What is the HIPAA Privacy Rule? An Overview

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What is the HIPAA Privacy Rule? An Overview

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the HIPAA Privacy Rule "establishes national standards to protect individuals’ medical records and other personal health information and applies to health plans, health care clearinghouses, and those health care providers that conduct certain health care transactions electronically."

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Title I of the Act protects health insurance coverage for workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs. Title II of the Act requires the establishment of national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health insurance plans, and employers.

Under Title II, the Privacy Rule, also known as The Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information, establishes a set of national standards for the protection of certain health information.
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Span of Control: How Many Employees Should Your Supervisors Manage?

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Span of Control How Many Employees Should Your Supervisors Manage supervising employees effectively ideal span of control

How many employees do your supervisors manage? Has your organization considered the effects of what narrow or wide supervisory and managerial spans of control mean for your employees and the levels of support and empowerment they receive on-the-job?

Have you considered how your decisions regarding the number of levels of reporting in your organization and given to your supervisors and managers influence job satisfaction, communication practices, and your overall organizational culture? The structure of your organization matters for these reasons and more.

Defining span of control

Span of control refers to the number of subordinates that can be managed effectively and efficiently by supervisors or managers in an organization. Typically, it is either narrow or wide resulting in a flatter or more hierarchical organizational structure. Each type has its inherent advantages and disadvantages.

Narrow Span

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Have more levels of reporting in the organization, resulting in a more heirarchical organization
  • Supervisors can spend time with employees and supervise them more closely
  • Creates more development, growth, and advancement opportunities
  • More expensive (high cost of management staff, office, etc.)
  • More supervisory involvement in work could lead to less empowerment and delegation and more micromanagement
  • Tends to result in communication difficulties and excessive distance between the top and bottom levels in the organization

Wide Span

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Have fewer levels of reporting in the organization, resulting in a more flexible, flatter organization
  • Ideal for supervisors mainly responsible for answering questions and helping to solve employees problems
  • Encourages empowerment of employees by giving more responsibility, delegation and decision-making power to them
  • Tends to result in greater communication efficiencies and frequent exposure to the top level of the organization
  • May lead to overloaded supervisors if employees require much task direction, support, and supervision
  • May not provide adequate support to employees leading to decreased morale or job satisfaction

Optimal span of control

Three or four levels of reporting typically are sufficient for most organizations, while four to five are generally sufficient for all organizations but the largest organizations (Hattrup, 1993). This is consistent with ERC’s survey findings as well. Ideally in an organization, according to modern organizational experts is approximately 15 to 20 subordinates per supervisor or manager. However, some experts with a more traditional focus believe that 5-6 subordinates per supervisor or manager is ideal. In general, however, optimum span of control depends on various factors including:

  • Organization size: The size of an organization is a great influencer. Larger organizations tend to have wider spans of control than smaller organizations.
  • Nature of an organization: The culture of an organization can influence; a more relaxed, flexible culture is consistent with wider; while a hierarchical culture is consistent with narrow. It is important to consider the current and desired culture of the organization when determining.
  • Nature of job: Routine and low complexity jobs/tasks require less supervision than jobs that are inherently complicated, loosely defined and require frequent decision making. Consider wider for jobs requiring less supervision and narrower for more complex and vague jobs.
  • Skills and competencies of manager: More experienced supervisors or managers can generally be wider than less experienced supervisors. It’s best to also consider to what degree supervisors and managers are responsible for technical aspects of the job (non-managerial duties).
  • Employees skills and abilities: Less experienced employees require more training, direction, and delegation (closer supervision, narrow); whereas more experienced employees requires less training, direction, and delegation (less supervision, wider).
  • Type of interaction between supervisors and employees: More frequent interaction/supervision is characteristic of a narrower.  Less interaction, such as supervisors primarily just answering questions and helping solve employee problems, is characteristic of a wider. The type of interaction you want your supervisors and managers to engage in with their employees should be consistent with the control they are given.

In addition, special consideration should be given to the direct reports of executive and senior management levels. Typically, the number of direct reports for these individuals are lower than supervisors and managers as too many direct reports at these levels can complicate communication and lengthen response time for crucial decisions.  

Sources:

  • Bell, R. R. & McLaughlin, F. S. (1977). Span of control in organizations. Industrial Management.
  • Davison, B. (2003). Management span of control: how wide is too wide? Journal of Business Strategy.
  • Gupta, A. (2010). Organization’s size and span of control. Practical Management: Transforming Theories into Practice.
  • Hattrup, G. P. (1993). How to establish the proper span of control for managers. Industrial Management.
  • Juneja, H. Span of control in an organization.

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A New Kind of Skills Gap

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A New Kind of Skills Gap

A popular catch-phrase, and somewhat counter-intuitive concept given the unemployment rate in past years, the “skills gap” is a major stumbling block along the path to economic recovery for employers, education institutions, and new job seekers alike.

In the most traditional sense, this gap is simply a disconnect between the skills or areas of study being selected or taught to students and the skills required in the jobs employers are trying to fill to fit their business needs. However, in a 2014 survey published by The Economist Intelligence Unit employers report a somewhat different kind of skills gap between their desired skill set and that of the new college graduates they are encountering as job applicants.
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College Majors: The Dying and The Surviving

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College Majors: The Dying and The Surviving

The summer is a great time to enjoy nice weather, have cookouts, and spend quality time with your loved ones. Whether it’s your own child, niece or nephew, or maybe even friends of yours, more than likely you know someone that will be going off to college in the next couple of years.

College can be an overwhelming decision for a lot of teens, so the more guidance they have, the more equipped they will feel to make informed decisions. 

There is a lot that goes into this decision, but one thing is for certain: not all college majors are created equal. According to a 2014 report by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, choosing a college major substantially affects employment prospects and earnings.

So which college majors hold the least and most value in terms of career prospects and expected salary? Below is a list of the top 6 best and worst college majors in 2014 to discuss with your loved ones before they go back to school in the fall.
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Recruiting with LinkedIn

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Recruiting with LinkedIn

In the summer of 2014, ERC hosted Kelly Royer of LinkedIn for an educational session on Recruiting with LinkedIn. Kelly shared some of her tips for finding talent on LinkedIn, as well as improving your individual and company presence.

50% Mobile. Did you know half of LinkedIn's activity comes from mobile devices?

Why use LinkedIn? Individuals use Linkedin to create an online identity, to network with other professionals, and to gain knowledge about their industry and their profession.

Passive Candidates. Most are not looking for jobs; in fact 75% of users are identified as "passive candidates", meaning they're not actively searching for jobs.
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What Employers Need to Know About the Hobby Lobby Decision

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What Employers Need to Know About the Hobby Lobby Decision

The U.S. Supreme Court closed out its 2014 term dramatic fashion as it handed down a 5-4 decision in favor of Hobby Lobby in the controversial Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores case.

The ruling set off a barrage of strongly worded articles, blog posts and comments, including the Court’s own majority and dissenting opinions. Given the politically and morally charged nature of the case that hit on topics including the Affordable Care Act (ACA), religious freedom, women’s health, contraception, and separation of church & state just to name a few, the resulting controversy was virtually inevitable.
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Leveraging Employee Engagement to Attract and Retain Top Talent

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Leveraging Employee Engagement to Attract and Retain Top Talent

Pay and work conditions have always been important factors when it comes to obtaining top talent in the workplace. However, employee engagement has been shown to be one of the key factors when it comes to retaining that top talent.

Employee engagement is all about how you feel, how you are respected, how you are listened to, and how you are an integral part of the day to day operation. We talked with Dave Topor, Custom Research Manager at ERC, about employee engagement, and how companies can be sure to retain top talent.
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5 Successful Retirement Parties Ideas

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5 Successful Retirement Parties Ideas

Over the course of the next 19 years, every day more than 10,000 Baby Boomers will reach the age of 65. America’s largest generation is not only aging, but in fact retiring.

Retirement is a big deal. It marks the start of a new chapter in someone’s life and the end of their career, or perhaps the start of a new career. So of course, with big life changes comes a celebration: a retirement party.

Retirement parties are a great way for an organization to show its appreciation to the retiree. They put a lot of hard work into your company over the years, so it’s nice to do more than just a cake and say ‘see you later.’ No matter what, a retirement party should reflect the retiree’s character, career, interests or hobbies. Here are some ideas to really make a retirement party stand out and memorable for the retiree.  

1. Starting off on the right foot

Guests should be welcomed by fun decorations and food. Colorful streamers and balloons are a great touch. Also, make sure to have a small speech ready at the beginning to welcome guests to the retirement party. Light should be thrown on the retiree’s many accomplishments, making the retiree feel special and accomplished for their many years of work. For more ideas of some fun activities, visit our Pinterest page.

Also, make sure to have a theme. Since a lot of retirees move south after retirement, it may be nice to have a beach theme, equipped with inflatable palm trees and Hawaiian leis.

Another fun touch is to have cookies made to look like the retiree. Parker’s Crazy Cookies specialize in look-a-like cookies that will surly make the retiree feel like the guest of honor.  

2. Invite their family members

This is a special time for the retiree, so having his or her family present will really make this moment stand out for them. Arrange to have the retiree’s spouse or children make a small speech. This puts a personal touch on the celebration. Make sure the speech stays light, and then change the topic to the retirees’ next chapter. Retirement is a new beginning as much as it is an ending.

3. Walk down memory lane

Trace the retiree’s career path from their first teenage job, all the way to now. It would be fun to see where they started, where they thought they were going to end up, and where they did actually end their career. To add to the excitement, put together a video or photo collage with the retiree’s pictures from birth, up to now. Highlight the years the retiree has worked for the company. You can also double the pictures as table decorations and add in meaningful quotes and funny messages.

4. Bucket List

After the retiree has had a chance to catch up on the missed sleep, T.V. shows, and golf games, they need a list of adventures to tackle- a bucket list. Have a bucket out with note cards for other employees to make suggestions for the retiree to do once they have no other obligations. This is a fun way to get people talking and getting creative. Also, it will give the retiree a good laugh when they get a chance to read some of the suggestions.

5. Gifts

Sure, a cake is great to have, but giving a cake as your last present to a coworker that has put many years into the business is not a very grand way of saying “Job well done.” Instead, look for something that maybe interests the employee, such as a new fishing pole with tackle supplies, a year-subscription to a book club, or maybe a weekend vacation to a local resort for them and their family.

Retirement parties are meant to be fun and memorable, especially for the retiree. The emotional side of the event should be kept to a minimum, because you don’t want to make the retiree sad or feel resentment for making the big decision to leave his/her career.

Like any party, a successful retirement party is the result of careful planning and attention to detail, but well worth the effort. The overall goal of the party is to make it a fun event for the guests and retiree. No matter what kind of celebration you choose to throw, big or small, it should honor the retiree and express appreciation for their years of hard work, as well as wishing the retiree a very successful and fun retirement.

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The Power of Lean for HR

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The Power of Lean for HR

Lean concepts have been around for quite some time—starting in the auto manufacturing industry. Even so, many companies today are just beginning to investigate what a Lean implementation could do for their business. No matter the company's industry—manufacturing, service, or otherwise—Lean processes offer organizations of all types and sizes methods to identify and reduce waste, which positively impacts your employees, customers, and the bottom line.

Tom Ault, ERC's Director of Technical Training, brings a wealth of industry and technical experience to our members and clients' fingertips. With a solid understanding of the financial and organization-wide impacts training has on a business, Tom works to identify continuous improvement needs and deliver custom solutions based on each company's specific situation.

The following interview with Tom reveals some of the basic principles and benefits of Lean, how it impacts the HR function, and why Lean should be an initiative to consider for your business.
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July 4th and Other Paid Holiday Trends

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July 4th and other Paid Holiday Trends

With July 4th nearly upon us, it is interesting to note that 4% of the 164 participating Northeast Ohio organizations in the 2014 Holiday Survey will be extending the already long-weekend by granting their employees additional paid holiday time-off, i.e., either a full or half day off on Thursday, July 3rd.

Other summer time-off that is approaching at a small proportion of local manufacturing organizations is a summer shut-down. Of the 74 manufacturing companies that participated, only 5 reported closing their doors for an (unpaid) summer shut-down. Although summer shut-downs are on the decline in recent years, those that do take place tend to fall during the first 1-2 weeks of July.
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