The Changing Face of Paid-Time-Off

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unlimited vacation paid sick leave The Changing Face of Paid-Time-Off

With a lot of attention around employee benefits focused around the 2014 ACA’s employer mandate, another major evolving trend in employee benefits, i.e. paid time off, has been largely overlooked in comparison to the healthcare law. However, two primary topics within the realm of paid time off have made considerable, if not short lived, splashes in the news media over the course of 2014.

Unlimited Vacation Time

Of course there was Virgin’s big announcement about its new “unlimited vacation time” policy. Although Virgin is certainly not the first large company to implement such a policy, the public nature of this particular announcement triggered much discussion in the world of HR about the impact of an “unlimited” policy for both the employer and the employee. Several others, most notably The LA Times, followed suit in 2014, again with mixed reactions.
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Hot Holiday Gifts for Employees & Employee Reward Gifts

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holiday gifts for employees employee reward gifts Hot Holiday Gifts & Employee Rewards in 2014

The 2014 ERC Holiday Practices Survey found that 57% of Northeast Ohio employers plan to distribute gifts to their employees in the 2014 holiday season.

For the past several years, this figure has remained largely stagnant, as has the top gift of the season: gift cards. Employers choose gift cards for many of the same reasons as individuals might, including that employers can easily purchase and distribute large quantities of these gifts no matter how large or small their organization.

In some cases employers also noted that they were able to purchase these gift cards using reward points from corporate credit cards, making them a virtually cost-free gift giving option.

Other consistently reported gifts, from most popular to least in 2014, include:

  • Cash
  • Company logo items ranging from clothing to mugs
  • A variety of foodstuffs, such as turkeys and hams (sometimes one at Thanksgiving and the other at Christmas)
  • Raffle items as gifts
  • Gift baskets, again largely made up of various foodstuffs
  • Clothing, including outerwear
  • Electronics
  • Candy

Several unique observations can be made about this 2014’s list. First, one item that was noticeably absent from this year’s list of gifts was alcohol. Although, it has been on the decline in recent years, 2014 is the first year in which no organizations reported gifting alcohol to employees. Candy has also fallen to very low levels, this year reported as the gift of choice at only 2% of organizations.

As a cost saving measure, larger items, such as electronics or more extravagant gift cards or cash are sometimes raffled off at holiday parties. However, organization choosing to raffle off larger items typically still provided smaller gift cards, etc to all employees in order to maintain some equity among the staff.

Despite the decline in popularity of some of these smaller token items, another option that employers often consider as the holidays approach is actually on the rise, i.e., the traditional holiday bonus. A nearly identical proportion of the overall participants in 2014 are giving holiday bonuses as did 2013, i.e. 30%.

However, every year since 2010, the average size of this cash holiday bonus has increased, up by over $150 since 2013 to $980 in 2014. The qualifications for receiving this bonus are primarily focused on the performance of the individual and/or the performance of the company (in terms of profitability) over the year. However, still other organization indicate that all employees receive a holiday bonus regardless of these performance measures.

View ERC's Holiday Practices and Paid Holiday Survey Results

These surveys report on which holidays Northeast Ohio organizations plan to observe as well as holiday parties, gift giving, and more ideas for the holiday season.

View the Results

29 Ways to Celebrate the Holidays at the Office

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holiday celebration ideas 29 Ways to Celebrate the Holidays at the Office

Winter brings a lot of things we find hard to embrace: snow, cold weather, taking 10 minutes to bundle up for the cold, and more snow. But with all of the hassles of winter, it also brings along something we can embrace: the holidays!

The holidays are a great way to bring your office together and celebrate through gifts, contests, food and decorations.

Here is a list of 29 ideas for your holiday office celebrations.

  1. Have employees decorate their office door and have a contest among everyone
  2. Host an office potluck
  3. Holiday office bingo
  4. Get an Elf on the Shelf and have the elf leave small gifts for different employees each day
  5. Decorate your cubicle and have a cube contest
  6. Host a hot chocolate bar with different toppings
  7. Have fun pizzas in the shape of Christmas trees and have employees decorate the trees
  8. Make it a family affair and bring in a Santa for the employee’s children
  9. Host a bake-off among all the employees
  10. Rent a photo booth for your holiday party
  11. Incorporate a charitable cause and donate gifts from your organization, such as Toys for Tots or Trees for Troops
  12. Organize a white elephant gift exchange with your employees
  13. Shoot a holiday video with employees to share with your customers - Don’t have a camera lying around? Use your smartphone!
  14. Have employees bring in their favorite cookie and have a cookie tasting
  15. Host an ugly holiday sweater day at the office
  16. Set up a holiday card exchange for employees
  17. Get your employees together to watch a holiday movie, like A Christmas Story, and make popcorn and hot chocolate in the office
  18. Get employees together and do some caroling around the other offices in your area
  19. Surprise unsuspecting people that you see at your office on a weekly basis with a little gift, such as the UPS driver that is always bringing packages to your office
  20. Do a craft with your employees like you did in grade school, such as snow globes made out of baby food jars
  21. Get the office to decorate a centralized Christmas tree in the office
  22. Play a game of minute to win it: holiday edition
  23. For smaller offices: get everyone a stocking to fill with gifts
  24. Organize a snowman building contest
  25. Put marshmallows into a large jar and have all of the employees guess how many are in the jar- the employee closest to the exact number will win a prize
  26. Buy some wrapping paper and bows and cover your artwork in it to make your office look more festive
  27. Decorate your office windows with spray snow and have your employees write holiday messages to each other
  28. For the New Year, have your employees write down a prediction for the upcoming year and create a time-capsule. Open it up with your employees 1 year later and see who was right
  29. Give employees company logo items, ranging from clothing to mugs, as a thank you for their work this year

View ERC's Holiday Practices and Paid Holiday Survey Results

These surveys report on which holidays Northeast Ohio organizations plan to observe as well as holiday parties, gift giving, and more ideas for the holiday season.

View the Results

9 Ways to Recognize Your Employees this Holiday Season

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9 Ways to Recognize Your Employees this Holiday Season

Employee recognition is constantly evolving in the workplace. Today, it goes way beyond the traditional financial reward for doing a great job. Though employees appreciate a financial reward, it’s a short term solution. Employees need more then constructive criticism and positive affirmation. They not only want to see they are doing a great job, but feel that they are doing a great job.

With the holidays right around the corner, here are 9 approaches to making sure your employees not only see they are succeeding at the workplace, but feel that they are succeeding at work-especially this holiday season.
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The Ultimate Guide to Training in 2015

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hr training topics The Ultimate Guide to Training in 2015

If your organization is like most, a guiding question for your 2015 planning will likely be some version of this question: “What kinds of training & development programs should we choose that will help ensure we are able to attract and retain talented employees, as well as prevent regrettable attrition, within our organization in 2015 and beyond?” What follows is a snapshot of some of the most popular training topics for 2014 and into 2015, along with a brief explanation of how they can each be leveraged to the benefit of the organization.

Up & Coming

Leadership Development

Pointing to the need to refocus attention on the longevity of an organization and the generational shift towards Millenials that is occurring in the overall workforce, leadership development is definitely on the list of hot training topics on the rise.
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Is IT Salary Growth Keeping Pace with Job Demand?

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Is-IT-Salary-Growth-Keeping-Pace-with-Job-Demand

With much discussion in 2014 over what city will be the next Silicon Valley, it seems as if every job market is trying to get its share of high tech industry investment, and along with the companies, a share of the tech talent needed to make these companies successful.

Locally, the job market is as competitive as ever with a 2014 article from Crain’s Cleveland Business describing several real life scenarios from Northeast Ohio tech companies involving “super crazy demand” for highly specialized skills within IT, recruitment of passive candidates away from gainful employment, and a focus on creating workplace cultures to lure top talent into new companies, just to name a few.

While the subjective influences that may be at play in this seemingly chaotic battle for top tech talent are a bit more amorphous and take time to develop (i.e. creating an appealing brand or organizational culture) there are also key objective facts that can be identified as likely contributors to the competitive and complex nature of the IT job market.
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Time-Off Roundup: Holidays, Unlimited Vacation and More

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Time-Off Roundup: Holidays, Unlimited Vacation and More

Vacation policy: it may be one of the most important components of the compensation package to some people. Offering time-off options to employees is pretty varied, including holidays, vacations, sick leave, personal leave, and bereavement leave. These types of benefits are quite valuable to employees when analyzing the benefits package at a potential new job.

But as more information piles up that employees work better when they have more time to recharge and be away from work, why do so many businesses still cling to outdated vacation and holiday policies? Well companies like Netflix and Virgin Mobile are hearing employee’s needs loud and clear, and are coming up with different ways to meet those needs.

Let’s take a look at what companies are doing when it comes to unlimited time-off and holiday time-off.
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Is Your Office Halloween Party Scaring the HR Department?

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Is Your Office Party Scaring the HR Department

The upcoming holiday season always brings with it an assortment of potential HR headaches (think vacation schedules, alcohol at the holiday party, the list goes on…). But before we even get into November, Halloween presents its own set of pitfalls and concerns that can make HR professionals cringe.

So if you already have a Halloween party on the office calendar this year, here are a few HR-approved tips that you might want to consider.

Tip #1

Remind employees that even though it’s a Halloween party, they are still at a work function. Although the code of conduct may be more or less relaxed at your particular organization depending on your culture, they are still in the workplace.

Make sure to send out an office-wide email with dress code and conduct expectations or information in advance.

You can also reference your Employee Handbook to remind everyone they still have to abide by the organization’s policies.

Tip #2

Provide employees with specific guidelines about costumes in advance.

Again, this may depend a bit on your organizational culture, but whatever the restrictions are, make sure they fit with your policies on harassment, dress code, weapons, etc.

If employees will be wearing costumes throughout the workday, make sure they can perform their basic work functions and still be productive. While this is particularly important for manufacturers who need to be worried about safety of their line employees, you also can’t type on a keyboard very well if your costume includes giant clawed hands.

Tip #3

Take into consideration whether or not some employees may find certain Halloween decorations offensive. While you can’t predict if an employee is going to make a costume choice that is in poor taste (although you can do your best per Tip #1), you, the employer, can take steps to make sure that anything you are contributing to the celebration is well thought out. This is supposed to be fun (for everyone), not create a hostile work environment.

Tip #4

Think about the timing of the event in advance and check with others about their schedules. If your business is going to have clients coming in for meetings (and again, know your culture), you may want to ask employees to refrain from changing into their costumes until after the last guest has left the office for the day.

Timing may also impact whether or not alcohol is a factor, i.e., if it’s a luncheon during the workday, serving alcohol is out of the question.

However, you’ll want to decide if employees will need to change back into regular clothes following the lunch hour festivities and make sure that’s communicated in advance.

Tip #5

Consider a “Harvest” or “Fall” celebration instead. If you have significant concerns over a Halloween themed party and the complications that costumes and decorations bring with them, maybe a Halloween party simply isn’t right for your workplace. There are still plenty of fun team building events or parties you can put on to celebrate the season without even mentioning Halloween.

Halloween Activity Ideas

Pumpkin Carving

If your organization doesn’t have a big budget for Halloween, consider a simple pumpkin carving activity! This is also great for organizations in which time is an issue. Pumpkin carving can be an hour-long, end-of-day activity at 4:00pm.

Candy Corn Guessing Game

This is another great activity for the time-restrained yet festive organization. Have a jar filled with candy corn in a central location or at an HR employee’s desk and take guesses throughout the week on how many pieces of candy corn are in the jar. The winner takes home a $10 giftcard!

Trick or Treating

Adults like candy too! Encourage employees to bring in treats to share with one another. Employees can go office to office or cubicle to cubicle trick or treating! Not only does this result in a festive, fun activity but it promotes engagement and morale between employees.

Happy Halloween from all of us at ERC and good luck! 

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What To Do When You Don't Have a Policy in Place

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What To Do When You Don't Have a Policy in Place

We've all been there. Something questionable happens in the workplace with an employee, but there is nothing in the handbook that defines what should be done. How do you handle issues that arise in the company when there hasn’t been any policies defined?

You want to have policies and procedures in place to ensure a safe, organized, comfortable and nondiscriminatory work environment. On the other hand, it’s impossible to have rules or policies in place for every situation (and no one wants to work for an employer who does).

You don’t want to have a policy in place for everything because it could allow for little room for management when addressing individual employee needs. On the other hand, you want to have certain policies in place so employees never feel as if they work in an extremely laid back environment.
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