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February 27, 2014

Are You Ready for a Vacation?

I remember as a child returning to school after summer break.  It was so exciting because on the first day of school, as a method for young students to get to know each other, the teacher would ask what we did on our summer vacation.  We would then share our stories with all the other students of our visits to Grandma’s house, our trip to Mexico, playing outside in the hot summer sun, and swimming every day possible.  Summer vacations as a child were really a lot of fun!

This made me wonder why so many employees find it hard to take time off from work for vacation.  It could be a number of reasons.  Heavy workloads may place added pressure on an employee, the boss’s negative attitude toward those employees using their earned benefit, and the squeeze of the economy could all add to an employee’s hesitance to take their time off.

According to a survey by U.S. Travel Association, “Americans left an average of 3.2 PTO days on the table in 2013, totaling 429 million unused days among U.S. workers.”  The survey went on to say that “nearly 34 percent of employees indicated that their employer neither encourages nor discourages leave, and 17 percent of managers consider employees who take all of their leave to be less dedicated.”  (Fortunately, that leaves 83 percent of managers who do not feel that way!)

In fact, most employers recognize the importance of providing time off for employees to relax, refresh, and rejuvenate.  Employees personally and physically benefit by disconnecting for a short time and companies enjoy happy, more engaged workers and increased productivity.  When vacation time is encouraged by management, it works as an excellent retention tool as well.  So, what are your vacation plans?


Source:  U.S. Travel Association.


February 26, 2014

Reduce the Cost of Turnover with Effective Performance Appraisals

The cost of turnover can be crippling for most organizations.  In a study by Center for American Progress (CAP), it was found that when replacing a mid-level employee it costs about 20% of their salary.  With the cost of replacing employees being so high it behooves management to take actions to reduce turnover.  One of those ways is to have an effective performance appraisal.

Employees often fear their annual appraisal.  Why is that?  More frequently than not, an employee will only receive feedback during their annual appraisal.  This lack of communication can cause a breakdown between a manager and their employee.  It is important to provide feedback to employees throughout the year.  Maynard Webb, author of Rebooting Work: Transform How You Work in the Age of Entrepreneurship says, “When it comes to retaining talent, one tactic I’ve often found crucial is implementing informal weekly and formal quarterly check-ins.”  He explains that by doing this you are able to avoid disconnects within an organization and between managers and employees. Feedback is critical when attempting to get employees to buy into an organization’s culture.

Performance appraisals can be used as the perfect conduit to facilitate ongoing feedback between a manager and an employee.  When managers continually check-in with employees they will have the opportunity to provide and ask for feedback.  Increased feedback will lead to increased employee “buy in” which leads to increased employee satisfaction and reduced turnover.


February 20, 2014

“Steer” Clear of Discrimination

Just when you thought you had heard everything there was to know about discrimination, I just came across another – “Steering!”  According to the HR Daily Advisor, “’Steering’ may be charged when people in a protected class are ‘steered’ to jobs with lower long-term potential than other similar jobs.”

A recent court case settled by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) illustrates just how government agencies are beginning to look at situations in the workplace under a different light.  G&K Services Company provides textile leasing and renting services to government agencies.  It was discovered that G&K had a practice of assigning laundry workers to different tasks and different pay rates on the basis of gender.  The OFCCP specifically found that female employees who had been hired as general laborers were assigned to “light duty” jobs that paid less than the “heavy duty” jobs involving similar work and qualifications, which the company reserved for men.  This is a form of pay discrimination because women were denied access to higher paying opportunities because of sex stereotyping.  It was also discovered by investigators that male applicants were frequently denied the option to compete for a majority of the open laborer opportunities because the company only considered them for the so-called heavy duty work.

G&K Services will be paying back wages of $265,983 to 59 female workers who were steered into lower paying jobs and they will be offered higher-paying laborer positions.  G&K will also pay back wages of $23,968 to 331 male job applicants who were denied the opportunity to compete for open lower-paying laborer positions.

It is extremely important that employers review their hiring policies, but also their hiring practices.  If any discriminatory trends are noted, make good-faith efforts to correct them, documenting along the way.  With so many people still unemployed, everyone deserves a fair chance to choose the job they want, not the one they were steered toward!



February 14, 2014

Did You Know . . . about HRN’s Shopping Cart?

Filed under: General HR Buzz,HRN News6:00 am

Did you know HRN Performance Solutions offers a number of Human Resource products in addition to Performance Pro and Compease? You can find everything from our Employee Handbook Plus to HR Suite, not to mention over 600 job descriptions, sold separately or a compilation of all, in our Job Descriptions Plus CD-ROM.

Each of these products offers something different and unique, you are sure to find something to fulfill your HR needs.

Employee Handbook Plus is an essential handbook with pre-written, easy to understand guidelines covering 70 topic areas.

Our Job Descriptions are current and updated regularly to reflect the current job market. Job Description Plus comes with extensive Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) resources, including those used to determine exempt versus nonexempt status.  It also includes hundreds of comprehensive, ready-to-use job descriptions covering most functional areas. If this is more than you need, you can also purchase single job descriptions as needed.

HR Suite contains a complete Company HR Policy Manual for managers and supervisors plus our complete Employee Handbook written in everyday language.  You also receive the monthly People Pay Performance newsletter summarizing the latest HR issues in a quick-read format. Also included is our HR Resource Library including over 200 Forms & Tools.

But wait, there’s more!  Let’s not forget HRN’s Forms and Tools bundles. These can be purchased separately or altogether. The topics offered are -  Compensation, Benefits and Records,  Corrective Action & Termination, EEO & Employment Law Issues,  Hiring, and Employee Development.  Each form and document has been written and reviewed by HR legal experts and provides an excellent reference and training resource to help ensure your human resources practices are legally compliant.

You can find all of your HR products you are looking for here:  One of the best things about our shopping cart is, once you have purchased a product from us and registered, you will have your own account and shopping will be a breeze should you require future purchases.


February 13, 2014

ACA “Play or Pay” Undergoes More Refinements

Filed under: Benefits,Insurance,Legal Issues12:07 pm

It was announced this week that additional delays in the “Play or Pay” provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for some small businesses has been delayed yet again.  Employers with 50-99 employees have been relieved from the requirement to provide suitable health insurance coverage or pay a penalty until January 2016.  These smaller employers still have to comply with reporting requirements starting in 2015, though.

As you will recall the ACA has a requirement that employers with 50 or more employees must provide health insurance coverage meeting specific criteria outlined in the law to their employees working 30 or more hours a week or they face penalties for not complying.  This provision was scheduled to begin January 2014, but was delayed last summer postponing the implementation to January 2015.  Employers with 100-plus employees must still comply by 2015.


February 11, 2014

Managing the Import Process in Performance Pro

Filed under: Performance Management,Performance Pro3:24 pm

Many of our clients utilize an HRIS or payroll system, but are not leveraging the benefit by using Performance Pro’s import feature.  The employee information can be easily updated by using our import service that is customized for your system based on your company needs.  Whether your comfort level isn’t there or you are experiencing a lack of time, the import feature is extremely beneficial.

For clients who appraise on an anniversary cycle or face constant change in their organization, importing represents an easier way to ensure their organization structure stays up-to-date.  It is important to develop a plan on how you use importing to ensure that changes are occurring when and how they should and data will remain secure.

HRN Performance Solutions offers a great service for those clients who need the import process, but have yet to embrace it. The import service allows you to send your basic data file to HRN, and we will do the rest. We will develop a customized plan with you that will fit your company needs to update your data and review all the considerations to ensure that your data is safe and secure. Call (800) 940-7522 today for your free quote and process evaluation.


February 6, 2014

Strange Employee Behavior May Notify Employer of FMLA Need

Filed under: Benefits,FMLA2:24 pm

A federal court in South Carolina has ruled that an employer must go to trial on a Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) claim involving an employee who exhibited strange behavior but was not given notice of his FMLA leave rights.

The case involved an employee whose supervisor knew he previously had been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and was on anti-depressants and receiving counseling. His coworkers also reported that he was engaging in strange behavior. The employee did not ever ask for FMLA but did ask to take vacation time because he was stressed and needed to unwind. The employer denied the requested vacation time because it had scheduled mandatory training at the same time. When the employee did not show up at work for the training, he was fired for uncooperative behavior. The employee sued for alleged FMLA and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) violations. The court dismissed the ADA claims, but ruled that in this context, the reports of strange behavior may have put the employer on notice that it should have offered FMLA leave to the employee. As a result, the court allowed the employee’s claim that the employer interfered with his FMLA leave rights to go to trial.

A good lesson from this case is that the “employee did not ever ask” for FMLA.  Yes, that is right!  An employee does not have to come right out and ask for, or use the term FMLA, for it to be an employer’s responsibility to realize they have been put on notice of the employee’s need for leave.  An employer does well to know their employees and the law.  If an employee exhibits strange behavior, he/she may be trying to tell you something!




February 4, 2014

Hot Jobs in Marketing

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Hiring & Jobs6:00 am

Demand for marketers is increasing, but it depends on the skill sets you have.  There is a shortage of certain skill sets and an overabundance of old school.  Skill sets in big demand are in social media, mobile media/marketing, automation, and Search Engine Optimization. The old traditional media formats such as print, radio, and television are more in the decline.

Recent college graduates are at a slight disadvantage as the universities are not adjusting their curriculums to accommodate the new technologies as fast as the workplace needs them, according to Linda Girard, CEO of Pure Visibility. Therefore, new graduates are having to do more “on-the-job-learning” as soon as they join an organization.  It typically takes three to six months to become familiar with the new language and technology to be useful to employers and clients alike. You will find organizations investing in training for entry level positions. Experienced positions are expected to be knowledgeable with both old and new styles of marketing mediums, with very little training offered.


Source:  Aquent/AMA Survey; and SEMPO’s Fourth Annual Salary Survey