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True Confessions: The Biggest Mistake Organizations Make in Employee Surveys

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Your company issued an engagement survey. Employee participation was enthusiastic. The results are in. what’s next?

One of the biggest mistakes an organization can make during the survey process is failing to disseminate survey results management and employees. While it is improbable to address every complaint, it is possible to identify the most important areas to concentrate and develop a strategy.

The Debriefing Session

Two key themes related to employee engagement are communication and trust. You have an opportunity to build trust by debriefing your workforce on the survey findings. One standard survey question is, “How confident are you that some type of action will be taken as a result of this survey?” If your respondents reported high confidence, don’t let them down. Similarly, if your respondents were skeptical, here’s a chance to earn their trust.

Start by acknowledging the strengths – by department, if possible – and then address areas that need improvement. Celebrating annual positive results and accomplishments that employees achieve impact morale and engagement. Close your survey debrief with explaining the actions your company plans to take to address the candid feedback.

Make Your Action Plan S.M.A.R.T

Developing S.M.A.R.T goals is critical to managing your own and your employees’ performance. When you communicate next steps with employees, be sure they are in line with the S.M.A.R.T. acronym –specific, measureable, achievable, results-focused and timely.

Specific: Clearly define what you are going to do. Share the what, why and how.

Example: By May 1, implement a new employee advocacy program using a clearly defined referral process so employees and managers have a stronger work environment with less turnover.

  • What – “Implement a new employee advocacy program”
  • How – “using a clearly defined referral process”
  • Why – “so employees and managers have a stronger work environment with less turnover”

Measureable: You need tangible evidence to determine if a goal or plan was successful. Using the example from above, the measureable metric is whether or not the advocacy program is operational by your May 1 deadline.

Achievable: Goals should stretch you slightly, but also be attainable. Reasonable goals pump up motivation; impossible goals deflate it.

Results-driven: Goals should measure outcomes, not activities. The outcome of our example would be that employees feel their work environment is stronger and with less turnover.

Timely: Aligning a goal to a time frame creates a sense of urgency, so results are more likely to be obtained.

Communicating the Action Plan

Before sharing an action plan with employees, secure buy-in from the senior leadership team. Having a unified front will impact employee confidence in the overall plan moving forward. Once your senior leadership team is onboard, share the results with your managers, you don’t want your leaders to be caught off-guard once results are shared with the entire organization. When communicating the action plan to leadership, allow for time to prepare responses to any foreseeable questions that may arise once employees are notified.

As you share survey findings with employees, share your action plan as well. Don’t leave it up to workers to imagine solutions; specifically communicate they can expect moving forward.

Failing to act on survey results can severely impact future attempts to gauge employee satisfaction. However, organizations who choose to engage employees, hear their responses, and act honestly and openly about new approaches will see the greatest amount of improvement.



Author Bio: Lauren is an enthusiastic writer who is passionate about numerous topics surrounding the HCM industry including talent management and acquisition, technology, document management and leadership, just to name a few. Lauren has been with Paycom for over a year and has taken on roles as a blogger, social strategist and community relations coordinator. In her spare time she enjoys DIY“ing,” exploring the city and keeping up with her two dogs, Deacon and Cookie.

California

How Employers Can Look to California as a Trendsetter

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It seems that every year, California imposes another piece of legislation upon employers that hasn’t even been considered in any other state, let alone passed, and many California cities have their own set of complex ordinances. However, instead of thinking as California as an island or an anomaly, savvy business professionals should take a moment to consider how such laws would affect your company, even if you don’t yet have any employees in California. Why? History has shown that California is a trendsetter.

Be sure to subscribe to the HR Break Room to learn more on past, present and future California Laws and how they may soon affect your company.

Medical Marijuana

In 1996, the first time in history, marijuana was approved for medical use at the state level when California voters passed Proposition 215. Twenty-two years later, 30 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam approve the use of medical marijuana in some form or fashion. And the other states?  Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Utah are all poised to consider medical marijuana legalization later this year.

Medical marijuana legislation may not be considered employment law traditionally, but there are a multitude of employment implications.

Questions for employers:

  • How should you craft company policy balancing an employees’ legal right to medically use marijuana with the interest of maintaining a safe work environment?
  • When can you fire an employee for marijuana use?
  • How are your organization’s mandatory drug tests affected?
  • What should your HR department do when an employee protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act requests a medical marijuana accommodation?

 

Local Minimum Wages

San Francisco was one of the first two cities to pass a local minimum wage in 2003, along with Santa Fe, New Mexico. Nine years later, California and New Mexico began the local minimum wage movement in earnest with the passage of minimum wages in San Jose and Albuquerque. Currently, 22 different California cities or counties have their own minimum wage regulations.

Questions for Employers:

  • How are you going to react if a local minimum wage is passed in a city where you have employees?
  • Does your HR team watch for such ordinances and have the flexibility to raise employees’ pay in order to remain compliant?
  • Are you flexible enough to pay an employee different minimum wages when he or she works in multiple localities with such ordinances in the same pay period?

 

Paid Sick Leave

San Francisco, again, spearheaded expanded worker protections in 2006 when it passed the first paid sick leave law in the nation. Additionally, it is currently the furthest reaching of such laws, providing protections for any worker—part time, temporary, or full time—who works within the city for an employer. Since then, 29 other California cities or counties have enacted paid sick leave laws, as well as eight states and Washington, D.C.

Question for Employers:

  • Can you ensure your accrual system separately tracks required paid sick leave for employees in all municipalities and states you operate and if your employees work or travel to those localities in question?

 

What’s Ahead: Predictive Scheduling and Equal Pay Laws

What additional California trends should employers keep an eye on?

First, consider predictive scheduling laws, which require employers to abide by certain scheduling procedures and penalize those that do not. To the surprise of no one, San Francisco was the first locality to pass such a predictive scheduling law in 2014. Following suit, Emeryville, CA, Seattle and New York City passed predictive scheduling laws that went into effect last year. Oregon was the first to enact state-wide legislation. While it is early in the predictive scheduling law movement, many other states and municipalities, even the United States Congress, have introduced predictive scheduling legislation.  Your state or city could be next.

And finally, equal pay laws. Sure, the federal Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act has been around since the 1960s and states have had some protections for years, but the movement of further expanding and enforcing the prohibition of pay disparity has recently increased and has two distinct iterations:

  1. Creating general prohibitions against pay disparity and mechanisms to enforce those prohibitions.
  2. Inhibiting employers making pay decisions on salary history.

 

In 2015, the California Fair Pay Act, touted by The Los Angeles Times as “[maybe] the nation’s most aggressive attempt yet to close the salary gap between men and women” was signed into law. Right on the heels of California, New York expanded equal pay protections with the 2015 passage of a group of bills in known as the Women’s Equality Agenda.

In 2016, the California Fair Pay Act was amended to also prohibit pay gaps on the basis of race and ethnicity, not just sex, and prohibits employers from justifying disparities solely on the basis of prior salary. 2016 also brought equal pay law amendments in Nebraska and Massachusetts and another state pay equity laws in Maryland. Oregon and Puerto Rico followed suit in 2017. Massachusetts became the first to pass a law restricting employers from inquiring about salary history in 2016.  California, Oregon, Delaware, Puerto Rico, New York City, San Francisco and Philadelphia followed in 2017.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission proposed in 2016 to collect a summary of pay data by race, ethnicity and sex from employers in addition to the current EEO-1 report. This data would allow the EEOC to more effectively tackle pay disparity. This data collection was put on hold, though, in August 2017 before it went into effect. At the same time, California was considering a bill similarly requiring employers to collect data on gender wage differentials. This bill was passed by the legislature in September following the announcement that the EEOC was putting a hold on its efforts. However, the bill was eventually vetoed by the governor. This type of law is likely to make another showing in California, and most certainly other states as well.

As you can see, California has started many employment law movements (and these were just a few). Click here, here and here to see a few recent laws that may be impacting your city or state in the near future.

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Posted in Blog, California, Compliance, Featured

Alyssa Looney

by Alyssa Looney


Author Bio: As a compliance attorney for Paycom, Alyssa Looney monitors laws, rules and regulations to ensure that the Paycom software is up to date, specifically regarding immigration law and state law developments in the Western United States. She holds a JD and an MBA from Pennsylvania State University, as well as a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University. Outside of work, Alyssa enjoys cooking, being active, playing with her puppy and exploring Oklahoma City.

Death of an employee

Staying Compliant After the Death of an Employee

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When an employee passes away, you need time to process your emotions. But as an HR professional, there are also timely actions you should take to help your workforce grieve, and a few things you’ll need to address to remain compliant. While the death of an employee is never easy, it’s important to ensure any compliance matters are handled consistently with your current policies but with added grace.

Initial Steps

Although your employee wasn’t actually terminated, it’s still a best practice to follow your existing termination checklist. The checklist will help you determine what security access the deceased had so you can disable or redirect it. It will also help with remembering what keys and technology (like a laptop or cellphone) the employee may have had. Be respectful of the employee’s family and ask for these items in as sensitive a manner as you can. You may work with your internal IT department to secure devices remotely, which can protect your sensitive data while you work to connect with the right family member.

In some instances, you’ll also need to obtain a death certificate from the family. This may seem like a uncomfortable request, but you’ll need the certificate before you can proceed with many of the following steps you need to take for the employee.

Paycheck

Check your state laws to make sure you’re following the correct procedure about paying final wages. For example, some states require you to pay out unused vacation. If your state doesn’t have a law, follow your company policy.

You’ll also need to find out who the deceased’s beneficiary is so you will know who should receive his or her final wages. This should be documented either in your HRIS system or on a form in the employee’s personnel or benefit file.  If a paycheck has already been issued, but not cashed, you should reissue the check to the deceased’s beneficiary or estate.

COBRA and Life Insurance

If the employee is covered on the benefit plans, their death is a COBRA-qualifying event. If you sponsor group health plans, you must offer a continuation of group health insurance for up to 36 months to the deceased’s surviving spouse and dependents. The family must be notified about coverage within 30 days of the deceased’s death.

Prepare any relevant information for life insurance claims, if the employee had a policy in effect. They will be dealing with so many decisions that pulling this information together for them before they request it can help give those grieving one less thing to worry about. Employers may also choose to include EAP information or other company sponsored grief resources for eligible family members.

Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 requires that retirement, pension and other plans provide survivor benefits to the surviving spouse of an employee who worked after reaching the earliest possible retirement date under the plan but passed away before retiring. Since this law only pertains to employees who were able to retire but hadn’t yet, you’ll need to refer to your company’s policies to ensure compliance if the deceased was of retirement age. Benefit administrators should contact their plan providers to confirm if there is any additional action required on the deceased employee’s behalf.

To learn more about how your business can start to build procedures for an employee’s death so you can navigate the difficult time as smoothly as possible, visit our blog, “4 Questions to Consider When Handling the Death of an Employee.”

 

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Posted in Blog, Compliance, Employment Law, Featured

Callie Johnson

by Callie Johnson


Author Bio: As a writer for Paycom, Callie Johnson creates content for the company’s various marketing and communications initiatives. Having earned her bachelor’s degrees in journalism from the University of Oklahoma and web design/development from Full Sail University, she has written for companies of all sizes. Outside of the office, she enjoys hand-lettering, going to the movies and spending time with her family and dogs.

Office Relationships

How HR Could Have Helped 3 Complicated On-screen Office Relationships

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With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, love is in the air and sometimes that romantic air makes its way into the office. Workplace romances may seem like something only seen in film or on TV, but according to Career Builder, 38% of American workers said they have dated a co-worker at least once in their career. That’s over a third of employees, which makes workplace romance an item every organization should have on its radar.

To better understand how HR can prepare and handle potentially tricky conversations, let’s take a look at three complicated workplace romances from film or television – and how HR could have helped.

Subscribe to HR Break Room to hear more about managing office romance.

Mulder and Scully – The X-files

For almost 25 years, special agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) from The X-Files have been solving supernatural and extraterrestrial cases on television. This pair of government agents work for one of the most well-known organizations in the country, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Throughout the series, they slowly become more than just friends or coworkers and have even become romantically involved in the most recent seasons. Each episode features a case that often involves aliens, weird occurrences … and yet another development in Mulder and Scully’s evolving relationship.

How HR can help: The on-again, off-again relationship between Mulder and Scully has left audiences wondering about their status for years. That ambiguity is what makes their relationship unhealthy for the workplace. It’s important for an organization’s policy to hold employees accountable for reporting a romantic relationship with a co-worker. This transparency allows HR to hold a consistent policy that can protect both employees if they break up.

Tom and Summer – 500 Days of Summer

The greeting card industry can be tough, but a brutal breakup in the office can make it even harder! Just ask Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon Levitt) and Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel) from the 2009 hit romance film, 500 Days of Summer. The romance that sparked between this on-screen couple turned out to be a bad fit that eventually led to Tom’s depression and complete disengagement from his work. It’s a classic example of how even the most beautiful romances can sometimes go sour.

 How HR can help: It’s important for HR to treat their employees like adults who are allowed to make their own mistakes. It is equally important for managers and supervisors to know about office romances so they can be prepared to handle potential drama.

In this film, Summer is the personal secretary of Tom’s manager, Vance. As the long and painful breakup unfolds, Vance is not clued in on the reason behind Tom’s disengagement, which leads to awkward workplace encounters and poor productivity. By incorporating some form of documentation confirming a workplace relationship into your organization’s policy for managers and team leads, you can foster a culture that equips leaders to better address the impact of those painful breakups.

Lois and Clark – Superman

The iconic comic book couple Lois and Clark have appeared on the screen together many times over the last several decades, but let’s take a look at the 1975 film Superman starring Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder. Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Lois Lane works closely with Clark Kent, who (unbeknownst to her) lives a life of fighting criminals. In the workplace, they are coworkers with great chemistry, but Lois’ professional-turned-romantic relationship with Clark’s alter ego, Superman, eventually makes her and the entire Daily Planet a target of his rivals. Clark’s dual identities complicate the root of the problem within the workplace, so that his interest in Lois puts the entire organization at risk.

How HR can help: Krypton’s last son may be great at hiding his identity, but ultimately living a life of two identities endangers people in both. That includes his coworkers Jimmy Olson, Perry White and most importantly, his romantic interest, Lois Lane.

It’s up to The Daily Planet’s HR department to screen their candidates through an applicant tracking system with thorough background checks before making a hiring decision. This can help identify potential red flags or conflicts of interest before a new employee joins the team.

 This Valentine’s Day, take the opportunity to look closer at your existing workplace romantic relationship policies. These stories make for great entertainment – but an effective policy on workplace romance can help you make sure the drama stays on the screen and out of your office.

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Posted in Blog, Featured, Talent Management

caleb.masters

by Caleb Masters


Author Bio: Caleb is the host of The HR Break Room and a Webinar and Podcast Producer at Paycom. With more than 5 years of experience as a published online writer and content producer, Caleb has produced dozens of podcasts and videos for multiple industries both local and online. Caleb continues to assist organizations creatively communicate their ideas and messages through researched talks, blog posts and new media. Outside of work, Caleb enjoys running, discussing movies and trying new local restaurants.

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