Whether you’re an employee or an employer, take a look at just one hour of your day. How many times are you distracted from the task at hand? What distracts you? Is it Facebook? Pinterest? Personal emails, game scores, the phone ringing or a text message coming through?  It may even be conversation amongst fellow employees.

We live in a very digital world, and it’s often too easy to get distracted by the many means of communication surrounding us. Sometimes the urge to check the status of something irrelevant to work is just unbearable.

This past year Salary.com surveyed 3200 professionals about their distractions at work and 64 percent said they visit non-work related websites every day during their working hours. As an employer, where do you draw the line? 21 percent of the professionals surveyed said they spend 2-5 hours per week on these sites.

Many of us don’t want to play “bad cop” and police every move our employee is making on the clock. Larger companies often monitor employee internet use through their IT department, and internet policies should be specifically outlined within each employee handbook, but for the smaller business without an official IT department or an internal HR team to review policies, cracking down can be difficult.

HR Shield recommends a two-step quick and easy approach:

First, schedule a meeting to address all employees without singling out any one department or employee. Review your current employee handbook and all policies surrounding internet use. (If you do not currently have an employee handbook, contact HR Shield today, our memberships include free employee handbook creation). Let this meeting serve as a “free warning” and a reminder of why it’s important to the Company to work more effectively and efficiently.

Offer Tips For Focusing (some suggestions below):

  • Work in time blocks. If you find yourself being pulled in a dozen directions, it is better to segment your work into small manageable pieces. Select time frames and deadlines to accomplish certain tasks.
  • Reward yourself for accomplishing the task at hand. It may not be against the company policy to visit Facebook or check your personal email account – but don’t do so until your work is complete.
  • Write out a daily task list for the day. Believe it or not, there’s a small sense of reward in crossing off each item for the day.
  • Go incognito. Too many distractions? Sign off messenger, close down your email, and put your phone on silent for an hour or two.
  • Do not check personal email or messages in the morning – saving them for the afternoon will allow you to focus on work for the morning and not get distracted by replies or ongoing threads.

Gauge the effectiveness over several weeks. If the workplace still appears to be suffering from workplace distractions, employee performance reviews and documentation of incidents may be necessary.

Questions about employee handbooks, workplace distractions, performance reviews or the monitoring of internet use? Contact an HR Shield Advisor today for more information!  Call (877) 636-9525.

On Friday, August 24th, 2012 and throughout the following week, nationwide news stations were flooded with coverage surrounding the recent tragedy caused by a disgruntled employee at the Empire State Building.  The suspected gunman, Jeffrey Johnson, was supposedly laid off one year ago. When approaching a former co-worker on the street last week, he shot him dead. The gunman himself was shot dead by police and nine bystanders were wounded as bullets sprayed across the crowded street.

Sadly, violence in and around the workplace is a growing concern for both employers and employees. How does one properly identify a disgruntled employee? How do you prevent such tragedy?

The reality of it all is that humans are unpredictable. We can never be 100% sure what a person’s actions or words may be. As HR professionals we may sometimes be hesitant to report suspicion or inappropriate behavior when an employee starts to scare us. After all, we do have numerous laws and regulations surrounding compliance and discrimination that we’re expected to abide to.

However, understanding specific exceptions found within the Americans with Disability Act can help to prevent such tragedy. The Americans with Disability Act protects employers in the event that an employee poses a direct threat to the organization. Employers must prove that the individual poses a direct threat based on the individual’s ability to safely perform the essential functions of the job without hurting themselves or others.

Proving such can be difficult if you do not have a clear, written policy that communicates zero tolerance for workplace threats and/or violence. HR Shield also recommends providing management teams with the “telltale” signs of disgruntled employees so that they are easier to properly identify, and having a reporting system in place to accurately record employee behavior.

If you or a fellow employee notices a threat, report it to HR immediately. In this most recent case last week, the suspect had already been laid off and was not a current employee. In all situations where outsiders pose a threat, it is recommended you contact your local law enforcement immediately.

HR Shield provides access to a licensed HR Advisor who will help ensure safety and compliance within your workplace. Our membership also offers discounts on attorney services.

Contact us today for more information: (877) 636-9525.

For US Employers and HR Professionals, religion in the workplace is often one the most difficult areas of HR to navigate. Paying attention to your actions (or lack thereof) surrounding an employee’s religious beliefs is important, not only to promote a diverse and cultural workplace, but to abide by EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) standards.

Even in a workplace that promotes acceptance, diversity, and community, conflict can still occur. Did you know that as an employer you are expected to reasonably accommodate the religious practices of each employee under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of l964 (“Title VII”)? Title VII prohibits employers  from discriminating against employees (or candidates) when hiring, firing, and providing other terms and conditions of employment.

Here are some more details surrounding Title VII:

  • Employers may not treat employees more or less favorably because of their religious background.
  • Employers cannot require employees to participate in a religious activity as a condition of employment.
  • Employers must reasonably accommodate each employee’s religious practices or holidays unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the employer.
  • Employers must take steps to prevent religious harassment in the workplace.

Employers who violate Title VII, or other standards outlined by the EEOC, risk costly lawsuits. Are you aware of all employee rights under the laws of the EEOC? Employers are required to post notices to all employees advising them of their rights under the EEOC as well as their right to be free from retaliation.

If you have questions about religion in the workplace, Title VII, or the EEOC, please feel free to contact us today. HR Shield Advisors stay up-to-date on changing regulations, and while it’s not a ‘Get Out of Jail Free Card,’ it’s the fastest, surest way to keep your employees safe and avoid getting hit with unexpected lawsuits or penalties. We’re just a phone call away at (877) 636-9525.

What forms do you need to complete when hiring a new employee?

Hiring Forms Checklist:

  • Job Application Form
  • Form I-9 for Employment Eligibility
  • Form W-4 for Federal Income Tax Withholding
  • State Income Tax Withholding Form (where applicable)
  • Register with State Employment Notification System
  • SSN/W-2: You are required to get each employee’s name and SSN (along with a copy of their card) to enter them on Form W-2.

Although this list may seem short, the hiring checklist doesn’t end when federal or state forms are completed.  Different states have different regulations when it comes to documentation, and hiring a new employee can include other various HR-related tasks such as compensation structure, employee handbooks, interviews, non-disclosures, and more!

But, don’t panic just yet. While there’s a long list of “to-dos” when it comes to hiring or firing, HR Shield can help.  For HR support, sign up now online, or call (877) 636-9525 for more information!

With HR Shield, members gain access to necessary forms, and are able to give our HR advisors a call any time they have a question. We’re here to help with the hiring headache, and more!

Perhaps you’re an HR manager new to hiring personnel, or a business owner trying to navigate the world of compliance when it comes to wage and hours. You’ve likely come across the terms “exempt” and “non-exempt,” as they are required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)… but do you know exactly what they mean?

The FLSA requires that employers classify employees as either exempt or non-exempt. FLSA rules and regulations apply to non-exempt employees.  They do not apply to exempt employees.  What are the differences?

Wages:

Minimum wage, overtime, and other rights/regulations that fall under FLSA are not applicable to employees who are “exempt.” Exempt employees must receive a salary rather than an hourly wage for their position in order to be classified as “exempt.” 

Since non-exempt employees are not exempt from the FLSA requirements, employers must pay non-exempt employees the federal minimum wage for each hour worked. They must also be paid overtime for hours worked beyond 40 hours each work week.

How does this effect taxes? 

There is no difference between the way that exempt and non-exempt employees are taxed. All pay earned, is “earned income” and therefore can be taxed. Although employees will fall into different tax brackets depending on how much income is earned, the same regulations surrounding taxes apply to each group.

Is that all?

That’s not all. Laws and regulations surrounding HR can be extremely complex, and in this case determining on your own whether or not to classify your employee as exempt or non-exempt can lead to implications down the line, including benefits, workers’ rights, and unemployment. A second opinion is always a good idea!

For newcomers to the HR world, or business owners simply in need of more support, HR Shield provides instant access to an extensive online library of forms, templates and training tools on everything from job interview tips to compliance.

When you need more one-on-one support, a quick call to your HR Advisor is all it takes to tap into our team of licensed experts—each with a minimum of ten years HR experience coupled with extensive hiring expertise.

Hiring soon? Need help with documentation? Contact us!