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3 Ways to Safeguard Your Company’s Culture

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Founders and early employees are the ones who develop the company’s cultural blueprint. If not intentionally managed, the culture can dissipate.

As a new manager, it’s easy to manage the existing culture with the current population of team members. As you begin to hire additional employees to fill the ranks, sustaining the culture that once was becomes more and more difficult.

To ensure your company culture grows at the same speed as your business, consider these three safeguards.

1. Survey your employees. Your employees are on the front lines and, therefore, have the most valuable information, yet over 75 percent of our prospective customers who attended our recent webinar, “8 Engagement Strategies to Drive Performance,” reported not having a strategy in place to survey what their employees want/need. If you want to know what’s happening to make a difference in culture, you have to ask.

Today I received a friendly message in my inbox from my employer, Paycom. It read, “You have been invited to complete a short survey. Your honest feedback is greatly appreciated and will be used to make improvements in the workplace for current and future employees.” I know they are good on their word, so I filled it out.

Depending on what information you are seeking, you could ask questions such as:

    • What makes you proud to work here?
    • How does the organization support your professional development and growth? How could we improve?
    • Do you feel the organization provides an environment that promotes a culture of open and honest communication?
    • If you could change one thing about the company, what would that be? Why?

The key to an effective survey is follow-up. Again, I knew Paycom was being truthful when they said that my feedback would be used to make internal improvements, because they disseminate the findings from surveys and take action, when necessary. You may not always be able to fix a problem employees bring to light right away, but you still should address their concern and explain why you can’t do anything now or give them an alternative to how you can help. One of the biggest mistakes organizations make in the survey process is failing to disseminate the findings to management and employees.

By giving your workforce a channel to consistently provide its feedback, you are strengthening the lines of communication and building loyalty and retention, all of which positively affect company culture.

2. Train your employees. There are many research studies, articles and experts out there that claim to know the best ways to train employees. And they all might be right. But to train your employees, you might actually need to invest in a learning management system (LMS).

With an LMS, you can train and develop employees online, through a portal. This portal supports all of your branded learning initiatives, which employees easily can access at any time. You’re able to train all types of learners and deliver an assortment of training curriculums. Providing employees with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed at their jobs is a driving force that can assist your organization in meeting your goals, cultural and otherwise.

3. Empower your employees. Employees want autonomy in the workplace. This isn’t new news, and still, 50 percent of our prospect webinar attendees reported not giving employees access to an online self-service portal.

Employees want to feel a sense of control and stability at work. A self-service portal meets these basic needs. Employees easily can access personal information, such as W-2s, pay stubs, time-off accruals and more.

Having this information at their fingertips enhances transparency and fosters a sense of trust. Establishing trust fosters a more open company culture – one of which employees will be proud to be a part.

These three safeguards serve to ensure that as your business grows, so does your culture.

For more insight on employee engagement, access our free, on-demand webinar, “8 Engagement Strategies to Drive Performance.”


Heidi Lively

by Heidi Lively


Author Bio: Heidi Lively serves as Paycom’s Additional Business Manager, where she focuses on the compliance and service of additional business products. Previously, she served customers in the Paycom Service Department where she quickly rose through the ranks to earn a team leader position. Having performed in a leadership position for a number of years, Heidi has been able to cultivate and influence others through Paycom’s leadership initiatives. Heidi earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma.

DOL's Request for Information

Back to the Drawing Board: What the DOL’s Request for Information

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The U. S. Department of Labor is taking comments on how it should move forward with overtime overhaul

Since the newest regulations to the overtime law were found invalid, employers are subject to the previous version of Fair Labor Standards Act. However, the roller coaster has not ended.

On July 26, 2017, the DOL published a Request for Information in the Federal Register, indicating it intends to attempt an overtime overhaul. Comments to the Request may be submitted until September 25, 2017. The request asks the public for a response to 11 specific questions.

We can use the questions proposed to help uncover some of the possible changes the DOL is considering. Below are five of the more telling questions and what we can infer from them.

1. Should we just update the 2004 salary level based on inflation?

The Court suggested it would be permissible if the DOL adjusted the 2004 salary level for inflation during questioning at the preliminary injunction hearing. In fact, the Court stated, “[I]f [the salary level] had been just adjusted for inflation – the 2004 figure – we wouldn’t be here today … because [the salary level] would still be operating more the way it has … as more of a floor.” This question indicates the DOL may be referencing inflation because they believe it would be acceptable with the courts

2. Should the regulations contain multiple standard salary levels? If so, how should these levels be set: by size of employer, census region, census division, state, metropolitan statistical area or some other method?

The DOL attempts to make a more malleable test here, which, of course, would serve to be more sensitive to changing demographics. However, a change like this would clearly make compliance tough for employers.

3. Should the DOL set different standard salary levels for the executive, administrative and professional exemptions as it did prior to 2004 and, if so, should there be a lower salary for executive and administrative employees as was done from 1963 until the 2004 rulemaking?

Much like the question above about multiple salary levels, this question would likely provide a more effective test. However, would it come at the cost of convoluting the analysis for employers?

4. Would a test for exemption that relies solely on the duties performed by the employee without regard to the amount of salary paid by the employer be preferable to the current standard test?

This question suggests the DOL seems to be accepting the court’s analysis that duties are more important than salary.

5. The 2016 Final Rule, for the first time, permitted non-discretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10% of the standard salary level. Is this an appropriate limit or should the regulations feature a different percentage cap? Is the amount of the standard salary level relevant in determining whether and to what extent such bonus payments should be credited?

This question indicates the DOL may propose a version of regulations that still allows for bonuses to apply to the salary level.

Given the nature of the questions found in the Request for Information it’s clear the DOL has gone back to the drawing board and may propose something completely different from both the recent failed regulations as well as the 2004 revisions.

Disclaimer: This blog includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal problems.

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Posted in Blog, Compliance, Featured, FLSA, Overtime Expansion

Zachary Gregory

by Zachary Gregory


Author Bio: As a compliance attorney for Paycom, Zach Gregory monitors legal and regulatory changes at the state and federal levels, focusing on payroll and garnishment laws, to ensure the Paycom system is updated accordingly. He previously worked at a law firm as a tax attorney. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma Christian University and a J.D. from Oklahoma City University. Outside of work, Gregory enjoys playing in the backyard with his two boys, and finding new restaurants with his wife and high school sweetheart, Kellyn.

FLSA Overtime Regulations

Court: FLSA Overtime Regulations Invalid

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In case you missed it, on August 31, 2017, Judge Amos Mazzant of the Eastern District of Texas determined that the 2016 Final Rule issued by the U.S. Department of Labor, which increased the minimum salary threshold to $47,476, was not a valid action by the agency.

After finding that the case was ready for judicial decision and the parties at hand could be injured if the court did not intervene, Mazzant addressed all three of the plaintiff’s arguments.

First, the court addressed the state plaintiff’s argument that the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) overtime requirements violate the Constitution by regulating the states and coercing them to adopt wage policy choices that adversely affect state budgets. The court held the Supreme Court precedent of Garcia v. Metropolitan Transit Authority established that Congress has the authority under the Commerce Clause to impose FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements on state and local employees.

Next, the court declined to accept the plaintiff’s argument that based on the clear statement rule, the FLSA does not apply to the states. Under that rule, “if Congress intended to alter the ‘usual constitutional balance between the states and the federal government,’ it must make its intention to do so ‘unmistakably clear in the language of the statute.”

The court discarded this argument simply by pointing out the law is applicable to any “enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce,” and this phrase, by statutory definition, includes the activity of any public agency. Therefore, the court held that the Congress was clear enough in its intention to impact the states.

 Failing the Test

Finally, and most importantly, the court agreed with the plaintiffs in finding that the Department of Labor acted outside of the scope of its delegated authority by implementing a salary-level test that effectively eliminated the duties test.

The court adhered to the test established in Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., which requires courts to determine whether Congress has spoken directly to the precise question at issue. If Congress has, then the court and agency must follow the intent of Congress.

After interpreting the plain meanings of “executive, administrative and professional,” Mazzant found Congress intended the exemption to apply to employees who perform those duties, rather than those who simply are paid a certain amount. Furthermore, because the new regulations focused more on the salary level than Congress intended, they were found invalid, and the court held the agency acted outside of its delegated authority.

What’s Next?

The Department of Labor published a Request for Information in the July 26 Federal Register, which indicates the agency intends to continue its attempt at overhauling overtime.

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Posted in Blog, Compliance, Employment Law, Featured, FLSA, Overtime Expansion

Zachary Gregory

by Zachary Gregory


Author Bio: As a compliance attorney for Paycom, Zach Gregory monitors legal and regulatory changes at the state and federal levels, focusing on payroll and garnishment laws, to ensure the Paycom system is updated accordingly. He previously worked at a law firm as a tax attorney. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma Christian University and a J.D. from Oklahoma City University. Outside of work, Gregory enjoys playing in the backyard with his two boys, and finding new restaurants with his wife and high school sweetheart, Kellyn.

Office Drama

It’s an Office, Not a Theater: Managing Office Drama

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Office drama is a distraction that could be costing your company millions. In her new book, No Ego, drama researcher and New York Times best-selling author Cy Wakeman defines drama as any disruptive behavior or thought process that takes energy away from results or a great work climate.

Need to minimize workplace drama?

Listen to the HR Break Room podcast episode “It’s an Office, Not a Theater: Managing Workplace Drama” with author Cy Wakeman.

Drama is expensive

According to Wakeman, employees spend nearly three hours a week on workplace drama, totaling an estimated 816 hours being wasted per year. This isn’t just a nuisance that hurts employee morale and eats up management’s time, but also lowers productivity and, ultimately, profits. With so much at stake, it’s important to remember that organizations can minimize this type of financial drain.

Egos fuel the fire

Wakeman identifies five key causes of workplace drama:

  1. lack of accountability
  2. lack of engagement
  3. withholding buy-in
  4. resisting change
  5. ego-driven work environment

Each cause manifests itself differently, but perhaps the ego’s most common way of creating tension is through employee venting allowed by open-door policies.

Creating an approachable environment is important, but often, in an effort to give employees access, members of management invite toxic conversations that can last as long as 45 minutes, according to Workman’s research. Instead of colluding or sympathizing with employees, the best way to minimize the drama is to bypass their ego; train managers and employees to reflect on their challenges instead of blasting the faults of others.

Self-reflection: the cornerstone of accountability

Becoming more self-aware and learning how to edit your own story is a critical life skill that helps minimize drama, personally and professionally. Most times, the stress that arises from drama does not come from reality, but from a story we make up about our reality. If we hold ourselves accountable to the truth, we realize that most of what we are upset about did not even happen.

Recruit for a low-drama workforce

Recruiting is one way to reduce workplace drama. It is crucial to find people who not only perform, but are able to stay emotionally ready for what’s next.

Finding highly accountable top talent can be challenging, which makes implementation of an applicant tracking system essential. These prospective employees are in high demand, and recruiting them successfully requires swift, seamless action before they go somewhere else. Organizations lacking the tools to attract and recognize quality applicants could be at a disadvantage.

HR’s role in minimizing drama

A big opportunity exists for HR to cut the cost of workplace drama and, more importantly, put an end to the entitlement that feeds such conflicts. HR needs to be especially careful about its employee engagement philosophies, because engagement without accountability creates entitlement. HR should not be afraid to challenge conventional wisdom that does not yield positive results. For example, one popular idea is that employees can be engaged by perfecting their circumstances. This may sound great on paper, but in actuality, there is no way you can perfect their reality; instead, you grow them to become better equipped to live in their reality.

HR can create surveys to send to top performers in order to get a better understanding of their day-to-day environment, including pressure points. Using this data, HR can implement trainings that enrich the mental processes of managers, and eventually, all employees within the company.

Office drama may be an inevitable part of today’s workforce, but by training managers and employees on the right mental processes based on self-reflection, your organization can save countless hours of employee time and untold wasted dollars.

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Posted in Blog, Featured, HR Management, Leadership, Talent Management

Chelsea Justice

by Chelsea Justice


Author Bio: Chelsea is co-host Paycom’s HR Break Room podcast, editor-in-chief of its corporate culture magazine, Paycom Pulse and is Paycom’s communications supervisor. During her more than eight years in marketing, corporate training and communications, she has created hundreds of magazines, training guides, videos and webinars for multiple industries. In her free time, Chelsea is planning her next travel adventure, perfecting her most recent baking recipe, devouring a good book and, above all, spending time with family.

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