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How Small HR Teams Can Punch Above Their Weight

Small but mighty HR teams are under increasing pressure to perform with fewer and fewer resources. Typically, small budgets mean that functions like payroll, time and attendance, benefits administration, HR compliance, and more have to be done manually or with spreadsheets. This stifles smaller HR teams’ ability to consistently punch above their weight.

In a recent survey, GoCo found that 74% of HR professionals feel more pressure from senior leadership to hire and retain top talent amid The Great Resignation. 

And with the arrival of COVID-19, these pressures have only been exacerbated. HR teams must now also deal with the digital transformation accelerated by the pandemic. In fact, according to McKinsey, 85% of companies surveyed are increasing digitization during the pandemic. 

Large companies typically have access to ERP and enterprise-wide technology solutions, supported by large team headcounts. This equips them to handle rapidly evolving future-of-work considerations such as digital transformation or remote work policies. But what about small HR teams? How can they tackle the same issues that large HR teams face with significantly fewer resources? One answer is automation: Leveraging digital tech reshapes how small HR teams function.

Automation technology is increasingly being utilized by small businesses to power their HR functions and to deliver the prowess of a large HR team. 

Streamline HR Work for Efficiency 

When teams are small, it’s critical to optimize efficiencies and reduce errors. Often, small HR teams rely on highly tedious and time-consuming processes for benefits administration or payroll. They tackle complex functions using manual processes. More often than not, this leads to errors or simply monopolizes HR’s time with administrative work. This makes it difficult to tackle new pressing challenges facing HR leaders. Additionally, it becomes nearly impossible for them to take on strategic initiatives. 

Implementing automation technology streamlines core HR functions. Work can then be completed quickly and with significantly fewer errors. When HR practitioners have time to focus on caring for employees and supporting people functions, they provide much-needed value to their organizations. Automating time-consuming and repetitive tasks boosts the productivity of your HR team. An overlooked benefit of HR technology is that for small HR teams, the right tech can alleviate the need to check work or ensure the accuracy of reports. With fewer errors to fix and less paper-work to process or reconcile, small HR teams can flourish.

Staying Compliant

One of the most crucial responsibilities of HR teams is to ensure organizations, big and small, remain HR compliant — adhering to layers of government regulations and financial requirements. A business’s size does not exclude it from compliance requirements. And failure to comply can result in costly penalties at the state, local, and federal level.

Paperwork and manual processes are often the enemy of staying in compliance. Document-focused compliance processes will inevitably result in human error. Small HR teams can succeed at compliance work — but going digital is a crucial step in that journey.

There are many complex moving parts to HR compliance. Small HR teams have a lot to keep up with. Staying aware of constantly evolving and changing regulations when it comes to payroll, hiring, and benefits can feel daunting in one-person or small HR departments. This becomes only more complicated for companies that employ a mix of full-time, hourly, and freelance workers. Adding multiple regional or geographic locations adds further complexity. 

HR automation technology easily streamlines HR compliance and helps them punch above their weight. It improves accuracy and frees up HR to focus on emerging priorities such as employee well-being, hiring, and onboarding new employees.

Flexibility in Tech Is Key

Most small HR departments straddle the world of analog and digital — meaning even when they deploy tech solutions, they still rely on a mix of software, paper systems, and spreadsheets. It’s often a transition from paper to software to cloud-based systems. So, software that has the flexibility to align with how an HR department already operates eases the burden of learning and implementing a new system. Done right, technology can step in to automate certain HR processes to create efficiencies and then leave it up to each unique HR practitioner how they best want to track specific HR functions. 

One of the common obstacles in the way of HR departments that want to go fully digital is the lack of flexibility in many of the tech solutions out there. HR pros spend years, maybe even decades, perfecting processes like onboarding and offboarding. They don’t want technology that’s going to force them to change all of that. So it’s important to find tech that doesn’t force you to conform to a particular process. Rather, look for solutions that trust you to define your own workflow, and that are flexible enough to support that. 

And as small HR departments scale with the growth of their companies, so too must the technology. Platforms that only offer out-of-the-box solutions often have difficulty in scaling with a company’s growth. Flexible systems better match things like headcount growth and complex processes like running payroll in different geographies or supporting multiple EINs.

Optimize and Improve With Data 

When used strategically, HR automation technology is a powerful tool for small HR teams who want to have a big impact. It’s not enough to automate; there’s a growing expectation to leverage people data to make better business decisions. As more and more HR data is stored, modern HR systems can extract useful people insights. These insights drive outcomes such as reduced turnover, better onboarding, and increased productivity.

Small businesses and their HR teams can make better business decisions and improve employee experience with the reports that core HR technology generates. With technology, small HR teams can deliver high-impact, strategic work. Having better data covers compliance, better supports people, and empowers company leadership with key people insights. Small HR teams can be just as integral to business success as large HR teams — when they harness technology.

Image by Matthew Henry

Learning From the Rescinded Diversity Training Ban

President Joe Biden held his post for only a few hours before rescinding former President Donald Trump’s executive order banning some forms of diversity and inclusion training.

The highly controversial order, executive order 13950, prohibited federal contractors from implementing training programs that promote “race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating.” It was signed as the country reeled from mounting racial tension and a pandemic that exposed severe inequalities. Ultimately, the order was met with lawsuits and blocked by a federal judge on First Amendment grounds.

In an effort to shift the federal government’s focus back to equity, President Biden revoked the ban immediately. Now, compliance professionals are taking a hard look at the goals of diversity training and affirmative action compliance. Specifically, they’re wondering how to move companies forward in light of the revocation.

How Compliance Professionals Received the Revocation

It’s easy to assume that compliance professionals embraced Biden’s rescission of Trump’s executive order. After all, more than 160 organizations—including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—called upon Trump to reconsider the order. Their reaction illustrates the danger of using unilateral government action rather than the legislative process to make major changes.

Although the intent of the executive order was fairly clear, it permitted the federal government to punish employers for “unpopular” speech in a way that was overly broad in application. This put employers in a challenging position, which is why many halted diversity and inclusion training altogether. As a result, this chilled efforts to prioritize anti-racism training at a time when diversity and inclusion messaging mattered the most.

When companies really looked at the hard numbers behind discrimination in corporate America last year, it became clear that we have a long way to go to reach a state of equality. Diversity and inclusion messages and training play a big part in that, but they only work when they bring everyone in—not when they call some people out and let exclusion and intolerance germinate.

The Forgotten Voices in Affirmative Action Compliance

Despite evidence of systemic racism in America, many Americans still resist the notions of equality and nondiscrimination. For some, these attitudes stem from a place of hatred and animosity. Others don’t see why diversity training is important because they fear these initiatives will put them at a disadvantage. On the opposite side of the spectrum, progressives sometimes lump these people into baskets and treat anyone who disagrees with their views as unsalvageable.

Too many misconceptions exist because of poorly communicated diversity and inclusion messages. Speaking down to people who question the goals of diversity training or treating them like they need to be “saved” won’t create a more inclusive workplace.

Lasting change begins with reaching out to people who do not understand or support the goals of diversity training and hearing the reasons why. 

After all, if you work to really understand why people are resistant in the first place, you can create the right messages to help them see the practical benefits of diversity and inclusion work. Leaving workers who think differently out of the conversation is not the answer.

How Revoking a Ban Became a Band-Aid

The fundamental goal of diversity training should be enlightenment, which can be emotional for those new to the idea. So if you’re going to dig deeper into social science, prepare to do some social work. If you’re teaching people to be more sensitive to others but show only insensitivity toward them, expect poor results.

Because of these realities, compliance professionals must take diversity training a little bit deeper. Right now, companies largely double down on anti-bias training and diversity and inclusion messages when there is a crisis or a public relations disaster. That’s the wrong approach. Successful programs require an understanding of skeptical people and a long-term commitment. Don’t coddle employees who struggle with the concept. But also make sure they don’t leave training sessions feeling shamed or ridiculed.

Unfortunately, many diversity training efforts fail due to skepticism or improper implementation. That’s because people react to them differently, and sometimes in unexpected ways. Still, compliance professionals should carefully examine the ban created by President Trump’s executive order, its revocation, and how to now get doubtful audiences on board.

Charting a New Course in Changing Times

As you renew complex discussions about equality and inclusion, do so with care and compassion. Here are a few ways to ensure more success in diversity training and affirmative action compliance moving forward:

1. Review your compliance and diversity training programs

Take some time to look at your communication. What message does this training send? Does it feel inclusive or exclusive? Your communication should convey the idea that everyone belongs. This requires identifying, recognizing, and confronting what “good” people experience, including the trainers. Fear is human, so keep compassion top of mind.

2. Do not alienate the other side

Both sides of the political spectrum can house inequality. The answer to discrimination and division cannot be more discrimination and division. It is hard to gain credibility if you host programs that attack one side of the political spectrum. And why go into these critical conversations knowing you’ll offend at least 47.4 percent of the population?

3. Be skeptical of trending ideas

Although it is tempting to subscribe to every “breakthrough” idea, research it before you incorporate it. Yes, people are having a lot of great conversations right now about race theory and dominant culture systems. But fixing race relations takes time, thought, and hard work. You need more than flashy concepts with a “just do this” or “just do that” prescription.

4. Support outreach statements with action

Saying your “door is open” with no meaningful action is not enough. Actively reach out to employees and provide opportunities for them to share negative feedback—and not just positive thoughts. If you provide programs without getting feedback on your messaging, you’ve failed employees. Without input from others, diversity training becomes unilateral and chilling, much like the executive order. Instead, use feedback to achieve meaningful, lasting change.

If diversity training and affirmative action compliance were easy, it would be a non-issue at most companies; however, that is not the case. If you are exploring new ways to address inequality in the workplace, communication is key. It’s time to collaborate with employees—with varying current belief systems—to address systemic racism in a way that works.

Christina Morillo

2021 HR Landscape: Save Time, Be Safe and Remain Compliant

2020 has changed the workplace – possibly forever. Which makes it even more important to look at the 2021 HR landscape now.

Over the last year, HR professionals have been challenged with the responsibilities of managing a remote workforce. Soon, if they aren’t already, they’ll be tasked with creating “back to work” policies, while keeping safety top-of-mind. With this new normal, it may have been tempting to put your compliance responsibilities on the back burner.

Our advice? Don’t.

So you’re ready for whatever comes your way in 2021, here are just a few compliance topics that require your attention now.

Have You Updated Your Employee Handbook?

The Employee Handbook: That all-important compilation of company policies.

It may not be the first thing on your mind these days. But chances are you have not updated that handbook since before COVID. So, give it another look. For instance, does your handbook cover updated telework and remote work policies? If your employees are back in the office, do you address updated policies regarding sick leave, temperature checks and social distancing?

Through a new lens, conduct a thorough review of your handbook – and avoid confusion and potential lawsuits.

Make Sure You Have the Most Up-to-Date Labor Laws Posted

Do you have a spare $35,000 on hand? Probably not.

Did you know failing to post just one state or federal labor law update prominently in your workplace can mean fines of $35,000? So far in 2020, we have seen 55 labor law changes, and we are aware of at least 20 more changes that will go into effect on January 1, 2021. Don’t risk an expensive penalty; make sure your labor law postings are up to date.

Better yet: Take advantage of services that put this responsibility on autopilot.

Stay Informed: The FMLA is Facing New Challenges

The FMLA has always been difficult to navigate. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it another set of challenges.

Several new state and local leave requirements have emerged as a result of the pandemic. So, it is more important than ever for HR professionals to monitor and manage their employees’ FMLA leave accurately and efficiently. There are a myriad of comprehensive policies, procedures and forms to organize.

Failing to comply with these regulations could easily result in costly fines.

Have Employees Completed 2020 Harassment Training?

With employees working remotely—or not at all—harassment training may have fallen to the bottom of the priority this this year.

Perhaps you were waiting to get back in your office routine to complete the mandated requirements. Truth is, harassment can happen at any time, and at any place. In addition, some states—like Illinois and California—still require harassment training be completed before the New Year. It’s best not to wait.

To stay compliant, consider looking into digital and streaming options. That way, regardless of where they get the work done, employees can complete required training before the end of the year.

Are Your Job Descriptions Accurate?

We bet you weren’t expecting job descriptions to be mentioned in a compliance article. But hear us out.

Did you know a poorly written job description can cause all kinds of issues? From low employee morale to legal troubles? Particularly now that so many positions are remote, it is so important to make sure your job descriptions are accurate. After all, employees must have a clear – and current – understanding of their role and responsibilities. Further, even if you aren’t hiring, job descriptions can play a big role in cross-training and employee development.

While employees are expected to do more from farther away, current job descriptions can help HR develop training and development plans. Quality job descriptions also help ensure employees are operating to their strengths.

Employees Returning? Make Sure Your Workplace is REALLY Safe

For those of you who have returned to the workplace, welcome back!

You are likely to be wearing masks and distancing employee workspaces already. But you still must ensure you’re also following all the updated hazard assessment protocols. Check that your workers and workplace are complying with any necessary temperature checks, hygiene protocols and training requirements related to COVID-19. Additionally, if your workplace implemented additional policies around telework, sick leave and anti-retaliation guidelines, make sure to communicate that information with the rest of your staff.

You really can’t over communicate in times like this. So, keep your people in the know with posted signs and checklists. Also, provide physical supports like masks and hand sanitizer stations to make the return to work feel just that much safer for all.

The 2021 HR Landscape Need Not Be Overwhelming

You have limited time as an HR professional. Resources seem constantly strained. Feeling overwhelmed? Let us help.

We have joined forces with industry leading partners to take the brunt of compliance-based work off your plate and keep you up-to-date on all state and federal policies. Whatever stumbling block gets between you and your 2021 HR goals, we at SHRM can help.

Want to learn more? To discover solutions designed for you, sign up! We’ll immediately start sending regular updates about compliance requirements and solutions.

 

This post is sponsored by SHRM.

 

 

Photo: sol

Rebooting After Covid-19: Employer Liability Concerns

As some states ease lockdown restrictions and America begins to return to work, some businesses eager to reopen their doors facing a whole new headache: fear of their potential liability. Incurring a lawsuit due to possibly exposing employees and customers to the virus is a driving concern for employers; so much so that it’s become a point of contention among federal lawmakers as they hammer out a second coronavirus relief bill.

Businesses and their advocates, such as the U.S. and local Chambers of Commerce and trade associations, are demanding assurances that employers who follow state and federal safety guidelines will have legal protection. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business leaders want Congress to give employers immunity from COVID-related lawsuits as they reopen their businesses, except in cases of gross negligence or wanton misconduct. Failure to do so, they insist, will make an already bad situation worse for many enterprises.

The Chamber’s chief policy officer, Neil Bradley, recently told CNN: “The fear is that small businesses will do all of the right things that public health officials tell them to do, and then someone gets sick and contracts Covid-19 and sues the employer.” The organization insists the concern is not merely theoretical, as it claims that several hundred lawsuits have already been filed.

To guard against liability, legal experts have been advising companies to implement COVID-related safety measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and state and local governments. OSHA provides regularly updated guidance on appropriate health and safety measures for different industries, an enforcement response plan for handling COVID-19-related workplace complaints and illness reports made to OSHA, and a set of standards and directives for preventing worker exposure to the virus.

The New Normal

What all this will mean is a new normal for the American workforce. Going to the office will now likely entail being required to wear a face mask, having your temperature checked as you enter your building every day, and maybe even your blood tested before you are cleared to return.

As for the post-lockdown Covid-19 workplace, this is new and uncharted territory. Labor and employment attorneys warn that employers should be careful about how they treat employees who refuse to return to work over safety concerns, especially in such sectors as the service industry, because disciplining them could lead to charges of retaliation.

Helping Employees Stay Well

Up to 64 percent of salaried U.S. employees are currently working from home, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). For safety reasons, many may wish to continue doing so even after state stay-at-home orders are lifted. Then there is the issue of widespread school closings, which have raised concerns about child care. For workers willing to return to the office, companies are advised to stagger shifts, reconfigure their workspace, install plastic dividers between workers when six feet of separation cannot be maintained, and raise cubicle walls.

More stringent measures are being rolled out in hard-hit places like New York City, such as taking people’s temperatures with thermal cameras as they enter office buildings. Some U.S. employers also may follow the lead of major European companies: Ferrari is testing their staff’s blood for Covid-19 antibodies before they can return to work, for instance. In the U.S., Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas has opened a virus testing center in preparation for reopening in late May; staff from the University Medical Center will test employees for free. Toyota’s plan to restart production entails staggered shifts, distributing personal protective equipment (PPE) to workers and conducting daily temperature screenings.

As businesses look for ways to keep their employees healthy and productive, their allies are demanding the federal government provide a consistent, uniform set of workplace health and safety guidelines instead of relying on a state-by-state patchwork. According to the Business Roundtable: “Americans want to feel confident returning to work and being in public spaces, and employers who operate in multiple states and want to keep their employees and customers safe need the clarity that consistent guidelines provide.”

Contention Over Workers’ Comp  

Since workers’ compensation laws usually cover “occupational diseases” contracted at work as well as physical injuries, some states are looking at their workers’ comp programs as a way to assist employees who contract Covid-19 on the job. Florida is acting to ensure that workers in high-risk occupations are eligible for workers’ comp benefits if they become infected in the course of their work.

Typically, an employee who makes a workers’ comp claim must prove that the injury or infection happened in the workplace. If their claim is successful, they cannot collect state unemployment benefits. Nor can they later file a negligence lawsuit against their employer.

But the business community is pushing back, arguing that expanding Covid-19 workers’ comp protections for non-frontline workers or first responders will increase costs for employers who are already struggling enough. In Illinois, business groups successfully rejected the expansion of coverage for non-healthcare workers, claiming that amending laws could create an automatic presumption that an employee contracted the virus at work. Instead, the U.S. Chamber and others propose shifting the burden of protections to government programs — specifically the expanded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that’s part of the federal CARES Act.

And in the meantime, what is clear to all sides is that the pandemic brings tremendous uncertainty, no matter how, and when employees return to work. With nearly two-thirds of all salaried employees working remotely, employers may have to curtail their expectations on what the workforce is willing — or able to do, at least until a Covid-19 vaccine is developed and available. And that could be more than a year away.

Photo: Christina Morillo

Keep Your Workforce Informed With Electronic Solutions

In any workplace, health and safety has to be top of mind. Complying with workplace laws takes a lot more effort when your workers are remote and are teams dispersed — as is happening in so many organizations. And right now, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, employee safety in any working environment is an ongoing concern for leaders and managers — and employers need to not only navigate new laws, but inform their people as well.

The key lies in electronic solutions that provide clear guidelines and information to every employee, no matter where they are. Managing compliance means being clear on your own responsibilities as an employer, and being able to get the answers you need about what’s happening right now — so you’re up to date, and there are no surprises.

To get clear on the best practices for keeping your workforce informed, I spoke to Ashley Kaplan, Esq., Senior Employment Law Attorney for ComplyRight, a leading provider of human resource solutions and employment compliance products. Here are the highlights of our conversation:

  1. Ashley, what brought you to ComplyRight, and can you talk about what you handle?

I joined ComplyRight in 2000, after practicing labor and employment law for several years with a national law firm. My experience includes representing businesses of all sizes and industries, in matters ranging from general HR counseling and risk management, to defending discrimination lawsuits and class-action FLSA litigation. At ComplyRight, my responsibilities have evolved quite a bit, but I am primarily responsible for managing employment law compliance and overseeing the teams responsible for researching and developing HR compliance solutions and labor law posting services for U.S. businesses.   

  1. Let’s talk about electronic posting. What is mandatory for employers to post, no matter where their employees are working? So many employers are dealing with remote workforces now: are remote workplaces exempt from any mandatory postings?

Depending on your state, employers are required to post up to 22 postings for federal and state compliance. Additional postings may be required depending on city and county employment laws, which has been a growing trend over the past few years. Plus, there are specific posting requirements for government contractors and employers in certain industries, so it can be a lot to manage. 

As far as remote employees go, there is no exemption from these requirements. The Department of Labor provides guidance on this, and recommends that employers provide posters in an “alternative format” for any employee who does not regularly visit a business location where posters are displayed. According to the DOL, “visiting regularly” means at least three to four times a month and electronic postings are an acceptable alternative format.

With so many employees working remotely at the moment, and given that employment laws are changing rapidly during this emergency, employers really need to consider providing electronic postings in addition to maintaining physical postings at business locations that are still operational.

  1. What’s the biggest question you get asked about maintaining compliance right now?

When it comes to posting compliance, a lot of employers want to know if they can simply provide all of the postings electronically instead of displaying physical posters in the workplace.

The general rule is that the posters still have to be posted in all physical facilities where employees report to work. Electronic postings are a solution for remote workers who do not have regular access to the postings at your physical facilities, but not a substitute for the physical posters for onsite workers.   

  1. Can you explain the Families First Coronavirus Response Act? Are smaller companies exempt from mandatory posting requirements?

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is a temporary federal law that is effective from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.  This law is very broad and encompasses many aspects of the federal response to COVID-19.

The biggest impact on small businesses is the requirement to provide paid leave to employees who cannot work due to various reasons related to the pandemic. Generally speaking, this paid leave requirement applies to all private employers with fewer than 500 employees, and most public employers. These employers will receive tax credits to offset the cost of the mandatory paid leave.

The law also includes a new mandatory posting requirement for all affected employers.

The qualifying reasons for paid leave cover many different scenarios, and the mandatory pay rates vary depending on the circumstances.

In some cases, affected employees qualify for up to two weeks (or 80 hours) of leave at their regular pay rate. That’s if they cannot work because they are under mandatory quarantine based on a government order (federal, state or local) or quarantined on the advice of a healthcare provider. The full pay rate also applies to employees who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis.

In other cases, affected employees qualify for up to two weeks (or 80 hours) of leave at two-thirds of their regular pay rate. This rate applies to employees who cannot work because they must care for another individual who is under mandatory quarantine based on a government order, or on the advice of a healthcare provider. It also applies in cases where the individual is experiencing any other substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The third category of affected employees includes those who are having to care for a child, or children, due to school closings or because their usual caretakers are unavailable due to COVID-19. All employees affected in this way are entitled to the same two weeks, or 80 hours, of paid leave at two-thirds of their regular rate. In addition, those who have been employed for at least 30 calendar days prior to requesting leave are eligible for another ten weeks of paid leave. Again, this would be at two-thirds of their regular pay rate.

Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for an exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or childcare unavailability — if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business. However, they are not exempt from the new mandatory FFCRA posting requirement.

The posting requirement can be satisfied in this case by mailing or emailing the FFCRA poster to employees, or posting it on an employee website. The notice also must be distributed to all new hires.  

  1. So many companies have had to quickly redistribute their teams and shift employees to working from home — and have had very little time to prepare. How can employees ensure their electronic and posted information is consistent and up to date in all locations?

Given all the time and know-how required to stay on top of posting requirements and updates, coupled with the potential fines and penalties for non-compliance, I think it makes sense for a business of any size to outsource this aspect of compliance.

Choose a reputable partner that offers sound electronic solutions for your remote workers, such as an intranet link you can post on your employee website, or a service that pushes out all required postings and updates directly to your employees via email. It’s important to choose a partner backed by a seasoned legal team that researches and updates all of the posting images in real time as the laws change, and that covers all city/county requirements, industry variations, and foreign language postings.  That’s especially true now, as employee leave laws are getting more complex and are an area of high litigation.

  1. I think a lot of employers are asking very basic questions about paid leave — particularly in terms of sick leave and family leave during COVID-19. I’m thinking of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, but what other pieces of new legislation do companies need to be aware of?

In addition to the federal FFCRA, other legislation is being passed by state and local governments to protect employees during this crisis. Many states, cities and counties have passed new laws (and many more are pending) expanding paid sick leave rights, caregiver leave, unemployment insurance benefits, and other provisions to provide relief to workers and their families.

Though not on the topic of paid leave, there is also the newly enacted CARES Act, a federal law that provides financial incentives to businesses who retain their employees, and boosts unemployment insurance significantly for employees who are laid off or furloughed as a result of the pandemic. The goal of this law is to incent employers to retain their employees during the crisis, and also provide a safety net for workers who do lose significant income.

  1. Can you clarify the mandatory employee information employers need to add to their postings according to the most recent legislation? For instance, are employers responsible for requiring their employees to observe social distancing?

There are some new posting requirements on the state and local level addressing social distancing, including a new poster for Arkansas employers and businesses in San Jose County, California. We are expecting more of these in the coming days. We have also seen new state and local postings informing employees of their expanded sick leave rights, emergency paid leave provisions, and unemployment insurance benefits.  

  1. How can employers ensure compliance with labor law posting requirements in general during the COVID-19 epidemic, as more and more employees are working from home? What about for new hires?

Ideally, you should look for a service that provides all of the required federal, state, city and county posters for all of your physical locations where employees report to work. Posting laws apply even if you only have one or two employees at a worksite. Choose a service that includes automatic poster updates whenever the laws change, since these posters change frequently throughout the year. (Last year our legal team tracked almost 200 mandatory changes nationwide.)

Supplement your physical postings with an electronic solution for your remote workers. Posting obligations are the same for new hires as all your other employees, but there are additional federal, state and local requirements for prospective employees during the application process. Ask your poster provider for information about posting services for online applicants where you can simply place a link to the current posters on your applicant web page or in online job postings.        

  1. What if an employee appears to be ill? What are the obligations and responsibilities of employers with regards to requiring disclosure or exiting the workplace?  

You can, and should, ask the employee to leave your premises and seek medical attention, including getting tested for COVID-19. The CDC states that employees who exhibit symptoms of influenza-like illness at work during a pandemic should leave the workplace. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has confirmed that it is permissible to send an employee home if the symptoms are akin to the COVID-19 coronavirus or the flu.

Without revealing the employee’s name, communicate to other employees who have worked closely with the employee that a coworker exhibited symptoms that led you to believe a positive diagnosis is possible. And if the employee does test positive for the virus, you should notify and send home any others who may be affected, as well as close off the affected areas for proper cleaning and disinfection.  

  1. What best practices do you recommend for companies who now have temporarily remote workers? Should they create a remote workplace practices policy?

Absolutely. It is important to set out the expectations, rules and responsibilities in a written policy. Whether you are creating a temporary, emergency remote work policy or a more general telecommuting policy for a longer term, your policy should address: expected work hours and availability, equipment and security issues, safety, timekeeping practices for nonexempt employees, PTO and absences, and any adjustments to performance goals and expectations. Your policy should also address how employees are selected for work-at-home arrangements, and should indicate that management reserves the right to change or end the arrangement at any time based on business needs. 

Take the Mystery Out of Compliance

To effectively meet year-round compliance needs, the best strategy is to rely on experts. This is certainly not an arena for speculation, especially now. As Ashley Kaplan points out, with so many ongoing and new federal, state and regional requirements, employers need clear guidance that keeps them up to date — as well as all the postings they need. Two recommendations: consult the Poster Guard® Electronic Service for Remote Workers for the latest posting requirements and tools for electronic postings. And the Intranet Licensing Service enables companies to add a custom link to their own corporate intranet or employee portal. The key for employees is simple navigation and ease of use. The key for employers: knowing that your postings are up to date, whether they’re physical postings or electronic, and are completely accessible to your employees.  

To learn more about how to maintain workplace compliance with online and on-site posters and compliance, visit PosterGuard.com.  

This post is sponsored by Poster Guard from HRdirect.

Gustavo Frazao

How to Establish a COVID-19 Safety Policy

The spread of COVID-19 is changing how we all operate, and businesses are no exception. With cases mounting across the United States, we’re watching the “world’s largest work-from-home experiment” unfold. Many companies that normally work in office spaces are requiring employees to work remotely, including Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Twitter, and my own company, Influence & Co.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s General Duty Clause, employers are required to provide employees with workplaces free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm.

During any infectious disease outbreak, we have a shared responsibility to prevent spread. And if a company fails to take the necessary steps to protect team members? More employees may fall ill, leading to increased absenteeism and decreased productivity. Illness costs American employers $530 billion in lost productivity each year under typical circumstances. Putting in place policies that protect employee health is essential right now. In fact, this is the best way for companies to protect themselves and to retain their existing teams.

Employees who don’t have paid sick leave will be torn. They’ll need to choose between staying home to prevent spreading illness and supporting themselves and their families. So evaluate your policies. Specifically, ensure they provide adequate support during situations like the COVID-19 outbreak.

Now is the time to review your policies to ensure they promote a safe workplace. React now — because you need to — and in doing so, you can build trust with your employees. You can also set up your company to respond to similar threats in the future.

6 Considerations When Updating Policies

At Influence & Co., we’ve taken some steps to make sure our employees know what to expect while we need to adjust our work policies.

One of our core values is “treat others with trust and respect,” so in light of that value, we already trust our people to do their work remotely when needed. Because of this, it was easy for us to take the next step of requiring all three of our offices to begin remote work full-time.

When you begin updating your company policies to lessen the impact of COVID-19 among your workforce, consider the following questions:

  • Can the work be performed remotely?
  • If work can be done remotely, are there tools you can use to prevent the disruption of communication and collaboration? No? Then do you have the resources to purchase, implement, and train your staff on the new tools?
  • If going fully remote isn’t an option, what are ways you can reduce the number of employees in the workplace at any given time?
  • What are the expectations you have for employees regarding the changes?
  • Is additional sick leave available? If yes, what must employees do?
  • Are these updated policies temporary, or will they be kept in place indefinitely?

Considering these questions will help you make the right decisions for your unique workforce, and help you maintain clarity and structure for your team.

9 Steps for Revamping Workplace Policies

While revamping your company’s policies in light of COVID-19, here are some steps you can take to create a supportive, safe work environment for employees:

1. Stay Calm

This is one of the most important things you can do. With the always-on media cycle and social media, your employees are being bombarded with information (and misinformation) about COVID-19. Keep your workers grounded and build trust with them. How? By providing the facts and letting them know what steps you’re taking to protect them.

2. Knowledge is Power

Review applicable laws and regulations, such as the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and those set by OSHA. And stay up-to-date on the latest information from reputable sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the departments of Labor and Health and Human Services.

3. Consider Remote Work and Mandatory Quarantines

If possible, allow employees to work remotely, and consider mandatory quarantine under certain circumstances. To avoid the spread of illness throughout your workplace, allow everyone to work from home if that’s a possibility. Also, if any employees have recently traveled to geographic locations with known cases of the illness, have been in an airport with flights to and from those locations, or have been in contact with anyone who’s been diagnosed, consider implementing a mandatory quarantine.

4. Be Forthcoming

Inform employees about health concerns and steps they should be taking in the workplace to reduce spread. Armed with insights from the above sources, provide employees with accurate information on COVID-19, how it’s known to spread, and how they can prevent transmission. Make it clear where they can find disinfectants in your workplace, how to properly wash their hands and how often, and what other steps they can take to ensure the workplace stays sanitary.

5. Provide Updates

Notify your entire team of any temporary changes to policies or expectations. Send an email to your entire team outlining important information, like prevention measures you’re taking to ensure a safe workplace, temporary policy changes, healthcare policy updates, and details about the illness and how it’s passed from person to person. I sent an email to our team that you’re welcome to customize for your own company — just click here to access it.

6. Require Full Disclosure

It’s important to request that employees disclose whether they’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has. Should you receive such notice, it will be necessary to let your company know that a contagious illness may be present in the workplace. Maintain all information about the employee’s illness as a confidential medical record in compliance with the ADA.

7. Reduce In-Person Meetings

Decrease the number of in-person meetings, or eliminate them altogether. Utilize the wealth of technology at our disposal to have essential meetings without the risk of spreading illness. Google Hangouts Meet, Cisco Webex (a client of ours), or a good old-fashioned phone call are great options. Our marketing team has even been experimenting with doing brainstorm sessions in its Slack group and has seen great results.

8. Schedule for Distancing

Adjust scheduling so fewer employees are in the same space at the same time. If in-office workers are essential, try to stagger the times when employees need to be in your workplace to reduce exposure. This also means large events that would normally bring lots of people together should be postponed.

9. Review Your Mental Health Policy

Health goes beyond the physical. Employers should care about their employees’ mental health as well — especially during a time when everyone seems to be in crisis mode. Review your mental health policy, and make sure employees are aware of the mental health resources at their disposal.

An infectious disease outbreak can touch businesses in so many ways: Employee health, company culture, productivity, and revenue may all become concerns where company leaders had none before. Thankfully, there are tangible things companies can do to protect employees. Take these steps into consideration as you’re re-evaluating your company’s policies to ensure you’re providing a safe workplace for your team.

Photo: Jéssica Oliveira

Observing Workplace Compliance During a Crisis

News surrounding the coronavirus pandemic is developing at such a breakneck pace that by the time you read this article, the data in it will probably be outdated. As of this writing, there are more than 186,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide. In the U.S., 49 states and the District of Columbia have reported more than 4,500 cases of coronavirus and 88 deaths. 

Managers and employees likely have worries about everything from job security to the risk of contracting the virus at work. Some private and public employers have begun shifting onsite employees whose jobs can be done remotely to working from home for the foreseeable future. But what if someone’s job can’t be done remotely? What happens when they exhaust all their sick time and other paid time off? Should an employer pay them even when they are furloughed?

It depends on whether they are an exempt (salaried) or non-exempt (hourly) worker. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD):

Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, employers aren’t required to pay hourly workers for time not worked, even if that is through no fault of the employee. If an hourly employee gets sent home, and their job can’t be done from home, their employer only has to pay them for their actual hours worked that week and subsequent weeks.

But the law requires salaried employees to receive their full salary for weeks in which they perform any work, with limited exceptions. This includes even minor work such as checking email and voicemail. A private employer may require exempt staff to take PTO in the case of an office closure, provided the employees receive pay equal to their guaranteed salary. 

So technically, an employer can stop paying an employee, whether hourly or salaried, if the employee is required to stay home for an extended period of time and his or her job can’t be done from home. Of course the ethics on that are a bit shakier. 

Further, some employers may have to comply with federal and state advance-notice requirements of up to 90 days for workers regarding furloughs and layoffs in certain circumstances (the WARN Act). But it isn’t yet clear if and how this applies to COVID-19-related layoffs.

WHD encourages employers to consider flexible leave policies for the sake of “community mitigation,” offer alternative work arrangements such as teleworking and additional paid time off, and consider strategies such as staggered work shifts to promote social distancing. 

Employees’ rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act

Employers covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) must provide employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for their own personal illness or to care for children and other immediate family members who are ill. In addition to other criteria, employees must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months to be covered by FMLA. Your state also may have its own laws covering sick and family leave.

What if an employee’s child has been dismissed from school due to coronavirus fears and they have to stay home with them, even if the employee is not ill? While coronavirus so far seems to be bypassing the youngest of the population, there’s currently no federal law covering private sector employees who have to take off from work to care for children, and employers aren’t legally required to provide leave—paid or unpaid—to employees caring for dependents who have been dismissed from school or child care.  

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says the virus appears capable of spreading “easily and sustainably” from person to person, but data shows that most people do not become seriously ill from it. Reports from China, where the virus originated, found that about 80% of cases were “mild” and led to full recovery. Of the 70,000 cases there, about 2% were in people younger than 19.  

“This seems to be a disease that affects adults, and most seriously older adults” from age 60 up, the CDC says. The highest risk of serious illness and death is in people older than 80 years of age and people with serious underlying health conditions. But given the potential for significant spread of illness in a pandemic, WHD urges employers “to review their leave policies to consider providing increased flexibility to employees and their families.” 

Furloughs and remote working

Some employers such as the hard-hit airlines have already begun asking workers to take voluntary furloughs. In the event of a mandatory quarantine or furlough, employees may choose to use sick leave, vacation or other PTO if their employer’s policies and applicable state law permits. If an employee is sent home, certain jurisdictions may require “reporting time” pay to compensate the employee for reporting to work even if work wasn’t performed or the employee didn’t work a full shift.  

If an employer requires staff to work remotely, the company is supposed to furnish employees with all the necessary tools for that, including laptop or PC, mobile phones, and other equipment, or reimburse employees for the cost.  

Employers also need to consider liability issues. Not having adequate policies in place to manage issues arising from communicable illness could expose them to significant legal risk, according to Harvard Business Review. If an employee becomes infected at work, employers may face OSHA penalties depending on the circumstances or be exposed to workers’ compensation, unfair labor practices, and other claims. Businesses such as restaurants also have to consider liability to third parties.

Staff with symptoms of infection should be sent home or instructed to stay home. If remote work is not feasible for their staff, employers could implement other measures to reduce close interpersonal contact, such as canceling in-person meetings and conferences, staggered or “shift” work as previously mentioned, and even changes to the office layout. Such measures could help protect workers from infection and the organization from liability. Companies should also consider extending or expanding benefits and protections for employees on leave who exceed their PTO allotment.

Regardless of their official leave policies, it behooves businesses to be more generous about paying furloughed or quarantined employees than the law requires them to be — not only for the sake of their business’s health and that of the community, but as part of being good corporate citizens. 

However, it seems that for now, all government can do is strongly appeal to employers to pay their furloughed or quarantined employees, but it can’t force them to. (Congress is reportedly considering some sort of paid-leave bill, but it is still in the works.) And in the meantime, employers are urged to do as much as they can to help their workers who must stay home. It’s not only beneficial to public health and the workforce’s own health, ultimately it will benefit the business as well.

5 Ways Technology is Changing the Face of HR

With potentially groundbreaking HR technology solutions emerging, we’re seeing a tech boom that is fundamentally reshaping the way we work — and how we think about HR.

According to the 2019 HCM Trends report from The HR Federation, a network of leading HR market analysts, global HR technology venture capital has topped $3.1 billion this year, more than triple the amount invested in 2017. While there’s a range of technologies, some of the most interesting — and disruptive — examples are powered by artificial intelligence and automation.

“AI and machine learning are opening the door to a whole new world of possibility for the human capital space,” CareerBuilder CEO Irina Novoselsky says. “Our research shows that more than half of HR managers feel AI will become a regular part of HR within five years.”

Novoselsky says her company has developed AI technology that can build a job description or resume in less than a minute, and also tell companies which candidates match jobs and are likely to respond. “What is exciting is that we’re just at the cusp of what this technology can do,” she says.

Here are five other ways technology is changing the face of HR.

1. AI Is Making Recruitment Smarter

Recruiting new hires is a time-consuming and costly process, but thanks to automation and AI it’s getting easier to find skilled people who are a great fit for your company. From automated resume screeners to robot interviewers, a wave of these tech solutions for recruiting has hit the market.

“AI is starting to outperform humans at making hiring decisions in certain areas, such as evaluating hard skills,” says Harj Taggar, co-founder and CEO of Triplebyte, which offers a credentials-blind process for evaluating engineers. “AI then frees up recruiters to focus more on conducting soft-skill and culture-fit evaluation in a more structured way.”

Mikaila Turman, director of people at background check company GoodHire, says machine learning and AI are changing the way the company recruits, hires and onboards new employees. For example, she says, the company recently used a tech tool called Entelo to find qualified engineers in a more targeted way during a high-volume hiring period.

“We were able to reach out directly via email versus posting on LinkedIn, and subsequently increased our candidate pool,” she says. “Leveraging technology helps us to be proactive in our efforts to get responses instead of spinning our wheels and getting nowhere.”

2. Compliance Is More Efficient and Sophisticated

Staying compliant has often been a major challenge for HR teams. Laws and regulations are constantly changing and often require vast amounts of paperwork and information.

Compliance once required organization and dedicated IT storage capacity, but cloud-based solutions have streamlined the process.

Derek Jones, vice president of enterprise solutions at employee scheduling firm Deputy, says that as technologies continue to improve and labor laws evolve, companies will increasingly turn to technology to navigate complex and sometimes politically charged compliance issues.

For example, he says, the Fair Workweek movement has emerged as a major working-class issue, with cities like New York and San Francisco passing laws that limit unpredictable work hours that can demoralize workers and make it hard for businesses to retain talent. He says companies that have employed tech solutions for this issue have been able to more effectively navigate these changing rules.

“Businesses that embrace technology for compliance will come out on top, with more attractive recruiting and retention efforts, as well as better working conditions that improve employee engagement and increase sales,” he says.

3. Analytics Drive Better Performance Management

Performance management has long been an important HR function. HR pros have driven the process, monitoring performance, collecting supervisory feedback and facilitating regular employee reviews. Technology has streamlined the process and eliminated a lot of unnecessary steps, but the next data-driven phase of performance management is upon us.

Betterworks CEO Doug Dennerline says HR will see a new level of data competency in 2019 with the rapid and widespread adoption of people analytics that help managers and executives make decisions about their workforce. “The raw data pulled from analytics can be used to create actionable insights and ultimately support data-driven decisions around promotions or compensation, development and success planning, and agile cross-functional team staffing,” Dennerline says.

He says HR teams can apply analytics to sentiment data generated from hundreds of interactions between employees and managers as part of the performance management process. Analyzing sentiment data helps HR to identify opportunities for coaching, Dennerline says, and allows managers and employees to benchmark their performance.

“Though people analytics won’t replace the human elements of HR, 2019 will see them complement humans more than ever before and become an extension of the team,” he says.

4. Better Analytics Boosts Diversity and Inclusion

McKinsey & Co.’s 2017 Diversity Matters II report says there’s a positive correlation between a more ethnically and gender-diverse leadership team and an increase in profits. Consumers are also more frequently looking for companies that value diversity, and that will have an impact on recruiting strategies.

Parijat Sarkar, senior director of product management for Zenefits, says that as awareness of the value of diverse teams grows, organizations will increasingly leverage workforce analytics to tackle diversity and inclusion issues.

“This is important as more companies — especially with today’s political climate — are pressured to take a stance on D&I workplace issues,” Sarkar says. “For example, companies can use people analytics to get a clearer view of pay gaps and discrepancies so they can do a better job to promote fair salary compensation.”

As the spotlight on workplace D&I continues to grow, Sarkar says, it will put pressure on HR software vendors to offer more of these types of offerings.

5. A More Strategic Role for HR

Technology has given HR professionals tools that reduce the time they have to spend on administrative tasks, allowing them to focus on issues that require more hands-on attention.

Before mobile apps and cloud computing, HR was defined by piles of paperwork and a constant struggle to keep up with compliance, hiring and unending stacks of employee information. By simplifying responsibilities like recruitment, record keeping and payroll, human resources technology has significantly improved efficiency, accuracy and even employee morale.

“HR’s role as an administrative function will continue to shift to HR being a strategic advantage for the organization as the department continues to be supported by technology that simplifies administrative tasks and frees up our time and resources to make a more strategic impact on the organization,” GoodHire’s Turman says.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in February 2016, and substantially updated in December 2018.

Can Ethical Corporate Culture and Compliance Co-Exist in Today’s Digital Workplace?

True story here. A few years ago, I sat with the Sales VP of a major corporation I worked for. We were good friends and decided to meet over lunch. I was relocating. He was recruiting me to become part of the new regional team.

“I appreciate your offer,” I responded. “But working for Company X morally, ethically and spiritually compromises me.” He leaned back in his chair, looked me in the eyes, and sighed. He had absolutely no response to my statement.

What percentage of your workforce holds that same perspective, but unstated?

The pace and cadence of digitally-connected organizations challenges the concept of ethical corporate culture.

How large are the gaps between employee handbook content, corporate mission and vision statements? How consistently and successfully are these ideas embraced, enacted and reinforced in the workplace, each day?

Can abstract values reinforce a digitally-underpinned, ethical corporate culture? 

The concept of the values-based organizational culture originates from Edgar Schein, Emeritus Professor at MIT Sloan School of Management. His seminal work, Organizational Culture and Leadership (originally published in the 1980’s), defines three distinct levels of organizational culture. (Yes, I’ve read the book).

Cultural artifacts are observable elements such as dress code and office lingo. Then, espoused values define the organization’s value system, including behavioral rules and how employees represent the corporate behavioral norm to each other and to outsiders. Finally, shared assumptions include deeply embedded behaviors which may not be documented, but certainly are inferred. Shared assumptions anticipate how employees react to situations.

However, the dynamics of the digital workplace offer a fresh set of value challenges. First, the post-industrial concept of remaining an employee “for life” is no longer the workplace norm. Many employees have expiration dates contingent on career strategy, performance or organizational shortcomings, or merger and acquisition. Then, leadership may be hired to flip the organization rather lead it into perpetuity. Also, a growing segment of the workforce are migratory and transient: gig-employees or remote digital workers.

As a result, creating and transferring a value continuum across the corporation is easier said than done. Ultimately, the survival of ethical corporate culture relies on employee integrity.

The challenge becomes how to quantify the abstract, qualitative notion of ethical corporate culture. 

Levels of employee engagement, external factors impacting security, and often departmentally-specific churn, exert selective pressure on the viability and evolution of ethical corporate culture.

Perhaps the best compass ensuring continued cultural quality becomes hiring for integrity. Integrity should, by its nature, defy shape-shifting trends and fads. The 2015 Deloitte report on building world-class ethics and compliance programs targets a positive culture of integrity as the program’s ground zero.

Integrity is defined as being honest, having strong moral principles, being whole and undivided. Integrity differs from loyalty in that loyal individuals pledge support or allegiance, regardless of being motivated by strong moral principles.

Within an ethical corporate ecosystem, the goal becomes attaining high levels of agreement based on shared assumptions (remember those?) about what is positively valued by an organization. In addition, shared agreement is reached about what is negative and devalued. In addition, these shared assumptions infer an equally high level of intensity, passion and engagement around showcasing those agreed-upon values.

Will rules-based compliance programs guarantee values-based employee and leadership integrity?

However, digital transformation of the workplace brings with it new selective pressures for survival of the fittest corporate culture. Enter federally-mandated safety, security and regulatory requirements. As a result, organizations become busy with their tangible artifacts: various compliance To-Do lists.

Consequently, corporate values and ethics become synonymous with assessing, measuring and auditing compliance to rules and regulations. Furthermore, preserving organizational “culture” dissolves into producing audited, assessed, measured and analyzed compliance reports. After all, these quantifiable, documented results demonstrate to stakeholders, stockholders and regulators that an organization, and its employees, follow stated rules.

However, this trajectory evolves human resource professionals into compliance police. What is lost in translation is their potential role in co-creating human capital strategy leveraging an ethical corporate culture.

What happens when rules and regulations shape-shift in response to external pressures? When leadership and compliance personnel lack integrity, the organizational value system disintegrates. As a result, executing compliance and risk management strategy may not ensure the preservation of core ethical values and behaviors

At best, ethical human capital hiring strategy leverages critical thinking skills and workplace responsibility.

Perhaps a better strategy for curating ethical corporate culture leverages a human capital strategy emphasizing employee ownership of and responsibility to commitments and agreements. When this model is adopted, the target is hiring for critical thinking skills as well as functional skill sets. These core skills include the ability not only to discern right from wrong, but also involve providing cultural avenues to take action.

After all, creating an enduring, ethical corporate culture curates a set of commonly espoused, shared positive values and behavioral norms. These norms and values enhance employees’ own value sets. Otherwise, employees become disenchanted, unproductive and unengaged because they lose belief in organizational ethics. When that happens, you potentially create a sandbox for moral, ethical and possibly even spiritual compromise.

Photo Credit: dominicatorumstudiorum Flickr via Compfight cc

Beyond Compliance: The Cost of Training

On September 12, 2008, a commuter train in Los Angeles collided with a freight train head on, with 25 people left dead in the aftermath. The conductor was allegedly text messaging, missing a signal.

On July 6, 2013, a train car containing crude oil in Lac Megantic, Canada rolled backward downhill, derailed, and killed 47 people in the ensuing inferno. The cause was that the conductor didn’t put on an additional hand brake.

On May 12, 2015, a commuter train in Pennsylvania derailed killing 8. The cause being that the conductor took a turn too fast.

After each of these disasters, the Department of Transportation took separate legislative actions dealing with training to prevent these incidents from ever happening again. Each law would apply to every transportation organization dealing with railroads.

Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway couldn’t cover the costs associated with the accident at Lac Megantic. They carried a mere $25 million in liability insurance. The costs soared far above $200 million for destruction, with $50 million destined for the families of victims alone. The provincial governments of Canada poured funds into the disaster and recovery efforts as well. Montreal, Maine, and Atlantic immediately went out of business, and its former employees found themselves out of work.

The responsibility of compliance is grave. It’s a burden one would hope not to carry, particularly when things go wrong. Consequences for undertraining your staff may not carry the same weight as with transportation, but there are significant downsides in every industry.

Striking the proper balance of time spent on training is a vital way to show that you care about your employees’ continued improvement and performance with your organization. Letting undertrained staff continue to work creates an adverse environment where their actions are hard to account for, work is done inefficiently and incorrectly, and there is a missing culture of engagement that allows employees to invest of themselves in your company.

It’s a commonly cited statistic that just a minimum wage worker costs about $3,000 to replace, but did you know that replacing a salaried employee costs about 1.5 to 3 times that person’s salary? While the expenses associated with training current employees are reported to average $1,200 per individual, the cost of bringing in someone new outmatches that of training alone. Besides, what career path doesn’t include learning and refining skills?

Across the spectrum of organizations, training is often the only protection available when an incident occurs. In pharmaceuticals, that protection comes in when there is a health incident. Companies can verify that their salespeople knew exactly how the FDA approved them to promote their products. However, the verification of this training can be impossible without a learning management system (LMS) since many salespeople work remotely.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, the level of scrutiny coming from regulatory organizations has only gone up. In 2015, 70 percent of executives expressed that they would expect to see new standards keep up with (with 28 percent expecting a higher amount or regulations). The need for automated training verification with an ever-increasing remote staff widens the gap between employee management and the audit of training completion, with your business being wide open to penalties in the middle.

For pharmaceutical corporations, in particular, it’s hard to know who has received crucial training on new laws and FDA regulations. That industry places immense responsibility on the salesperson. Even more problematic is that the role of a salesperson is to be more invested in relations with potential clients, and thus training can be seen as limitations on time and the ability to sell, pitting the mitigation of liability risk against the inherent ambition of a sales rep. In this case, without an LMS, corporations become extremely vulnerable to massive penalties. Training visibility, thus liability mitigation, remains a systemic problem in pharmaceutical sales, amongst many other industries.

The value of automated learning can be more obscure as well. In Medford Massachusetts, a paramedic training instructor falsified records showing that the staff had received continuing education classes. The instructor was initially sentenced to two and a half years in jail but later avoided the sentence, paying a few thousand dollars per forged registry. The damage to public trust is harder to weigh.

  • Streamlining training is now the most cost-effective approach to achieving sustainability as a business. Organizations have reported 95% completion rates for large staff.
  • Automating schedules for certifications and workflow for trainers and their managers cuts down on margin for error and ensures education. While having a spreadsheet available that shows each of the dates of expiration for staff members helps to keep information easy to edit, there is still the problem of taking training information and making that electronic. Having an automated system keeps materials, completions, and the user training readily available. Managers and trainers stay in the loop about dates and records about training that is due. This is a huge step when you wear many hats in an organization, beyond just continued learning.
  • Immediate access to data allows visibility into training deficits, which means that when you want to see your staff’s schedules for training and credential or certification renewal, you won’t have a rude awakening after a long manual calculation. That information will be available via data reporting. If you don’t have certification needs, automated learning will keep you up to speed on which employees being considered for advancement are getting the attention you have promised them.
  • Identifying red flags is mission critical to staying ahead of the curve. Organizations miss out when they cut corners on compliance or staff competency and expect that value to come from staffing alone. Those organizations are not getting the most out of their people when new hires come into the organization, and that organization does not gain their employees’ loyalty, extending the gesture of expected advancement when that new hire arrives. If you’re already taking care of training and communicating (through action) the strength of your procedures, then this does not apply to you. However, if you’re employees see that their training are up for completion the day before they are due or after, it will make you appear disorganized, and make them feel like they would be more appreciated elsewhere. On the audit side, it would be far worse for you to have one uncredentialed employee in your organization at any moment, and every employee’s training costs could immediately be outweighed by the expense of a fine.

While compliance has typically been regarded as a costly hassle for doing business, safety and compliance are quickly becoming seen as nonstarter overhead. The investment in the continued education of your staff should not be seen from a standpoint of potential savings, but from the perspective of those your organization holds the responsibility of serving.

A version of this post was first published on conselium.com

Photo Credit: Ed Telling Photography via Compfight cc

The Benefits Of Success Measured By The Effectual Stretch

It wasn’t exactly the romanticized version of backpacking through an exotic land, especially if you consider a cheap roller suitcase a backpack, which unfortunately I did. But that was me then in 1998, when my then girlfriend (now wife) had bitten me with the travel bug. Prior to that my travel was limited to North America. When I was 13 I went to Hawaii, which I actually thought was another country.

My wife had traveled extensively prior to us meeting, including the romanticized version of backpacking through Europe after college, only to get most of her belongings stolen in Prague after only two days into her trip. She could’ve got home after that, wanted to go home after that, but regrouped, bought a few new things, and went on to travel for another few weeks.

Mama and Me Costa RicaAnd so our first big journey together was to Costa Rica. A lovely country, it was the first time I had been to such an exotic land, and to travel with someone else who lived boldly, to experience such visceral sensations I had never before experienced was amazing in and of itself. But the meeting of people I had never met before, some of whom had alien worldviews compared to mine, and exchanging those worldviews with one another, was the epitome of the “effectual stretch.”

The “effectual stretch” meaning pushing oneself to learn and expand beyond what’s known and comfortable in a way that’s produces desired yet diverse effective results, whatever those results may mean to each person. It could mean the literal extremes of success or failure, or that fatty layer in between that gives sustenance to our tenuous journey of sinew and bone.

We’ve attempted to impress the same approach and attitude on our daughters, teaching them to be bold yet aware, to protect themselves but not live in fear, to keep getting back on the bull like they own the beast, horns held tightly in hands. This includes exposing them to travel, new locales and people, experiences that we hope will shape their adult lives and those they interact with for the better.

Listening to a recent Freakonomics podcast about empowering a better workplace and the cities where those workplaces are, I had to smile when I heard American economist and Harvard University professor Edward Glaeser talk about how he was taking a sabbatical while “…attempting to civilize my children by taking them to a variety of different cities.”

Glaeser believes that encouraging industrial diversity would contribute more to economic growth. Cities that embrace a people-centric view of community (around infrastructure, education, services, etc.) means that businesses are more likely to thrive in said communities. The same podcast includes commentary from Glaeser on Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s ambitious Downtown Project, which is primarily an urban revitalization effort, but also an effectual stretch project on a grander community scale due to the emphasis on business and workforce diversity. It’s a “collision” strategy that encourages others to live and work together, continually exchanging ideas in order to create positive and effectual change while powering sustainable business.

Which brings me to the live TalentCulture #TChat Show we did from Cork, Ireland for the IT@Cork European Technology Summit of over 400 attendees, as well as the tech talent diversity panel session that Meghan and I moderated at the summit. The panelists and guests included a diverse group of business leaders, an academic and one inspirational young student: David Parry Jones, VP UK and Ireland VMWare; Noelle Burke Head of HR Microsoft Ireland; Michael Loftus, Head of Faculty of Engineering and Science CIT; student Ciara Judge, one of the Kinsale winners of the 2013 Google Science Award; and Caroline O’Driscoll, Tax Partner at KPMG, and Vice Chair of IT@cork.

ITCork Diversity panel

Not only is the city of Cork (and much of the Republic of Ireland for that matter) investing in business-friendly infrastructure and creating competitive tax codes, they embrace the above collision strategy. The not-for-profit IT@cork European Tech Cluster, the organization behind the European Tech Summit, represents the interests of the IT industry in Ireland. This includes indigenous and international IT professionals, executives, multinationals, government leaders, public sector, academia, entrepreneurs, investors and the legal and financial professional services community joining together to drive thought leadership, collaboration and global strategic alliances.

ITCork15 TChat Show

Amen. The good news is that IT@Cork is being replicated in various iterations throughout communities worldwide. Even less formal, but no less impactful, events take place, including the likes of Event Santa Cruz in my own backyard, founded by Matthew Swinnerton, brings together local entrepreneurs and the community every month, again to facilitate the effectual stretch and diversity of ideas.

Although our core theme of the IT@Cork panel session and #TChat Show was gender diversity, what became crystal clear was the theme of broader diversity and inclusion. It’s all about attracting a wider array of backgrounds and worldviews of both women and men who support one another. This is what can lead to a competitive advantage in business and an equitable advantage for cities and communities around the world.

According to PwC’s 2015 CEO Survey, talent diversity and inclusiveness are not just the softer issues only given lip service, but instead are now considered crucial to being competitive. Of the CEOs whose companies have a formal diversity and inclusiveness strategy, 85% think it’s improved their bottom line. They also see such strategies as benefiting innovation, collaboration, customer satisfaction, emerging customer needs and the ability to benefit technology.

So it’s clear for me and many others today that the best business outcomes for organizations today can only be achieved through diversity and inclusion growth collisions. However, it’s also important to note that no matter progressive and elevated organizations are, complex regulatory changes and an increase in Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) audit frequency and intensity abound. This means many organizations need assistance to ensure diversity programs and Affirmative Action plans are documented and compliant, while at the same time magnifying their overall diversity impact.

Ever since my wife and I had met one day at the beach nearly 18 years ago, it’s been one growth opportunity after another. Not always travel related, and certainly not always successful, it’s been more about having an explorer’s mentality and approach to mindful and agile living both at home and at work. Business and community leaders who invest and sustain this approach will reap the benefits of success measured by the effectual stretch.

Dos & Don’ts of Screening Your Candidates Online

Should employers use social media to screen candidates? A good question without a right answer; it’s a gray area both in the law and company policies, especially because many employers don’t even have a social media policy. However, there are pros and cons to utilizing social media and search engines in the hiring process, and hiring managers want to know—to snoop or not to snoop?

First, let’s take a look at how many in HR say that they use social media in the hiring process. A significant portion of employers do use social media but not for screening job candidates. According to recent data from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 77 percent of all employers surveyed “are increasingly using social networking sites for recruiting, primarily as a way to attract passive job candidates.” Far fewer employers — just 20 percent — use social sites or online search engines to screen job candidates.

Even with legal dangers overhead, some employers feel that using social media gives them another powerful tool to protect their interests, especially when it comes to hiring the right kinds of people and building an effective workforce. Take a look at these three key legal concerns.

Privacy: Employees and job applicants expect and are entitled to a reasonable level of privacy. State and federal laws, as well as the contractual terms for some social media services, may limit your reach into a prospect’s profile.

Discrimination: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and state laws prohibit employers from making hiring decisions based on protected class information — information that could be seen inadvertently on a job applicant’s profile.

Accuracy: The Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA) requires maximum possible accuracy in background checks. If you can’t prove something, you shouldn’t use it.

Alongside the risks, there are seven crucial dos and don’ts as you determine whether or not you should be using social media in the hiring process.

  1. Do designate a project owner. Consider putting a knowledgeable, well-trained individual in charge of reviewing and vetting the information found on social sites before turning the information over to the hiring manager.
  2. Don’t ask candidates for passwords. It’s already illegal to request passwords in six states, and 21 additional states are considering similar legislation. Asking for passwords may also damage your company’s reputation (if candidates start spreading the word) and employment brand, making it harder for you to engage and hire top talent.
  3. Do consider FCRA implications.The FTC has been calling out web services for acting as consumer reporting agencies when supplying employers with aggregated social media data for employment. This means that employers who use such sites have to follow Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) procedures and obtain prior written consent from job candidates to conduct a search and also supply them with advance adverse action notices.
  4. Don’t believe everything you read and see online. Verifying the accuracy of information you find online can be extremely difficult, especially in a world of user-generated content, photo-altering software and open networks.
  5. Do beware of TMI (too much information). In fact, be prepared to find more information than you want, need or can use legally. A simple Facebook search could turn up information that, if used against a candidate, could result ina Title VII discrimination claim. Remember, information readily available on a public page (religion or race, for example, gleaned by glancing at a profile picture) is protected class information. And once your hiring manager sees it, you cannot “un-ring the bell.”
  6. Don’t use social media inconsistently. One danger of using social media lies in applying it inconsistently — in other words, conducting an exhaustive social search on one job candidate but doing only a cursory investigation on another. If your internal search practices are scrutinized, inconsistency could lead to legal problems.
  7. Do create a written policy for using social media in the background screening process. Make sure that applicants are not taken by surprise and are made aware of the policy in advance. Work with your attorney to make sure that the policy defines your search parameters, who reviews the results, privacy considerations and what information you are and are not looking for.

About the Author: Nick Fishman co-founded EmployeeScreenIQ in 1999 and serves as the company’s Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President. He will be a guest on the December 10th #TChat Show.

photo credit: faungg’s photo via photopin cc

Your Job Candidate Has Criminal Record? Don’t Panic.

It’s that alarming moment when the background check reveals that your top job candidate has a criminal record. Is this a deal breaker? What should you do? Believe it or not, a criminal record does not mean that your candidate is over and done with.

In fact, there are five key steps that will help you determine whether or not your candidate should be disqualified and, at the same time, how you can stay compliant with state and federal screening laws.

1. Legal Considerations

As the country continues to pull itself out of an economic slump, the competition for jobs remains fierce and candidates are more likely to seek legal recourse when they are not hired. If your candidate has a criminal background, the first step is to educate yourself on the top legal issues that could land you in court. Your focus should be on compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and anti-discrimination laws.

In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published updated guidance on employers’ use of criminal background checks in April of 2012 to address its concern that criminal background checks have an unintended discriminatory impact on particular minority groups. When a background check reveals that a candidate has a record, employers should review the EEOC guidance.

Other legal considerations include ban-the-box ordinances and state laws, which may restrict the use of criminal history information until later in the hiring process—usually after the interview stage.

2. Hiring Matrix

Many companies have adopted background screening policies that define the types of crimes that may disqualify candidates from certain positions.There is no set formula for creating a hiring matrix. As a rule of thumb, qualifications based on criminal history should be position-specific, should not include “blanket policies,” and should give the applicant an opportunity to provide additional information or question the decision. Whatever the format, a hiring matrix, or decision matrix serves as a set of guidelines to be applied consistently and creates a clear standard against which every applicant is adjudicated or qualified.

3. Individualized Assessments

The EEOC guidance on the use of criminal records created a de facto new requirement that was introduced in 2012. This new requirement addresses the potentially discriminatory impact of criminal records to the hiring process; the EEOC wants employers to conduct “individualized assessments” before making final decisions based on criminal records.

Some factors employers should consider during an individualized assessment:

  • Additional facts or circumstances surrounding the offense.
  • Older age at the time of the offense or the time of release.
  • Evidence that the individual performed the same type of work post-conviction with no known incidents of criminal conduct.
  • Employment history before and after the offense.
  • Rehabilitation efforts (e.g., education/training).
  • Employment or character references along with any other information regarding fitness for the particular position.

4. Adverse Action

Adverse action is a process required by the FCRA when you find a criminal record (or any other adverse background information) that will disqualify a candidate for employment. Under the FCRA, employers have to give applicants notice before a hiring decision is made informing them that they might be rejected based on the results of a background check. Using this process, the applicant has an opportunity to see the background report, challenge any inaccuracies in the report, and clear any negative information that is disqualifying him or her from the job. The FCRA also requires a second notice, after a final decision has been made not to hire.

5. Dispute Process

The final step to consider when your applicant has a criminal record is providing the candidate an opportunity to dispute the findings of the background check. The law gives candidates the right to contact the background screening company directly to dispute the accuracy of a background report. If that happens, the background screening company will notify the candidate that a dispute is pending. Some companies delay a final decision until the dispute is resolved.

About the Author: Jason Morris founded EmployeeScreenIQ in 1999 and currently serves as the company’s Chief Operating Officer and President. He will be a guest on the December 10th #TChat Show.

photo credit: jar () via photopin cc

#TChat Preview: Legally Leverage Social Media In Recruitment

The TalentCulture #TChat Show will be back live on Wednesday, December 10, 2014, from 7-8 pm ET (4-5 pm PT). The #TChat radio portion runs the first 30 minutes from 7-7:30 pm ET, followed by the #TChat Twitter chat from 7:30-8 pm ET.

Last week we celebrated the four-year anniversary of #TChat and talked about the future of the employee-employer relationship, and this week we’re going to talk about how to legally leverage social media in the recruitment process and more.

Where’s the first place most recruiters go today when screening a candidate? They Google them and more, right? They search for them via social media to see what’s up in the virtual world — even if they don’t admit it (or admit they based hiring decisions on what they find).

The fact is, employers can easily find professional or personal information on a job candidate with just a few clicks. However, alongside that ease come real and rising legal risks that employers must be aware of when researching candidates on a social network or through a search engine.

Join TalentCulture #TChat Show co-creators and hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman as we learn about how to legally leverage social media in the recruitment process with this week’s guests: Jason Morris, Co-Founder, COO and President of EmployeeScreenIQ; and Nick Fishman, Co-Founder, EVP and CMO of EmployeeScreenIQ.

Sneak Peek:

Related Reading:

Meghan M. Biro: How Leaders Hire Top Tech Talent

Angela Preston: Congress Critical Of EEOC’s Policy Towards Background Checks

Debbie Fledderjohann: 4 Common Background Check Restrictions To Watch For When Placing Contractors

Lauren Conners: Cost Of A Bad Hire Vs. Cost Of A Background Check

Kazim Ladimeji: Can Social Media Background Checks Be Trusted?

We hope you’ll join the #TChat conversation this week and share your questions, opinions and ideas with our guest and the TalentCulture Community.

#TChat Events: How To Legally Leverage Social Media In The Recruitment Process

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio — Wed, December 10th — 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT Tune in to the #TChat Radio show with our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman, as they talk with our guests: Jason Morris and Nick Fishman.

Tune in LIVE online Wednesday, December 10th!

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wed, December 10th — 7:30 pm ET / 4:30 pm PT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin, Jason and Nick will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: What are the pros and cons of screening candidates via social media? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q2: What course of action can be taken when finding criminal / inappropriate online activity when screening candidates? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q3: Is it always necessary to run background screens for all candidates you want to hire? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Until the show, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and in our new TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!!

photo credit: toridawnrector via photopin cc

HR Conversions Stick To The Ribs And Souls

By the time she met with me, her discomfort and exhaustion were evident. She was vulnerable and it showed: her tired eyes avoided direct contact and her hoarse voice betrayed her disgust. She slowly slid my paperwork in front of me.

“Mercy me,” I said. She nodded and closed her eyes.

We were all vulnerable that fateful day, our proverbial hearts on our sleeves, each and everyone wondering what we were going to do next, severance packages in hand. Earlier that afternoon, our HR director’s mood had been much more upbeat and empathic when she embarked on processing layoff after layoff, nearly the all the remaining 75 employees. At our height just a few months prior, we were just shy of 200 employees with nothing but blue sky ahead.

“I’m sorry, Kevin,” she said.

“Don’t be. This was my choice,” I said.

“Well, your only alternative is to stay on commission only to try and prevent this dot.com ship from sinking.”

I shrugged. “It’s sunk; not an alternative for me. I just feel sorry for those who didn’t have a choice, who have families.”

She feigned a smile. “Yes, I know.”

“Your job sucks.”

“Yes, I know.”

A lifetime and another incarnation later, I heard these words:

“I’m in HR because it’s fun.”

Wait, what?

This time from a VP of Human Resources at a local credit union. One of her staff members, an HR generalist specializing in recruiting, echoed the sentiment. In fact, they positioned their brand and roles so eloquently, they practically had me convinced to finally convert to CHRO-nity and become a real HR pro (which of course could never happen in a million years, me only playing HR on TV and radio to date).

The two HR professionals and I had been on a local career panel together speaking to high school students about their career futures, whatever those may be. We shared our backgrounds, our wisdom and our diverse realities of what the world of work may have in store for them, and how to plan for it all and take ownership of it all, through business busts and booms.

Back to the part about HR being fun. I wanted to tease her about that comment and the fact that HR has never really been viewed as fun from a mainstream world of work perspective. They’re responsible for the not-so-fun compliance enforcement, benefits administration, performance reviews and outplacement work, among other slightly more glamorous employee-related responsibilities.

But I didn’t tease her, because the students immediately lit up and started asking all sorts of career questions about working at the credit union, and about what it’s like to be an HR pro and how to become one.

Lit up as in excited. Motivated. Dreaming of their future beyond high school where they could make a difference in their communities and businesses where there families and their friends lived and worked.

Dreaming of work that could be fun, like in HR.

And why not? The human resource profession is involved in every single aspect of a business, every single department and division, and every single applicant, employee, alum, contractor, and vendor – you name it. HR pros are the go-to folk in organizations big and small. They humanize the brand and help workforce communities thrive.

The world of work revolves around people and that’s what makes business buzz with capitalistic reverence. I’m fortunate because, while not a practitioner by trade, I’ve had the opportunity to recruit, hire, train, develop, evaluate, promote (and terminate when necessary) – based on “performance” and the needs of the business.

Not an enviable position by any stretch of the imagination. In a recent Human Resource Executive Online article by Susan R. Meisinger, former president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, she talks about HR’s perception problem, writing:

Simply stated, what human resource managers do on a daily basis is personal to each and every employee. And not every employee likes what we do.

And neither do the other business leaders. That’s the conundrum of converting to HR and CHRO-nity. HR professionals spend a lot of time taking care of the people within their organizations. They drive people performance that propels the business performance and empower the “propellants” these include these nurturing activities – engagement, collaboration, communication, mentoring and learning.

But beyond certification (controversial as it is now), HR pros don’t take enough time to do the same, to network and help one another, when they can and should.

Again this summer I witnessed thousands of HR pros learning, networking and “certifying” together at the 2014 SHRM Conference where we heard American journalist, columnist and author Tom Friedman say these words so matter-of-factly:

“No one cares what you know. They only care about what you do with what you know.”

This is why the benefits of HR conversion are in the communion and the collective commiseration, but so many still fall short on supporting themselves and others with the HR space, which is again, why mentors are so important.

Hey, let’s keep it unstructured as well and go hang out for happy hour, right? Happily we learned on the TalentCulture #TChat hour about the Whine & Dine Human Resources Networking Group, founded in 2003 the Northeastern U.S. on a simple premise – to advance professional and social networking for Human Resources professionals without the burden of membership fees, event fees or excessive rules or requirements and to support the HR community everywhere.

It needn’t be the last supper when your professional peer group gathers to talk shop and knowledge swap. No, as long as we’re all paying for our own food and drink, we’ll see you next week, and the week after that, and the week after that. That’s where the fulfilling HR conversions stick to the ribs and the souls.

Although since I just had knee surgery, someone’s gotta come pick me up.

Anyone? C’mon, I’m feeling vulnerable.

photo credit: greg westfall. via photopin cc

Compliance: Why It's The Only Fix For Candidate Experience

Candidate experience is one of those terms recruiters just can’t seem to shut up about. But unlike the blizzard of buzzwords mostly designed to sell consulting services and content marketing, it’s one that we should be discussing more. The reason is (unlike, say, employer branding), candidate experience actually is a concept that has real impact on real people and real recruiters every day.

Forget, for a second, the normal argument about business value and brand equity that seems inexorably intertwined with the candidate experience conversation. It’s actually kind of sad that we need to frame basic courtesy as a business case. Forget, also, the fact that many of the issues around candidate experience stem from bad technology and process, not necessarily bad recruiters.

Recruiting’s Problem Child

Candidate experience is perhaps the only issue every recruiter seems to agree on, with minimal dissent. We bicker all day about minutiae like in-house vs. third party, or when’s the best time of the day to send a job-related tweet — but no one disagrees with the fundamental facts that candidate experience counts, and that what we’re doing to fix it isn’t working.

The data generated by initiatives like the Candidate Experience Awards and products like Mystery Applicant provide valuable benchmarks. However, meaningful metrics and actionable insights simply reinforce a hypothesis upon which everyone already agrees, but treats with apathy more often than action.

Candidate Experience Petition Change.org US Dept of Labor

See the Candidate Experience petition at Change.org

Who Can Fix Candidate Experience?

It’s time to reframe the candidate experience discussion. We need to move from identifying the problem (we know it exists) and pinpointing its causes (the “why” is really irrelevant), to what companies actually can do about it. But that seems unlikely, because this issue is so big, and employers have been getting it so wrong for so long. What’s more, the HR industry seems more concerned with candidate experience as a commodity instead of an issue that demands conscious, meaningful change from the inside out. Instead, an improved candidate experience must start with the candidates themselves – and we’re all candidates, eventually.

Recently, I surveyed various professional networks and career-focused social media groups about this topic. Although the methodology was informal and unscientific, the results are noteworthy. For example, 80% of candidates (and about 50% of career services professionals and coaches) have never even heard of the term “candidate experience.” That low Q score likely skews high, considering the source – primarily active candidates who also engage about their searches on social media. Interestingly, this same group of non-mystery applicants also seems convinced that searching for jobs is a pain in the ass, applying online takes too much time, and they’ll likely never hear back from employers or recruiters who receive their application.

We’re not going to solve this issue overnight. But the first step (one that too often seems overlooked) is simple. Candidates need to recognize that it doesn’t have to be this way, and make their voices heard. We’ve done a good job of “managing” — and diminishing — candidate expectations to the point where they’re essentially minimal. But if job seekers demand better — if candidates say that this isn’t the way hiring should be — then employers will eventually listen. But how can we be sure they’ll actually do something to improve the status quo?

How You Can Help, Starting Now

Compliance is a sure bet. That’s why I established a petition over at Change.org calling for the U.S. Department of Labor – the same feared entity which keeps so many HR generalists so busy – to create specific guidelines and specific penalties for candidate experience.

Because in HR, it’s hard to change a mindset. It’s far easier to change the law. So please sign the petition now and make your voice count. I welcome your revisions, suggestions and/or comments.

Image Credit: Change.org

Compliance: Why It’s The Only Fix For Candidate Experience

Candidate experience is one of those terms recruiters just can’t seem to shut up about. But unlike the blizzard of buzzwords mostly designed to sell consulting services and content marketing, it’s one that we should be discussing more. The reason is (unlike, say, employer branding), candidate experience actually is a concept that has real impact on real people and real recruiters every day.

Forget, for a second, the normal argument about business value and brand equity that seems inexorably intertwined with the candidate experience conversation. It’s actually kind of sad that we need to frame basic courtesy as a business case. Forget, also, the fact that many of the issues around candidate experience stem from bad technology and process, not necessarily bad recruiters.

Recruiting’s Problem Child

Candidate experience is perhaps the only issue every recruiter seems to agree on, with minimal dissent. We bicker all day about minutiae like in-house vs. third party, or when’s the best time of the day to send a job-related tweet — but no one disagrees with the fundamental facts that candidate experience counts, and that what we’re doing to fix it isn’t working.

The data generated by initiatives like the Candidate Experience Awards and products like Mystery Applicant provide valuable benchmarks. However, meaningful metrics and actionable insights simply reinforce a hypothesis upon which everyone already agrees, but treats with apathy more often than action.

Candidate Experience Petition Change.org US Dept of Labor

See the Candidate Experience petition at Change.org

Who Can Fix Candidate Experience?

It’s time to reframe the candidate experience discussion. We need to move from identifying the problem (we know it exists) and pinpointing its causes (the “why” is really irrelevant), to what companies actually can do about it. But that seems unlikely, because this issue is so big, and employers have been getting it so wrong for so long. What’s more, the HR industry seems more concerned with candidate experience as a commodity instead of an issue that demands conscious, meaningful change from the inside out. Instead, an improved candidate experience must start with the candidates themselves – and we’re all candidates, eventually.

Recently, I surveyed various professional networks and career-focused social media groups about this topic. Although the methodology was informal and unscientific, the results are noteworthy. For example, 80% of candidates (and about 50% of career services professionals and coaches) have never even heard of the term “candidate experience.” That low Q score likely skews high, considering the source – primarily active candidates who also engage about their searches on social media. Interestingly, this same group of non-mystery applicants also seems convinced that searching for jobs is a pain in the ass, applying online takes too much time, and they’ll likely never hear back from employers or recruiters who receive their application.

We’re not going to solve this issue overnight. But the first step (one that too often seems overlooked) is simple. Candidates need to recognize that it doesn’t have to be this way, and make their voices heard. We’ve done a good job of “managing” — and diminishing — candidate expectations to the point where they’re essentially minimal. But if job seekers demand better — if candidates say that this isn’t the way hiring should be — then employers will eventually listen. But how can we be sure they’ll actually do something to improve the status quo?

How You Can Help, Starting Now

Compliance is a sure bet. That’s why I established a petition over at Change.org calling for the U.S. Department of Labor – the same feared entity which keeps so many HR generalists so busy – to create specific guidelines and specific penalties for candidate experience.

Because in HR, it’s hard to change a mindset. It’s far easier to change the law. So please sign the petition now and make your voice count. I welcome your revisions, suggestions and/or comments.

Image Credit: Change.org

HR Generalists: Tricks of the Trade #TChat Recap

Recruiting and hiring.
Compensation and benefits.
Organizational design and development.
Compliance and employee relations.
Training and performance management.
Change management and internal communications.
The list goes on…

In today’s world of work, the areas of expertise that define HR are varied and complex. Yet, most companies are too small to employ a dedicated staff of specialists. It forces the question:

In an era of increasing specialization, how can one person successfully run an entire human resource department?

Of course, this isn’t just an academic exercise. For many HR professionals, nonstop multitasking now seems to be a way of life. Recent research by The Society For Human Resource Management suggests that there’s a widespread need to support small HR shops. According to SHRM, a majority of its 275,000 members represent HR departments of 1-5 people. They know what it means to juggle many demands on a daily basis. But how can they perform effectively?

That’s the issue our talent-minded community tackled this week at #TChat Events, where two  “in-the-trenches” HR veterans led the discussion:

Dave Ryan, SPHR, Director of Human Resources at Mel-O-Cream Donuts, and
Donna Rogers,
SPHR, owner of Rogers HR Consulting, and management instructor at University of Illinois Springfield.

(Note: For details, see the highlights slideshow and resource links at the end of this post.)

Context: How Essential Is HR, Itself?

Recently, a debate has been brewing about the value of HR departments, overall. Bernard Marr questioned the need for an HR function, while Josh Bersin championed its role. Bersin emphasizes the fact that, despite a tremendous need to reskill and transform the HR function, human resources professionals help solve some of today’s most fundamental business problems. Top executives recognize the strategic role that talent plays in organizational success, and HR professionals are best equipped to define, shape and implement those strategies.

But how does that apply to solo HR managers, who may be living in a perpetually reactive zone? Ben Eubanks describes the best one-person HR departments as leaders with entrepreneurial traits:

We don’t pick up the phone and call our corporate HR team. We ARE the corporate HR team.
We are comfortable with research and making judgment calls.
We constantly seek out opportunities for professional development — if you’re not growing you’re dying.

Comments From the TalentCulture Crowd

Because many #TChat-ters understand the challenges that multi-tasking HR generalists face each day, the vast majority of Twitter chat participants sang the praises of one-person shops. In addition, many offered thoughtful advice. For example:

As the #TChat discussion demonstrates, solo managers don’t need to wait for industry events to connect with smart advice. Social tools make it easy to create a network of virtual resources to assist when you need it. Do you have a question about an unfamiliar subject? Tweet it with a relevant hashtag. (Try #TChat!) Post it to a LinkedIn HR discussion group. I guarantee you’ll get responses, faster than you expect.

Social tools also are useful for communication within your organization. Intranets are a great way to enable collaboration and communication at a relatively low cost. Cloud-based tools are available for internal discussions, project management, and reporting. Hiring systems and performance management solutions also offer social integration without steep IT costs. The possibilities are limited only by the time and interest HR managers invest in professional networking and research.

Above All: Aim for Agility

It seems that, of all skills needed for one-person HR superheroes, the most important is agility. Put aside the notion that you can execute perfectly, across-the-board. Prioritize carefully. Then, with the time and budget available to you, apply tools and resources as efficiently as your able, while making it all seem effortless.

Scared? Don’t be. If you’re reading this, you know that a worldwide community of like-minded people is right here to support you. We’ve got your back!

#TChat Week-In-Review: HR Departments of One

Donna Rogers and Dave Ryan

Watch the hangouts in the #TChat Preview

SAT 11/30:

#TChat Preview:
TalentCulture Community Manager, Tim McDonald, framed this week’s topic in a  post featuring #TChat hangout videos with guests Dave Ryan and Donna Rogers. Read: “HR: How to Succeed at Flying Solo.”

SUN 12/1:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro looked at 7 ways leaders can foster a high-octane social workplace culture. Read: “Top 5 Reasons HR Is On The Move.”

MON 12/2:

Related Post: Guest Donna Rogers shared wisdom from her experiences. Read “Survival Tips for HR Departments of One.

WED 12/4:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio recording

#TChat Radio: Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman spoke with guests Dave Ryan and Donna Rogers, about the challenges and rewards of operating as a one-person HR department. Listen to the radio recording now!

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin, Dave and Donna joined the TalentCulture community on the #TChat Twitter stream, as I moderated an open conversation that centered on 5 related questions. For highlights, see the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: HR Departments of One

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/the-hr-department-of-one.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Dave Ryan and Donna Rogers for sharing your perspectives on HR management. We value your time and expertise!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about how HR professionals can operate “lean”? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, #TChat looks at the latest Candidate Experience trends and best practices with guest experts, Elaine Orler and Gerry Crispin! Look for more details this weekend.

Meanwhile, the World of Work conversation continues. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream,  our LinkedIn discussion group. or elsewhere on social media. The lights are always on here at TalentCulture, and we look forward to hearing from you.

See you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

HR: How to Succeed at Flying Solo #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for a full recap of this week’s events and resources? Read the #TChat Recap: “HR Generalists: Tricks of the Trade.“)

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”
–Stephen Covey

Are you an “HR department of one”? If so, you’re not alone.

Statistics suggest that there’s a legion of U.S. small company practitioners who function as all-in-one HR virtuosos.

The Bureau of National Affairs says that the median HR-to-employee ratio remains fairly stable, at 1.1 HR practitioners for every 100 workers. And according to the SBA, more than 98% of firms employ less than 150 employees. No wonder the Society of Human Resources Management  (SHRM) reports that most of its 275,000 members are from departments of 1-5.

Making It Work

With so many solo HR managers in today’s world of work, it’s important to understand how successful practitioners serve their organizations across all specialties. What practices promote effectiveness and efficiency, despite limited bandwidth? How should you prioritize your efforts? That’s the topic we’ll explore this week with two experts who know how to make it work:

Dave Ryan, SPHR, Director of Human Resources at Mel-O-Cream Donuts, and
Donna Rogers,
SPHR, instructor of management at University of Illinois Springfield, and owner of Rogers HR Consulting.

Dave helped set the stage by briefly explaining what it means to wear many HR hats:

And Donna offered her perspective as an experienced HR consultant and teacher:

What’s your advice for HR colleagues who need to do more with less? This is a topic that affects all of us, directly or indirectly. So bring your tips, questions and opinions — and join this week’s #TChat conversation!

#TChat Events: The HR Department of One

#TChat Radio — Wed, Dec 4 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Donna Rogers and Dave Ryan about how to ensure that HR remains effective, even in small company environments. Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Dec 4 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, our discussion moves to the #TChat Twitter stream, where Dr. Nancy Rubin will moderate an open chat with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these questions:

Q1: What’s the first thing a one-person HR shop should do and why?
Q2: How should an HR pro organize and scale for all talent activities?
Q3: How should HR pros and business owners partner in small companies?
Q4: What other resources should one-person HR shops consider utilizing?
Q5: What technologies help keep one-person HR shops productive?

We look forward to hearing gathering helpful wisdom from the crowd — so bring your best HR management advice, and let’s talk!

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your questions, ideas and opinions.
We’ll see you on the stream!

Mobile Hiring Hits The Fast Lane #TChat Recap

Several weeks ago, we started a #TChat discussion about the rapid increase in demand for mobile recruitment. Why?

Meeting Talent On Talent’s Terms

Smartphones and tablets are now essential tools for many of us, and statistics reveal just how prevalent mobility has become. For example, a report by Marketing Land indicates that nearly 40% of Internet use is driven by mobile devices. And Jibe found that, despite perceived obstacles, 86% of job seekers with a smartphone want to use that device in their search.

Recruiting consultant Michael Marlatt says the staggering pace of mobile adoption shouldn’t surprise us, because mobile devices offer a very personal connection. “It’s one of three things we carry. We never leave home without it. It’s the keys, the wallet or purse, and the mobile device.”

Mobile Hiring: Moving Beyond First Impressions

In this landscape, it makes sense for employers to offer mobile-optimized career sites and application management processes. Mobile-friendly recruitment enhances the candidate experience and gives employers a competitive edge in the quest to find top talent.

Recruitment certainly is a logical starting point. However, it’s only the first chapter in a much larger employment story.

What happens after a candidate is selected? In the critical timeframe between recruitment and onboarding, how can organizations leverage mobile tools to streamline hiring steps? And along the way, how can mobile engagement continue to solidify an employer’s relationship with new recruits?

Ignoring those questions can have costly consequences — for both employer brands and employee retention. So this week, our community expanded the recruiting discussion to look at how mobile technology can transform the entire transition from candidate to employee. To guide our conversation, we invited two experts in hiring process innovation:

Todd Owens, President and COO at TalentWise, a next-generation hiring platform provider, and:
Kyle Lagunas, Talent Acquisition Industry Analyst at Brandon Hall Group.

What’s At Stake For Employers?

Why is mobile increasingly vital for the hiring process? As Kyle recently noted, 22% of U.S. turnover occurs within 45 days of employment. If organizations aren’t fast and efficient at bringing new hires up to speed, they’re at risk of adding to those statistics. And with the average cost of turnover at about 20% of an employee’s salary, failure at this stage can have a significant impact on the bottom line.

So, how can HR organizations leverage the immediacy and reach of mobile to make the entire hiring process more efficient and effective? For wisdom from the crowd, check the resource links and highlights from this week’s events, below. Thanks to everyone who contributed ideas and opinions!

#TChat Week-In-Review: Mobile + Hiring = Good Match?

Todd Owens #TChat Preview Video - Mobile Hiring

Watch the #TChat Sneak Peek Video

SAT 11/9:

#TChat Preview:
TalentCulture Community Manager Tim McDonald framed this week’s topic in a post that featured brief “sneak peek” hangout video with one of our guests, Todd Owens. Read the Preview: “Hiring: Moving Forward With Mobile?

SUN 11/10:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro offered 5 guidelines for business leaders who want to make the most of mobile recruiting and hiring. Read: “Leadership Is Catching a Mobile Recruiting Wave.

MON 11/11 + TUE 11/12:

Related Posts: Two guest bloggers offered related insights:
Read: “Mobile Hiring: A Smarter Way to Seal the Deal.
Read: “HR Flashback: The Way We Worked.

WED 11/13:

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Listen to the #TChat Radio show now

#TChat Radio: Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman spoke with guests Todd Owens and Kyle Lagunas about the business benefits of extending mobile recruiting strategies to the entire hiring process. Listen to the radio recording now!

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and guests joined the entire TalentCulture community on the #TChat Twitter stream, as I moderated an open conversation that centered on 5 related questions. For highlights, see the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: Mobile Hiring — HR Evolution or Revolution?

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-mobile-hiring-hr-evolution-or-revo.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to  Todd Owens and Kyle Lagunas for sharing your perspectives on the increasingly vital role of mobile strategies throughout the employment lifecycle. We value your time and expertise.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about hiring or mobile workforce issues? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week we celebrate “community” in a big way — as we look back on 3 years of #TChat at a very special anniversary double header with Hootsuite VP of Talent, Ambrosia Humphrey.

Meanwhile, the World of Work conversation continues. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, on our LinkedIn discussion group. or elsewhere on social media. The lights are always on here at TalentCulture, and we look forward to hearing from you.

See you on the stream!

Image Credit: Pixabay

Hiring: Moving Forward With Mobile? #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Looking for a full recap of the week’s highlights and resources? Read the #TChat Recap: “Mobile Hiring Hits The Fast Lane.”)

Several weeks ago at #TChat Events, our community discussed the rapid rise in demand for mobile recruiting.

The statistics are mind-boggling. Already, it’s estimated that 1 billion job-related searches are initiated each month from mobile devices. That kind of volume means organizations everywhere are racing to make their candidate experience more mobile friendly.

Mobile Recruiting Leaps Forward: Can Hiring Keep Pace?

These explosive mobile adoption figures lead us to wonder — what happens after the recruitment phase?

Are HR organizations committed to mobile-friendly hiring processes — from the offer letter to onboarding — and beyond? What will it take to connect the mobile workforce dots across the entire employee lifecycle? And how can we get there from here? That’s what we’ll explore this week at #TChat Events, with two talent acquisition experts:

Kyle Lagunas, Talent Acquisition Industry Analyst at Brandon Hall Group and
Todd Owens, President and COO at TalentWise, a next-generation hiring platform provider.

Todd took several minutes to help frame this week’s issues in a “sneak peek” hangout with me:

This is an important issue for talent-minded professionals everywhere. So we hope you’ll join the conversation this week. We look forward to hearing your ideas and opinions!

#TChat Events: Mobile Devices + Hiring = Good Match?

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Tune-in to #TChat Radio

#TChat Radio — Wed, Nov 13 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Todd Owens and Kyle Lagunas about how mobile hiring processes extend the candidate experience and improve HR effectiveness. Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Nov 13 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, we’ll move this discussion to the #TChat Twitter stream, where Dr. Nancy Rubin will moderate an open chat with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these questions:

Q1: What exactly is mobile hiring, and how it is being applied today?
Q2: What are the advantages of hiring anywhere, anytime?
Q3: How can mobile hiring showcase an organization’s corporate culture?
Q4: How can companies get all generations to adopt mobile recruiting/hiring?
Q5: Is mobile hiring a revolution, while mobile onboarding is an evolution?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your questions, ideas and opinions.
We’ll see you on the stream!

Workplace Violence: Myth and Reality #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for a full recap of this week’s #TChat events and resources? Read the #TChat Recap: “Violence On The Job: It Pays To Prepare”.)

9/11/2001. Who can forget that morning, 12 years ago, when the unimaginable unfolded before our eyes? Before that fateful day, few of us gave much thought to the impact of violence and disaster preparedness in the world of work.

But among the many lessons of the 9/11 attacks, we learned that no one should ignore the potential for workplace violence, in any form.

So this week as our nation remembers 9/11, the TalentCulture community is coming together at #TChat events to dispel costly myths and discuss vital realities about workplace violence and disaster preparation and prevention.

Making Sense of Risk Management

To lead this important conversation, we welcome two experts:
• Tom Bronack, President of Data Center Assistance Group, specialists in enterprise resiliency.
Felix Nater, Founder of Nater Associates, a business security advisory firm.

To kick-off the discussion, I spoke briefly with both Tom and Felix in separate Hangouts recently. Watch, and I’m sure you’ll agree that this topic deserves closer attention by all of us who focus on the human side of business.

First, Tom set the stage by telling the brief story of one company that paid a tremendous price for operating without a safety or recovery plan:

Next, Felix explained the steep cost of violence in business environments:

We have everything to gain by learning more from pros like Tom and Felix — and by sharing ideas with others in our community. So bring your questions and concerns, and let’s talk!

#TChat Events: Violence Prevention In Today’s Workplace

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Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

#TChat Radio — Wed, Sep 11 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Felix Nater and Tom Bronack about why preparation is essential in preventing and recovering from workplace violence. They’ll help us rethink myths, and educate us on best practices. Don’t miss this special event — dial-in LIVE with your questions and input!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Sep 11 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, we’ll move the discussion to the #TChat Twitter stream, where Dr. Nancy Rubin will lead an open chat with the entire TalentCulture community. Anyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these questions:

Q1: How prevalent is workplace violence today? Why?
Q2: What costs are associated with workplace violence?
Q3: What top 3 things should employers should do to prepare for violence?
Q4: Who should be on your workplace violence preparedness team?
Q5: What technologies enable response planning and safeguarding?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!