What to consider when drafting a social media policy

23 Jul

Are employees using social media at work?

Social media is a necessary evil in the business world these days. According to the most recent data from Pew Research, 74 percent of adult Internet users are active on social networking sites. That means, chances are, a lot of your staff members have an account on at least one platform. If this is the case, it's likely they visit it at some point in the day, possibly while on the clock. Creating social media policies is an important part of human resource planning to make sure employees don't go overboard to do anything inappropriate. 

Drawing a line between business and personal
Social media is often a business asset nowadays, so your policy shouldn't be so extreme that it prevents your staff from using social platforms. In fact, businesses can benefit from empowering employees to use their personal accounts to broadcast information about the brand. Outline in your policy in what circumstances staff should be encouraged to post about their employer, for instance, to cast a wider net when the company is hiring. Also, outline what staff shouldn't reveal online. In addition, if some of your staff have business-related accounts, you might need to draft a separate policy for them.

Cover legal aspects
According to Social Media Examiner, social media use can bring up labor-related issues in workplace settings, especially as it relates to the National Labor Relations Act, which covers employees' right to organize. In the past, such organization took place offline, but now, social media can be an obvious place for staff to convene. When drafting your policy, be careful about wording. If an employee posts something negative about the working conditions of the company on a personal account, he or she is likely within his right to do so.

Have an internal social channel
Social networking can have a positive impact on work culture by increasing engagement and providing a fun outlet for your staff. However, if you want to keep the conversation insulated from your employees' extended networks, consider setting up an internal network that would be accessible through employee self service. This network would allow staff to congratulate one another on jobs well done, communicate about events, suggest new ideas and engage in general chatter. One of the benefits of this setup is that it provides a way for entry level staff to potentially interact with executives.

Train and update as you go
Your policy is useless if employees don't know it exists. Address social media use as part of training processes. Social media changes all the time, as do the laws that govern its use in the workplace. Once you have a social media policy drafted, don't let it collect dust. Return to it frequently to determine if there are areas that need to be updated to reflect the current social environment or business culture.

Social media has enormous benefits for employers, but there are also liabilities involved. Because the majority of your employees are likely to have at least one social profile, it's smart for businesses to draft a policy they can refer to when necessary.

Why you should give employees a raise

23 Jul

Holding back on raises can be a costly decision.

Many companies attempt to curb costs by saying "no" when employees ask for raises. In the short term, this can seem like a smart idea. If you can keep a great employee around for the same price year after year, why not continue to do so? However, there are a number of problems with this approach. In the long run, it can have a negative impact on business. It's time to take a look in your employee management system and reassess your team members' salaries. 

Retain the best talent
The demand for certain skills continues to grow. If you don't give employees consistent raises, especially when it's deserved, you may be surprised when your top software developer hands in her two-weeks notice. Keeping those with the most in-demand skills could rely on paying an appropriate wage and increasing it over time. 

Staff will be thankful 
If you don't reward hard work, staff has less of an incentive to continue to do their best. The worst situation is when companies continue to pile more work on staff without adequately compensating them for it. As Inc. magazine pointed out, giving employees a promotion without the corresponding raise happens to be common practice, but that doesn't mean it should be. More work for the same pay may do the opposite of what you want and cause your staff to slack off.

They may need the money
In some cases, the need for a higher salary has little to do with prestige and more to do with financial need. According to a study from the American Psychological Association, 72 percent of adults are stressed about money at least part of the time. Could a low salary be contributing to the situation? If you want to keep workers around and help them achieve their best, paying a viable salary is important.

Turnover is costly
Managers may think they are being smart when they deny a pay raise, but the decision could come back to haunt them. According to Inc., companies may spend 150 percent of the employee's salary just to replace them. When you look at potential replacement costs, a raise seems like a small price to pay to keep an employee on board.

Revenue impact
Holding out on raises because you're thinking about the bottom line may not be the right perspective. A study from the Academy of Management Perspectives compared Sam's Club and Costco, which are competing companies. Costco pays its employees a full 40 percent more than Sam's Club and still remains profitable. If you reduce turnover and increase efficiency at the same time, the impact of a few raises should be minimal.

Not every employee deserves a raise, but there's no reason to hold out on your top performers. While staff may love their positions, they are there to make a living, which often means supporting a family. You need to consider the potential costs of replacing great team members if they seek a position elsewhere. 

Improve your onboarding process for a lasting relationship

23 Jul

Onboarding starts before the new hire's first day.

Onboarding new employees is crucial to establishing a relationship with them. When new team members don't start off on the right foot, they are more likely to be unhappy, disengaged and move on quickly. It's important to have an established plan for employee onboarding. Here are a few tips:

Start before the first day
Onboarding actually begins before the new hire technically starts work. Lay out expectations before the employees enter the office on their first day, otherwise they will start the day confused and anxious. You should talk to new employees about company culture before the big day. This will prevent them from wearing a suit in a casual office.

Don't just familiarize the candidate with your company; prepare the team for the new arrival. Let them know to expect a new face and prepare the employee a workspace so they have a home base when they arrive. According to Forbes, you may want to provide some branded gifts, like a t-shirt, pen, or some kind of gift basket to get them excited for their first day. 

Tech.co suggested asking your team if there is anything they wish they'd known when they started. Be sure to address these issues upfront with the new hires before they have a chance to ask. You may want to continue this practice and compile the answers into an FAQ document you can send to new hires before they start. 

Get all the paperwork ready
No one loves filling out paperwork. Most new hires would rather be out on the ground floor getting their hands dirty than writing out their Social Security numbers over and over again. Still, paperwork must be done. Instead of prolonging the experience, get everything ready ahead of time to streamline the process. Having an effective employee management software can help you with this part and ensure you file everything away correctly afterward.

Provide meaningful work
It's important not to make new employees suffer through grunt work until they can prove themselves – let them sink their teeth into something meaningful right away. However, don't create enormous expectations immediately. Simply demonstrate that you believe in them and are excited to see what the bring to the company. You can't expect your new team members to achieve full productivity within just a few days. Asking them to do so will cause serious stress. 

Have some face time together
According to Tech.co, the onboarding process should last about 90 days. So don't assume you've done your job after a week has passed. Within the first week, sit down with new employees and come up with a few goals for the first 90 days. Also, talk about where the staff members see themselves in the next few years. Record all of this information in your employee management system.

Many companies don't realize how important onboarding is. New hires aren't established in the company yet - they could easily accept another offer and move on. Build a relationship early to prevent this from happening.

How to make your workplace more millennial friendly

23 Jul

Is your business millennial friendly?

Say what you want about millennials, but they continue to enter the workforce. Chances are, you are working aside a few of them right now. In fact, there are now more millennials than Gen X-ers in the workforce, according to Pew Research.

With so many young folks flooding into jobs across the country, it may seem unnecessary to accommodate them. However, fail to engage this age group now, and you may find it hard to obtain great talent in the future. Moreover, if you need help forging your way in the digital landscape, millennials are the ideal group to help out. Here are a few ways to open your doors to millennials:

Assess your business
The first step is to determine how millennials perceive your business. Also, be on the lookout for biases in your hiring process. Do you tend to favor a long resume over a fresh perspective? According to Society for Human Resources Management, hiring only people with certain experiences ensures your company is set up to prevent hiring young people. Do you require knowledge of platforms that could potentially be updated to 21st century standards? If there's one thing that irks millennials, it's outmoded technology, especially learning to use tools that will be irrelevant in a year. Examine your environment and see what will need to change. Perhaps new employee management software?

Get a new look
Cubicles are a relic of the past to this bunch, and an office where staff are isolated from one another may be a turnoff. Millennials are collaborators, and as their tendency to work together has lead to growth in the open office format. If your older employees would be unhappy with such a drastic change, consider setting up an open area for just younger staff. According to PSFK, Grey advertising agency set up a wing just for millennials in its New York City building, known as Base Camp.

Make work meaningful
Millennials want more out of work than previous generations. They aren't just in it for the money – they want to really care about what they do. This could mean offering volunteer opportunities or providing professional development programs that help them feel like they are growing. One thing is for sure: They don't want to just punch the clock. They want work to be a form of personal growth. As Mashable noted, this drive also makes company transparency important to them. They will want to know the how and the why of their position in the company.

Be flexible
Millennials crave a work-life balance. Despite their interest in meaningful work, millennials don't want to work all the time. Having a life outside of the office is also very important to this group. Flexible hours or the ability to work from home will be attractive incentives for these younger workers.

Like it or not, millennials are the future of the workforce. If you haven't started planning for this inevitability, it's time to start.

How to get honest feedback from employees

17 Jul

How do you find out what your employees really think?

Feedback is a key part of employee management. Companies need feedback from all of their employees, not just entry-level staff members and new hires. Getting insight from your whole team is key to ensuring that everyone is happy and that all managers are also doing their jobs appropriately.

However, it's hard to obtain this feedback. Fearing retribution or stressful situations, employees may find it difficult to criticize their managers, even when the criticism is constructive and warranted. When companies fail to get the information they need, they lose their best people, often without warning. So how do you get the feedback you need while making sure everyone is comfortable?

Keep asking
As Entrepreneur pointed out, you need to be consistent in your requests for feedback. Asking just once rarely does the trick – employees need to know you're serious about it and actually care what they think. Make sure your team knows that meeting with the HR department or their direct manager is their right, not something that needs to be earned with superior performance.

Ask better questions
If your current methods aren't working, ask more probing questions. A simple "how is everything going" may not be direct enough to get the response you want. On the other hand, a question like, "How do you think your manager is doing," might be too direct. According to HR Morning, you should ask about how they would organize or manage a project. This can help you sniff out disagreements with management and help you identify staff with leadership potential.

Provide options
Your team members may approach feedback in different ways. Harvard Business Review suggested providing multiple methods for offering up their opinions. While one employee might prefer one-to-one conversation, another could be more inclined to be honest if given an anonymous survey to fill out. Managers might think their open-door policies are generous, but not everyone is comfortable voicing their ideas this way. Encourage managers to try out alternatives like taking someone out to lunch in an informal environment.

Develop a candid culture
If employees feel like speaking their mind is an acceptable thing to do, they will be more likely to do it. On the other hand, if your office lacks transparency, staff will feel like honesty is discouraged. You don't need to throw managers under the bus to create open dialogue. Simply allow staff at every level to discuss what is and isn't working about an approach or idea. In addition, know your team will stop offering feedback if they discover nothing changes when they do. Make sure managers take staff ideas and criticisms up the food chain so employees know they are being heard and continue to offer their ideas.

It might never be easy to gain direct feedback from employees, but continue to try new things, and you will soon gain the candid information you need to continue to improve the office environment. The right employee management software can make help you document any issues staff have and keep them on record for future reference.

New overtime proposal could present HR challenges

17 Jul

Companies may need to reclassify workers to avoid overtime.

The Department of Labor recently announced potential changes to laws governing overtime pay. Under the proposal, almost 5 million white collar workers would now have access to overtime pay. Currently, the threshold for salaried workers is set at $23,660, which is below the poverty line for many families. The new proposal would extend overtime pay to anyone making $50,440 per year. The old threshold was established years ago and hasn't been adjusted for inflation, leaving many middle class employees consistently working overtime hours without the benefit of overtime pay.

Challenges for human resources ahead
Naturally, if the rule goes through, companies may be forced to make strategic changes to prevent too many staff members from accruing costly overtime. According to Human Resources Executive Online, HR departments may need to perform compensation studies to take a hard look a specific positions and whether they would benefit from being reclassified from exempt employees to nonexempt and change their duties to reflect these adjustments.

In an interview with the website, Gregory Kamer, partner of management labor employment firm Kamer Zucker Abbott, said the rule will definitely create some changes in the employment landscape.

Companies that don't want to pay overtime will need to make some changes, he said. The choice will come down to employing more people or raising current staff members' wages to cross the threshold.

What counts as overtime?
Determining whether to reclassify employees and carrying out the necessary work to do so will be just one of HR's new challenges. Another issue will be curbing the hours of staff who remain under the threshold. In this area, email might prove to be a challenge, according to NPR. White collar workers find it harder to disconnect from work at night due to the availability of mobile devices. With just a few touches to a screen, employees can access their inboxes with no problem. The question is when employees check their email, does it count as work time? The answer is likely yes.

HR departments may soon field more queries about overtime pay and will have to double​ check compliance issues related to specific job duties and classifications. Ultimately, the ability to remain compliant could come down to having tools like employee management software that make it easy to monitor worker hours and salary requirements.

Wellness program ideas

17 Jul

Do you have an employee wellness program?

Wellness programs can be a great workplace benefit. Not only are these programs a great incentive to work for a company, but also they can help keep your workers healthier, happier and more productive as a result. All is all, a wellness program is also one of the greatest employee engagement ideas for your staff. A survey from Society of Human Resources Managers found 76 percent of organizations have some sort of wellness program. Moreover, participation between 2012 to 2014 increased year over year. Clearly wellness is more popular than ever! That being said, there are many different types of wellness programs you can implement. How do you start? Here are some ideas:

Provide healthy food
One of the easiest health programs is to make sure there are nutritious snacks on hand. This could mean fruit and vegetables or even nutrition bars and yogurt. While employees frequently bring in sugary treats to share, staff have to rely on themselves to pack healthy lunches, and with an on-the-go lifestyle, it's not always easy to do. Provide easy access to healthy food, and employees will thank you.

Promote gym memberships
Even if you don't have a gym on premises, you can work out a deal with a local fitness center or reimburse employees for a portion of the membership cost, BenefitsPro pointed out. Picking a gym and sticking with a workout regimen can be difficult for many people. However, if co-workers make a plan to hit the gym after work, even the most reluctant athlete will be more likely to attend.

Encourage exercise in other ways
Invite staff to participate in regular physical activity, like biking or even running to work. To make it easier on those who choose to participate, install some showers in the office, U.S. News and World Report suggested. This way, staff could also use their lunch breaks to make a quick trip to the gym. You might be surprised how many people would start biking to work once they can clean up afterward.

Have work from home options
When sick employees come into work, the illness spreads to their colleagues. While one person may feel comfortable powering through a bad cold with the help of pseudoephedrine, the same bug might put co-workers down for the count. If ill staff members want to pass on sick day coverage, encourage them to work from home so their co-workers aren't faced with the same issue.

Employees increasingly look for a balance between work and life. Making it easier to fit in a workout can also ease this burden.

Tips for an employee rewards program

17 Jul

How do you reward employees for a job well done?

Retention and turnover are some of the biggest issues human resources managers deal with on a day-to-day basis. Consequently, HR departments are constantly looking for good employee engagement ideas. These problems are not easy to solve, but providing employee recognition programs is one way to help employees realize their work is valued. What makes a good employee recognition program?

Give staff rewards they want
You may think a gift card to an area restaurant is an appropriate gift, but do your employees agree? Maybe they would rather have an appreciation event with catered food or even extra time off. Rewards programs work best when the incentives are actually desirable. Consider polling your employees to find out what kinds of rewards would inspire them to participate in the program.

Provide up-front rewards
It's a good idea to reward employees immediately for a job well done, according to Incentive Magazine. It may be tempting to wait until the end of the quarter or year for a big ceremony, but it's better to reward employees along the way. This helps to motivate them consistently and keeps morale high. It's OK to have a final reward dinner, but provide smaller incentives at intervals along the way.

Make sure the rules are fair
There are a number of things to consider when setting up a rewards program. You want to make sure employees can actually obtain rewards while still having to work hard to achieve their goals. In addition, make sure every department is able to obtain rewards. Frequently review the past winners to be sure that you are equally representing all departments and not focusing on a small few.

Tie rewards to business values
Make sure your reasoning for giving out awards is strategic, as these programs tend to be more successful. A study from Society of Human Resources Management found that companies who tied their recognition programs to the values of their organizations were more likely to perceive their programs as successful. However, only slightly more than one-half of organizations connected their programs with the company's values. Use your company's values as a basis for rewards. For instance, if you value teamwork, reward staff who demonstrate a willingness and ability to collaborate with others.

Rewards programs are effective ways to show employees you care. Feeling valued leads to personal growth and greater retention rates.

Maintaining poster compliance with outsourced payroll

2 Jul

Businesses outsourcing their payroll have an easier time keeping employees happy and staying compliant with regulations.

The U.S. Department of Labor requires businesses to display posters on the walls around their offices. These posters convey important information about employee rights in the workplace. Full of image- and text-based information, the DOL posters are varied, and each one is applicable to different types of businesses. An outsourced payroll vendor can inform a company which posters it must display and how to keep them updated based on current regulation changes.

What types of posters might go up at a business?
Almost any federal or state law pertaining to employment has its own poster. Here is a short list of some posters employees may find in their workplaces:

  • Job Safety and Health Protection poster
  • Equal Employment Opportunity – Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (as amended) poster
  • Fair Labor Standards Act Wage and Hour Division poster
  • Notice to All Employees Working on Federal or Federally Financed Construction Projects Wage and Hour Division poster
  • Office of Labor-Management Standards Executive Order poster

Each of these posters pertains to a very specific collection of businesses and has its own set of rules regarding where the poster can be displayed. For instance, construction companies must post one version of the Wage and Hour Division poster, while small businesses have to post another. Requirements vary depending on the industry, company size and types of employees.

Where can businesses find posters?
As HR360 pointed out, all of the federally mandated posters are available for free on the Department of Labor website. However, each state has its own unique series of guidelines companies have to follow when it comes to posters in the workplace. This is where outsourced human resources systems come in.

Outsourcing payroll improves poster compliance
It's no surprise outsourced HR is there, ready to step in and streamline processes like maintaining compliance when it comes to paychecks, benefits enrollment, tax deductions, hiring and more. But when it comes to posters physically in the workplace, these service providers are also on top of things, keeping businesses up to speed on any changes to poster guidelines or information that employees must be aware of.

For example, as of April, private employers working in the commerce sector have to display the Job Safety and Health Protection poster issued by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration in a spot where both employees and applicants can clearly see it. Should an original poster not be available, these types of companies would have to print out an 8.5-by-14-inch poster with at least 10 point font for workers to observe and read. HR is already bogged down by daily tasks, managing entire businesses and ensuring workers are meeting their potential. Monitoring updates and deadlines for posters could waste time and money if the posters don't go up in a timely manner.

Having an outsourced HR provider is especially helpful for enterprises with locations in multiple states. Since each state requires unique versions of some posters, a single department may find it difficult to keep track of all the regulatory changes or guidelines for each location.

Failure to comply could result in fines
If the DOL completes an audit of a particular business and finds the company isn't up to date on its mandatory posters, each violation could cost the business a fine or penalty fee. The company could also receive contract sanctions or have to appear in court where civil penalties would be assessed. Some violations have no consequences. 

Outsourcing payroll can not only improve businesses' compliance to specific paycheck deductions and benefits administration, but it can also enhance the daily lives of workers around the country.

Exempt employee status change on the horizon

19 Jun

Automating and outsourcing can ensure HR departments maintain accurate payroll and comply with governmental regulations.

Coming soon to a workplace near you: changes in overtime pay for employees in a variety of positions. The Obama administration plans to unveil its new regulations for employers paying workers overtime wages. These new guidelines would, among other things, include a new definition for exempt and nonexempt worker classification.

Who is exempt?
Currently, employees are exempt from being paid for working overtime, which means more than 40 hours per week, if they are executives, administrative professionals or workers in the computer, creative arts, science or learning industries, according to the Department of Labor. The position an employee holds in one of these industries determines his or her exact exemption status. In general, however, exempt employees are salaried and make no less than $455 per week, or $23,660 per year.

Nonexempt employee status covers just about every other role in the book. These workers are entitled to one-and-a-half times their regular pay rate if they work more than 40 hours in one week, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

What changes are on the horizon?
The Obama Administration is considering increasing the threshold for exempt workers from $23,660 to somewhere between $45,000 and $52,000, according to Politico. If the DOL raises the threshold to $42,000, The Economic Policy Institute estimates an additional 3.5 million workers will be eligible for overtime pay. Should the DOL try to account for inflation and raise the threshold to cover the same percentage of workers as were nonexempt in 1975, the threshold would have to be $69,004, subsequently covering 65 percent of salaried employees in the U.S.

How can human resources prepare for this change?
While no final figure has been reached yet, HR departments across the nation may want to prepare now for future changes. Outsourcing payroll is a positive step in the direction of compliance. Rather than entering salaries and overtime hours and then adjusting overtime wages manually, an outsourced payroll solution automates this process, freeing up HR to focus on other pressing issues. Penalties for failing to comply with any DOL or FLSA stipulations could cost businesses money and their reputations, making it more difficult to recruit and hire top industry talent.

It's imperative HR professionals ensure accuracy when it comes to both salaries and overtime pay, especially if these changes do take place and companies across the U.S. are given a fixed amount of time in which to make their own employee status adjustments. 

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