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July 17, 2014

Making Meeting Time Count!

Filed under: General HR Buzz — Tags: , — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 7:55 am

Raise your hand if you think there are entirely too many meetings in your office!  You can put your hands down now.  Why do we feel this way?  Because many times, meetings become so routine that the focus is completely lost on why the meeting is being held and what it is supposed to accomplish.  Let’s face it, sometimes meetings are just simply time wasters!

To avoid having mechanical meetings, we have to plan better.  Following these tips will help re-engage and to re-focus your attendees so that meetings add value and achieve a specific goal.

  1. Create an agenda – Agendas set the rules for the meeting and answer critical questions.  Who (should attend)?   What (is the topic)?  Why (are we meeting)?  Where (will we meet)?  When (will we meet? How (are we to prepare)?
  2. Stay on track – Keep the goal of the meeting at the forefront and steer the discussion back to the agenda as needed.  If the meeting is scheduled for 30 minutes, then end it promptly.
  3. Limit attendees – Invite only those individuals that need to be there.  Don’t waste others’ time, unless they are critical to the mission.
  4. Summarize the meeting – Follow up the meeting with an email detailing the project, timelines, and assignments.  Make yourself available and hold employees accountable for reaching the goal.  Inform the attendees if additional meetings will be necessary. 

Giving meetings focus will help you and your team to accomplish much more in less time.  


July 10, 2014

If You Look Busy and Feel Busy, Are You Being Productive?

Filed under: General HR Buzz — Tags: , — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 6:00 am

For numerous years we have been told that multitasking is an asset.  As employers, we weren’t looking for singularly focused individuals, but those who could change gears quickly.  Multitasking was the answer to efficiency needs and time management skills.

Workers today have computers, tablets, smartphones, and many other distractions that were supposed to help them be more accessible and productive.  But, what does multitasking really accomplish?  It is reported that multitasking can be synonymous with timewasting.  Those who multitask spend “25 percent to 40 percent more time than people who focus on tasks individually.”  Looking busy has always been an admirable trait, but high producers outpace “Busy” dramatically, and are far more valuable to keep on your team.

Here are a few tips to achieve multitasking freedom.  Come on, you can do it!

  • Start small – by setting aside 20 minutes to devote solely on one project. Repeat for the next project, and the next.
  • Be scheduled – and set a specific time for each project or task to take control of your day.
  • No bells or buzzers allowed – during the scheduled work time, so turn off the email!
  • Shhhhhh – people are working, so try to be respectful of their work time and seek a quiet place to work, so you can accomplish your scheduled task.
  • De-clutter­ – your workspace.  A cluttered workspace makes concentrating on your work very difficult.  Cluttered workspace = cluttered mind?
  • Work – during your work hours and save the personal stuff for breaks and lunch periods.

If any of the above tips will throw you into shock, just dip your toe in the water before you dive in!

Source:  Zacharias, Anne.  The Business Journals. “6 Tips to Become More Productive by AVOIDING Multitasking.”  Available here.




July 2, 2014

Employers Score a Win in PPACA Contraception Mandate

Filed under: Benefits,Insurance,Legal Issues — Tags: — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 10:19 am

Monday, June 30, 2014, the United States Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling sided with Hobby Lobby when they decided that closely held private corporations do not have to include four of the twenty mandated contraceptive methods in their group health plans due to the sincerely held religious beliefs of the owners.  These four exempted methods of contraception will have to be paid from the employees’ pocket, or possibly the federal government will seek a way to cover the costs in accordance with the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act.




June 26, 2014

Court Says Attendance May Not Mean Physical Presence

Filed under: ADA & Disability — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 2:44 pm

A federal appeals court has ruled that for purposes of assessing/providing accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers must consider that attendance at the job may not mean physical presence at a specific place. The case involved an employee who asked to work from home when needed to accommodate her irritable bowel syndrome. The employer had allowed others to work at home, but not as frequently as was anticipated for the plaintiff/employee. The employer said that due to teamwork needs, physical attendance was an essential job function. The trial court agreed with the employer. The appeals court disagreed, however, and sent the case back for a jury trial. The appeals court said there was evidence that the plaintiff’s job could be adequately done from home and use of technology (e.g. Skype) could satisfy teamwork needs. The lesson? Employers who plan to insist on physical presence when denying an employee’s work-from-home accommodation request will have to prove that presence at work by technology will not work just as well.


June 19, 2014

Ways to Inspire Civility in the Workplace

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Harrasment — Tags: — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 11:38 am

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone said and did the right thing all the time and no one’s feelings ever got hurt?  That would be a perfect world, of which we know we do not live in, but one can wish!  Ensuring that employees practice civility in the workplace is a progressive activity.  Civility means to be courteous; polite.  It doesn’t sound that difficult to be nice, but because of various negative factors, we sometimes digress.  Following are some tips for resisting bad manners and encouraging civility in the workplace:

  • Personality conflicts – I always tell a group of new hires that we have (e.g. 100) employees, which means that we have 100 different personalities with 100 different ideas.  Some personalities are drawn to each other, while others repel.  Keeping the peace through personality conflicts is a challenge, but can be done.  Empathetically putting oneself in the other person’s “shoes” will help them to see the conflict in a completely different light.
  • Holding your tongue – Being aware of comments or phrases that may be common, but hurtful to some, is especially important to show respect for others.  Comments like, “Her elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top,” or “He must ride the short bus,” are completely unnecessary and are very insensitive.  Look for the good in others and focus on their strengths.
  • Lead by example – Instill in employees to do their part to lead by example.  Random acts of kindness and sincere compliments of a “job well done,” are encouraging speech and not speech that tears down.   

To summarize, incivility is degrading to all who are affected by it, regardless of whether it is directed at them or whether they are a witness to its harm.  When incivility reigns, it can quickly turn into a claim of harassment or a hostile work environment.  Train your employees to be respectful of others, and to look for positive qualities in them too.  Someday, they themselves, could be the victim, and what a lonely place that would be!  Teaching employees to be aware of and think about the effects of what they say or do, will certainly help them to be more thoughtful and considerate workmates.


June 11, 2014

Insensitive Facebook Comments Lead to Resignation

Filed under: Discrimination,Legal Issues — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 10:57 am

A cardiac nurse in Utah has resigned his employment in the face of controversy over his postings on Facebook.  The case arose after a shooting occurred in a gang crimes case in the new Utah federal courthouse. The defendant in that criminal case allegedly had charged the witness stand and threatened a witness when he was shot and killed by a federal marshal. Afterwards, the nurse posted a public Facebook comment that referred to the nationality of the involved gang member and said “Kill Them All.” The nurse’s employer, a Utah public hospital, put the nurse on leave while investigating the matter. The nurse eventually chose to resign his position. A recent article about the matter is available here:


June 5, 2014

Zappos – Non-Traditional Workplace or Innovative Trendsetter

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Hiring & Jobs — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 12:10 pm

A few months ago, Zappos, an online shoe retailer, announced it was restructuring its workforce into “circles” eliminating hierarchy by having no job titles and no managers.  This type of structure is known as a “holacracy.”  Within a holacracy, leadership still exists.  What it does is distribute leadership into each role, holding employees personally accountable, and rotating leadership among those in the circle.  This is definitely not a traditional organizational structure!

Now, Zappos is making another unique change – eliminating job postings.  The retailer plans to hire about 450 workers this year.  Though Zappos will be using social media, it is not what you may think!  They have created Zappos Insiders, a social network that candidates can join and become acquainted with current employees of the company.   The theory behind this method is to allow recruiters to be more efficient and effective by creating a constant pool of candidates that could be ready-made hires.  Recruiters can gauge cultural fit and skills of the candidates by asking specific questions and holding contests then using a separate software to organize the responses.  So, not only are job postings gone, but so are the plethora of resumes’ to wade through!

It will be interesting to see how this cutting-edge practice evolves and if other organizations will follow suit.  But, we in HR always have questions:

  • Will a social network glean more personal information about candidates than a company needs?
  • Will it help Zappos avoid costly bad hires?
  • Will candidates grow tired of waiting to be selected?

Before you try to walk a mile in Zappos shoes (eliminate job postings in your company) you may want to just curiously watch the success of Zappos in pioneering this new trend!

Source:  Auriemma, Adam. The Wall Street Journal. “Zappos Zaps Its Job Postings.”  Available here.


May 30, 2014

Did You Know . . . About Our Compease Bridge?

Filed under: Compease,Compensation — Mary Armstrong, BS Business, Client Service Respresentative @ 8:59 am

Keeping your Compease system up-to-date and aligned with your payroll system doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming!  Compease has a built-in Data Bridge Tool that makes systems’ communication a breeze.  HRN Performance Solutions offers a total of four options to help with this data upkeep:

  1. With the no cost option, the User Guide and a spreadsheet are sent to you, enabling you to configure and run the data bridge any time that is convenient for you.  
  1. HRN’s second option provides assistance with the initial setup.  HRN will configure the setup, run the initial import, and provide training to you or your staff for a fee of $150. 
  1. The third option consists of the data bridge configuration, set-up, and the updating of your Compease system.  This is performed either as a one-time service or on an annual basis, thus completing the entire process for a fee of $250. 
  1. Our last option allows you to send your file directly to us on a twice-monthly basis.  We do all the work for you!   This option requires a signed Bridge Service Agreement (BSA) and is processed for a fee of $600 annually, which is added to your regular renewal. 

If you are interested in any of these service options or would like additional information, please contact HRN Performance Solutions at (800) 897-3308.


May 29, 2014

BYOD and Distracted Driving – Making the Connection

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Safety — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 2:13 pm

Some workplaces have begun encouraging employees to BYOD, “Bring Your Own Device” to work.  The use of smartphones and tablets are common and necessary in most businesses to enhance accessibility and communication.   BYOD, the practice of employees using their own mobile electronic devices for both personal and business purposes, has become more accepted as the workforce evolves into a more technologically advanced age.  With this new practice comes new risk.

One such area for BYOD workplaces, is making the connection of acceptable use of such mobile devices and driving safely.  The fact cannot be overlooked that distracted driving is at epidemic levels, much of it due to the use of electronic devices while driving.  Implementing a BYOD/distracted driving policy should reflect in part, that regardless of ownership of the device, employee or employer, certain restrictions shall apply such as:

  • Prohibiting the use of a hand-held device while operating a motor vehicle, to include answering and making phone calls; reading and responding to email; sending or receiving texts;
  • Requiring employees to drive to a safe place to park the motor vehicle to use a cell phone or other mobile device;
  • Changing voicemail greetings to inform callers that the phone will not be answered nor will messages/calls be returned while the employee is driving. 

It is noteworthy, that just because an employee is using their personal device, an employer can still be liable for an employee’s distracted driving that has fatal consequences.

Having a policy is a great start, but it needs to be enforceable.  The policy should be clearly stated so that it is not difficult for the average employee to follow, nor should an employee be punished for not answering the boss’s call immediately while driving!


Sources:   DiBianca, Molly.  “The Role of a Distracted-Driving Policy in a BYOD Workplace.”  Available here.


May 22, 2014

Four Times Is a Charm, or Is It?

Filed under: ADA & Disability,Legal Issues — Charisse Rockett, PHR, HR Content Manager @ 4:03 pm

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit (for the fourth time!) against the nationwide auto parts retailer, AutoZone, for disability discrimination.  This time its attendance policy which uses a “points” system for absences, did not permit any general exception for disability-related absences.  Its policy required termination for employees reaching twelve points.

The complaint included an example of an employee with Type 2 diabetes who had to leave work early on occasion because of insulin reactions.  The employee was fired because of an accumulation of attendance points.  Another employee was fired in retaliation for objecting to the attendance policy and filing a charge with the EEOC.

The three other disability claims were described as follows:
1)  Failure to promote a visually impaired employee and denying permission to use a guide dog; Employee awarded $140,000.
2)  Refusal to accommodate a sales manager’s disability by insisting he mop floors, leading to greater injury; Employee awarded $424,000.
3)  Refusal to accommodate a lifting restriction, fired the employee; Proceeding to jury trial.

The EEOC takes all discrimination and retaliation claims very seriously, which common sense would dictate that an employer should do the same.  Conducting a self-audit of policies to ensure they are in compliance with the law and are not discriminating toward any individual or protected class of individuals should be a high priority in most organizations.   As you can see from AutoZone’s examples, one charge is too much – four, well . . . .



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