Health Care Exchanges Launched Oct. 1

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Health Care Exchanges Launched October 1; Government Shutdown Doesn’t Stop Implementation

October 1, marked the launch of the federal and state health insurance exchanges under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The exchanges are now live for individuals. Employers should be aware of the following important updates:

  1. The government shutdown is not affecting the launch of the health insurance exchanges.
  2. The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) will be delayed until November.
  3. The effective date of coverage will be January 1, 2014 for those small business employers (with fewer than 50 employees) and employees who enroll in the exchanges by December 15th, however, small business employers and employees can enroll in the exchanges by March 31st to receive coverage in 2014.
  4. Organizations subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) were required to provide all employees notices describing the health care exchanges by today, October 1, however the Department of Labor (DOL) said that no penalty will be imposed on employers that fail to provide exchange notices to employees.
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5 Questions to Evaluate Your Performance Review Process

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5 Questions to Evaluate Your Performance Review Process

Performance management is often a challenging area for employers, and many organizations never think they are doing it as effectively as they could be. The truth is that most aren't. Performance management is a lagging area at many organizations, but nonetheless, it's a vital process that should be continuously improved upon in the workplace.

With end-of-year reviews approaching, here are five questions to consider when evaluating whether your performance management process needs a tune-up.
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Integrating Incentive Pay into Your Performance Management Process

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When structuring an effective Performance Management process at any organization, including some type of incentive to help drive performance is a key step. Particularly in recent years, large financial incentives are not always feasible, nor are they always found to be the most impactful driver for incentivizing employees. Nonetheless, a consistently strong majority of organizations both across the region and nationally, tie pay to performance either directly or indirectly.

For a closer look at how organizations in Northeast Ohio are implementing these financially based incentives, we turn to the 2013 ERC Pay Adjustment & Incentive Practices Survey.

Types of Incentives

Annual bonus plans remain the most common type of incentive pay, with individual incentives and profit-sharing filling the second spot, depending upon the employee group being compensated. Other less common incentives reported include, longevity service awards, retirement-based profit sharing, and executive performance bonus plans for select executive level positions.
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7 Proven Ways to Attract & Retain The Next Generation

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At the 2013 NorthCoast 99 event, Craig Keilburger, activist for the rights of children and cofounder of the Free the Children charity and Me to We social enterprise, touched on the importance of social responsibility in attracting the younger generations of talent, namely Millennials (otherwise referred to as Gen Y).

Lately, the workplace is buzzing about this generation in terms of how to best attract, retain, and develop them and how they will impact the future of our organizations. Fortunately, many employers of choice are already leading the way. Here are seven (7) proven ways employers can attract and retain this generation.
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Leading by Example: Helping Your Employees Build Your Community

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As 2013's NorthCoast 99 program clearly indicated, building great workplaces in Northeast Ohio is closely tied to building great communities. Among the NorthCoast winners, community service or other volunteerism opportunities was nearly universal, but even among the general population of employers in the region, there is a strong commitment to service in the surrounding community.

According to the 2013 ERC Sustainability & Social Responsibility Survey, 81% of organizations participate in at least one or more community involvement efforts. In terms of the specific social responsibility efforts reported, as the figure below indicate, employers most commonly offer monetary donations/ charitable giving, participate in walks/races or help with food drives.
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Getting in Your Fruits and Vegetables

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Americans are still not consuming the daily recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables needed for a healthy diet. In fact, according to a 2013 study by the Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Americans consume only 1.1 servings of fruits per day and 1.6 servings of vegetables per day.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends all Americans strive to eat more fruits and vegetables. Increasing your fruits and vegetables intake may be possible with some planning and effort. Try some of the following suggestions:
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2013/2014 Salary & Benefits Planning & Budgeting Guide

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We’ve compiled a brief compensation and benefits planning and budgeting guide to help your organization make important pay, health care, and benefits decisions this fall and into 2014. The guide summarizes the latest and most important trends we’re seeing related to administering compensation, health care, and benefits, which affect your organization as it plans for 2014.

Employers project 2.9%-3.0% pay increases for 2013/2014.

Salary budget planning surveys for 2013/2014 consistently report average actual pay increases of about 2.9% for 2013 and project pay increases of 2.9%-3.0% for 2014 for most levels of employees, in line with increases of last year. A breakdown of the projections from these surveys is summarized below.
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4 Important Guidelines for Giving Pay Increases

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4 Important Guidelines for Giving Pay Increases

Pay increases are an important part of a compensation system as they aim to reward employees based on their performance achievements, but your organization should make sure you follow these four important guidelines when administering pay increases.

1. Base pay increases on your performance management and goal setting processes.

Pay increase practices should be aligned with not only your organizational culture and best practices for your organizational size and industry, but they also should align with your organization's performance management and goal setting processes to make sure that variations in employee performance are measured accurately and fairly rewarded.
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Northeast Ohio Keeping Up with National Pay Adjustment Trends

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The 2013-2014 ERC Wage & Salary Adjustment survey results found an average projected pay adjustment of 2.9%- basically more of the same from 2013. The results from this local survey of Northeast Ohio employers are very much in line with national reports from organizations such as Hay Group and WorldatWork which repeatedly indicate that employers are hovering right around the 3.0% mark, much as they have for that past several years.

One bright spot here in Northeast Ohio is that out of the 139 participating employers only 7 indicated they are not giving any pay increases to their employees or a full 95% of employers that are providing increases in 2013. 2014’s numbers are shaping up similarly, with only 6 out of the 139 employers projecting that they will not give increases, again that’s 96% projecting increases for 2014.

As the chart below illustrates, in terms of the overall percent of employers providing increases, 2013 and 2014 (projected) have finally met and even exceeded the pre-recession levels. Seeing these adjustments continue to expand across the region’s employers is a positive sign for the region’s business community and in theory means these increases (even if small) are reaching a larger proportion of the total workforce as a result.
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The 15 Attributes of a Great Workplace

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The 15 Attributes of a Great Workplace

ERC's NorthCoast 99 program recognizes great workplaces that excel at the attraction, retention, and motivation of top performers. ERC is proud to have recognized great workplaces in Northeast Ohio, and has accumulated a great deal of insight into what makes a workplace truly great through the research we conduct as part of the program.

What makes a great workplace that draws extraordinary employees to love coming to work every day? What makes a great workplace that attracts, retains, and motivates the very best talent?

Here are 15 attributes that we believe are characteristic of great workplaces for top talent, based on our research over the last 15 years.

1. Offer Challenging and Meaningful Work

Great workplaces understand the importance of keeping employees' work interesting, exciting, challenging and meaningful, because consistently, top performers say that challenging and meaningful work is the number one attribute they seek in a job.

2. Hire and Retain Great People

Great workplaces are made up of great people. Within great workplaces, top performers work alongside other top performers who are positive, hardworking, committed and loyal, believe in what the organization does, and participate in making the workplace great.

3. Provide Competitive Compensation

Great workplaces offer competitive and fair compensation, above-average pay increases, and opportunities to earn more pay based on performance, such as bonuses, profit sharing, and other incentives to keep and reward top performing talent as well as attract new talent.

4. Value and Reward Employee Contributions

Great workplaces show they appreciate and value employees and their contributions. They celebrate success often, and praise, recognize, and reward employees in a variety of formal and informal ways. They never miss an opportunity to say 'thanks' for employees' hard work.

5. Invest in Training and Development

Great workplaces invest in training and development for their workforce to grow their talents and capabilities. They make time for learning and support it by paying for employees to participate in various opportunities and offering/delivering a variety of training and career development programs.

6. Guide, Support, and Develop Top Performers

Through performance management practices that help guide, support, and develop exceptional performance, great workplaces provide clarity on how to be a top performer, help other employees become top performers, and assist existing top performers in sustaining top performance. Reaching for excellence each and every day is what makes great workplaces successful.

7. Encourage Work/Life Balance

Great workplaces are flexible to employees' work/life needs and encourage work/life balance by offering flexible schedules, providing generous paid time off, accommodating individual requests and needs, and creating a supportive work environment that is understanding of personal and family obligations.

8. Invest in Employees' Health and Wellness

Great workplaces genuinely care about their employees' well-being. They offer wellness options that help employees develop healthy lifestyle behaviors as well as provide an array of benefits which support their employees' health and personal welfare.

9. Involve and Empower Employees

Great workplaces involve and empower employees by listening to their input, involving them in moving the organization forward, and giving them opportunities to lead initiatives, collaborate with one another, participate in decision-making, and make a meaningful difference at work. At great workplaces, employees believe that their opinions matter and that they can positively impact their organizations.

10. Share Information About the Organization's Performance

Leaders frequently share information about the organization's performance, its financials, the vision and direction of the organization, and other critical information and updates at great workplaces. In addition, leaders regularly interact with and communicate with employees one-on-one, in small groups, and as an entire staff. Additionally, great workplaces help everyone understand the mission and purpose of the organization, and how their work connects to the big picture.

11. Are Led by Exceptional Leaders

Great workplaces are led by exceptional and inspiring leaders. Leaders set the example from the top and lead the organization well. They genuinely care about and value employees. Relationships between leaders and employees are characterized by mutual respect, trust,  honesty, and support.

12. Encourage Innovation and Growth

Great workplaces are successful, growing, and innovative. They hold themselves to high standards, are focused on delivering exceptional customer service and quality, and strive to innovate and continuously improve their organizations. They are always raising the bar in their businesses and in their workplaces.

13. Hire the Best of the Best

Great workplaces hire the best—and only the best. They recognize that a great workplace and culture results from great people. They define the talent they need, strategically recruit it, and put into place selection practices that identify top performers, as well as on-boarding practices that engage top performers and set them up for success from the start.

14. Create and Sustain a Unique Culture

Great workplaces have a unique culture that is their own, often described as fun, congenial, collaborative, positive, passionate, and creative. Their work environments, people, and workplace practices all help create a vibrant, positive, magnetic, and infectious culture.

15. Serve the Community

And last but not least, great workplaces make an impact on and give back to their local community. Not only do they generously donate their company resources to the community, but they also serve their communities by helping others in need and offering their staff's time and talents.

There is no magic formula for achieving a great workplace, and these are just some common attributes of many that great workplaces seem to have. While no workplace is perfect, many organizations strive to become a truly great workplace and come close. The NorthCoast 99 winners are among these organizations, and they, as well as all other organizations that strive everyday to be great workplaces, should be applauded for their efforts to become employers of choice in Northeast Ohio. They are truly making a difference.

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