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Monthly Archives

April 2016

Ways to Show Appreciation on Administrative Professionals Day

By Your Employee Matters | No Comments

04-16-em-3Held the last week in April, Administrative Professionals Week is celebrated by corporations in several countries. It began during World War II when skilled administrative professionals were in high demand, and its purpose was to recognize the skills, efficiency and loyalty of administrative professionals and entice more people to join the profession. You, too, can celebrate your administrative professionals in several ways.

Entertainment

Treat your staff to a day or night off work when you send them to a concert, sporting event or show. Tickets to an amusement park, zoo or other attraction are also appreciated.

Gift Baskets

Celebrate your staff with personalized gift baskets based on the individual’s interests and likes. Baking, chocolate, movies, wine or fishing are possible themes.

Shopping

Gift cards allow the recipient to buy whatever gift he or she chooses. Consider giving a pre-loaded Visa card or one to a specific restaurants, department stores or ecommerce store.

Spa Treatments

Reward your hard-working staff with a massage, manicure, pedicure or other salon or spa treatment. They will appreciate the time to relax.

Time Off

Everyone can use extra time off. Give your staff a half or full day off with pay to thank them for their hard work.

Custom Coupons

Maybe your assistant enjoys taking long lunches, could use a few hours of flex time or covets the front row parking spot. Reward him or her with a custom coupon that can be cashed in at a later date.

Exclusive Meal

Celebrate Administrative Professionals Day with an exclusive meal. Book a caterer or hire a private chef to prepare a delicious meal for administrative professionals only.

Recognition Awards

Celebrate the unique talents and skills contributed by each administrative professional in your office when you give recognition awards. They can be trophies, plaques or other tangible evidences of a job well done.

Play

Assemble your staff for a play date. Unwind, let your hair down and have fun on the basketball court, in the ball pit or at a paint night.

Invest in Efficiency

Now’s a great time to invest in new technology, tools or automation that makes work easier for your administrative professionals. Ask them what items or technology they want before purchasing anything.

Offer Training

Whether you bring in a specialist or send your staff on a retreat where they’ll learn a new skill, offer training and show that you’re invested in your staff. This gift also assists each individual in boosting his or her skills and marketability.

Whistleblower Protection in the Workplace

By Your Employee Matters | No Comments

04-16-em-1Whistleblowers are employees who report safety violations or illegal activity that occurs where they work. Several federal and state laws protect individuals who “blow the whistle”, so learn more about whistleblower protection in the workplace in case you face a situation that requires you to decide whether or not to stand up for what is right.

What is a Whistleblower?

Anyone who sees something illegal or hazardous occur at work can choose to stay quiet, especially if fear retaliation from their employer and don’t want to get harassed, threatened, demoted or fired. However, violations like dumping harmful chemicals into public water sources, using questionable accounting practices, allowing safety hazards or discriminating against certain religions is illegal. Individuals who report these activities will be protected by several laws.

Federal Whistleblower Protections

Numerous laws protect employees who speak out against an unlawful or hazardous behavior. Those laws include the Clean Air Act, Solid Waste Disposal Act, Compensation and Liability Act, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Safe Drinking Water Act and Energy Reorganization Act, among others.

In addition to protecting employees who speak up, whistleblowing laws protect employees who refuse to participate in illegal actions and those who assist an investigation. They also encourage future whistleblowers to take action and report illegal activities.

What to do if you see Something Illegal

When you see something that needs to be reported, tell your employer or a federal agency. You will be protected by whistleblower laws if you act in good-faith that your employer is violating the law, whether your claims are proven true or not. If you claim a violation simply to get back at your employer, whistleblower laws will not protect you.

What to do if Your Employer has Retaliated

You can file a complaint against your employer if you face retaliation for being a whistleblower. Visit your local Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) office or file an online claim within 90 days of the retaliatory action. The agency then has 60 days to investigate your claim and decide if your claims of retaliation are true.

State Whistleblower Laws

Federal whistleblower protection applies to government or public employees. Additionally, your state may also have laws that offer whistleblower protection to both public and private sector employees. You will need to report the illegal activity to your supervisor or an outside authority. As with federal cases, you will not be penalized if you made the complaint in good faith and had a good reason to suspect a violation but it turns out to be unfounded.

Being a whistleblower potentially protects thousands of people and is the right thing to do. Know the whistleblower protections that are in place in case you ever need to take action.

Devices You Didn’t Know Were At Risk

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

04-16-cyber-2A general rule of thumb worth following: Any device that you can plug into the internet or a USB stick is going to be vulnerable, and the same goes for anything you might punch a password into. You know that you should keep your laptops, desktop computers and tablets safe, but you’re also going to want to spend some time thinking about software security when it comes to…

Phones

For a long time, people simply assumed that phones were impervious, but as we’re seeing more and more, this is not the case. There are more viruses for laptops and desktops than there are for smart phones simply because smart phones are newer, and hackers are still learning their way around the device.

Video Game Devices

Not so long ago, the only people hacking video game consoles were trying to remove region-lock so that they could play Japanese games that haven’t been released in the US. Now we have quite a bit of sensitive information on our Xboxes and Playstations, including payment information. There are plenty of stories out there of consoles being hacked for money.

Wearable Devices

A lot of the talk on wearable devices is still theoretical. People aren’t using augmented reality glasses as an every day device just yet, and the only people who are really on the cutting edge of this trend are the health-conscious, who use wearables to track their exercise progress. That doesn’t mean that these devices aren’t already vulnerable. Although your fitness records aren’t the most vulnerable data, there’s nothing stopping viruses from piggybacking on those devices and into others.

USB Thumb Drives

A report from PC World suggests that most thumb drives can be programmed to infect a computer without the user’s knowledge. Even if you use firewalls and web security, loaning someone your USB drive means that anything their computer has, your computer might catch. In some of these cases you have to admire the ingenuity a bit, such as the virus that uses your USB drive as a keyboard, taking manual access of your computer.

Some items are more vulnerable than others, but none are magic. Keep this in mind when securing your office networks, you want to ensure that everything from your printer to your fax machine to your employees’ smart phones are capable of holding up to cyber attacks, viruses, malware, and everything in between.

Getting Software Safely

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments
04-16-cyber-1Getting new software for the office can be a trying process. Top quality programs like Photoshop can be prohibitively expensive for a small business when you need to outfit your whole office, and the free stuff is a bit of a crap shoot. Obviously, we have to recommend against pirating. Individuals using Sony Vegas or Adobe Illustrator without a license aren’t really taking a huge risk, but releasing professional work with pirated software is a recipe for a lawsuit that will wind up costing you quite a bit more than the licensing fees would have.

But then, the free and cheap alternatives bring their own risks. Check out some people’s Firefox and Google Chrome browsers and you’ll see about an inch of browser space and twelve inches of search bars, task bars and plugins. This is a problem you encounter when you’re not too picky about where you’re getting your free software. The problem is that it’s more or less legal to take any piece of open source software and add a ton of stuff to the install process that the user doesn’t need. They don’t even need to include viruses and adware if you’re actually choosing to do the auto-install without deselecting all the bloatware that comes with it.

If you can get your free software directly from the official website, then that’s always the best option. Unfortunately, sometimes the official website is long gone, in which case you will want to check some forums to see if anyone has posted a legit copy to a file sharing site.

A lot of torrents for pirated software carry viruses, spamware, adware and spybots, which is another reason why they can ultimately cost you in the long run. Getting a virus off of your laptop isn’t such a big deal. Getting a virus off of every laptop in your office, and out of all the software you’ve been distributing yourself, that’s another story.

If you see someone sharing freeware on social media, just don’t click the link unless the post comes from a verified account. People love to spread infected shareware and freeware on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.

Basically it comes down to doing your research and getting your software from as close to the source as possible. Keep your security software up to date, don’t trust random links or Youtube spam, and don’t just click on the first download you see.

Uninstalling Everything

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

04-16-cyber-4Your security software can do a lot, but it isn’t psychic. It doesn’t always know if you meant to install something, or if it piggybacked along with some freeware you picked up. Every now and then, it’s a good idea to just browse your uninstaller and see if there’s anything in there you don’t recognize.

For Windows

For most versions of Windows, the quickest way to get rid of your bloat ware is to go to the search bar from the Start button and type in “uninstall.” You’ll find a program called “uninstall a program.” You can list the programs by date of install, so you can look for things that were installed recently and make sure that it’s all stuff that’s supposed to be there.

For Mac

There are a lot of different easy to use Mac OS X uninstallers. We recommend AppCleaner, a simple, to the point uninstaller for unwanted apps.

Deleting apps from your iPhone is pretty easy: Press and hold any icon for a few seconds and all the icons will start to jiggle. Tap the X in the upper left corner of the app you’d like to get rid of and select “delete.” You can delete anything this way except for official apps that came with your phone.

When in Doubt…

If you uninstall something you needed by accident, it’s usually no big deal to reinstall it, but when you’re not sure of whether or not you need something, you can always Google it. Viruses and bots and malware are often installed under deceptive names like “Google Installer,” so do your research, and remember that, short of removing your whole operating system and every web browser on your drive, it’s usually safer to uninstall and find out than it is to just assume that something is safe.

Cleaning Out Your Web Browser

Your web browser might get hit with installations for search bars you don’t need and useless plugins and tools. You can remove most of them by just going to your settings and returning everything to how you like it. Worst-case-scenario, you can completely uninstall your browser and redownload it with Internet Explorer.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to just go down the uninstall list and get rid of software you don’t use anymore in order to clear up some RAM and hard drive space. In any event, security software and an occasional run-down of your uninstall list should be enough to keep all but the worst viruses and malware at bay.

Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Cyber Security

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

04-16-cyber-3In 1995, a computer virus or a cyber attack meant that you had to maybe spend a few bucks taking your desktop to a professional to get it fixed. Now we do everything on our computers and devices, so a serious cyber attack could mean being out of work, losing a lot of money, or having our identity stolen. With  virtual reality “VR” and augmented reality, we’re taking an even greater risk, putting our very perception of reality on the line.

Although we may simply want to opt out of augmented reality, there may come a time when that’s easier said than done. Twenty years ago you might have said that you weren’t interested in using the internet, but here we are. Even if you don’t actively surf the web, all of your transactions make it through the internet sooner or later. Maybe you’ll never get outfitted with a Google Glass headset, but it’s going to be simply a part of our lives sooner or later.

More likely than not, it will wind up being an integral part of how you do business, just as the internet became an integral part of doing business in the 00’s. As such, we need to start thinking about how we’re going to manage the cyber security risks associated with augmented reality and VR.

The use of augmented reality or VR in conjunction with wearable devices has the potential to even allow hackers and malware to create bodily harm, say some experts. We’ve already seen that, in theory, smart pacemakers can suffer a cyber attack. Augmented reality means that hackers could do something as simple as triggering an epileptic seizure in their targets, or use wearable items like the Google Glass as surveillance devices.

Even assuming that you never strap a wearable device onto your body for the rest of your life, simply offering free Wifi to your customers could open you up to liability should a wearable device be hacked on your watch.

The way that we fight hackers on the new frontier of wearable devices, augmented reality and VR won’t likely be much different than the way that we fight them right now. The challenge lies in the fact that cyber security tends to be, by its very nature, reactive. Hackers tend to be a step ahead of security providers because we won’t know what the vulnerabilities are until they’re capitalized upon. Fortunately, we’re seeing more and more proactive efforts to keep up with vulnerabilities affecting new technologies.

8 Ways to Impress Your Boss as a New Employee

By Your Employee Matters | No Comments

04-16-em-4Congratulations on your new job! It’s now time to make a good impression on your boss. Here are eight steps you can take to start your new job on the right foot.

Arrive on time. Every boss appreciates an employee who arrives on time and is ready to work. Plus, clocking in on time or even a bit early shows that you’re dependable and take your job seriously.

Ask questions. During your interview, you learned a lot about your new job and responsibilities, but you don’t know everything. Consider asking about your boss’s vision for the team, the company’s overall goals and expectations about your performance or position.

Do more than the minimum. You were hired to do specific tasks, so definitely make sure your job is done right. However, if you go the extra mile, you show your boss that you’re willing to put in the work needed to succeed.

Take notes. The first few days at a new job can be overwhelming as you meet new people and jump into your new responsibilities. Carry a notebook and pen to track any instructions or tips your boss gives you. Your attentiveness shows that you value your boss’s words and time, and you won’t have to ask the same questions multiple times.

Admit mistakes. Everyone messes up occasionally, so admit your mistakes. Don’t hope the boss won’t notice or wait for him or her to point it out. Instead, show that you’re responsible, honest and mature.

Ask to cross train. After you master your job, look for opportunities to cross train. Understanding how the entire office works makes you a more versatile employee and team player.

Ask for regular meetings. A short 10-minute meeting at the end of every work day or once a week gives you the opportunity to make sure you’re on the right track. It also shows your boss that you’re open to feedback and willing to make whatever changes necessary to do the job right.

Play nice with your co-workers. No matter what job you’re hired to do, make an effort to get to know your co-workers and to play nice. Spend time chatting in the lunch room or ask what they like about their jobs as you ride the elevator together. Your effort builds teamwork, makes your boss’s job easier and is better for everyone in the long run.

Facebook at Work Catches On

By Your Employee Matters | No Comments

04-16-em-2You already probably use Facebook to connect with family and friends. Now, Facebook at Work gives you the benefits of social media and improves communication, collaboration and productivity. It’s catching on and might become the next big thing at your workplace.

What is Facebook at Work?

Facebook at Work looks and feels like Facebook.com. Both platforms have the same tools, apps and features, so you can use Messenger, Search, Groups, Events and the News Feed, plus video and photo sharing. It’s available for desktops, iPhone, Android and mobile web. Even if you don’t have a personal Facebook, you can have a Facebook at Work account because to use Facebook at Work, employees create new accounts that are completely separate from their personal accounts.

One of the biggest differences between the two platforms is the color. Facebook at Work is white rather than blue, which allows bosses to see at a glance which Facebook employees are using. Corporations can also access and monitor everything employees do on Facebook at Work.

Easy to Use

Many companies appreciate how easy Facebook at Work is to use. Because employees are already familiar with Facebook.com, they don’t need to undergo hours of training on a new platform.

Improves Communication

Communication is easier than ever thanks to Facebook at Work. Simply start a group message and get answers to questions or feedback on a proposal within minutes or work out the details of a project in a group with teammates and clients.

Promotes Collaboration

It’s easy for employees who telecommute or work in different offices around the world to feel isolated. Facebook at Work builds a network of colleagues and helps everyone feel like part of the team.

Increases Productivity

Instead of browsing Facebook.com all the time, employees can continue to use Facebook and get work done. It also makes projects and teamwork easier than ever. With a glance, you can use this social media platform to see what everyone else is doing, find inspiration and stay motivated.

Requires Action

Like any social media platform, Facebook at Work only works if people use it. You may need to educate non-tech-savvy employees about its ins and out.

Facebook at Work is not the only social media option for corporations. Microsoft Office 365 offers Yammer, VMware sells Socialcast and Salesforce.com offers Chatter. However, the benefits of Facebook at Work make it ideal for most companies. If your company isn’t using it, consider getting on board as you connect employees, improve productivity and increase cooperation in your office.

Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits

By Employment Resources | No Comments

04-16-er-4Workers’ Compensation pays for your medical treatments and care when you’re injured or become ill because of you work. It also provides additional benefits if you’re disabled or killed while on the job. Learn about several types of Workers” Compensation as you understand your benefits package.

Medical Care

When you’re injured at work, you need to see a doctor. He or she will evaluate your injury and prescribe treatment. You may even need to visit the hospital for medical care or undergo surgery. Workers’ Comp will cover these visits, and it could also cover medically necessary equipment, including crutches, braces or a wheelchair. Your coverage may also pay for chiropractic treatment, acupuncture or counseling. In most cases, your Workers’ Comp will not cover experimental or investigative treatments.

Rehabilitation

Serious injuries may require rehabilitative services such as physical therapy that help you recover. Workers’ Comp can pay for this rehabilitative therapy. It could also cover any rehab you need to regain skills or abilities required for your job. If your injuries prevent you from returning to your former job, take advantage of your Workers’ Compensation benefits that can pay for evaluations, tuition, retraining and other expenses required to train you for another position.

Disability

Worker’s Comp disability coverage pays you for the wages you lose while you’re recovering from your illness or injury. There are four types of disability it can cover.

*Temporary partial disability prohibits you from performing certain duties of your job for a limited period of time.
*Temporary total disability prevents you from working at all for a limited period of time.
*Permanent partial disability describes permanent impairment that partially hinders your ability to work.
*Permanent total disability means you will never return to your current or a similar job.

The amount of Worker’s Comp money you receive for a disability depends on how much you earned before your injury or illness occurred. It’s typically capped at two-thirds of your wages. Additionally, there’s often a waiting period before you can receive disability payments, and you do not pay income tax on this income.

Death

The death benefit in your Workers’ Comp plan covers the financial contributions you make to your dependents. It is paid to your spouse, parent, child or sibling and could total a percentage of your earnings. The death benefit of your Workers” Comp coverage may also pay for your funeral and burial expenses.

Every state offers a slightly different take on Workers’ Compensation, so refer to your company’s benefits for details on the types of Workers’ Comp you are eligible to receive. For more details, talk to your Human Resources department.04-16-er-4

What Not To Say In Your Help Wanted Ad

By Employment Resources | No Comments

04-16-er-3 (1)Writing a help wanted ad can be a daunting task. It needs to be concise and to-the-point and descriptive. It also has to be completely free of any language that’s considered discriminatory. Use these tips about what you should avoid as you write an attractive and engaging help wanted ad for your company.

Protected Status

Title VII discusses diversity in the workplace and prohibits discrimination based on gender, national origin, race, age or religion. Sexual orientation is also protected in some states. Don’t include any words in your help wanted ad that indicate your preference for or against applicants based on their protected statuses. An attorney can preview your ads to make sure they’re compliant with the law.

Gender-Specific Language

Unless the open job can only be filled by a certain gender, avoid using gender-specific words like waitress or mailman in your help wanted ads. Opt instead for gender-neutral language like server or mailperson.

Vague Job Description

You may wish to attract a variety of candidates for the job, but a vague job description could attract dozens of unqualified candidates. Write out a list of specific duties for the job, choose the top five and then write a clear ad that expresses what a potential hire will be doing.

Missing Requirements

Let’s say the open job requires heavy lifting, a real estate license or advance training. Include these details in the help wanted ad as you create an accurate ad that attracts applicants who meet your requirements.

No Hours

Include whether the job is part-time or full-time and if nights or weekends are required. This information is important for applicants who may only be available during certain hours.

Personality Preferences

Of course, you want someone on your sales staff who’s outgoing and charismatic. Put those personality traits on your help wanted ad, though, and applicants will act the part to get the job. Your ad should focus instead on the job, and you can use the interview to get a feel for the applicant’s personality.

Inaccurate Contact Information

Even if you write a killer help wanted ad, you won’t get any applicants if you don’t include accurate contact info. Based on the job and your preferences, tell applicants if they should apply via mail, in-person, fax or email, and ensure the information is accurate.

Spelling or Grammar Errors

Show applicants that you’re professional when you check your ad for spelling and grammar before you publish it.

Your next help wanted ad can attract quality applicants thanks to your writing skills. Be sure you know what not to say as you look to fill the open positions in your company.