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.

3 Things Managers Do That Disengage Employees

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Engagement is often viewed as just an "HR thing" when in fact, managers play an even more important role in engaging employees day-to-day. Managers, however, may not realize how their actions engage or disengage employees and how that affects their team's performance and productivity. Here are 3 things managers do which can unintentionally disengage employees.

1. Devalue

Unfortunately, feeling undervalued is a common problem in the workplace and it affects engagement considerably. Instead of focusing on performance and creating value, employees who feel devalued spend their energy trying to defend or prove their value and typically underperform in the process. There are a number of common reasons and situations that could cause an employee to feel devalued, such as:

  • not being recognized or acknowledged for a job well done, or ignored
  • being passed over for a promotion or transferred/assigned to a new area
  • feeling under-challenged or that they are working below their capabilities
  • receiving a lower than expected pay increase, performance rating, etc.
  • being unfairly treated or denied a request for leave, additional flexibility, etc.
  • not being listened/responded to or asked for their input

Managers usually don't intend to make employees feel devalued, but the absence of acknowledgement and the effects of how they treat other employees or the decisions they make can inevitably backfire and leave employees feeling undervalued and disengaged.

2. Distrust

Trust is also vital to employee engagement. Loss of employee trust in leaders or their managers can create havoc on engagement. Disengaged employees who lose trust in their managers spend more time wondering what truths their managers are trying to hold back from them or questioning their manager's honesty, than creating and driving results.

Managers can lose employees' trust in ways that they may not realize. Saying one thing and doing another is a major reason that trust can be broken. If you promise something to an employee (even if it was years prior), they expect you to follow-through. Keeping your word and being consistent is the best way to keep employees' trust.

Micromanaging or over-controlling how tasks are completed and limiting employees' autonomy can also create distrust. If employees feel like you don't trust or believe in their capabilities, they may reciprocate and not trust you. Trust is a two way street, and you must be willing to give trust to gain it.

Other ways managers create distrust inadvertently are by publically criticizing employees or drawing attention to their weaknesses, keeping secrets and withholding information, making changes without honestly communicating why, telling half-truths, not practicing what they preach, and sugarcoating problems or situations. Every manager makes one of these mistakes at one time or another and the negative effects can be difficult to reverse.

3. Disconnect

Employees become disengaged when they don't have a good connection with their manager, or when a positive dynamic with their boss changes. For many employees, their boss is one of the most important people in their work-life. As a result, positive, supportive relationships between employees and their managers play a critical role in engaging employees.

When employees and managers stop communicating with one another regularly or when a positive manager-employee relationship turns sour, a disconnect can occur. Being able to resolve and manage conflicts with employees is a skill managers need to maintain their relationships and connections with employees.

Sometimes disconnects happen without managers realizing it. For example, managers can commonly grow apart from employees with significant tenure or those that don't need as much development. Also, managers can often find themselves operating in a vacuum, busily engaged in tasks and projects, but failing to make time for their people. They may become invisible to their staff or a particular employee. They may also not spend enough time trying to develop rapport with employees.

Connecting, developing trust, and valuing employees are three key ways managers can drive engagement. In the ongoing quest for an engaged, productive, and high-performing workforce, managers must realize how their everyday actions or lack of action can disengage employees and give them the skills and insights to create an engaged team.

Additional Resources

Management & Leadership Development

ERC offers a range of courses to develop supervisors, middle managers, and leaders including popular topics such as communication, conflict resolution, time and priority management, emotional intelligence, and performance management. 

To Pay or not to Pay Interns?

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It's that time of year again. Time to start thinking about hiring an intern to build your business' talent pipeline or support some special projects. As you start to begin the hiring process for an intern, you may be asking: should you pay or not pay the intern? If you do pay them, you may be wondering what should you pay interns to be competitive?

To Pay or Not to Pay Interns

Back in 2010, the Department of Labor released guidelines for internship programs under the Fair Labor Standards Act as well as a Test for Unpaid Interns. According to these guidelines, unless your intern meets all of these factors, e.g., the internship is mainly educational in nature and doesn't benefit the organization, they should be paid. As a result, we recommend playing it safe and paying your interns since most internships do not comply with all of these criteria. In fact, there have been a few recent cases where former interns have sued their companies over unpaid work.

Beyond legal consequences, however, from a talent attraction perspective, talented interns (especially in technical fields) can be in high demand. Paying them helps make the internship more attractive and eliminates a reason to not select your organization for an internship. With so many students seeking internships and a limited supply of technical talent, it's best to pay.

Plus, if your organization is using interns to grow a talent pipeline and has plans to hire the intern as a full-time employee following their internship, it's always a good idea to pay them. It shows that you are willing to make an investment in your intern and not trying to take advantage of their work.

What to Pay Interns

If an intern is considered an employee and is to be paid, you need to comply with minimum wage and overtime provisions when determining what to pay interns. Generally, however, interns are paid more than minimum wage. Compensation usually varies for interns based on their major, degree type, and role. Like employees, differences in pay rates usually stem from skill and labor demand. Across national and local pay studies of interns, here are a few general trends:

  • Engineering interns are one of the most highly paid types of interns, typically earning between $15.00-$18.00 per hour.
  • Information technology/computer science interns are also one of the highest paid types of interns, earning between $12.00-$17.50 per hour.
  • Accounting interns are paid higher generally than other types of interns and earn between $12.25-$15.00 per hour.
  • Research, general business, marketing, health, HR, communications, and social sciences interns, generally earn lower pay as interns, usually between $11.00-$15.00 as their skills are in less demand.

Don't forget that benefits are also part of interns' compensation. Close to one third of local employers do not offer any benefits to interns, but the widespread majority offer at least one perk. Interns are often offered these four benefits:

  • Paid time to attend the organization's social events or networking events
  • Rewards and recognition
  • On-site perks such as a cafeteria or fitness center
  • Training, development, and mentorship

Some organizations even offer interns paid holidays, credit towards benefits for time worked if hired after graduation, performance incentives, subsidized parking, and 401(K) - though these benefits generally aren't common.

Interns are a unique segment of the workforce and similar to employees, it's always a good practice to benchmark your pay rates, benefits, and employment practices for interns to see how they compare with other employers. Make sure you're paying fairly and competitively with other employers in the region. Otherwise, you could lose out on some exceptional young talent to your competitor next door.

View the Intern & Recent Graduate Pay Rates & Practices Survey

This survey reports data from Northeast Ohio employers about their internship and recent graduate employment and pay practices.

View the Results

No Change in Membership Dues – 13 Straight Years!

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ERC is pleased to announce that its membership dues will not increase in 2012. This is the 13th straight year that members have enjoyed access to ERC services, surveys, research, information and group purchased savings without a dues increase! 

“We are delighted to be in a position to maintain the dues structure for our membership,” comments Pat Perry President of ERC. “ERC is delivering significantly more services, faster and conveniently at the same dues level that we had back in 1999. As a result, members continue to have the ability to measure and showcase remarkable returns on their ERC investment.”

International Sales Managers Earn Higher Salaries in Northeast Ohio & Midwest

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According to the 2012 EAA National Sales Compensation & Practices Survey, which surveyed nearly 800 organizations throughout the United States, employers in Northeast Ohio pay International Sales Managers more than other regions of the United States. Similarly, employers in the Great Lakes region (which includes Ohio) also report paying higher compensation for International Sales Managers when compared to organizations in other regions of the United States.

Specifically the survey showed that employers in Northeast Ohio reported median total compensation of $165,000 for International Sales Managers. This median total compensation was significantly higher than the national median of $128,323.

Total Compensation for International Sales Manager

 

National

Northeast Ohio

Great Lakes Region

10th Percentile

$85,905

$103,000

$88,548

25th Percentile

$102,115

$116,780

$102,750

Median

$128,323

$165,000

$139,722

75th Percentile

$180,552

$184,868

$190,000

90th Percentile

$216,664

$199,155

$221,645

Source: 2012 EAA National Sales Compensation & Practices Survey

The data seems to suggest that employers in Northeast Ohio, as well as those in the general Great Lakes Region, pay their International Sales Managers more than employers in other regions of the U.S.

In general, international competencies are highly in-demand, and employers in our region seem to be paying a premium for global skills - at least for international sales management talent.

For more information about ERC's Surveys click here. Also, ERC members can now access international resources and pay data through our HR Help Desk. Email hrhelp@yourerc.com for more information about these new resources!