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Entries with Blog Label HR Knowledge .

January 16, 2020

HR Question: Employee Engagement Surveys

Question: Can you provide some tips for developing and conducting an employee engagement survey?

Answer: An employee engagement survey can be a great tool to check the temperature of your culture. When done right, the survey can help you understand the needs of your employees, which in turn benefits productivity, job satisfaction, and supports employee retention. It is also an excellent tool to help you calibrate the quality of your leadership as well as your employee relations and talent management programs.

 

Before you start, however, ensure that the management team is ready to act on the critical feedback you’ll get. Then decide what it is you need to know. Do you want to better understand how your employees view their relationship with management, understand and support the company’s strategic direction, or learn what aspects of their work environment, compensation and benefits, work assignments, and opportunities for learning and advancement are working (or not working)?

Next, determine how you will create, disseminate, tabulate, and communicate the survey process and results. If you’re creating your own survey, consider gathering employees from different areas of the company to formulate the survey questions and include them in the employee communications process to encourage participation. This team can also be instrumental in reviewing the survey results and providing feedback about how those results should be communicated and acted upon.

Another option is to use one of the many online engagement survey tools available in the marketplace. While the questions may not be as personalized to your company issues, you can get the surveys, along with the tabulated results, done quickly.

If you do create the survey in-house, consider these best practice tips:

  • First, determine whether the survey identifies the respondents. Confidential surveys typically yield higher response rates and include more candid feedback. With these surveys, be sure to include department or other group data to assist you later in analyzing feedback and specific action items that may be tied to one group. The decision to include identifying information is generally tied to the level of openness and trust in an organization’s culture.
  • Ask relevant questions. Ask questions that employees can — and want to — answer about their employment relationship with the company.
  • Make it simple and easy to complete. Keep the survey short. Employees may not take the time to complete a lengthy survey with in-depth questions. Save those types of questions for the follow-up action planning.
  • Provide an open comment area. Give employees an opportunity to comment at the end of the survey and add any additional information not covered by the questions.
  • Make the results actionable. Follow up on survey results so employees know they are heard and appreciated.

Encourage participation by using incentives or contests. With more feedback, you’ll have a better picture of your employees’ engagement level. Train your leaders so that they are prepared to use the survey feedback as a gift to improve performance and have productive feedback and performance improvement planning sessions.

Most importantly, don’t ask for employee feedback unless you are willing to do something with the results. Your employees will expect you to implement changes and take action. Let them know how much you value and respect them by listening and acting on their opinions and ideas.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial here.

October 23, 2019

HR Question: Requiring Vacation Usage on Furlough Days

Question: Can an employer require its employees to use their accrued paid time off during an employer-required furlough? And, if salaried exempt employees work during the furlough, how is pay calculated for these employees?

Answer: Yes, an employer can require employees to use their accrued paid time off, for example vacation, for time not worked during a furlough. If an employee has no accrued time off, the employer can even put the employee into a negative paid leave balance.

Even while furloughed, however, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) applies to employees. The FLSA mandates compliance with the salary basis requirements for salaried exempt personnel. Accordingly, if such an employee performs any work during that week, the employer may not dock the employee’s pay for the absence. When a furlough is for one or more full weeks, federal law generally does not require payment to an employee.

Employers must be mindful that employees on furlough continue to accrue vacation days, sick days, and personal days, and continue to receive other benefits such as health insurance.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial here.

October 16, 2019

How to Reduce the Risk of Workplace Violence

Violence in the workplace was virtually unheard of until the 1970s but today, it is a national epidemic that affects everyone involved both physically and psychologically, and often, long term. Workplace violence as defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs in the workplace. OSHA estimates that nearly two million U.S. workers report being victims to workplace violence every year. Workplace Violence takes many forms, including homicide, assault, stalking and bullying. Because this growing issue not only has a profound effect on employee morale, company reputation and overall productivity but also leaves employers to bear the burden of lost wages due to employee absences and increased benefit payments, damage repairs, liability lawsuits and higher insurance rates, employers need to be as prepared as possible.

Taking a proactive approach in implementing procedures that address potential incidents allows employees a work environment that provides protection from harassment, threats and violence. There are many ways to implement safety measures in the workplace that can help to eliminate the risk of workplace violence—ranging from criminal record checks, substance abuse testing, reference checks, secure entrances, security assessments and employee training. The most important, however, is having an Emergency Preparedness Plan. Since these incidents are nearly impossible to predict, the primary components should educate your staff on the early warning signs of potential violence as well as how to respond when a situation does arise. Your plan might also include internal and external communication procedures, exit routes, evacuation plans, training drill procedures and a media relations plan.

 

Some additional protections that align with an Emergency Preparedness Plan:

 

  • Identifying your organizations strengths and weaknesses and areas for improvement
  • Assigning key personnel to act as emergency coordinators
  • Creating Emergency Safety Kits
  • Conducting drills on a regular basis

As a nonprofit leader, it’s your responsibility to provide a workplace free from harassment and bullying. Providing open and safe communication channels for discussing suspicious behavior, concerns and problems will go a long way in helping to prevent the unthinkable. Your main goal should be to reduce the probability of risk and ensure that any complaints that fall under the OSHA definition of workplace violence are handled promptly.

 

For more information how to handle this growing epidemic, sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial to ThinkHR, powered by UST HR Workplace.

September 17, 2019

BackHR Question: Preparing for New Overtime Thresholds

Question: What should employers do to prepare for the anticipated January 1, 2020, effective date of new DOL white-collar exemptions?

Answer: On March 7, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a proposed rule to update and revise Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) white collar exemptions by raising the salary level for an exemption from $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $679 per week ($35,308 annually, among other changes.

The rule is expected to be adopted and become effective January 1, 2020. While it's too early to make any actual changes in response to the proposal, it's a good idea to start preparing now so you'll be ready if it becomes law, as experts anticipate it will.

  • Analyze cost impacts. You can begin to determing which employees are classified as exempt and ear $35,308 per year or less. Estimate the increased costs of either increasing their salaries to $35,308 per year or reclassifying the employees as nonexempt and paying overtime when they work more than 40 hours per week (or overtime hours worked based on your state's overtime laws.) Again, hold off on any actual changes until the proposal becomes effective.
  • Review job descriptions. Take a look at your organization's job descriptions to ensure that they are accurate for the work that the employees actually perform. Update as needed. Review the classifications as exempt or nonexempt based on the "job duties test" as defined by the DOL.
  • Forecast overtime. Talk with the impacted employees and their managers to get an estimate of how much overtime per week they actually work.
  • Review your overtime policies. While employers must pay overtime per federal and state laws even if the overtime is not authorized, employers can limit the amount of overtime allowed and provide disciplinary action to employees who fail to follow policy.
  • Measure productivity. Now that some exempt employees may be reclassified as nonexempt, ensure that the extra hours worked result in measurable productivity. Many exempt employees did not track hours worked previously and may have worked longer hours when not absolutely necessary. Since that time will now be compensable time, employers should ensure that the overtime is warratned based on business demand.
  • Review meal and rest break rules. Those employees who will be reclassified as nonexempt will be required to comply with state or company mandated meal and rest break requirements.
  • Review employee communications regarding plocies, the enforcement of such policies, and how you will communicate these changes to those employees who will be affected by the change in status.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial here.

August 29, 2019

Getting Ahead of Employee Burnout

Nonprofit employers have been dealing with employee burnout for some time now but knowing what factors to focus on can go a long way in prevention. It’s a crisis that can trigger a downward spiral in both the individual’s performance as well as the organizations’ and can end up costing thousands of wasted dollars.  

Job burnout is a special type of work-related stress and one that has long been lacking official recognition even though it has nearly become an epidemic—until now. The World Health Organization (WHO), recently identified workplace burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” that may require medical attention. They state, that burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed and characterize by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy.  

Employees experiencing burnout at work are often physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted from the job. They are more likely to take frequent sick days, exude more negativity, reduce team moral and worse, start looking elsewhere for employment opportunities. They become fixated on problems rather than growth opportunities or development. Now, more than ever before, we’re doing more with less, working longer hours, taking fewer breaks and less vacation days. Burnout is a serious workplace concern and is detrimental to the health of everyone involved—managers, co-workers, loved ones and friends.

There are often many factors that cause job fatigue but managers play an important role in helping to avoid this occupational phenomenon. Employees who trust their managers are more likely to experience meaningful work. Below are some key strategies for building that relationship and reducing employee burnout:

1. Check-in daily – we’re not talking about a daily 30-minute meeting but a simple “Good Morning”, “How was the school play last night” or “Any plans for the weekend”. These brief interactions can make a huge impact on someone who may be struggling.

2. Listen actively – being a good listener when an employee comes to you with an issue is a critical step in earning their trust and developing a solid bond.

3. Make time for team-building – creating a team that is unified provides another line of emotional support for an employee who is struggling. Co-workers often understand better than anyone else the struggle of being burnt out.

4. Encourage break time – everyone needs to take a break to stay connected and focused so ensure your employees are taking the time to recharge.

5. Make work purposeful – being connected to your mission isn’t enough so give your employees more reasons for making their job feel important.

6. Always say please and thank you – two very simple terms that are extremely underused in the workplace. Showing appreciation and respect can go a long way.

7. Put the right people in the right place – make sure your employees have the opportunity to do what they do best so you get the best of what they have to offer and they feel fulfilled.

If you don’t address the causes of employee burnout in your nonprofit, you’re missing the opportunity to create a workplace environment that empowers employees to feel and perform their best. Employee burnout is no longer just an HR issue, it’s a public health issue and one that can be managed before it even hits. Develop healthy workplace habits that begin with managers who foster positive experiences and ensure you have policies in place that help recognize the triggers before they get out of control.

July 31, 2019

​​​​​​​2019 Nonprofit UI Toolkit

Here at UST, we've compiled some of our top unemployment guides for managing nonprofit unemployment risk and created the 2019 Nonprofit UI Toolkit. These tools provide valuable information that can help nonprofit organizations like yours better understand the ins and outs of unemployment from the employer's perspective.

These tools offer exclusive access to unemployment claims management tips, how-to-guides and an informative webinar recording. Plus, you can learn about best practices for unemployment compensation and the ideal approach to take when dealing with unemployment hearings.

  1. Best Practice Tips - Keys to Unemployment Compensation
  2. Webinar Recording: Unemployment & HR Risk Management with UST
  3. Unsatisfactory Job Performance vs. Willful Misconduct
  4. Unemployment Hearings - Just the Facts
  5. Understanding Unemployment Insurance
  6. Controlling Unemployment Costs
  7. Employee Considerations
  8. Unemployment Cost Analysis Form

Want access to more nonprofit how-to guides, checklists and resources? Sign up for UST's monthly eNews!

July 18, 2019

HR Question: Interns and Overtime

Question: We hire interns (generally students in their junior and senior years) to do professional work for clients alongside, and under the supervision of, our professionals. They earn at least twice the salary test wage of $455 per week and are paid on a salary basis. Are they eligible for overtime pay?

Answer: Maybe. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state wage and hour laws exempt certain categories of employees from overtime. These interns may qualify as exempt employees under the "learned professional” employee exemption.

To meet for the learned professional employee exemption and be exempt from both minimum wage and overtime pay, all of the following criteria must be met:

  1. The employee must be compensated on a salary or fee basis (as defined in the regulations) at a rate not less than $455 per week.
  2. The employee’s primary duty must be the performance of work requiring advanced knowledge.
  3. The advanced knowledge must be in a field of science or learning.
  4. The advanced knowledge must be customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction.

See WHD Fact Sheet #17D: Exemption for Professional Employees Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) for additional information explaining the learned professional exemption.

If the employees meet the exemption requirements, they would not be entitled to overtime. If the employees do not meet the requirements, it still may be possible that they qualify under one of the other white collar exemptions.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Get your free 30-day trial here.

June 25, 2019

​​​​​​​HR Question: Inclement Weather

Question: Last week our offices were closed because of inclement weather. Do we need to pay our employees for the week? If not, would they be eligible for unemployment compensation?

Answer: When your business closes early, opens late, or closes for the week due to inclement weather, how you pay employees will depend on whether you have an inclement weather policy or an established practice for office closures. If you do not have a policy or practice, whether your employees are eligible for unemployment compensation depends on whether they are nonexempt or exempt. Further, whether employees would be eligible for unemployment insurance depends upon the circumstances and the particular state; employees may be able to qualify for some assistance through the state’s unemployment department.

Nonexempt employees need to be paid only for the time they have actually worked. If they have paid time off (PTO) accrued (whether vacation time or a PTO plan), then the company could deduct hours from the accrued bank to continue their pay, if the employee so desires.

If nonexempt employees come to work but are not allowed to work their full scheduled shift, a number of states impose a reporting time obligation requiring employees to be paid a minimum number of hours if they have reported for work.

However, exempt employees are paid on a salary basis and must be paid the same amount each week, regardless of the amount of work that they do. If you have a PTO plan, you can deduct from the exempt employee’s vacation or accrued time off bank to make the salary whole.

For example, management decides to send everybody home four hours into the day due to a blizzard and the offices remain closed the next day. Joe is an hourly employee in the warehouse with no accrued PTO and Mary is an exempt-level office manager with five days (40 hours) in her PTO bank. Joe would receive the four hours of pay for the day he worked and no pay for the remainder of that day or the following full day. If the company does not wish to pay Mary her entire pay for the time the office was closed, it may elect for her to receive four hours of regular pay for the time worked, and deduct from her PTO bank for 12 hours (the four hours remaining on the first day and eight hours for the next day). Mary will receive her full pay for the week.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Get your free 30-day trial here.

May 30, 2019

​​​​​​​2019 Nonprofit HR Toolkit

Here at UST we’ve put together our Top 10 Guides for 2019 Nonprofit Human Resource management. And for a limited time, we’re giving them away for FREE.

Since 1983, UST has provided nonprofits with the latest HR resources in an effort to help organizations stay compliant, maximize employee bandwidth and reduce overhead costs. This toolkit includes updated 2019 state and federal minimum wage data and recordkeeping requirements, as well as checklists to ensure compliance. Plus, you can learn the top six strategies to develop and maintain a thriving workplace.

 

  • State and Federal Minimum Wages
  • Federal Recordkeeping Requirements
  • ACA Checklist
  • HR Audit Checklist
  • HR Compliance Chart
  • An Introduction to Employee Benefits
  • Emergency Preparedness Plan
  • UST Competitive Hiring Practices eBook
  • Webinar Recording: Nonprofit Recruitment and Retention Best Practices
  • Unemployment Cost Analysis Form

 

Still have questions? You can get a free 30-day trial of UST HR Workplace powered by ThinkHR, a cloud-based service that aims to reduce HR liability through a live expert hotline, 250+ online compliance courses, compensation tools, employee handbook builders, and employee classification step-by-step guides. Set up your ThinkHR trial today!

May 15, 2019

​​​​​​​HR Question: Independent Contractor vs. Employee

Question: How can you determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee?

Answer: Generally, independent contractors are self-employed individuals who work on special projects that require no training, may work from either the employer site or another location, and do not need direction or the company’s materials to do the job. Additionally, these individuals are typically paid based on contract milestones.

Under federal “common law” rules, anyone who performs services for you is your employee if you can control what, when, and how the work will be done. This is true even if the person in question has the freedom to determine when certain work actions are taken. According to the IRS, “What matters is that you have the right to control the details of how the services are performed.”

Some states look to the federal common law rules, while others, such as Oregon, New York, and California, have their own additional tests of whether an individual is an independent contractor or employee. Many states publish fact sheets or handbooks with these guidelines to aid employers in making the appropriate classification.

The key in making this determination is to look at the entire relationship, consider the degree or extent of the right to direct and control, and finally, document each of the factors used in coming up with the determination.

In determining whether the person providing service is an employee or an independent contractor, all information that provides evidence of the degree of control and independence must be considered. In short, you will want to examine this decision carefully, so as to avoid tax consequences by misclassifying someone as an independent contractor.

Source: www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Employee-(Common-Law-Employee)

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Get your free 30-day trial here.

April 24, 2019

​​​​​​​HR Question: Allowing Minors to Volunteer

Question:One of our employees has asked to bring her 16-year-old daughter to work so she can volunteer for school credits. Can we allow this?

Answer: It depends. Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees may not volunteer services to for-profit private sector employers. However, private employers may have trainees or students in the workplace under the School-to-Work program (STW) or an internship program.

If you want to allow your employee’s daughter to do work for you as an intern, you will need to classify her as such. Keep in mind internships can be either paid or unpaid. The United States Department of Labor (DOL) uses six criteria to determine whether an internship is exempt from the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the FLSA (meaning the internship may be unpaid). Under the DOL test, for an intern to be exempt from the minimum wage and overtime requirements, all of the following must be true:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

For more information on the DOL six-factor test, see Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Note that the 2nd Circuit (Connecticut, New York, and Vermont) and the 11th Circuit (Alabama, Georgia, and Florida) do not use the DOL six-factor test but instead use the “primary beneficiary test.” Under the primary beneficiary test, a court determines whether the employer or worker benefits more from the internship. If the employer benefits more, the worker is properly classified as an “employee” and is entitled to minimum wage and overtime. If the individual benefits more, he or she is properly classified as an unpaid intern or trainee and exempted from the minimum wage and overtime requirements (nonemployees).  As unpaid internships have proven to be a litigious area of employment law, seek legal guidance before electing to not pay an intern.

Finally, beyond these exceptions to the FLSA, if your employee’s minor 16-year-old daughter will be doing any work for the company not as an intern, she must obtain a work permit, must be paid at least the applicable minimum wage, and is entitled to the protections afforded other employees. You’ll also need to consider that each state has its own laws governing the employment of minors. Check here to review the laws applicable to your state. 

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial here.

April 19, 2019

​​​​​​​Solid Job Growth for March Despite Decrease in February

March resulted in positive job growth with employers adding an additional 196,000 jobs with considerable job gains in the healthcare and professional/technical services. Employment growth averaged 180,000 per month in the first quarter compared to the 223,000 per month in 2018 and this month the unemployment rate remained the same at 3.8 percent. The number of unemployed persons remained unchanged at 6.2 million.

During the month of March, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) showed minimal to no change at 130 million and accounts for 21.1 percent of those unemployed. With the labor force participation rate at 63 percent, it showed slight change over the course of the month and little movement on net over the past 12 months. In addition, the number of persons employed part-time for economic reasons (referred to as involuntary part-time workers) showed small changes at 4.5 million in March. To explain, these are individuals who would have preferred to have full-time employment and were working part-time due to their hours being reduced or unable to find full-time employment.

Job gains occurred in health care adding 49,000 jobs and 398,000 over the past 12 months. This growth increased employment in ambulatory health care services (+27,000), hospitals (+14,000) and nursing/ residential care facilities (+9,000). In addition, there was a significate increase in the professional and technical services of 34,000 and 311,000 over the past 12 months. The growth increased employment in design and related services (+12,000), architectural engineering services (+6,000) and management and technical consulting services (+6,000). Employment also showed an upward trend in food services and drinking (+27,000) as well in construction (+16,000) with an increase of 246,000 over the past 12 months.

In March, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 4 cents to $27.70, following a 10-cent gain in February. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 3.2 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 6 cents to $23.24 in March.

With the revisions of both the January and February’s job reports, the number of jobs went from +311,000 to +312,000 for January and +20,000 to +30,000 for February – combined there were 14,000 more jobs than previously reported. These changes show a continual growth in employment and the upward trend of different sectors benefiting from this positive job growth.

March 27, 2019

​​​​​​​HR Question: Participation in Occupational Employment Statistics Reporting

Question: We received a request from the State Department of Labor, Division of Research and Statistics, to provide information for "Occupational Employment Statistics Report in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor." Is our participation mandatory or required?

Answer: Your state department of labor has asked you to participate in the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Current Employment Statistics survey. Providing information is voluntary under federal law and is mandatory under state law only in North Carolina, Oregon, and South Carolina. 

The report is based on a sample of 390,000 business establishments nationwide. The survey produces monthly estimates of employment, hours, and earnings for the nation, states, and major metropolitan areas. Preliminary national estimates for a given reference month are typically published on the first Friday of the following month, in conjunction with data derived from a separate survey of households, the Current Population Survey. See the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey page and the Current Employment Statistics page for more information.

Although voluntary in most states, employers are encouraged to complete and submit the report accordingly. No penalties exist for those who choose not to report in states where participation is not mandatory.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial here.

February 21, 2019

Ensuring a Healthy Work Environment

Most people spend the majority of their weekday hours getting ready for work, commuting to and from work and actively working. As a standard rule of thumb, we make it a priority to ensure we live in a safe environment at home--free from negative energy. But what about our work environment? How can we ensure the environment is safe there as well?

Some typical issues encountered in the workplace that can be bothersome include poor lighting and fluctuating temperatures, but other issues that are surprisingly common that can seriously undermine employee health are workplace bullying and sexual harassment. These types of behavior can have an extremely negative impact on the well-being, productivity, and health of everyone in the office, not just those directly involved. Creating a safe work environment means focusing on culture and eliminating harmful behavior.

Many people think these negative behaviors stop once the graduation caps have been tossed in the air. Unfortunately, bullying is a common problem that can occur in any setting involving a large group of people, and the workplace is no exception. With digital tools like office chatrooms, texting, and email, there are more ways than ever for abusers to target others. Workplace harassment can encompass a number of harmful behaviors, including threats, humiliation, sabotage, and intimidation. It is this repeated harassment that can affect the victim’s ability to concentrate and/or feel safe at work.

One of the biggest problems with workplace harassment is that many people don’t recognize it when they see it. Not all harassment is obvious. Sometimes, it’s subtle and the effects build up over time. Alternatively, the abuser may be using digital tools that no one else can see rather than engaging in inappropriate behavior in front of others. In other cases, people that are witness to bullying may not feel safe coming forward. Research indicates that a shocking 37% of workers in the United States have been directly bullied in the workplace. When you factor in the people who witnesses bullying, the number reaches 49%. All in all, even if a person hasn’t been bullied on the job, chances are they know someone who has. Because of the negative consequences, these behaviors are a leading contributor of toxic work environments around the country.

Not only does workplace harassment cause victims to lose their confidence and experience increased stress, it can also lead to poor productivity, illness, and possibly, to the person quitting. A toxic culture increases turnover rates and can even open up companies to legal trouble if allowed to continue.

Workplace harassment is a serious issue and should therefore, be handled promptly. Not only can it lead to mental and physical health problems for your employees, it can also impact your bottom line and even hurt your reputation. Eliminating toxic behavior through education and awareness are key when it comes to ending workplace harassment of any kind and of the utmost importance in creating a safe and healthy work environment. Mandatory trainings for managers and employees, strict policies on harassment, and other safeguards can help ensure a safe and healthy environment for all.

This article was created in collaboration with Quinn Cooley of DC Scholarships.

January 31, 2019

How to Avoid Common Performance Review Pitfalls

As a nonprofit manager, it is important to be able to give constructive feedback effectively to your employees. Being able to share and receive feedback is vital to self- improvement.  Examples of how to give constructive feedback  include, discussing appropriate behaviors, asking questions, creating an action plan together and building trust, to name a few. On the other hand, there are a number of ways that your feedback could cause more harm than good.

Listed below are five bad habits your nonprofit organization should avoid when giving constructive feedback:

1) Waiting for the annual performance review to give feedback – This method can cause confusion and make things more challenging to work through. Waiting too long to provide feedback could make people feel caught off guard or defensive rather than being open to having a productive conversation.

2) Not providing specific examples – Concepts like “be more of a team player,” “be more professional” or “show more initiative” do not typically sink in without the use of specific examples to illustrate them. Labels without examples can leave people feeling at a loss of how to go about making changes because they are unsure of what you’re looking for. Make sure to be specific with your feedback.

3) Lack of preparation – Making an assessment or judgment call prior to gathering all the facts and examining the logic of your assessment, can lead to a very negative outcome. Situations like these could lead to resentment or loss of respect for the manager. Every statement you share, whether it be criticism or praise, should be backed up with specific details.

4) Making an assumption of how to praise an employee – A natural tactic is to praise an employee the same way you like to be praised. However, what may work for one type of person or personality may not have the same impact on another. This is one of the many areas of managing where learning personality types can be extremely useful.

5) Only giving corrective feedback without any positive feedback – If the only time you give feedback is to say something negative, employees will inevitably develop an automatic defensive reaction the moment you try to give them any type of feedback, whether it be positive or negative. Such conditions can be deemed hazardous for a constructive conversation and effect the overall culture of the workplace.

Some situations in life are just uncomfortable and performance reviews are often one of them. By planning ahead, these conversations can be extremely productive and used to strengthen employee-manager relationships while driving positive outcomes for the business. Set clear expectations, continuously monitor employee performance, regularly check-in, offer praise for good performance and continually work on staff development.  You will be well on your way to creating a positive work environment where both parties are appreciated and respected. 

November 30, 2018

HR Question: Requiring Mandatory Flu Shots

Question: Can we require our employees to get flu shots?

Answer: While there is no law that prohibits employers from mandating flu shots — and in some states, the law requires all healthcare workers to get flu shots — you should carefully determine if the benefits to your business outweigh the risks. There has been a rise in litigation brought by employees who object to this requirement for medical, religious or personal reasons. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed or joined several lawsuits over claims that inflexible mandatory vaccination policies are discriminatory.

Employees may be entitled to exemptions from a flu shot policy for medical reasons under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or religious reasons under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Requests for exemptions must be evaluated individually yet treated consistently, a difficult task. You will need to engage in an interactive process with the employee, just as you would for any other request for accommodations, to determine if they can be granted without presenting undue hardship to your company.

The EEOC recommends against mandatory flu shot policies, instead suggesting employers encourage employees get vaccinated on their own. Offering no-cost flu shots on site can further improve workplace vaccination rates by making it more convenient for employees.

If you choose to enact a mandatory flu shot policy, write it carefully to protect your company from the risk of discrimination claims and be sure to run it by your legal counsel. Make sure the policy:

  • Is worded concisely.
  • Outlines the reasoning behind the policy.
  • Is applied consistently. (Managers who enforce it should be trained on the policy and how to handle requests for exemptions.)
  • Explains the process for requesting exemptions due to medical contraindications or sincerely held religious beliefs. Any medical information obtained as part of the request for an exemption should be kept confidential.
October 17, 2018

HR Question: Requesting a Fit-for-Duty Certification

Question: If a new hire volunteers information about medical issues, can the employer ask for a doctor's fit-for-duty certification?

Answer:  Exercise caution in requesting medical documentation from applicants or employees, unless the applicant or employee is specifically requesting some form of accommodation in order to do his/her job or the employer has directly observed or has evidence that the employee is having difficulty in the job due to some type of limitation. If the employee discloses the information in the interview and/or onboarding process without a request for accommodation, we recommend the interviewer ask the employee if accommodation is requested. If not, then we recommend moving the conversation on to the bona fide requirements of the job. An employer should consider the following questions before requesting a fitness- for-duty medical certification:

Did the applicant or employee ask for an accommodation? If so, then requesting medical certification and suggestions in order to aid the applicant/employee may be appropriate. Does the employer request this information for all employees/applicants for the same position? If the employer is considering asking for medical certification based upon the new hire's health disclosure AND the new hire is not requesting any form of accommodation in order to do the job, then we recommend NOT asking for that medical certification unless the employer asks for it for all new hires in that position on a routine basis.

From a practical perspective, an employer should gather medical information only if there are concerns about the employee's ability to perform the essential functions of the job, considering any physical or mental limitations. An employer should request and consider only the information that is "job related and consistent with business necessity". Here are a few scenarios where requesting a medical fitness for duty certification may be appropriate:

  • The employee has admitted that his medical condition may be linked to performance problems and has requested assistance (i.e. his medications are making him forgetful, he is not taking the medications because they make him dizzy and he needs to work in high places, etc);
  • The employer has knowledge that an employee's medical condition may potentially pose a safety or health hazard to himself or others (i.e. an employee with seizures driving a delivery truck);
  • The employer directly observes severe symptoms that indicate that there is a medical condition that impairs performance or could be a threat to the health and safety of the employee or others.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial here.

October 03, 2018

Work Addiction and Stress

People get addicted to all sorts of things that aren’t good for them: smoking, drinking, drugs, food. You don’t even need to like something to form an addiction to it—you just need to experience it consistently enough that it becomes your “normal”. We all stress at some point or another and that’s never going to change—it’s just a part of life.

Work related stress somehow makes us feel accomplished and successful. Without the daily rush of adrenaline created by stress, we don’t quite feel like we’ve done enough. This work style has reached epidemic proportions and we don’t need a study to see that. Just listen to the conversations that are happening in your day-to-day surroundings.

If you can answer yes to more than one of the following questions, you are likely addicted to stress and in need of some thoughtful change:

  1. Do you thrive better under pressure?
  2. Is all your time consumed with tasks?
  3. Do you find yourself complaining a lot?
  4. Do you move on autopilot from one activity to another?
  5. Do you find it difficult to turn your brain off when it’s time for bed?

While you are likely doing a fabulous job at getting all the things done that need to be done, the long-term side-effects that unmanaged stress can have on your health can be quite dangerous. The body reacts similarly to stress as it does to drugs and have been shown to have such side effects as elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, migraines, depression and even loss of brain cells. Unmanaged stress has also been linked to a higher risk of cancer and heart disease—ultimately taking years off our lives. Whatever we experience in our minds eventually manifests itself in the body so it’s important to recognize when you are feeling stressed and make positive changes to ensure you don’t cause yourself long-term health issues.  

As with any addiction, the first step in recovery is recognizing that you are addicted. Most addicts know the consequences of their behaviors but simply can’t bring themselves to come down from the adrenaline rush. Many of us thrive on stress—the crunch of a deadline, the nonstop emails that hit our inbox, the countless meetings to prepare for, the list goes on and on. We convince ourselves that with such busy schedules and extreme workloads that there’s no way we can succeed if we slow down. One of the challenges in stress management is fighting our tendency to be pulled back into the adrenaline rush but the good news is that there are ways to break this unhealthy cycle once and for all. Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, taking a walk, yoga and massage have all been shown to be quiet effective when done regularly.

Work addiction, often called workaholism, is a real problem and like any other addiction hard to break but if you commit to breaking your addiction to stress at work and take the time to appreciate what you’re working so hard to accomplish, you’ll be more focused, more creative and more productive.

October 02, 2018

Investigations in the Nonprofit Workplace

As a nonprofit leader, you have an obligation to approach “harassment” with three key factors in mind— prevention, investigation and willingness to address. Investigations of harassment in the workplace can come in many shapes and sizes, meaning they can originate from a wide variety of topics—such as discrimination, substance abuse, harassment or workplace safety. While each investigation can be different and may have different formalities attached to it—standards should be in place to ensure a thorough investigation is applied to each incident.

It is important to respond immediately when an allegation of harassment surfaces. This can help prevent any new acts from taking place and will help with maintaining the trust of your employees. At the same point, you should be reaching out for professional guidance to ensure that all aspects of a harassment claim is carried out appropriately—reaching out to your insurance carrier to provide a “notice of a potential claim.” This is a common move for nonprofits since the insurance company can offer resources and the expertise of legal counsel. Another option is hiring a third-party human resource firm that has experience with handling harassment investigations. Lastly, a nonprofit may decide to handle the investigation in house utilizing its’ own staff with guidance from various legal resources.

Each investigation should be handled promptly, documented, thorough and remain confidential. Your nonprofit should always aim for consistency and consider how to best provide “due process.” This also includes, informing those involved with the outcome of the investigation once it has concluded. Being transparent about the outcome, actions or steps being taken to address a situation, will give your nonprofit the opportunity to demonstrate follow through of its own policies, while remaining confidential and maintaining privacy for those involved.

As a nonprofit, you are required to maintain the safety of your employees by creating a safe working environment—and with that comes the responsibility of acting promptly when approached with a harassment claim. Whether it’s the CEO or an associate being investigated, it should be carried out in the same manner and properly conducted. This will determine that the appropriate policies are in place and encourage fair outcomes for all employees involved.  

August 13, 2018

Decrease in Unemployment Rate means Gradual Employment Growth

Employers added 157,000 jobs in July and the unemployment rate went down to 3.9 percent making the number of unemployed people decline by 284,000. At the end of July, the total number of people unemployed is now at $6.3 million.

In July, the number of long-term unemployed was unchanged at 1.4 million, which accounts for 22.7 percent of the unemployed. In addition, the number of persons employed part time for economic reasons—also referred to as involuntary part-time workers—changed slightly in July, at 4.6 million, but has been down by 669,000 over the course of the year. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because of their hours being reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs.

America increased employment in professional and business services, manufacturing, health care and social assistance sectors. In professional and business services, there was an increase of 51,000 jobs in July making an overall increase of 518,000 over the course of the year. In the manufacturing sector, there was 37,000 jobs added with most of the gain in durable goods. There was a rise in transportation equipment (+13,000), machinery (+6,000) and electronic instruments (+2,000). Over the past 12 months, manufacturing has added 327,000 jobs in total. Lastly, employment in health care and social assistance rose by 34,000 and with an upward trend of +17,000  jobs in health care employment this past month, the number of jobs has totaled 286,000 since the beginning of the year. Hospitals and social assistance added 23,000 jobs during the month of July.

The average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 7 cents to $27.05. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 71 cents, or 2.7 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 3 cents to $22.65 in July.

Each year, the establishment survey estimates are benchmarked to comprehensive counts of employment from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) for the month of March. These counts are derived from state unemployment insurance (UI) tax records that nearly all employers are required to file. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will release this preliminary estimate of the upcoming annual benchmark revision on August 22 at 10am.

July 11, 2018

Legalities Surrounding Arbitration Clauses

Question: May we add an arbitration clause prohibiting class action lawsuits to our employment contracts?

Answer: Yes. Until recently, courts were split on the issue and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that “it is a violation of federal labor law to require employees to sign arbitration agreements that prevent them from joining together to pursue employment-related legal claims in any forum, whether in arbitration or in court.”

However, in its May 2018 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ended the split, overruled the NLRB, and held that arbitration agreements providing for individualized proceedings (thus banning class actions) are enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), and neither the FAA’s saving clause nor the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) suggest otherwise.

As a result of SCOTUS’s decision, an employer may add an arbitration clause waiving class and collective actions to its employment contracts without fear of violating federal law due to the mere presence of the clause. However, it is essential that any employment contract — with or without an arbitration clause — comply with all applicable laws. Therefore, as always, we recommend seeking counsel to properly draft your arbitration agreement and for further guidance.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial here.

June 14, 2018

HR Question: Employer Rights Surrounding Medical Marijuana

Question: Can we maintain a zero-tolerance marijuana use policy in our workplace if medical marijuana use is legal in the state?

Answer: Yes, you can. Employers have an absolute right to maintain a drug-free workplace and do not have to allow or tolerate drug use or intoxication in the workplace. Although some states permit the use of marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes, most state laws provide exemptions for employers to prohibit the use of marijuana in the workplace. If you maintain a drug-free workplace, then your employees may be subject to discipline and/or termination when working under the influence of marijuana (i.e., on-the-job intoxication). In states where marijuana use has been legalized for medical or recreational purposes, employers may elect to establish intoxication standards for marijuana metabolites, rather than imposing discipline for any presence of the drug. However, this standard must be applied consistently and regularly to all employees.

As of February 2016, marijuana continues to be an illegal drug under federal law (which trumps state laws), and employers are not required to permit on-the-job use of or marijuana intoxication by employees or applicants. You may discipline employees who are legally using marijuana under state law but who are in violation of your workplace policy, because under the law, employees are not protected from being fired for failing a drug test.

Alternatively, you may elect to accommodate your employee’s medical marijuana use, but the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require you to reasonably accommodate current unlawful drug use. Employees who claim disability discrimination for their medical marijuana use may attempt to file under the ADA. However, the ADA excludes current illegal drug users from protection; therefore, employers are free to conduct drug tests on employees, subject to certain limitations, to detect the presence of illegal drug use.

Refer to your state’s laws on employer rights and medical marijuana law. Additionally, you may want to update your policies to ensure you are clear about whether you will accommodate marijuana use in the workplace and the subsequent action should an employee be found using marijuana.

Finally, keep in mind that this issue can be complicated. When in doubt, seek legal counsel to ensure compliance.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial here.

June 07, 2018

Keeping Your Talent Invested

Stellar recruiting and retention strategies are key to a nonprofit’s growth, but sometimes those solutions do not align with budgets. With the increasing rate at which talent moves through the nonprofit sector, it’s more important now than ever to reinvent the wheel when it comes to investing in employees.  

There are more and more people seeking to serve a higher purpose and one of the ways they see to accomplish that is to grab an opportunity to craft a mission-driven career.  If the nonprofit sector can’t demonstrate that they offer viable career opportunities within a strong organizational culture, they will miss the chance to cultivate future talent. The biggest talent acquisition challenge nonprofits face is limited budgeting but it’s important to remember that at the end of the day it’s the people that fuel the nonprofit sector – not just the donors and the volunteers but most importantly, the people who work for you.

Gaining a better understanding of how the leaders in your organization think about the development of talent, will allow you to start aligning those ideas with the overall goals of the business. Focus on your assets and what opportunities as a whole your organization has in its sights and commit to those aspirations by investing in the people. Creating an effective workplace isn’t just about compensation. Employees consistently rank company culture, leadership, career growth and work-life balance right up there with pay. The act of investing in talent sends a clear message that the company values its people by increasing morale, performance and retention.

You can make gradual improvements and see major results. Here are some things to consider:

  • Allow a greater amount of decision making with managers
  • More delegation with greater opportunities to learn
  • Continuous feedback and positive encouragement
  • Keep your team appraised of company progress and set backs
  • Wellness programs

It doesn’t hurt to also consider how much philanthropic capital is routed to talent efforts? Review where your donors dollars are going and make a case to shift some of those funds if there is currently no talent investment already set up. Grantmaking needs to intentionally invest in talent to keep top talent engaged and start Initiating conversations regarding the value of employee retention.

People are the most important asset—driving impact, performance and sustainability in the sector. No matter your nonprofit’s budget, you can have a strong organizational culture even in this time of uncertainty and budgetary struggle. And in fact, if you hope to advance your mission, you must make these types of changes. Take the time to invest in your teams and systems to stay ahead of the talent curve.

May 31, 2018

We Need a Little More Communication Please

Effective communication in the workplace is an integral element to business success. It isn’t just about managing conflict, although an important benefit, good communication creates an environment that allows employees to be productive and highly effective.

The desire for human connections at work isn’t a new concept and long gone are the days when employees came into work and sat in front of a computer for an eight-hour stretch with little to no communication at all. Nowadays, more than ever, we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day business that we forget to make time to connect with those around us. When employees come together for the pure enjoyment of one another’s company, they experience an increase in morale and commitment to each other as well as the company itself – keeping them engaged and positive.

Many of the conversations we have at work are naturally focused on the business – impending projects, upcoming events or deadlines and of course, those funding concerns as opposed to interpersonal conversations. However, if you want engaged employees who are committed to your nonprofits mission, we must pick our heads up out of our own busyness and acknowledge those around us. The desire to want to be noticed, valued and appreciated are all fundamental human needs, so just by facilitating more and better conversations through simple human interactions such as talking more, asking more and even thanking more, can help to strengthen your teams morale and loyalty.

Employees look forward to coming to work when they feel like they have something in common with their fellow co-workers or even better – have a valued friend at work. And while there are typically five generations in the workplace today – cross-generational connections can sometimes take time and effort. Ensuring there is time for relationship bonding through open communication can help your organization in unexpected ways. It also doesn’t hurt when they know they can talk to their boss about problems and feel heard.

Communication is about more than just talking, it’s about connecting with people -one of the most powerful benefits in the workplace. Effective workplace communication helps employees form highly efficient teams so start building strong relationships by reaching out and taking the time to connect in meaningful ways.

May 11, 2018

Four Benefits of Human Resources Calling the Shots

One of the many benefits that come with having a designated person or team to handle all Human Resources related issues, is that it allows the organization to operate at its full potential—especially nonprofits. Due to the inherent nature and structure of nonprofits, they can run into challenges when it comes to certain HR tasks and if not handled correctly, the fulfillment of their mission might be hindered.

Nonprofit organizations primary focus is on the communities they serve and the causes they support. When you have an HR professional on your team, it eliminates the burden of you having to worry about whether or not your nonprofit is covered regarding the logistics of legal issues, management of compliance, etc., allowing you to focus on what matters most—your mission.

Along with managing the day-to-day legal and compliance issues that may arise, HR provides many additional benefits as well. Here are four ways HR can enhance talent management, employee retention and a work-life balance.

  1. Finding the Right Employee: Hiring the right employee enhances your work culture, encourages high employee morale, positive thinking, future planning, and accomplishing professional goals. It also ensures that you are making the most of the time and energy being invested in a new employee and making sure, they are a good fit for the work culture.
  2. Onboarding is a Must: Starting a new job is exciting, however, the unknown can be quite nerve racking. An onboarding process offers a more hands on approach then just handing a new employee an employee handbook and sending them on their way. This should be a time when an employee can ask one off questions and an HR professional can offer more information.
  3. Creating a Career Plan: Offering your employees an opportunity to plan a strategy for how they want to move forward in their professional life is a great way to learn more about your staff. It’s a way to show your employees that you care and you want to see them succeed. The more you invest in your employees, the more likely they will do good work for your organization.
  4. Employee Performance Reviews: While performance review methods and approaches can vary from organization to organization, universal principles about how to talk with an employee about his or her performance exist. It is important that the employee knows exactly what’s to be expected of his or her performance. These periodic discussions about performance need to focus on the significant portions of the employee’s job.
May 08, 2018

[Webinar Recording] Nonprofit Recruitment and Retention Best Practices

With the national unemployment rate steadily declining, and a substantial increase in expectations for competitive benefits and salaries, nonprofits are definitely feeling the squeeze—especially when competing against for-profit organizations for key staff members.

How can we overcome these challenges when funding support is steady at best, and often decreasing?

 

This  webinar will teach you how to:

  • Attract stronger candidates and enhance their loyalty to your nonprofit
  • Establish a path to compensation growth for valued front-line staff members
  • Gain board support for increased compensation and investment in employee development

​​​​​Join Kathy Keeley, Executive Vice President, Programs and Senior Consultant at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits, to develop a framework for effective recruitment and retention strategies in the current workforce environment.

Want access to more learning opportunities, tips and legal updates just for nonprofits, sign up for our monthly eNews today!

April 25, 2018

Are Your Health and Wellness Programs Making the Cut?

It’s no secret that people are more health conscious today than ever before. And over the last few years, business owners have gotten on board with a massive influx of corporate wellness programs being offered in the workplace. We’re talking everything from stability balls and standing desks to weight loss programs and opportunities to work from home.

It seems now, that employers are constantly looking for new ways to kick their corporate wellness programs up a notch. And the trends are getting more and more creative with companies expanding the definition of wellness through offerings that are much broader - improving the overall quality of their employees’ lives.

Some things are as easy as implementing standing desks as the standard – the kind you can move up or down so employees aren’t forced to do one activity or the other all day. While the debate continues over the health benefits, no one can argue that having the option to change your form throughout the day helps with muscle stiffness, brain fog and calorie expenditure.

Opportunities to work from home have rapidly become a hot trend but some organizations are still reluctant to let go of that much visibility. For many, it works like a well-oiled machine but for others, it ends up being one issue after another. You really have to take the time to evaluate your staff to see whether or not, they can handle that much responsibility – it’s definitely not for everyone but certainly worth doing the research.

At the top of the corporate wellness trends right now is “wellness technology”. Some companies are looking for ways to put all of that valuable information gathered by all those fitness gadgets to work. By working to keep corporate wellness offerings fresh, some employers are using Chatbots to help keep employees on track with their fitness goals.

Then there are those forward thinking companies who are looking to bring on the latest and greatest wellness programs for their employees. For example, one organization has an in-house masseuse available to their employees while another has a built-in office sauna. Others are subsidizing DNA kits, creating nap rooms, implementing vending machines with healthy snack options or offering an on-site Happy Hour at the end of the day.

It goes without saying that the possibilities are endless. Since workplace stress has become the biggest epidemic to hit corporate America in recent years—it is worth addressing internally through some form of wellness program that will help employees regain focus and energy. When employees don’t know how to manage their stress, not only is their work affected but so are the people around them. And the benefits of making your employees’ well-being a priority are endless – it can help with retention, reduce absenteeism and workers’ compensation claims, increase productivity as well as save your organization thousands in the long run.

April 20, 2018

Turn the Negativity Around

Some people just exude negativity. They gripe about anything and everything. Rarely do they take responsibility and more times than not, they see themselves as the victim. Through some combination of nature and nurture, negativity is their default response but that negative energy can be detrimental in the workplace.

If you manage people, you will likely encounter a situation in which you will have to manage a negative employee. Some managers have the innate ability to handle difficult situations but your team may lack the skill and confidence required to communicate effectively with someone who is negative and can be easily defensive which can cause conflict.

While communicating with these individuals about their behavior can be uncomfortable, doing so can help to eliminate the impact on other workers and this should be priority number one. It’s imperative to address the issue sooner than later to also avoid the spread of one person’s negative attitude to the rest of the group — ultimately affecting effectiveness and productivity. The last thing you want is to have team moral take a hit.  

Using specific examples of behavior will help the employee better understand where you are coming from and enable them to make some specific changes. You don’t want to lecture your employee but you do want to make sure you provide enough context to ensure they understand what your concerns are and what expectations you have going forward.  Also, encourage them to speak up as issues arise so things don’t escalate in the future. Taking an interest in their well-being by checking in periodically can also strengthen their sense of purpose and belonging. If you simply criticize their approach and don’t acknowledge their concerns, they will end up feeling like their feedback was unwelcomed and ultimately trigger frustration and more negativity.

Don’t take anything said personally and avoid becoming defensive. Keep in mind that most people don’t like constructive feedback even when given with the best intent. Anything can trigger a defensive response so practice what you will say and how – it could save you a lot of headache. A little compassion goes along way – it shows the employee you are interested and concerned about them as a person. There may be some things you can’t help with that perhaps have nothing to do with work but you can listen and sometimes that is all one needs.

Nothing is more challenging than trying to get negative people to respond more positively. However, dealing with issues when they arise and being clear on what those issues are while following through with a plan that addresses them can go a long way. It’s important to acknowledge the value of their perspective and involvement when they communicate effectively.

April 10, 2018

HR Question: Workplace Assaults and Workers' Compensation

Question: While working, an employee assaulted his coworker in our California workplace. May the injured employee pursue a workers’ compensation claim?

Answer: Yes. An employee who is assaulted at work by a coworker may elect to file a workers’ compensation claim. However, he or she may also file an internal complaint, report the assault to the police, or pursue a civil lawsuit. Whether the workers’ compensation claim (or any other claim) will be successful depends upon the facts. For example, was the injured employee the initial physical aggressor? According to California Law, at Cal. Labor Code § 3600(a)(7), employers are not liable under the state’s workers’ compensation law for an injury that arises out of an altercation in which the injured employee is the initial physical aggressor.

Regardless, after an injury occurred in the workplace, California employers must:

  • Provide a workers' compensation claim form to the claimant within one working day after a work-related injury or illness is reported.
  • Return a completed copy of the claim form to the claimant within one working day of receipt.
  • Forward the claim form, along with the employer's report of occupational injury or illness, to the claims administrator within one working day of receipt.
  • Within one day of receiving the claim, authorize up to $10,000 in appropriate medical treatment.
  • Provide transitional work (light duty) whenever appropriate.
  • Give notice of workers’ compensation eligibility within one working day of the crime (assault) that happened at work.

It is not for the employer to determine whether the injury will be covered under its workers’ compensation insurance. Rather, the claims administrator will determine whether the injury is covered.

Another issue worth mentioning is that California employers are required to abide by a duty of care in the workplace. According to Cal. Labor Code § 6401, “[e]very employer shall furnish and use safety devices and safeguards, and shall adopt and use practices, means, methods, operations, and processes which are reasonably adequate to render such employment and place of employment safe and healthful. Every employer shall do every other thing reasonably necessary to protect the life, safety, and health of employees.” Violations of this duty incur significant monetary damages.

Read more about workers’ compensation and the process on the State of California, Department of Industrial Relations’ website. Read more about workplace assaults and Cal/OSHA Guidelines for Workplace Security.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial here.

April 06, 2018

[Webinar Recording] Getting the Most out of Exit Interviews

Exit interviews can be an extremely effective tool when done properly. By gathering meaningful information from a departing employee about their experiences with your organization, you can make improvements that could increase retention.  

 

Presented by Glassdoor and hosted by Christopher Lee, this on-demand webinar highlights the proper execution of exit interviews and their impact on the business. Christopher is the HR Manager for Epsilon with more than 10 years of experience helping businesses to meet their goals through employee relations, performance management and organizational development.

 

You’ll learn why the exit interview is so important, not only for the organization but also for the exiting employee, current personnel and future staff.

Watch the webinar recording today!    

Want access to more learning opportunities, tips and legal updates just for nonprofits, sign up for our monthly eNews today!

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