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If you take a moment to analyze why some employees seemed to be more in control of their work than others, one factor clearly stands out - time management.

 

On one side of the spectrum, you will find the employee who consistently meets deadlines, is organized and appears in control of their destiny. On the other side, you have someone who struggles to meet their commitments, and appears to almost savor their frantic, chaotic approach.

 

Let's start by examining the two approaches:

 

Employee A: Manages Time WellEmployee B: Fails to Manage Time
Values their timeDoesn't have a clock in their head
Concentrates efforts on the most important prioritiesBounces from one activity to the next without reason
Gets more done in less time than othersMay appear to be working hard, but without the results
Can attend to a broader range of activitiesCan only do one thing at a time
Will be sociable in 'spurts'Let's others 'steal' their time in idle chatter
Reduces unnecessary distractionsEasily gets knocked off course
Has a tendency to be proactive Mostly reactive to what's hot at the moment
Submits work ahead of scheduleIs always struggling to meet deadlines

 

I'm reminded of a hard-working manager that once worked for me. She showed up early and stayed late nearly every day. She worked diligently to establish strong professional relationships with peers, key stakeholders, vendors and leaders alike. However, in her efforts to build rapport with others, she fell into a nasty trap.

 

Throughout the day, co-workers would randomly stop by her office (or call) to discuss work-related topics. Discussions that should have taken 5 minutes quickly morphed into 15-20 minute 'meetings'. In addition, she lost even more time because her one-on-one's and team meetings would frequently go longer than the allotted time.

 

Over the course of a week, the amount of time she was 'leaking' began to add up. Her ability to get work done began to degrade. It wasn't that she wasn't working hard, she just didn't own her time.

 

Key Takeaways for Leaders:    

 

When partnering with their business stakeholders to address employee performance issues, HR leaders should assess whether some, or all, of the problem revolves around a lack of time management skills.

 

Other points to remember:

  1. Don't assume that someone who is struggling to properly get their work done has too great of a workload.
  2. Ask leaders to observe underperformers to assess how well they are managing their time.
  3. When you notice time management 'slippage', address it immediately with the offending employee.
  4. Time management is a competency that can be developed. However, many people who lack time management skills also lack awareness of the problem.
  5. In your efforts to address performance issues, teach leaders to differentiate between a hard worker who lacks time management skills, and an unmotivated, lazy underperformer.

 

Related Content:

How to Avoid Wasting Others' Time

From Guest Contributor Jenny Sweet, Attorney at Soule Employment Law Firm, Service Provider for CAI's Pre-Paid Legal Services Plan.

As a part of your membership dues, CAI members now receive employment law advice from experienced attorneys. Services are provided by independent, local, NC-licensed attorneys assigned to serve CAI members in an open-ended, no-extra-fee environment.

Contact Attorney Jenny Sweet at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

 

NC solidified its position to combat employee misclassifications via the Employee Fair Classification Act in Senate Bill 407, which was signed into law on August 11, 2017. Relevant provisions have an effective date of December 31, 2017. The primary purpose of the Act is to facilitate and increase information sharing among government agencies, employers, and employees regarding misclassifications. This is the latest in state government initiatives to combat this ever-present predicament.

 

Misclassification Matters

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)’s definition of employment was drafted in a broad manner to provide maximum protection to workers. However, many employers continue to misclassify workers as independent contractors when they are actually employees under the FLSA. This misclassification causes a multitude of issues. For employers, this means failure to make appropriate wage or tax payments (minimum wage and/or overtime, withholdings, etc.), failure to provide appropriate leave (as required under the Family Medical Leave Act or the Americans With Disabilities Act), failure to provide necessary insurances (such as unemployment or workers compensation), and failure to provide adequately safe workplaces (as required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration).

 

The US Department of Labor (US DOL) even operates a Misclassification Initiative, which works with the Internal Revenue Service (along with other federal agencies) and utilizes partnerships with thirty-seven states to coordinate FLSA enforcement on this issue. And, the US DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) entered a three-year Memorandum of Understanding with the North Carolina Industrial Commission on August 31, 2016, with the goal of sharing resources and information to increase enforcement in this area.

 

The Employee Fair Classification Act

NC’s new Act formally establishes a sub-agency, the Employee Classification Section, within the NC Industrial Commission. Its primary purpose is to receive and investigate reports of misclassification. The Act then requires this Section to forward necessary information to state agencies that may also have an interest in the misclassification investigation, such as the Department of Labor, the Division of Employment Security, the Department of Revenue, the Industrial Commission, AND federal agencies, such as the US DOL’s WHD.

 

The Act notes that this information-sharing is to aid in “…recovering any back taxes, wages, benefits, penalties, or other monies owed as a result of an employer engaging in employee misclassification," among other enumerated duties. Additionally, the Act will update NC’s required workplace wage and hour poster to provide notice that workers should be treated as employees, absent being an actual independent contractor under state law. This notice will be featured alongside information on proper employee classification, as well as how to report suspected misclassification to the new Section.

 

Employer Worries

This vast information sharing definitely increases the likelihood of multi-agency involvement in a single report of employee misclassification, which typically means greater risk, exposure, and costs for employers. Employers requiring state licensure will also be compelled to report employee misclassification investigations on application documents, which could affect their ability to conduct business in NC.

 

Based upon the information contained in this legislation, now would be an excellent time to review your business's compliance regarding worker classifications. For questions or more information about how to do this correctly, please contact your Advice and Resolution team, CAI's Pre-Paid Legal Services Plan, or peruse myCAI for excellent articles, documentation, and training materials.

 

*NIMBY = Not In My Back Yard!

 

Legal Disclaimer: Jenny Sweet is licensed in the state of North Carolina. This article discusses general principles of North Carolina and federal law. It should not be considered legal advice for a particular factual setting and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

 

Image courtesy of Makara & Associates, LLC via Creative Commons License.

Recently while working with a paramilitary organization, it occurred to me just how much has changed in the business world over the last decade or two.  It makes sense for police officers, emergency medical technicians and firefighters to operate in a command and control hierarchy since life and death is often as stake.  The luxury of time to discuss options does not exist.  But, even these organizations have made many of the same changes made by successful managers in the private sector.

 

Look at a management textbook from just 15 years ago and you will see that managers were expected to make most of the decisions and relay them to employees, whose job it was to carry out orders without questioning the "what" or the "how."  Since command and control had been the battlefield model for ages, it was presumed it would work in the business world as well.  But, it frequently resulted in problems for other stakeholders like customers, vendors and colleagues.

 

Consider the methods employed then and now to achieve progress through employees' efforts.

 

Decision Making

Then:  Decisions were made at high levels without input from employees.  Your manager told you what to do and when to do it.

Now:  Managers facilitate decision making by bringing the best minds together and encouraging healthy debate.  Smart managers include employees in the planning as well as execution so that all parts of the business can support the effort from the start.

 

Physical Distance

Then:  Employees were located where managers could keep an eye on them; face time was valued as much or more than production.  Managers often spent time directly watching employee do their jobs.

Now: Employees are located anywhere in the world, accessible by technology.  Some rarely see their manager in person.  More emphasis is put on performance, rather than being present a certain number of hours each day.  Managers can be remote or work among their people in cubicles to provide quick feedback on projects.

 

Information Flow

Then: Managers shared only information directly pertinent to the employee's job rather than the big picture.  Information was shared on a "need to know" basis and some managers used this as a means of control.

Now:  Employees have far greater access to data.  They can join online groups and stay more educated on changes.  Many employees have more expertise than their managers.  Managers are expected to provide as much information as possible.

 

Motivation

Then:  It was assumed that every employee was solely motivated by his paycheck.

Now:  Managers understand that employee motivation varies greatly from person to person.  Some are truly money-motivated while others are motivated more by freedom, recognition, creativity and visibility.

 

Coaching

Then:  Managers sometimes used their status to intimidate employees into agreeing with their decisions.

Now:  Managers listen and ask good questions.  They ask employees to share their ideas on what to do and how to do it after communicating the desired result.

Last week, over 250 professionals attended the Compensation and Benefits Conference. For two days, attendees learned cutting-edge techniques to reward, engage and retain top talent in a challenging economy. To help you stay up to date, we've gathered the top takeaways from the conference.

 

1. Greater Pay Does Not Equal Greater Engagement. There are many no-cost ways to boost engagement levels at your company. The best way to drive engagement is simple - care for people. This includes showing appreciation for work, providing a good work-life balance, creating positive relationships throughout the office, and providing both personal and professional development opportunities.

 

2. Organizations Need to Track Their Metrics. Survey your employees regularly - as often as you can make changes (but not more than that!). Regularly get a pulse of the organization. So many organizations don't check in with their employees, but this is a crucial responsibility of HR.

 

3. Pull Together a Total Rewards Statement. Too often, organizations are looking at only salary and insurance. To leverage the benefits you offer employees, provide a snapshot of all that's being rewarded. Include or introduce voluntary benefits. According to the 2016 NC Policies and Benefits Survey (2016 NC Policies and Benefits Survey Infographic), some of the more common voluntary benefits offered include:

  • Accident/Critical Illness Insurance
  • Discounted Services (Phone, Car Repair, Etc.)
  • Gym Membership
  • Prepaid Legal
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

 

4. People Leave Their Boss, Not the Company. According to thebalance.com, the top reason why employees quit their job is because of their relationship with their boss. This can be for many reasons, including lack of trust from your boss and your boss blames you for mistakes. As an HR professional, don't accept poor behavior as a boss' management style. Train your managers so that relationships are improved throughout the office - and so you keep your top talent.

 

5. Your Best Defense is a Strong Offense. In the presentation "She Works Hard for the Money: A Review of Compensable Time Under NC and Federal Law", our Pre-Paid Legal Services Plan attorneys laid out several best wage practices to avoid claims. Conduct a self-audit of your pay practices to confirm that you are:

  • Correctly tracking all work time for non-exempt employees, especially those working remotely
  • Paying employee "volunteer" time correctly
  • Avoiding private sector "comp" time violations
  • Compensating travel and training time accurately
  • Paying for breaks when required
  • Formalizing commission plans and bonus policies to avoid unintended payments and increased overtime pay.  

 

6. An Organization's Wellness and Employee Engagement Relies on Well-Being at Work. Wellness is a win-win-win at work. It lowers healthcare costs, reduces sick day use and results in fewer workers' compensation and disability claims. According to simplechange.com, healthy and active employees are 33% more focused, 58% more engaged and 58% more energetic. When you invest in employee health, you're investing in your company. Implement an employee wellness program, or revisit and improve the one you have.

Related Conversations:

Wellness Program  

How is your organization promoting employee wellness? 

 

7. Financial Wellness Programs Are a Crucial Part of the Benefits Package. Sure, offering healthy snacks and paying for gym memberships are important - but don't forget about financial wellness. According to Joe Gordon of Gordon Asset Management, delayed retirement costs employers between $10,000 to $50,000 per year per employee. That adds up! 99% of employees are wanting this type of employee benefit. Don't let personal finances be a distraction at work (because that's lost productivity and money for your company). Deliver these types of programs and see the benefits for both employees and employer.

 

8. Express Appreciation. This one seems simple, but it cannot be said enough. Expressing appreciation was a highlight of so many presentations. Lisa Ryan's Grategy presentation had the tagline, "Because what gets recognized gets repeated." Your coworkers are not mind readers. Let your fellow employees and those you manage know when they've done an exceptional job. This will not only make them feel good, but will help your relationships and life at the office. Plus, you never know when they'll return the favor!

 

A big thank you to all who attended this year's Compensation and Benefits Conference. We'd love to hear your top takeaway in the comments! For all-things total rewards and employee engagement, please visit Data & Research and Learn & GO . 

The EEOC recently sued a Delaware Pizza company for violating the Equal Pay Act when they withdrew job offers from two teens after the female complained that the male was offered more money for the same job.

 

In the lawsuit, the two teenagers, Jensen Walcott and Jake Reed applied with Pizza Studio as "pizza artists" in 2016. The two friends discussed their pay and Jensen called the company and complained that Reed was making $0.25 more than she was. The company immediately withdrew the offers to both Walcott and Reed. 

 

The EEOC sites that the company was in violation of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 which prohibits companies from paying men and women unequally and from retaliating against those who complain about or support a claim of unequal pay. The EEOC is requesting monetary compensation as well as a judgment requiring the company to provide better controls to ensure policies and practices to avoid future discrimination.

 

Employers must ensure that they are complying with the Equal Pay Act by having company policies and practices that that employees are receiving equal pay for jobs that are substantially equal in skill, effort and responsibility, and that are performed under similar working conditions within the same establishment. Employers should keep an eye on their pay practices, salary ranges and wage data to ensure that there are not gaps in pay among employees-especially among minorities, including women. 

 

An employer can justify pay differences through "seniority, merit,quantity or quality of production, or a factor other than sex" but the burden of proof is on the employer. In instances where a pay differential exists, employee pay cannot be reduced, but rather the lower employee's pay must be increased.

 

Its also not a good idea to terminate or discipline employees for discussing pay. The NLRB has taken interest in these situations, claiming it is a violation of protected concerted activity which allows " employees the right to act together to try to improve their pay and working conditions, with or without a union". Federal contractors and subcontractors are also subject to Executive Order 13665, the Pay Transparency Act which prohibits "discharging or otherwise discriminating against their employees and job applicant for discussing, disclosing or inquiring about compensation"   

 

Bottom Line: Equal Pay for Equal Work and think twice before disciplining or discharging an employee for discussing compensation!

 

Call Advice & Resolution team if you have questions about pay equity or your discipline and discharge practices!

 

Related:

Women in the Workplace & How to Promote Female Equality 

The Latest News & Research on the Gender Pay Gap 

Alert: OFCCP’s Pay Transparency Rule Takes Effect January 11, 2016 

 

Sources:

Facts About Equal Pay and Compensation Discrimination 

EEOC Sues Pizza Studio Restaurant Owner for Violating Equal Pay Act 
Protected Concerted Activity | NLRB 

Pay Secrecy

There have been numerous surveys and articles written regarding the difficulty Human Resource professionals have in recruiting top talent for job openings within their organization.  What about the difficulties Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) have in recruiting top-talent Human Resource professionals?  In order to have a successful recruiting team within HR, you need to staff the HR department with top talent as well. 

 

When recruiting Human Resource professionals, what does HR leadership look for?  What are the top three skills an HR professional must possess in order to be considered a highly  desirable candidate for a Human Resources position?  Korn Ferry, an HR  consulting and recruiting firm, recently conducted a global survey of 189 CHROs to find out what qualities they seek in a Human Resource professional.  Below are a few of the questions from the survey, along with the responses.

 

What do you see most lacking when searching for top HR talent?

 

  • 41% - Business Acumen
  • 28% - Ability to Turn Strategy into Action
  • 10% - Intellectual Horsepower
  •   7% - Analytical Skills
  •   6% - Diversified Experience
  •   3% - Relational Skills
  •   1% - Technical Skills

 

Only four percent (4%) of those surveyed indicated they had no difficulty in finding Human Resource professionals with the desired skill set. 

 

Which areas do you feel are most crucial to meeting your organization’s long-term goals?

 

  • 59% - Building the Right Culture where People are most Engaged
  • 30% - Leadership Development
  •   6% - General Employee Training and Capability Building
  •   4% - Recruitment
  •   1% - Altering Compensation and Benefits Programs 

 

What’s the #1 thing that keeps you up at night?

 

  • 34% - Aligning Talent Strategy to Overall Business Strategy
  • 24% - Employee Engagement and Retention
  • 13% - Creating a Robust, Working Succession Program
  • 12% - Understanding the Business’ Key Drivers
  •   6% - Serving as a Confidant to the CEO
  •   5% - Building a High-performing Global HR Team
  •   4% - Managing Increased Oversight from the Board
  •   2% - Implementing Successful M&A Integration Strategies 

 

These responses would indicate some concerns are the same as they have always been – leadership development, employee engagement and retention, hiring the right people, and creating an engaging culture.  It would also appear, however, the key qualifications HR leadership is looking for when recruiting HR professionals is 1) a solid understanding of business, and 2) the ability to use that understanding to turn business strategy into action when it comes to recruiting and developing HR programs which will keep employees engaged and productive for the organization.  Are you that Human Resources professional?   If the answer is yes, you are a true HR business partner!

Like so many businesses today, CAI member company Digital Turbine continuously searches for ways to drive employee engagement, accountability, and business results.  Two years ago when April Collazo, Director, Human Resources arrived at Digital Turbine, she recognized the opportunity to strengthen the alignment between employees and the business. 

 

Digital Turbine is a fast-paced global mobile app advertising tech company where highly talented employees work long days to achieve desired business results. 

 

Digital Turbine has always been about employee commitment, productivity and achieving results, according to Ms. Collazo.  When she arrived in 2015, Digital Turbine had a set of core values but no one knew what they were. The core values are:

 

  • Accountable (Understand and fix vs. blame)
  • Results (Do I know how this is contributing?)
  • Global (6 billion people, not 300 million)
  • Laugh (Enjoy the journey)
  • Hustle (Find a way)
  • Action (Forgiveness vs. permission)

 

“These core values are the foundation of Digital Turbine’s culture and are at the heart of everything we do,” Ms. Collazo stated. She partners with CEO Bill Stone to promote these values and make them come alive, which helps support the desired employee alignment within the company.  “Reinforcing our values is a continuous process; we are constantly exploring ways to do so,” she added.

 

To further solidify these core values and improve the employee alignment to the business, Digital Turbine embarked on a journey to implement a robust and agile total rewards program.  This program includes not only a comprehensive employee benefits and 401K plan (with 50% match up to 6% contribution), but also flexible work schedules, team outings, Friday happy hours and unlimited vacation. 

 

As Ms. Collazo had learned in her research, unlimited vacation typically works best in businesses cultures that value and embrace accountability, trust and teamwork – just like Digital Turbine.  Unlimited vacation is a powerful way to provide employees with increased flexibility to improve the balance between one’s professional life and one’s personal life.  In an unlimited vacation world, employees have a very high degree of empowerment. 

 

Digital Turbine has experienced what other companies with this program has:  high-performing employees that are keenly aware of company norms (accountability, results and transparency) and, therefore, are very diligent about their PTO decisions. 

 

Digital Turbine’s unlimited vacation program has three key components:

 

  1. Employees provide a reasonable notice period (typically two weeks) for their vacation time request.
  2. Employees must arrange for appropriate coverage and back-up in their absence.
  3. Employees must be available should they be needed for priority/urgent issue(s).

 

Ms. Collazo also indicated that they have had great success with this program and have experienced very few employee abuse issues.  She said, “The few employees who have abused this program are generally having other performance issues also – these situations are addressed swiftly and appropriately.”

 

The final piece of Digital Turbine’s transformation was a transition from a traditional performance management process to a streamlined 1:1 monthly check-in process where there is considerably more focus on frequent performance discussions and less about which forms need to be filled out. 

 

Implementing plans such as unlimited vacation and transitioning performance management approaches requires much thought, planning and communications.  There are also compliance-related issues to consider, such as properly integrating unlimited vacation with one’s FMLA program.  Our Advice & Resolution team assists members on these type issues on a daily basis and we look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

 

The destruction that a Hurricane may cause is a reminder that natural disasters can have a devastating effect on businesses and employees. 

How an employer navigates a significant crisis can have a lasting impact on business operations, its reputation with customers, and more importantly its employees. Last year at this time the law firm of Ogletree Deakins published the following checklist of issues an employer needs to face in the immediate hours and days following this event:

Emergency Response Plan

Employers will likely pull their Emergency Response Plans off the shelf long before a disaster strikes. This preparation will now pay dividends and keep employers' activities and actions on track to effectively triage a current crisis.

Crisis Management Teams

The division of labor and responsibility among an employer's management team is critical to navigating a crisis well. Management teams and department leaders should understand their roles as soon as a crisis presents itself. Employers should assign separate responsibilities within each department to address immediate issues. In addition, employers should assign a separate group within each department to the continuation of business operations. Pulling together this team may require employers to reassign employees and supervisors from other regions and divisions to assist the locations and offices impacted by the disaster.

Communication Plan

There are four key stakeholders that should be part of your communication plan:

  1. Crisis management team. To effectively navigate any crisis and formulate the company's messaging plan, it is critical for an employer to coordinate the activities between company management. An employer's Crisis Management Team should be comprised of members of senior management, operations, security, human resources, finance, communications, and perhaps other departments. Members of the group should convene at scheduled times to discuss the status of their respective areas of responsibility and their plans going forward.

  2. Employees. Your workforce needs to be updated on scheduling, resumption of operations, the Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) that are available, and the status of the company's response. Company websites and/or intranets in addition to a predesignated crisis phone number should be updated frequently with the latest relevant information.

  3. Customers and clients. Your customers and clients will want to be assured that you are still operating (albeit in difficult circumstances) and that you appreciate their business and understanding. If business operations are interrupted in such a way that customers and clients will be affected, companies should be prepared to notify these contacts of their reasonable estimates of restored operations.

  4. Public. The public at large, as well as the appropriate civil and regulatory authorities, should also be kept abreast of the status of your operations. For example, a company's website could advise the public that some operations in the affected areas may be disrupted for a specific duration but that company operations in unaffected regions are ongoing and taking on extra capacity to bridge the gap. Federal and state regulatory agencies—especially those that regulate certain industries—may have an interest in your response as well. Keep in mind that the public image that a company displays of good judgment in preparedness and an effective response to the immediate crisis will create an image of industry leadership.

Electronic Information and Technology

Access to electronic data is critical to the continuation of your operations. Your ongoing operations may need immediate access to back-up power sources and remote servers to continue operations with as little interruption as possible. In addition, your employees who have the capability of working remotely should have access to the support they need to continue their work. So your information technology (IT) department should focus on ensuring that all electronic data is backed up, preserved, and accessible.

Insurance

Provide your property insurer with prompt notice of the property damage and/or interruption of business operations that occurred as a result of the event. Many insurers have disaster response teams that can be deployed to assist you in resuming operations. The financial department should be tracking all extra expenses the company incurs as a result of the event since these expenses may be recoverable under an insurance policy. Take the time before disaster strikes to understand the coverage that may be available to your company as a result of an unforeseen incident.

Employment Law Issues

A myriad of legal issues will arise during the immediate aftermath of a disaster or crisis but also in the days, weeks, and months that follow. Employers may need to face some of the following issues:

  • Nonexempt employees. Nonexempt employees are paid for work performed. Your nonexempt employees will likely earn overtime compensation as increased demands are placed on them to cover for other employees during a crisis. If employees work from home or do other work away from the business premises they must be compensated. Keep your record-keeping obligations in mind (as discussed below) since employers must record and track all the hours that a nonexempt employee works. If an employee cannot make it to work due to disaster-related transportation issues, that may be considered an absence for personal reasons under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) (so long as the employee does not work from home).

  • Exempt employees. Exempt employees must still be paid for an entire week even if they work any portion of a work week and even if the location is closed for part of the week because of a natural disaster. If the facility is closed for one week or more and no work is performed the employer has no obligation to pay that employee if he or she does not perform any work.

  • Record keeping. The FLSA does not provide any relief from its record-keeping requirements because of weather-related emergencies. Employers must still maintain records of time worked. Employers should instruct employees who routinely track time electronically to manually record the times they have worked.

  • WARN. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act includes an exception for natural disasters when a plant location closes due to a natural disaster. Nevertheless, if possible, an employer will want to follow the law's notification requirements.

  • FMLA. Employers may need to grant qualifying employees leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if they have developed a serious health condition as the result of a natural disaster. Remember, employees may qualify for leave if they need to care for a spouse, parent, or child suffering a serious health condition or medical emergency caused by the disaster.

  • Benefits and continuing coverage. Employers continuing coverage for their employees should contact their benefits vendors to determine how and to what extent coverage is to be maintained. These vendors often have specific hotlines for their customers to contact during a disaster since life, health, and disability coverages will be impacted. Employers must meet the continuing coverage requirements imposed by the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) for employees who are no longer working or who have been discharged.

  • Workplace safety. Employers are responsible for protecting their employees from unreasonable dangers. During natural disasters, employers should ensure the safety of their employees who are working in and around a damaged workplace. In particular, employers should protect employees from unreasonable exposure to hazards that may be present as a result of a natural disaster, such as slip and fall hazards, electrical exposures, and even exhaustion from working extended shifts. Employers should continue to make personal protective equipment available and ensure that employees put such equipment to use.

  • Emergency responders. Some of your employees may be members of the National Guard or volunteer responders that may be called up for duty by the state governor or president of the United States. Job protections are in place for these employees and some state laws may be implicated to address unique situations.

The Human Impact

The true costs of a natural disaster transcend their business costs. A natural disaster has its most acute impact on people, including your employees. Your employees may have suffered injuries, deaths, and significant property damages that can have a lasting and profound impact on their personal lives.

Employers should not lose sight that those who work in their businesses may need support in many ways during a crisis. For this reason, employers may need to adapt to the needs of their employees to the extent possible. Employers may find that being supportive, reasonable, and understanding with its workforce during these critical times is the best course of action. Corporate responsibility and good citizenship will reflect well on your organization during a crisis.

Please reach out to your Advice & Resolution team should you need further information or support on this issue.

 

From Guest Contributor Jenny Sweet, Attorney at Soule Employment Law Firm, Service Provider for CAI's Pre-Paid Legal Services Plan.

As a part of your membership dues, CAI members now receive employment law advice from experienced attorneys. Services are provided by independent, local, NC-licensed attorneys assigned to serve CAI members in an open-ended, no-extra-fee environment.

Contact Attorney Jenny Sweet at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

 

Though not as flashy as the 1997 hit movie I’m punning, HR professionals handle protected personally identifiable information and private health information daily. They also wield an odd power to investigate employee conduct and “snoop” on employees’ workplace activity through access to company email and security systems. However, with this odd power comes a lot of confidentiality questions, and many employers have reached out to me lately about various employee privacy concerns. So, let’s tackle a couple of these issues:

 

Issue One

Scenario: You find out a newly terminated employee has been sending personally identifiable employee information (Social Security numbers, dates of birth, etc.) to his personal email address from his work computer. You are immediately concerned about this data breach. What should your organization do?

 

Resolve: In NC, the Identity Theft Protection Act provides  protections and requires certain actions from employers in the event of breaches (see specifically § 75-65). If necessary, employers should report the breach to local law enforcement and through the NC Department of Justice’s website, but must at least provide notice to the affected employees. The Federal Trade Commission also offers guidance on how to respond to a data breach or how to best protect employee privacy and your business from data leaks.

 

Issue Two

Scenario: Your employee, Frankie Fightstarter, has been having major performance issues. Coworkers complain that he is operating a personal business during company time using company assets. Frankie’s coworker even submits a recording she made on her cell phone of a conversation she had with Frankie about his on the clock personal business work. You speak to Frankie, and he admits nothing. So, per your company policies, you review security video footage of Frankie’s open seating work area, the coworker’s mobile recording, and Frankie’s company email for evidence of these activities. When confronted with your investigation's findings, Frankie says the company has violated his privacy by utilizing these various methods. Did the company do anything illegal?

 

Resolve: In NC, Frankie’s coworker, as a party to the conversation, was within her right to record their conversation, as NC is a one-party consent state. As such, the company could utilize this conversation in its investigation with the coworker’s consent. NC also allows recording of public common areas (without sound), and NC courts have not extended as “reasonable” an employee’s expectation of privacy in an open office environment (or hallways, break rooms, or other common areas). Additionally, as Frankie was utilizing the company’s computer and email network for his personal purposes, the company has a right to review those assets. As always, it is best to provide employees notice of your company’s intent to monitor communications and assets within your employee handbook policies and to receive an acknowledgement of such.   

 

For more information about confidential information or workplace privacy, please contact your Advice and Resolution team, CAI's Pre-Paid Legal Services Plan, or peruse myCAI for excellent articles, documentation, and training materials.

 

Legal Disclaimer: Jenny Sweet is licensed in the state of North Carolina. This article discusses general principles of North Carolina and federal law. It should not be considered legal advice for a particular factual setting and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

 

Image courtesy of The IPKat via Creative Commons License.

Most of us work at least eight hours a day, and many of us work ten-to-twelve hours a day when you add in things like overtime, our daily commute, and the many times we work through lunch and breaks.  If you are lucky enough to get eight hours of sleep at night, that only leaves four-to-six hours a day to do anything for yourself.  Sometimes, after a long day, exercise may be on your mind, but can be the farthest thing from your reality.

 

Even if you cannot find or make the time to exercise in the traditional sense, there are things you can do to keep your muscles stretched and active, even while you are at work.

 

Simple Stretching –

 

  • While sitting at your desk, simply stretch your hands up toward the ceiling, extending your arms as far as they will reach.  Do this 5-10 times.  This will help your shoulders and back as well.
  • Stretch your leg muscles by straightening your legs, one at a time, under your desk.  Do this 5-10 times for each leg.
  • Stand behind and hold onto the back of your chair.  Now, go up on your tip-toes.  Do this 5-10 times.  Afterwards, bend your knee and try to touch your heel to the back of your thigh.  Do this 5-10 times also, for each leg.
  • Find a sturdy wall and stand with your back against it.  Bend your knees and slide down the wall until you are in a sitting position.  Hold there for about a minute, and then slowly slide yourself back up.  Do this 5-10 times.  Just be sure you are not up against a dry-erase board!

 

Take More Steps –

 

  • Park a little farther away from the office door.  A few extra steps each morning and afternoon would not hurt!   If you park in a garage, move up a couple of floors and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Helps you be healthier and leaves space open for your customers/clients.  Win win for all.
  • Take 15 minutes each morning and each afternoon to get up from your chair and just walk around the floor.  Go around the outermost part of the office and work your way inward.
  • If you are on a call, have a wireless headset, and do not need to be at your desk, walk around your office while you talk.  Be sure, however, you are not disturbing your office mates.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible.  You will not believe how quickly the extra steps will add up.
  • Doctors recommend you take approximately 10,000 steps each day to stay in good cardio health.  It sounds like a lot, but you will be surprised how quickly you can reach this goal.  If you do not own a Fitbit®, buy a simple pedometer to clip on your clothing.

  

Just Stand Up

 

  • Research shows that standing actually burns calories.  Also, to stand and balance requires the use of almost every muscle in the body.  Exercise without actually having to move!  What could be better than that?  Some people even have desks that can convert to a “standing desk”, so they can change positions during the day if they choose.

 

Work Those Arms –

 

  • Purchase a simple, two-pound weight from your local sports store.  When you are on the phone, watching a webinar, or taking a training course, do a few arm curls with the weight.  Try for 5-10 reps per arm, several times during the day.
  • Go back to that same sturdy wall as before, but facing it from about two feet away.  Now lean over and press your palms against the wall.  Try a few “standing pushups”.  Most people should be able to do 5-10 easily.

 

Other Important Stuff –

 

  • Maintaining good posture is key to keeping your muscles from aching, and it requires the use of your muscles to keep good posture. (You just sat up straighter didn’t you? Great start !!) We are all guilty of either slouching in our chair, or rolling our shoulders forward while hunching over the computer screen.  Adjust your chair height and back to keep your arms, feet, and hips at 90-degree angles to the floor. (Go ahead, adjust yours now)
  • Watch your calories during the day.  Exercise is great, but you should also watch what you eat and drink as well. There are FREE great apps to help you track this.
  • Drink lots and lots of water. Recommended to drink ½ of your body weight in ounces. (so for a person weighing 200 pounds, drink 100 oz/day, or shoot for that goal once you are drinking at the least 64 oz a day) Coffee is good, but the caffeine can make you dehydrated. This is a good reason to switch to decaf.  Your muscles need water to function and to keep from cramping up, so be sure you always have some with you.

 

Make it your goal to start making changes, one healthy habit at the time.  You will love where you are in no time.

 

Take the time right now to share your best tips on exercise while at work.  Just click on comment and share

 

 

 

Related Articles:

Exercise Right at Your Desk

Take Time for YOU – Exercise At Your Desk Part II

This is the another article of CAI's new Management Tips series. Our goal is to provide you with bite-size information that will help your front line supervisors become more effective in their roles. We encourage you to forward this information to your supervisors and managers. We will be publishing Management Tips several times per month and we look forward to any feedback that you may have. Thank you!

 

Most companies include reasonable suspicion testing in the drug testing policy.  Reasonable suspicion testing allows the employer to send the employee for drug testing in instances where there is reason to believe that the employee may be using or under the influence drugs or alcohol while at work. In order to maintain a safe and drug free environment, it is important for managers and supervisors to understand their role in identifying and reporting suspicious activities related to drug and alcohol use. 

 

 Non-regulated employers can develop their own definition and testing guidelines for reasonable suspicion testing, however you must always check any specific Department of Labor or state specific compliance laws when developing your Drug Testing Policy. 

 

The following examples are situations that may well indicate probable cause for reasonable suspicion testing:

 

  • Odor of alcohol on the body or breath
  • Slurred speech
  • Unsteady standing or walking
  • Inability or difficulty completing routine tasks
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Erratic or unusual behavior
  • Evidence that the employee has used, possessed, sold, solicited or transferred drugs while at work

 

Other best practices to consider if you believe an employee may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol:

  • Review your company's Drug Testing Policy for specific guidelines on who and when to test, how to document the reasonable suspicion activity and what actions will be taken.
  • Evaluate signs and symptoms and document (check with your employer on their preferred form of documentation-some employers have pre-made forms specific to their drug testing policy)
  • It is strongly encouraged that at least two (2) supervisory personnel concur that there is reasonable suspicion for a drug test. This protects both the supervisor and the employee.
  • Drug and alcohol testing should be done promptly after removing the employee from duty. If the drug or alcohol test is not collected on-site, contact a collection site to schedule the test.
  • The employee under suspicion should not be allowed to drive themselves to the collection site (or elsewhere) without a negative drug test result.

 

*Employers that are subject to federally regulated drug testing should follow the model agency that governs their workforce (DOT, etc). 

 

Contact a member of the Advice & Resolution team if you have questions specific to Drug Testing.  

 

Related:

A&R Insight: Reasonable Suspicion Testing 

Drug Testing in North Carolina 

In the a previous article, NC Pay Requirements, we reviewed the different ways that NC employers can pay their employees. Payroll payments via direct deposit into an employee's account have become one of the most popular ways for employers to pay employees. The National Automated Clearinghouse Association (NACHA), the association responsible for monitoring the world's largest electronic payment network indicates that 82% of employees in the US are paid via direct deposit based on their 2016 survey.  

 

Direct deposit can be a very beneficial payment method for both employees and employers. Employees have indicated that they feel that direct deposits are more secure and provide better personal finance management, including paying their bills.  For some employees, it can sometimes be difficult to find time outside of work hours when financial institutions are open in order to deposit or cash their checks. By having their checks automatically deposited into their accounts, they don't need to ask off from work earlier in order to make it to their banks in time and their checks are automatically in their account ready for use. 

 

There are many benefits of direct deposit for employers as well:

 

Cost Savings: There can be a significant difference in the costs of producing live checks versus setting employees up on direct deposit, including the cost of cancelling and reissuing lost or stolen checks, mailing, etc. Check with your bank or payroll vendor to see what the costs are for producing checks compared to setting up direct deposit. Usually there will be a ACH file one-time setup costs and then a per-employee charge but different companies and vendors have different pricing models.

 

Efficiency: Direct deposits have a quicker turnaround for submission and deposit--which allows you as the employer to have more accurate bookkeeping records--you don't have to wait for employees to deposit their checks for your accounts to be reflected. Also, without spending time actually producing and distributing paper checks you can focus on streamlining other HR processes. 

 

Convenience: By the "push of a button" employee checks are distributed--no worrying with handing out checks, mailing to employees on leave or answering employees that need "exceptions" such as an early check pickup, allowing a family member to pick up etc.

 

"Green" Solution: Depositing employee's funds electronically reduces the paper and waste.

 

Employee Morale: As mentioned above, most employees prefer direct deposit because it allows them more flexibility and immediate availability to their funds. 

 

As a reminder, the NCDOL requires that if an employer mandates direct deposit as a form of payment, they must allow the employee to choose the institution for deposit and the employees must not incur additional fees (such as bank deposit fees) that will take their earnings below minimum wage. Employers must also remember to provide pay stubs to employees with an itemized listing of deductions-these pay stubs can be maintained electronically as long as the employee has access to print as needed. 

 

Use the attached "Direct Deposit" form below to ensure that you get appropriate account information as well as an acknowledgement for transferring funds into the employees account. 

 

Thinking about moving to direct deposit payroll and wanting to discuss compliance or strategy? Reach out to a member of the Advice & Resolution team! We can help you think through pros and cons for your business as well as develop a communication plan for implementation!

 

 

 

Sources:

New NACHA Survey Shows Adoption and Awareness of Direct Deposit via ACH Continues to Build | NACHA

NCDOL: Direct Deposit 

Are Electronic Pay Stubs Legal in NC, Other States? 

As managers and leaders, we tend focus a great deal of our attention on correcting the weaknesses of those on our teams. While there is certainly justification for doing so, such a focus on weaknesses often comes at the expense of 'strengthening strengths'. Let's take a look at the issue from two perspectives.

 

From a Team Perspective:

 

Suppose you are a leader of 10 employees. If you are like most of us, the Pareto Principle comes into play in that you may have a two 'performance challenged' individuals (20%) who are causing 80% of your problems.The tendency for most managers is to get 'sucked into' spending the vast majority of their time trying to correct the performance of the two outliers. As a result, those that could benefit most from your support, are also the ones that get the least attention. Worse yet, the likelihood that these two individuals are actively disengaged is fairly high. That means, despite your best intentions, efforts to reverse course for these poor performers will likely be fruitless.

 

As a former boss once said to me, "If you are spending all of your time putting out fires, you need to get rid of the arsonists."

 

From the Individual Perspective:

 

Individuals, like teams, have their strengths and weaknesses. Here again, we see the tendency for managers to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to 'fix' weaknesses. Hopefully, those very weaknesses have been highlighted as opportunities during the performance review. And, although we try to soften the blow by calling these weaknesses 'areas of opportunities', brain science research reveals that we do not learn and grow as well in our areas of weakness. (Note: maybe that is why I was so lousy with Calculus)

 

The best leaders collaborate with their direct reports to create action plans (IDPs) which address strengths (first) and opportunity areas (second). To get the most out of their employees, invest 80% of your time developing an individuals' strengths and have a 20% focus on their weaknesses. If we want employees to take responsibility for their own performance and development, what better place to start than with their particular strengths?

 

Related Content:

Developing Potential - Tools

Unlocking Potential

3 Things All Great Managers Do

 

Should you need assistance in this area, please contact me Tom Sheehan.

 

 

 

Keep a close eye on your mailbox...CAI has a new and improved Print News Magazine coming your way this week.

 

                        Former Print News

                        Updated Print News

 

Every other month, you'll receive the colorful Workplace Insights. It's packed with specialized articles from our Advice & Resolution team, CEO, VP of HR Services and others.

 

Articles this edition include:

  • Why Have a Total Rewards Strategy and How to Do It
  • FMLA Intermittent Leave - FAQs to Help This Headache
  • Five Things a Company Needs from HR

 

...and many more!

 

Plus, each issue will highlight a local business who is leading the way in the HR world. In this edition, you'll read about Digital Turbine, who is empowering employees to drive company success.

 

We're always excited to hear your feedback - so let us know what you think of the new design and content!

I subscribe to a couple of HR-related online groups.  I am always surprised when people write in and ask if they should "let" their employees celebrate a special occasion like the recent solar eclipse.  When the answer is "no," organizations fail to recognize an opportunity to boost employee morale. 

 

Whether it's a big football game, a Halloween observance or St. Patrick's Day, allowing employees to participate in contests or wear special colors has a positive effect.  Permitting people to take a few minutes out of their day to eat cupcakes or sport their favorite team's jersey gives them a chance to get to know their colleagues a little better.

 

One of the big issues discussed frequently in the classroom is that of organizational silos.  Employees feel cut off from other parts of the organization and tend to associate only with those they need to see to get their own jobs done. 

 

I recently heard a great example of how getting folks together can open up new possibilities for the organization.  One gentleman in sales worked primarily out of the office.  Another gentleman worked in manufacturing operations.  The two departments historically had what might be termed contempt for one another; their goals in the business often seemed at odds.  When March Madness came around, the organization invited employees to draw up their brackets, bring in snacks and watch their teams play.  As it turns out, both men were big fans of the same school, but never had occasion to discuss it before.  They struck up a relationship around that shared interest and stayed in touch.  

 

Later, both were tapped to  serve on a task force.  What had been a tense situation between sales and manufacturing has now improved greatly due to the friendship of these two individuals.  That, in turn, helped the departments to collaborate more effectively, and ultimately benefited the organization.

 

So, next time someone suggests celebrating National Jelly Donut Day, don't discard the notion out of hand.  Ask yourself how inviting people from different parts of the organization to mingle might just improve your bottom line.