Continuing education has gained quite a bit of popularity in the past decade. Many people want to better themselves and learn something new – for personal reasons, for their families, and/or for career advancements.

But did you know that in addition to individuals bettering themselves, supporting these individuals could actually help better your business?

Continuing education is a pretty broad term. It doesn’t necessarily have to mean that someone is going back to school to get their master’s degree. Continuing education includes a number of post-secondary learning activities and programs including degree-credit courses, personal enrichment courses, career training, workforce training, interest groups, experiential learning and more.

The education opportunities that could particularly benefit individuals AND your workplace include:

  • Foreign Language Courses: Would your business benefit by offering customer service in two or three languages? Would you be able to generate more income if you could deliver work or execute proposals in several different languages? Could you establish stronger relationships with some of your existing accounts?
  • Computer Training:  A general computer course could benefit many of us within the workforce. How many hours a week have your employees wasted trying to figure out something in Excel or PowerPoint? Or worse, how many other employees do they need to ask for help on any given day – resulting in lost productivity for more than one person!
  • Typing Class: Those that type faster and more accurately, often complete projects and communicate faster!

Continuing education makes for a stronger, smarter workforce. It can even help save the cost of needing to replace or rehire in the future.  Employers can support continuing education in many ways including:

  • After-work Programs for Those Interested
  • Educational Stipends as a Form of Employee Benefits
  • Tuition Reimbursement Programs

Need some help with your company’s continuing education program? Call your HR Shield Advisor today at (877) 636-9525.

 

There’s no denying that employees waste time at work on non-work related browsing, communications, and transactions – everybody does it now and then. Or, is it much more than  “every now and then?”

Earlier in the year, a Kansas State University researcher studied cyberloafing (wasting time at work on the Internet) and the results were quite shocking: between 60 and 80 percent of people's time on the Internet at work has nothing to do with work.

For business owners trying to build a profitable business model through effective and efficient personnel, this statistic is nothing short of a nightmare! But is there anything you can do about it in an office that needs to utilize computers all-day, every-day?

Fortunately, yes. No business owner or HR manager likes to play “bad cop,” but having a social media policy or computer-usage policy within your employee handbook can help. But, this is a two-step process. As many of us are well aware, policies that are never or rarely enforced don’t get the best of results.

In order to determine who is wasting countless hours on sites like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter each day, and to actually enforce your Company’s social media policies, you’ll need to recruit the help of those in IT. Employee internet monitoring is an option, as is setting up your network to prohibit logging on to select sites. Because the computers are company property, usage can be restricted and/or observed, while keeping the company within compliance standards.

Keep in mind that many companies have a social media presence; you may even have a social media manager or coordinator on staff. In this type of scenario, certain employees do need to be logged on to social media sites as part of their job description. But again, this is something that needs to be outlined and defined within the employee handbook so that certain employees don’t feel as if they are being treated unfairly or discriminated against.

Did you know that each HR Shield Membership comes with an Employee Handbook Review? This includes the review of all social media policies. Sign up now online or call us at (877) 636-9525 for more information.

Added Bonus: To watch a video on social media policies, click here!

What Is Bereavement Leave/Bereavement Pay?

Although not required by law, many employers offer bereavement pay (also called bereavement leave or funeral leave) to full-time employees. Bereavement leave is available in addition to the employee’s accrued sick days or vacation time and usually includes 2-4 paid days off.

Should I Offer Bereavement Pay?

When a death occurs in the family, individuals often need to take time off from work to attend the funeral – But they also need time to cope in an environment free of work.

Bereavement leave permits individuals to leave the workplace and deal with personal matters without the worry of providing for their family, or having to take an unpaid leave from work. As an employer, offering bereavement pay demonstrates your organization’s compassion and employee-centric culture.

Providing employees with bereavement leave is recommended but needs to be outlined appropriately so that your business approaches these scenarios through a uniform process. You cannot offer one employee 3 days of paid leave, only to offer another employee 2 paid days several months later.

It is recommended that you create a bereavement pay policy within your employee handbook.

Creating a Policy:

First, determine the number of days off and who is eligible.

Example:

When a death occurs in an employee’s immediate family, all fulltime employees make take up to three (3) paid days off.

Then, define “immediate family” (or whichever type of family this policy is eligible for) to avoid any misunderstandings.

Example:

Immediate family includes spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, and siblings.

Last, describe what will happen if employees need more than the designated number of days included in the paid leave. This scenario is common, as many employees have out of state relatives and may need to travel.

Example:

Any additional days can be recorded as vacation time or sick days, or can be taken off without pay.

Need help? Contact your HR Shield Advisor today. Workplace policies maintain compliance and serve as important forms of internal control. If your organization decides to offer bereavement leave, it should be one uniform policy.

Last year around this time we provided 5 Fashion Tips for the Professional. It was a workplace apparel guideline for employers or HR professionals to share with their employees to ensure that their working environment remains professional, while still giving individuals the right to express themselves through personal fashion.

But, every now and then you may encounter an employee who just “doesn’t get it” or continues to wear outfits that are inappropriate for the workplace.  Let’s define “inappropriate.”  It really depends on your workplace or industry. In the office, “inappropriate” may be apparel that’s too revealing or distracting, or a shirt that conveys some type of contradictory message or graphic. If you’re in the hospitality industry or the owner of a restaurant, “inappropriate” may be khakis that are dirty or wrinkled.

It is for this reason that we strongly recommend having a dress code outlined within your employee handbook. It is not uncommon to skip this section when compiling your employee handbook for the first time. A lot of employers think that if their workplace does not require uniforms or special safety clothing, that a dress code does not exist or need to be included.

But, a clearly conveyed dress code outlined within your employee handbook will make situations like this a lot easier. Rather than having to “suggest” to your employee that their wardrobe is questionable or inappropriate with nothing to back up your reasoning, you can instead refer to your Company’s handbook and policies which specifically address standards of dress and hygiene.

Confronting an employee about their apparel can be an uncomfortable situation, but don’t forget that every employee represents your Company’s culture, level of professionalism, brand and more. Workplace apparel is important! And, you don’t need to handle this on your own! If you need help revising or updating your handbook, or confronting an employee, please contact your HR Shield Advisor.

Many of us are taking our businesses to the cloud, and limiting the amount of paper scattered about the office. Some of us see filing cabinets as a thing of the past – and that’s no problem at all; in fact, it’s good for the environment! But, operating online doesn’t dismiss us from our record keeping responsibilities.

Did you know that Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires you to keep certain records for each and every one of your non-exempt workers for at least 3 years?

Fortunately, FLSA does not require a particular form or method of record keeping. You just need to be able to provide the following in the event that a DOL representative asks you for it. Records should always be accessible at your place of employment, or headquarters/main location if you have multiple locations.

The following is a listing of the basic records that an employer must maintain*

  • Employee's full name and social security number.
  • Address, including zip code.
  • Birth date, if younger than 19.
  • Sex and occupation.
  • Time and day of week when employee's workweek begins.
  • Hours worked each day.
  • Total hours worked each workweek.
  • Basis on which employee's wages are paid (e.g., "$9 per hour", "$440 a week", "piecework")
  • Regular hourly pay rate.
  • Total daily or weekly straight-time earnings.
  • Total overtime earnings for the workweek.
  • All additions to or deductions from the employee's wages.
  • Total wages paid each pay period.
  • Date of payment and the pay period covered by the payment.

*This list is provided by the Department of Labor and can be accessed in its entirety at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs21.htm.

The Department of Labor and Fair Labor Standards Act require by law that this information is accurate; keep this in mind as you review your business’s record keeping and payroll practices. Are you recording data as accurately and efficiently as possible or is there a better way to organize information each pay period?

Your HR Shield Advisor can offer assistance in selecting small business payroll or record keeping software, or, if you’re in the market for a payroll service provider; we can also help. HR Shield has many great referrals and partners for payroll processing – whether you’re a big company looking to make a switch, or a small one engaging a service provider for the first time.

A payroll service provider will keep all of the aforementioned data on record for you, and often sets up joint-access to all information so that it can be accessed anytime anywhere by the business owner or management.

To learn more, contact us today.