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1,500 of Wasted Time on Busywork

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Work can be a life-draining affair.” Joseph Campbell

Effective time management is essential if you wish to be a successful HR executive — and have a life at the same time. According to CEO surveys, when HR professionals focus their time on administrative and compliance duties (positions in which one is particularly likely to say “no”) their companies don’t see them as being strategic partners to the business. The problem is that HR executives spend an average of only 25% of their time on strategic activities. From a career and company goals perspective, this is akin to orchestrating their own demise.

When I advise HR executives to manage their time more effectively by minimizing administrative and compliance activities, I get a variety of “reasons” why they don’t do so:

This simply has to get done.
Somebody has to do it.
I don’t have the time to delegate this right now.
There’s nobody else here to do it.
I’m not sure I would know how to delegate it properly.
I can’t manage the person to whom I delegated it.

These are all poor excuses that can block your career success.

Let’s think about some numbers. Suppose you spend an average of 10 hours a week managing payroll and other administrative tasks. Let’s say you earn $40 per hour (roughly $80,000 per year) and administrative tasks such as this are the least valuable work you do. In fact, it’s work that $20 an hour people can do. On the conservative side, every hour that you do this work, the company loses $20 an hour — which comes to $800 a month or $9,600 a year. If you put this same effort into doing $60 an hour strategic work instead, the company would gain $20 every hour — and you’d be in a far better position to ask for a raise.

Think about it: if you waste 10 hours a week for the next three years, that’s 500 hours this year, and 1,500 hours during the next three years of your life that you’ll never get back! What’s more, this waste will cost the company at least $30,000.

If you label your work as “A”, “B,” and “C” work, you should be spending 80% of your time on A Work, 20% on B work — and zero time on C work. Otherwise, you’re spinning your wheels.

C work basically wastes time completely. It’s nothing you can delegate; it’s just something you should stop doing. B work is administrative and can be delegated or outsourced — such as payroll and benefits administration. Focus on A work: What the business needs and what you want to get great at doing. A classic example would be training in a company that’s focused on technological advances.

To determine where your time is going — and should be going — use this checklist:

A-Level Activities:

  • Meeting with the executive team to understand their vision, mission, value, goals, etc.
  • Studying and understanding the company’s strategic plans, financials, succession plan, markets, branding, and other operations.
  • Identifying the critical human resource needs for this organization (surveys, observation, focus groups, interviews, etc.).
  • Input into the company’s overall compensation plan, including pay rates, incentives, bonuses, rewards programs, etc.
  • Creating strategic plans and processes for carrying out top objectives.
  • Developing training plans to support implementation.
  • Input into the company’s overall risk-management plan, including assistance with the purchase of benefit programs, Workers Comp insurance, Cyber Liability insurance, and Employment Practices Liability insurance (EPLI).
  • Creating systems for hiring, performance, retention and compliance.
  • Facilitating creativity, branding, suggestion systems, etc.
  • Implementing any other company strategic objectives to which you can provide input.

B-Level Activities:

  • Payroll and benefits administration.
  • Implementation of hiring, performance, retention and compliance systems.
  • HRIS management.
  • Delivery of training.
  • Creation of employee handbook and executive contracts.
  • Personnel files management.
  • Attendance, vacation, and leave management.
  • COBRA administration.
  • Compliance posters and handouts.

C-Level Activities:

  • Employee dramas.
  • Meetings that go nowhere.
  • Doing any $10-20/hour work.

Top Tips To Reduce Stress At Work

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Three in four adults report that work stress affects their personal lives. Since April is National Stress Awareness Month, your HR department can share several tips that help your staff reduce stress at work.

Schedule your Day

Your productivity naturally wanes during the day. Be proactive and schedule tough, unpleasant or high-energy tasks for the moments when you have the most energy, and leave mundane or boring tasks for low-energy times. With this tip, you’ll get more done and feel less stressed.

Listen

Maintain an open-door policy that welcomes co-workers to share challenges they face. With this information, you can address areas that should be changed and help your staff find solutions that reduce their specific stressors.

Eliminate Interruptions

Email, pop-ins and phone calls interrupt your train of thought and can affect your deadlines. If you can’t turn off your phone, shut your office door or set up office hours, work to manage your response. Accept the reality that you will face interruptions and try to remain calm. Then perform triage and prioritize the interruptions as you deal with the most important things first and delegate or leave the rest until tomorrow.

Take A Deep Breath

Give yourself a moment to breathe deeply when you feel tense, overwhelmed or angry. Simply inhale through your mouth, count to five and exhale slowly through your nose. This break can calm your mind and body during meetings or after frustrating encounters with clients or co-workers.

Improve Interoffice Relationships

Encourage team members to build trust and improve communication. Team bonding exercises and problem-solving techniques eliminate troublesome interpersonal problems and related stress.

Exercise

Take exercise breaks throughout the day to reboot your body and your brain. A quick walk during lunch, stretch breaks every hour and yoga, basketball or a bike ride after work can help you relax.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Stress eating may help you feel better in the moment, but it can actually make you feel sluggish, irritable and tired. Boost your protein intake and cut sugar as you fuel your body to work and think efficiently. Stock the break room with healthy snacks and water, too.

Get Enough Sleep

Lack of sleep affects your ability to think clearly, make decisions and handle challenges. Implement a good sleep hygiene routine so you can stay alert and function at your best while at work.

Buy Plants

Plants brighten your workspace, clean the air and help you relax. Your plants may also lower your blood pressure and quicken your reaction time, helping you get more done and feel less stressed.

These top tips help your co-workers feel less stressed at work. Implement them in your workplace today.

Employee Retention Tips For Your Business

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To help your business grow and stay healthy, you need to retain your employees. Your company will experience higher employee and customer satisfaction ratings, and you’ll save money and conserve resources when you maintain a consistent workforce. Gain these benefits and protect your company when you implement several employee retention tips.

Hire Quality Employees

During your hiring process, try to fill positions with staff members who fit in with your culture, possess essential skills and embrace your company’s vision. Employees are more likely to stay long-term when they feel at home in your company.

Clarify Expectations

Ensure every employee understands their production goals and other expectations. They’ll experience less stress and feel more secure and motivated when they have a clear set of goals to achieve.

Tap Into Talents, Skills and Experiences

Every employee has a hidden skill or two that can benefit your business. Get to know each member of your team, and discover the unique talents, skills and experiences they possess. You can then maximize each staff member as you stretch them professionally and enhance your business.

Provide Tools, Training and Growth Opportunities

Equip your employees for success when you provide them with the tools they need to do their jobs. You can also schedule performance reviews and ongoing training workshops, seminars and classes that help your employees feel professionally fulfilled and satisfied.

Appreciate all Employees

Incentives, gifts and rewards show employees that you value and appreciate them. Consider offering:

  • Flexible work hours
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Competitive salaries
  • Free lunches
  • Regular verbal thank you’s

Each of these appreciative measures boosts morale and gives your employees reasons to stay.

Encourage Work-Life Balance

Protect your employees from stress and other health problems as you encourage work-life balance. Offer nontraditional work hours or a flexible schedule, extra holidays, realistic work expectations, and more breaks. Your efforts improve employee morale and satisfaction.

Strive for Fairness

Most businesses implement different pay and incentive levels, but do your best to be fair and equitable. Offering only certain employees higher pay, extra bonuses or other perks will negatively affect employee morale, productivity and longevity.

Welcome Feedback

Give your employees freedom to share their thoughts, ideas and opinions as you create an open environment that welcomes improvements and innovation. Be sure to take all suggestions seriously, and give employees credit for their ideas as you keep your team excited and involved in your company’s growth and success.

Conduct Exit Interviews

When employees do leave, conduct exit interviews and ask why they’re moving on. Their insights can help you improve operations and reduce future employee losses.

With these tips, your company can improve employee retention. You’ll then gain a variety of benefits that keep your business healthy.

Unemployment Benefits For Seasonal Layoffs

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The slow winter season may lead certain employers to lay off employees for a few weeks or months.  If you’re affected by a layoff, you could file for unemployment. Understand this coverage and how to file for it so you can receive financial benefits as you wait to return to work.

What are Unemployment Benefits?

Most employers pay unemployment insurance so employees who lose their jobs or are laid off can receive temporary unemployment benefits. While your state administers the benefits, you are responsible to file a weekly claim for the benefits.

How to Qualify for Unemployment

Every state sets different guidelines for unemployment eligibility. Typically, you may receive benefits if you are laid off seasonally, and these benefits will last up to 26 weeks or until you return to work. However, you may need to meet certain employment qualifications. For example, in some states you must work for your employer for a certain number of weeks or earn a set income per month before you can apply for unemployment. You also must receive a W-2 from your employer, which means independent contractors or freelancers will not qualify for unemployment benefits.

Check with your Human Resources department to ensure you qualify for unemployment benefits. In most cases, you’ll receive details about your eligibility and information on how to file for benefits before your layoff starts.

How to File for Unemployment

It may take a week or longer to begin receiving unemployment benefits, so file a claim for benefits as soon as possible. You can sign up online or over the phone, and you will need your:

  • Social Security and driver license number
  • Complete mailing address and daytime phone number
  • Names and addresses of all employers from the last 18 months
  • Information from your W-2 form

After you file the initial claim, you will file for benefits weekly either online or through the automated phone system. Be prepared to answer questions about how many days you were willing and able to work that week. To continue receiving benefits, you also may need to prove that you’re actively looking for work even if you expect to be rehired in the near future.

Amount of Benefits you will Receive

Your state’s unemployment program and your job history affect the amount of unemployment benefits you receive. Typically, you can expect to receive up to half of your regular wages. Weekly benefits are capped, however, so you might earn less than half if you are a high-earner.

Unemployment benefits provide financial income if you’re laid off for a season from your job. Discuss your specific benefits with your Human Resources department to ensure you understand the specific benefits you can receive.

HMO, PPO, AND POS — PROS AND CONS

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When choosing a Health insurance program, it’s all too easy to drown in an alphabet soup of acronyms — everything from ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations) to WHRN (Whole Health Resources Networks).

However, the three most common types of managed health care plans are Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), Preferred Provider Plans (PPOs), and POS (Point of Service plans). Here’s an overview of how each type works, together with their advantages and disadvantages.

Health Maintenance Organizations.

An HMO offers a “provider network” of health services professionals (physicians, nurses, therapists, etc.) and facilities (hospitals, clinics, medical offices, and so forth). A primary care physician (PCP) will act as a “gatekeeper” who will evaluate your health and recommend referrals to specialists, as needed.

As a rule, premiums and co-pays are relatively low, saving you money. On the downside, HMOs offer limited, if any, flexibility for services outside the plan. If your current physician isn’t in the HMO, you’ll have to pay for his or her services, or select another PCP who does participate in the plan. Also, if you use a provider outside the network, you’ll have to pay out of pocket.

Preferred Provider Organizations. 

Like HMOs, PPOs operate through a network of health care providers and institutions, and set relatively low co-payments for medical treatment. However, unlike HMOs, they’ll pick up the tab for many (although not all) medical services outside the network. What’s more, you can see specialists who participate in the network without going through your primary care physician.

Of course, you’ll pay a relatively high premium for enjoying this added flexibility. Also, if you get treatment outside the PPO, you’ll have to pick up a deductible or the difference between the charges of the plan provider and those of the out-of -network specialist.

Point of Service Plans. 

This option combines elements of HMOs and PPOs. A POS plan focuses on a primary care physician participating in the plan who monitors your health care at the “point of service” and recommend referrals either inside or outside the network. In the former case, the PPO will file a claim with your Health insurance company, which will pick up the tab for a high percentage of the charges; in the latter, you’ll have to do the paperwork yourself and your reimbursement will be far lower. If you see a specialist without going through your PCP, the insurer will pay even less.

As a rule of thumb, a POS offer more flexibility than an HMO and less than a PPO.

The Bottom Line.

HMO, PPO, or POS — which will provide the best value for your health-care dollar? That depends on your needs and life situation. Our professionals stand ready to offer you their expert advice. Just give us a call.

Risks for Remote Employees

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Modern technology has made it easier than ever for employees to work from home and still remain connected to their place of employment. Using remote employment has actually become a popular trend over the last ten years, especially since selling to the global market has become such an important factor in a business being competitive. Many businesses have found that they can minimize their expenses and attract international customers with more attractive prices if they decrease their overhead by allowing workers to remotely commute.

Despite the many benefits of using remote employees, there are downsides. Many employers considering this trend wonder how they can ensure workplace safety when the employee’s physical workplace is their own home. Another consideration is the degree of employer liability in remote employment.

Fortunately, OSHA has addressed some of the safety issues surrounding remote employment. According to OSHA guidelines, employers are required to maintain a safe workplace, even for employees working from their own home. OSHA will not require an employer to inspect a remote employee’s home worksite, nor inspect it themselves.

However, OSHA may inspect the worksite of an employee that’s performing an at-home job on behalf of their employer if it possibly involves health or safety hazards and there’s a complaint. A record of all occupational illnesses and injuries must be kept on all at-home workers if an employer is subject to OSHA record keeping requirements. Keeping in mind that OSHA compliance measures shouldn’t involve controlling the home worksite of employees, employers might need to take some additional practical measures to ensure OSHA compliance.

As far as safety compliance goes, the absence of immediate supervision for remote workers is one of the main problems employers face. Experienced, highly-trained, long-term employers are generally the worst offenders when it comes to taking safety risks. This group of employees often become complacent due to the fact they’re so accustomed and comfortable with their job, feel they’re familiar with the job’s hazards, and might have escaped disciplinary action when ignoring safety procedures or taking shortcuts in the past.

One of the best ways that employers can counteract the above dangerous attitude toward safety is by using a holistic approach to safety. Employers should focus and place great importance on each individual employee actively participating in the safety process and taking responsibility for their own safety. Whether at home, on the road, or at a remote jobsite, remote employees need to be ready, willing, and able to take the appropriate actions to protect themselves in any given situation.

Employers will need employee support to make any approach to safety successful, which means that employers must have total employee involvement in the safety process. Involve your remote employees in the process of determining what’s needed to prevent injury to themselves and others during remote location work. Most employers find that the experience and firsthand knowledge of their employees is actually very advantageous in creating safe remote worksites.

Remember, employees that understand the value of safety are more likely to be motivated and willing participants. They’re also more apt to embrace safety behaviors for the longevity of their employment. Employers can reinforce their employee’s positive attitude about safety by having electronic or person-to-person safety counseling in place and ensuring safety managers are encouraging safety participation.

Tips To Calm Employee Fears When Onboarding A New CEO

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As a human resources professional, you help your company prepare to onboard new employees. When that new employee is the CEO, you may receive questions from employees who worry about their job security or potential changes to the company culture. Use these tips as you reassure your employees.

Make a Good First Impression

Many new CEOs take a few weeks or months to make personnel decisions. Encourage employees to make a good first impression and be available, participate willingly and learn as much as they can. Their efforts prove their readiness to embrace change and move forward for the sake of the company.

Study the CEO’s Working Style

The new boss may prefer direct confrontation, walking meetings or emails rather than phone calls. Employees should study the CEO or ask for details so they can properly support his or her working style.

Work as a Team

Employees may resist the overhauls a new CEO wants to make. However, employees should get on board and tell the new boss that they will embrace and cooperate with the new vision. This teamwork mentality can mean the difference between staying employed or getting sacked.

Offer to Help

Talking to a CEO may be intimidating, but employees will benefit from offering to assist their new boss. They can reach out with an email or voicemail and tell the boss that they’re willing to do whatever it takes to help him or her succeed in managing the company.

Prove Your Value

New CEOs are hired to improve efficiency, productivity and sales, and they will make changes as they do their job. Current employees must prove that they’re valuable members of the company. Instead of relying on past success or accolades, employees can secure their jobs by initiating a conversation about what the CEO expects of them and then exceeding those expectations.

Do Great Work

Every employee should show up for work each day ready to perform. Adjusting to new strategies may take time, but employees who show a willingness to work hard on each project, participate in discussions and follow through with objectives will stand out.

Avoid Gossip

Nothing travels faster through the office grapevine than gossip. Encourage employees not to complain about new policies or strategy changes. Social media posts, interoffice emails and even private conversations could be leaked and become grounds for dismissal.

Forget the Past

Under the previous leadership, an employee may have felt mistreated, unheard or frustrated. Times have changed, and employees need to forget past grievances, embrace the future and cooperate with the new leadership.

When your company welcomes a new CEO, calm your employees’ fears with these tips. They help everyone welcome the new boss and support the company’s success.

Tips To Address And Handle Racism In The Workplace

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Racism occurs when anyone expresses bias verbally, in writing or via behavior or attitude toward someone of a different skin color or ethnicity. Overt racism, including slurs, jokes and name calling, and covert racism, including avoidance, ridicule or body language changes, are illegal according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) laws. As a Human Resources employee, you hold the responsibility to address racism immediately, implement prevention policies and deliver necessary discipline. Use these tips to address and handle racism properly in your workplace.

Establish a Zero-Tolerance Policy

Refuse to allow racism and discrimination in your company. With help from your attorney and insurance agent, prepare a zero-tolerance policy, including reporting procedures and potential discipline, and print it in the employee handbook. Then ensure everyone, starting with management, follows it.

Maintain a Diverse Workforce

Encourage diversity when you recruit and hire employees from a variety of races, ethnicities and backgrounds. Additionally, create a safe environment where everyone in your company feels comfortable discussing racism and maintaining a cooperative workplace. Ongoing training will also share the benefits of diversity and update employees on anti-discrimination laws.

Stay Calm

From the moment you receive a report of racism to the final resolution, resolve to remain calm and serve as a role model for others in your company. Becoming excited, angry or otherwise emotion could incite further incidents, cause hurt feelings and complicate resolution. Plus, you will think more clearly as you maintain a calm attitude and demeanor.

 Take Action

A corrective action plan reinforces your zero-tolerance policy and protects your employees and your company. This solid action plan equips you to handle racism incidents properly and reduces workplace tension and potential legal action as you maintain a safe environment for every employee. Your action plan should include these steps.

  • Take each complaint seriously.
  • Exercise respect for all parties, including the complainer.
  • Don’t retaliate with punishment such as discipline, demotion, shift changes or isolation toward any of the involved employees.
  • Investigate all complaints objectively, and reserve judgment for after the impartial and thorough investigation.
  • Follow your established procedures exactly to discover the truth and avoid unfair treatment claims.
  • Interview everyone involved, including the complainer, accused and witnesses, and gather supporting documents such as emails to create a corroborative picture of the alleged incident/s.
  • Keep detailed records of all interviews and documentation.
  • Maintain confidentiality at all times.
  • Cooperate with any investigative or government agencies.
  • Take appropriate disciplinary action as needed.

Racism in a company affects everyone and could jeopardize the business’s future. Create a safe, inclusive and diverse workforce with these tips, and discuss additional protective measures with your insurance agent and attorney as you address and handle workplace racism properly.

Can Your Company Ban Negative Attitudes?

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In almost every company, you can find at least one employee who displays a bad attitude. Negative attitudes can poison the entire workplace, though, and decrease morale, motivation, creativity, decision making and productivity. In 2014, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that a Boiling Springs, South Carolina, restaurant owner could fire an employee who complained to customers about the company and its policies. Based on this ruling, your company can take several steps as you address negative employee attitudes, maintain a positive workplace environment and protect your company’s future.

Focus on Business Disruption

You may wish to ban negative behavior because it affects your company’s reputation. However, keep the bigger picture in mind. An employee’s negative attitude can affect morale and productivity throughout the company, cause you to lose key employees and turn away customers. You could lose income and jeopardize your company, and that business disruption gives you a legitimate reason to ban negative behavior.

Track on Behavior Not Attitude

Attitudes are difficult to measure or discipline. You can measure behavior, though, which allows you to track how the employee affects your company and then take disciplinary steps.

Write a Clear Behavior Policy

To use behavior as a reason for discipline or termination, your employee handbook must include clear language that outlines the exact behavior you will allow. Consider this example. “Our behavior standard requires all employees to maintain a positive work environment through their actions and behavior toward co-workers, management and customers.”

In this example, you focus on teamwork and address your employee’s overall attitude and mindset toward their job and the people with whom and for whom they work.

Record Specific Problems With the Negative Behavior

Be specific when addressing behavior problems. For instance, did the employee’s behavior halt progress on a project, disrupt a co-worker’s day or cause a customer to leave the store?

Document Negative Behavior

Always document negative employee behavior in case you need to discipline or terminate the employee. Include details such as who, what, where, when and how.

Screen Potential Employees

As you consider potential employees, screen their attitudes and behaviors. Discern how candidates talk about former employers, co-workers and clients as well as how they respond to you and other team members they meet. Their overall disposition, mood and emotion during the interview can indicate how they will act after they join your company.

Consult Your Attorney and Insurance Agent

While you can include behavior in your employee handbook, be sure your policy meets labor laws and can withstand unlawful termination suits. Your attorney and insurance agent can help you create a policy that protects both your and your employees’ rights as you ban negative attitudes from your company.

Handling Safety Inspections

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Safety consciousness tends to slip over time – and it’s your responsibility to make sure that this doesn’t happen. A well-prepared and well-executed safety audit/inspection program can play a key role in your risk management by uncovering conditions and work practices that could lead to job accidents and industrial illnesses.

Stated more positively, this means checking to see that things are in good shape. In addition to help preventing accidents, the inspection program will keep management informed about the “safety status” of your organization, provide a consistent method of recording observations, and reduce the possibility of important items being overlooked.

Safety inspection tours are like preventive maintenance. Every piece of equipment wears down and deteriorates sooner or later, and needs to be checked. Similarly, employee work procedures fall into routines – some of them unsafe – over time, which means that you need to evaluate them at regular intervals.

Safety inspections have a number of objectives:

  • Spotlighting unsafe conditions and equipment.
  • Focusing on unsafe work practices or behavior trends before they lead to injuries.
  • Uncovering the need for new safeguards.
  • Getting all employees to buy in to the safety program.
  • Re-evaluating the safety standards of the organization.
  • Comparing safety results against safety plans.
  • Gauging the relative success of safety training efforts.
  • Anticipating problems in advance of any OSHA inspection.

Our agency’s risk management professionals would be happy to work with you on developing and implementing a comprehensive safety inspection program for your business. Feel free to get in touch with us at any time.