Archive | April, 2014

Best Practices for Complying with VEVRAA and Section 503′s New Regulations

28 Apr

When it comes to human resource planning to comply with federal employment legislation, human resources professionals need to stay updated to ensure they don't miss the implementation of new regulations. The U.S. Department of Labor's Officer of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) recently issued final rules under the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA), which deals with the employment of veterans, and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires affirmative action for the disabled.

The new regulations for both laws came into effect on March 24, according to DOL, so it's essential that HR professionals waste no time ensuring they are following the requirements. Only those contractors that had a written affirmation action program (AAP) implemented by March 24 are able to have more time to comply with the regulations. In addition, the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) noted HR professionals can wait until their next affirmative action plan to start following some of the rules, such as the collection of data.

These two pieces of legislation are meant to motivate contractors to employ veterans and disabled persons without the need to meet quotas, according to SHRM. Each of the final rules require HR professionals to improve their hiring processes to meet certain employment benchmarks, including keeping certain types of data on file for future use and updating language in subcontracts. For human resource planning, this means HR professionals need to make sure they are adhering to each of the final rules, which may require HR departments to take time to work with other departments and adjust their recordkeeping procedures. 

How to Comply with VEVRAA and Section 503
According to DOL, there numerous new regulations that contractors need to follow, and each of these rules require their own methods of compliance. VEVRAA and Section 503 share some updated regulations. Here are just three and how HR professionals can comply with them:

  • Ask for self-identification: HR professionals and hiring managers must ask candidates before and after the offer of employment to self-identify as a veteran or a disabled person. According to The HR Group, this requires HR departments to draft a new section on their employment applications. There are samples from the DOL for this very purpose that HR professionals should utilize if they have not already done so.
  • Maintain quantitative data on the hiring of veterans and disabled persons: HR professionals now need to document and update quantitative comparisons on how many former service members and disabled Americans apply for jobs and the number who are hired, according to DOL. This could require HR departments to continually keep track of this data, and investing in human resource management system software can help.
  • The EO clause: Both VEVRAA and Section 503 now require HR professionals to incorporate the equal opportunity clause within job postings. However, HR representatives can't simply create their own clauses – they must follow the format of their state or local job service. 

VEVRAA has one regulation in particular that is unique to it. Contractors must now establish annual hiring benchmarks. They have two methods to choose from to do this, and HR professionals need to examine whether it is more beneficial for the business to follow the national percentage of veterans in the civilian labor force or if using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics or veterans' employment data from another departments is best. HR professionals can do this by understanding their company's hiring needs.

Section 503 also has an exclusive requirement: updating the definition of disability. According to DOL, HR professionals now must make the changes set down by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, and so HR professionals need to ensure they are revising their companies' nondiscrimination provisions correctly. HR professionals can draft the new definition and amend nondiscrimination policies by using government resources, such as from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

There are numerous actions HR professionals need to take to adhere to the new VEVRAA and Section 503 regulations, many of which can be made easier with an employee management system. From keeping track of worker data and hiring information to improving the company's affirmative action policies, HR software can help human resource representatives monitor their compliance with VEVRAA and Section 503.

Hiring of Recent College Graduates to Increase

25 Apr

Job prospects for recent college graduates haven't been as strong within recent years as they have in the past – but things may be looking up for young professionals. This year more employers are planning on hiring candidates from this demographic, according to a new survey from CareerBuilder and CareerRookie.com. However, HR professionals and hiring managers remain concerned about the abilities of young graduates, and human resources departments may need to adopt more robust employee management systems to ensure they have the tools available to develop worker skill sets and monitor performance. 

Employers' Hiring Needs Become More Complex
The CareerBuilder and CareerRookie.com survey asked 2,138 hiring managers and HR professionals about their concerns about recruiting new college graduates. Fifty-seven percent said they intend on hiring these professionals this year, while only 44 percent saying the same in 2010. However, 24 percent don't believe many of these workers have the skills needed for the real business environment because academic institutions may not prepare them adequately. 

In particular, 35 percent of survey participants said they want new hires to have a blend of technical abilities and soft skills, which are often developed through a liberal arts education. This means young professionals need to have a balanced education. For example, business majors often have a mixture of analytical and interpersonal skills, and they may secure more jobs this year because of it - 39 percent of hiring managers said they will look for these types of degrees. However, technical education still remains a top focus for recruiters, with 28 percent noting they will also seek workers with computer and information sciences degrees.

Hiring recent graduates may continue to be a struggle for hiring managers, as many believe young professionals aren't receiving the degrees companies require and universities are ill-prepared to keep up with the technology the business world is adopting. In fact, 53 percent of recruiters cited their concern that academic institutions aren't preparing graduates with real-world learning, rather they are concentrating on book learning. New graduates may no longer be qualified for even entry-level jobs in the future, as 26 percent of recruiters said these positions are evolving.

According to Inc. magazine, the one thing recruiters really need to focus on when hiring new graduates is their team spirit and past experience working well in groups. These types of soft skills may provide young professionals with a strong foundation in which to build their technical abilities, making them more able to take on complex positions.

CEOs May Not Have a Good Grip on Their Company’s Abilities

25 Apr

A new study by strategy implementation company BTS found many CEOs overestimate that their companies will be able to execute CEOs' growth strategies. This may be due to not having effective talent management processes in place, as the survey also revealed employees' skill development is key to meeting CEOs' performance expectations for the workforce.

BTS examined CEOs' perceptions of their companies, and found most executives are too confident about what their companies can accomplish. Of the respondents, 39 percent were highly confident in their organizations' capacity to hit long-term goals and meet CEOs' strategy expectations. Seventy-one percent are sure their managers are able to drive performance. However, only those leaders who take advantage of talent management opportunities are able to deliver higher revenue growth and profitability.

However, being overly confident may bode well for CEOs. According to The Atlantic, research has found lacking confidence is just as damaging to success as not being competent is. Confidence is able to be acquired through experience, skill development and learning management. For CEOs, this means their positive outlooks can be beneficial, but they need to drive confidence among their workers through talent management solutions.

Survey: Most Employees Don’t Trust Their Employers

25 Apr

The American Psychological Association's 2014 Work and Well-Being Survey uncovered a hard truth about the workforce: the majority don't believe their employers are honest with them. 

According to the survey, which received responses from 1,562 employees, 1 in 3 American workers feel as if their employers aren't truthful with them, despite 64 percent saying their companies treat them appropriately. In addition, nearly 1 in 4 people don't trust their employers. Why do workers feel this way? Many cited that they didn't feel their companies offered career development opportunities or provided recognition for good work. Ineffective payroll management can also affect how workers perceive their employer's honesty, as the survey noted the gender pay gap continues to impact how employees feel about their own value and low salaries cause workers' stress levels to increase.

Perception of value is essential for employees to not only feel loyal to their employers and trust their managers, but also to improve their productivity and performance. Many times, workers have good ideas that they don't share with their supervisors because they don't feel valued. According to an article in Inc. magazine, a company culture with a high level of employee distrust often results in low worker commitment and loyalty.

Company Vocabulary Could Impact Employee Engagement

24 Apr

Employee engagement ideas seem to be on the minds of both leaders and HR professionals alike these days. However, a recent article in Forbes by HR tech writer Meghan Biro noted that even though companies are employing employee engagement strategies, workers don't often respond to these programs and can even distrust them. This may be due to how people connect with one another. Workers want to feel valued, which is a critical part of engagement, and language used in the workplace can affect employees' perceptions of their own performance and value to their employers.

According to Biro, language is the crucial element many employee engagement programs and initiatives miss. Managers and HR professionals know they must maintain a professional work environment, and some often look to ensure professional communication is present in every aspect of the workplace. Employers don't have to sacrifice professionalism in employee engagement strategies, but know that when managers forget to say "thank you," "please" and "I understand" they may be inadvertently disengaging their workers. Language is everything when it comes to employee engagement.

Business Management Daily created a list of the 10 best phrases or questions managers and HR professionals can use to show workers their value to the organization. Some of these, such as "I need your help," are phrases managers like to stay away from, as leaders may believe these phrases can end up resulting in a lack of respect for management. However, this phrase, as well as others like it, can show workers their leaders value their input and recognize their contributions to the business. HR professionals should ensure all employee engagement programs and initiatives use and build on this type of language in the workplace to encourage enhanced communication throughout the company.

Financial Literacy Could Increase Workers’ Performance, Reduce Job Strain

23 Apr

Even though the recession is over, many employees may still be feeling the impact of the economic downturn. While human resources professionals aren't often privy to workers' financial problems, a new infographic from e-retailer Purchasing Power in honor of Financial Literacy Month highlighted that employees' monetary well-being affects their productivity and performance, not to mention their employers' overall success. According to an article in TLNT, companies may be partly responsible for creating additional financial strain by moving workers' to health plans with high out-of-pocket costs, meaning employees have to pay more for the same type of care.

Many employers provide wellness programs in the workplace and education on workers' available benefits, but HR professionals should think beyond these employee engagement ideas. HR professionals should still ensure workers understand their benefits, only there are numerous benefits to asking employers to provide employees with additional resources, such as financial counseling through a new wellness initiative. 

Workers Can Benefit from Financial Well-Being Programs
The infographic – which is a compilation of research from Harris Poll and MetLife, to name a few – noted that employees are most concerned about changes in their financial health. Nearly half of workers have said they can't buy the items they need, and 44 percent don't have at least $2,000 in emergency savings. Both of these aspects are important to staff members' financial health, and living paycheck to paycheck or having financial troubles can impact their productivity and retention.

Workers often spend time worrying about their finances, with 46 percent taking one to three hours a week thinking about their financial problems. In fact, 44 percent of professionals contemplate their finances while in the office. When this happens, employers can experience costs due to lost productivity. In fact, the infographic highlighted that employers in professional services with more than 10,000 employees tend to lose $197,000 a week because of this issue. In addition, financial concerns is the main reason why 49 percent of workers starting hunting for new jobs.

"Financially fragile employees – those who are living paycheck to paycheck and with little or no savings – not only need to increase their financial literacy, they also need a new way to manage credit and regain their financial footing," Richard Carrano, president and CEO of Purchasing Power, said regarding the infographic's points

HR professionals should also consider investing in more effective payroll management software to ensure workers are being paid correctly.

The Ongoing Gender Pay Gap

22 Apr

Despite continual payroll management initiatives and increasing awareness, there is still a gender pay gap in the U.S. According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), there has been little movement in women's earnings for a full decade, with women still making 77 cents to the dollar their male counterparts earn. The best city to be a working woman is Washington, D.C., where women are paid 90 percent of what men are paid, and the worst area for women to work is Wyoming, where they only earn 64 percent of what men do. In fact, women make even less as they age, and the pay gap even exists in female-dominated and gender-balanced occupations, according to the AAUW.

Action Needed
To combat this ongoing problem, President Barack Obama recently signed an executive order preventing federal contractors from retaliating against employees who communicate with one another about their pay. Fox News reported the president's action seeks to open transparency in pay within certain parts of the federal government. President Obama also urged the U.S. Department of Labor to consider opening up compensation data of its federal contractors. 

Retaliation because workers discuss pay continues to be a common issue, according to Forbes. Many women feel they can't talk about compensation with their co-workers for fear of getting fired, Forbes reported. This problem is at the center of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which seeks to right the issue of retaliation and has 207 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and 55 in the Senate. Forbes reported the part of the Paycheck Fairness Act currently in effect only covers 22 percent of the workforce.

There has been some criticism about the president's move, as people have said a pay gap remains in the White House as well. Of the 16 federal department heads, 10 are women, and Fox News reported a White House aid has said men and women working in equivalent positions in the White House earn the exact same salaries.

However, the federal government does have an issue with a pay gap. According to a report recently issued by the Office of Personnel Management, there was a gender pay gap of 12.7 percent in 2012 among white-collar occupations, including the federal government. While there is some discrepancy in the data – such as uneven distribution of men and women across industries – it showcases how effective payroll management remains a key focus for the government and employers in the future.

Study: Most Workers Aren’t Able to Use All Their Paid Time Off

22 Apr

Many employees in the U.S. are given paid time off, yet not everyone uses these benefits. According to a new study by staffing firm Adecco, the majority of workers encounter challenges to using all of their vacation time, and some even end up working when they should be relaxing. When it comes to effective employee management, HR professionals need to ensure workers understand their paid time off is there to help them de-stress so they are more productive in their jobs. Not taking time off can end up harming employees' health and performance as well as their employers' success, according to Fast Company.

Adecco surveyed 507 workers, and found one-quarter don't take all of their available days off. Of those who were able to take vacations or time off, 37 percent remained connected to their work in some way or other, such as through email or work-related calls. Giving up paid time off also impacts relationships between colleagues in an office. Thirty-seven percent of those who ended up working during their vacations think less of their co-workers when their colleagues come to the office late or leave early from work. 

HR Needs to Provide Training on Cyberbullying

21 Apr

Bullying doesn't just happen on the playground. According to Bullying Statistics, it can take numerous forms, and is just as prevalent in the workplace as it is in school yards. From singling one person out of a team to sending intimidating messages online, many employees experience types of bullying behaviors on a regular basis. A late 2012 study from psychologists at the University of Sheffield and the University of Nottingham uncovered 8 in 10 of the 320 people surveyed had been the subject of at least one type of cyberbullying behavior.

When it comes to bullying, human resource departments need to step in and utilize their employee management strategies. However, an article in Business and Legal Resources suggested employers adopt even stricter antibullying policies than they may even have in place.

Stop Bullying in the Workplace
According to BLR, HR professionals need to go beyond the traditional types of employee management strategies, such as identifying the bully and providing an appropriate punishment, and consider how cyberbullying creates a hostile work environment that requires specific strategies. 

Rob Wilson, president of Employco USA, told BLR employers may want to establish zero-tolerance policies regarding online harassment of co-workers, as well as adopt comprehensive social media guidelines that address negative behavior on online networking sites.

"It is important that employers address this issue in their policies so that employees feel they are a part of a safe work environment," Wilson said. "A positive and productive workplace should be of top priority, and employers can enforce this by instituting cyberbullying policies and penalizing infractions."

In fact, cyberbullying may even have a greater impact in workers' well-being than in-person types of bullying. The 2012 study out of the U.K. found those employees who had experienced cyberbullying ended up having lower job satisfaction and higher mental strain than their counterparts who weren't bullied, and these side effects were greater than those who experienced conventional bullying.

The effects of online harassment between co-workers can be far-reaching. While cyberbullying can create a negative workplace in the short term, it can also cause workers to take leave of absences, have health problems and even leave the company entirely, according to USA Today. HR professionals need to ensure workers are being protected online and offline through creating and enforcing antibullying employee management policies in the workplace. Otherwise, the entire company can suffer due to the actions of a few individuals.

Strategies on how to have tough conversations with your employees

15 Apr

InterviewWhen it comes to strategic human resource management, at some point, every manager or HR professional has to sit down a worker to have a hard conversation. Many leaders hold off speaking with employees about difficult issues because they are unsure of how to handle these types of situations. Should they apologize to show empathy? Is it acceptable to just email the worker? Whether it is a termination or a performance review, HR professionals and company management must walk a fine line. Supervisors who know how to handle tough conversations and employ effective employee management are able to ensure positive outcomes to difficult meetings.

Here are four strategies for having tough conversations with employees:

Hold Conversations in Private to Keep Confidentiality
Every time managers need to have a meeting with workers about sensitive topics, they need to do so in private. This keeps the situation between the supervisor and the employee. Co-workers shouldn’t know if an employee is not doing well unless the manager feels it is in the person’s best interest to let others know, and even then there may be legal consequences for not maintaining confidentiality. Having conversations where other people can listen into the meeting can cause the employee to feel as if he or she is not being respected. Being compassionate and empathetic can go a long way to the worker understanding the points his or her boss or HR professional is making during their meeting.

Stay Brief and to the Point
Managers don’t want to beat around the bush when they enter a difficult meeting. According to a review of an HR management book in Forbes, being truthful right from the get-go can prevent any miscommunication and let the worker know exactly what the issue is. The article suggests leaders follow a simple, three-step process: facts, feelings and identity. Stating the facts right from the beginning gets everyone on the same page.

However, managers need to be careful how they plunge ahead with the conversation. Being overly critical can cause only further issues. According to Forbes, HR consultants advise supervisors should always try to achieve “clean, clear, lucid truth.”

According to an article in Inc. magazine, compassion is a key trait of effective leaders. Professionals who show they are empathetic to their workers’ needs and feelings are more likely to receive loyalty from those employees and enhanced productivity. In an article for Harvard Business Review, leadership consultant Peter Bregman wrote managers need to approach difficult situations from the employees’ point of view.

For example, the Forbes article explained how one manager would use the phrase “I’m not loving that” to get right to the point of an issue without being too harsh.

Seek Guidance of Legal Counsel Where Necessary
Leaders shouldn’t hesitate to receive advice from legal counsel when appropriate. Some types of difficult conversations, like terminating an employee, can have legal consequences if supervisors don’t handle the situation correctly. Speaking to lawyers or legal experts can prevent professionals from inadvertently sticking their feet in their mouths.

Keep HR in the Loop
Perhaps most importantly, managers should take advantage of HR professionals’ knowledge and experience with speaking to workers. HR should role play the conversation so the appropriate adjustments to leaders’ delivery can be made. According to Forbes, everything from body language to tone of voice is important during sensitive meetings. HR professionals can ensure managers understand what they can and cannot say, as well as how to correctly get to the point without sacrificing empathy.

Managers shouldn’t hesitate to speak to workers about issues that need to be addressed, but they need to do so carefully and make sure they are not creating further problems.

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