Manufacturers More Likely to Address Workplace Violence & Bullying

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 According to the 2011 NorthCoast 99 Winners Report, a higher percentage of manufacturers addressed workplace violence or bullying in their employee handbooks compared to other industries. Eighty percent of NorthCoast 99 winners in the manufacturing industry reported having a workplace violence or bullying policy, compared to 68% of winners overall.

Only half of winners in the finance, legal, and management services industry acknowledged having a workplace violence or bullying policy in their employee handbook. In the health and human services industry, 60% of NorthCoast 99 winners addressed violence or bullying, while 69% of winners in the marketing, technology, and architectural industry reported having a workplace violence or bullying policy.

Workplace violence and bullying are serious issues that can occur anywhere and at any time, but some work environments are more susceptible to violence and bullying. Work environments that have more exposure to external visitors, conflict, or stress are generally more prone to violence and bullying. Employers in these types of organizations must address violence and bullying early on by implementing policies and procedures and providing training and education that support a safe place to work.

For more information or to purchase NorthCoast 99 Winners Reports, please click here.

Bullying in the Workplace

4 Musts for Retaining Employees

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A flurry of resignations hits your HR department or you could be facing an epidemic of employees that have “quit and stayed.” These are employees who feel trapped (and perhaps even miserable) at their organizations, but are afraid to leave or explore the job market.

These are two common scenarios that many organizations are experiencing this year. Retention of great talent has become a major issue affecting a number of organizations. Before your organization hastily decides to launch a series of HR initiatives to address your retention problems, look first to these four areas of your business.

1. Look at their job

When faced with the red flag of potential turnover, take a hard look at their job first. Is the job playing to their strengths? Could the employee be used in more productive ways that would improve their engagement and is their job naturally progressing with more responsibility and challenge? Most employees need to feel a sense of importance in their work – that their skills and abilities are being put to good use, that they are doing something meaningful with their time, and that they have a say in decisions and how their work is produced. Consistently ranked as the most important attribute among top performers and a key driver of engagement, there is no substitute for making challenging and meaningful work the first priority when solving a retention problem. The job is usually the best place to start.

2. Look at their manager

Employees leave managers, not organizations. Employees are more likely to stay when they are treated in a supportive manner by their boss. In fact, this concept of feeling supported has been time-tested and is consistently found to be the leading indicator of whether employees stay engaged and committed. Support is most commonly manifested in how managers interact with their employees – whether employees are receiving the right amount of interaction and flexibility, the resources they need, help solving problems, and recognition and appreciation. So ask yourself: do employees have a positive relationship with their supervisor and do they feel supported by them in their job, career, and even personally? Consider whether the employee’s manager is doing everything they can to support employees and make them feel valued and confident in themselves.

3. Look at their opportunities

Numerous studies link the relationship between confidence and retention. Generally-speaking, employees will leave their employers for other opportunities. The more confident employees are in their prospects for continued employment and advancement opportunities, and their ability to earn more pay over time, the more likely they are to stay. You can help build a sense of confidence by emphasizing the organization’s success and long-term strategy and discussing advancement opportunities and career paths periodically. The bottom line is that you must give employees confidence that their career will thrive at your organization and that you are prepared to offer those opportunities.  Many organizations fear committing to providing a certain career path to their employees. The reality is that if you don’t, some other organization will.

4. Look at your competitors

Even when the job, manager, and opportunities are aligned with retention, sometimes competitors’ practices snatch a great performer. With pay information publically available on the internet to employees, an influx of passive recruiting via social media, and more employers heavily branding their workplace and culture as great places to work, your organization is constantly at risk of losing its best people. If your organization has fallen behind in terms of making sure its pay and benefits align with those of other businesses, make sure it stacks up before it’s too late. Get to know your competitors’ HR practices intimately and adjust yours if it makes sense.

Contrary to most popular beliefs, retention usually isn’t complex. It’s not a complicated formula requiring a multitude of HR initiatives. It usually comes down to whether employees are doing challenging and interesting work, being supported by their boss, seeing opportunities and security, and receiving fair pay and benefits in comparison to what is offered elsewhere.

Additional Resources

Talent & Performance Management Consulting Services
When it comes to managing talent retention, there are a variety of programs and initiatives to consider including employee engagement surveys, performance management, rewards and recognition programs, succession planning, mentoring and career development programs, job description updates, and exit interviews. To learn more about how ERC can assist you with these consulting projects, please contact consulting@yourerc.com.

FMLA for Domestic Violence?

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The Domestic Violence Leave Act (H.R. 3151) was introduced by Rep. Lynn Woolsey of California in June. She reintroduced it on Oct. 11 in light of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

This legislation would allow employees to take lave under FMLA to address acts of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking aimed at themselves, a spouse (including domestic partners and same sex-sex spouses), parent or child.

FMLA leave could be used to seek medical attention for injuries; obtain legal assistance or remedies; participate in a legal proceeding; attend support groups or therapy; and participate in safety planning, among other related activities held during work hours. An employee would be able to substitute paid leave for the leave provided under this bill.

An employer would be entitled to seek certification that the employee is legitimately taking FMLA leave for the reasons outlined in the measure, but would be required to keep such information confidential. In lieu of written documentation, such as police reports or witness statements, an employee would be able to satisfy the certification requirement by providing a written statement describing the reason for taking leave.

The text of this bill already has been incorporated into a more extensive leave bill – the Balancing Act of 2011 (H.R. 2346) – Rep. Woolsey introduced in June. Yet another measure, the Healthy Families Act (H.R. 1876, S. 984) introduced in May, would require employers to provide paid sick leave as well as paid leave for employees who are the victims of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault.

For more information on proposed Domestic Violence Leave Act please visit:
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-3151

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

Top 5 Workplace Attributes Most Important to Top Performers

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According to the results of the 2011 Top Performer Engagement Survey, conducted by ERC on over 2,400 top performers in Northeast Ohio as part of its NorthCoast 99 program, 24% of top performers report challenging and meaningful work as the most important attribute that they seek in jobs. This attribute continues to be most important to top performers when compared to other attributes, and has been consistently ranked as most important over the past five years.

Both compensation and job security were the second most important attributes with 14% of top performers reporting compensation and job security as the number one most important job attribute. Work-life benefits and career development were other important job attributes that top performers ranked as most important in 2011.

“It’s important to consider what your top performers value as most important when prioritizing and budgeting for HR and workplace initiatives,” says Susan Pyles, Senior Talent Consultant & Trainer. She adds, “By making sure that your workplace is meeting the needs and interests of your top people, you’re more likely to retain those employees.”

Note that percentages reflect the percentage of all rankings as the #1 most important job attribute by top performers.

For more information or to purchase the 2011 NorthCoast 99 Winners Report, please click here.

Top Performers Promoted Within 2 Years, On Average

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A 2011 report released by ERC shows that the average time that it takes a top performer to be promoted for the first time at employers of choice is less than 2 years.

According to the 2011 NorthCoast 99 Winners Report, the average number of months that it takes top performers to be promoted for the first time is 18 months, however winners say they may promote top performers for the first time in as little as 6 months of employment at the organization.

Additionally, top performers in professional services and manufacturing industries tend to be promoted for the first time more quickly than top performers in the health and human services industry. Winners in professional services and manufacturing industries also are more likely to report that higher percentages of their top performers had been promoted from within during the last year and that their organizations’ training and development efforts had improved the advancement and engagement of their top performers.

In our experience conducting employee engagement surveys with many local employers, advancement and career development opportunities are consistently reasons that top performers cite as most important to their decision to stay or leave their organizations. Employers of choice are clearly creating a competitive advantage by identifying their top people early on and formulating effective leadership development programs and strategies to develop them into higher roles more quickly than other employers. As a result, these organizations generally see higher retention and engagement.

For more information or to purchase the NorthCoast 99 Winners Reports, please click here.  

Checklist to Select Employees for Promotions & Leadership Training

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leadership training select employees

Whether you are determining who to promote at the end of the year or creating a leadership development/training program or strategy, the most critical task is selecting the right employees. Your organization wants to be sure that it trains, develops, and promotes employees that are the most likely to succeed in leadership roles. We’ve developed a short checklist you can use to select employees for promotions or participation in a leadership development program.

1. Are they a top performer?

Participants in your leadership development program should be your top performers. If employees can’t perform well in their current role, they likely won’t perform well at the next level. That being said, know the attributes and characteristics of your top performers throughout the organization and at every level.

Understanding what defines a top performer at the entry, mid, manager, and leadership levels will help make selecting the right employees that much easier.

Keep in mind, however, that just because the individual may be a top performer, doesn’t automatically mean they have potential for a leadership position.

2. Do they have potential…and for what?

Next you should ask yourself if this employee has potential for a position besides their current role and for what specifically. There are several different types of potential and classifying employees into different levels of potential helps determine the level of potential the employee has – such as the ability to move laterally, one level up, or multiple levels up.

It also helps prioritize who your organization should develop, into what roles, and the promotions for which they should be considered. Consider these levels as an example:

  • No potential: The employee performs well in their current role, but does not have potential to move laterally or upward.
  • Lateral potential: The employee is able to move into other positions at same level.
  • Potential: The employee could be promoted within 2-3 years to the next level, such as a manager or supervisor.
  • High potential: The employee could be promoted within less than 1 year or make multiple moves upward in the next 5 years. The employee has the level of potential to be promoted at least two levels beyond their current level to a leadership or top management role.

3. Do they have the requisite knowledge and ability?

In order to create a leadership development program, you need to determine what employees already know. Make a list of the required knowledge and abilities. Evaluate employees’ education level, training history, experience, and job knowledge as well as the knowledge requirements of the role for which they are being considered.

Compare the abilities they have already demonstrated on the job and the abilities they need to perform in a different or higher role in the organization.

If employees have too many knowledge and ability gaps, they may not be the right candidates for leadership development unless they have tremendous learning agility.

4. Do they have the desire and ability to learn?

Ideal candidates for leadership development show an openness to learn and change their behavior over time. They also are able to receive constructive feedback and coaching and use it to grow their skills.

They seek opportunities to develop their knowledge and abilities, often without being encouraged or told to do so and use challenges and setbacks as learning tools.

Finally, they have the capacity to learn concepts quickly, fit those concepts together, and apply them to their work.

5. Are their motives and interests aligned?

Not all employees want higher positions. Some of your top performers may have already reached their potential and are satisfied with their current positions and achievements. Likewise, some employees may want to advance their career for the wrong reasons.

Those that desire merely status, authority, and more compensation generally don’t have the right motives for leadership, whereas those that seek to develop others and serve the mission of the organization may be better candidates. Be mindful of both employees’ motives and interests when selecting them for leadership development.

6. Are they well-respected by others and considered team-players?

Consider how respected and liked the employees are within the organization by their coworkers, supervisor, and other individuals.

Employees need not be everyone’s best-friend, but they must be individuals that can develop positive relationships with other employees and are team-players that others respect and trust. If they aren’t, they may have difficulties in a future leadership role when relationship building and maintenance is crucial to their success.

7. Do they have courage?

Lastly, the best employees for promotions and leadership development have courage – to take risks, think outside the box, overcome obstacles, and challenge their fellow employees to push and develop themselves. These employees have a “do whatever it takes” mindset and are committed to taking the organization to new levels.

By not spending adequate time evaluating your candidates for promotions or leadership development initiatives at least by these basic criteria, you may be wasting resources on the wrong people. Before your organization decides to send your employee to leadership development or promote them to a new role, be sure to use this checklist.

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

Parental Bereavement Act of 2011 Would Amend FMLA

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The Parental Bereavement Act of 2011 was introduced on July 13 by Sen. John Tester of Montana. This bill would allow parents grieving from the death of their child to receive up to 12 weeks of job-protected time off under the Family Medical Leave Act.

Under 2011 FMLA regulations, parents are eligible for extended, unpaid time off to care for newborn babies, adopted children and family members with serious health conditions.

Tester’s Parental Bereavement Act of 2011 ensured that the death of a child is treated like other life-altering events, allowing parents time to grieve.

“Allowing time off to mourn the death of a child should have happened a long time ago because it’s simply the right thing to do for any parent,” said Tester. “When the unthinkable happens to parents, the last thing they should be worrying about is whether they’ll lose their jobs as they deal with life-changing loss.”

Businesses with fewer than 50 employees would not be affected by this bill.

For additional information on the Parent Bereavement Act of 2011, please visit: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s112-1358

For more information on CareWorks, contact Scott Vaka

Phone: 614-760-3536
Email: scott.vaka@careworks.com
Website: www.careworksabsence.com

Workplace Flu Shots & Other Wellness Options Gain Ground

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As flu season approaches, an analysis conducted by ERC shows that the percentage of employers offering workplace flu shots and other wellness options has increased significantly since 2007.

According to the 2011 NorthCoast 99 Winners Report, 19% more NorthCoast 99 winners offered free flu shots to keep their workforce healthier during flu season when compared to 2007. Additionally, since 2007, more winners are encouraging fitness by providing subsidies for fitness club memberships; making exercising more convenient by providing on-site fitness classes; and providing annual health fairs. This data seems to suggest that more local employers, and especially employers of choice, are increasing their wellness initiatives.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen more employers expand their health and wellness initiatives in order to improve their employees’ health and well-being. Flu shots and annual health fairs tend to be some of the most common options employers offer. Wellness initiatives can reduce absenteeism, decrease health insurance usage and claims, and create a healthier workplace – all of which are results that many employers are seeking nowadays.

For more information or to purchase the current NorthCoast 99 Winners Report, please click here

Top 10 Corporate Wellness Program Mistakes

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If you’re grappling with low participation and minimal results in your organization’s wellness program or aren’t sure how to make your initiative more successful, you may be making some critical oversights. Here are the top 10 corporate wellness program mistakes.

1. No budget

Many organizations plan to create a wellness program without allocating the resources they need, especially a budget. A wellness initiative can be a major undertaking and adequate funding, staffing, and resources are all critical to a successful program. It’s unlikely that you will be able to see any meaningful results without investing any money or resources into a wellness initiative.

2. Limited interest

Many wellness programs fail because employees have limited interest in the activities or wellness in general. Thus, it’s important to identify the activities in which employees have interest to determine those that may generate better participation, as well as find creative ways to generate interest in wellness (incentives, social activities, contests, etc.). Without participation, you likely won’t achieve any significant behavior change.

3. Assuming that one-size-fits-all

No two employees have the same body, strength, or motivation and likewise not all employees need the same type of help with wellness. Some may need assistance with nutrition and others with fitness. Even within these buckets, employees will vary in terms of their level of fitness/wellness (i.e. beginner, intermediate, advanced). Offer a variety of options and resources so that you can meet the needs of your employees’ many interests, needs, and levels of health.

4. Offering just a few wellness activities

A wellness program is more than just offering an on-site fitness class, annual fair, flu shots, and an occasional seminar. These are wellness activities rather than a comprehensive wellness program. While activities are critical to a wellness initiative, activities alone will rarely create the behavior and lifestyle changes that you are probably seeking. The activities you choose should be connected to the behaviors you want to change in your workforce and the needs of your employees.

5. No connection to your benefits strategy

Wellness programs with no strategy or goals lack direction. Too often, they may not be linked or connected to benefits plans or business strategies, or may be perceived as an extraneous benefit by employees. It’s important to consider the reasons why you are creating the wellness program in the first place and the purpose it serves your business in order to measure whether or not you are meeting its goals. It’s equally as important to make sure that employees see the connection between the wellness program and these strategies.

6. Limited support from senior management

We don’t just mean support for the program’s budget. Senior management needs to buy into your wellness program and participate regularly. They must to be visibly “walking the talk” when it comes to wellness, and most of all, they need to care about employee well-being and recognize how it affects the business. It tends to undermine the success of the program when employees don’t see that their leaders care about wellness.

7. Failing to target high-risk employees

While it’s important to try to engage all of your employees in your company’s wellness efforts, be especially concerned with those that are high-risk. Every organization has some employees who are driving their claims more than average employees. Without engaging these employees to participate, you may not see the results you want. Be prepared to provide targeted resources and support to these employees to help them make critical lifestyle changes.

8. Not changing the little things

By “little things,” we mean the nuances of your culture. If you want employees to take wellness seriously, you’ll need to impact the “little things” in your organization that impede your efforts to create a healthy place to work. These could include replacing soda vending machines with healthy drink options; changing food choices at meetings and staff functions; allowing flexible schedules to work out; and getting rid of traditional morning donuts. If wellness is truly a priority, you have to exemplify that throughout your entire workplace.

9. Lack of change and reinforcement

Over time, employees’ enthusiasm for your wellness program will fluctuate if you don’t keep the program fresh. If new activities and components are not constantly being integrated into the program to maintain employees’ interest, it may be difficult to motivate continued participation. Similar to other workplace initiatives, continue to change and adapt the program over time.

10. Doing it alone

Many organizations try to launch a wellness program with just their own internal staff and the assistance of their health insurance carrier and neglect to use outside experts and vendors. The reality is that designing a wellness program usually requires expertise and experience beyond the traditional HR function. As a result, it’s good practice to select outside resources and support that can help a wellness program succeed. There are many vendors which not only offer assistance with program design, but also provide a variety of tools, services, and products to support and complement your program. 

Corporate wellness programs can be incredibly beneficial to workplaces, driving down health insurance costs, engaging your workforce, and ultimately creating healthier employees. Keep in mind, however, that just a few mistakes can potentially prevent a wellness program from generating the results you want and need for your business.

Additional Resources

For more information about health and wellness from ERC Health, click here.

Health Care Trends for 2012

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Open-enrollment and budgeting season are upon many organizations and the trends are similar to previous years: rising costs, shifts in plan design, increased emphasis on wellness and health management, and greater employee accountability – but with a few positive surprises. Here are some major health care trends that had effects on organizations in 2012.

Health care costs are still rising, but are slowing.

Several studies conducted by Mercer, Towers Watson, and Segal, have found that health care costs will continue to rise in 2012 by approximately 5.4-7.6%, but there is solid evidence that costs are slowing from the past few years. 

Cost-shifting to employees is slowing from past years.

As a result of lower increases in health care costs, experts believe that cost shifting to employees will slow as well in 2012. This trend coupled with slower health care cost increases is likely attributable to more cost sharing practices that have occurred over the past few years and wellness initiatives that many employers are using to manage health care expenses.

Healthcare utilization seems to be trending downhill.

Other positive news is that healthcare utilization is trending downhill. Employees are using fewer medical services, mainly due to wellness and health management programs and choices to postpone medical visits and procedures due to higher health insurance costs (co-pays, deductibles, etc.) and lower disposable income.

High deductible and health savings plan options continue to increase in popularity.

Employers are placing more accountability on individuals in terms of spending their health care dollars and managing their health by integrating a Health Savings Account (HSA) option in their benefits packages. Similarly, high deductible plans are quickly becoming a chosen plan design for many employers.

Greater individual accountability for health continues to increase.

In addition to modifying plan design, employers continue to offer tools to help employees take responsibility for their health including health risk assessments and screening. Many have also turned to incentives to promote the healthy behaviors they are seeking.

Employers are re-evaluating their benefits strategies.

Organizations continue to be concerned about the sustainability of health insurance costs on their businesses and are re-evaluating their benefits strategies for the short and long term, focusing on benefits that are most valuable to their employees including health care, retirement, and lifestyle benefits.

More employers are exploring narrower options and access.

More small and midsize employers are considering swapping lower premiums for narrower access to providers and changing their approach to providing benefits for dependents. Out-of-network options are also coming at a higher price. These three areas appear to be the most common tradeoffs employers are making in order to keep premium costs manageable.

Health management will remain a critical priority for employers.

Organizations aren’t planning to decrease their wellness efforts anytime soon. In fact, in 2012 and beyond, employers can expect that health management and wellness programs will increase and continue to be a priority as they attempt to control health care costs. Employers will be focusing on greater prevention of health conditions by exploring ways to integrate wellness initiatives into their benefits strategy.

As your organization plans its health care strategies for 2012 and negotiates its renewal rates, keep these trends in mind to ensure that your organization manages its health insurance costs effectively in the short and long term.

Sources: Mercer, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Segal, Towers Watson, WorldatWork