Trust in the Workplace = Success

In an age of constant change, company leaders are always seeking ways to be more agile and innovative. Yet, in this search for workplace balance and success, they frequently overlook the main component of success—employee trust. Trust is critical in meeting and responding to the pace of change that we’re seeing in today’s market.

Bottom line: if employees don’t trust their leaders, they cannot operate efficiently. Staff members will be reluctant to make decisions, seeking approval for every little thing. They won’t be willing to go the extra mile if they’re unsure whether others will back them up. They’ll fear sharing bad news, so problems will grow instead of being promptly addressed. They’ll be less likely to offer ideas for new products or processes if they believe leaders won’t support them or will take credit for their ideas.

Numerous studies have found that companies with high-trust cultures have greater financial success than those that don’t.

What Builds Trust

For leaders who want to develop their ability to inspire trust, here are the eight “C”’s to focus on:

  • Give employees a clear vision of where you want to go and what role they will play.
  • Leaders who care for more than just themselves inspire trust.
  • This means choosing to do what’s right rather than what’s easy.
  • Stay fresh, relevant and capable.
  • Stick with your employees in the face of adversity, and they’ll do the same for you.
  • Cultivate strong relationships with workers. Ask questions. Find common ground.
  • In other words, produce results.
  • What we do all the time shapes what others expect of us. It is important to know your rights and obligations as an employer, as each individual situation is different.

If you need assistance with creating an inclusive workplace or any other HR related matter, please reach out to your assigned DecisionHR Human Resources Business Partner at 1-888-828-5511.

Unemployment Insurance, Who Decides?

Who makes the decision on whether a person is eligible to collect unemployment insurance? Well, many workers believe that it is an “earned benefit,” and that as an employee they’ve “paid into the system” via payroll taxes. This leads to the common misunderstanding that anyone who is unemployed, regardless of the reason, is therefore “entitled” to collect unemployment benefits.

On the other hand, employers may feel that they can decide which of their employees may collect unemployment benefits. If they want a person to be paid (or not paid) unemployment benefits, or they inform the state they want the person to collect (or not collect), their belief is that the state will pay (or decline) based solely on their recommendation.

This is a common misconception. The reality is that workers do not pay for unemployment, and employers don’t have the final say with regard to who is eligible to collect. The state makes the ultimate decision.

Unemployment is paid for by employers, either through unemployment payroll taxes (private employers) or a dollar for dollar reimbursement to the state (common for governmental agencies and non-profits).
The state governs the allocation of unemployment benefits, and therefore, also determines which applicants are eligible and how much they may collect. Because employers and separated workers may not see eye to eye on the reason for the separation, the state plays the role of the impartial third party and is the final arbitrator that determines which claimants will be awarded benefits and which will not.

The unemployment system was designed to be a helping hand for workers that lose their jobs through no fault of their own. The classic example is a layoff due to the employer having no more available work or downsizing.

However, the unemployment system has developed into an intricately complex system that processes claims filed by workers that have separated from work for countless different reasons or, in some cases, may even still be employed. The state unemployment offices have specific written laws and procedures that have to be followed when determining eligibility for collecting unemployment benefits, and the laws and procedures are different in every state.

DecisionHR has years of expertise with regard to unemployment law and state specific regulations. We take the separation information provided by you and present it to each state in a way that maximizes your chances of winning the claims that, by state law, should be denied.

Here are a few reasons that benefits may be allowed:

  • A permanent separation due to lack of work
  • Still working part-time, on call or as needed based on business needs
  • Quit with good cause attributable to the employer
  • Discharged due to reasons that are not considered willful misconduct

Some reasons that benefits may be denied include:

  • Quit without good cause related to the work
  • Still working full time
  • Still working a set, part-time schedule that does not change or fluctuate and was agreed upon at the time of hire (certain states only)
  • Discharged for willful misconduct related to the work

It is important to know your rights and obligations as an employer, as each individual situation is different.

If you have any questions about unemployment eligibility or any other HR related matter, please reach out to your assigned DecisionHR Human Resources Business Partner at 1-888-828-5511.

How to Prevent Claims for Workplace Retaliation

How to Prevent Claims for Workplace Retaliation

Every company wants to offer a safe and productive environment conducive to optimal performance. Thus, every employer should provide a workplace where the environment enables employees to perform their best work. As defined under federal and state laws, all job applicants and employees have the right to work free from discrimination based on age, disability, national origin, race, religion, sex and other protected characteristics.

It is vital to understand that employers also may not punish workers for asserting their right to be free from employment discrimination. That’s considered workplace retaliation. To that end, when employees come forward with discrimination or harassment complaints, employers must ensure that workers aren’t retaliated against for raising these issues. Otherwise, businesses may face legal liability even when the underlying claim isn’t proven.

Additionally, the alleged protected activity—such as filing a discrimination complaint—often happens close in time to the employment action (e.g., termination, poor performance review) which makes juries perceive a connection between the two events.

Important information and recommendations are listed below to help businesses avoid this legal issue within their workplace.

Do You Know What Constitutes Retaliation?

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), it is unlawful to retaliate against job applicants or employees for:

  • Filing or being a witness in an equal employment opportunity (EEO) charge, complaint, investigation or lawsuit.
  • Discussing workplace discrimination with a supervisor or manager.
  • Answering questions during an employer investigation of alleged harassment.
  • Refusing to follow directions from a supervisor that would result in discrimination.
  • Resisting sexual advances or intervening to protect others.
  • Requesting a disability or religious accommodation.
  • Asking managers or co-workers about salary information to uncover potentially discriminatory wages.

According to the EEOC, other acts to oppose discrimination are protected as long as the employee was acting on a reasonable belief that something in the workplace may violate EEO laws, even if he or she did not use legal terminology to describe it.

Retaliatory acts include giving an employee a lower performance evaluation than merited, transferring an employee to a less desirable position because of a complaint or changing an employee’s work schedule to times that conflict with family obligations.

Have You Evaluated Your Policies?

Employers should ensure their incentive programs don’t unintentionally encourage retaliatory action. For example, if a manager’s performance is measured by the sales numbers of his or her subordinates, that manager can suffer personal financial detriment when employees take leave and he/she may keep people from taking time off and might lead to retaliation or perceived retaliation when employees take job-protected leave.

Additionally, there are some benefits to tracking employee data about issues like unexcused absenteeism, but employers have to look beyond the numbers. Perhaps workers are getting sick or otherwise absent from the workplace because of a hostile work environment.

Company policies should actively encourage employees to come forward and supervisors should be trained to promote these policies to employees each time there is a complaint or investigation.

What About a Hotline?

Creating an employee complaint hotline is one effective way for an employer to minimize exposure to workplace retaliation claims. Many of these hotlines give the employee the ability to complain anonymously, which can allow employers to solve problems quickly and with minimal disruption.

Take Action!

  • Preserve evidence. Save e-mails, personnel files and other documents that can allow you to tell your side of the story and back it up with concrete proof.
  • Assess whether additional retaliation might occur. For instance, if the complaining employee is still employed, steps should be taken to minimize further retaliatory action.
  • Investigate the claim. Depending on the situation, an internal investigation or one conducted by outside counsel may be appropriate.
  • Employers should also carefully consider their response. Common mistakes employers make in response to such claims or charges are that they:
    – Leave out details and facts.
    – Submit erroneous information.
    – Justify the challenged employment decision on an incomplete or incorrect understanding of the facts.

When retaliation is likely, the company should take swift action to prevent it, such as separating supervisors and subordinates when the situation calls for it or requiring additional approvals for actions taken by supervisors who have been accused of wrongful conduct.

If you have any questions about this or any other HR related matter, please reach out to your assigned DecisionHR Human Resources Business Partner at 1-888-828-5511 .

Leadership Tip – Ways to Inspire your Employees to be the Best!

Leadership Tip – Ways to Inspire your Employees to be the Best!

Change isn’t easy. When a company transforms the way it does business, it’s a roller coaster of emotions for everyone. Even when the change is smaller or “business as usual,” the transition can be difficult and frustrating.

In today’s typical company, up to 80% of employees’ days are spent working in teams. The benefits can be enormous: higher-quality and faster problem-solving, a diversity of knowledge and experience that leads to better customer service and speedier responses (due to fewer layers of bureaucracy). A company wants to avoid creating teams that are dysfunctional because it drains employee energy, enthusiasm and creativity.

As a leader in your organization, it is important to position your team members for both long- and short-term success. Here are ten ways to lead by example and inspire your employees to be the best.

  • Keep remote workers focused. Conduct weekly one-on-one updates and quarterly goal-setting to better focus your remote employees (as well as everyone else on your team).
  • Learn employees’ stories. Sit down with each of your direct reports for 15 minutes at least every few days and learn their stories. Ask about each person’s hopes and goals for the future. Take notes.
  • Find their flow. Ask each of your direct reports to identify the most satisfying aspects of their jobs so that more of these tasks can be incorporated into their work.
  • Recognize your MVPs. Start giving out a weekly award to recognize teammates who excel and those who do the so-called dirty work.
  • Define your purpose. You might not be able to influence the bigger company mission, but you can gather your people to define a team purpose. If you’ve already got a team purpose, get together to talk about what it means in your day-to-day work. Are you living it? Where is the team falling short? What could you all do better?
  • Better allocate your time. Conduct an inventory of how you spend your time. Is it with employees? Customers? Bosses? Paperwork?
  • Send updates. Be much more open with your team about what you are up to in your meetings and other activities. At the end of the week, ask for feedback.
  • Understand the allure. Find a way to help employees better understand your competitors’ wares and, more important, lead your team in a discussion about how to outpace your rivals.
  • Block off time in your day. Set aside the same hour every day to silence your phone, turn off your computer, and get out and connect with your team.
  • Have FUN!

If you have any questions or need help in inspiring your employees, please reach out to your assigned DecisionHR Human Resources Business Partner.

Are You Paying Your Summer Interns Correctly?

Are You Paying Your Summer Interns Correctly?

If it’s summer, it’s not only a needed break for students but a time for them to earn real-life work experience and learn more about the world awaiting them after their studies are complete.

As an employer, there are many things to keep in mind if you are bringing on interns into your organization. The first is to categorize your interns accordingly.

If an employer’s interns are “employees,” they are subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and must be paid at least the minimum wage. Interns may be exempt from the requirements of the FLSA if they can be categorized as “trainees” as defined under the law.

In January 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) provided updated guidance to reflect the criteria to identify the primary beneficiary in determining whether an employment relationship with an intern or student exists.

The seven criteria are as follows:

  1. Both parties understand that the intern is not entitled to compensation.
  2. The internship provides training that would be given in an educational environment.
  3. The intern’s completion of the program entitles him or her to academic credit.
  4. The internship corresponds with the academic calendar.
  5. The internship’s duration is limited to the period when the internship educates the intern.
  6. The intern’s work complements rather than displaces the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits.
  7. The intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job at the internship’s end.

According to the DOL, “courts have described the ‘primary beneficiary test’ as a flexible test, and no single factor is determinative. Accordingly, whether an intern or student is an employee under the FLSA necessarily depends on the unique circumstances of each case.” Refer to the DOL website for more information on internship programs.

When an employer is the primary beneficiary of the relationship, interns should be paid as employees—at least minimum wage and overtime compensation when appropriate. Although earning class credit for the internship benefits the intern and can be required by the employer, class credit is not considered wages and should not be substituted for wages.

Employers are encouraged to consult with legal counsel when designing and implementing an internship program.

If you have any questions, please reach out to your assigned DecisionHR Human Resources Business Partner at 1-888-828-5511.