Business Related Social Media Use on the Rise

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Despite a strong focus over the years on the types of policies and restrictions being placed on employee’s social media use in the workplace, an equally important story regarding the growing use of social media among employer’s for business related purposes  is also emerging.

This change can be seen through a simple comparison of the results of ERC’s Social Media in the Workplace surveys over time. First conducted in 2010, employers indicated that the primary obstacle preventing their organization from actively engaging in social media use was “a lack of knowledge or expertise in using [social media] tools”, Facebook was ranked fourth among the most common social networking sites used by employers for a small list of business related purposes, and responsibilities related to social media fell to HR and Recruitment type positions.
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Keeping Pay Adjustments In Perspective

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In a 2013 overview of the state of compensation, Steve Bruce, contributor to HR Daily Advisor, makes a less than rosy comparison of where businesses stand today versus where a full economic recovery would have put businesses in terms of their compensation options. Employment overall is up and voluntary separations are beginning to increase, but for businesses looking to attract and retain top performing employees, rewarding these individuals through traditional compensation methods remains a challenge.

With merit increases averaging right around 3% according to World at Work, and several local surveys also pointing to the 3% mark, Bruce suggests that in fact, 3% may be the new norm. While it may not seem like much on paper, it is worth noting that 2012 was the first post-recession year that pay adjustments, merit based or not, hit that 3% threshold. At the macro level, 2012 also saw the percentage of Northeast Ohio organizations predicting at least some pay increase to 89%, a significant recovery in comparison to the all time low of 45% in 2009 (2012 ERC Pay Adjustment & Incentive Practices Survey).
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A Complete Guide to Workplace Flexibility

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Flexibility has grown to be more commonplace in the workplace in recent years; however, managing flexibility remains a challenge, as evidenced by the 2013 decisions by Yahoo and Best Buy to overhaul their flexibility programs.

To help your organization with similar challenges, we've developed a short guide to instituting and managing flexibility in the workplace.

Step 1: Create a business case for workplace flexibility.

Many HR professionals have to "sell" the concept of flexible work to their leadership team. In doing so, we recommend gathering reliable benchmark data related to how common flexible work options are in your industry and size, and among your competitors.
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Data Points to Growth in Flexible Work Arrangements

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With Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer’s recent decision to eliminate employee’s work-from-home option, has come a firestorm of commentaries and rumors about what her very public decision at a prominent employer means for the future of flexible workplace practices at workplaces across the nation.

Image Source: Adam Tinworth

Locally, in 2013 the Plain Dealer ran an article citing ERC data and giving an inside look at how some of Northeast Ohio’s top workplaces structure highly functional work-from-home options for their employees. Now that the dust has settled following the big Yahoo announcement earlier this month, it appears that Mayer’s decision was largely based on internal issues specific to the tech giant.
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New I-9 Form Available

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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released a 2013 revised Employment Eligibility Verification I-9 Form, in both English and Spanish versions, for employers. The Department of Homeland Security has also issued a Notice about the new I-9 Form in the Federal Register. 

According to USCIS, effective March 8, 2013, employers should begin using the new I-9 Form (Rev. 03/08/13)N for all new-hires and reverifications, however, the previously accepted revisions (Rev.02/02/09)N and (Rev. 08/07/09)Y may continue to be used until May 7, 2013. After May 7, 2013, however, employers must only use Form I-9 (Rev. 03/08/13)N.

The I-9 Form is required to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States and the 2013 I-9 Form contains many improvements including new fields, reformatting, and clearer instructions.

Download the 2013 I-9 Form

Source: USCIS

Court: Random Alcohol Tests Not in Violation of ADA

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The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) case against U.S. Steel Corp., ruled that random tests for alcohol can be performed on probationary employees who work in safety sensitive positions, and that doing so does not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In the 2013 case, the EEOC argued that the company's policy of conducting breath alcohol testing at random on probationary employees could be considered a medical examination and that ADA restricts employers from requiring such exams unless it meets the standard of being "job related and consistent with business necessity."

Meanwhile, U.S. Steel held that its policy was lawful on several conditions, including that it was job related and consistent with business necessity, that it was part of a voluntary health and safety program negotiated and agreed upon with its union, and necessitated by the company's obligations under federal safety and environmental laws and regulations (Source: SHRM).

The court decision affirms that employers can take reasonable steps, including random alcohol tests, to keep workers safe on the job. Although, employers should proceed cautiously and still heed the EEOC's guidance regarding medical examinations under ADA.

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.

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Top 5 Trends in Training & Developing Talent

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Training and development is a critical aspect of an organization's talent management strategy. Every organization needs to invest in it to attract and retain talent and grow their employees' knowledge base and capabilities. Here are five current trends influencing training and development.

Trend #1: Training is a means of keeping, developing, and rewarding talent.

Training has evolved into not only a means of developing employees’ skills, but also a strategy to retain, develop, and reward key talent. In ERC's 2012 Talent Management Practices Survey, the majority (57%) of organizations say they use training and development opportunities as a strategy to retain top or key talent and 61% use it as a way to reward and recognize employees.
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Telecommuting: Should You Allow It?

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Telecommuting

Yahoo's ban on telecommuting and work-from-home arrangements has sparked an interesting debate in the workplace. Should your organization follow suit?

The issue of whether or not to allow telecommuting or work-from-home options in the workplace is hardly a new problem. In fact, organizations have been questioning whether or not to offer it and the pros and cons of such arrangements for the past few years as this flexible work practice has become more common.

Before you change your policy, here are some important considerations.

1. Telecommuting can be attractive and beneficial as a flexible work option.

Offering telecommuting or work-from-home options can help attract talent, especially employees in segments of the workforce that traditionally need or want more flexible arrangements (i.e. women, disabled workers, Millenials, etc.). Allowing telecommuting to be used as an option for the following can be advantageous.
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