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December 15, 2014

Front-line Staff Key to Driving Positive Credit Union Member Experience

Filed under: General HR Buzz1:24 pm

frontline credit union staff training

by Chris Steffes, Remote Services Consultant, CU Solutions Group

The experience you offer members – within branch, online, and mobile – can either build loyalty or shatter it. For credit unions, high quality member experiences start with your front-line staff. But according to Gallup’s 2013 study, “State of the American Workplace,” 70% of employees are not engaged at work. So the question is, if employees aren’t engaged at the teller line, call center or the chat room, how can you expect to achieve high member satisfaction?

Successful credit unions understand that when employees feel valued for their knowledge and experience, members benefit. The fastest path to providing a great member experience starts with developing and rewarding your front-line team. Here’s three easy steps to get started:

  • Create. First, enlist your front-line staff to design a member experience program by asking, “How do we want our members to feel when they interact with us?” Encourage your team’s creative side to shape their ideal vision of an extraordinary member experience, from conversations to follow up actions, taking cues from the hospitality industry. Ideas can be as simple as sending an alternative “thank you” to a heavy mobile user after account opening, such as a quick video using your smartphone. Or, promote a quality lending experience by offering a phone charging station at the loan officer’s desk for members to use while discussing loan options. Your plans don’t have to be costly to make a difference, but they should be original. Be ready to try something new and different to please members.
  • Practice. Got an extra 15 minutes before you open the doors? Plan weekly practice sessions for staff to hone their communication skills with one another. Weekly role play of member greetings, rapport-building, listening and showing empathy will reinforce your plan to achieve high quality interactions and grow staff confidence. Also, you can quality control staff performance and provide quick, positive coaching.
  • Reward. Your member experience program is not a one-time event, but requires ongoing coaching and staff development. Reinforce individual success with rewards and opportunities, like representing the credit union at a community event.

Every worker wants to be part of something great. By creating an environment where your team members feel valued and empowered, your staff will project their energy and enthusiasm within their work, and outwardly reflect your credit union’s values, brand, and success to your member community.

If your credit union needs a hand with staff or management training, HR Performance Solutions can help. 

 

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December 8, 2014

The Cost of Free Speech on Social Media

Filed under: General HR Buzz9:55 am

social media free speech

by Joyce Marsh, SPHR

When is social media free speech not free speech? That’s just the question the Supreme Court has been wrangling with this month. Due to a Pennsylvania man’s 2011 conviction from comments he made against his wife, law enforcement and local elementary schools on Facebook, the Court is now debating the question of when a social media comment can be considered a criminal threat.

The reason the case went to our nation’s highest court is to decide what prosecutors must prove so they can win a conviction if someone is charged with making criminal threats on social media. Each side of the debate have plenty of precedents and gray areas they’re presenting, and Facebook is not a party in the case.

What does all of this have to do with your organization? If you don’t have a staff social media policy in place – now is the time to get one. And if you have one, it might be time to refresh your memory on what it covers and see if it needs to be updated given the current social climate. In the meantime, think twice about what you post or tweet, your right to free speech may not be free after all.

 

 

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December 2, 2014

Employee Bullies, Are They Protected Under the ADA?

Filed under: ADA & Disability,General HR Buzz10:56 am

human resources bully free zone

by Emily Sternberg, HR Consultant

Employers and HR Professionals face “difficult” employees all the time.   We know who they are, they are those employees who are considered intimidating, demeaning, or even threatening to co-workers.    The question is, can these employees, with an ADHD diagnosis, be considered disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act?   The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals says no, overturning a jury verdict that awarded a former police officer more than $750,000 in damages, back pay, front pay, and attorney’s fees.   The court stated that although the ADA forbids discrimination against “a qualified individual on the basis of disability”, the evidence presented in the case showed that the plaintiff’s interpersonal problems with co-workers did not amount to a substantial impairment of his ability to interact with others within the meaning of the ADAA.   The court ruled that a cantankerous person who merely has trouble getting along with others is not disabled under the ADA.  The court’s opinion also stated that one who is able to communicate with others, though his communications may at times be offensive, is not substantially limited in his ablity to interact with others within the meaning of the ADA.

The lesson in this case is that all employers must take all requests for disability seriously before making the determination that the employee or candidate is no longer “qualified” to perform the essential functions of the job.   Simply arguing that an employee has no disability may no longer be applicable under the ADAAA interpretation.   As always, be sure to consult with a labor law attorney before taking adverse actions against an employee who has requested accommodation under the ADAAA.

Source:  Weaving v. City of Hillsboro, No 12-35726 (9th Circuit Court of Appeals 8/15/2014)

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November 21, 2014

Top Fourteen Ways to Make a Plaintiff’s Lawyer Happy

Filed under: General HR Buzz1:30 pm

An employment lawyer who typically represents employees against employers recently published this list (on HR Daily Advisor) of the top fourteen things employers do that make it easier for a plaintiff’s lawyer to sue them and win. Here is the list:

1)     the employer gives no reason for termination or relies on at-will employment;
2)     the employee is fired for performance but recently got a good evaluation;
3)     the timing of the termination is bad, (e.g. an internal protected complaint is followed closely in time by termination);
4)     the employer ignored prior notice of a legal issue;
5)     the company had prior complaints about the same issue or person;
6)     the employer did an internal investigation that was superficial;
7)     the employer believed the employee was just trying to get in the retaliation protection bubble, (e.g. “She’s only bringing up her complaint because she just got written up.”);
8)     the employer submits an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge response that is not well written;
9)     the employer does not follow its own policies;
10)  the company issues a gag order once a charge is filed;
11)  the company ignores a pre-lawsuit letter from a lawyer, thus missing a chance to make a lawsuit go away;
12)  company witnesses seem ill-prepared, too clever, or even clueless while testifying about what happened;
13)  the employer humiliates or dehumanizes the plaintiff; and
14)  the employer documents are missing or inadequately prepared.

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November 13, 2014

News Reports Say Positive Employee Drug Tests On the Rise

Filed under: Drugs,Hiring & Jobs2:26 pm

A national employment law firm news site is reporting that the rate of employee positive drug tests has increased for the first time in about a decade. The entity making the study handles drug testing from employers all across the country. The study indicated that use of marijuana and amphetamines have fueled the increase, notably in the states of Colorado and Washington where recreational marijuana use is now legal under state law.  You can read the news report here.

With the voters in two more states, Alaska and Oregon, along with Washington D.C. recently passing recreational use of marijuana, we aren’t likely to hear the end of this topic any time soon.  Keep your eye on this subject, as other states have pending legislation.

 

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November 5, 2014

Train Now or Be Sorry Later!

Filed under: ADA & Disability,Compliance,Discrimination — Tags: 2:20 pm

Can a one-armed security guard be effective?  A jury recently found for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) who sued an employer for unlawfully discriminating against a licensed security guard who lost his right arm in a car accident.  The employee, Alberto Tarud-Saieh, was removed from his post because of a customer complaint about his disability.  In fact, it was the president of a community association that stated, “This company is a joke.  You sent me a one-armed security guard.”  The company responded by removing Tarud-Saieh from his post and not reassigning him to another post, thus terminating his employment.

Treating a disabled individual based on customer preferences, stereotypes, and assumptions as to what the employee can and cannot do is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Instead, a disabled individual should have the opportunity to be considered based upon their actual abilities to perform the job.  Tarud-Saieh was awarded $35,922.  Besides the award to their former employee, the company must also engage in training and implementing anti-discrimination employment policies.

This is a good example of how sound policies and a little training can go a long way to protect your company from charges of discrimination.  Training managers to understand what constitutes discrimination under the ADA is vital to ensure an equal employment opportunity for all.

 

Source:  www.eeoc.gov.

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October 31, 2014

6 Easy Ways to Violate the FLSA – Mistakes 4-6

Filed under: Compease,Compensation,FLSA9:44 am

In yesterday’s blog, we discussed the first three mistakes that lead to Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations.  Today, we will take a look at the last three, featured that is; there are many more!

Mistake #4:  Asking Nonexempt Employees to “Work Off the Clock”

More recently, asking an hourly employee to “work off the clock” is considered wage theft.  The FLSA requires employers to keep accurate time records.  Tight budgets often prompt managers to request that employees “work off the clock” by asking them to come in early or stay late and not compensating them.  Such a practice can create huge liabilities for an organization.

Mistake #5:  Prohibiting Employees from Discussing Compensation Issues

Although many employers prefer that compensation rates and other pay issues remain private and even write policies to that effect, forbidding such discussion by employees may be in violation of the law.  The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) prohibits employers from banning wage discussions as it is interpreted as interfering with employees’ right to engage in protected concerted activity.  The National Labor Relations Board, the government agency that enforces the NLRA, has been watching these actions closely, especially with the more prevalent use of social media.

Mistake #6:  Failing to Properly Pay Nonexempt Employees for Meetings and Training

This is a puzzling one for many employers – knowing whether or not they are required to pay for meetings and training sessions.  Attendance at meetings and training is not counted as “hours worked” if all four of the following criteria are true:

  • Attendance is outside of the employee’s regular work hours;
  • Attendance is truly voluntary;
  • The course, lecture, or meeting is not directly related to the employee’s job; and
  • The employee does not perform any productive work while attending. 

Attendance is not considered voluntary, however, if the employee believes that his working conditions or employment opportunities would be adversely affected if he did not attend.

Even the most experienced HR professionals have difficulty navigating the FLSA.  However, failure to do so can be costly in terms of dollars, time spent fixing problems, bad publicity, and lower employee morale.  Focusing on a few of the most common FLSA mistakes and steering your organization away from them is definitely time well spent.

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October 30, 2014

6 Easy Ways to Violate the FLSA – Mistakes 1-3

Filed under: Compease,Compensation,FLSA4:32 pm

No doubt, most employers have a battle with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which establishes the standards for how to pay their employees.  The FLSA governs overtime pay, the minimum wage, and child labor.  Many are simply unaware of the maze of requirements, some try in good faith to act in accordance with the law but fall short, and a few simply ignore the Act, hoping that nothing comes back to bite them.  But ignorance of the law is not bliss…or an excuse.

FLSA enforcement by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division recovered just shy of $250 million in back wages for 2013, with 269,250 employees receiving back wages. Another interesting fact is that the average days to resolve a complaint is 110.  This means the Wage and Hour people are very interested in the way you pay your employees and even enjoy perusing your records.

Here are six ways (and believe me, there are many more) in which you could find the DOL knocking on your door:

Mistake #1:  Misclassifying Employees

Nearly every employer must decide which positions are considered nonexempt under the law and must be paid overtime (for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek), and which positions are exempt from overtime. The FLSA establishes overtime pay requirements by outlining a series of tests that qualify employees as exempt from overtime and minimum wage requirements in these categories:  executive, administrative, professional, outside sales, and certain high-level computer positions.

Mistake #2:  Thinking, “If I make everyone ‘Salaried,’ I won’t have to pay overtime!”

Genius, not.  Be careful.  “Salaried” is not equivalent to “exempt.”  An employer must satisfy an FLSA job duties test mentioned in number 1.  Remember too, that job positions should be reviewed regularly to ensure they still meet the requirements of nonexempt or exempt as the position requirements may change.

Mistake #3:  Failing to Pay Nonexempt Employees for Unauthorized Work

If a company “allows” employees to work, they must pay for this time and include it as “hours worked” for overtime purposes. When an employee who begins work early, stays late, takes work home, or works through the lunch break without authorization to do so, must be paid for unauthorized work (even if the company has a policy prohibiting it).  The employee, though, may be subjected to disciplinary action for violating the policy.

Watch for Mistakes 4-6 in tomorrow’s blog!

 

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October 23, 2014

Employee Handbook – A Tool You Shouldn’t Be Without

Employee handbooks serve many purposes in an organization.  They can be considered tools for risk management, communication of expectations, and a guidebook of general rules for the workplace.  Employees are not the only ones to benefit from handbooks, but managers and employers also gain an advantage from a well-written and professional-looking handbook.  Here is how:

  • Employees – The handbook should outline how employees are to behave and what the consequences are if they don’t.  It will teach them what needs to be done in their job to be successful in the company.  The handbook should serve as a protection to employees by outlining a process for complaining about possible harassment, reporting an on-the-job injury, and promoting awareness of workplace violence.  Other areas that should be covered are the absence reporting process, how to request time off from work, what dress is appropriate, and how the company feels about complying with all employment laws.
  • Managers – Consistency is key for managers.  They must have a set of standards for how to handle organizational issues.  This should not be step-by-step instructions they must follow, but should consist of principles they can apply consistently in employee relations, performance management, and other areas within their scope of responsibility.
  • Employers – The handbook is a mouthpiece for employers to openly communicate their behavioral expectations for employees and managers alike.  It gives clearly defined parameters for personal conduct, acceptable behaviors, and company expectations.  It is also an effective tool for communicating a summary of the benefits of employment with their organization, (e.g. paid time off, medical and other insurance coverages offered, tuition reimbursement, retirement planning, etc.).  

Ensuring employees have easy access to the employee handbook and have acknowledged its receipt can go a long way to protect an employer in a lawsuit.  Sometimes copies of the policy violated and the acknowledgement of the handbook receipt are all that is needed to dispute an unemployment claim.  Now is the time to minimize your risk by having an up-to-date, legally compliant, and tailored to your company handbook.  It conveys to your employees you care about them and their success!

 

Source:  Brannen, D. Albert.  “Why Your Company Needs a Handbook.” Fisher & Phillips Attorneys at Law.  Available here.

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October 17, 2014

What You Post May Be Held Against You!

Filed under: Hiring & Jobs — Tags: 8:15 am

A recent CareerBuilder.com survey reported that employers are turning more often to social networking sites to screen potential candidates.  In fact, 51 percent of employers said they did not hire a candidate because of the content they found on the candidate’s social media.  If social media wasn’t enough to get the scoop on an applicant, 45 percent of employers responding use Google search engine to dig up whatever shows up on candidates.

Three areas of researching social media were examined closely:

Most common reasons not to hire a candidate:

  • Inappropriate photographs – 46 percent
  • Discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion, etc. – 28 percent
  • Unprofessional screen name – 21 percent

Content that made the candidate look more appealing:

  • Good feel for candidate’s personality; good fit for culture – 46 percent
  • Social media site conveyed professionalism – 43 percent
  • Other people posted positive references about the candidate – 30 percent 

What the candidate posted about themselves and what others posted about them:

  • Profile included links to an escort service
  • Posted a photo of a warrant for his arrest
  • Featured a pig as his closest friend 

Job candidates need to promote themselves on social media, but posts need to be professional and in good taste.  And, don’t forget to Google yourself.  You may be surprised that the angry complaint you posted about a local liquor store three years ago still shows up!  Be careful, because what you post may cost you a job!

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