DOL Reintroduces 17 Opinion Letters

On Jan. 5, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reintroduced 17 opinion letters. The letters were introduced by the Wage and Hour Division during the George W. Bush administration in response to specific employer compliance questions, such as whether “on-call” hours for ambulance personnel are considered as compensable time under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The letters were withdrawn in 2009, shortly after their introduction.

Addressing compliance questions through opinion letters is a more relaxed approach than the administrative interpretations issued by the Obama administration.

Opinion Letters

Opinion letters provide the DOL’s official opinion on how labor and employment laws apply in specific situations.

The DOL issues opinion letters after receiving an employer’s request for clarification on how the law should be interpreted in specific scenarios. For example, multiple opinion letters present the DOL’s opinion on whether FLSA exemptions apply to specific employment positions.

As a result, opinion letters are fact-specific and employers can rely on them for guidance to the extent that the facts in their circumstances align with the scenarios described in the letter.

Publishing opinion letters is a labor-intensive process and employers that request one may need to wait several months to receive a response from the DOL. In addition, while the DOL reviews all opinion letter requests, it has traditionally only answered a few, at its discretion. The DOL has published instructions on how to request opinion letters on its website.

Impact on Employers

Opinion letters can be extremely helpful for employers that are trying to understand their legal responsibilities, particularly in areas where the law seems to be outdated or where compliance with one legal obligation interferes with compliance with another.

Indeed, employers that receive an answer to their request can rely on the answer they receive in their efforts to comply with their legal obligations. Employers are also encouraged to review past opinion letters and other DOL guidance to obtain a clearer understanding of their obligations.

However, an employer that seeks the DOL’s opinion regarding a specific situation should understand the risk that the DOL may not agree with its practices, so employers should consider this alternative carefully.

In addition, while employers can rely on an opinion letter, employers should also remember that opinion letters are merely guidance—they are not the law, and they are not binding. This means that DOL inspectors, auditors and judges may disagree with opinion letters and find noncompliance even when the employer is following the advice given by an opinion letter.

Good Faith Defense

However, employers that rely on opinion letters may be able to establish a good faith defense under the law. The good faith defense principle allows noncompliant employers to minimize the risk of penalties if they can prove they were making an honest effort to comply with the law.

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Why a Strong Employee/Employer Relationship Is Important

Tied to the success of a company is the loyalty of its customers. While this customer-first mentality is necessary for the continuation of a company, employers sometimes forget to honor another intrinsic element of success and growth — the employee and employer relationship.

Employers are not drill sergeants who belt out orders for employees to follow. Why waste all that employee talent by burning them out? Work to build a strong and positive relationship with your employees, and they will grow as professionals and give back tenfold.

  1. Rethink Hierarchy: Help Employees Navigate the Organization

Employees have a place in the hierarchy of the company, but that doesn’t mean anyone should feel less than another or be demoralized. Every leader must understand the functions of their organization and its politics. Your organization’s culture sets the precedent for the professional personalities it hires. It should be clear to each employee why they were hired and why they are the best fit for a particular role.

Unfortunately, many employees simply exist in the vacuum of a cubicle and may not grow out of it. They feel boxed in and clueless about how to navigate the hierarchy and how to climb the ladder of success. An employee may need hand-holding or to be left alone, but that’s not the employee’s fault.

An employer has to find a way to meet them in the middle. Each employee has a hierarchy of needs that should be addressed, such as good benefits to meet basic needs, a positive work environment, a sense of place to develop a feeling of belonging and a way to become professionally self-actualized.

  1. Invest in Employee Networks and Loyalty

Just because you’ve moved up the ladder as a leader doesn’t mean you stop building relationships with those around you, including those under your supervision. You are a model of success for your employees, and you never know where your paths will lead or cross in the future.

Do your employees feel they can trust you? Do you empower and equip them with tools necessary to boost their influence and opportunities for success? Employee interoffice relationships and networks sculpt their reputation over the course of their careers.

Invest in employee networks to build loyalty and employee morale. Leaders should encourage networking inside and outside of the office. By strengthening influential networks, your employees will feel confident about their professional objectives and goals. They must learn that even professional relationships are not mutual all the time, and this negative exchange should be avoided. Loyalty is earned and learned when employees align with others who reciprocate support in networking, and that’s first gained from the employer.

Leaders should look at their own professional paths as an example for personal consideration. Name three others that have been in your network for years, and ask yourself if these are reciprocal relationships. Retrace the steps of your career, and remember leaders who held you back and why. Don’t be that leader. When employees climb the ladder, they will be in your network. Maintain reciprocal relationships with your employees, and teach them to do the same with others in their network.

  1. Broaden the Scope of Employee Experience

Don’t let employees become bored with their jobs. Of course, there are mundane tasks to every role that feel like chores, but employees should be allowed to challenge their knowledge. Let employees develop their skills by teaching them how to do the job of a leader. Broadening the scope of an employee’s experience prepares them for what comes next in their career, and they won’t fall short of expectations or feel their ambitions are neglected by an employer they trusted.

Many employers feel an employee should only understand what’s in their job description and nothing beyond fulfilling those duties. Wasn’t that why the employee was hired in the first place? An excellent leader sees the employee for their ambition and ability to grow, and then teaches them about the ecosystem of the workplace to advance.

Encourage employees to step up to the plate, beyond being a bench warmer, and take a swing at a big project or pitch an idea at a meeting. When an employee has the confidence to speak out and act independently, they gain the confidence to take risks, make involved decisions and lead.

Strong employee/employer relationships are vital to the success of the organization. The people and their relationships behind the scenes are the gears that move the mechanism of your company.

When your employees do their jobs well, achieve a new goal or do something successfully, reward them with networking opportunities and better benefits. Make the employee and employer relationship a strong and reciprocal one to be remembered for an entire career.

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Craig W. (20 September 2017). "Why a Strong Employee/Employer Relationship Is Important" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.forbes.com/sites/williamcraig/2017/09/20/why-a-strong-employeeemployer-relationship-is-important/#480edb564d91


5 Tips For Employers To Earn Respect From Employees

Today, we are going to take a look at how to make respect something that revolves around the workplace. Use these tips to help you identify if you're doing what you need to do to earn and have respect with your coworkers.


In a previous blog (R-E-S-P-E-C-T: How To Earn Respect At Work), I discussed ways employees can earn respect at work. But earning respect shouldn’t be a one-way street – it should also be embraced by employers. Respect isn’t just something subordinates are forced to give managers. It’s a valuable asset for employers to show and earn in the workplace. Earning employee respect isn’t always easy, but when employers find ways to build respect at work, positive benefits ensue. How do you build employee respect at work?

According to Bruce J. Avolio, Ph.D., executive director at the Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking in the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, five tips for employers/managers to earn the respect of employees include:

    1. Be authentic: Be an authentic reflection of your organization’s espoused values and principles while promoting transparency and justice.
    1. Promote ‘ownership’: Make all employees feel like ‘owners’ versus ‘renters’, that their voice matters, and that people in positions of power listen to learn and engage with their employees.
    2. Develop potential: Help each individual feel like they are reaching their full potential and achieving their performance goals by investing in development.
    3. Create an energized culture: Create a positive climate where your followers’ energy is directed towards winning against competitors versus defending against internal detractors from what you’re trying to accomplish.
  1. Sacrifice when necessary: Be willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the organization when such sacrifices contribute to everyone’s success.

Bill Mixon, president of Universal Hospital Services, Inc., believes the key to earning employee respect is to empower employees and model the leadership behavior you desire by treating employees with dignity and respect. “If employees respect a person’s leadership, they are more prone to put those same leadership qualities into practice. Empowering employees to make decisions also builds trust. When you show employees you trust their knowledge and skills, you allow them to make smart decisions that benefit the company.”

Developing employee potential is also important. Notes Mixon, “When employees feel valued and appreciated, they take stronger ownership of their work and seek new opportunities to grow in their roles. This not only benefits the employee, but also the company and its customers.”

Howard Behar, retired president of StarbucksCoffee Company, used this same tactic of showing employees they are appreciated to help establish the Starbucks culture, which stresses the importance of people over profits. For example, Starbucks made sure there were no special perks for executives. “All employees are called ‘partners’ and there is no separation in any way of partners and the management team. Outside of pay and stock, every partner gets the same, even the same health insurance. We did this because it was the right thing to do, not because we thought it would help us build respect,” Behar explained.

In addition, the Starbucks management team held ‘open forum’ meetings where any partner could ask anything and they would address it. “It was open dialogue, and I mean really open dialogue during these meetings. If they wanted to debate what I was paid as the president of the company then they could,” said Behar. “No topic was off-limits.”

The management team also included a feedback card in every partner’s paycheck asking for comments on anything that seemed in contradiction to the company’s values and morals – with Behar reading every feedback card submitted. If an executive didn’t live up to the values and morals of the company, the organization would eject that individual. Behar added, “You could get fired a lot faster for not living the values than not achieving the financial numbers.”

Bottom Line: Are you a manager/employer looking to earn the respect of your employees? Then focus on relationships and trust. The foundation for earning respect is establishing good relationships with employees by building trust within the organization. Explains Behar, “If people are feeling trust, they will be more productive, are more willing to take risks, be creative, and solve difficult problems. It doesn’t mean issues won’t arise, but it means you can withstand just about anything because you can talk things through.”

Read the original article.

Source:
Quast L. (17 September 2012). "5 Tips For Employers To Earn Respect From Employees" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2012/09/17/5-tips-for-employers-to-earn-respect-from-employees/#5c3c8a1826ac


Here’s What the Health Insurance Renewals Process Looks Like

Between rising costs and health care reform, there are a lot of factors to consider for your renewal. With our visual presentation, it’s easy to understand all your options – and legal obligations – simplifying the conversation.

However, we understand you may be new to the renewal process or need a refresher on what it looks like, so we pulled this article from Just Works:

If your company provides health insurance plans to employees, or is considering offering it for the first time, you’ll have to become familiar with the annual renewals process.

Health insurance renewals are a yearly occurrence in which companies adjust their rates and offerings and allow employers to select the best plans. The process includes insurance companies, employers, and employees at various stages.

Why Do Health Insurance Renewals Happen Every Year?

For employees, renewals occur annually to allow you to change your plan based on your current needs. As an employee of your company, you’ll have the opportunity to switch plans, add a dependent, or opt out if needed. You can also keep things the same as they were in the previous year.

As an employer, renewals are an opportunity to change which plans your employees will have access to and your company’s contribution.

For insurance carriers, renewals happen annually to make sure plans are up-to-date with rules and regulations, adjust pricing to take into account inflation in the health insurance industry, and reassess risk.

What Does the Renewals Process Look Like?

  • Reassessment stage. Insurance companies reassess pricing for the upcoming year and then decide on any altered costs and services to the employer. These costs generally rise year-to-year with inflation rates in the healthcare industry due to technology, research, administrative costs, and other factors.
  • Presentation stage. Insurance providers present available plans to companies. You will be presented with the options your employees will have access to and pricing for the upcoming year.

  • Selection stage. You’ll have the opportunity to select the plans your employees will have access to. Your employees can have access to up to four plans, and you can make your selections online. Once you make your selections, you’ll choose your contribution amount (how much you want to contribute per plan for each of your employees).
  • Employee enrollment stage. Once you’ve selected which group plans your employees will have access to, open enrollment will begin for your employees. They’ll be presented the plans you’ve selected to be available for them. This is their opportunity to switch due to different life circumstances and based on their budgets.
  • Completion stage. Once your employees have selected their plans, coverage is effective on the date your insurance provider or PEO stipulates.

What is the Timeframe for Renewals?

Not all plans renew on the same calendar year schedule. If you’re with a PEO, you’re on a master policy that must renew at a specified time, regardless of when your company signed on. Although you can’t choose the renewal date, master policies are what allow PEOs to give small businesses enterprise-level rates.


 

 

Source:
JustWorks (1 September 2017). "Here’s What the Health Insurance Renewals Process Looks Like" [Web Blog Post]. Retrieved from address https://justworks.com/blog/healthcare-renewals-process


7 Ways Your Company Can Lead by Example by Supporting the Lives of Others

Be a business the gives back. In this article, adventure into some great ways to support your community and be a charitable employer.


Business moves the world. So how do you want your company to contribute?

To one degree or another, many of us feel the world today lacks quality leadership. But what better way to fight against that trend than by inspiring greatness in our future leaders? It all begins with leading by example. That’s a tall order, though, and not very specific — so let’s explore seven ways your company can assume thought leadership in the ongoing search for a better quality of life for all.

  1. Giving Back to the Community

If no person is an island unto themselves, that goes double for companies. We tend to think of our careers as somehow separate from the rest of waking life, but the truth is that communities and businesses are very much intertwined. Communities are responsible for the growth and success of businesses — and the other way around, too.

So? Give back as often as you can to the community that has made your business what it is today. We’ll talk in greater detail in a moment about what corporate citizenship should look like, but just getting that sentiment into your corporate culture and set of values is a great place to start.

  1. Be a Better Global Citizen

Making your business the source of positive influence in your community is one thing. But how are you being a global citizen?

Some folks in America seem to believe globalization should be feared and fought against, but rational business leaders know better. As the world draws closer together, we’ll be better prepared than ever to tackle some of the problems that affect us all in equal measure. But first we have to recognize our place in the larger global community.

One example would be The Exterior Company, based in Lancaster, PA, which recognizes their role on the global stage by contributing some of their profits to organizations committed to raising the standard of living in the poorer parts of the world.

 

  1. Know Your Values

Let’s get philosophical. Do you know what you value, personally? Would an onlooker identify your company as a “principled” one, even if they might not agree with the principles themselves?

The world needs businesses and leaders who know what they believe in. Not so we can blindly agree with them, but because all viewpoints help make the conversation a richer one. Even Hobby Lobby helped improve the conversation surrounding LGBTQ rights in America — even if they are, manifestly, and according to most Americans, standing on the wrong side of the issue.

American consumers wish for and respect companies that take the time to craft cohesive and forward-thinking sets of values. Why not show thought leadership here, and in the process, improve your company’s standing in the public eye?

  1. Donate Your Time

Money is a very valuable resource. But to many folks who don’t come from privilege, time is an even more precious commodity.

You can help support the lives of others — and lead by example in the process — by committing some of your free time to pro-social pursuits. Think of what would happen in the world if every employer allowed and encouraged their team members to commit some of their billable hours to charity work or another kind of community service.

Think of it like this: Corporate America boasts some of the most gifted and thoughtful people in the world. Folks for whom problem-solving comes naturally. What a shame and a waste it would be if all that talent were used merely to generate profits for private enjoyment.

 

  1. Raise the Standard of Living

If you’re new to business, you’ll recognize quickly that the conversation around workers’ well-being has changed in recent years. For example, global competition has thrown into sharp relief the ways that American corporate culture lags behind the rest of civilization. We have not yet joined the consensus on the fundamental right to paid sick leave and parental leave, for example.

There may be no better way to lead by example than to demonstrate how worthy your employees are of living high-quality lives. Your workers are your brand ambassadors — you want them to be able to go out into the world and proudly say their needs are taken care of. This improves the quality of our conversation everywhere.

 

    1. Raise Your Employees’ Awareness of the World Around Them
 I try not to use this column to tout my own business, but I do take every chance to support my team of employees who are dedicated to supporting the lives of others through our FX Builds program. We have been exceedingly fortunate over the years in attracting a very high caliber of employee — folks who genuinely care about making the world a better place. And so we wanted to help them achieve something tangible in service to that commitment.

With FX Builds, we’ve helped establish a culture within our organization that ties daily excellence to funds-matching for charitable giving. We’ve already helped break ground on schools in distant countries where public education isn’t something that can be taken for granted.

The point, simply, as it is with other entries in this list, is to make your local team more aware of the larger world and to look for ways to live more fully and conscientiously within it. It’s probably easier than you might think. And if you do it thoughtfully, you can leverage the passion your team already brings to the table.

 

  1. Focusing on Sustainable Living

According to the scientific community, Earth is experiencing its sixth major extinction event even as we speak. Is that enough of a wake-up call?

It is clear that the individual has failed planet Earth. None of us could reuse enough plastic shopping bags in fifteen lifetimes to reverse the climate change that is already making life difficult in the poorer parts of our planet. And nothing about this is going to improve until we admit there’s a problem and agree on who’s in the best position to make a difference.

That means business leaders must actually lead by example, doing the heavy lifting the individual cannot on their own. It means taking advantage of cheaper-than-ever solar power everywhere you can afford to have it installed. It means not using more paper or other finite resources to do your work than is strictly necessary. It means turning off the computers in your office overnight.

To be perfectly honest, company leaders don’t have to look very far at all to lead the way in sustainable living. And if we can do it in the fight for sustainability, we can do it in every venue that requires decisive, progressive-minded leadership.

If every employer in the world used their resources and influence to help solve this and other crises we face in the world today, the future would be very bright indeed. Word is getting out that pro-social companies — being, after a fashion, like families themselves — are in a truly unique position to change life as we know it for the better.

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Craig W. (5 December 2017). "7 Ways Your Company Can Lead by Example by Supporting the Lives of Others" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.forbes.com/sites/williamcraig/2017/12/05/7-ways-your-company-can-lead-by-example-by-supporting-the-lives-of-others/#786463064bbe


The 10 Smartest Things To Look For In Every New Hire

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If you’re hiring a new member of your team, congratulations. You have a business that is thriving enough to need more hands. But be prepared, as the shortage of highly skilled workers means finding and retaining quality, creative employees, which can be pretty tough.

According to a 2017 Creative Group study:

41% of surveyed advertising and marketing executives say it’s challenging to find creative talent today.

52% of advertising and marketing executives say they are concerned about retaining their current creative staff in the next 12 months.

For any company, especially companies that do creative work, the people you hire are your most important asset. So how do you hire the right ones (and avoid the wrong ones)?

It can be easy to become overly focused on things like previous employers, degrees and awards — the stuff that may pique a hiring manager’s interest during the applicant-screening process. But in my decade of experience hiring people for our creative agency, I’ve learned that the key to hiring the right people is starting with a clear understanding of the attributes you want in a new hire: the values, characteristics, personality traits and beliefs that will make them an active agent, not a passive employee.

When you hire someone, you aren’t just adding a body. You are introducing a new element to your culture, your work and your skillset. They will become a conduit for your company’s vision and values, and they will influence — and be influenced by — the people around them, for better or worse. That’s why finding people with the right foundation is everything.

After hiring many roles, both successfully and poorly, I’ve distilled the 10 traits that I think are most important for a new hire — beyond their resume.

1. Hunger: Experience is important and necessary for most roles you hire for. However, you don’t want people who have already accomplished everything and are just looking to coast. The best people want to grow, no matter where they are.

2. Humility: Accomplishments are impressive, but they become less so if someone constantly brags about them. You want to hire team players who want everyone to get the glory (and don’t leave passive-aggressive notes in the kitchen about how the dirty dishes in the sink inconvenienced them). Also, look for people who understand the difference between humility and false humility. To quote C.S. Lewis, real humility is someone who “will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all."

3. Intelligence (Intellectual And Emotional): Book smarts are good. Street smarts are better. Both are ideal. The best employees have not only the technical ability but also the intuition and common sense to get things done — without oversight — under what are sometimes very stressful circumstances.

4. Self-Awareness: Self-awareness is vital when interacting with other people, whether it’s clients, coworkers or colleagues. Understanding your actions and how they are interpreted and make others feel, is often the difference between being someone who is a pleasure or a pain to work with. The good news is this trait is pretty easy to assess in an interview.

5. Curiosity: An unknown source once said, “Knowledge is having the right answer. Intelligence is asking the right question.” To grow, improve and work more efficiently, you need people who are interested in challenging old paradigms, testing, experimenting and learning. That all comes down to interest and curiosity. Great hires will proactively ask questions and seek out information to make the right decisions or suggest new ideas.

6. Scrappiness: Our company was a bootstrapped startup founded by three broke 20-something guys, so scrappiness is built into our DNA. But it’s an employee trait that benefits any organization. You want people who can get stuff done when things aren’t easy, who can always find a way and who don’t need you to hold their hand.

7. Resilience: Failure and frustrations are inevitable in creative work — even on a daily or weekly basis. People who have defied odds, made interesting career switches or taught themselves new things already come equipped with demonstrated resilience. When you go through a rough patch, as every company does, you’ll be grateful that you have people who are willing and able to weather a storm or two instead of jumping ship at the first sign of difficulty.

8. Flexibility: People who are willing to embrace change, who can dig in and help others out — even when a task isn’t technically in their job description — are the secret to helping a company evolve. At our company, we have many people who’ve held several different positions, some of which span across multiple departments, in just a few years. Their flexibility and knowledge benefits each new team and makes us stronger as a whole.

9. Kindness: No one wants to work with an unpleasant person — even if that person is highly capable. Note, however, that being kind is different from being nice. According to Merriam-Webster, "nice" is defined as: "1. pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory. 2. fine or subtle. 3. fastidious; scrupulous." The same source defines "kind" as: "having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature. Affectionate; loving." Being nice is fine; being kind is absolutely necessary.

10. Passion For What We Do: A truly successful company, no matter the size, is full of people who are invested in the cause, vision and values. Even if you’re a small operation without the same financial resources as your competitors, the only way to build a healthy, happy organization is to hire passionate people who share your vision.

To quote Shafqat Islam, the CEO of NewsCred, in the company's public culture document, under the "People" section, he writes: “This is the only thing that matters — we can screw up in everything else, but if we hire the best people, things will work out. A great team with a bad idea can still execute and make it work. A bad team with a great idea will fail every time.”

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Ritchie J. (6 December 2017). "The 10 Smartest Things To Look For In Every New Hire" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/12/06/the-10-smartest-things-to-look-for-in-every-new-hire/#30d66c776704

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Cyber Risks & Liabilities - January/February 2018

Troubling Lack of Cyber Concern by CFOs

Gone are the days when chief financial officers (CFOs) solely had to focus on managing their organization’s financial risks. These days, CFOs need to think about the costs of cyber security as well as the costs associated with not having enough of it. When their security tools are inadequate or threats go unnoticed, there is an increased risk of incidents that can costs thousands or millions of dollars in repairs, lost business and reputation. CFOs need to apply new strategies when it comes to tackling cyber risks.

Work With the Chief Information Security Officer

According to recent data, 39 percent of IT workers don’t believe their senior management understands the impact that a security breach could have on their company’s reputation. CFOs should become active members of their security teams, instead of passive observers, in an effort to protect their revenue with a more focused and effective cyber security plan. The most effective partnerships involve weekly cyber exposure reviews with management and IT.

Invest in IT

A recent report found that firms that invest more in IT security experience an average of 6.8 fewer breaches and save more than $5 million. With the growing number of available devices that employees can use to stay connected and do their jobs, new approaches are needed to deal with increased cyber exposure that may have been more easily contained in the past.

Be Accountable

CFOs need to realize how cyber risk affects financial risk. According to a recent study by Ponemon Institute, data breaches result in an average stock price decline of 5 percent and an average revenue decline of $3.4 million. CFOs cannot manage risks of that magnitude by themselves. It is in the best interest of the entire company if its CFO partners with others in the organization who have a vested interest in managing cyber risk.

The Biggest Cyber Security Disasters of 2017

Like 2016 before it, 2017 was not without its share of cyber security incidents—incidents that impacted companies of all sizes and affected multiple industries. The following are some of the biggest cyber security disasters of 2017:

  • WannaCry—Using a tool that was allegedly stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency, cyber criminals exploited a flaw in Microsoft’s Windows system in order to spread malware dubbed WannaCry. The attack, which took place May 12, 2017, has impacted over 200,000 users in at least 150 countries.
  • Equifax—In September of 2017, Equifax, one of the largest credit reporting agencies in the United States, was the victim of a massive cyber attack. This attack compromised the personal information of over 143 million people.
  • Yahoo—In late 2016, Yahoo reported more than 1 billion user accounts were impacted by a 2013 breach. Later in 2017, it was revealed that over 3 billion Yahoo accounts were compromised.
  • Verizon—In July of 2017, it was reported that 14 million Verizon subscribers may have been affected by a data breach. The majority of those impacted by the breach were individuals who had previously contacted Verizon customer service.
  • Gmail—In May of 2017, it was revealed that Gmail users were targeted in a sophisticated phishing scam. The scam sought to gain access to accounts through a third-party app. Over 1 million users have been impacted.

Trump Administration Releases Rules on Disclosing Cyber Flaws

The Trump administration publicly released its rules on whitehouse.gov for deciding whether to disclose cyber security flaws or keep them secret. In doing so, the administration hopes to bring more transparency to its cyber processes.

The U.S. government initially created the Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP) under former President Barack Obama, to determine what to do with discovered flaws. The process was designed to balance law enforcement’s and U.S. intelligence officers’ desires to hack into devices with the intention to warn manufacturers of the need to patch holes in their security. However, the government has attracted criticism for jeopardizing internet security by stockpiling detected cyber vulnerabilities in order to preserve its ability to launch its own attacks on computer systems.

The new Trump administration charter explains how the VEP functions and names the agencies involved in the vulnerability reviews, including intelligence agencies as well as several civilian departments that include the Departments of Commerce, Treasury, Energy and State.

The National Security Agency is the executive secretariat of the interagency group. Its job is to coordinate debates over flaws that the various agencies submit in case there is a disagreement about whether to disclose them. If the disagreements cannot be reconciled, the group will vote on whether to disclose or retain the flaws.

The new rules also require the creation of an annual report to provide metrics on the amount of flaws discovered, retained and disclosed. Portions of the report are to be made public. Decisions to retain vulnerabilities are to be reconsidered every year.

According to White House security coordinator Rob Joyce, the revised rules are intended to shed light on the process for how various federal agencies weigh the costs of keeping a flaw secret. Joyce said the rules are the most sophisticated in the world and that they set the United States apart from most other nations.

More than 90 percent of flaws are ultimately disclosed, according to Joyce, although critics argue that they’re not shared quickly enough.

 


7 Ways Employers Can Support Older Workers And Job Seekers

With all the focus on helping the younger generation achieve success in their careers, let's not forget to support our older workers and job seekers. Read this post for 7 tips for employers to help support older workers.

Credit: Shutterstock

With the unemployment rate (4.1%) at its lowest since 2000, employers are struggling to retain their best workers and attract qualified new ones. Although their efforts are often directed at Millennials, in places where people in their 20s and 30s are increasingly hard to find, employers are equally focused on people in their 50s and 60s.

For example, in May, more than 170 New England employers, policymakers and business leaders came together for an event notably titled, Gray is the New Green: Unleashing the Power of Older Workers and Volunteers to Build a Stronger Northern New England. And at a recent Manchester, N.H., workforce strategies event, AARP-N.H. State Director Todd Fahey urged HR professionals to talk with older employees about the possibility of continuing to work on a flexible basis after they hit the traditional retirement age of 65.

As a boomer and a career coach, I’m heartened by this turn of the events. Of course, I’m not so naïve as to think age discrimination is over. I agree with what Chris Farrell just said in a Next Avenue post: “Older workers still face a serious uphill climb in the job market in many respects.”

So how can employers do a better job of finding, retaining and supporting older job applicants and employees?

To find out, I interviewed Greg Voorheis, the mature worker program coordinator and Governor’s Award coordinator for the state of Vermont. I also watched a video he conducted with executives from the 2017 Governor's Award winner, Chroma Technology Group, a manufacturing firm in the biotech space, based in Bellows Fall, Vt. Incidentally, workers 55 and over currently make up nearly 30% of Vermont's workforce.

7 Tips for Supporting Older Workers and Job Seekers

Here are seven tips from Voorheis and Chroma:

1. Advertise job openings in newspapers in addition to online outlets. “One of the things we’ve learned over the years is that the mature population still really likes written material, like newspapers,” says Voorheis.

The Chroma Technology Group advertises its openings in print and welcomes hard copy applications to accommodate people who might not be comfortable applying online.

2. Display photos and videos of older people in recruitment marketing materials. That helps make it very clear that all ages are welcome to apply.

3. Cut down on ageism by using a group-interview model. HR departments are often staffed by younger workers, and that can result in unnecessary age bias — conscious or otherwise. This is why Chroma uses teams of four to eight people to do its hiring. “That way, no one person’s perspective carries too much weight. And if there are biases, they are minimized,” says the company's HR director, Angela Earle Gray.

4. Encourage mentoring. When older workers mentor younger workers, that helps the employees and it’s good for the company, too.

“Experience is an important thing to pass on,” says Chroma President Paul Millman. “Work habits, ways of doing things, and attitudes towards work all mature over time.”

Chroma uses peer work trainers to both help onboard employees and to continue mentoring them until they’re able to demonstrate competency in their new roles.

5. Provide ample training for older workers. Experienced employees are usually eager to get training that will keep their skills sharp and make them more employable. Yet sometimes employers hesitate to provide it because they worry about the return on investment for workers who might retire soon. Chroma takes a different tack by encouraging all workers to seek training opportunities.

“If you can show us how that is going to benefit you, we’ll find a way to get you that training, or something similar,” says Gray.

6. Offer flexible work arrangements.Voorheis says seasonal work, such as the snowbird programs offered at IBM, can be especially attractive to older workers.

Even though Chroma prefers employees to work full-time, it offers telecommuting and flextime to accommodate workers’ needs. And when staffers have needed to go part-time for a stretch, the company has tried to make that work. “We’re not fond of ridding ourselves of employees,” says Millman.

Sabbaticals are another popular option at Chroma. Long-term employees have the option to take an extended leave, for up to 11 weeks. The leave is unpaid, but the company continues to pay for medical and dental coverage.

7. Provide a wide range of benefits. Chroma also offers generous retirement benefits, company stock and a variety of wellness programs, including reimbursement for gym memberships and fitness programs. It runs monthly employee education programs, too, on topics like retirement planning, wellness and advance-care planning.

“We take very good care of mature workers at Chroma,” says Gray. “But it was never a conscious choice to do that. The conscious choice was to take very good care of all our employees.”

Voorheis echoes that sentiment, saying: “Good behaviors and programs that benefit mature workers benefit workers of all ages

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Collamer N. (27 November 2017). "7 Ways Employers Can Support Older Workers And Job Seekers" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2017/11/27/7-ways-employers-can-support-older-workers-and-job-seekers/#443ed6745ff0

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T: How To Earn Respect At Work

It's important to feel respected in the workplace. Here are some helpful tips for keeping and earning respect at work.


Someone I was coaching recently wrote in their development plan that one of their goals was to “earn the respect of more people at work.” I thought that was an interesting goal and asked her to tell me more about her comment. She said, “I just don’t feel like people respect me so I want to earn more respect.” When I asked her specifically what behaviors she thought she needed to exhibit in order to earn respect, there was a long pause and she gave me a blank stare.

You’d be surprised how many times I go through this same “respect” discussion. So here’s the deal…respect is something you have to earn – it’s not something handed out free on a silver platter. If you want to earn respect then you need to ask yourself this question, “How can I change my behavior to earn more respect from others?”

Here are some of my personal suggestions for earning respect:

  • Use active listening skills – really listen and hear what people are saying.
  • Treat others with dignity and courtesy at all times.
  • Keep all your commitments – and never make a commitment you can’t keep.
  • Be patient with people; realize that most people want to do what’s right.
  • Treat others as they would like to be treated; in other words, learn to flex your social style so you can work better with others.
  • Don’t state your opinions unless you can back them up with data. And be sure you fully understand the situation before you comment on it.
  • Be sincere.
  • Be generous.
  • Be humble.
  • Be confident, but exhibit confidence without arrogance.

Sometimes I think we speed through life so quickly that we don’t take enough time to really hear other people. To do so takes the ability to be patient, generous with your time, and sincerely care about others. These are all behaviors that will lead to earning more respect from co-workers.

 

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Source:
Quast L. (27 February 2012). "R-E-S-P-E-C-T: How To Earn Respect At Work" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2012/02/27/r-e-s-p-e-c-t-how-to-earn-respect-at-work/#164b42015749


With Below Average Cost, Increasing Enrollment, CDHPs Have Big Impact

According to the UBA Health Plan Survey, enrollment in CDHPs continues to grow in most regions. Receive information like this but customized to your business by taking our Benchmark Survey.


When most experts think of group healthcare plans, Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans largely come to mind—though higher cost, they dominate the market in terms of plan distribution and employee enrollment. But Consumer-Directed Health Plans (CDHPs) have made surprising gains. Despite slight cost increases, CDHP costs are still below average and prevalence and enrollment in these plans continues to grow in most regions—a main reason why it was one of the top 7 survey trends recently announced.

In 2017, 28.6% of all plans are CDHPs. Regionally, CDHPs account for the following percentage of plans offered:

Prevalence of CDHP Plans

CDHPs have increased in prevalence in all regions except the West. The North Central U.S. saw the greatest increase (13.2%) in the number of CDHPs offered. Looking at size and industry variables, several groups are flocking to CDHPs:

Regional offering of CDHPs

When it comes to enrollment, 31.5% of employees enroll in CDHP plans overall, an increase of 19.3% from 2016, after last year’s stunning increase of 21.7% from 2015. CDHPs see the most enrollment in the North Central U.S. at 46.3%, an increase of 40.7% over 2016. For yet another year in the Northeast, CDHP prevalence and enrollment are nearly equal; CDHP prevalence doesn’t always directly correlate to the number of employees who choose to enroll in them. Though the West held steady in the number of CDHPs offered, there was a 2.6% decrease in the number of employees enrolled. The 12.6% increase in CDHP prevalence in the North Central U.S. garnered a large 40.7% increase in enrollment. CDHP interest among employers isn’t surprising given these plans are less costly than the average plan. But like all cost benchmarks, plan design plays a major part in understanding value. The UBA survey finds the average CDHP benefits are as follows:

CDHP benefits

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Olson B. (7 December 2017). "With Below Average Cost, Increasing Enrollment, CDHPs Have Big Impact" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://blog.ubabenefits.com/with-below-average-cost-increasing-enrollment-cdhps-have-big-impact

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