The 14th largest private company in the U.S. announced Nov. 7 that it now offers six weeks of paid parental leave to most of its 28,000 employees following the birth or adoption of a child.

Pilot Flying J’s “gender-neutral” leave benefit is available to all new parents working at its rest stops, retail locations and service centers who have at least one year of service and who’ve worked at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months.

“We strongly believe that paid parental leave for both mothers and fathers is a much-needed benefit, especially for hourly workers in the retail and convenience store industries,” the company said.

This continues a trend of larger U.S. employers adding paid family leave benefits.

Parental leave benefits still uneven

Recent surveys by Mercer and WorldatWork illustrate how quickly employers are embracing paid parental leave as they look for ways to find and keep employees in a tight job market.

Mercer reports that 40% of U.S. employers offered paid leave for both birth parents as of late 2018.

And WorldatWork survey data bumps that figure to about 52% as of March 2019.

But those employers only accounted for about 16% of all U.S. workers employed by private sector businesses in 2018.

That’s according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data contained in the Congressional Research Service report Paid Family Leave in the United States .

And parental leave benefits are still much more common at larger employers in the U.S..

BLS data shows about 25% of U.S. workers at businesses with 500 or more employees have access to paid family leave that includes both maternity and paternity leave.

However, only 12% of workers at businesses with 1-99 employees have access to the benefit.

And, as Pilot Flying J notes in its press release, “In the retail industry, where many employees are part-time and hourly, this number is even lower at 7%.”

Some states offer parental leave insurance

Meanwhile, six states, along with Washington DC have stepped in to provide parental leave insurance (PLI) that pays cash benefits to workers taking care of family members, including new mothers and fathers.

But two of the states and Washington DC have not yet launched the programs.

The number of weeks and wage replacement rates vary, with existing state programs offer between four weeks (Rhode Island) and 10 weeks (New York) of benefits.

New York plans to increase coverage to 12 weeks by 2021. New Jersey offers six weeks now and will boost that to 12 weeks in July 2020.

California, which launched family leave insurance in 2004, offers 6 weeks of cash payments.

Washington DC will offer 8 weeks of paid family leave and Washington state plans to offer 12 weeks of paid family leave, both starting in 2021.

Massachusetts’ plan calls for up to 12 weeks for family leave beginning in 2021.

All of those plans pay workers a percentage of their regular salary.

Some employers in those states have implemented plans that cover the part or all of the difference between the state benefit amount and workers’ full salaries.

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The new year is rapidly approaching, which means it’s the perfect time to review your policies and make the necessary adjustments.

There were a lot of new employment trends in 2019, and 2020 will bring even more compliance changes.

Whether it’s legally mandated changes or just suggested ones, experts at the law firm Cozen O’Connor have a few areas they recommend employers pay attention to.

1. Timekeeping and compensation practices

Heads up! A major compensation change is coming in the new year.

The DOL announced a new overtime threshold for exempt employees this year, and it goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020. So, starting on New Year’s Day, employers must either bump up their exempt workers’ pay to $35,568 a year, or be prepared to pay them overtime.

Employers are permitted to satisfy up to 10% of employees’ annual salary through non-discretionary bonuses and incentive pay — including commissions.

As for timekeeping practices that may need adjustments, several lawsuits in the past year brought to light the dangers of employers building unpaid breaks into workers’ schedules.

In Small v. University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, the company ended up shelling out $4.2 million in unpaid wages. Employees claimed they often worked off the clock because a 30-minute break would be deducted from their pay regardless if they took it or not.

This practice isn’t always illegal, but as you can see, it can have costly consequences if not handled properly.

2. Hiring and recruiting

In the coming year, HR pros will need to pay more attention to their job postings and recruiting tactics.

PricewaterhouseCoopers ended up in court for age discrimination after allegedly turning most of its recruiting efforts to college campuses, specifically targeting young prospective hires.

The EEOC also drew attention to age discrimination and gender bias in Facebook job ads, which allowed companies to specifically target men and people under the age of 30.

If company execs are asking for young hires, it’s up to HR to explain the potential pitfalls.

Another thing to be aware of when it comes to hiring: salary history bans. So many cities and states have forbid companies from inquiring about candidates’ past pay, HR pros may want to remove that question from the interview regardless.

Paid sick leave, FMLA and parental leave

Now might be the ideal time to check your leave policies.

Not too long ago, the DOL clarified that FMLA-eligible employees can’t delay the use of FMLA leave. So if your policies allow workers to do that, it’s time to revise them.

Several states have also enacted some unique paid leave laws, such as safe leave — protected leave for those experiencing domestic violence — or paid leave for any reason an employee may choose.

Check your state laws for specifics, but it’s a good idea to consider implementing these paid leaves even if you’re not legally required to, as more states are following this trend.

Another important type of leave to pay attention to? Family leave.

It’s critical to ensure your family leave policies are equal for both mothers and fathers. JPMorgan Chase had to pay $5 million to settle a sex discrimination suit because it offered women more parental leave than men.

To clarify, bonding leave has to be equal for both parents. However, more leave can be offered to women recovering from birth or other pregnancy complications.

The distinction is the amount of leave must be based off a medical event, and not gender.

The post Compliance check from legal experts: Policy changes you need to make before 2020 appeared first on HR Morning.

http://www.hrmorning.com/articles/policy-changes-2020/

You did it! You landed a great job as a
manager and have a team under you to direct and grow. But it’s crucial for you
to keep gaining and developing the skills you need to create great employees.

From navigating employee schedules to planning offsite meetings, a manager’s day is filled with a huge variety of tasks. You find yourself pulled in all directions, and prioritizing tasks is important. The most important task, though, is being mindful of how you interact with your employees.

The Human Resources department can get a bad rap. But you can benefit as a manager from their guidance and advice. Here are 5 critical HR skills every manager should know.

How to negotiate

Negotiating is an important skill for any leader and manager. Not only is it necessary to negotiate regarding compensation, but it’s also important in non-monetary issues. Employees and managers commonly don’t see eye to eye, and knowing how to negotiate will help you bridge that gap.

Negotiating is a process of compromising. The
key to negotiation is eliminating emotion. Remember that as a manager, you were
once that employee on the other side of that table. Understand your employee’s
points and perspectives. Make sure you have carefully thought out
counterpoints. Work together to come to an agreement that is fair and leaves
everyone involved feeling heard.

Money is a touchy subject. And most employees feel like they are worth more than they are being compensated for. Having those tough conversations around salaries requires tact and facts. Explaining why your employee’s salary is where it is and how they can work to increase it will be helpful to both sides.

Whether it be vacation time or base salary,
workers are performing their jobs with the long term goal of receiving more
benefits. Try to view your relationship with employees as mutually working
toward a common goal. Let them know that while you may not be able to get the
extra vacation or added bonus they want now, you will help them work towards
earning it.

Dealing with conflicts

When spending so much time together, personality
conflicts and disagreements are bound to happen. Conflicts between employees
can be awkward and downright ugly. Remaining a neutral party will help managers
mediate these conflicts. It can be tough, but in the war of co-workers, it’s
essential to play Switzerland.

The best approach to conflicts is to nip them
in the bud when they first come to your attention. You don’t want animosity
coming to a boil in a big scene at the company Christmas party. Bring both
parties together to figure out the root of the problem. Make sure both
employees know that you are unbiased and working to create a strong work
culture for everyone.

A good manager will take steps to address and
hopefully solve conflict before it escalates. It’s important to keep HR in the
loop as appropriate. Focus on the facts and company policies to remain
professional. Lean on your HR specialist for guidance if you need help.

Providing constructive feedback

Feedback is one of the most helpful things a manager can provide to their employees. Good feedback can foster trust and better performance. But not being constructive in feedback can result in a bitter employee.

Being consistent in how feedback is delivered
is helpful. It’s important not to make an employee feel caught off guard with
negative feedback. Ongoing feedback makes sure workers know where they stand.
Including positive feedback helps to soften the blow of a bad review.

Positive feedback is just as important as negative, if not more. Keep in mind that many employees are as eager to please as they are to earn. Letting them know when they are doing a great job can go a long way in enforcing expectations.

Asking for feedback from your employees lets
them know that you care about their satisfaction at work. How do they feel you
are performing as a manager? Requesting their input makes them feel heard and
will help you grow as a leader.

Growing talent

A good, employee-centric manager will focus on
developing their people. This is not only good for the worker, but for the
greater good of the company. HR loves seeing promotion from within. Developing
employees for higher roles makes this possible.

Employees are happy when they see themselves
advancing and growing. Helping them understand and realize their goals is
helpful to them and the company. Keeping future goals in mind makes for more
efficient, more driven employees.

Show employees that you are invested in their
growth. Make sure they understand that you are on this journey with them and
are pulling for them to succeed. Work alongside them to develop the tools they
need to grow. Successful employees are a reflection of strong management.

Building morale

You know what they say about all work and no play. With the amount of time your team spends at work, it’s important to throw a little fun in. Team building can create a healthier culture and reduce the likelihood of workplace conflicts. Preventing burn out leads to employees that work more efficiently.

Many managers make the workplace competitive and fun through contests and rewards. Even simple acts like an email of praise or a shout out in a newsletter can make employees feel important. Every individual is different in how they like to be appreciated. It’s your task to find what works for your employees and your team.

Gatherings, like potlucks and workplace
lunches, set the tone for an enjoyable work environment. Meeting for happy hour
after a long week can help workers feel a sense of togetherness. These morale
boosters go a long way in building a more cooperative team. Be mindful that
everyone is included so your efforts don’t backfire.

Following guidelines, policies, and being a proactive manager will certainly win you points with HR. Make sure to use and benefit from their guidance and expertise. When you partner with HR and use your skills as a manager, everyone wins!

The post 5 Critical HR Skills Every Manager Needs to Know appeared first on HR Morning.

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The transition from employer coverage to Medicare usually
happens while the employee is still on the payroll, so the job often falls to
HR to help employees navigate this critical change.

When employees look to their HR department for help, knowing
how and when to enroll in Medicare will allow you to go above and beyond. However,
you can’t treat every employee the same; each employee’s situation is
different.

Here are the important things to know about how to transition from employer coverage to Medicare at retirement:

For those retiring at 65

The transition from employer coverage to Medicare is quite
simple when retiring at 65. Instruct your employees who plan to retire at 65 to
apply for Medicare Part A and Part B (Original Medicare) during their Initial
Enrollment Period.

Initial Enrollment Periods are unique to each Medicare
beneficiary. This period happens during the months surrounding the
beneficiary’s 65th birthday. If the beneficiary’s birthday is in June, his
Initial Enrollment Period will start on March 1st and end on September 30th.

When beneficiaries apply during the first three months of
their Initial Enrollment Period, their Medicare Part A and Part B start on the
1st of their birthday month. However, if they apply during their birthday month
or the last three months of their Initial Enrollment Period, their Medicare
will start a couple of months later.

For example, if the employee applies for Medicare one month
after turning 65, his Medicare would start about two months later. If the
employee applies for Medicare two or three months after turning 65, then his
Medicare would start three months later. Therefore, let your employees know to
apply within the first three months of their Initial Enrollment Period.

Some Medicare beneficiaries get an 8-month long Initial
Enrollment Period instead of just seven months. These people have a birthday on
the 1st. For example, if an employee has a birthday on June 1st, his Initial
Enrollment Period would start on February 1st instead of March 1st. If he
applies for Medicare during February, March, or April, then his Medicare Part A
and Part B would start on May 1st instead of June 1st.

For those retiring after 65

When employees decide to work past 65, they may be able to
delay Medicare until retirement. They can delay Medicare if they continue to
have creditable coverage through an active employer. The size of the employer
determines whether or not the coverage is creditable.

Large employer coverage

If you work for a company that has over 20 employees, then those employees who work past 65 can delay Medicare until retirement. The large employer group plan they hold serves as creditable coverage for Part A, Part B, and Part D. However, Part A is $0 per month for most people, so you can advise your employees to enroll in at least Part A unless they have a health savings account.

After retirement, these employees will have special
enrollment periods to enroll in Medicare. Your employees need to apply during
these periods to avoid late penalties. They will have eight months from the day
they lose employer coverage or employment, whichever happens first, to enroll
in Part A and Part B. However, they only have 63 days from the day they lose
employer coverage or employment to enroll in Part D, and you have to have Part
A or Part B to enroll in Part D.

You will need to provide these employees with letters of creditable coverage.

Small employer and other forms of coverage

If the company is a small employer with fewer than 20
employees, the employees who work past 65 will still need to apply for Medicare
Part A and Part B during their Initial Enrollment Periods. The same goes for
those who have retiree insurance or COBRA. This is because these forms of
coverage aren’t creditable for Part A and Part B. However, the drug coverage
may be creditable for Part D.

The Initial Enrollment Period trumps all others

Some employees work a few months after turning 65. If you
have any employees who have employer coverage for a couple of months after
turning 65 but will lose coverage while still in their Initial Enrollment
Period, they will use their Initial Enrollment Period to apply for Medicare,
not a Special Election Period.

For example, if one employee’s Initial Enrollment Period is
March 1st until September 30th, and he will lose employer coverage on September
30th, he must use his Initial Enrollment Period to sign up for Medicare.

That means if he applies for Medicare in September, his
Medicare will start three months later. However, if he applies for Medicare in
July, he shouldn’t have any gap in coverage.

When helping employees
transition from employer coverage to Medicare, be sure to learn their specific
situation. Once you know which scenario matches their situation best, you’ll be
ready to instruct them on how and when to enroll in Medicare.

The post Help workers transition from employer coverage to Medicare appeared first on HR Morning.

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Intermittent FMLA leave is a giant thorn in the side of HR people everywhere. But not all intermittent leave requests are equal. Here’s a look at some of the most common scenarios, and how to handle them.

The FMLA allows employers some flexibility in granting different kinds of intermittent leave. Employees are entitled to take it for serious health conditions, either their own or those of immediate family members.

The law also allows use of intermittent leave for child care after the birth or placement of an adopted child, but only if the employer agrees to it. It’s the company’s call.

It’s not always simple, however.

If the mother develops complications from childbirth, or the infant is born premature and suffers from health problems, the “serious health condition” qualifier would likely kick in. As always, it pays to know the medical details before making a decision.

Eligibility’s not automatic

Companies can successfully dispute bogus employee claims to FMLA eligibility.

Consider this real-life example:

A female employee in Maine said she suffered from a chronic condition that made it difficult to make it to work on time.

After she racked up a number of late arrivals – and refused an offer to work on another shift – she was fired.

She sued, saying her tardiness should have been considered intermittent leave. Her medical condition caused her latenesses, she claimed, so each instance should have counted as a block of FMLA leave.

Problem was, she’d never been out of work for medical treatment, or on account of a flare-up of her condition.

The only time it affected her was when it was time to go to work.

Sorry, the court said. Intermittent leave is granted when an employee needs to miss work for a specific period of time, such as a doctor’s appointment or when a condition suddenly becomes incapacitating.

 That wasn’t the case here, the judge said – and giving the employee FMLA protection would simply have given the woman a blanket excuse to break company rules.

Cite: Brown v. Eastern Maine Medical Center.

Designating leave retroactively

In order to maximize workers’ using up their allotted FMLA leave, employers can sometimes classify an absence retroactively.

Example: An employee’s out on two weeks of vacation, but she spends the second week in a hospital recovering from pneumonia.

Her employer doesn’t learn of the hospital stay until she returns to work. But she tells her supervisor about it, who then informs HR.

Within two days, HR contacts the woman and says, “That week you were in the hospital should be covered by the FMLA. Here’s the paperwork.”

The key here is that the company acted quickly – within two days of being notified of the qualifying leave.

The tactic’s perfectly legal, and it could make a difference in the impact FMLA leave time could have on the firm’s overall operation.

It’s also an excellent example of the key role managers play in helping companies deal with the negative effects of FMLA.

Using employees’ PTO

First, a no-no: Employers should never tell workers they can’t take FMLA leave until they’ve used up all their vacation, sick and other paid time off (PTO).

Instead, you can require employees to use their accrued PTO concurrently with their intermittent leave time. Employers can also count workers’ comp or short-term disability leave as part of their FMLA time – but in that case, employees can’t be asked to use their accrued PTO.

The transfer option

Companies can temporarily transfer an employee on intermittent leave, to minimize the effect of that person’s absence on the overall operation.

The temporary position doesn’t need to be equivalent to the original job – but the pay and benefits must remain the same.

And, of course, the employee must be given his old job – or its equivalent – when the intermittent leave period’s over.

A few restrictions: The move can’t be made if the transfer “adversely affects” the individual. Example: The new position would lengthen or increase the cost of the employee’s commute.

Such transfers need to be handled in such a way as to avoid looking like the employer is trying to discourage the employee from taking intermittent leave – or worse yet, is being punished for having done so.

Cooperation, please

Although FMLA is certainly an employee-friendly statute, employers do have some rights when it comes to scheduling intermittent leave. For instance, employees are required to consult with their employers about setting up medical treatments on a schedule that minimizes impact on operations.

Of course, the arrangement has to be approved by the healthcare provider. But if an employee fails to consult with HR before scheduling treatment, the law allows employers to require the worker to go back to the provider and discuss alternate arrangements.

Sometimes, it’s as simple as taking an employee aside and saying, “I know you’ve got to go to physical therapy. But these 10 o’clock appointments are really affecting work flow. Could you see about scheduling them for after work hours?”

The firing question

Yes, companies can fire an employee who’s on intermittent FMLA leave. Despite the fears of many employers, FMLA doesn’t confer some kind of special dispensation for workers who exercise their leave rights.

Obviously, workers can’t be fired for taking leave. But employers can lay off, discipline and terminate those employees who violate company policies or perform poorly.

When an employee on FMLA leave is terminated, the DOL decrees that the burden’s on the employer to prove the worker would have been disciplined or terminated regardless of the leave request or usage.

Reductions in force

When an employer has a valid reason for reducing its workforce, the company can lay off an employee on FMLA leave – as long as the firm can prove the person would have been let go regardless of the leave.

So companies should be prepared not only to prove the business necessity of the move, but to show an objective plan for choosing which employees would be laid off.

Misconduct or poor performance

Employees on FMLA leave – of any type – are just as responsible for following performance and behavior rules as those not on leave.

But companies that fire an employee out on FMLA will be under increased pressure to prove that the decision was based on factors other than the worker’s absence.

And courts might well pose employers a key question: Why didn’t you fire this person before he/she took leave?

That answer’s not always difficult. Many times, employers don’t realize how badly an employee was doing until they see the mess he or she has left behind.

The good news: A number of courts have upheld employers’ rights to fire employees on FMLA leave – even when the employee’s problems were first discovered when the employee went off the job.

The post Handling the tricky questions in FMLA intermittent leave appeared first on HR Morning.

http://www.hrmorning.com/articles/tricky-questions-in-fmla-intermittent-leave/

Before I started my own business, I had a really good job, but it wasn’t enough. I was an administrative/executive, had supportive co-workers, a comfortable workload and salary, consistently recognized for my work, selected and participated in leadership development programs, and I could literally walk to work.

However, it was missing something. I didn’t feel fulfillment in my work, or that my work was meaningful. So I started to feel stuck, and became disengaged. In the process I started looking for meaning outside of the organization, and eventually searched myself out entirely.

Like many other employees in this
self-actualized modern work era I’ve been told by past teachers, career
counselors, and every self-help guru that I should find meaning through my job.

My mantra for most of my professional career was, “Your work should be fulfilling, and if it isn’t then it’s not where you should work.” This concept of finding meaning at work, and the lack of information and misunderstanding of it, led me and probably countless others to leave a job and an organization that was probably a really good fit.

The idea that my work should “give” me meaning, as if it’s responsible for how I feel, is incredibly misleading. Emotions are internal, self-made. I’m responsible for the emotions I feel, not my boss, and especially not my employer. No talent management strategy is going to make me feel a certain way if I don’t personally believe it.

Engaging employees

My experiences are not unique and represent a common and costly problem for organizations in today’s modern workforce. Employees are searching for meaningful work and feel that meaning is something they can find, or something an employer can give them.

Once an employee fails to find meaning or something happens to “take it away,” they become disengaged and an extremely expensive issue to an organization. An actively disengaged employee avoids doing work, negatively impacts the environment and other employees, and eventually will either quit or need to be fired, which then the employer has to bear the cost of hiring and training a replacement.

These all-to-common consequences
occur because employees are operating under the wrong definition and perception
of meaningful work.

So that brings up a very important question and the main purpose of this article, how can today’s organizations retain and engage with their employees that are seeking fulfillment from their job?

When I wasn’t working for my last employer, I stumbled across the field of job crafting, the science of altering aspects of a job to fit the personal needs of an employee. The goal of job crafting is to increase employee engagement and job satisfaction through personal accountability.

Fulfillment through job crafting

Job crafting empowers an employee to create meaning instead of hoping to receive it from an outside source. As a mid-level to senior level employee I never realized that I had the power to alter and perceive my job in a way that would have made me happier at work. I could have had a say in the actual work that I did every day, how I worked, who I worked with, and through a positive re-frame, cultivated meaning from every aspect of my job.

No one ever told me that, and
despite all the effort my organization invested in retaining me, I left because
of it. I needed my employer to tell me I was in control, and to prove to me
that I was in control.

Employees, not the employer, are
ultimately responsible for cultivating and finding meaning in the work that
they do. Too often employees think the answer to finding meaning is in a
different job.

The employee quits or “forces” their
employer to fire them, then find’s a new job. It becomes a vicious cycle. The
constant search to be “given meaning” by an employer and a specific job can
only end in disappointment because meaning cannot be given.

Meaning is always crafted by the
individual employee. An employer can create an opportunity for an employee to
find meaning, but an employer cannot give an employee meaning.

Despite the employee’s
responsibility and ownership of finding meaning for themselves, the brunt of
the consequences when the employee doesn’t find meaning fall on the employer.
The cost of turnover to an organization, especially of leaders and future
leaders is too great to be ignored.

Thus, it is the responsibility of an
employer to teach and empower their employees to craft their job in a way that
is more meaningful to them and expose them to useful definitions and strategies
on cultivating meaning in their current role.

An organization’s greatest retention
strategy is empowering and educating its employees on taking responsibility for
their own levels of happiness at work. The only thing an employer can actually
give their employees is the power to craft a job they can love from a job they already
have.

The post The key to engaging employees who seek fulfillment through work appeared first on HR Morning.

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In a study by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), 71% of HR professionals said their company conducts sexual harassment prevention training. Meanwhile, 92% of U.S. adults believe changes need to be made to eliminate sexual harassment and assault in the workplace, with 44% saying better sexual harassment training is the key.

So, while most organizations already have
anti-harassment training programs in place, statistics show that they just
aren’t cutting it.

Clearly, we still have some work to do.

Why sexual harassment training is broken

Traditional sexual harassment training programs and
policies are ineffective because they focus on the wrong issue. Aimed at
reducing a company’s legal liability, most training now is centered on the compliance
aspects of sexual harassment—not on changing the organization’s cultural
dynamics.

But sexual harassment isn’t a problem rooted in
compliance—it’s an issue rooted in the misuse and abuse of power. Having
employees watch a 30-minute video on how to file a complaint if they experience
sexual harassment isn’t going to stop harassment from happening in the first
place. To do that, organizations need to cultivate a culture where inclusion,
diversity and equity are valued and respected. Sexual harassment is a cultural
problem and, as such, the training—from the methods to the content to the
targeted outcomes—need to reflect that.

So, how can HR and talent leaders make sexual
harassment training more effective in creating a harassment-free culture?

Improving the effectiveness of sexual harassment training

Here are four actions you can take immediately to improve your sexual harassment training program, making it more adept at actually preventing and eliminating workplace harassment: 

Expand the list of topics covered

Sexual harassment training should be more than a one-hour course aimed at helping employees and managers identify sexual harassment. Since sexual harassment is a cultural issue, the curricula should also include training on topics like diversity, inclusion, and how bystanders can effectively speak up when they witness sexual harassment.

Another important issue to educate employees on is unconscious bias. In order to effect change and curb harassment, it’s vital that employees recognize how the hidden biases we all carry can impact workplace decisions. White men, for example, are typically in more senior roles within an organization, given more promotions and higher salaries. In fact, of the CEOs who lead the companies on the Fortune 500 list, only 24 are women. But are men innately better leaders? Of course not! That’s unconscious bias at work. And by giving employees learning opportunities to understand and manage implicit biases and gender-based stereotypes, HR leaders can help create a more inclusive workplace culture.

Incorporate informal and formal content

We’ve all worked for companies
whose sexual harassment training consisted of archaic videos filled with
over-acted and slightly contrived scenarios. Giving employees access to engaging,
informal learning content can be a great supplement to your formal training courses,
helping you modernize your approach to learning. 

Especially in the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, there are a ton of great resources on the web. From podcasts to blogs to articles and TED Talks, incorporating informal learning resources into your sexual harassment training program can make learning more relevant and engaging. And with a talent development platform that supports informal learning, HR leaders can even add informal learning tasks directly into employees’ development plans.

Deliver a personalized learning experience

A comprehensive EEOC report on sexual harassment released in 2016 found that “Training is most effective when tailored to the specific workforce and workplace, and to different cohorts of employees.” To be effective, sexual harassment needs to be personalized, interactive and ongoing. Having a new hire watch a standard video or sign off on a written policy as part of the onboarding process isn’t enough to impact cultural dynamics.

The issues an entry-level employee may face are different than that which a senior manager may experience. And the issues in financial services firms aren’t the same as those found in retail environments. Custom learning paths available to employees within a learning management system (LMS)—with content that is tailored to the organization’s specific industry, as well as each employee’s job role and function—allow HR leaders to make training more applicable and relatable. And by making sexual harassment training an ongoing process—rather than a new hire “check-box” exercise—an organization can demonstrate its top-down commitment to creating a harassment-free workplace.

Close the gap between learning and performance

In too many
organizations, learning and performance are still treated as standalone
disciplines. But connecting sexual harassment training to your performance
management processes will help instill the company’s values and expectations in
the daily behaviors and habits of employees. Tying learning activities to
performance appraisals also gives HR and managers visibility into coaching and
development opportunities.

Employees should be
reviewed by managers, peers and direct reports on behavior-based competencies,
such as their ability to handle conflict and how equitably they treat others.
If an employee is found to be lacking in any of these competencies, HR or their
manager can assign specific, targeted learning activities in a talent
development platform to help coach and develop the employee. And unless an
employee exhibits a high degree of competence within these fundamental areas,
they should not be eligible for a promotion within the organization.

The Future of Sexual
Harassment Prevention Training

It’s hard to
believe less than 40 years ago sexual harassment wasn’t even illegal; it
was only in 1980 that the EEOC first formally defined sexual harassment. And we
as a country have come a long way since then from a legal perspective.

Nearly all
organizations have some sort of sexual harassment prevention training and
several states even require mandatory training. In California, for example, all
organizations with five or more employees or contractors must provide sexual
harassment training to all employees by January 1, 2020.

And while these
legal standards are absolutely critical to creating a foundation for inclusion
and diversity, HR leaders now need to take the next step. We need to be change
leaders, driving a shift in the attitudes, behaviors and values that contribute
to an environment that allows harassment to occur. By elevating our sexual
harassment training programs—and increasing our focus on culture, not
compliance—we can make training more engaging, relevant and, ultimately, more
effective.

The post 4 Ways to Create Effective Sexual Harassment Training appeared first on HR Morning.

http://www.hrmorning.com/articles/effective-sexual-harassment-training/

A wrongful
termination claim can be filed in a court of law if an employee believes he or
she has been ‘illegally’ fired from the job. Such claims result from an alleged
violation of federal or state anti-discrimination laws, employment contracts or
labor laws, including whistle-blower laws.

A wrongful termination claim can also be filed when an employee believes the termination was due to sexual harassment or in retaliation to a complaint or workers’ compensation claim.

All of this seems
pretty straightforward – wrongful always means unfair – right?

Not in the legal
sense, no.

Sure, it can be
frustrating for an employee to find himself out of a job for no valid reason. In
many cases, it may boil down to a mere difference of opinion in how the employee
perceives their own work abilities and how an employer measures job
performance.

But, a termination is only “wrongful” when it is wrong in the legal sense of the word.

There are a large
number of myths and misconceptions concerning “wrongful termination.”

Here are the top seven myths about wrongful termination many employees hold.

Myth #1: Any
termination that seems unreasonable amounts to wrongful termination.

If you were hired on an at-will basis in a state like California where the prevailing legal principle is “employment at will,” you can be fired at any point in time. The employer can do so for any reason or no reason at all. Harsh as that may sound, the employer can even fire you for chewing gum or for using the smartphone during work hours.

Unless there’s an
employment contract signed between you and the employer, you can practically be
fired for any reason whatsoever. If the employment contract requires a cause
for termination and the fired employee is not given one, he or she may file a
wrongful termination claim.

But it is not true
that federal and state employment laws such as anti-discrimination are not
applicable in at-will states. If an employee is fired for unlawful reasons such
as discrimination, the employer can be held liable.

Myth #2: I can be
legally fired for publicly admitting I voted for a certain candidate.

It doesn’t matter which presidential candidate you voted for. You have the liberty of expressing your political inclinations in the workplace. But, this is only true if you work in one of four states, namely California, Connecticut, South Carolina, and Louisiana. These four states have statutes that protect an employee’s right to freely express political views.

Several other states
also offer certain legal protections to citizens for attending political
rallies or endorsing politicians but you’ll need to speak with an employment
law attorney to know if your case qualifies for a possible wrongful termination
claim.

Myth #3: Workplace
discrimination laws are only for minorities and women.

Every person with a unique gender, race, religion, natural origin, citizenship status, marital status or medical history has the right to be protected under workplace discrimination laws. That’s pretty much everybody!

Anyone can be discriminated against at the workplace regardless of whether they are males or females or are considered a minority.

Therefore, anyone
fired due to their race, disability, medical condition, religion, sexual
orientation, etc. can file a wrongful termination claim.

Myth #4: It isn’t
possible to establish I was fired in retaliation for speaking against an
illegal practice at the workplace.

It may be possible to prove that you were fired in retaliation for exposing an illegal activity going on at the workplace. For instance, in July 2018, a former banker sued the Wells Fargo bank, claiming wrongful termination.

Federal and state
laws in several states protect whistleblowers against retaliation. Employers
cannot punish their employees for reporting wrongdoings or illegal activities
within an organization.

Myth #5: If I quit, I
cannot sue my employer.

It is a common
misconception that if an employee quits, they cannot file a wrongful
termination lawsuit. There are occasions when an employee finds the work
environment too hostile, intolerable or dangerous to continue working for an
organization. The only choice they’re left with is to quit.

In such cases, an
employee can still sue the employer. Even if the employee has been coerced into
submitting a resignation, they may file a wrongful termination claim.

Myth #6: All
employees over a certain age are protected by the employment law.

Age discrimination is common in the workplace. But you may be wrong to assume that if you’re older than 40 years, you’re automatically protected by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967. The act only protects job applicants and employees who are eligible under a set of guidelines. Such employees include those who have a private employer who employs 20 or more workers for a minimum of 20 weeks in a year.

If you’re covered by
the ADEA, you can sue the employer for discrimination based on age in
termination, hiring, appraisal, and privileges.

Myth #7: My employer
will settle quickly because they care about their reputation.

If the wrongful termination claim isn’t based on facts or backed by solid evidence, do not expect your employer to settle so easily.

Publicity is hardly a concern for the lawyers hired by large scale companies. The incident usually won’t even find a mention in local newspapers unless you happen to be a public figure or celebrity.

The post 7 things employees get wrong about ‘wrongful termination’ appeared first on HR Morning.

http://www.hrmorning.com/articles/wrongful-termination/

Businesses spend billions convincing customers their brand is better than the rest. But what about the employee experience of working for the company?

How
much does your business spend attracting and keeping employees?

Employees are the most important asset in any
company. Yet barely a fraction of the amount invested on optimizing the
customer experience is spent on creating a workplace that makes employees proud
and privileged to be part of the team.

I call businesses that put their workers first ‘People
Companies.’ These are companies that truly understand their people are
paramount to success, and show them this in actions, as well as in words,
creating great workforce experiences that attract and retain the best.

But how can you start the journey toward creating great employee experiences that do this – and why is this such an urgent priority?

Employee experiences matter

The “war for talent” is proof it’s never been
more important to reappraise the relationship between workers and employees. The
rise of social media and the advent of websites like Glassdoor make it easier
than ever for disgruntled employees to share their poor work experiences, and
this can have a devastating effect on recruiting and retaining the skills a
business needs to achieve its ambitions.

The employee experience is often misunderstood. In fact, an individual’s experience at work is the foundation for engagement. For example, 95% of employees who had a positive experience at work said they’d go the extra mile for their customers and their company, according to a study by IBM.

Research by my organization, Sage People,  found that only 37% of employees see themselves as highly productive. That’s a damning statistic, especially in our era of stagnant productivity.

There’s a big difference between declaring
yourself people-oriented and actually putting meaningful practices into place.

Our research has already identified a major disconnect within businesses with 55% of senior executives believing their company is people-orientated, against only 29% of employees.

So, what can businesses do to become People
Companies, and put their employees first?

Here are five steps any business can take to
creating great employee experiences:

1. Show your appreciation

Sometimes, it’s the little things that make a great difference to the employee experience. Our research found that two-thirds of respondents say it’s important to feel valued in the workplace. That’s why businesses need to review their existing processes, so employees are given recognition, praise and rewards for the great work they do.

This can sometimes be just a simple “thank you”
for work well done. The important thing here is it’ll be different for each
employee. True People Companies ask their employees what motivates and engages
them and create tailored experiences for them that reflect this as a result.

2. Provide flexible and remote working

More than four in five employees we polled said they value flexible or remote working. Insisting employees keep certain hours or refusing to grant them opportunities to work from home is a recipe for resentment.

In an ultra-competitive candidate marketplace,
providing flexibility – and, just as importantly, trust – is an excellent way
to foster great relationships with your workers. It empowers them to manage
their own time and gives them much-needed flexibility in today’s world of work.

After all, why shouldn’t employees work from 7am and finish
earlier if they’re more productive in the mornings, or have international calls
first thing? Why should parents have to miss the school run just to be seen to
be in the office, when they may be working long evenings, too? 

3. Make rewards meaningful

Our research found that employees don’t want
ping pong tables or office perks. Instead, incentives need to be linked to
individual performance and tailored to each person’s preferences. Rewards could
include promotion, more varied experiences, pay increases, more opportunities
for remote working, but they’ll differ from employee to employee. This requires
HR and People teams to engage with each worker to discover how to build bespoke
benefits.

4. Support worker well-being

Two-fifths of respondents said they believed HR
and People teams could do more to improve wellness at work. Whether its
offering subsidized gym membership or improving mental health support,
businesses must demonstrate they take employees’ health and well-being
seriously.

5. Engage and iterate

It might seem obvious, but if you want to build
a great workplace experience for all, you need to engage with employees. Yet
only 12% of employees we spoke to are regularly asked what would improve their
experiences at work, and almost half (47%) had never been asked at all.

It’s impossible to become a People Company if
you don’t listen to workers’ concerns and make the necessary changes in light
of what you’ve learned.

Put people at the heart of what you do

A third of employees saw their HR or People team’s role as creating positive experiences at work – so HR and People teams need to lead this cultural transformation. However, they can’t do it alone. The entire top table needs to be responsible for delivering positive experiences across the workforce.Why? Because it matters. The better an employee’s experience at work, the more engaged they are, the more productive they can be, and the more the business benefits. It makes economic sense – as well as being the right thing to do for your employees.

The post Five key steps to becoming a true ‘People Company’ appeared first on HR Morning.

http://www.hrmorning.com/articles/employee-experience/

The research is clear – employee recognition appears consistently near the top of things that motivate employees to do their best work.

For many workers, it means more than even a financial
reward. And research indicates that cash rewards can actually be
counter-productive if they aren’t combined with other ways of recognizing hard
work.

A Wharton School study showed that relying solely on cash
rewards encourages:

  • resentment from hard-working staffers who wind up earning less
  • workers who cut corners, and
  • a lack of unity, as most employees are only
    interested in taking part in activities that directly contribute to them
    earning more.

The study found organizations get better results when they:

  • provide more autonomy to employees who’ve proven they can manage themselves
  • offer the opportunity to earn certifications or attend seminars, trade shows and/or conferences, and
  • hold public recognition ceremonies.

And that’s good news — every HR pro knows how tough it can
be to find the budget and leadership buy-in for even occasional cash rewards.

But it’s still a challenge keeping recognition and reward programs fresh. So how do you keep your workforce engaged and committed to your organization’s goals?

Here are five great ideas straight from HRMorning’s readers.

1.  
Peer recognition

We put a lot of effort into making our new hires feel
welcome, but we also knew we needed to focus on keeping our current employees
happy to hang onto them.

So we formed a “Fun Raising” team, dedicated to creating fun employee-recognition and appreciation activities.

The team puts on events like pop-up escape rooms, free ice
cream days and company spirit weeks.

The program got a terrific employee response, but we wanted
to help our workers show appreciation toward each other as well.

Kudos for colleagues

We launched “Kudos for Colleagues” with a huge kickoff event
and an all-day drop-in party in the HR department. But the Kudos Cards were the
most important part.

Employees fill out the cards with the name of a co-worker
and what makes them awesome at their job.

A pleasant surprise

A randomly-chosen monthly winner receives a trophy and prize
to share with their department.

We profile the winner in our employee newsletter and post
their photo on a “wall of fame”.

And everyone who receives a nomination gets the card with
their co-worker’s compliment.

Fun, but effective

Since starting Kudos for Colleagues, we’ve received at least
40 nominations each month. Sometimes, we’ll get as many as 100 out of an
employee pool of about 500.

With employees recognizing and complimenting each other, our
workplace is really supportive and positive.

Managers report morale and enthusiasm are strong and that they are seeing employees going above and beyond in providing customer service.

And we can measure the results in concrete terms, too: retention
is vastly improved since we started the program.

(HR manager, Champaign, IL)

2.  
Power to the people

Studies show that employees want to work in an environment
where they are being recognized regularly for their significant achievements
and strong performance.

But our annual employee engagement survey scores for employee recognition were consistently lower than we wanted. We needed a new, unconventional way to reward and recognize our employees for extraordinary performance.

Superheroes and superheroines

Realizing that our top performers demonstrated many of the characteristics/behavior
of famous superheroes and super heroines, we came up with The LOOT Awards
(a.k.a. The LOOTies), which stands for the League of Overachieving Talent.

The LOOTies allow employees to reward and recognize anyone
for anything anytime, irrespective of the person’s level, seniority, or
department.

If someone witnesses extraordinary performance, great collaboration,
or anything that reflects our company culture, they can log into the secured
site and, in a matter of 5 minutes, recognize those extraordinary efforts for
all to see.

There are three different ways we recognize employees, two
of which must be approved by our leadership:

  • P-Cubed (Powerful Performance
    Points) Award:
    Employees can be nominated to receive a certain
    number of powerful performance points or PPPs that can be redeemed for
    merchandise, VISA gift cards, or donations to charity (some of which we match).
  • P-Squared (Performance Perks)
    Award: E
    mployees are nominated to receive a specific perk, such
    as days off, a dinner for two or an iTunes gift card.
  • Chants & Cheers (C &
    C) Award:
    These awards don’t require approval. They give peers
    and managers the chance to say, “You rock,” “Job well done,” or “Way-to-go!”
    right when an employer earns that recognition.

The program was a hit from day one.

(Senior VP, People and
Culture,  San Francisco)

3.  
Individual attention

We had a serious turnover problem – and we didn’t know why.

When we had turnover problems in the past, companywide
morale boosters usually seemed to right the ship.

But those employee recognition ideas weren’t working anymore, and we were losing staffers at a rapid clip.

Looking at the type of employees who were leaving, we
realized that the majority were younger – Millennials, Gen X, Gen Z.

That gave us an idea about how we could tackle the problem.

Brought it to a smaller scale

The solution: Instead of trying to prevent turnover at a company-wide level, we instructed managers to focus more on individual young employees and how supervisors can help them stay engaged in their jobs.

For one employee, the solution was to allow him to start
projects from scratch and see them all the way through to completion.

Another worker said her job satisfaction rose considerably
when she had the opportunity to mentor a new staffer who was just learning
the ropes.

The goal – to keep staff members challenged – worked
perfectly.

The proof is in the numbers: That extra attention has slowed
turnover considerably.

(HR manager, Atlanta)

4.   Monthly employee recognition reports

We wanted to improve our company culture by promoting daily successes of our
employees. 

Previously, we used a private Twitter feed for employee recognition. We were
looking for the next step beyond our homegrown employee recognition program.

Our strategy: We wanted to produce monthly reports on top-recognized
employees and send those out from within Yammer, our in-house communication
network.

We found an employee recognition app that was easy to use and allowed us to send employee “shout-outs” through Yammer.

To personalize the experience and incentivize corporate behavior, our vendor
helped us come up with custom badges that represent our values, such as Hero
Maker, Ducks in a Row and Knowledge Whisperer.

These values can be tracked and promoted through the app. Plus, the app
helps staff send and track recognition.

Corporate well-being and staff attitude continue to be high.

Best month ever

Within the first month of using the app, we reported our best month ever in revenue. Even with a remote staff, company culture is going strong.

We now send over 200 recognitions a month – double what we sent out before.

Not to mention, our sales have increased by 40% since we started our
program!

(COO, Jenkintown, PA)

5.  
An experience bonus instead of cash

In years past, we’d given out holiday bonuses or gifts to our employees, but we really wanted to do something more meaningful in terms of employee recognition.

One of the core values of our company is customer experience, and we wanted that to be reflected in what we offered our employees.

We came up with an “experience bonus” program to give our employees the opportunity to cross something off their bucket lists that they might otherwise never do.

All employees who’ve been with us for more than a year get the annual bonus.

There are no guidelines other than the money can’t be spent on an item, it can only be used to pay for an experience.

They let us know what they plan to do and when they are
doing it, and we deposit the bonus into their accounts.

The hardest part was coming up with the amount of the
bonuses. It had to be financially comfortable for the company but enough that
employees could do something truly special. We settled on $1,500.

After that, it was as simple as getting the word out about
the program and transferring money into accounts.

Variety of experiences

When we said the experience could be anything our employees wanted, we meant it, and it’s been fun to see what people do with their $1,500.

An avid skier fulfilled a dream of going to a ski resort in
Austria.

Another employee traveled to East Africa and helped launch a
charity that has raised over $4,000 for a local orphanage.

A third bought front row tickets to take family to a Justin
Timberlake concert.

Defining company culture

Employees come back from their experiences excited to share
their adventure. We constantly hear people discussing what they did with their
bonuses and what they plan to do next.

And not only is it a morale booster, but it’s also helped us attract new talent.

Younger workers are a huge part of the workforce now, and many of them value experiences over material things. The experience bonus is a unique employee recognition benefit that also gives candidates a preview of our company culture.

(Head of global insights, Provo, UT)

The post Employee recognition programs deliver real-world ROI appeared first on HR Morning.

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