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Employment Resources

How To Handle Online Harassment Properly

By Employment Resources
Online harassment in the workplace affects 6.5 million employees every year according to a 2014  U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey. Harassment can cause decreased productivity and motivation, increase physical and emotional health problems, and cause legal trouble. It can occur between employees or originate with a company client or other outside source via a company or personal computer, cellphone or other electronic device. Rather than ignore it, take harassment complaints seriously and handle them properly with these tips.

    • Follow Established Procedure

      Your company’s employee handbook should outline the company’s procedure for addressing, reporting and handling harassment of any kind. Follow that procedure for every online harassment claim since it protects the victim and prevents company lawsuits.

    • Investigate Complaints Immediately

      As soon as an employee complains about online harassment, start an investigation. Gather supporting documents, such as printed emails or social media messages. You can request those records from your internet service provider or ask the police for assistance. You will also interview witnesses, including the complainer and any coworkers or friends who can support or dispute the harassment claim.

    • Don’t Retaliate

      Retaliating in any way against someone who files a discrimination complaint or is accused of discrimination is illegal. Examples of retaLiation include:

      • Threats
      • Shift or duty changes
      • Isolation from company functions
      • Demotion
      • Pay cuts
      • Discipline
      • Termination
    • Record Details

      Create a written record of your investigation for your company records and in case you need to take legal action. Include the steps you take to resolve the issue, who you interview and all the documents you receive. Document the outcome and any related actions, too.

    • Cooperate With Authorities

      If the police or other agency becomes involved in the harassment claim, cooperate fully. Provide documents and explain how you handled the investigation.

    • Implement the Appropriate Actions

      If you find that an employee was perpetrating the online harassment, take appropriate action, which could include a warning, counseling or termination. If the harasser is not an employee, consider blocking or filtering communication from them or report them to the police.

    • Maintain Confidentiality

      Protect the victim and the integrity of your case when you keep details of a harassment case private. Confidentiality also decreases interoffice rumors and drama and increases the likelihood of a fair and swift resolution.

    • Educate Your Team

      Host regular trainings that outline what online harassment is and how to prevent it. Be sure everyone knows that your company has a zero tolerance policy against harassment of any kind from any source.

These eight tips can help you handle online harassment properly. With them, you protect your employees, uphold the law and improve your company.


By Employment Resources

One of the most difficult challenges managers or executives face is having their days ruled by “got-a-minutes.” The executive or manager is usually more proficient or knowledgeable about a certain subject, which makes it tempting for employees to avoid taking personal responsibility for finding an answer and going to an “easy” source.

All too often, this source is you. Answering a “got-a-minute” is like throwing that employee a fish: It disrupts your concentration and prevents them from learning how to fish.

To help avoid interruptions to your days by “got-a-minutes?,” tell your subordinates that you’re willing to give everyone at least five minutes between 4:00 and 4:30 to discuss any issues that are semi-urgent in nature, leaving less serious issues for the regular weekly meeting.

The only immediate “got-a-minute” questions permitted will be those rated as “emergency issues” (9 or above on a scale of 10). Work with your team to define these issues. Let employees voice their concerns and reach a consensus. Agree that you too will refrain from throwing “got-a-minutes” their way.

This approach should eliminate more than 80% of the trivial “got-a-minutes” that knock you off course. Moreover, during these 4:00 meetings, employees will be more focused on their requests. Let them know that if they think the matter will take more than five minutes they should be prepared and perhaps even use an outline. Encourage them to tell you what efforts they’ve made to deal with the issue and where they’re “stuck.”

Perhaps all they need is permission to move forward. Empower employees to figure things out for themselves. If your time is worth $100 an hour and theirs is worth $20 an hour, let them take a few hours to figure out the answer for themselves.

Can An Employer Request Employee Credit Reports?

By Employment Resources

You’ve written and posted the job ads and are ready to interview candidates, or it’s time for annual reviews, terminations and promotions. Can you request credit reports for potential or current employees? Learn more about the legal guidelines surrounding employee credit checks.

Why Do Companies Perform Credit Checks?

Many employers perform credit checks as a way to verify an employee’s integrity. A credit check can also reduce potential liability that could come from negligent hiring practices.

When Can Companies Perform Employee Credit Checks?

Companies can check a potential employee’s credit as part of the hiring practice. After an employee is hired, a company can also perform a credit check before they renew the employee’s contract, give promotions or reassign employees to another position.

Most employers must follow the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). It outlines how employers can obtain and use credit information and stipulates that you must inform employees and get written permission before you can obtain credit report information.

Do All Companies Perform Employee Credit Checks?

While many companies can perform employee credit checks, it’s not mandatory. In fact, certain companies only perform credit checks on key positions such as those who handle sensitive financial information. Also, certain states ban the use of credit checks to determine employment status.

What Information is Included on an Employee Credit Report?

Employers obtain employee credit reports from numerous consumer and employment credit checking agencies. The report can contain a variety of personal information, including:

  • Social Security number
  • Birth year
  • Marital status, including spouse’s name
  • Current and previous addresses and employers
  • Credit card, loan and child support obligations, including payment history
  • Liens, judgments and bankruptcies
  • Identity of anyone who checked the credit report recently

Most employee credit reports will not contain a credit score.

Can Employees be Fired Because of Their Credit Reports?

Currently, no federal laws and few states prohibit employment discrimination based on an employee’s credit report. You must follow FCRA if you fire someone based on their credit report. The law states that employers must:

  • Provide employees with a copy of the FCRA and their credit report before firing or eliminating the employee.
  • Provide terminated employees with the contact information of the credit reporting agency.
  • Keep all credit report information confidential and not store it in personnel files.

Employers must also follow the Federal Bankruptcy Act and other civil rights laws. You cannot fire someone based on a past bankruptcy or use credit report information as an excuse to fire someone based on their gender, race or age.

Before requesting an employee’s credit report, check state and anti-discrimination laws. These steps ensure you use credit information properly as you make staffing decisions for your company.

10 Resume Tips That Thrill Hiring Managers

By Employment Resources
When you’re searching for a job, every detail on your resume counts. Improve your chances of landing a great job when you use 10 resume tips that thrill hiring managers.

1. Explain short-term jobs.

There are numerous reasons to work several jobs in a short time period. Explain these reasons so a potential employer understands the reasons for your job switches.

2. Detail any employment gaps.

Whether you took time off to finish school, raise a family or travel the world, detail any gaps in your employment history.

3. Share the reasons for any career step-downs.

It’s perfectly fine to switch from a management to an entry-level position. However, hiring managers want to know why you would take pay and responsibility cuts.

4. Discuss your non-traditional career path.

Sometimes, employees take a winding path as they discover their preferred career. Discuss your journey honestly as you show hiring managers that you are reliable and ready for a new challenge.

5. Match formal education with career history.

Perhaps you attended business management school but now want to work in construction. Be sure your resume addresses why your formal education doesn’t match your career history.

6. Tell why you’re relocating.

If the address on your resume lists a different city than the one in which you’re applying for a job, use your resume to tell the hiring manager why you plan to relocate. Here’s a suggestion – “I plan to return to San Diego after a 10-year hiatus.”

7. Connect to the current job’s specs.

Instead of using a generic resume for every job, customize each one for the specific job. Include details that support why you would rock that potential job.

8. Use current and relevant references.

Before you send out your resume, contact former supervisors and co-workers to ensure they’re willing to give you a good reference. They should also be available immediately to answer a hiring manager’s questions and vouch for your performance in the job for which you are applying. Remember to not include family members or friends as references on your professional resume.

9. Verify accuracy.

It’s easy to transpose dates or type a former employer’s name wrong. Accuracy shows that you’re thorough and honest, though, so carefully proofread your resume to ensure everything is accurate.

10. Ask a skilled proofreader to review your resume.

Details matter, so ask a skilled proofreader to look for typos, grammatical errors or other glaring mistakes on your resume. The proofreader should also offer honest and forthright feedback on the information you include.

Your resume can thrill hiring managers when you follow these 10 tips. They help you land a great job.

Safety Tips: Planning Workplace Team-Building Activities

By Employment Resources

In recent years, team building has gained a foothold in corporate America as a fun and effective management tool. To be successful in the business world, employees must be able to effectively plan and execute programs as a team, communicate clearly, use resources efficiently, and be able to adapt to changing circumstances.

Team building is designed to do utilize these skills, in a fun environment. It can encourage out-of-the box thinking and enhance group dynamics, breaking down barriers that prevent employees from working together as a team. Activities foster decision-making, challenge resolution and leadership skills.

Exercises can be designed to encourage individuals in a group to entrust their safety in one another or to experience the exhilaration of overcoming a physical challenge. Participants return to work infused with renewed vigor. The goal is to transfer the collaborative effort, positive energy and learning that take place during a team-building activity back into the workplace.

But team building can also be a risk manager’s nightmare when activities include dangerous physical elements. Companies must consider the risks involved in such hazardous activities. They can lead to an increase in the frequency and severity of employee injuries, leaving the company vulnerable to higher workers’ compensation costs – not to mention employee lawsuits.

If team-building activities are part of your company’s management philosophy for bringing employees together to work cohesively as a group, make certain that safety is part of the equation. Consultants brought in to design such programs should know your expectations and concerns and abide by them. A company in Miami that hired a consultant for team building found that a dozen or so of its 100 employees suffered 1st and 2nd degree burns when they were forced to engage in a firewalk. The consultant called the injury rate “acceptable.”

Activities such as white water rafting, rock climbing, and paintball might not be suitable for all employees. Besides the physical hazards, planners need to consider whether or not an activity might be embarrassing for some employees. An activity that requires participants to wear a bathing suit, for example, might make some employees self-conscious and inhibit their ability to fully engage in the collaborative effort.

To promote safe team building:

Include team-building activities as part of any formal risk management program.

Emphasize the need to exercise caution on the job and in any physical team-building exercise.

Define your needs clearly to management consultants, hired to design a team-building program.

Ensure team-building activities are properly supervised.

Stop any activity if an unsafe situation is observed.

Team building has an important place in business. Activities should focus on bringing employees together. Make team building a safe experience that everyone can participate in and enjoy.

Nine Tips To Use As You Advocate For A Flexible Work Schedule

By Employment Resources

A flexible work schedule can help you achieve work-life balance, maximize your circadian rhythm or prepare for retirement. You may need to convince your boss that it’s a good idea, though. Use nine tips as you advocate for a flexible work schedule.

1. Reference companies that successfully offer flexible work schedules.

Several companies successfully implement flexible work schedules, so share these success stories with your boss.

  • Best Buy – decreased turnover by 90 percent, and increased productivity by 35 percent.
  • Cisco – gained $195 million because of increased productivity.
  • Deloitte – cut turnover costs by $41.5 million.

2. Show your boss what the company will gain.

While a flexible work schedule helps you personally, your boss needs to know that it will also benefit the company. Show evidence that proves it will improve performance, productivity and retention. Also, indicate how it will meet a current need, such as reducing budget constraints, increasing available customer service hours or reducing turnover.

3. Discuss details about how the arrangement will work.

Do your homework and figure out how your flexible work will work. Do you wish to telecommute, work a compressed schedule or job share? What equipment will you need? How will you report your professional achievements?

4. Describe the compensation schedule.

Because benefits like your paycheck, vacation time and insurance coverage can change when your work schedule changes, describe your expected compensation schedule. Demonstrate your willingness to be compensated fairly.

5. Address a contingency plan.

Your proposal should address how you will handle challenges. Examples could include busy seasons, power outages at home or meetings on your days off.

6. Share how your performance will be measured.

Your boss will need to ensure that a flexible schedule delivers everything you promised. Will you undergo weekly performance reviews, ask your clients to evaluate your performance or poll co-workers to measure morale?

7. Be prepared to counteract negative impacts.

Despite the benefits, there are drawbacks to a flexible work schedule. Describe how you will handle busy seasons, ensure you meet productivity goals and communicate with clients.

8. Recommend a trial period.

A trial period gives you time to decide if a flexible work schedule is right for you and your company. At the end of the trial period, you and your boss can evaluate your future schedule.

9. Put your proposal in writing.

Because your boss may need time to evaluate your proposal, put it in writing. Then schedule a follow-up appointment to review his or her decision.

A flexible work schedule is beneficial for you and your company. With these nine tips, you can successfully advocate for your own flexible schedule.

Employee Wellness Programs

By Employment Resources

According to the forth-quarter 2010 Principal Financial Well-Being Index, 43% of American workers cite the achievement of better overall health as the number one reason they would or do participate in a wellness benefit program. In second place, with 33%, was the reduction of personal health care costs. In third place, with 31%, was the increased chance of living a healthier and extended life.

The Principal Financial Well-Being Index is released by the financial services provider, Principal Financial Group. This is a quarterly survey of American workers from American businesses with between 10 and 1,000 employees. The findings of the fourth-quarter 2010 survey involved data from 528 retirees and 1,159 employees.

Some key points from the survey included: 

When offered by an employer, blood sugar screenings had an 84% utilization rate. This was an 18 point increase from 2009 statistics.

When offered by an employer, weight management programs were utilized by 53% of employees. This was a 25 point increase from 2009 statistics.

When offered by an employer, personalized action plans for conditions considered high-risk were utilized by 68% of employees. This was a 21 point increase from 2009 statistics.

Some credit rising health care costs and more public awareness about diseases such as heart disease and diabetes with American workers being more ready to take action toward their own health. None the less, as evidenced by the substantial increase in how many workers are taking advantage of wellness benefits, there is clear indication that there’s a growing element of employees taking more personal responsibility for their health.

Employers Can Benefit From Wellness Programs Too 

Personal responsibility might drive employee participation in wellness programs, but employees have much to gain from offering wellness and encouraging its usage. During the index, workers said the following occurred as a direct result of the wellness program offered by their employer:

Forty-three percent felt they were motivated to perform better and work harder.

Twenty-eight percent said they were absent fewer days from work.

Thirty-eight percent said they experienced improved productivity and energy while at work.

Forty-eight percent said that the offering of wellness benefits encouraged them to remain with their current employer.

In closing, this research is echoed by countless other studies showing employers that invest in the wellness of their employees by offering them the means and the educational resources they need to control their own wellness not only gain physically healthier employees, but also productivity and cost-saving increases.

Planning on Living Abroad?

By Employment Resources

Although living abroad for the next year is an exciting prospect, there is much to plan and consider. One aspect that’s often overlooked is extended medical treatment. Most people living abroad would want to return home for treatment and recovery and to be close to loved ones if they become critically ill. Many mistakenly assume that if a critical illness should arise, then their managed care plan would take care of things. This couldn’t be further from the case.

Your health insurance plan in the United States isn’t designed to cover you when you are out of the country for an extended stay. Medicare and Medicaid don’t offer any coverage for any medical expense that develops outside the United States. HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations) generally will cover emergency room treatment wherever you are, but routine health coverage is offered through the state provider networks of your resident state. If you use a network doctor, PPOs (Preferred Provider Organizations) will cover a greater portion of the expense.

Some might turn to Travel insurance as a source of extended medical treatment coverage. This too isn’t quite the case. Yes, Travel insurance generally will provide you with a certain degree of coverage for illness and injury. The amount and extent of coverage is based on what plan you choose. However, the benefit period is usually only six months. So, if your trip is a year long, then you will only be covered for half of your stay and then be responsible for any incurred medical expenses thereafter.

Expatriate Health insurance, by its very name, should alert you that this might be the Health insurance you’re seeking. In Latin, “ex” means away from and “patria” means fatherland. This insurance is geared toward those who will be away from their home, especially stays that extend past six months. Expatriate Health insurance is specifically designed so that you don’t have the geographical limitations and restrictions to provider networks that you have in your managed care plan.

Coverage is often only half of the problem when trying to navigate a foreign health system. The Expatriate Health insurance will also help when dealing with language barriers, transportation to U.S. health care centers, and currency exchange.

Expatriate Health insurance plans are divided into two categories:

The first is the basic expatriate plan. This plan offers coverage for care in-hospital and in-patient, meaning it will cover areas such as a hospital stay, services from a number of medical providers, and ambulance transportation. Home health nursing care and emergency dental services are also usually covered. Enhancements to the basic plan, such as outpatient services, certain therapy services, and prescription drugs, may be purchased for an additional cost.

Many of the basic plans will also offer emergency medical evacuation coverage for an additional cost, which will transport you immediately from wherever you are to the nearest advanced medical treatment center in the event a medical emergency should arise. Most medical evacuation coverage will also include a return fare.

The second category is the Comprehensive Expatriate Health insurance plan. This is useful if you require more extensive medical coverage, such as for dietary, psychiatric, eyes, ears, chiropractic, osteopathy, rehabilitation, labor and delivery, and home nursing care needs. Certain prescription medications and diagnostic testing may be covered as well.

Like any health plan, expatriate coverage usually has certain exclusions and restrictions. Most carriers will generally not cover preexisting conditions; injuries from war, rioting, and terrorism; and those with hazardous occupations. In cases of preexisting conditions, certain carriers may underwrite it for an additional cost.

How to Classify Employees as Exempt or Nonexempt

By Employment Resources

Employees can be classified as exempt or nonexempt. This classification affects their paychecks, and a misclassification could cost your business thousands of dollars, so understand how to classify employees properly.

Who Determines Classification

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) oversees equal pay, overtime pay, child labor and record keeping standards for employees. This federal law establishes minimum wage and standard work week hours. It also determines an employee’s classification as exempt or nonexempt.

Exempt employees are exempt from minimum wage and overtime provisions of the FLSA law. They are not required to receive overtime pay when they work more than eight hours a day or on weekends or holidays.

The FLSA requires that employers pay nonexempt employees 1-1/2 times their normal pay rate for any overtime hour they work. This rate is based on a 40-hour workweek.

The Difference Between Exempt and Nonexempt Employees

According to the FLSA, there are several key differences between an exempt and nonexempt employee.

Exempt employees often work in white-collar jobs often as professionals, executives and administrators. Certain employees in sales, computer and retail industries also exempt. These employees meet certain FLSA tests regarding job responsibilities and duties. They’re also paid a certain minimum salary.

Nonexempt employees typically work in blue-collar careers. Examples include clerical, construction, maintenance and semiskilled workers such as laborers and technicians. Nonexempt employees are paid by the hour.

How to Determine Exempt Versus Nonexempt Status

The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has placed regulations on employee classification. They are based on an employee’s salary and duties, so use these guidelines as you properly classify your employees.


Exempt employees are typically paid a salary of at least $455 per week. Its total is not based on the employee’s performance or the number of days worked.


An employee’s duties rather than job title affect classification. Administrators, executives and professional employees are generally classified as exempt.

Consequences of an Employee Misclassification

Deciding if an employee is exempt or nonexempt can be tricky. You’ll want to classify your employees correctly, however, to comply with FLSA and avoid consequences.

As many as 280,000 employees were misclassified in 2016, resulting in the U.S. Department of Labor collecting back wages of over $266 million or an average of $950 per misclassified employee. The common violators worked in construction, food services and retail.

You, too, could face financial implications if you misclassify employees. You would have to pay back wages, fines, penalties and legal fees.

Classifying employees as exempt or nonexempt is important. It’s your legal obligation, and you owe it to your employees. For assistance, talk to your financial advisor.

Smart Work Habits to Help Your Legs, Back and Neck

By Employment Resources

After several hours of sitting at your work desk, it’s finally time for your break. The moment you stand up for your break, you realize that your legs are numb, stiff, or just won’t work. This is a common scenario experienced everyday by a variety of desk workers. Not that being devoted or working hard is a negative thing, but it can be detrimental to the body if smart work habits aren’t employed.

When workers become immersed in their work, it’s often hours before they even realize that they haven’t moved their lower extremities. This type of prolonged motionless work might seem like something that would increase productivity, but it can lead to an array of health problems, such as obesity and stress. The resulting problems actually make for a less productive employee.

Obviously, the first smart work habit is to get up and stretch the lower extremities and get blood flowing again. Ideally, workers should get up from their desk every hour for just a few minutes. This can be accomplished simply by walking to the water cooler, bathroom, copier, or such.

The computer is a key source of bad work ergonomics and negative impacts on the health of workers. Experts suggest that computer monitors be positioned directly in front of and arms-length away from workers. To minimize any eye strain from glares on a computer monitor, it should be tilted slightly downward. The worker can help minimize eye strain by blinking frequently to keep the eyes moist. It might be necessary to focus from a different angle, such as by slightly tilting the head upward.

Likewise, the computer keyboard should be placed directly in front of workers. It should be positioned at a comfortable distance. Try the computer at a sloped and flat position to see what feels more comfortable. It might also be helpful to rest and relax the palms when not typing.

Now that the computer and keyboard are positioned properly, workers should make sure that their own body is in good alignment. Make sure that the feet are flat on the floor and the back is supported. A lumbar support may be helpful to support the back. Stores that sell ergonomic office supplies will have work equipment, such as a chair with the lumbar support or a lumbar support insert, that’s been designed scientifically for comfort and ease of use.

Workers who take care of their body at work will feel better at work and at home. Even with the tiny amount of time lost to stretching and ensuring proper body mechanics and equipment positioning, this worker will also ultimately be more productive.