Compliance and Tracking are Key FMLA Challenges

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According to the 2012 ERC/CareWorks FMLA Practices Survey, Northeast Ohio employers face numerous challenges associated with administering employee leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The survey cites that the biggest challenges employers face when administering leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are tracking leave, determining the overall costs associated with FMLA absences, and overall legal compliance. Determining what constitutes a serious health condition and meeting paperwork deadlines designated by the Department of Labor (DOL) were also cited as challenges, but were less common.

Additionally, 56% of respondents said they believe they are capturing all situations at their organization which should be designated as FMLA, further suggesting that several employers are experiencing challenges with tracking and administering the law.

"Employers spend a significant amount of time administering FMLA, but continue to struggle with compliance.  Every step of the FMLA administration process requires a substantial amount of detail, so an employer needs someone who is highly trained on the FMLA regulations and can stay on top of each claim on a daily basis," says Holly Moyer, Senior Disability Management Consultant at CareWorks. Holly adds, "The legal exposure for FMLA is on the rise, therefore it is critical for employers to have a well governed FMLA Administration program in place that focuses on compliance and consistent claim handling."

To download the full results of the survey, please click here. Or, to learn more about CareWorks and the services they can provide for ERC members as a Preferred Partner, please click here.

ERC Preferred Partner CareWorks provides Absence Management and FMLA Administration. ERC Members save 5% off per EE per month fee or a $500 discount off Initial Set-up Fee

Affirmative Action Planning Reminder

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Affirmative Action Plans (AAPs) are required of federal contractors annually if they have over 50 employees and have a federal contract of $50K or more.  AAPs can be complex and tedious. Many employers find that outsourcing their annual AAP is time saving and reduces a heck of a lot of headaches. If you are interested in outsourcing your AAP work, give ERC a call at 440-947-1278 or email us at hrhelp@yourerc.com.

Just Promoted to Supervisor? Here's What to Know About New Manager Training

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training for new managers supervisors New Supervisor New Manager Training

Every organization faces the challenge of new manager training: transitioning an employee from team player to team leader. This transition from employee to supervisor is one of the hardest an employee must make in their career. After the promotion occurs, what should you do to make sure the transition goes smoothly and that your new supervisor is successful in their new role?

One best practice is to approach the transition like you would on-board a new employee. Would you expect your new employee to learn by trial and error? Probably not. Like a new employee, anticipate that new supervisors need both initial and on-going training and support to perform their new role and responsibilities. Similar to on-boarding, the more you develop your employee upfront, the less redirection is needed later. Here are some suggestions.

1. Clarify expectations and priorities.

Most new supervisors have little clarity regarding what their priorities and expectations should be in their new role and aren't prepared to be effective in their new role. As a first step, spend time discussing their new responsibilities and performance expectations and how these have changed from their previous role.

2. Discuss your organization's management philosophy.

Every organization has management norms and a certain style of leadership that supports its culture, so it's important to discuss with your new supervisor how your organization expects employees to be managed. This helps ensure that employees are supervised consistently throughout the organization.

3. Schedule them for new manager training sooner than later.

Schedule employees for supervisory training as close to the time of promotion as possible or even prior to the transition, particularly for softer skills (i.e. communication, conflict management, etc.). Make sure new supervisors are set-up with the most critical baseline skills they need to be successful on the job. This will minimize common new supervisor mistakes.

4. Brief them on managerial procedures.

Administering a performance review, conducting a write-up, handling employee leave, or dealing with a grievance are just a few of many complicated issues in which your new supervisor has never been exposed. Make sure supervisors are knowledgeable about correct procedures to handle these issues and can access the proper paperwork and guidance.

5. Coach them on critical conversations.

Your supervisor will soon find themselves in tricky situations such as dealing with an underperforming employee, high-performing but dissatisfied employee, employee who comes to work late, or a team that isn't working together. These situations require difficult conversations and often require new manger training. Consider counseling and role-playing with them on the right and wrong things to say in these conversations and how to handle and mitigate common employee problems.

6. Provide time to interact with other managers.

One of the best ways for your new supervisor to learn the ropes of management is to spend time with other experienced managers and excellent leadership role models who can encourage and guide them, listen to their challenges and frustrations, and help them learn through their own experiences.

7. Encourage self-awareness.

It's unlikely that your newly promoted employee has ever considered how their interpersonal style helps or impedes their effectiveness. As soon as they start managing people, however, the quirks of their interpersonal styles (how they deal with conflict, their communication preferences, their personality, etc.) become apparent. Provide tools to help them become more aware of their style and behavior and flex it to meet others' needs and become a more effective manager.

8. Redirect their natural reflexes.

Every new supervisor experiences some natural reflexes—including the urge to do the work themselves and impose their ways of doing things on others without building consensus or asking for input. New supervisors will need to be encouraged to fight their natural reflexes to go back to the tactics that made them successful in their prior role.

9. Suggest resources.

Recommend books, tools, articles, blogs, job aids, and other tools for your new supervisor to access in order to become a better manager. Better yet, create a library of these resources at your organization. This will also help your other managers in their on-going management development.

10. Observe their transition to identify additional areas of development.

In their first few weeks and months on the job, observe how their transition is going. Specific issues to observe may include how much (or little) they are delegating, how they are interacting with their employees, and their team's performance. Talk to the new supervisor and employees on the supervisor's team to gather additional feedback. If you notice issues early on and correct them, it's unlikely that they will escalate.

You can never fully prepare managers for all of the challenges they will face, but by providing training, guidance, and support to supervisors before they hit the front-lines you can set them up to succeed as new leaders.

Interested in learning more about training your supervisors?

Submit your contact information and receive instant access to a video highlighting our process and a brochure featuring our courses, delivery methods, and success stories.

Preview Supervisory Training

 

2012 Compensation Surveys - Open for Participation

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Our 2012 Executive, Salary, & Wage Surveys are open for participation. These surveys collect compensation data on over 400 executive, director-level, administrative, professional, managerial, and hourly positions.

2012 ERC Salary Survey

This survey collects annual salary information from Northeast Ohio organizations for 279 administrative, professional, supervisory, and managerial positions in accounting, finance, administration, customer service, sales, engineering, human resources, IT, maintenance, marketing, production, purchasing/distribution, safety, science, and research and development functions. Salary data will be reported by number of employees, industry type, annual revenue, county, for-profit or non-profit status, and years of experience (including new hires) when the results are published in May.

To participate, visit http://www.yourerc.com/survey-data/participate/ and register as a first time user.

2012 ERC Wage Survey

This survey collects hourly pay information from Northeast Ohio organizations for 109 production, maintenance, warehouse, distribution, and transportation positions. Wage data will be reported by number of employees, industry type, annual revenue, county, union affiliation, and years of experience (including new hires) when the results are published in May.

To participate, visit http://www.yourerc.com/survey-data/participate/ and register as a first time user.

2012 EAA National Executive Compensation Survey

This survey collects salary, bonus/incentive, benefits, and perquisite information for 47 executive and director-level positions in general, finance, HR, engineering, sales/marketing, international, and non-profit functions as well as Board of Directors pay. Data will be reported by industry, organizational size, location (including Northeast Ohio), and sales volume when the results are published in June.

To participate, contact surveys@yourerc.com for a survey link to participate.

Members that participate in these surveys will receive the results for no cost when they are published in May/June of 2012. Non-members that participate in these surveys will receive the results at a discount.

Survey Shows Trends in FMLA Usage

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The ERC/CareWorks FMLA Practices Survey shows trends in FMLA usage. The majority of employers (71%) cite that between 1 and 10% of employees took FMLA in the last 12 months. Ninety percent of organizations reported that 20% or fewer employees took FMLA in the last 12 months.

The most common reasons in which employees take FMLA are due to pregnancy/maternity leave or an acute/chronic serious health condition. Fewer employees take FMLA to care for a family member or deal with a catastrophic event.

The survey also indicates that few FMLA claims are typically denied by employers. Sixty-nine percent of employers report that they did not deny any claims in the last 12 months and only 26% say they denied fewer than 10% of claims.

To download the full results of the survey, please click here and for a short summary of the results, please click here. Or, to learn more about CareWorks and the services they can provide for ERC members as a Preferred Partner, please click here.

10 Common Hiring Mistakes

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Hiring mistakes can drain your organization's resources, lead to poor hiring decisions, and distract managers from running business operations. Here are 10 mistakes your organization should be sure not to make so that it hires well. 

1. Not understanding the talent you need.

Knowing the skills, knowledge, abilities, and typical background of talent you are looking for helps you define the job and assess candidates according to the right criteria. It's also important to understand the innate traits and personalities associated with a good fit for a particular role. Spend time with your hiring managers and employees to understand the dynamics of the role and type of talent best suited to perform the job.

2. Insufficiently assessing all job functions.

Oftentimes a candidate is very strong on one key job function and this overshadows their weaknesses in others. If multiple job functions are critical, be sure that you are evaluating them comprehensively and not letting an overwhelming strength in one area lead to an inaccurate perception of the candidate's true breadth of capabilities.

3. Not checking references or pre-screening.

References are an ideal source of background information about a candidate, but are often skipped in the hiring process or used simply as employment verifications. Similarly, pre-screening can screen out individuals so that you don't need to invest resources in evaluating too many candidates. References and pre-screening can be helpful "eliminators" to screen out potential candidates and may provide insight into how employees performed in past jobs.

4. Not training your interviewer.

Many individuals with hiring responsibilities - namely hiring managers - have not been properly trained to interview. Not training interviewers can result in asking inappropriate and inconsistent questions or hiring based on subjective biases, first impressions, and a "gut feeling" instead of objective credentials. Creating hiring tools, such as pre-planned interview questions or guides, can also help.

5. Relying on the interview.

A single interview should not be your only assessment of the job candidate. Even the best interviewers are subject to biases and impressions. Having multiple interviews with several other employees and using pre-employment tests, references, and work samples can be helpful in evaluating a candidate for skill and culture fit. While it could be more time-consuming and costly, the more evaluators and types of evaluation you add into the selection decision, the more likely you are to make a better hiring decision which saves time and money in the long run.

6. Focusing too much on experience or education.

Focusing too heavily on experience and/or education can have its drawbacks. Experience and/or advanced degrees doesn't necessarily equate to top performance in a role and also aren't the only factors that can lead an employee to succeed. Frequently, these requirements can lead employers to disregard potential hires who may have less experience or education, but have shown results in their past roles.

7. Ignoring culture fit.

Unlike skills, you can't teach culture fit or change personality. Your organization should give significant consideration to a candidate's attitudes, style, behaviors, work ethic, and belief systems which impact their ability to be successful on the job and within your team. If you think the employee's style won't mesh well with their manager or team, this should be cause for concern.

8. Settling for less than the best.

Hiring too quickly (often from need or even desperation) can be a recipe for a poor hiring decision.  Additionally, if you only have a few candidates to pick from, be sure that you are truly hiring the right person and not just the best candidate from the few in which you had to choose. In both of these situations, you're frequently settling for a less than ideal candidate, which almost always leads to a bad hire.

9. Failing to consider satisfaction.

People typically only excel at tasks which capture their true passions and interests. How does the candidate talk about their past jobs? How do they react to the job duties discussed? What tasks have they not enjoyed in prior jobs? What are their long-term career goals? These are all helpful questions you can ask to gauge whether the candidate will be satisfied in the job.

10. Having unrealistic expectations.

Finally, it's not uncommon these days to see lengthy lists of qualification requirements in job ads. Not only can these requirements be unrealistic, but they also could be screening out potential hires. Be sure that these truly should be requirements for the job, or rather preferred qualifications, because the chances of you finding an employee that meets every one of your many requirements is usually not realistic.

Hiring mistakes will happen, but by making sure that you understand the talent you need, are evaluating candidates comprehensively, take into consideration job and culture fit, and don't inadvertently screen out potential top performers, you can greatly reduce the probability of a bad hire.

Additional Resources

Behavioral Interviewing
Asking the right questions and phrasing them the right way is integral to hiring the right person for the job. This workshop gives participants the skills they need to effectively plan for and conduct an effective behavioral-based interview. It also guides participants through effectively evaluating candidates so they can hire the best candidate.

HR University 

As part of HR University, a comprehensive course for those who are newer to the HR profession, one of the sessions (Staffing & Recruitment Practices) addresses time and money-saving ways of finding qualified candidates, steps to take once you have found a potential new employee, how to get your hiring managers to follow your plan, and how to link your hiring plans with your company's strategic goals.

Selection Assessments

ERC’s assessment services, which use online and credible instruments, help minimize the uncertainty in employee selection by evaluating the skills, abilities, style, and career goals of job candidates in relation to your job requirements. Our services also include professional interpretation and feedback from our Management Psychologist, Don Kitson.

Project Assistance
ERC offers a broad range of HR consulting services and has expertise in developing selection systems, recruiting, and developing job descriptions. For more information about these services, please contact consulting@ercnet.org.

ERC members save money with our Preferred Partner Network Click here for details (link to partner page).

2012 Compliance Guide

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We’ve developed an easy guide summarizing what your organization needs to know to stay compliant in 2012. The guide includes a summary of several regulations that take effect as well as important legal issues on the horizon.

Regulations that Take Effect

Below are several major regulations and initiatives will took effect during the first few months of 2012.

Legal/HR Issue

Description of Regulation

Effective Date

2012 Income Tax Withholding Tables

Provides income tax withholding tables for 2012 here.

Immediately

Unemployment Benefits

Extends unemployment benefits temporarily through February 29, 2012.

Immediately

Tax Cuts

Extends current tax cuts temporarily through February 29, 2012.

Payroll system changes must be made by January 31, 2012

Social Security Withholding

Continues reduction in withholding rate to 4.2% (from 6.2%) temporarily through February 29, 2012. If an employer over-withholds in January, they need to make offsetting adjustments to employees’ pay by March 31, 2012.

January 1, 2012

 

Social Security Wage Base

Increases the Social Security Old Age Survivor's and Disability Insurance (OASDI) taxable wage base for 2012 from $106,800 to $110,100.

January 1, 2012

Minimum Wage

 

Raises minimum wage in Ohio to $7.70 per hour for non-tipped employees and $3.85 per hour for tipped employees.

January 1, 2012

Mileage Rates

Continues standard mileage rate of 55.5 cents per mile for business miles driven and 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations. Raises standard mileage rate to 23 cents per mile for medical or moving purposes.

January 1, 2012

Retirement Plan Limits

Raises the 2012 limit on the exclusion for elective deferrals in 401(k), 403(b), and 457(e) plans to $17,000, up from $16,500. For changes to other pension plan limits, click here.

January 1, 2012

W-2 Benefits Reporting

 

Requires employers who have an employer-sponsored group health plan to report the cost of coverage under their plan. This requirement goes into effect for some employers this year.

January 1, 2012

Health Benefits Summaries

Requires group health plan sponsors to create and distribute a Uniform Summary of Benefits and Coverage and Uniform Glossary.

Extended from March 23, 2012; pending notice of new effective date

NLRB Posting Notice

Extends deadline for posting notice regarding employees rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

April 30, 2012

 

Legal Issues on the Horizon

The following table summarizes several major legal issues that could lead to greater scrutiny and more regulations for employers in 2012.

Legal/HR Issue

Description of Issue

Tax cuts and job creation

Congress will determine whether to extend tax cuts through the rest of 2012 by late February. These cuts, along with the Jobs Bill which has been proposed, will aim to expand job creation and support businesses.

Constitutionality of health care reform

In 2012, the Supreme Court will be ruling on whether the health care reform law is constitutional due to conflicting rulings from lower courts, which could affect a number of provisions that take effect in 2013 and 2014.

Protection of unemployed individuals

Bills have been proposed at both state and federal levels to protect unemployed individuals from discrimination in the hiring process, and may gain ground in 2012.

Protection from retaliation

There has been notable interest in ensuring that employees are protected from employer retaliation when they file a complaint or cooperate with an investigation under federal law.

Improving hiring of disabled workers

The government will continue proactive efforts and attempts to improve the hiring of disabled workers and reduce discrimination against the disabled.

Clarification on FLSA and classification

The government will seek revisions to the FLSA for certain jobs, most notably workers who provide in-home services to the elderly and infirm. It will also continue to regulate misclassification of employees.

Retirement plan reform

The government is interested in ensuring that employees are saving adequately for their retirement and are exploring a number of options including additional disclosures, making investment advice more available, implementing automatic contributions, and restructuring tax deductions.

Regulating use of cell phone while driving

This past fall, OSHA and the Department of Transportation began an initiative to combat the leading cause of worker fatalities – motor vehicle crashes – and reduce distracted driving. Condoning/incenting texting while driving is in violation of OSHA, and use of a cell phone while driving may soon be as well.

User-friendly applications

The Department of Labor is leading a number of efforts to create user-friendly applications, interfaces, and tools for employers, job seekers, and other users to more easily use the information it provides.

E-Verify

In 2012, more states will likely require the use of E-Verify to determine employment eligibility.

If your organization needs more assistance, guidance, or detail with regard to these or other compliance-related issues, here are several additional resources and services, provided by ERC, which you can consult:

  • HR University: A series of workshops for HR professionals which includes a session on Employment Law Fundamentals and compliance best practices.
  • Supervisory Series: A series of workshops for supervisors which includes a session on Employment Law that provides supervisors with tools to help them maintain compliance.
  • HR Help Desk: Contact hrhelp@yourerc.com to ask any HR or compliance-related question and receive answers, guidance, and research. Service offered to ERC members only.

Study Identifies Leadership Success Factors for Women

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Study Identifies Leadership Success Factors for Women

ERC’s Preferred Partner, CareerCurve engaged in a research initiative featuring interviews with 108 female senior leaders across the U.S. to identify the factors executive women consider critical to their success and accomplishments.

Factors identified through Career Curve’s study include:

  • Women earn their way to the top.
  • Women must be intentional about building and communicating their value.
  • Women should identify and enlist sponsors and mentors.
  • Women need to seek assignments and promotion to positions that have profit-and-loss responsibilities.
  • Women must stay invested in personal and career growth initiatives.
  • Family life is managed versus balanced for successful female leaders.

The study’s findings not only summarize the financial and economic impact of women’s leadership in the workplace, but also provide a number of insights on key actions that women can take to attain top leadership roles.

Additionally, the study recommends several factors to consider when establishing leadership development training programs for women.

Leadership Development Training Programs

Leadership Development Training

ERC offers a variety of leadership development training programs at all levels of the organization, from senior leadership teams to mid-level managers to first time managers and supervisors.

Train Your Employees

Payroll Tax Cut Temporarily Extended

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In 2011, Obama signed The Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011, which temporarily extended the payroll tax cut of 2% and the Social Security tax withholding rate reduction from 6.2% to 4.2% through February 29, 2012.

The new payroll tax rate was to be implemented by employers no later than January 31, 2012. If employers over-withheld any Social Security during January, they needed to make an offsetting adjustment to employees’ pay by no later than March 31, 2012.

Source: CNN

12 Tips for the 2012 Workplace

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The new year is just a few short days away, and it brings with it a number of challenges and opportunities to enhance your workplace. Here are 12 things to consider as your business heads into 2012.

1. Proactively manage the legal landscape

The legal landscape is becoming more complicated to navigate and employers are increasingly being hit hard with expensive fines and discrimination charges, per a recent report which noted a record number of discrimination charges and fines filed by the EEOC. Discrimination against the unemployed and disabled as well age discrimination are just a few pressing issues the government will be targeting in 2012 that employers should note.

2. Change your hiring strategies

Can’t find the talent you need? The current skills shortage is not expected to change anytime soon, so consider rethinking how you’re hiring. Perhaps your skill and experience requirements may be inadvertently screening out potentially great top performers that fit your culture and have growth potential. Or, you may need to explore different sourcing and branding tactics to attract the talent you need.

3. Focus on top performance

Make creating a better performance management system and approach one of your strategic priorities in 2012. Additionally, build your managers’ abilities to execute results and manage/support employees’ performance. A solid approach to performance management will increase the likelihood that your organization has a successful year.

4. Develop leaders

2011 was a year in which many organizations focused their efforts on leadership and management development and 2012 will be no exception. Organizations are increasingly growing their internal talent, preparing them for their next roles, and ensuring that their businesses have appropriate succession in place.

5. Keep a watchful eye on employee benefits

Employee benefits regulations are changing – and not just surrounding health insurance. Changes to retirement plans, family leave, and sick time are all issues the government has explored in the past year and will continue to target in 2012. Make sure your organization is prepared for the trends that will affect employee benefits in the coming year.

6. Create a long-term wellness strategy

Health care costs will remain a major challenge for employers in 2012. One-off wellness initiatives or activities will not suffice in managing costs effectively, so it’s advisable to create a long-term wellness strategy, based on the needs of your workforce, that will help your organization better manage health care costs and usage for years down the road.

7. Leverage social media

In 2011, the use of social media rapidly rose in the workplace. If your HR department hasn’t started to leverage the power of social media tools yet, it may be missing out on opportunities to find exceptional talent and boost learning and development – not to mention help your own career. Mastery of social media is, without question, an HR competency you’ll need for future success.

8. Manage the effects of change

During the past few years, many organizations have moved towards leaner workforces and processes, but few have managed how those changes have adversely affected employees and their cultures. Use 2012 to deal with the effects that these changes have caused on the workforce, redefine your culture, and re-establish your organization’s direction.

9. Use HR analytics and technology

HR metrics, analytics, and technology have become the gateways to creating a more efficient and effective HR department. Relook at what your department is tracking and the systems it is using. Chances are that you can leverage open-source systems, cloud technology, and other tools to automate processes and improve internal customer service.

10. Enhance global competencies

Global competencies are a sought-after skill by employers as they expand their markets globally. Whether its managing expatriates and bilingual employees, identifying legal risks abroad, or determining what to pay your global employees, as your organization expands globally, it will be critical for HR to enhance its organization’s capacity to manage global talent in 2012.

11. Make retention and engagement of top people a priority

Hopefully your organization emerged from 2011 with its top talent intact and engaged. If not, use the beginning of 2012 to create a strategy to retain your workforce and ignite engagement. Nip the problem in the bud quickly, otherwise, you could face unintended consequences of disengaged employees and high turnover throughout the next year.

12. Do your part for the region

Whether it’s hiring an intern or a recent college grad from a local university, providing an opportunity to an unemployed individual, or giving back to one of our community’s non-profits, do your part to improve economic development in our region and support our local communities.

 

Additional Resources

Leadership & Management Development Training
ERC offers a variety of training programs for leaders at all levels of the organization, from executive to mid-level manager to first time managers and supervisors. Our leadership development programs help move leaders from the traditional command and control role of judging and evaluating, to one of ensuring accountability through creating a supportive and motivating work environment.

HR Consulting
For assistance with various HR projects in 2012, including but not limited to, performance management system design, organizational design and development, HR metrics, employee engagement surveys, succession planning, and more, please contact consulting@yourerc.com.