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EAP Available at No Cost to Stratus.hr Employees

By | Articles, Benefits, Health & Wellness, Newsletter | No Comments

Recent high-profile suicides coupled with an increase in call and text volume to suicide prevention and crisis hotlines make this a good time to remind all employees that there’s help whenever and wherever they need it through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This program is available to all employees, regardless of whether they have purchased health insurance.

Employees and their dependents can talk to a professional for free, 24 hours a day, whether it’s an urgent matter or just a mild concern or question. Professionals can provide assistance and advice with personal matters, including:

  • Emotional well-being
  • Family and relationship matters
  • Legal advice
  • Financial assistance
  • Substance abuse
  • Healthy lifestyle choices
  • Work transitions
  • Life transitions
  • And More

EAP professionals are also available for face-to-face consultation and can provide referrals for elderly care and dependent care resources.

The important thing to remember is that this service is free and available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, for all Stratus.hr clients and employees. The program is completely confidential (employers are never informed of the contact), and there’s no limit to the number of times an employee can contact their EAP.

Our Stratus.hr EAP program is administered through LifeBalance. Employees should call them directly at 1-800-854-1446 (en Español 1-877-858-2147; or TTY/TDD 1-800-999-3004). Online assistance is also available at www.lifebalance.net. (Please contact HR@stratus.hr for the user ID and password.)

For more information about our EAP program, please click here. For questions about the EAP service itself, please email our HR team at HR@stratus.hr. Again, any contact with LifeBalance and/or our Stratus.hr team will be completely confidential.

EAP

Employees do not have to have health insurance in order to access Stratus.hr’s EAP, which is available 24/7.

Spicing Up Your Workplace Lunch

By | Articles, General HR, Health & Wellness, Newsletter, Retention | No Comments

For the majority of employees who don’t have a company-paid meal every day, lunchtime can get a bad rap. Options typically fall somewhere between the unglamorous brown bag and the “it-costs-HOW-much?” restaurant. And, more often than not, the easier it is on the wallet, the harder the hit on nutrition. Where’s the fun in that?

Summer is a great time for trying new ways of making lunchtime more affordable, more nutritional, and a whole lot more fun. Continuing with our 13 weeks of wellness, here are three ideas to spice things up at lunchtime:

  1. Salad swap. So you’re going to pack your lunch. Why not make it a salad and gather up the work gang for a once-a-week salad swap? No need to pack a family sized recipe, just something tasty and interesting with enough for everyone to sample. If you’re looking for variety (and commitment), add a signup sheet.
  2. Leave. Go for a walk around the block. Drive to a nearby park and take your lunch with you. Ask a co-worker if they’d like to plan a hike. Whatever you do, make sure at least one day a week (preferably more), you’re leaving your desk and breathing in some fresh air at lunch. “You’ll boost productivity,” said Caroline Worth, registered dietitian of BiteWize when she was discussing the idea with our friends at Alsco. Worth recommends as little as 10-15 minutes to boost productivity. Who knows? That slight boost may make you so productive that you’ll even earn back part of your weekend!
  3. Grow a garden. Sound far fetched? It’s not. Setting up an employee garden only takes a small strip of land. Ingenious employees have been known to grow salad in pots at their desks, too (although some coworkers may prefer you do this in your own kitchen rather than at your desk). Leafy greens aren’t only pretty, they give back in the form of (you guessed it), LUNCH! Not sure how to fit a garden into a building site that’s fully landscaped? Ask for permission to use space at the base of smaller trees, which are likely already getting plenty of water. Cherry tomatoes, radishes, carrots and peas are great options that don’t take up much space and encourage smart snacking, too. If growing a garden at work isn’t an option, consider getting involved with community gardening.

Be sure to read the related articles included in our 13 Weeks of Wellness series. Thank you to our friends at Alsco. Read their full list of 146 ideas for workplace wellness.  

workplace lunch

Mixing things up during your workplace lunch is a great way to sneak in some healthy habits.

Workplace Fitness Fun

By | Articles, General HR, Health & Wellness, Newsletter, Retention | No Comments

Blame it on a decade of summer vacations that we all had during school, or on popsicle trucks, backyard BBQs and baseball games, but it seems like summer has a reputation for relaxation. That’s great, until it gets in the way of your fitness goals.

“What?” you say. “I’m supposed to have fitness goals?”

No worries if you don’t — for the next 13 weeks, we’re giving you work-focused wellness ideas to last you a whole summer … and then some. Easy to do and interesting, they’re just what your summer needs to keep you relaxed and on your toes all at the same time.

Week 1: Making fitness fun

What’s the best kind of summer fitness? The kind that makes you forget you’re doing something good for yourself. And it’s even better when you can slip it into your workday, like these three ideas:

  1. Nothing but (ping-pong) net. Take a break with a co-worker, a couple of paddles and a game of ping pong. If it’s been a while since you’ve played, you may have forgotten that ping pong involves plenty of small-scale action — particularly if you’re bad and constantly chasing down that lightweight ball. In a short 15-minute break, you could burn off 75 calories, work in some awkward stretches and get in a few laughs, too. And if your workplace doesn’t have a ping pong table, look for other good options, including foosball and air hockey. Or bring a couple of paddle balls and aim for accuracy.
  2. A league of your own. Usually league sports (softball, bowling) want serious competitors only, but there’s no reason why your workplace can’t organize its own unofficial league instead. Create teams and times that work with everyone’s schedule and get creative. You could organize a badminton league, hackeysac, 3-person basketball teams, or tournaments of Toss-Across: anything that gets you up and moving around.
  3. Fitness/FitBit challenges. Tired of playing nice? Set up weekly challenges that incorporate Fitbits or other fitness trackers into the routine (number of steps, flights of stairs, miles ran, walking speed, calories burned, etc). Award prizes, but know that they don’t have to break the bank. Your weekly winners could be motivated by something as simple as their 8×10 headshot on a strategically placed leaderboard.

Want more? We’d love to hear your ideas for workplace fitness fun. Join the conversation on our Facebook page and watch for next week’s wellness ideas!

Thank you to our friends at Alsco, whose list of 146 ideas is serving as inspiration for our summer wellness series.

employee fitness

Workplace fitness can be slipped into break time to keep employees moving.

OSHA’s Electronic Record Keeping Requirement – Are you compliant?

By | Articles, General HR, Newsletter, Risk Management | No Comments

A new compliance provision by OSHA requires employers to submit all workplace injury and illness data online, with hopes to improve workplace safety and provide valuable information to the public about an employer’s safety practices. The required information will be the same data recorded in the previous year’s OSHA Form 300A Summary.

Why the new OSHA Electronic Record Keeping requirements?

Employers already have to record the previous year’s injuries on OSHA 300 logs and post summaries of those logs in a highly visible place at work for employees to see. So why has OSHA added the additional electronic requirement?

“Behavioral economics tells us that making injury information publicly available will ‘nudge’ employers to focus on safety. And, as we have seen in many examples, more attention to safety will save the lives and limbs of many workers, and will ultimately help the employer’s bottom line… Finally, this regulation will improve the accuracy of this data by ensuring that workers will not fear retaliation for reporting injuries or illnesses.”

Which employers must comply with the new OSHA Electronic Record Keeping requirement?

By the deadline of July 1, 2018, companies that must comply with the online record keeping rule include:

  • Employers in these industries that have 20-249 employees
  • Employers of all industries with over 250 employees

Employee count is based on an establishment, not a firm (a firm could be made up of one or more establishments). Employers with fewer than 20 employees at the peak of employment during the last calendar year (including full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary workers) are excluded from the OSHA Electronic Record Keeping requirement.

How do employers comply with the new OSHA Electronic Record Keeping requirement?

OSHA has created an online, secure Injury Tracking Application system for employers to submit the previous year’s OSHA 300A summary data. Qualifying employers must submit their 2017 data information by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019, employers must electronically submit this data by March 2.

Will Stratus.hr take care of this OSHA Electronic Record Keeping requirement for me?

Clients obligated to comply through industry and size requirements for whom Stratus.hr administers their workers’ comp policy have already had their required data submitted and should receive notification of this being handled. Clients that administer their own workers’ comp policy will need to submit their information via the OSHA Injury Tracking Application. Should you need assistance, please contact your Stratus.hr Representative prior to June 15, 2018.

Please contact us at HR@stratus.hr for more information on this or other OSHA-mandated regulations.

OSHA record keeping mandate

Click here to read FAQs regarding this new OSHA electronic record keeping rule.

When Should Interns Be Paid?

By | Articles, General HR, Overtime, Payroll | No Comments

Looking for a cheaper alternative to paying employees to get the job done? Then perhaps an intern isn’t what you need.

The Department of Labor (DOL) recently updated guidance on how to identify whether an internship truly qualifies to be unpaid. The emphasis isn’t to meet each criterion, but to determine who benefits more from the internship: the employer or the intern. If the employer is the primary beneficiary, then the intern should be paid as an employee, making at least minimum wage and able to earn overtime wages.

How to Determine if an Internship Qualifies as Unpaid

If you’ve hired an unpaid intern, then most (if not all) of the following conditions should exist:

  1. There is clear understanding from both parties that the intern is not entitled to compensation.
  2. The internship is similar to training that would be given in an educational environment (including clinical and other hands-on training).
  3. The intern receives academic credit for the internship.
  4. The internship accommodates and corresponds with the academic calendar.
  5. The internship does not extend beyond educating the intern.
  6. The work of an intern does not replace a paid employee, but instead provides significant educational benefits.
  7. There is no expectation of a paid job after the internship ends.

The DOL also warns that class credit should not be substituted for wages and that any employer wanting to offer an internship should consult with legal counsel to design and implement an acceptable program.

What are the legal ramifications for misclassifying someone as an unpaid intern?

If an intern were incorrectly classified as “unpaid,” the DOL would require wages be paid retroactively, which would likely include penalties for late payments.

Advice for Employers with Interns

If your company is planning to hire (or already has hired) an intern, consider paying them at least minimum wage. An internship should never be used as a trial period, and all hours worked must still be recorded. If you plan to continue with an unpaid internship, be sure it has a strong educational component that has been coordinated or approved by a school for academic credit, and that you have followed advice from legal counsel.

For more information, please contact our HR experts at HR@stratus.hr.

unpaid intern

Can you hire an unpaid intern? Learn the legal requirements and risks.
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Job candidates, identity theft, and 10 years in jail

By | Articles, General HR, Manager Training, Newsletter, Recruiting, Retention | No Comments

To the new graduates and anyone else facing today’s hot job market, please take my advice: don’t lie. Even if it seems like everyone is doing it, lying on a job application just doesn’t pay off.

The latest story comes from Louisiana, where 41-year-old Cindy White co-opted the credentials of a successful HR person (along with the person’s driver’s license and social security number) and used them to apply for an HR manager job with Diversified Foods.

White landed the job and was even pretty good at it. Six months later, she received a promotion that raised her annual salary to $105,000. And now she’s looking at 10 years in jail.

White isn’t the only tale of a job candidate liar. Bigger fish, including former Yahoo.com CEO Scott Thompson, stepped down when it was discovered he lied about his computer science degree (he didn’t have one). Notre Dame once hired a head football coach with a graduate degree and undergrad playing experience, only to have the coach resign five days later when both were found to be untrue. And celebrity chef Robert Irving was given the axe from his own TV show after exaggerating his experience by claiming to have designed Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding cake when all he had done was select the fruit.

How can businesses spot a liar?

Lying on a resume or a job application is a known problem today — 85% of employers indicate they’ve found lies during the application process. And while the stories are admittedly fun to read, there’s something to fear, too: if big companies and institutions with big resources can be fooled by a great lie on a job application, how can small businesses prevent something similar from happening?

Here’s what I recommend for all of our clients:

  1. Applicant tracking system. Although applicant tracking systems don’t necessarily weed out candidates who aren’t the real deal, they’ll simplify the process of helping you find those who appear to qualify for the role. Then, when you’re reviewing the top screened candidates, ask yourself if their experience is even possible. There’s a great story about a candidate who worked for the CIA as an anti-terrorist spy, although the employment years he provided indicated he would have been in elementary school at the time.
  2. HR experts and guidance. Any company, regardless of size, can get so busy that it overlooks simple precautions, like training. Work with an HR expert to ensure your hiring team knows the right (and legal!) questions to ask and understands other methods of assessing skills that are essential to finding candidates who are a good fit vs. ones who aren’t the people they claim to be.
  3. Employment background checks. If employment background checks seem like a no-brainer, they aren’t. Formal background checks are oftentimes skipped because of cost and/or time. Trust me, this is not a step to skip. A background check on White would have shown her criminal record and perhaps highlighted inconsistencies about the person whose identity she had swiped.
  4. References, education and more. You ask job candidates to provide you with considerable information when they apply for a job, but less than one-half of employers check education credentials for new hires. How many even check references? Do yourself a favor — review the information that’s submitted by candidates and take the time to do your due diligence. All of it.
  5. Personality assessment tests. A personality profile test can inform you on whether an applicant’s behavioral traits might be suitable for the job by comparing their scores with a job’s requirements. So, for example, if an applicant were applying for a sales role and turns out to be a slow-moving, overly accommodating, risk-averse personality, you may instead consider them for a customer service role.

If all of this pre-hire screening seems daunting, call a good HR outsourcing firm and see how much of this they can handle for you. At Stratus.hr, we provide clients with the tools, training, and expertise they need for any employment-related issue to make their lives easier and keep their businesses legally compliant. For more information, please request a free demo.

lying on resume

If large companies with endless resources can be fooled, how can small businesses prevent hiring a liar?

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Are You Asking Illegal Questions During an Interview?

By | Articles, Discrimination, General HR, Manager Training, Newsletter | No Comments

Most employers are smart enough to not knowingly do something illegal. But did you know that making small talk with candidates may lead to unintentional work-around questions that could put your business at risk?

Here’s what I mean.

Let’s say you interview candidate A. You ask a few questions, like “How many years of experience do you have?” “Are you married?” “Tell me about your family – do you have kids or plan to?” “Where did you learn to speak Spanish?” “What’s your management style?” You finish the interview thinking she’s pretty amazing and would make a great addition to the team. But then candidate B comes in. You ask her about the tools she uses to do the job, how many years of experience she has, where she got those great shoes, and does she have a nickname.

Candidate B has a little less experience than candidate A, but she has extensive experience with the tools your company uses and has a documented record of success with them. Candidate A has none of the above. This means Candidate B could be up and running in week one. You offer the job to her.

Then a lawsuit shows up: candidate A claims you discriminated against her because she indicated she plans to have kids someday (remember asking her about her family?). Candidate B’s kids are already in college. There’s no way you’re getting out of this one.

Although you were just trying to get to know the candidates better, your small talk included several “Illegal” interview questions that could point to a bias: that you didn’t want a candidate who might go on maternity leave or need to miss a day with a sick kid.

Questions employers can’t ask during an interview

Beyond the topics made off-limits by the EEOC, there are other taboo subjects that should not be asked about in a job interview such as unemployment status, financial situation, medical history/health, and more. Some states and municipalities also ban employers from asking salary history — regardless of whether the company operates in the state or are simply talking to a candidate who resides there. Violating any of these can put you at risk of a lawsuit.

There’s more: you can’t rig your applicant tracking system to ask or screen based on questions like these (even if not stated directly), nor can you write job descriptions that weed out candidates before they ever apply. Facebook learned this the hard way in 2013 when it settled a case with the State of California stemming from employments ads with a stated preference for college grads from the classes of 2007 or 2008 — definitely not something you want to do after your CEO publicly states that “young people are just smarter.” That means employment ads that seek “digital natives” won’t fly, nor will setting up your applicant tracking system to weed out anyone with more than seven years of experience, which could eliminate workers over the age of 40 (they’re protected). By the way, the Facebook incident isn’t an anomaly: additional similar lawsuits are currently pending in California and New York, a number of which target tech companies.

Do managers know the rules of interviewing?

Even if you know the rules, every person in the hiring process at your company may not. Large companies with strong training programs have even fallen short when it comes to teaching managers what’s right and wrong with screening job candidates. The 2013 lawsuit against Abercrombie & Fitch in which an applicant wasn’t hired because of her headscarf serves as a great lesson: compliance concerns start the moment you write a job description and continue through the end of your relationship with the job candidate.

Beyond reviewing the EEOC rules, I advise all companies, regardless of size, to invest in training for anyone who could become involved at any stage of the hiring process, and to ensure you have someone available to stay up to date on compliance fails at other organizations, too. Interview-related employer mistakes can get incredibly costly. The Abercrombie lawsuit cost the company $25,000 to settle, but much more in legal fees and bad PR. In May, 2018, a restaurant chain in Florida agreed to pay a $2.85 million settlement for telling job candidates that they didn’t hire “old white guys.” (Yes, I’m serious.) New class-action suits are also pending that focus directly on targeted ad placement.

Any way you look at it, hiring can be a costly proposition for employers. It pays to stay up to date on all rules.

Preventing illegal interview questions — and a big legal nightmare

One of the easiest ways to avoid costly errors when you don’t have a large HR team with experts that oversee compliance is to work with a professional HR outsourcing firm that will do this for you. But before you sign on for outsourced HR services, check to ensure the company you’re talking to includes compliance monitoring and manager training as part of their services. If they say “yes,” press further: what exactly do they do? For example, at Stratus.hr, we monitor our clients’ growth and notify them whenever they’ve reached a new compliance threshold and what the regulation in question will mean to the company. We can also review job descriptions and set them up with an applicant tracking system so the application process doesn’t venture into “illegal” territory. (I have personally coached some of our clients’ management teams on what is and isn’t allowed.)

One last thing: you may want to watch some of our Facebook Live videos where we discuss HR topics that concern employers and employees (or prospective ones). I did one recently that coached employees on what THEY shouldn’t do during an interview. They’re short, fast, free to watch, and definitely worth a look.

Illegal Job Interview Questions

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In 2017, CNBC conducted a poll on illegal questions in interviews with the Associated Press. More than 1,000 answered as follows:

  • 10% of interviewees were asked if they were pregnant or planning to be
  • 35% were asked their age
  • 35% were asked if they were married

What all of these have in common is that they’re illegal interview questions — the kind that, if asked, could land a company of any size in hot water.

The EEOC bars the following questions during job interviews:

  • Whether applicant is pregnant
  • Marital status of applicant or whether applicant plans to marry
  • Religious affiliation
  • Number and age of children or future childbearing plans
  • Child care arrangements
  • Employment status of spouse
  • Name of spouse
  • Color
  • Country of origin
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Disability
  • Genetic information
  • Sexual orientation

Want to learn more about how Stratus.hr can help protect your business? Request a free quote today!









Put down that phone! Advice for using cell phones at work

By | Articles, General HR, Manager Training, Newsletter, Performance | No Comments

Cell phone etiquette is a must in today’s workplace. So it’s no wonder that companies and workers ask me regularly about what to do with phones at work. Yes, your cell phone has the power to make you incredibly productive, but when that cell phone is in the workplace, there can be a fine line between productivity and distraction — and no one wants you to cross it.

What should you do? Start with following five recommendations:

1. Cell Phone Placement

Tucked away and out of site is the best place for a cell phone at work. But if you’re anticipating an important call and/or you’re a parent who may get an unexpected call from the school or daycare, it’s okay to have your phone out as long as you turn the ringer off. If you use your cell phone for business use, opt for a professional ringtone. Yes, that means it’s finally time to replace Crazy Train. Sorry, Ozzy.

2. Texting

It would be silly for me to ask if you’ve ever been in a conversation with someone who stopped talking mid-sentence to read a text they just received. Why? Because it happens. All the time. And the message you hear is that the person’s text is way more important than this face-to-face discussion. Whether you’re in a one-on-one meeting or a casual convo, stay focused on the in-person person, not the text you just got. In general, texting at work screams “unprofessional!” and gives everyone the impression that you’re more focused on personal matters rather than professional ones (even if you’re answering business-related texts). Save responses for break time. Or you could do what the rest of the world does: take the phone to the restroom with you and, um, multitask.

3. Meeting Etiquette

You’ve heard of companies that have banned cell phones in meetings, right? While the practice is less common today, that doesn’t make it okay to check email, Facebook, MLB line scores or your Candy Crush record. Remember why you’re in the meeting, put the phone away, and give the presenter your undivided attention. Again, there will be occasional exceptions — in those cases, let the presenter know that you’ve received a very important call and apologize profusely. What’s an important message? Urgent work-related calls from someone who outranks the presenter, although a call from the police department, hospital or babysitter might count, too. What’s not urgent? A call from a coworker who needs your input on lunch, a reminder from the doctor’s office that you have an appointment the next day, or any call that starts with “This is the warranty department …” In general, you’ll know before the meeting if a message important enough to stop you in your tracks is going to come through. Apologize in advance and tell the presenter that you may need to step out and take the call. And definitely quash the urge to look at your phone under the table during any meeting. (We all know exactly what you’re doing.)

4. Voice and Phone Volume Etiquette

Here’s a fun game for the rest of the world: it’s called listening in to your calls. We all play it anytime a cell phone is used anywhere near us. Co-workers can quickly learn how much you’re spending on that new boat, your credit card number, and which of your relatives needs a cash boost. Advice: take/make calls somewhere private (no, the restroom is not private). If it’s a work-related, urgent call that you have to take at your desk, be mindful of how loudly you’re speaking. This goes double when you’re using a Bluetooth device, which has the tendency to make people speak even louder. One more tip: don’t check voicemail via speaker. When you do, you destroy any semblance of confidentiality that the caller was hoping to maintain, share the caller’s personal info, and distract everyone within earshot.

5. Social Media Etiquette

Some reports estimate Facebook users check their accounts 15-17 times a day. But whose productivity can take that kind of hit?! Truthfully, nothing happens on social media that is so urgent that you’ll ever need to respond immediately. Still, if FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a real concern for you, devote your break time to checking in with your network. Otherwise, silence or turn off all your social media notifications while at work so you’re not accidentally distracted. By the way, if you’re really serious about limiting your social media and/or other app usage on your phone, there are apps that can track how much time you’re spending and/or help you limit your usage to specific times of the day. Digital Trends published a list for both IOS and Android that can help you get you started.

If you’ve seen some of these behaviors displayed at work and aren’t sure about what is or isn’t acceptable, ask if your company has a cell phone use policy. Some workplaces are really strict, whereas others promote their casual culture. Although truthfully, there are very few workday interruptions that need our attention immediately. We all get more done — and faster — if we put our phones away. Set the example for the rest of the team; it might just inspire a few co-workers to do the same.

cell phone at work

Cell phone etiquette: what are the rules when a company doesn’t (or does) have a policy for cell phones at work?
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Compliance fails! What startups consistently overlook

By | Articles, Company Growth, General HR, Risk Management | No Comments

If you’ve ever started a business, you already know that from the day you hire your first employee, you’re under scrutiny. With just one person on your payroll, you immediately agree to abide by a whole slew of government regulations pertaining to employee management, any of which can be accidentally violated.

When compliance violations occur, it’s not usually because you’re trying to shun responsibilities. There are just so many regulations to contend with that it’s easy to miss something.

Compliance violations: real stories of harassment, discrimination, Fair Credit Reporting and more

I’ll give you some examples of what I mean, starting with an easy one: Uber. We’ve all heard about the HR nightmare there (sexual harassment and so much more), which could have easily been stopped before it ever started. Uber handed off the problem to a person on the startup’s HR team, who was anything but an expert on how to handle the situation. End result: loss of top management, total corporate shakeup, bad press, loss of customers, lawsuits and more. It’s the screw up that keeps on giving. Incidentally, a separate incident surrounding whether drivers were really contractors or if they should have been classified as employees could have also been avoided that way.

Startups don’t get to have all the fun though. Abercrombie & Fitch lost a lawsuit after a manager denied an applicant a position because of the applicant’s headscarf. McDonald’s had the same fate when one of its managers cancelled and refused to reschedule an interview with a deaf applicant who required an interpreter. These were violations of separate rules: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the ADA, respectively. Any company with at least 15 employees has to comply with both of these.

There’s more. Earlier this year, a company in Texas was found to be in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act when it tried to lump a disclosure, authorization, and a liability waiver into one. Why? This “efficiency” didn’t comply with the law. You need a total of one (1) employee to be liable here.

A few years back, Convergys lost a suit because of a scheduling problem. Actually it’s a little more complex than that: the job applicant said he would be unable to work the Jewish Sabbath so the recruiter ended the interview, explaining that working Saturdays was a must. The EEOC disagreed, saying the company was large enough to provide an alternative work schedule. (Read the full article here.)

Health matters can also be a concern. An office manager in Pennsylvania who had been missing work due to medical problems ultimately received a poor performance review from a supervisor who noted she needed to “improve her overall health and cut down on the days she misses due to illness” and “start taking better care of [her]self.” After the supervisor terminated her because her work performance had not improved, it was deemed the supervisor was in violation of the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act), which also applies to any business with 50+ employees.

I’m leaving a lot out here. We could talk about retaliation, one of the top employment discrimination claims; age discrimination, which is on the rise and that companies are at risk of violating the moment you reach 20 employees (Texas Roadhouse paid out $12 million in 2017 because of it); pregnancy accommodations (ask UPS how that worked out), which you need to make with just 15 employees; and so many more.

Why ignoring startup regulations in HR could cripple your success

Oftentimes, compliance issues aren’t directly the fault of the employer. The actions can frequently be traced back to an uninformed manager or other representative of the business. But all of these incidents add up to one thing: there are big, expensive risks for small businesses today when they are managing employees. Complying with regulations, however, isn’t just a legal requirement; it’s also essential to success. Finding a solution that protects your business can make all the difference in the world.

Compliance management is, in my opinion, one of the most valuable services a PEO can offer. Your PEO will tell you when you’ve reached a new regulation threshold, how legislation will affect you, and do everything in its power to make sure you’re not violating any employment laws, even as your company is growing. And since it’s handling other HR aspects of your business, you don’t find out too late — any new regulation thresholds you hit will be applied to the work the PEO is already doing for you. So if ACA reporting requirements change and the PEO is handling your payroll, those changes will be reflected immediately, not after you get around to opening the email someone sent you three weeks ago about the topic.

All in all, having a PEO manage your compliance is going to be one of the smartest and safest moves your business makes.

Startup Business - Compliance Fails

It seems like a pretty simple concept — you comply with the rules and survive. But complying with each new batch of regulations that crops up gets more difficult when your business is growing.

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Request a free quote today from Stratus.hr and learn how affordable it is to have our team manage your compliance.









5 Ways You’re Losing as an Employer

By | Articles, Employee Morale, General HR, Manager Training, Performance, Retention, Turnover | No Comments

There’s a phenomenon that many HR nerds refer to as the employee lifecycle, and if it’s something you’re not managing, you may be losing out as an employer.

The employee lifecycle refers to the various stages of relationship that an employee has with their employer. Human resources plays a key role in every aspect of the employee lifecycle. Here’s what I mean.

  1. Recruiting

Recruiting efforts can have a lasting impact on the entire company, which also affects the company’s future performance. Consider a prospective employee with incredible talent who doesn’t get the right impression of your business from day one. Without a second thought, they may easily turn to other prospective job options. How do you combat this?

  • Show that you’re up-to-date with technology by offering an applicant tracking system, allowing employees to apply online for vacant positions and maintaining communication through all stages of the application process.
  • Provide interviewer training for your managers to maintain consistency and reduce risks.
  • Be competitive with overall compensation packages.
  1. Onboarding

Did you know that 20% of employees depart in the first 45 days of employment? Studies have shown that proper onboarding can reduce turnover. Here’s where to start:

  • Provide digital paperwork so that new employees can complete all new hire paperwork before ever coming to work, allowing their first day on the job to be productive.
  • Ensure your employee handbook is up-to-date so that policies are never a question.
  • Make all employer information and benefit details easily accessible.
  • Train managers on proper onboarding techniques to ensure consistency and reduce risks.
  • Have all the necessary tools ready for the new employee on day one, such as email, computer and phone.
  • Follow these other onboarding tips.
  1. Career development and training.

Employee retention is closely tied to an employee’s satisfaction with the workplace and their individual role. Now settled in, employees are looking to take on more responsibilities to help the business succeed. Here are some tips to make this become reality:

  • Communicate your expectations and how employees are doing with regular one-on-one meetings, performance reviews, goal setting, and so on.
  • Develop employees with trainings and opportunities to position them for future growth.
  • Ensure all staff members are aware of internal job opportunities to encourage growth from within.
  • Maintain employee information in a cloud-based system for management to quickly review details needed for advancement decisions.
  1. Employee engagement, employee recognition and employee relations.

Even if you’ve trained and taught your employees everything they need to know to be successful, they also need to feel valued. Now you need to keep motivation high and cultivate a workplace where respect is paramount, information is easy to obtain, and employees understand how essential they are to the success of the business. How do you do this?

  • Create team building opportunities to help employees engage with each other.
  • Implement employee recognition programs to sustain momentum.
  • Determine how the workplace is doing through employee surveys.
  • Conduct stay interviews.
  • Investigate and document workplace violations and conflicts to ensure resolutions conform with policy.
  1. Termination

There’s an inherent risk associated with employment termination, whether it’s employee- or employer-initiated. The best way to protect yourself and the employee is to maintain positive relationships whenever possible and have policies in place before a split occurs. Emotions, regardless of a positive or less-than-desirable split, naturally run high for everyone involved. Mitigating risks to the employer is the number one goal during this stage. Here’s how:

  • Provide answers regarding benefits, final paycheck, retirement policies and more in a respectful and courteous manner. It’s not uncommon for a former employee to return to a workplace, even years later.
  • Develop termination policies and procedures to help reduce risks.
  • Disseminate and complete paperwork pertaining to departure.
  • Provide timely final pay and other due compensation.
  • Conduct exit interviews.

Not all small businesses are capable of taking on each stage of the employee lifecycle, which is just one of the reasons it’s a good idea to work with a full-service HR outsourcing firm or PEO like Stratus.hr. You’ll access employee management technology, essential human resource services, affordable and competitive benefits plans, risk management assistance, digital HR tools, and more. Request a free demo today for more information.

5 ways losing as employer

Whether you have an in-house HR team or you outsource your HR, you should be turning to these professionals to ensure you’re optimizing each stage of the employee lifecycle to help you win each phase of employment.

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