Fitness Tip: Starting a Fitness Program

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In the beginning, your fitness plan should not be overly aggressive.

One of the biggest problems most people encounter when starting a fitness program is rapidly depleted motivation after only a few weeks due to an overly ambitious fitness plan.

Two days per week of 20-minute low-intensity cardiovascular exercise (walking, jogging, biking, swimming); and two days per week of 30-minute light resistance training (using weights or resistance machines) is adequate in the beginning.

As you become acclimated to the lifestyle “shift” you can add more days and get improved results. But beware: if you try to do too much too fast, you may end up quitting altogether.

If you’ve tried and failed doing it alone, get a training partner or personal trainer who will help you sustain your motivation.

Established in 1996, Fitness Together has led the industry for one-on-one personal fitness training. 

Healthy Tip: How to Avoid Excess Salt

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By Heather Butscher, MS, RD, LD
Outpatient Clinical Dietitian
University Hospitals Health System

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, adult Americans in 2012 consume double the amount of salt and sodium recommended – much of this can be blamed on eating “faster food choices”. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that Americans reduce salt and sodium intake to less then 2,300 milligrams (mg), and further reduce intake to less then 1,500 mg among persons who are: 51 and older, those of any age who are African American, have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. USDA recommends preparing (from scratch) more meals at home where there is more control to use little or no salt seasonings.

If going out to eat, watching sodium is imperative.

Individuals should use the following strategies when dining out:

  • Ask how foods are prepared and request that meal be prepared without added salt, MSG, or salt-containing ingredients.
  • Use alternative low sodium spices to add flavor – pepper, oregano, curry or crushed red pepper.
  • Know the terms that indicate high sodium foods such as pickled, cured, soy sauce, and broth.
  • Move the salt shaker away.
  • Limit condiments, such as mustard, catsup, pickles, and sauces with salt-containing ingredients.

These tactics can really help to reduce the amount of sodium consumed when dining out.

Eating away from home can be healthy. Strive to include measures that help to reduce salt and sodium by selecting lower sodium foods and limiting added salt. So become a savvy diner and you can still enjoy dining out; most importantly, you will also be able to enjoy your good health.

University Hospitals, one of the nation’s leading health care systems, has partnered with ERC to offer significant discounts to its members.

4 Strategies to Combat Turnover

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Turnover is a reality for every business. It can be a warning sign that something is wrong with our workplace, managers, or teams that needs to be fixed. It can also signal that we might be hiring poor fits into the organization.

The problem of turnover demands that we understand why we are not able to retain some of our employees and fix it before the situation spirals and we lose many talented employees. Here are 4 strategies to combat turnover.

Step 1: Track it.

The first step to deal with turnover is to track and benchmark it. You must understand how your numbers compare to normal turnover for your industry and size and if the turnover you are experiencing is healthy or unhealthy for your business. For example, are your best employees leaving or are your new-hires leaving, and is turnover primarily voluntary or involuntary? At a minimum, track the following types of turnover:

  • Voluntary and involuntary turnover
  • All employee and top performer turnover
  • New-hire turnover at intervals (90 days, 180 days, and 1 year)

Step 2: Research the context.

The second step in combating turnover is to research the context of the termination, including the work area affected and characteristics of the employee. You'll also want to explore the former employee's reason for leaving as well as their supervisor's and coworkers' feedback on the termination. Turnover issues tend to follow a pattern so look for trends in the following:

  • Work area (location, division, department, team, and supervisor)
  • Individual characteristics (length of service, performance, type of job)
  • Reason for leaving (per exit interview/survey)
  • Supervisor and team feedback

Step 3: Identify critical incidences.

Turnover is generally not caused by a single workplace event. Research shows that turnover results from a process of progressive disengagement, which can take weeks, months, and sometimes even years to escalate to a final decision. Eventually, however, a critical incident causes an employee to decide to quit.

To understand the cause of turnover and fix it, you need to identify these critical turning points and causes of disengagement so that repeat scenarios with other employees are prevented. Examine what went wrong, what you could have done differently, and how you will approach a similar situation in the future.

Step 4: Implement interventions.

After determining the causes and context of turnover and putting together the pieces of each former employee's story, there are several major interventions that you can use to solve turnover problems. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Job design: changing a job's design, reducing workload, providing more training, or enhancing employees' skills
  • Management: training or developing a manager's skills, removing a manager from their position, improving performance management or feedback
  • Hiring and selection: making a change in the hiring or selection procedure, enhancing on-boarding
  • Communication: communicating changes and reasons for changes, being sensitive to and dealing with employee reactions, managing and mediating coworker conflict
  • Total rewards: making changes to pay and benefits, enhancing advancement opportunities, enhancing work/life benefits

Turnover is as critical to monitor and address as expenses in your organization. It is a lost investment in your business that can take significant time and money to recover, especially when you lose a high performer. While there’s no magic bullet solution to prevent it, your organization can better manage turnover by tracking it, better understanding why it happens, and implementing interventions that deal with it.

Additional Resources

2012 ERC Turnover & HR Department Practices Survey
This survey collected information from Northeast Ohio employers on voluntary and involuntary turnover of employees and new-hires as well as HR department practices including the role of HR, common HR metrics and benchmarks, and the use of technology and information systems within the HR department.

How to Build Your Own Great Workplace

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At ERC, we believe that creating a great workplace is about creating an environment and culture that supports the talent your organization needs to be and stay successful. It means creating a place in which great talent want to come work and where they want to stay and build their career. It’s about enabling superior performance and eliminating the policies, practices, and norms in your workplace that hinder your top people’s success, progress, and innovation.

If this sounds like something your organization wants to achieve, here are 5 steps we recommend for creating a great workplace.

1. Commit to creating a great workplace.

Making a true commitment to be an employer of choice is the first and hardest part of creating a great workplace. It requires getting your management team on-board with their support, securing and committing resources for the initiative, and creating a vision of where you see your workplace in the next 3-5 years. It also entails meeting regularly with your managers to talk about and identify ways to enhance your workplace. You can't create a great workplace without your leadership and managers on-board, the willingness to put resources behind the effort, and on-going discussion.

2. Identify your top performers.

Great workplaces are built from great people. This requires hiring the right people from your receptionist to line employees to managers to top leadership. Rarely do organizations have all the right people. This is why it is especially important to identify who your top performers are and define what attributes top performers have at your organization. Knowing which employees are successful and why they are effective will help you hire more of those people, create a workplace that meets their needs, and weed out the wrong fits.

3. Ask employees for their feedback.

Great workplaces have feedback-rich cultures that care about, appreciate, and use employees' input, ideas, and opinions. To create and maintain a great workplace, you need to know what engages your people, specifically what would make them stay, what would make them leave, and what is important to them. In our experience, the answers to these questions (though similar) vary by organization. Whether it's conducting one-on-ones, focus group discussions, or an engagement survey, start somewhere and invite employees to share their feedback.

4. Benchmark your practices.

Data and measurement are important parts of creating a great place to work. In order to create a great workplace, you must gauge how you stack up against other employers of choice – how your total rewards package, policies, culture, and results compare to the standards set by best-in-class organizations. This not only helps your organization determine what it takes to be a great place to work, but after determining where the gaps are, you can develop strategies to help build, change, and enhance your policies and practices.

5. Evaluate your progress.

Building a great place to work is an on-going endeavor – it never ends. It will require constant attention, changes, and improvements. It will also require that you monitor and evaluate your progress regularly to make sure that you are meeting your goals in becoming a great place to work.

If your organization is progressing towards becoming a great place to work, over time it will see its investments pay off. Attracting and hiring top talent gets easier, great talent sticks around, your workforce is more engaged and productive, and your workplace’s reputation improves. The road to a great workplace is undoubtedly a path that is worth pursuing if your organization wants to secure top talent to achieve long-term success.

Additional Resources

NorthCoast 99 – 99 Best Places to Work in Northeast Ohio If your organization is interested in being recognized as a best place to work and thinks it excels at attracting and retaining top talent, begin your application today!

Benchmark Reports Interested in targeted metrics for top performers and benchmarking how your organization's practices for attracting and retaining top talent compare to others in the region? Please take a look at our benchmark reports which provide tons of information on great workplaces and top performers.

Consulting & Project Assistance
ERC is a leading provider of quality, affordable human resources consulting services in Ohio. Our HR consulting services provide the crucial strategic and technical expertise needed to support your HR goals and workplace initiatives.

Several ERC Members Awarded 2012 NEO Success Awards

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Congratulations to the following ERC Members who were recently recognized by Inside Business Magazine as 2012 NEO Success Award Winners:

  • AdvoCare Inc.
  • Alliance Staffing Solutions
  • Ardleigh Minerals, Inc.
  • Briteskies, LLC
  • Child Guidance & Family Solutions
  • Cohen & Company, Ltd.
  • Corporate Screening Services
  • Embrace Pet Insurance
  • Fairmount Minerals LTD
  • Family Heritage Life
  • Fathom SEO
  • Findaway World
  • Garland Industries, Inc.
  • Howard Wershbale & Co.
  • Hyland Software
  • Inverness Holdings
  • Knotice
  • mbi | k2m Architecture, Inc.
  • National Interstate Insurance Co.
  • Nook Industries, Inc.
  • Nordson Corporation
  • Olympic Steel
  • Oswald Companies
  • PartsSource, Inc.
  • Price for Profit
  • RADCom, Inc.
  • Shearer's Foods, Inc.
  • Skoda Minotti
  • Talan Products, Inc.
  • The Lube Stop
  • The Reserves Network
  • Transfer Express
  • Turning Technologies
  • Vocon Designs  

Travel Expense Practices Remain Stable, Despite Rising Costs

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The 2012 EAA National Sales Compensation & Practices Survey, which surveyed nearly 800 organizations throughout the United States, shows that employers are reimbursing sales employees for a number of different travel expenses.

  • Over 80% of employers pay for economical air fare and around 10% pay for business class air fare. Over 90% of employers allow employees to keep their air fare frequent flyer miles for personal use.
  • Over 85% of employers reimburse for most transportation-related expenses including bus and cab fares as well as parking and highway toll fees. Slightly fewer organizations reimburse for transportation-related gratuities.
  • Company cars are only provided by 32% of respondents, with most employers (over 80%) reimbursing for employees’ use of their personal cars. About two-thirds of employers reimburse via straight cents per mile (typically at the IRS rate) and 20% reimburse via a combination of straight cents per mile and a flat amount per month to cover general vehicle wear and tear.
  • The widespread majority of employers do not clearly define expense reimbursement practices pertaining to entertainment, lodging, and meals. Over 70% of employers indicate that they simply reimburse for reasonable expenses related to these.

The survey shows that travel expense reimbursement practices for sales professionals have remained relatively stable with little change over the past five years, except for a slight decline in the use of company cars, a slight increase in mileage reimbursement, and an uptick in the number of employers simplifying their reimbursement practices for entertainment, lodging, and meals.

As gas and transportation prices continue to rise, however, employers need to ensure that their travel reimbursement practices continue to keep pace in order to attract and retain top sales professionals whose work involves significant travel.

“We’ve found that travel expense reimbursement can sometimes be a retention issue for sales employees – especially when employees perceive expense reimbursement practices to be unfair or not in line with what is provided by other companies, or when the costs of paying for transportation begin to affect their compensation,” says an ERC HR Consultant. She explains, “To retain quality sales people, employers need to be mindful of how rising gas and transportation costs are impacting their sales employees’ take-home pay.”

For more information about our Compensation & Salary Surveys or to purchase them, please click here.

Additional Resources

Professional Travel

Benchmark your company’s travel practices and expenses with a complimentary review from ERC’s Preferred Partner Professional Travel. Most employers realize a savings of 12% to 17%! Learn more about the cost savings and employee safety benefits of having a managed travel program.

9 Common (and Avoidable) FMLA Mistakes

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There is probably no law that gives HR more headaches than the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Even the most adept and experienced HR professionals make errors when administering FMLA. It’s hard not to make mistakes, given the emergence of new case law as well as state and federal regulations that are constantly expanding the scope of employee leave and employer’s obligations in administering that leave.

One small mistake with FMLA, however, can cause big consequences for your organization. Here are 9 of the most common (and avoidable) FMLA mistakes.

  1. Not counting leave as FMLA. If your organization does not run FMLA concurrently with other paid time off, sick leave, disability, or worker’s compensation, it may incur lost work time which can lead to significant costs. Also, some employers may not track time that should be qualified as FMLA leave, especially when reasons for employees’ leave or time off are not known by HR.
  2. Disciplining employees for FMLA-protected absences. It’s not uncommon for employers to penalize employees for absences, but when FMLA factors into the absence, tread carefully. If employees are eligible for FMLA and are qualified to take leave, they are protected, even though your attendance policy may be very specific. Disciplining or terminating an employee for taking leave may not be an appropriate or legal measure to take.
  3. Taking adverse action after denying leave. Denying an employee’s request for FMLA and then taking a series of adverse actions following that request can be a fatal mistake. While these actions may be warranted, employers need to watch their timing. If you deny an employee’s request for FMLA, then immediately follow-up with a termination, it could suggest that the employee’s FMLA request was linked to the termination. Plus, the courts have been especially mindful of retaliation charges lately.
  4. Failing to communicate your FMLA policy and procedure. As an employer, you must let employees know about their rights under FMLA. A 2012 ruling suggests that you must also communicate the procedure by which leave needs to be taken and how you are tracking employees’ time (i.e. rolling calendar year measured forward/measured backward etc.). Even misinforming employees of the time in which they are eligible for FMLA can be a liability.
  5. Allowing your supervisors to manage FMLA. Supervisors are usually the first people employees turn to when they need to take leave. Sometimes, however, supervisors don’t realize that they must direct the employee to HR and not handle FMLA cases on their own. Be sure that your supervisors know how to respond when employees ask for leave. Otherwise they could face personal liability for FMLA violations.
  6. Making assumptions about an employee’s health condition. Making judgments about whether employees have a serious health condition or not without the necessary information can be disadvantageous. Employees may present clear signs of a serious health problem or the condition may be less visible. Take each employee’s request for FMLA seriously and ask for appropriate documentation if you question its validity.
  7. Not verifying or clarifying FMLA documentation with health care providers. Employers may clarify any documentation they receive from health care providers, ask for second and third opinions, and make sure that the employee who is requesting leave does in fact have a serious health condition. Also, know that requiring too much or too little medical documentation could result in liability. Don’t ask for too much, but don’t accept too little.
  8. Removing an employee from their prior job. An employee goes out on leave, perhaps you find that another employee can perform the person’s job better, and then you consider terminating the returning employee or moving them into a lower position. Be aware that unless you have adequate performance documentation to demote or terminate the individual, FMLA regulations say that the returning employee is entitled to their same job or one of equal pay, responsibility, and benefits.
  9. Not providing a reasonable accommodation. Although FMLA only allows for 12 weeks of unpaid leave, your organization may need to explore other reasonable accommodations following FMLA leave if employees have a disability or medical condition that is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under ADA, an extension of unpaid leave could be a reasonable accommodation in some circumstances. Oftentimes, both FMLA and ADA apply, especially when serious health conditions are present.

Employers unfortunately can pay a steep price for their mistakes in administering FMLA—whether they are honest or intentional. Our best advice for avoiding FMLA mistakes is to maintain open lines of communication with employees and managers, stay up to date on FMLA case law, don’t make assumptions, keep excellent documentation, and be conscious of the timing of your decisions.

Please note that by providing you with research information that may be contained in this article, ERC is not providing a qualified legal opinion. As such, research information that ERC provides to its members should not be relied upon or considered a substitute for legal advice. The information that we provide is for general employer use and not necessarily for individual application. 

Survey Reports National & Local Compensation for Sales Representatives

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The recently published 2012 EAA National Sales Compensation & Practices Survey, which surveyed nearly 800 organizations throughout the United States, reports national and local total compensation for sales jobs.

In general, the national median total compensation for outside sales representatives in the survey showed significant increases from 2011 - of at least 7% or more. Junior Sales Representatives showed the highest percentage increase from 2011 of all outside sales representatives. The table below shows the national median total compensation reported in 2011 and 2012 as well as the median reported by Northeast Ohio employers in 2012.

Median Total Compensation for Outside Sales Representatives

 

2011 National Median

2012 National Median

2012 NEO Median

Sales Representative/Account Executive - Senior

$90,790

$97,208

$96,114

Sales Representative/Account Executive

$63,643

$70,000

$77,212

Sales Representative - Junior

$42,754

$49,407

$42,397

"It's not surprising that pay for outside sales representatives continues to rise significantly. Employers tell us that sales continues to be an area in which they struggle to attract and retain key talent and our studies show that compensation ranks most important for local top talent in sales roles," says the Director of Research & Membership at ERC.

For more information about the EAA National Sales Compensation & Practices Surveys or to purchase them, please click here.

Cuyahoga Community College Annual Spring Career Fair

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Cuyahoga Community College is committed to creating opportunities for students and employers to meet. We are proud to announce our annual Spring Job Fair:  Leap into the Talent Pool on Thursday, March 29, 2012 from 1-6 pm at Tri-C Western Campus in Parma. We welcome you the opportunity to exhibit at the job fair and meet over 500 Tri-C students, alumni, veterans, and job seekers throughout the community who are interested in either full-time/part-time or summer internships/Co-ops.  

You can register at: https://www.collegecentral.com/tri-c/  to begin the registration process.

  1. Once you are on the site to register, <CLICK> on the Employer Registration link under the Employers section.
  2. Complete the fields marked with a red asterisk in the contact information, company information, employment information, facility arrangements (sponsorship), payment, employer expectations, and create your access ID/password. 
    • Please note the information you enter will be included in the job fair program. Job seekers will have access to view your information on-line prior to the job fair.
    • There is no additional charge for more than 2 representatives. 
  3. New feature available for employers will allow you the opportunity to set up on campus interviews on Friday, March 30. 
    • Please indicate if you would like to set up on campus interviews. 
    • There is no additional charge to set up on campus interviews.
  4. Checks should be made out to: Cuyahoga Community College and sent to the Tri-C Eastern Campus, Attention J.T. Neuffer – ESS 1103 Career Center, 4250 Richmond Rd., Highland Hills, Ohio 44122. Credit Card payment is also accepted. 

Please contact J.T. Neuffer, Director of Employer Relations-Career Services, at jon.neuffer@tri-c.edu or 216-987-2893 if you have any questions.  We look forward to you seeing you at our Spring Job Fair: Leap into the Talent Pool and helping you connect with Tri-C students, alumni, veterans, and community members. 

ERC Members Save on Employment Law Event!

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Fisher & Phillips LLP is providing a full day employment law seminar on April 17th in our area. The law firm has generously extended the preferred rate of $125 to ERC members for this program. 

When registering, use the code ERC42.