13 New Year's Resolutions for HR Professionals

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13 New Year's Resolutions for HR Professionals

A new year brings New Year's Resolutions. The most common personal resolutions are to be more health conscious, work out more, and spend more time with friends and family. But what about your professional life?

As HR professionals, there are many aspects of the workplace that you are responsible for. HR is constantly growing and becoming more important to organizations. In keeping with this growth, the new year creates a great reason to do better this year than the last for not only the HR department, but the organization as a whole. Here are a few practices to consider.
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Is Your Organization Ready for Another Northeast Ohio Winter?

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Is Your Organization Ready for Another Northeast Ohio Winter?

We haven’t even hit the official start of winter and already the region has seen its fair share of snow, ice, and frigid temperatures; not to mention traffic jams, car accidents, power outages, school closings, and of course, frantic phone calls from employees who aren’t going to make it to the office on time (or at all).

Although this week’s milder temperatures make it easy to forget, we still have at least three months of this unpredictable winter weather ahead of us here in Northeast Ohio and it is as important as ever that employers are prepared to handle whatever mother nature throws at them.

Does your organization have a protocol in place for weather related closures or delays?

While ERC’s annual Inclement Weather Survey consistently demonstrates that less than half of employers have formal inclement weather polices on the books, most organizations have some semblance of an informal policy that guides them in cases of emergency.

At the very least, designating one or more people to assess poor weather conditions and make a determination about the safety of the commute for employees is a good start.

A solid policy (formal or not) would then take into consideration how to communicate any change to the normal work day with employees, address how to handle absenteeism & tardiness, potentially include work from home options, and of course, follow fair (and legal) pay practices.

Do your employees know what to expect in case of weather related emergency?

Even if it’s not spelled out in an employee handbook, employees still need to be made aware of the protocol that will go into effect should a weather related emergency arise. Timing as well as the method by which the decision will be communicated are both critical.

At some organizations (usually larger organizations), the responsibility lies with the employee to check a hotline or voicemail.

Increasingly, organizations are turning to higher tech methods of communication, which still rely on the employees to check in, but go directly to each individual employee, i.e. email and text message. Particularly if your organization has employees that may be commuting long distances, the sooner you can inform your employees of any changes to arrival times or general closures, the better.

For safety’s sake, keep in mind how early these employees may need to leave in order to get to work on time—especially if they leave extra early to try to avoid traffic on bad weather days.

Making the decision as early as possible in the morning can also be a huge help for employees who have school age children. If their school district cancels school for the day, they may be faced with the challenge of arranging alternative child care.

Whenever possible, is your inclement weather policy fair (and FLSA compliant)?

Consistency is critical both in terms of employee safety, making sure your employees know what to expect so they can make informed choices about their travel, as well as in terms of equity and employee morale. Although most organizations treat exempt and non-exempt employees very similarly from a disciplinary standpoint when it comes to absences, there are some differences in the pay practices that are implemented.

These differences have legal grounds in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which places many more restrictions on docking pay for exempt employees than for non-exempt employees. Of course, depending on the nature of your business and the nature of the specific job duties that must be performed by certain individual employees within the organization, there are plenty of industries or job titles that are considered “critical” and therefore are left out of any closures or delays.

Helping all types of employees (e.g., exempt vs. non-exempt, critical vs. non-critical, outward facing vs. inward facing) understand these differences can help prevent or smooth over potential conflicts related to pay that might otherwise occur.

Ultimately, the key to any inclement/adverse weather protocol is balance – a balance between clear expectations and flexibility. Expectations need to be clear to maintain fairness, keep employees informed, and depending on the industry keep the business running for the safety of clients or even the general public.

However, on the flip-side, the policy also needs to have enough flexibility to accommodate the extenuating circumstances that undoubtedly accompany extreme weather.

Although the written policy may not address a particularly unique situation, by applying basic logic and keeping employee safety front of mind, any organization can be successful at navigating even the worst Northeast Ohio winter weather.

View ERC's Inclement Weather Practices Survey Results

This survey reports trends among Northeast Ohio employers in terms of how they handle communication, employee absence and tardiness, and pay during inclement weather.

View the Results

The Ultimate 2015 HR Outlook

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The Ultimate 2015 HR Outlook

With 2015 right around the corner, we broke down the most talked about changes and what to expect in the next year for you and your company.

Minimum Wage

Ohio’s minimum wage will automatically increase to $8.10 per hour on Jan. 1, a 15-cent bump over the current pay. For tipped employees, the minimum wage rises to $4.05 per hour, a six-cent increase.

Ohio is one of 23 states that have a minimum wage higher than the $7.25 federal minimum. Washington has the highest rate at $9.32 per hour.

The minimum-wage increases apply to employees of businesses with annual gross receipts of more than $297,000 per year.
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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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