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March 29, 2013

HR Fact Friday: Dishonesty While on FMLA Leave Upheld as Terminable Offense

Filed under: General HR Buzz6:00 am

A Michigan federal court has dismissed a wrongful discharge lawsuit under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) because the employer had a reasonable belief that the employee was abusing her leave time. The case involved a situation where the employee, a student nurse, was injured while moving stretchers. While on leave she took a planned trip to Mexico. Her doctor indicated that this was less strenuous than her work duties and the employee said she had used a wheelchair at the airport. However, while on vacation, the employee posted Facebook pictures of her riding motorbikes, holding beer bottles and holding her grandchildren. When confronted, the employee admitted she did not use wheelchairs at airports. The employer fired her for dishonesty and falsifying records. The court upheld the termination based on the plaintiff’s admitted lies and the employer’s reasonable belief she had abused her leave.

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March 28, 2013

2% Increase in 2012 Compensation for Professionals in Higher Education

Filed under: Compease6:00 am

The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) conducted the 2012-13 Professionals in Higher Education Salary Survey.  The survey was comprised of 1,109 higher education institutions, both public (46%) and private (54%), encompassing the salaries of 182,482 job incumbents in 275 positions nationwide.  The findings indicated a 2% increase in the median base salaries for individuals with positions requiring professional-level competencies.  The survey compares current data to previous years’ survey outcomes.

To view the Executive Summary and read more about the salary survey results by Carnegie Class, Job Category, or how salary increases compared to inflation, click here.

Source:  CUPA-HR

HRN Performance Solutions is the provider of , an easy-to-use and comprehensive salary planning and compensation program.

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March 27, 2013

Mob Action in Your Workplace?

Filed under: Performance Management — Tags: , 6:00 am

We have been focusing on Workplace Bullying this month.  It has been a recurring topic of media reports and lawsuits of late.  In researching the topic, a type of bullying piqued my interest:  mobbing.  This is a practice that is equivalent to group bullying.  It usually occurs when an employee inadvertently annoys a manager and finds himself the target of mob action.  The manager, in a provoked state, then determines the employee must go.   With ease the manager is able to convince a portion of the workforce to turn on the worker.  Indirectly the manager makes it known the worker must go because of their own deeds and that the worker would be more contented elsewhere.  And, the mobbing begins.

It all seems so subtle, but to the target these are direct hits!  First, coworkers may distance themselves from the target, excluding him from certain office activities.  The harmful gossiping begins, which quickly turns to destructive rumors.  Hearsay and speculation about the target become rampant.  Coworkers refuse to work with or cooperate with him and sabotage projects for which he was responsible.    Negative performance evaluations, clandestine inquiries, and false accusations of misconduct torment the target as the angered manager tries to make a contrived case for dismissal.

Understanding workplace bullying in all its forms will aid in tailoring workplace policies to meet your organization’s needs and hold the appropriate people accountable for keeping your workplace civil and respectful.

To learn more about Workplace Bullying, see HRN Performance Solutions March, 2013, People Pay Performance.

Source:  Janice Harper, “What the Stanford Prison Experiment Can Teach Us About the Workplace.”  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/janice-harper/stanford-prison-experiment_b_2805497.html

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March 25, 2013

“Pay Your Way” May Be $1 for New Sears CEO

Filed under: Total Rewards9:39 am

You may be familiar with Sears’ and Kmart’s “Shop Your Way” slogan.  Apparently, this has been revised to “Pay Your Way” for the new CEO, Edward Lampert, whose salary is set at $1.  Yes, that’s right.  His annual salary is $1, following the trend of some other major companies such as Apple and Oracle who had the $1 CEO.

As an HR  specialist for a company whose expertise is in compensation and performance management, this is an interesting concept.  From the compensation angle, my first thought was how do you report that on salary surveys?  I could just see the bar graph indicating salaries for CEOs in the hundred thousand dollar ranges to the bottom of the scale at one dollar.  In reality, if Lampert achieves the tough goal of meeting the performance standards to improve profits for Sears and Kmart, he will be eligible for a bonus of up to $2 million in cash or stock and up to $4.5 million in stock per year.  So is the $1 a year salary merely a public relations move to create an image that sacrifices are being made by the CEO to restore the Sears & Kmart brands?

The answer to that question would lie in how the incentive plan is tied to performance.  Some questions to ask would be the following:

  • What are the performance standards that Lampert will need to achieve to receive the bonus?
  • Are there components directly related to the turnaround of the stores that he will be compensated for, or is it merely bottom-line numbers which could possibly be achieved by further layoffs, store closings, etc.?

The design of an incentive plan tied to performance can be a complex process, but if developed properly has great benefit for both the company and the employee.    Items such as clear line of sight, frequent updates to the participants, and stretch goals are all pieces that should be considered.  If participants do not feel they have control of the key performance indicators that they are being measured against or if items are not specific, the plan may tend to demotivate rather than motivate.

At the very least, the $1 a year salary certainly provokes some interesting discussions and questions.  Would you be willing to take a salary of $1 a year in exchange for an incentive plan tied to performance objectives?  I’d like to know – send me your comments!

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March 22, 2013

HR Fact Friday: Workplace Bullying—Is it the Next Employment Law Nightmare?

Filed under: General HR Buzz — Tags: , , 6:00 am

Maybe you thought it was just an oversight that you weren’t included in the lunch outing by others in your department. Then you later learn that one of your coworkers used the lunch outing as an opportunity to criticize you about everything – from the clothes you wear to your work habits. And later in the week, this same coworker takes credit at a staff meeting for a project you recently completed (knowing you don’t have the courage to speak up to dispute his statement).

All of this may remind you of similar antics pulled by bullies in grade school. One would think that the playground bullies would “grow out of it” and not continue this type of behavior in the workplace. Apparently not, as workplace bullying has affected about 35% of workers according to a CareerBuilder survey.

To read more about this developing topic, to view the most recent HRN Performance Solutions monthly HR white paper. If you would like to receive more well-researched and concisely written FREE monthly HR topical white papers, simply and we will add you to our email distribution list.

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March 20, 2013

Don’t Keep Secrets When You’re in the Same Lifeboat!

Filed under: Performance Pro6:00 am

Just a few weeks ago, we watched with dropped jaws the news of the Carnival cruise ship, Triumph, as it was being towed to safety after a fire occurred in an engine room.  The tow back to shore lasted longer than the cruise itself.  Passengers shared their horror stories with the media about the bathroom facilities not working properly causing a stench onboard, having to spend time on the deck in sweltering heat, the scarcity of food and fresh water, and boredom.  Well, it has happened again, and again, and again!  Just last week three more ships in Carnival’s fleet – Elation, Dream, and now, Legend – have found themselves in less than entertaining, and certainly not name-worthy situations.  Though these three recent incidents were not as colossal as Triumph’s problems, it still comes down to the fact that their passengers were greatly inconvenienced.

According to CNN.com Carnival announced they would be conducting “a comprehensive review” of all their ships after the crippling Triumph incident.  While this is a positive step in the right direction, they will have to do much more to restore confidence and build loyalty in current and prospective passengers.

What I found interesting was that some passengers said their chief complaint was the lack of communication on the ship.  They reported the captain shared only limited information with them.  This made me think about how important strong communication is within an organization.   Clear, straight-forward communication would have benefited the passengers on the ship the same way it does with the employees of an organization.

Think about how your employees would react if you didn’t share your organizational mission and goals with them.  What if you didn’t have essential conversations with them or give them regular feedback through ?  Most likely they would lack direction, become complacent and unproductive, and finally morale could become intolerable.  Senior management has a responsibility to make sure each employee can see with clarity the big picture.  Only then will each employee be able to appropriately identify the action steps they must take to contribute to the central organizational objective.  By encouraging individual managers and supervisors to promote transparency through good communication in the organization, they will help build employees’ confidence in their ability to lead them in a structured and efficient manner.  Remember, employees of today are potentially your company’s leaders of tomorrow.

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March 15, 2013

HR Fact Friday: New FMLA Regulations and New FMLA Poster

Filed under: General HR Buzz6:00 am

The United States Department of Labor (DOL) has published new regulations for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The new rules deal with military leave provisions and airline flight crews. Here is a link to an article with a great summary of the new rules: http://www.jacksonlewis.com/resources.php?NewsID=4377.

DOL also now requires that employers post a new poster by March 8, 2013. Here is a link to the poster: http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/fmlaen.pdf. There also are updated model FMLA forms for employers to use, but they do not include any substantive revisions. Here is a link to the updated forms: http://www.dol.gov/whd/forms/.

Keeping up with changing HR compliance requirements is complex and time consuming. Let HRN help. Check our our online, centralized and customizable HR Suite compliance solution. HR Suite includes a company policy manual, employee handbook, a complete library of topically organized HR Forms, resources and tools and a subscription to HRN’s monthly PeoplePayPerformance online newsletter.

To receive notifications such as this FMLA regulation update, take a moment and go to our website by to sign up to receive our monthly HR Legal Update Newsletter and HR white paper.

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March 14, 2013

Can’t We All Just Be a Little Nicer?

Filed under: General HR Buzz6:00 am

Turn on the news, read your phone, listen to the radio, watch any of the most popular sitcoms or reality shows and you will see a common thread running through all of them, or most of them. People being mean. The news is filled with horrific stories of violence and abuse. The sitcoms cannot do without pranks and practical jokes at another’s expense and the reality shows are a continuous stream of people arguing, with more bleeped out expletives than actual dialogue. The more bleeps the better! With this continuous stream of “mean” in the media it is no wonder workplace bullying is on the rise. And, according to the Associated Press, 10 states are now considering legislation that would allow workers to sue for on-the-job bullying that causes physical or emotional harm. They also cite that 56% of companies surveyed have some type of anti-bullying policy.

As an HR professional we would suggest that every organization get out in front of this and look at including an anti-bullying policy in their employee handbook. As a person I would suggest that we look at ways to encourage each other to be nicer, to say “thank you” to say “please,” to help out a coworker who is struggling with a problem at home, to buy a coworker a candy bar just because, to give someone a thank you card, to ask “How can I help?” to recognize someone for a job well done at a staff meeting, to bring in coffee from Starbucks for the office, to help out with mundane tasks i.e., stuffing envelopes, filing, etc. to ask yourself, “What can I do to be a little nicer?”

Have a nice day!! And, create a nice day!

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March 13, 2013

The Future is in the History of Women

Filed under: General HR Buzz6:00 am

There has been a lot of talk this week on most media centers about the new book of the very driven and insightful leader Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook.  She recently released the book, “Lean In:  Women, Work and the Will to Lead.”  She encourages women to grow in their careers and as individuals while achieving a work/life balance.  As with most artistic endeavors, the book has drawn both applause and criticism.  She has bravely faced the press and been very open in her opinions for women to “lean in” to their lives and strive to be leaders.  While one thing may work well for one  woman it doesn’t always apply to another and vice versa.  Personally, I think it’s good to know how others do things, like being a successful business woman, becoming a better leader, mother, wife, or daughter, and even how to clean that feisty red wine stain!

Leadership is achievable for any woman that chooses that path.  Yes, it is a choice; one that requires dedication, determination, and sacrifice.  The website USA.gov announced that March is Women’s History Month.  Numerous government agencies contributed to the archives of the history of how generations of women have contributed to American society.  One hundred years ago, suffragists marched on Washington to promote women’s rights.  In recognition of the anniversary, the National Archives created a Pinterest board where you can view photos, letters, a cartoon, and other documents from that period.

The women we are today are who we are because of the women of yesterday.  Visit WomensHistoryMonth.gov to read about the various roles women have played in history.

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March 12, 2013

HRN to Exhibit at NIGA in Phoenix, AZ 3/26-27

Filed under: HRN News — Tags: , 2:03 pm

HRN Performance Solutions is attending and exhibiting at the upcoming National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) trade show and convention taking place in Phoenix, AZ at the Phoenix Convention Center, March 26-27.

Stop by booth 1430 to learn about HRN solutions and services and meet Paul Hendrycks, VP, Sales &; Marketing and Mike Dougal, Director of HR Consulting. HRN looks forward to introducing our HR solutions and consulting  services to this vibrant marketplace.

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