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Monthly Archives

January 2013

WHAT IS THE MISSION OF HUMAN RESOURCES?

By Your Employee Matters | No Comments

How many of you have a mission statement for your work? Not a company one, but a personal one? Stephen Covey encouraged us to do this years ago, exhorting us to find that sweet spot where our personal mission statements and corporate mission statements come together.

I believe that the most important corporate mission statement involves creating a great customer or client experience. We live in an “experience economy”, in which nothing is more important. In today’s world, products and services are fungible – it’s the experience that provides a company’s “degree of uniqueness.” This allows businesses to point to a “true North”, as Covey would say. When we’re asking ourselves which is the right strategy or if we’re doing the right thing, we can just go back to our mission statement and ask “is this helping us create a great customer experience – or is it doing something else?”

How does this dovetail with your personal mission statement. My mission is to help people benefit personally and professionally by using effective human resource practices. That might be your mission, as well. It might be to generate the most profitable, engaged workforce ever, or to improve the lives of all the people who you touch every day.

Whatever your mission, don’t shy away from it. Embrace, brand, market, and live up to it. Bring others into the fold. Remember, none of us can fulfill our personal mission statement without the help of others. HR That Works members should take a look at the Vision, Mission, Goals worksheet in the Miscellaneous section of the Personnel Forms. If you don’t have access to the program and you’d like a copy by e-mail, contact me at don@hrthatworks.com.

NON-COMPETE AGREEMENTS: CAN’T STOP ME NOW! – AT LEAST IN CALIFORNIA

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Since the California Supreme Court decided Edwards v. Arthur Anderson, 44 Cal 4th 937 (2008), state law has been that Labor Code Section 16600 invalidates agreements with provisions that restrain employees from engaging in competitive employment after leaving a former employer, including non-solicitation agreements.

An agreement that is void under Section 16600 might also violate California’s Unfair Practices Act in Sections 17200 et seq. of the California Business and Professions Code. As a result, an employer could have a non-solicitation case and still face a lawsuit for unfair business practices.

Amazingly, the risk posed by restrictive covenants extends beyond the employer’s California employees. In the Application Group case, the court found that Section 16600, and by extension Section 17200, applied broadly to any “employment in California.” The court interpreted this term to mean: (1) employees living in the state; (2) employees living out of state, but hired by California employers; and (3) employees living out of state, but performing services in state. As a result, the court struck down the non-compete agreement of a Maryland employer with a former employee living in Maryland who was hired by a California employer.

Going on the offense, California employees, sometimes with the support of their new employers, sue in California state court seeking a declaration that any non-solicit agreement is unenforceable and that trying to enforce it would violate the Business and Professions Code.

Companies with “choice of law” and “forum selection” clauses in their your agreements, might be able to enforce such claims in their home state. Sometimes this can lead to litigation in two states which means spending a lot of money on lawyers. Although you might win a judgment in your own state, trying to enforce it in California will be another story.

In the end, good luck protecting anything but trade secret info – which means it that’ll you need to treat it as such. What in your business have you protected to that extreme?

P.S. Here’s the law defining trade secrets in California.

WISDOM ABOUT PEOPLE MANAGEMENT

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I recently did a workshop for a group of CEOs at which the Chair asked the participants, “What single piece of wisdom have you learned about managing people?” Here are some of their responses:

  1. Don’t try to manage more than seven reports at a time.
  2. Be firm, but fair.
  3. Focus on the problem and not the person.
  4. Never look a gift resignation in the mouth.
  5. Be direct; people want the truth and nothing but the truth.
  6. Tap into the company’s informal communication network.
  7. Don’t take things personally (one of Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements).
  8. Never take sides.
  9. Listen (can you listen to someone for five minutes straight without any interruption, criticism, or judgment?).
  10. Be slow to hire and fast to fire (a popular topic in the workshop!).
  11. Bear in mind that a decision driven by emotion, is not driven by logic (or, as I like to say, if it doesn’t make sense, don’t try to make sense out of it!).

FIVE GREAT SURVEY QUESTIONS

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In the excellent book, Emotionomics, the author’s company conducted a survey asking employees these five questions

  1. Does your manager help with work?
  2. Do you feel that you’re part of a team?
  3. Are you informed about new job expectations?
  4. Are you aware of the company’s future plans?
  5. How do work changes make you feel about your job?

How would your work force answer these questions?

A SNAPSHOT OF HR EXECUTIVES IN SMALL TO MID-SIZED COMPANIES

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In a recent HR webinar, I asked three highly revealing polling questions. Here they are:

    1. What have you done to show your value?

Nobody knows that you’re doing a great job unless you tell them. It’s not that they don’t care about you; it’s just that they’re running 75mph and barely have time to pay attention to anything but their own work. What effort have you made to get noticed by delivering a report or giving a workshop? Unfortunately, only 21% of respondents said that they created a strategic plan. As Mary Kay once stated, “most people spend more time planning their vacations better than their career.” Or, as I might add, their HR department.

    1. How excited are you about the HR opportunity on a scale from 1-5 (5 being very excited)?

Half of the respondents described themselves as fairly “excited.” Unfortunately, some 43% were just “ok or worse” with HR. Most organizations find the whole idea of HR boring. My guess is that is not the case at the 7% of companies where people said they were very excited about HR! I believe that if 7% can be excited, so can the 93%. It’s simply a choice. What have you done in HR lately that goes beyond administrative or compliance requirements? What have you done to help improve the quality of the workplace (getting rid of poor employees and replacing them with great ones is a start), increasing performance management (having a performance management system that actually works), boosting retention, and giving greater love to that 20% of your workforce that produces 80% of results? What are you helping your company do to become more creative, innovative, and interesting?

    1. What’s stopping you?

I often ask this question in workshops and in webinars. Time is always the most common response (one of those buts again), followed by the company or management. A survey of HR That Works members found that 84% of respondents said they would make better use of the service if they had more time.

Time management is a major issue!

Go to the time management training on HR That Works. Watch the two videos and then start putting them into practice. I would recommend that you start by tracking where your time is going and then eliminate five hours of the uncool, un-valuable work you do every week.

EDITOR’S COLUMN: GET YOUR ‘BUT’ OUT OF THE WAY

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I recently listened to a great interview with Dan Hardy and Sean Stephenson, author ofGet Off Your But. This guy has an amazing story. He’s all of 3 feet tall, wheelchair bound – and has become a YouTube sensation as a motivational speaker.

Sean says that his life’s mission is to rid the world of insecurity. I love it!

His interview got me thinking about where I might have insecurities and need to get off my “but!” Where do you feel insecure? Where haven’t you taken your career to where you had hoped it would go? What is the “but” that’s stopping you?

The logical response often has to do with a lack of time. Most people I’ve coached do a poor job of managing their time. In The Effective Executive, management guru Peter Drucker says that time management was the first item he discussed with executives throughout his illustrious career. Is one of your career goals to master the concept of time management? If not, why not? HR That Works Members should take advantage of the Time Management training module.

Often, our greatest “buts” have nothing to do with logic – or we would be accomplishing our goals. Most of our “buts” are emotionally driven nonsense. One of the greatest insights in this area is this: if it doesn’t make sense, don’t try to make sense out of it! For example, if you want to become a more strategic executive, why haven’t you? If time is an issue, why haven’t you mastered time management? Why haven’t you improved your ability to communicate your desires to upper management or your clients? As Sean mentioned in his interview, the worst that could happen is to fail. He said that he’d much rather see his clients fail than sit on the couch. I can tell you that my greatest successes grew out of my greatest failures – resulting either from stupidity or from going for it. This might well be the case for you, as well.

We can tackle these emotional challenges by using three magic words: coax, encourage, and inspire.

When you coax yourself, you take the first safest step. It’s our most natural way of moving forward. Success can only come one step at a time, anyway. If you want to improve your heath, you can put together a six-month total exercise and nutrition plan – but you’ll still have to implement it one step at a time. So, although it might be wonderful to see the “end in mind,” we have to start at the beginning. For example, I might propose to my clients that we do a “drive-by”. Let’s put on our sneakers and drive by the gym! Try that and see how it feels. I’m trying to get past any emotional blockages, and, if it doesn’t feel good, it gives you an emotional “out.” One of my favorite coaxing mechanisms is education. It usually feels pretty safe to learn something. After going through a financial debacle many years ago, I bought every book I could find with the word “millionaire” in the title. This was a safe first step that gave me the confidence to take action.

The second step is to encourage yourself. We do this by feeling good about ourselves and moving that energy to where we need it. This means you have to spend the time finding the good in you. For example, after I was bummed out about hitting the financial floor, my good friend, Loy Young, helped me find the good in myself and move it to where I needed it. She asked me what it took to be the good trial lawyer that I was. I told her it took me three years of study, followed by three years of practice, to get really good. She said it would likely take me three years of study and three years of practice to get really good about managing my money too. She was right!

Where have you done good things in which you can take pride? Maybe it’s how you raised your kids or coached their team, or ran a project, or helped a client. Why were you able to do this? How did it make you feel? What actions did you take? If you take the same energy and bring it over to where you need it, you will become a master of self-encouragement.

Encouragement involves continually finding things for which you’re grateful. Experience tells me that you can never run out of these things.

Finally, we want to inspire a new story. Our stories have been gifts to us from the outside; be it from our parents, siblings, teachers, friends, social networks, TV, or other sources. If we want different results, we have to give ourselves a different story. I had to get myself a different story about money that finally gave me the ability to keep any of it! If you want different results about your money, career, health, relationships, or spirituality, you’ll need a different story about these things.

The stories we tell ourselves will come to fruition – just never when or how we expect it. Unless you have the right story, you’ll produce a life of regret. Don’t do this; tell yourself a great story!

I hear far too many “buts.” There’s a great deal of blame and justification and not enough taking responsibility. Play the responsibility game: coax, encourage and inspire yourself to get off your “but” – and live a life for which you can truly be grateful!

HOW TO ACE YOUR LIFE INSURANCE MEDICAL EXAM

By Life and Health | No Comments

When you apply for Life insurance, you’ll need to undergo a medical exam that measures your height, weight, and blood pressure, collects blood and urine samples, and checks your general physical condition. The results will become part of your insurance application. Unfavorable results, such as a high blood pressure reading, will probably result in higher rates.

To ensure that your exam is accurate and garners the best possible results, we’d recommend following these guidelines:

  • Stay well-hydrated. Drinking water before the exam can make it easier to draw your blood, which is necessary for obtaining cholesterol readings.
  • Fast for four to eight hours before the exam.
  • Limit salt intake for an hour before the exam.
  • Refrain from physical exercise and alcohol for 12 hours before the exam.
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine, which can elevate blood pressure. Black coffee is okay up to an hour before the exam, but adding cream and sugar is like going off your fast.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Being well-rested won’t necessarily affect your exam results, but might ease “white coat anxiety” — the tendency to exhibit elevated blood pressure readings during an exam.
  • Know your medications. Generally you will be asked questions about your medical history during the exam, including whether you’re currently taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications.
  • Test outside menstrual periods. Female applicants should not take the test when they’re menstruating.

Best of luck with your exam!

HEALTH CARE REFORMS: Rx FOR COLLEGE MEDICAL PLANS?

By Life and Health | No Comments

As the Affordable Coverage Act (ACA) is transforming the nation’s health care system from top to bottom, consumers are raising a wide variety of questions. For example, many college-age students, and their parents, might be wondering how these reforms will impact their need for carrying Health insurance through their schools.

The answer: In most case, Medical policies sold through colleges remain as important as ever. Students need to speak with their parents about what coverage they require, and determine whether they need it through their school as they leave home for the first time or can remain covered through their parents’ plan.

The ACA permits children to remain under the parental Health policy until the age of 26, regardless of whether they’re enrolled in college (full or part time) or wherever they live. College-sponsored plans remain important if a student’s parents are either uninsured or don’t have good Medical coverage. Under the ACA, any student who lacks adequate Health insurance must purchase a plan through the college or university where he or she is enrolled. The intent is to provide affordable health care for the college-age children of the millions of Americans who lack a Medical plan that will cover these young people when they leave the nest.

If you have (or will have) children in college, our agency’s professionals would be happy to provide a complimentary review of their Health insurance needs – and yours. Please feel free to get in touch with us.

HAVE YOU CHECKED YOUR MIB FILE?

By Life and Health | No Comments

No, we’re not talking about what The Men in Black might have on you. The MIB Group keeps records of every applicant for an individual Life, Health, Critical Illness, Disability, or Long-Term Care policy to some 470 U.S and Canadian participating insurance companies during the past seven years.

MIB (originally the Medical Information Bureau) maintains this database to ensure underwriting standards that curb fraud. For example, if one insurance company rejects an applicant because of a congestive condition and he or she “forgets” to mention this diagnosis when applying to a second company, the person’s report would raise a red flag.

When you apply for coverage, the insurer will have MIB send you a pre-release notice and authorization for release of your report to sign and return, together with your application. Your report does not contain detailed medical records – just codes that identify medical conditions or tests which might affect underwriting your policy. However, MIB specifically prohibits companies from relying solely on the report to make a coverage decision.

You’re entitled to one free report a year – don’t fall for online scams that try to charge you for this information! To receive your copy, call (866) 692-6901 and provide proof of identity (name, address, DOB, Social Security number, etc. If you think information in your file is incorrect, you can send a written dispute to MIB, which will investigate the discrepancy.

MORE BUSINESSES ENCOURAGING EMPLOYEE WELLNESS

By Life and Health | No Comments

A recent nationwide study found that a growing majority of businesses are providing financial incentives to workers who take part in health improvement and wellness programs. According to the Aon Hewitt 2012 Health Care Survey of more than 2,000 employers, nearly three in five (59%) gave employees cash to promote participation in these programs – that’s nearly twice the 37% rate in 2011. Companies are also encouraging participants to stick with these programs. More than half of the respondents (58%) who offered these rewards also gave workers a bonus for completing the program.

Taking an active role in modifying their lifestyle provides employees with obvious humanitarian benefits. In addition, the businesses that provided these programs saved a healthy $700 a year for every participating employee by reducing the incidence of risky behaviors that worsen chronic conditions – such as diabetes, back pain, obesity, coronary artery disease, high cholesterol and asthma – which account for $.80 of every $1.00 spent on health care. According to Aon, these behaviors include:

  • Unhealthy diet
  • Lack of sleep
  • Poor stress management
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol

There’s still room for improvement. To change employee behavior, more companies need to associate rewards with program outcomes, as well as basic enrollment. Even though the vast majority of employers in the survey (more than 80%) offered workers cash payments to complete health questionnaires, only10% used incentives to motivate behavioral change. Providing workers with the results of health questionnaires and biometric screenings will give them a sense of participation and of accountability.

We’d be happy to help you create, and maintain, an employee wellness incentive program that can help your workers live healthier lives – and reduce your Health care costs. Just give us a call.