usual policies. For example, does your company typically respond to social media comments or Glassdoor reviews? If it does, reply to a vent letter in the same polite, professional way.

It’s important to note that employers can avoid most vent letters if terminated employees are given the opportunity to speak their minds during exit interviews.

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Why automating onboarding can help retain top talent

Employees are an indispensable resource – and
in this competitive hiring market, companies can’t afford turnover. So now more
than ever, businesses must work on retaining their best employees to ensure they’re
running as effectively and efficiently as possible. 

There are many ways companies can do this,
but getting started out of the gate with a thorough and welcoming
onboarding process is one of the best ways to show your employees what they
mean to your business. They’ll know that you value them and they’ll be eager to
stick around longer.

Of course, onboarding can be time-consuming,
but luckily, the latest HR
technology can help you establish a systematized approach to onboarding while
carefully monitoring all of its important aspects.

Here are five ways investing automation of in
your onboarding process can help you retain your top talent:  

Establish a single source of
communication

The fast pace of modern tech development
has made it difficult for companies to keep track of all the channels where
they can find new employees. Oftentimes, candidates will contact businesses
through multiple channels when searching for jobs making it challenging to
track communication and new applicants throughout all the platforms.
Additionally, it’s difficult to assess potential employees and manage them for
proper onboarding.

To help with this process, you can use
software solutions like assessment software to store and manage
applications in a single database. That way, you won’t have to work across multiple
platforms.

Automate sourcing and screening
tasks

Artificial intelligence is making its way
into various software solutions like applicant tracking systems, time clock
software, and others. And when it comes to onboarding and hiring new employees,
it can help HR pros immensely. Here is how:

Giving responses to applicants

When there’s a large volume of applicants,
like with bulk hiring, onboarding managers may find it a challenge to respond
to all of them. In these situations, an AI-powered onboarding software can help
generate proper responses and send them automatically.

Performing sourcing and screening

AI software can also help with screening
and sourcing. Through its understanding of job requirements, it can look for
candidates that meet the criteria, shortlist them and rank them properly. This
allows managers to quickly determine which candidates to focus on first.

Getting all relevant information

AI has the power to gather information
about candidates and store it in a structured manner. This structure makes it easier
for HR reps to assess candidates based on the stored data.

Evaluate candidate qualifications

One of the more tedious tasks for hiring
managers is to go through many applications and narrow down the list to people
who are qualified to do the job. Modern technology gives HR managers the
information they need to evaluate candidates based on knowledge, skills,
experience, employment, history, and other relevant information – all displayed
on one dashboard. From there, they can take it one candidate at a time.

Sorting applicants

Some HR solutions come with features,
functionalities and options that make testing candidates easier, giving
objective results that can tell managers whether someone would be a good fit
for the company. Instead of just relying on their subjective opinions, managers
can use these solutions to give unbiased scores and make better hiring
decisions.

Furthermore, these tools allow managers to
sort candidates using different criteria such as:

  • Career achievements
  • Portfolios
  • Education level
  • Various demographic factors
  • Work experience

Selecting top candidates

Even though applicants are already sorted
neatly, it’s important to narrow down the list and choose only the candidates
who best match your requirements. To do this, you will have to evaluate them in
a meaningful way. A software solution can save time at this step by providing
personalized aptitude test features and quiz makers you can use for your evaluations. 

Improve employee onboarding

Technology can help speed up the onboarding
process by automating manual tasks that are time-consuming. Automation allows
managers to send out all applications and onboarding forms to new hires as soon
as they get the job so that employees get all the paperwork done before coming
in to work. At the same time, the software can send onboarding managers
notifications about which employees have finished their documentation and which
haven’t.

With these more
monotonous tasks out of the way, onboarding managers can focus on more
important aspects of onboarding: They can engage new hires, tell them about
their new workplace and get to know them better.

Follow-up

While it’s important to make the onboarding
process smooth, the story of retaining employees doesn’t end there. After
someone has joined your team, follow up with proper practices to keep them
engaged.

Providing employee development

To most employees, the prospect of growing
as professionals and acquiring new skills is just as important as the work
they’re doing. With the help of HR training software,  or learning
management solutions, managers can instantly offer lessons, courses, and
training. With training software, it’s easier to create personalized training
and adjust it to the employees’ level of knowledge.

Getting feedback from your
employees

Listening to your employees is essential as
it shows that you value their opinions and promote transparency within your
company culture. HR training software can be used to gather
feedback about courses and other essential issues. This information is then shared
privately with the manager.

Establishing good onboarding practices will
not only help your business handle the hiring process more efficiently, but it
will also help you choose the right people and retain them. Engaged employees will stay a lot
longer because they find their work meaningful in some way – so grabbing their
attention right at the onboarding process will go a long way in keeping them
satisfied.  

In this digital age, using modern software
solutions that offer advanced functionalities can advance your business in a
lot of ways. While it can be a bit of an investment, training software and
onboarding platforms will pay for themselves in the end by freeing up busy HR
professionals to focus on the more ‘human’ elements of the job.  

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The new war for talent: Why you should consider offering benefits to freelancers

The growing war for talent , especially millennial talent, is prompting employers to get creative and offer a new wave of benefits like pet insurance, telemedicine and college loan repayments.

Unfortunately, the fastest-growing part of the employment economy, freelance and contract workers, almost always find themselves left out of that conversation. 

The latest Freelancing In America survey from Freelancer’s Union and Upwork, showed the number of US freelancers grew by 7% in five years to 56.7 million, with 35% of American workers freelancing last year.

The entire gig economy may actually be much larger.

Benefits to freelancers?

It is easy to see why companies tap into freelance and contract workers. They often bring specific skill-sets and experience that full-time staff lacks. Employers can access workers from other geographies, for example, who have unique specialties. By the same token, contract workers are often drawn to the flexibility of hours, location and employers or gigs. 

Although there are advantages to freelance work, including the potential to make more money, there are some obvious drawbacks. Mainly, the lack of consistent income and access to company benefits including health insurance, causing stress and concerns about accessibility and affordability. 

That said, I think freelance workers will soon become the leading drivers in the talent war. The best of the bunch are demanding more and more from their clients. Smart companies that want to continue benefiting from them will need to treat them better and offer incentives. It is time to start thinking of making employee benefits available to contractors.

Extending benefits to freelancers?

In California, a new bill has proposed that gig-economy workers, including those who work for Uber and Lyft, be considered employees, thereby making them eligible for basic health insurance. However, it must be noted that not all freelancers want to be employees.

I know that the subject of advocating extending employment benefits to freelancers, may make some HR leaders bristle. Freelancers are known to carry multiple jobs at a time, so the question of liability or responsibility for any single contract worker, may come into question. Administering and managing coverage for full-time employees is challenging enough, with individual coverage plans often being uniquely configured for them and running for different terms. 

Even when working for the same
employer, some workers may be eligible for benefits one month and then
ineligible the next, based on hours worked. The burden of adding and removing
these workers falls entirely on an employer and adds more complexity, liability
and cost to the equation.

The solution may be found in the
new wave of tools that are automated, flexible and intended to manage the
fluctuation of freelancers who meet eligibility requirements. Since failure to
remove an ineligible worker from your list may be a breach of terms with your
plan provider, hypervigilance offered through such software is necessary. 

Employers may start by offering
freelancers access to voluntary benefits. Pet insurance and student loan
repayment can be a flexible and manageable way to add value to freelance
engagements. Subsidies are also an easier way to contribute without having to
deal with the paperwork and red tape associated with traditional medical
benefits.

Benefits make a huge difference to
an individual – gig workers, part time, or full time employee. Top talent will
look for opportunities that acknowledge their needs even while giving them the
flexibility they appreciate. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how
the California bill will be actualized and, if successful, if it will become
the playbook for similar efforts nationwide.

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Sexual harassment training: Does your state have a new law?

In the wake of #MeToo, where does your state stand on the expanded sexual harassment training trend that’s starting to spread to more workplaces?

New York’s become the latest state to require firms to not only educate staff on harassment, but make it easy to find and file complaint forms.

Newest state laws

In the last two years, a growing number of states have passed laws to expand sexual harassment training.

They include Connecticut, Illinois, Delaware, Washington and California, which just delayed its mandatory compliance until Jan. 1, 2021 (it was Jan. 1, 2020). Rhode Island has a similar bill pending.

Most employers have offered some form of sexual harassment training ever since the 1986 Supreme Court ruling that found sexual harassment violates discrimination laws.

That’s when many firms adopted a “check the box” approach by showing staffers an instructional video on how to spot bad behavior, followed by a run-through of company policies.

But that’s not enough to comply with new state and local regs.

For instance, New York, which is requiring employers to train all employees by Dec. 31, mandates training should explain how to download and submit a complaint on the state’s website.

In Illinois, employers must provide training to new workers within
90 days.

“Training is moving away from ‘Is this harassment or is this not harassment?’ to ‘Harassment is wrong, we don’t tolerate it. Here’s what we expect,’” says Kevin Kish, director of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

“Employers realize they must take [sexual harassment] more seriously now,” says Andrew Rawson, chief learning officer for Trailant, a company that provides sexual harassment training. “It went from a best practice nice-to-have, to a need-to-have, to a substantial chunk of the working population must-have.”

What employers need to do

The specifics vary from state to state, but one thing is clear: Employers need to take steps toward compliance now. Here’s how:

  • Review and revise policies and procedures, as well as employment contracts, severance agreements and confidentiality agreements.
  • Communicate to employees about your state’s new law, if applicable, and impending changes to your company policy.
  • Adopt training programs that include an overview of federal and state laws and outline employers’ responsibilities in preventing, investigating and taking corrective measures on sexual harassment.

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Managing office holiday party risks: Mistletoe no-no’s

The office holiday party season is in full swing. And employers who don’t want to suffer the old adage that “no good deed goes unpunished” would be wise to manage holiday party risks by considering these key suggestions from an employment law expert.

Control Alcohol Service and Consumption

Inebriated office colleagues at a party pose a risk you don’t need and are a formula for trouble. Consider these three precautions when planning or throwing an office holiday party:

  1. Restrict the number of drinks
    permitted (through drink tickets), the type of drinks permitted (no shots and
    plenty of “cool” non-alcoholic options), and the time that drinking is
    permitted (last call prior to departure time).
  2. Ensure sufficient food is
    available and passed around to help slow absorption.
  3. Offer vouchers/paid cab rides
    or incentives to employees to act as designated drivers.

Maintain
a Reasonable Dress Code

No matter the time, location or occasion for the party, make sure employees are aware of your dress code expectations, and that inappropriate and overly suggestive attire is not acceptable for any office-related function.

Respect
Individual Preferences

The point of the holiday party should be to celebrate and reward employees who want the celebration and reward. Reasons some employees may choose to avoid the office holiday party may include having suffered a personal loss at this time of year, general discomfort with mixing “business with pleasure,” religious beliefs, another commitment that evening, or simply preferring to spend the time with family. In any case, employers must never retaliate or ostracize those uncomfortable with office parties, no matter their reason.

Adhere
to Policies and Protocols (and Create Them If Needed)

Office policies and protocols apply regardless of where office personnel congregate, onsite or offsite. These policies are so important they’re worth repeating verbatim to employees. HR professionals should consider the following:

  • Make
    sure you have comprehensive, lawful workplace policies (harassment,
    discrimination, retaliation, complaint process, social media) in place.
  • Circulate
    a memo to employees prior to your holiday party reminding them of your
    workplace policies, that those policies apply equally to on- and off-premises
    parties, and that the company will not tolerate inappropriate behavior and
    violations of its policies.

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Riot Games settles ‘bro culture’ gender bias claim for $10M

All it took was an exposé, two lawsuits alleging gender bias, sexual harassment and wrongful termination; a walkout and a class-action on behalf of its female employees.

But video games maker Riot Games has committed to fundamentally changing a sexist “men first” workplace culture where women were routinely subjected to harassment and inappropriate behavior.

And the $1.4 billion dollar company (2018 revenue) agreed to settle a class-action suit by paying out $10 million to about 1,000 employees who self-identify as female.

The settlement was announced in August but details have just been released.

Fixing a culture of gender bias and retaliation

The legal battle was launched following an investigative report into Riot’s “toxic culture” by gaming news and review site Kontaku. The report detailed pervasive gender bias experienced by female employees at the company.

Following the report, five employees sued the “League of Legends” video game developer for wrongful termination, claiming gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and violation of the California Equal Pay Act.

The company moved to block two of the suits because the two women had signed arbitration agreements when they were hired.

The suit also alleged that Riot retaliated against outspoken female employees who were “denied promotions, refusals to provide increased compensation or equal pay, demotions, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, losses of benefits, suspensions, terminations, and other adverse employment actions.”

Riot said in its filings that it’s strengthened its sexual harassment and gender discrimination reporting process.

The company also committed to make its pay, promotion and hiring practices more fair and transparent.

And it promises other moves to show its commitment to “living up to our values and to making Riot an inclusive environment for the industry’s best talent.”

Arbitration still a sore issue for tech

One thing that won’t be changing immediately for the company’s existing workers is the forced arbitration clause in their contracts.

The company’s efforts to force the original gender bias, harassment and wrongful termination suits into arbitration was one of the driving issues behind the May 2019 walkout by about 150 workers.

Despite the pressure from employees and the public, Riot has thus far refused to change its arbitration agreement for workers hired before Jan. 1, 2019.

That’s when a new California law banning such requirements took retroactive effect.

Employers in California are prohibited from requiring “any applicant for employment or any employee to waive any right, forum, or procedure … including the right to file and pursue a civil action or a complaint…

Tech giants Google and Facebook moved to address the issue earlier this year.

Google announced in February it would end the practice of mandatory arbitration for all employment disputes, including gender bias, sexual harassment and retaliation occurring after March 2019.

Contract workers left out?

That agreement left out contractors, however, who make up about half of its total workforce.

Contract workers at Google locations in California will be covered under the new law.

It is unclear what Google will do for contractors working outside the state.

Facebook so far has followed the lead of other large tech companies and limited its arbitration changes to cases of sexual harassment.

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