I recently received a marketing email from SHRM (no surprise there) on the top 50 books for HR practitioners. Below is a quick description of those books. Let me discuss the main categories addressed and share my thoughts.
- Change management
- Performance management
- Dealing with poor performers
- Emotional intelligence
- Compliance auditing
- Compliance in general
- Employee handbook templates
- Managing new supervisors
- Motivation and team building
- Understanding the math of HR
Each of the above is a critical HR function at any sized company. Most of our Members have between 15-500 employees and don’t have the large HR departments many of these books are aimed at. All of these bases are covered on HR That Works. For example, there are webinars on change management, performance management, emotional intelligence, managing new supervisors, how to be strategic and know numbers (hint: take a look at the Cost Calculator). There is everything you will ever need for compliance, including the BNA State Law Summaries. Of course we have a great employee handbook template and a deal with the Worklaw® Network attorneys to help you go final for only $997.
Perhaps the single most important program on HR That Works is the Time Management one. It is the biggest thing stopping any executive from adding more value and growing in their career. Know this: You can’t add more value until you STOP doing low value work. This requires discipline, confidence, and the ability to delegate or say “no”.
My suggestion: If you wish to move beyond the ordinary, spend at least one hour each week reading a report, watching a webinar, implementing a strategic HR tool, etc. If you ever get stuck, give me a call. Here’s to your continued learning and growth.
Transformative HR: How Great Companies Use Evidence-Based Change for Sustainable Advantage
This book demonstrates how some of the world’s most admired and prominent organizations are redefining HR leadership by using evidence-based change to inform human capital
Nine Minutes on Monday: The Quick and Easy Way to Turn Managers into Leaders
The No. 1 reason why managers fail to increase productivity and get the best out of their people is they neglect to keep their leadership priorities in front of them.
The Crowdsourced Performance Review
With The Crowdsourced Performance Review, you’ll create a review system that gathers the feedback of many, so you can make better, more informed decisions.
Emotional Intelligence 2.0
This “other kind of smart” is the No.1 predictor of success, both personally and professionally. This book helps readers identify their emotional intelligence and turn their skills into strengths.
Auditing Your Human Resources Department, 2nd edition
Business units everywhere, and especially human resource departments, are under the gun to prove their effectiveness and strategic value. Now you can accurately gauge how well you’re doing with this new edition of Auditing Your Human Resources Department. The comprehensive guide walks readers through a rigorous, in-depth self-assessment process that is far less costly and intimidating than an outside audit.
Harassment: Sex, Religion and Beyond
This popular training series brings this message home, showing that bad behavior is not OK—whether it applies to sex, religion or anything beyond.
New Supervisor Training
New Supervisor Training will enable you to help up-and-coming supervisors make the transition from individual contributor to leader.
The HR Answer Book, 2nd edition
Written in question-and-answer format, this essential reference book addresses more than 200 areas of concern and provides insight into real HR situations. Includes ready-to-use tools!
Create Your Own Employee Handbook, 6th edition
This book and CD-ROM provide information and policies all managers, HR professionals and business owners need to create their own reader-friendly guide, no matter what state they are in.
How to Deal with Annoying People
The world is filled with annoying people, but there is hope and help! Churches, individuals, couples, employees and managers will benefit from this look at personality styles and close, sometimes conflicted, interaction.
The Essential Guide to Workplace Investigations, 3rd edition
The new edition of this best-selling book documents the 10 steps to legally and successfully investigate and resolve any type of workplace complaint or problem.
Creative Onboarding Programs
Fully updated with new case studies of best practices from successful companies, this book helps employees do their best work from the minute they first walk in the door.
101 Sample Write Ups for Documenting Employee Performance Problems, 2nd edition
This bestseller, with CD-ROM, covers dozens of problems likely to occur in the workplace, and the 101 samples help you generate a corrective action notice.
2600 Phrases for Effective Performance Reviews
This book puts the right words at your fingertips, with ready-to-use phrases, action items and descriptions you can use to evaluate performance, prepare development plans and more
The Definitive Guide to HR Communication: Engaging Employees in Benefits, Pay, and Performance
Two experienced HR communications consultants show how to dramatically improve the effectiveness of every HR message.
Got a Minute? The 9 Lessons Every HR Professional Must Learn to Be Successful
Designed to help HR professionals deal with challenging employees in the workplace, this best-selling book presents several real-life stories of employee behavior within a broad range of circumstances
Tweet This! Twitter for Business
This handy guide offers basic instruction as well as advanced networking and marketing strategies for consultants, entrepreneurs and small-business owners.
Human Resource Essentials: Your Guide to Starting and Running the HR Function, 2nd edition
From staffing, training, and performance management to compensation and benefits and policy creation and review, this best-seller offers the information needed to design, run and manage the HR function
Reality-Based Leadership: Ditch the Drama, Restore Sanity to the Workplace and Turn Excuses Into Results
Expert Fast Company blogger Cy Wakeman reveals how to be the kind of leader who changes the way people think about and perceive their circumstances without drama or defensiveness.
You’re Not That Great: A Motivational Book
Psychologist and leadership coach Dr. Daniel Crosby offers You’re Not that Great as an anecdote to the saccharine self-help books that promote happiness and self-esteem at the expense of personal integrity. Arguing against complacency, Crosby encourages his readers to consider rules for successful living that are based on the pursuit of excellence rather than the assumption of it.
Leadership Training shows you how to integrate 10 key leadership competencies to create leadership training programs that get results. Companion CD-ROM included.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
Leaders and teams alike turn to The Five Dysfunctions of a Team for additional tools and materials to bring the dysfunctions to life on their own teams and organizations.
High-Impact Interview Questions
This book shows you how to use competency-based behavioral interviewing methods that will uncover truly relevant and useful information.
The Essential Guide to Family & Medical Leave, 3rd edition
This book provides information and forms you need to comply with the FMLA and answers vital questions such as “Who qualifies for leave?” and “How much leave can employees take?”
HR Transformation: Building Human Resources from the Outside In
Named as BusinessWeek’s No. 1 Management Educator, expert Dave Ulrich and his team of authors bring human resources a whole new way of thinking and practicing — moving the focus from internal issues to actively helping to set business strategies. Businesses of the future need “all hands on deck” when implementing new ways to stimulate growth and cost-efficiency, and this includes human resources.
New Employee Orientation Training
A flexible, icon-driven format and dozens of worksheets, exercises, handouts and assessments allow you to develop customized new employee training. Includes companion CD-ROM
Business-Focused HR: 11 Processes to Drive Results
Business-Focused HR provides the tools for HR leaders and people managers across the organization to become more business-focused with the processes that they execute.
From Hello to Goodbye: Proactive Tips for Maintaining Positive Employee Relations
The lessons provided in this best-selling book will make you more proactive and prepared, and will reinforce the fact that a successful last day of work begins on that very first day of work.
Aligning Human Resources and Business Strategy, 2nd edition
Approved for Strategic Credit
Learn how to strengthen the relationship between people strategy and business success through your approach to performance and development, and impress at the highest levels.
Lean HR: Introducing Process Excellence to Your Practice
Lean principles have been used for years in the manufacturing world, and have started to make an impact in the office as well. These tools can provide the foundation to building a systematic approach to improving your HR practice and lowering costs.
Supervisor’s Guide to Labor Relations
This booklet outlines in practical language the do’s and don’ts of avoiding unfair labor practices during an organizing campaign.
Becoming the Evidence-Based Manager: Making the Science of Management Work for You
This book covers a wide range of critical people management skills, such as hiring, inspiring, training, developing, motivating and coaching. Readers gain a thorough understanding of how to put the science of management to work for themselves and their organizations.
180 Ways to Spread Contagious Enthusiasm
This handbook gives you 180 morale-boosting ideas to help you bring more caring, communication, respect, and appreciation to the place where you work.
Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want
Studies confirm that career development is the most powerful tool managers have for driving retention, engagement, productivity and results. This book identifies the tools you need.
The Essential Guide to Federal Employment Laws, 4th edition
The new edition of this best-selling guide covers 20 of the most important federal employment laws, including the FLSA, the FMLA and the ADA, and provides plain-language explanations of what each law allows and prohibits; which businesses must comply; record-keeping, posting and reporting requirements; penalties for violating the law; and more.
301 Ways to Have Fun at Work
301 Ways to Have Fun at Work offers a complete resource anyone can use to create a dynamic workplace that encourages and inspires fun-and-games camaraderie among employees.
Dealing with Problem Employees, 6th edition
Filled with proven techniques and effective solutions for managing problem employees, this book covers a broad range of topics — from avoiding bad hires to legally firing workers who won’t improve.
A Necessary Evil: Managing Employee Activity on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn … and the Hundreds of Other Social Media Sites
This first-of-its-kind people management book will help managers guide employees in their use of social media sites while balancing productivity, and it will help HR professionals set policies that do both.
The Employer’s Legal Handbook: Manage Your Employees and Workplace Effectively
This guide shows you how to comply with the most recent workplace laws and regulations, run a safe and fair workplace, and avoid lawsuits.
Employment Law: The Essential HR Desk Reference
As a human resources professional, it’s important to have quick access to the information you need to do your job. Employment Law: The Essential HR Desk Reference is an all-in-one, easy-to-read guide every HR pro should have handy.
The Job Description Handbook, 3rd edition
This all-in-one resource can help you create HR documents that provide the details of every job’s duties, requirements, qualifications and much more. Includes a CD-ROM.
Social Media Strategies for Professionals and Their Firms
Social Media Strategies for Professionals and Their Firms shows professionals and marketers a new approach to familiar marketing tactics, and it offers step-by-step instructions on how to put social media to work for your professional practice.
Perfect Phrases Series
Packed with hundreds of handy phrases, these quick-reference guides can be real lifesavers — on the job, at school, anywhere.
The Power of Stay Interviews for Engagement and Retention
“In today’s world, employees are such an important asset to the success of any business. Every employee who voluntarily leaves their company is a financial and cultural loss to the organization. Retention has become such a burning issue for so many companies. The author reminds us that it’s not rocket science, there is no silver bullet, it simply comes down to knowing what makes an employee want to stay one person at a time, and holding managers accountable for doing so.” — Lisa Doyle, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, St. David’s HealthCare
How to Measure Human Resource Management
The basic methodology in this book enable you to objectively evaluate all your HR activities including staff planning, pay and benefits systems, employee and labor relations, HRIS services, and more!
Up, Down and Sideways: High-Impact Verbal Communication for HR Professionals
This book was written to help HR practitioners — at all levels — become better verbal communicators, thereby making them better at their jobs and more valuable to their companies.
The Performance Appraisal Handbook
The Performance Appraisal Handbook is a must-read for every manager, whether you’re writing a performance review for the first time or the hundredth.
The HR Scorecard
HR’s strategic role begins with designing an HR architecture — the HR function, the HR system, and strategic employee behaviors — that emphasizes and reinforces the implementation of the firm’s strategy.
Handbook of Compensation and Benefits Formulas
In the past three decades, the world of compensation and benefits has experienced a revolution. And, while the role of today’s total rewards professionals has become more strategic and business oriented, some fundamentals of the job will always hold true. One such fundamental is math. In this “Handbook of Compensation and Benefits Formulas,” World at Work Press has combined two of its most popular math-oriented resources: “Calculate This!” and “Excel Tips,” a collection of nearly 100 columns.
On September 30 EEO-1 Reports are due.
What companies are required to file the EEO-1 report?
A. All companies that meet the following criteria are required to file the EEO-1 report annually:
- Subject to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, with 100 or more employees; or
- Subject to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, with fewer than 100 employees if the company is owned by or corporately affiliated with another company and the entire enterprise employs a total of 100 or more employees; or
- Federal government prime contractors or first-tier subcontractors subject to Executive Order 11246,as amended, with 50 or more employees and a prime contract or first-tier subcontract amounting to $50,000 or more.
Do I need to file if my company has fewer than 50 employees but does have a federal government contract worth $50,000 or more?
A. No, your company must meet both requirements of 50 employees and the government contract worth $50,000 or more.
To learn more go to http://www.eeoc.gov/employers/eeo1survey/faq.cfm
I just blasted through about a dozen HR magazines and blogs. Here is a highlight of the most important things discussed:
- The Affordable Care Act – no surprise here. This will be a one-time event and then we’ll be getting back to normal. Not surprisingly the Administration called a one year time-out!
- Mobility – both in terms of mobility of employees as well as their mobile technologies. How it affects everything from monitoring wage and hour, productivity, communication needs, etc.
- Gaming – the buzzword in software development is “gameification.” For example, how can we make an HRIS system fun to use? How can we create contests among different HR executives using similar software programs? How do we reward employees using social media and software platforms?
- Just-in-time demands – With change occurring so rapidly, HR has to be agile, nimble, and tactile. Even better, be the change and not just a reactant to it. As the saying goes “you’re either the actor or the audience.”
- Branding – people are finally starting get it that the same concepts used to support making efforts with customers should be utilized to brand to job applicants and employees. As I’ve stated for years we treat our clients and customers in color but our employees in black and white. Time to cut that nonsense out!
- Adopting a consultative HR role – Over recent years companies have been hiring HR consultants to be employees. The change in language identifies the fact that they want these executives to help them work not just in the business but on it as well. They’re looking for the value-added beyond policies and procedures.
- Managing how work gets done – this is one of my favorite subjects to discuss. What goal do you have to help increase the productivity of your workforce? What technologies and methodologies are you using to get there? How will you manage collaboration with outsourced teams to get these projects done? One program I really like is www.halogensoftware.com.
- Everything’s moving into the cloud – in general this is a good thing even though it will take some adjustments. Certainly there are some risk management concerns that should be addressed upfront. Then of course there’s the training on usage of cloud technologies.
- Lastly, constantly evolving laws – legislatures and politicians are in business for one reason—to make laws. Therefore you can expect to see ever evolving laws offering ever evolving rights to employees. What we’re seeing now is less legislation and more regulation. When the administration presses to the regulatory edge, you can expect employers and courts to push back.
What are you seeing happen in your workplace related to these trends and what are you doing about it?
“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” –Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
This issue discusses:
- Editor’s Column: The HR Alchemist
- Sexual Harassment: Some Folks Still Don’t Get It!
- Weed and Work
- The Importance of Testing Employees
- Question of the Month
We have also provided you with the Form of the Month.
Please click here to view the newsletter in PDF.
Editor’s Column: The HR Alchemist
In one of my favorite New Age books, The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho discusses four obstacles to realizing the journey towards our Personal Legend:
- The first obstacle is resignation to failure. We’re told from childhood onward that everything we want to do is impossible. In many cases, we’re the ones telling ourselves this – and we believe it!
- The second obstacle is misunderstood love. Says Coelho, “We know what we want to do, but are afraid of hurting those around us by abandoning everything in order to pursue our dream.” In a sense, we’re afraid to change because the people around us might not love us as much if we do. For example, they might view us as a threat, mirror our own inadequacies, or break away from the norm or culture. Coelho encourages us to accept that love is a stimulus; that the people who truly love us want the best for us: to be worthy of the miracle of life.
- The third obstacle is the fear of failure. According to Coelho, “We warriors of light must be prepared to have patience in difficult times and to know that the Universe is conspiring in our favor, even though we might not understand how.” In my personal experience, when we follow our passions we get what we ask for—just not when or how we expect it. There is no journey without roadblocks, setbacks, and challenges. This is what strengthens us. Our character is no different than our muscles: You use it or you lose it.
- Finally, there’s the obstacle of self-sabotage. As Oscar Wilde said: “Each man kills the thing he loves.” According to Coelho, the mere possibility of getting what we want fills our souls with guilt. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be so fortunate when there are so many people in pain? Do I somehow think that I’m now better than other people because of my success?” The ancient Greek term was hubris. When we become too full of ourselves and our accomplishments, the end is near. That’s why the journey is never about arriving, but traveling forever. Coelho says, “I’ve known a lot of people who, when their personal calling was within their grasp, went on to commit a series of stupid mistakes and never reach their goal—when it was only a step away.” I know many of those people too.
When you think about your career, where have these obstacles shown up? Where do you have personal doubts about your ability to accomplish your Personal Legend? Who or what is attempting to hold you back from meeting these goals—or is this a story of your own making? Are you willing to accept that the journey toward success is guaranteed to come with more suffering than for those who are willing to simply be comfortable? Finally, are you willing to find joy in your success without the need to sabotage it?
Here are some Coelho quotes from The Alchemist:
- “If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”
- “There is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth.”
- “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation.”
- “The only reason why each day feels the same as the next is because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.”
- “I’m an adventurer, looking for treasure.”
- “Making a decision is only the beginning of things. When you make a decision, you’re really diving into a strong current that will carry you to places you had never dreamed of when you first made the decision.”
- “When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream”
- “Every search begins with good beginner’s luck. Every search ends with the victors being tested severely.”
- “When you possess great treasures within you, and try to tell others about them, you are seldom believed.”
- “When something evolves, so does everything around it as well.”
- “When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”
- “The world’s greatest lie is that we lose control of our own lives and must let them be controlled by fate.”
- “Be worthy of the miracle of life.”
Sexual Harassment: Some Folks Still Don’t Get It!
The recent Westendorf v. West Coast decision by the Ninth Federal Circuit Court of Appeals offers yet another example of management’s failure to understand that sexually hostile behavior is not permitted in the workplace. In this case, the boss and coworkers said the plaintiff was doing “girly work,” talked about the large breasts of another woman with her, made tampon jokes, joked about orgasms, and eventually started cursing at her. As mentioned in previous articles, whether she eventually ends up winning or losing isn’t the point. Either way, the employer now finds itself as a named defendant in a nationally publicized lawsuit that will cost it tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars to defend what amounts to stupid and boorish conduct.
In this case, the plaintiff never reported the alleged harassment to a human resources officer. Perhaps if she had an alternative channel of complaint other than through the ranks, she would’ve received appropriate attention. Apparently the boss did admonish a manager and coworkers to quit the harassment, but when they continued it, the plaintiff just couldn’t take it anymore.
The court ruled that although the sexually hostile conduct was not severe or pervasive enough to alter the terms of her employment and support a sexual harassment claim, she might have faced retaliation for bringing the claims in the first place. It’s important to note even though this case was decided on April 1, 2013 dealing with conduct that ended in July 2008, it has yet to go to trial! I can only imagine what it could have, and should have, been settled for soon after filing, rather than slogging through the courts for the past five years. This doesn’t benefit either the plaintiff or the defendant – but it certainly helps fill counsel’s billable hour requirements.
Weed and Work
In 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana use for those 21 and older. Voters in Oregon, a state which allows medical marijuana use, rejected recreational use in 2012.
States that currently allow medical marijuana use include Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Montana, and Washington. Rest assured, more are on the way.
The question is how do these statutes affect employers? The Colorado law states that “nothing in this section is intended to require an employer to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale or growing of marijuana in the work place or to affect the ability of employers have policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees.” The Washington statute does not mention using marijuana in the employment setting.
Of course, federal law prohibits marijuana use, whether medicinal or recreational. Additionally, the Department of Transportation does not accept medical marijuana as an alternative medical explanation. Every decision on this issue agrees that private-sector employers can discipline, terminate, or not hire employees who test positive for marijuana even if properly used under state law. However, Connecticut’s law specifically bans employers from acting against workers who use medical marijuana off-duty. It will be interesting to see how this law is interpreted. For example, if somebody smoked a ton of weed one evening, and they come to work fuzzyheaded, would an employer have the right to test them? Or suppose they smoked on the way to work or during a break?
HR That Works members should check their state laws in the BNA State Law Summaries.
The Importance of Testing Employees
Here’s a fact: Half of all employees test better than the other half! My question is: Which half do you have?
Testing job applicants and employees is one of the favorite topics in my CEO and HR workshops. Because most companies don’t do appropriate testing, those that do enjoy a significant advantage. I like to begin the subject with a story. Years ago, as I was quitting my litigation practice, a legal secretary (we’ll call her Sue) came into my office and wanted to sue the firm she had been working for. The fact that a law firm could be sued by one of its employees came as no surprise. Lawyers get sued by their employees more than just about anyone else –and we rely on lawyers’ advice so we don’t get sued! A little Catch-22 in the system, you might say.
To keep the story short, it turns out this legal secretary had a steady job at neighboring law firm, working for a partner for 15 years. At the same time, a litigation partner at another firm lost his legal secretary with only last-minute notice. He put the word out on the grapevine that he was looking for a replacement, and that’s where Sue met up with him. After meeting for a pleasant lunch, the attorney figured that she had 15 years of experience doing the very job he was hiring for, she seemed pleasant enough and so he hired her on the spot. To Sue’s surprise, almost immediately after coming to work, he started expressing his disappointment with her productivity. This went on for three months until he fired her without any offer of severance. Sue was a single mom with two kids to raise on her own and no job; that’s what prompted her to walk into my office.
I asked her if she and the attorney discussed any performance benchmarks or requirements at their one meeting. They had not. Understand this: a legal secretary types about half of the day; and half of them type above average and half below average (this holds true for programmers and retail sales clerks as well). Personally, I’ve never hired a legal secretary who typed less than 100 words per minute. When I asked Sue how fast she typed, she told me approximately 80 words per minute. She found out by testing herself years ago. None of her employers had ever tested her. I then tracked down the previous legal secretary; according to a test she took, she typed approximately 100 words per minute. Therein lies the moral to this story – the woman in my office was a failure on the first day of her employment and nobody knew about that fact!
This begs the question, “How many people walk into your company a failure on the first day and no one knows about it?” It makes no difference who you’re hiring, including rocket scientists, what’s the range of skill sets at your company? Without testing, you’re only guessing.
Let’s take this idea one step further. According to both Dr. Edwards Deming and Peter Drucker (perhaps the two greatest management gurus of all time), nine out of ten people want to do a good job every day—and their inability to do so is generally due to a system failure rather than a lack of motivation. Let me give you an example of how this plays out: at about the same time Sue walked into my office, I was consulting with a law firm that was having turnover problems. With the economy growing at the time, the larger firms were simply throwing more money at these employees. Although this was unrelated to my assignment, it dawned on me to ask them a basic question: “Have you tested all of your legal secretaries?” Turns out they had not – so that’s exactly what we did. We tested them not only on their typing, but also on the substantive and procedural knowledge that their job required.
Here’s what we learned: In most law firms, the attorneys get no management training and generally there are two attorneys to each secretary. Let’s assume that two of those attorneys manage intuitively above average and another two happen to manage below average. Now let’s say there’s a legal secretary who types 80 wpm for an above-average manager. The other secretary types 100 wpm for a below-average manager. Who do you think is viewed as the better secretary at the end of the day? When I ask this at workshops, most people respond “the one who types 80 wpm for a good manager.” This secretary gets the better performance evaluation and the raise—which makes absolutely no sense.
You can, and should, test for every essential skillset. For example, a few years ago I helped a real estate investment firm hire a CFO. Because they were Good to Great fans and wanted to have a great company, they decided to have a great CFO. When it came to testing, we decided to address the three essential skillset categories: substantive knowledge of accounting (GAAP), QuickBooks, and finally, Excel (because they used it for their real estate deals). So I contacted SHL (who I’ll talk about in a bit) and we set up tests for qualified job applicants. These tests cost us between $17 and $30 each. Because we wanted a CFO in the top 10% of skillsets, we decided that they would have to test in the top 20% of all three categories. It took us months to find that CFO, and in the meantime we used Account Temps. That’s the type of testing discipline you must go through if you want to have great employees.
For the past ten years, I’ve recommended only one company to do skill testing because I believe that it’s the best. When I first met them they were known as BrainBench. They were then acquired by PreVisor, and finally by the largest testing company in the world, SHL. Our contact is Jason Finney (email@example.com). He is awesome and is surrounded by a great team. You can contact Jason to set up tests for your job applicants and existing employees. Not only will this help you to hire better, it will also help explain a lot of what’s going on with performance and what training you need to improve it.
Here’s what SHL users have said about testing: www.shl.com/us/results/client-results/. If you think this sounds like an endorsement of SHL, you’re right. So use them!
If you’d like a certificate for a free test from SHL, contact Jason directly and he’ll get it to you. If you’re an HR That Works Member, watch the one-hour webinar I did with Ken Lahti, one of the testing experts at SHL.
I also think it’s important to use skill tests when you hire consultants. How do you really know if they’re any good without testing them? For example, when we built HR That Works on a SharePoint platform, how did I know if our project manager was an expert or not? Yes, we were using a Microsoft Certified Partner, but that didn’t mean that the individual project manager was at the top of his game. Fortunately, he took a SharePoint test and scored very high, thus justifying my faith in his skills. Don’t trust the skillsets of employees, applicants, or third parties blindly—test for them!
As a final note, the skill testing I’m talking about is separate from character assessment. Fact is, you can’t fail your personality, so they don’t call them personality tests. However, it’s true that people can have failing personalities—and these are the people to make sure you don’t hire!
Question of the Month
What are the laws about employees bringing guns to the workplace?
After doing research, I can tell you that the NRA has the most extensive summary of the laws at www.nraila.org/news-issues/issues/workers-protection-private-property.aspx. You’ll find the opposite side of the coin at www.csgv.org/issues-and-campaigns/guns-democracy-and-freedom/guns-in-the-workplace.
For a comprehensive media report on this issue, go to www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-12/guns-to-work-laws-spread-in-u-s-as-business-fights-group.html. You’ll find a great overall report from PLI at www.bakerdonelson.com/files/Uploads/Documents/Guns_at_the_Workplace_5-520-4933.pdf.
Finally, check your State Law Summary on HR That Works.
Form of the Month
How to Be a Great Assistant (PDF) – I recently did a CEO workshop where the members applauded the fact that one of them had finally hired an executive assistant. When he asked if any of them had guidelines, he was pleased to learn that HR That Work offers such a template.
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©2013 Reprinted with permission from HRThatWorks.com, a powerful program designed to inspire great HR practices.
In an unanticipated announcement by U.S. Department of the Treasury in an blog posting yesterday afternoon, the Obama administration has delayed for a year the employer-mandate, commonly referred to as “play or pay” provision, of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). So as to implement the ACA in a “careful and thoughtful” manner this was posted. According to the Treasury “we expect to publish proposed rules implementing these provisions this summer”. We’ll let you know when they do!
Now everyone can take a deep breath. It would be nice for the Administration to get its act together so implementation of these laws don’t cause unnecessary stress and confusion!
“Great work is at the edge of your confidence.” – Michael Bungay Stanier, Box of Crayons
This issue discusses:
- Editor’s Column: What Can Employers Do to Prevent Psychiatric Stress Claims?
- Assessing the Effectiveness of Wellness Programs
- Workplace Harassment: Can’t We All Just Get Along?
- What’s Most Important in HR?
- The ADA After FMLA
- Eight Key Provisions in Your Sales Commission Agreement
- California Auto Dealer Must Pay for Waiting Time of Repair Staff
- Question of the Month
We have also provided you with the Form of the Month.
Please click here to view the newsletter in PDF.
Editor’s Column: What Can Employers Do to Prevent Psychiatric Stress Claims?
According to the California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Workers Compensation, employers can and should try to prevent these unwanted exposures. Here’s what they recommend…which just so happens to be good management practices, period:
For victims of traumatic, violent or frightening events, critical incident debriefings and trainings are appropriate as soon as possible after the incident. Post-trauma support groups and individual counseling might also be helpful.
Employers can reduce stress from changes in the workplace by ensuring effective communication with employees by:
- Using newsletters, staff meetings, and individual contact between managers and workers.
- Establishing internal complaint procedures and informal dispute resolution systems as outlets for employees to have their concerns heard and addressed.
- Soliciting formal and informal input from employees about ways to make the work environment more productive and less stressful.
Managers can also improve the management of job-related injury cases so that physical injuries don’t lead to psychiatric stress injuries. The same principle applies to dealing with employees who have pre-existing mental problems or stress issues that might be subject to complications in the workplace.
In addition to considering modified duty adjustments and rehabilitation needs for injured workers, supervisors can help resolve problems or personal issues that don’t relate directly to the injury, but can impact employees’ readiness to return to work.
Firms should implement confidential employee assistance programs that acknowledge the interrelationship between personal and work problems and encourage stressed employees to seek help.
Be sure to provide managers and supervisors with training on the basics of effective supervision. Here are some helpful tips:
- Set realistic goals for workers.
- Make sure that workers have the resources and authority to meet assigned responsibilities.
- Give individuals an opportunity to offer input on actions that affect their jobs.
- Monitor and document worker performance.
- Let workers know how they’re doing and what the expectations are for improvement.
- Reinforce and reward good job performance.
- Learn how to cooperate with resolution efforts.
- Maintain confidentiality.
- Learn constructive confrontation with troubled employees.
- Identify behavior patterns that might indicate problems requiring professional assistance.
- Make effective referrals to employee assistance programs.
- Comply with legal restrictions against any form of sexual harassment or discrimination.
Sounds like common sense to me.
Assessing the Effectiveness of Wellness Programs
The jury is still out on whether wellness programs generate a significant return on investment. The fact is that getting people to change their behavior is difficult – which reminds me of an old joke I’ve changed for these circumstances:
Question: How many wellness coaches does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: Only one, but the light bulb really has to want to change!
Those who promote wellness programs claim that they’re the be-all and the end-all of healthcare problems. This is clearly an overstatement: there has been little evidence of these programs dramatically reducing the costs of healthcare (See the Rand Report). Of course, there are other reasons for businesses to encourage wellness programs for their workers—reduced absenteeism/ increased presenteeism, higher productivity, less use of sick pay, etc.
In light of a 2012 study of client outcomes by Wellness Coaches of USA, which paints a much rosier picture than does the Rand report, health care cost expert Wendy Lynch recommends that businesses ask these questions in evaluating the effectiveness of wellness programs:
- How much money did the program spend on people who didn’t change?
- How many people gained weight or increased their health risk?
- To what extent were any improvements in health sustained?
- What was the control group or company used to compare results? Would the impact have been any different without the program?
- Which risk factors changed (i.e. did employees have more servings of vegetables?)
- What was the cost per risk change?
As Wendy reminds us, every dollar spent on benefits (and wellness programs) comes from the employees’ pocket—which means that you’re substituting these programs for better wages, training, bonuses, or new equipment/technology. Ask yourself if investing in these areas will be more cost-effective in helping employees do their jobs than offering them wellness programs.
Although I’m a great believer in wellness, I believe that people are primarily self-motivated. I live a healthy life because I am personally motivated to do so, but most people don’t have the same motivation. As Wendy Lynch will tell you, factors such as management of sick leave, compensation plans, and return-to-work programs play a far greater role than wellness programs in curbing employer health care costs.
Wendy also noted that the Wellness Coaches study compares 2012 client outcomes to those of 2009. We all remember 2009 as one of the most stressful years in recent memory, which had a significant effect on the health, exercise level, and general disposition of employees. It’s like saying that a company made more money in 2012 than in 2009, while ignoring the impact of the recession. Sometimes variables completely outside of your control have a greater impact than those you can manage.
Join us on August 1st at 2PM EST for a webinar with Wendy entitled Winning the Race to Optimal Performance: Best Practices in Policy Alignment & Transparency.
Workplace Harassment: Can’t We All Just Get Along?
This case reminds me of the Bronx neighborhood where I grew up, except that it happened in upstate New York. The employer was a door-to-door transport company for the elderly and disabled. Apparently the Italian-American managers and workers gave their Black and Puerto Rican workers a hard time. The question in the case was whether their conduct, as boorish and bullying as it was, constituted racial harassment.
The court decided that there was enough evidence of racial hostility to take the case to trial in Rivera v. Rochester Genessee Regional Transportation Authority.
Comment: One has to believe that management had a good idea that this conduct was going on and chose to look the other way. It could be Christians abusing Muslims, men harassing women, or straights hassling gays. The point: Whenever you have a mix of cultures, races, genders, or sexual orientations in the workplace you have the potential for poor conduct. Smart employers will recognize this challenge and meet it head on by banning abusive behavior. I encourage HR That Works Members to review the Diversity and Discrimination Training Module and related materials.
What’s Most Important in HR?
Here’s the answer to this question by more than 200 companies in the 2013 HR That Works Member Survey.
This is one of my favorite questions because helps clarify what is really most important to companies about HR. (Unlike a competitive program, which claims that the No. 1 job of HR is preventing lawsuits!) Interestingly, retention squeaked back into second place for the first time since 2008, which means that the economy is improving and employers are concerned about turnover as jobs begin to open up. As in past years, employers are highly concerned about training. HR That Works has more than 130 training titles, as well as a Learning Management System (LMS).
Of course, employers remain concerned about getting poor performers off the bus and dealing with the Affordable Care Act. Again, HR That Works offers tools, webinars, etc. and other programs to help with these concerns.
P.S. Although legal exposures tend to get all the press, preventing lawsuits came within All Other Responses. This is just one reason why HR That Works is unique—we encourage practices that help grow companies, not just protect them!
The ADA After FMLA
In Sanchez v. Swissport, Ms. Anna Sanchez was employed by Swissport from August 2007 until July 14, 2009 as a cleaning agent. Around February 27, 2009 she was diagnosed with a high-risk pregnancy that would require bed rest. To help, Swissport provided her 19 weeks of leave, consisting of accrued vacation time, in addition to the time allowed by the California Family Rights Act (FMLA equivalent) and the California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (which offers four months of leave). Essentially, Sanchez told the company that she would be able to come back to work after delivering her baby on October 19. Instead, the company terminated her on July 14, claiming that it had exhausted all its legal obligations.
The question in the case is whether The Fair Employment and Housing Act (the ADA equivalent) applies even after the plaintiff had exhausted all of her leave and—big surprise—the answer is yes. Essentially, Swissport had to show that keeping her job open for another 12 weeks or so would have been an undue burden. Unfortunately, because the company never entered into an accommodation dialogue with Sanchez, the case was allowed to continue to trial.
The lesson for employers is clear: No matter the state you are in, you must continue the accommodation dialogue. If an extended absence would pose an undue burden, you had better be able to prove this; guessing will only get you in trouble.
Eight Key Provisions in Your Sales Commission Agreement
Many an employer has engaged in litigation with current or former salespeople who claimed that they were not paid commissions earned. Some states, such as California, require companies to put commission agreements in writing, which is a good idea, whether or not it’s mandatory. Here are provisions that should be found in most all commission agreements.
- The date of earning commissions. Is it the time the sale was made, the money was collected, etc.?
- The date of paying commissions. This is usually the next available pay period.
- The management of draws against commissions. How long does the draw last? What if commissions never exceed the draw?
- Dealing with commissions when employment is terminated.
- The treatment of commission reductions when a customer fails to pay or returns an item.
- The commission split if the sale involves more than one person.
- The level of profitability required for a sale to earn a commission.
- The period of commission payments if the sale involves ongoing payments (i.e. a service contract) For example, a salesperson might receive commissions for six months, after which the item becomes a house account).
HR That Works has an extensive Employment Agreement which includes commission provisions.
California Auto Dealer Must Pay for Waiting Time of Repair Staff
In Gonzales v. Downtown LA Motors, a California appeals court ruled that the employer’s method of compensation violated minimum wage law because state law prohibits an employer from paying employees for all hours worked by averaging total compensation over total hours worked in any period. The court ordered the auto dealer to pay minimum wage for the waiting time of repair mechanics.
Most auto repair facilities pay mechanics a flat rate for a repair job based on its “book value.” This piecework approach satisfies minimum wage obligations if the total compensation paid over the pay period averages at least minimum wage both for repair and waiting time. However, the California statute differs from federal law because it requires paying minimum wage for “each and every separate hour worked.”
The court noted that this requirement is distinct from the federal statute, which “requires payment of minimum wage to employees who in any workweek are engaged in commerce.”
You can imagine the potential exposure to similar claims for auto repair facilities in California. For example, in this case, the trial court indicated that the plaintiffs lost $553,653 in uncompensated time—and that the value of the waiting time, including interest was $1,555,078. The ruling also awarded penalties of $237,840 for the willful failure to pay all wages owed at the time the employees were terminated.
The Gonzalez case included amici curie briefs filed by the California Employment Lawyers Association, the National Automobile Dealers Association, the California Automotive Business Coalition, the California New Car Dealers Association, and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. This decision will remain the law unless the California Supreme Court overturns it (which is unlikely), or the state legislature changes the existing rule. Either way, it represents an enormous windfall for auto repair workers in the state and their attorneys.
Question of the Month
How would you deign a compensation package for a self-directed work team in an office setting?
- Understand what you would have to pay to hire these folks today. The market determines their going rate, not you.
- Pay up to 15% above market grade in total compensation to attract top 10% employees. I find that paying more returns little value.
- Reward what you want to incentivize…team play. Offer a bonus of 10% to 15% based on the team’s productivity. Let them own the benchmarks where possible. Publish progress reports where everyone can see it.
- When employees or the entire team go the extra mile, give them “spot rewards:” tickets, cash, an afternoon off, etc. Surprise them and you will motivate them.
- Give rewards for new ideas generated at monthly suggestion meetings.
Do this, and you’ll be far ahead of most. I don’t like making things complicated—the above suggestions are about as simple and straightforward as possible.
Is there anything you would add to this list? Please e-mail your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Form of the Month
Employee Value Checklist (PDF) – In our hypercompetitive and stressed work environment, there’s no substitute for an employee understanding how they bring value to your company. Smart companies will actually help to identify the benchmarks supporting any one of these value propositions.
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©2013 Reprinted with permission from HRThatWorks.com, a powerful program designed to inspire great HR practices.
The DOL claims that the final rules show that the Obama administration “supports wellness programs, which generally are available without regard to an individual’s health status. These include programs that reimburse for the cost of membership in a fitness center; that provide a reward to employees for attending a monthly, no-cost health education seminar; or that reward employees who complete a health risk assessment, without requiring them to take further action.
“The rules also outline standards for nondiscriminatory health-contingent wellness programs, which generally reward individuals who meet a specific standard related to their health. Examples of health-contingent wellness programs include programs that provide a reward to those who do not use, or decrease their use of, tobacco, or programs that reward those who achieve a specified health-related goal, such as a specified cholesterol level, weight, or body mass index, as well as those who fail to meet such goals but take certain other healthy actions.”
In addition the rules increase the maximum reward that may be offered under appropriately designed wellness programs, including outcome-based programs. Health-contingent wellness programs must be reasonably designed, made uniformly available to all similarly situated individuals and accommodate recommendations made at any time by an individual’s physician, based on medical appropriateness.
The final rules will be effective for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2014. To learn more go to:
- Final regulations, available at http://www.ofr.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2013-12916_PI.pdf
- Workplace Wellness Programs Study: Final Report, available at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/pdf/workplacewellnessstudyfinal.pdf and the HHS cover letter, available at http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/13/WorkplaceWellness/rpt_wellness.cfm
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been busy updating its disability related regulations and materials. All employers should review the info here.
The EEOC has also released four revised publications on protection against disability discrimination in the workplace. The publications describe how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to job applicants and employees with cancer, diabetes, intellectual disabilities. You can find these documents on the EEOC website under “Disability Discrimination, The Question and Answer Series.”
Many people with common mental health conditions have a right to a reasonable accommodation at work under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). When requesting accommodations, employees may sometimes need supporting documentation from their mental health providers. An EEOC fact sheet briefly explains the law on reasonable accommodation and the mental health provider’s role in the process. Click here to read more.
I recently received this email from a competitor of ours, BLR. While I believe they have excellent compliance resources I also believe they are dead wrong in what is most important.
You see, the #1 goal of HR should be to help grow the company. That’s the biggest risk ownership will ever face. That’s what they tell us in our surveys and in my workshops with them. That means you help hire well, drive performance and retain your winners. Guess what?…do that and chances are you don’t get sued. And, any exposure to an EPLI claim should be capped with the purchase of an EPLI policy.
Unfortunately, the lawyers and compliance publishers want to you live in fear, not abundance. My advice…don’t listen to that nonsense! Get your compliance blocking and tackling in place and then look to be a strategic partner. There are a ton of tools on HR That Works to help you do just that!