love job

Love is in the air, chocolate, love notes, cards and flowers.  But do your employees love you?  Do they still love their job?

Employees value work/life balance and overall happiness over high salaries and perceived performance success. Taking the following five actions can help to ensure that your employees continue to be content with you and their job.

Conduct Frequent “Stay Interviews”

While exit interviews are often stressed, “stay interviews” can actually help you to spot ways to improve your workplace before employees leave. It’s important that the right questions are asked during these interviews and employees feel safe answering honestly. The best way to conduct “stay interviews” may vary depending on the workplace culture, but options include passing out random surveys periodically, allowing surveys to be submitted online through a service like Survey Monkey, or having non-biased third parties conduct the interviews.  If that isn’t in your budget, your supervisors, managers, or even HR can conduct the informal check ins.

Questions that may help employers to understand employee’s pain points and improve contentment levels include:

  • What do you love about your job?
  • What would your ideal job look like?
  • What do you dislike about your job and how would you change it?
  • How could your managers make your job more enjoyable?

Work/Life Balance

Now more than ever, employees are leaving jobs for other positions that allow better work/life balance-even if those positions offer the same or less pay. Scheduling flexibility, publishing schedules in advance, and allowing employees to work remotely can all help your employees enjoy a better work/life balance.

Offer Benefits and Perks

Businesses may vary in the kind of benefits and perks that they can offer, unlike larger corporations, small businesses can offer more personalized perks. Paid time off, health insurance options, and employee incentive trips are definitely attractive options, but free lunches and snacks, and company outings may also help to show the love.

Display Leadership-and Appreciation

When employees feel that they are doing all of the work while managers sit back and watch, they often become resentful and unengaged. Employees are much more likely to respect managers that lead than managers that dictate. A simple “Great job,” can go a very long way towards helping employees feel valued and appreciated.

Make Advancement and Learning Opportunities Clear and Attainable

While employees often leave jobs because of issues with managers or employers, employees usually won’t stay if they do not love their job-even if they love their manager. For employees to feel fulfilled, it’s important to make sure that advancement opportunities are available and attainable and even if there is no opportunity for promotion, that there are learning opportunities.

Larger corporations have an advantage because they have more positions and paths, but smaller businesses can stress the importance of an individual’s efforts to the growth and development of the business. Even the smallest raises and job title changes can help employees to feel that they are progressing and making a difference.

Employee-TerminationOn the surface, terminating an employee for poor performance seems simple. It’s nothing personal. The employee just isn’t getting it done and would be better off in another job. But even when a termination is 100% justifiable, managers must be extremely careful how they conduct themselves. Terminations, no matter how clear cut, can have legal ramifications.

Most businesses are protected to a certain extent by at-will laws, which allow the firing of employees for no reason. However, at-will employment does not keep an employee from filing a lawsuit for wrongful termination and, even if the courts rule in your favor, your business will be required to pay court costs. It’s best to take a few measures to protect yourself before firing an employee to avoid a costly legal process.

Here are 5 Tips to Termination:

  1. Document, document, document! Detailed, consistent documentation can defeat many claims of defamation, discrimination and wrongful discharge. Great documentation shows a pattern of clear expectations on your part, and repeated failures on the employee’s part.
  2. Make your Employee Handbook work for you and not against you. Make sure your employee handbook and policies are clear and concise.  If you just downloaded one from the Internet, chances are it needs updating.  Review the handbook annually, and get a new acknowledgement from employees every year.
  3. Make sure your termination process is fair and standardized. It should be delivered consistently no matter who the employee, in fair, non-emotional way.  Don’t embellish the reasons for termination, you don’t want a defamation case on your hands!
  4. Conduct a proper termination meeting. Unless the employee is volatile, do not terminate them via email, phone, or text.  If possible conduct a proper termination meeting.  Have witnesses, be brief and concise, and document!
  5. Involve HR! If an employee is in a protected class, has a known medical condition or disability, has taken job protected medical leave, or if there is suspicion of any other legal issue (e.g. harassment, retaliation), be sure to consult with HR or an employment attorney before terminating.

Last week HR Shield had the opportunity to attend an annual event hosted by the Society for Human Resource Management called “The Day in the Beltway.”  Each year members of the association are able to take a trip to Washington DC to have one on one time with our senators and congressmen and their staff.  We were there representing the HR field, and the employers we work for, to lobby for or against legislation that would have a direct impact on business.

United States Capitol BuildingWhen Congress or state legislatures are developing workplace policy, HR’s voice needs to be heard. As advocates for the HR community, SHRM members understand and can communicate how public policy issues may affect employees and employers. By working together, we can help advance effective workplace public policy.

We were there to address specific issues related to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees are to be paid a rate of at least one and a half times their regular rate for any ours over 40 in a week, unless they have been classified as exempt (salaried) under certain specific statutory categories or meet other requirements in the regulations.

Under section 541 of the FLSA regulations, an employee may qualify as exempt from overtime requirements if he or she satisfies a “primary duties test” (performs specific job duties under the executive, administrative, professional, computer or outside sales regulations), and if he or she is paid on a “salary basis.”  Under current regulations the employee must be paid a salary of at least $455 weekly to meet the salary basis test.

President Obama directed the Department of Labor (DOL) to “modernize and streamline” the FLSA overtime regulations.  What does this mean to you? Potential changes include raising the salary basis amount to possibly DOUBLE what it currently is.  Meaning you would have to pay your salaried employees a minimum of $910.00 a week to classify them as exempt!  The DOL is also looking at changing the primary duties test for many of the otherwise exempt employees, which could result in those employees losing their exempt status, and therefore being subject to overtime, costing you additional monies in overtime pay!

Are your exempt (salaried) employees classified correctly?  It pays to know!  If these changes come to fruition, it will end up costing you more to run your business!

For more information on the legislation currently being tracked by SHRM, visit http://www.advocacy.shrm.org/home

Unemployment is a topic that has been at the forefront of many economic, political and social discussions over the last 10 years.  Since the economic downturn and recession, unemployment numbers have increased.   More importantly, it is not just short-term unemployment but rather long-term unemployment that has become a significant issue for the American population.

Prior to the major economic collapse suffered in the early 2000s, the source of long-term unemployment was generally illness or disability. Today, many long-term unemployment issues stem from people who are unable to find jobs due to the stigma of long-term unemployment or a lack of current skills in their field.Unemployed

The perpetuation of this brutal cycle of unemployment is a direct result of a deterioration of skills, accepting jobs that are unstable or not well matched to their abilities and as a result of all of the above, making less than they were prior to being laid off.

We briefly touched on the topic of the stigma of unemployment back in 2011 and how giving preference to individuals who are recently laid off over those with a long-term gap in employment can be in violation of the EEOC’s regulations.  Today, we want to discuss how human resources professionals can address the need to “re-skill” these workers in order to leverage these individuals.

A paper recently released by the Brookings Panel on Economic Activity indicates that “Those who have been out of work for months come from all industries, but are primarily concentrated in sales, service and blue-collar jobs. The share of the long-term unemployed from sales and service jobs was 36%, and from blue-collar jobs 28%.”

These industries all rely heavily on skill based laborers.  The report also shows that when the unemployed do return to work, they return to the same industry or occupations from which they were displaced.    Whether the skill is a service position – such as technical support or a blue collar job like roofing, there are specific skill sets that are required to be a viable candidate for hire.

So how can human resource professionals address this skill gap that presents itself when an individual has been unemployed? The answer – re-training the individuals to possess new skills in the same or similar job roles as they previously held.  Training should be considered an investment in your employees.  These individuals want to work; they have the foundation for a successful career but need their skills to be refreshed and updated to be concurrent with the current jobs available.

We know that it may seem risky to hire someone who has been out of the game and requires training, however HR Shield offers expert HR advice in this very area – hiring the right people, navigating standards, and compliance and personnel management.  Contact us today to find out how we can help you maximize your HR practices.

Are you a serial emoticoner? In order to answer that question, you probably have to know what an “emoticoner” is: someone who sends emoticons, pictorial representations of facial expressions. Examples below:

;-)         :-)         :-P       :-(

Many of us use emoticons in everyday forms of communication such as texts to our loved ones or emails to our friends, but is the workplace, particularly workplace email, really the place for that?

Ten years ago you probably would have easily answered that question “absolutely not.” After all, emails at work were intended to be strictly business and written in formal context. But, email communication among clients and coworkers has become a lot more laid back over the years, thus opening the door to the “emoticon issue.”

HR Florida Review and the Florida Institute of Technology recently set out to uncover the science behind the use of emoticons and found the following: emoticons reduce the negativity effect in the business-related email message. Lots can be lost in email translation and sometimes the recipient may think you are being harsh, when a simple “smiley” at the end of the sentence lightens the mood and lets the reader know you aren’t angry and are still on good terms.  However, those who use emoticons, while perceived as more friendly, were also perceived as less professional.

Here’s what we think at HR Shield: email messages that are not clear or require some type of emoticon to let the person know how you’re really feeling should really be conversations you have in-person or at the very least on the phone. Additionally, there are other ways to let people know how you feel outside of emoticons. In an earlier entry “HR Shield’s Lesson on Office Email Etiquette” we noted two things that are rather relevant to this subject:

End Emails With Positive Salutations: The subject of your email may not always be positive, in fact you may be delivering bad news. But, never fail to let people know they are in fact appreciated. Sign off with “Thank you,” “Regards,” “Much appreciated,” or other nice sayings. (This is a much more professional approach vs. utilizing emoticons).

Think Twice: Reread all emails before sending. If the message is not clear, or is left up to too much interpretation, do not send it. Think of a way to reword the message before creating an avoidable miscommunication, or, as we said earlier: have the conversation in-person if possible!

Also, think about your workplace and the culture you’d like to uphold. Are emoticons too unprofessional and childish? How do you want to be perceived as a colleague, manager, client, or vendor each time you send an email?

HR Shield is committed to helping improve office atmospheres everywhere.  From HR best practices and basic office protocol to benefits and taxes, we’re here to help. Need more support than our weekly blog? Contact your HR Shield Advisor at (877) 636-9525!