Ready to Spark Joy in Your Office?

Spring has sprung, setting off a wave of spring cleaning. Often, messy or cluttered spaces can make employees feel more stressed and anxious, less able to focus, and more likely to procrastinate. Read this blog post from UBA to learn more.


The hit Netflix show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” has set off a wave of house organization, purging, and general tidying. Many thrift stores and donation centers report being overwhelmed with bags and boxes of items recently filling American’s homes. What, though, of the workplace? Should a similar wave of de-cluttering and cleaning be happening at desks and in cubicles across the country?

Messy or cluttered spaces can make people feel more anxious and stressed, less able to focus, and more likely to procrastinate. It makes sense, then, that workers can boost both productivity and mood with some spring cleaning.

Start with easy things like bringing all those coffee cups back to the office kitchen and then move on to larger tasks like sorting and recycling or shredding irrelevant paper. Once a state of tidiness is achieved, then it’s time to get organized, says AZ Big Media. Managers can help by making sure employees have access to file folders, labels, markers and other tools to aid the process of going from chaos to compartmentalized.

The Muse reminds workers to also actually clean. Dusting, including your screens and using compressed air on your keyboard, and wiping down surfaces with a disinfectant might keep employees healthier and will definitely help them feel good about their space. Then, take a moment to spruce up, not just clean up. Adding photos or art, getting a few new desk accessories, and other small touches not only help personalize a space, they may just inspire great ideas too.

Think too, about shared and communal spaces. Often, one person winds up as the default fridge cleaner. Create expectations for tidiness but also ensure resentment doesn’t grow. A gift card to a coffee shop for the person everyone knows tackles the task after the fact, or a small compensation in exchange for agreeing to do it ahead of time, can keep things tidy and emotions in check.

Don’t neglect digital spaces, either, according to the Harvard Business Review. Having a logical system for online file storage will set team members up for success. If your workplace doesn’t have one, invest time in creating one. Make time for team members to clean out email and files. Why? Beyond lost time searching for files, responses, or photos, it helps keep systems ship shape when they aren’t burdened with duplicates or gigabytes of unused flies. Everyone knows the employee who reaches Inbox Zero on the regular, and the one who has 18,000 unread messages! There are more and more technologies available to help, from streamlining communications to centralizing workplace applications, says HR Technologist, and those tools are smart investments.

The Nav suggests these times of spring cleaning are also a chance to audit a company’s online presence. Update personnel on the website, refresh social media accounts, and check that plugins and apps are up to date.

To empower your company to find a place for everything, consider having dedicated time for spring cleaning. Better yet, make it a more frequent activity and do it quarterly or monthly. Workers may balk at having requirements but no time to complete the task, so don’t just expect people to stay late or make the time. Why not make it fun, too, and order lunch for the team! Once things are in good shape, it should be easier for your team members to keep it that way. Stock disinfecting wipes and other tools in a place employees can access to encourage ongoing efforts.

Keep in mind, tidying may not be magical for everyone. There are studies that suggest clutter makes us more creative. And, conversely, that too tidy a space makes people less willing to take a risk or propose a bold idea. Find what works for your teams and champion their spring cleaning efforts.

Read more:

Spring Clean Your Cubicle!

How to Tidy Up Your Business for Spring Cleaning

10 Tips for Better Spring Cleaning in Your Workplace

The Case for Finally Cleaning Your Desk

The Marie Kondo Effect: Tidying Up Your Workspace

SOURCE: Olson, B. (18 April 2019) "Ready to Spark Joy in Your Office?" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from http://blog.ubabenefits.com/ready-to-spark-joy-in-your-office


Changing marijuana laws impact HR

Are you reassessing your company policies? With more and more states legalizing or awaiting the legalization of cannabis, many HR teams are having to assess, and potentially continually reassess, their company policies. Continue reading this blog post from UBA to learn more.


In more and more states, the legalization or impending legalization of cannabis requires HR teams to assess, and potentially continually reassess, company policies. In some states, legalization has been limited to medical use but, in others, it has extended to recreational use. Workforce magazine has had several recent articles focused on helping HR professionals understand how new and existing laws impact their work and workplace. In nearly every state, every employer will need to consider current and future policies around possession, use, and what constitutes impairment.

Here are some things to guide your conversation around cannabis policies.

  1. Consider your industry. Safety rules will differ for use and possession based on the industry and perhaps the specific job duties.
  2. Consult your legal team and outside experts to understand testing and screening options. Few states have legal limits in place, and compliance with laws around sanctioned medical use complicates things further.
  3. Crosscheck where you employ people. While some state laws have changed, federal law still classifies marijuana as a controlled substance. For employers with employees in multiple states, that means understanding the different laws and regulations in place and crafting policies that align to them.
  4. Collaborate with your community. Now would be a great time to reach out to other business owners, the local medical, or recreational cannabis stakeholders. Share resources, ideas, and best practices.
  5. Consider offering counseling. While legal use may be expanding, substance abuse is still a very real challenge. As an HR team, be sure you have resources and information available for anyone who is concerned about their marijuana use. Make sure any policies about substance abuse treatment are updated to reflect any legal changes.

Read more:

Does Marijuana Work at Work?

Legalized Cannabis Remains a Burning Topic for Employers

SOURCE: Olson, B. (9 April 2019) "Changing marijuana laws impact HR" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from http://blog.ubabenefits.com/changing-marijuana-laws-impact-hr


Adulting’ benefits: Employers’ new solution to burned-out employees

According to this article from Employee Benefit News, "adulting" benefits could be the next big trend. Generation Z and Millennials are expected to make up 50 percent of the workforce by 2020. Continue reading to learn more.


In a time when globetrotting Gen Z and Postmates-loving millennials are expected to make up 50% of the workforce by 2020, could benefits that help with “adulting” be the next big trend?

Adulting is defined as “the practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks.” Although millennials and Gen Z are well into adulthood, the struggle for them to accomplish day-to-day life management tasks is very real.

Many bemoan feeling busy all the time, tired and even burned out. In her Buzzfeed post, “How millennials became the burnout generation,” author Anne Helen Peterson strikes a chord with her “errand paralysis” reference. Pants going unhemmed for over a year, packages sitting in the corner waiting to be mailed for months, a car that desperately needs vacuuming — all part of a long list of never-ending low-priority, mundane tasks that get chronically avoided, yet still add to mental stress and anxiety.

Peterson blames underlying burnout as the culprit, even calls burnout the “millennial condition” affecting everyone, from the “people patching together a retail job with unpredictable scheduling while driving Uber and arranging child care to the startup workers with fancy catered lunches, free laundry service, and 70-minute commutes.”

So can convenience benefits — such as onsite errand runners — help with this problem?

There’s no denying those benefits might take aim at a big problem: employee stress. According to the American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America report, members of Gen Z report the worst mental health of any generation. Only 45% of those in Gen Z reported “excellent” or “very good” mental health, compared to 56% of millennials, 51% of Gen X individuals, 70% of baby boomers and 74% of adults older than 73. Additionally, 27% of Gen Z respondents called their mental health “fair” or “poor,” and 91% said they had felt physical or emotional symptoms, such as depression or anxiety, associated with stress.

While employers cannot solve all employee problems, they can go beyond the basics of competitive pay, comprehensive health insurance and career advancement opportunities. Forward-thinking employers can look to new convenience benefits to help simplify the mundane and incessant responsibilities of life, alleviate errand paralysis and give their employees back valuable time to actually live.

For instance, a number of companies—including a major law firm in Atlanta has an onsite errand runner who helps employees do everything from plan exotic vacation getaways, shop for Christmas presents and go on weekly Costco runs. The onsite errand runner is on call all day to take care of employees’ personal tasks so they can focus on work and clients. The reaction has been very positive, with employees saying the service helps them stay focused and physically present at work knowing that other things in their life are being handled capably. An added bonus: It helps employees better achieve work-life balance because errands are not cutting into their home life like it did before.

As more and more companies look to prioritize the employee experience and get creative with nontraditional benefits, it makes sense to consider growing trends in convenience and lifestyle benefits. For instance, providing an errand running benefit to pick up groceries for an employee or drop off that mailing package saves the employee countless hours, not to mention stress, and speaks to the challenges of the modern world.

SOURCE: Clark, A. (8 April 2019) "Adulting’ benefits: Employers’ new solution to burned-out employees" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/employers-address-burnout-through-adulting-employee-benefits


A guide to managing employee website usage

Remote work is on the rise. Employers need to be mindful of the types of websites their employees are accessing on company-issued technology. Read this blog post for key considerations and best practices to review when properly managing employee website usage.


Whether employees are working from home, the coffee shop or the office, employers need to be mindful of the types of websites workers are accessing on their company-issued technology.

New accessibility creates greater flexibility, but employers need to be vigilant to ensure workers maintain the expectation of productivity and workplace privacy. Now more than ever, the workplace heavily relies on technology and companies must understand how to manage it to avoid risk.

Nowhere is the tension between technology and privacy rights more prevalent than in today’s workplace. At the forefront of this discussion is whether employers should block access to certain websites on company-issued technology. Here are key considerations and best practices to review when properly managing employee website usage.

Creating boundaries between work and personal affairs, without invading privacy. Employees typically emphasize that their private affairs should not be accessed by their employer. But the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) states an employer-provided computer system is the property of the employer, so when an employee visits certain websites during typical office hours using company-issued technology, what is accessed by the employee becomes the employer’s business as well.

There is no denying that placing blocks on certain websites is an effective way to separate work and personal matters, maintain professionalism, protect the company’s security, respect company property and utilize work time appropriately. However, employers should beware of potential legality issues regarding privacy. For example, employees are given some protection from computer and other forms of electronic monitoring under certain circumstances.

Productivity distractions. Blocking certain websites will not prevent an employee from utilizing company time for personal reasons, but doing so reminds employees to have integrity, focus and discipline when it comes to using technology in the workplace. Some employees will use company-issued technology to visit a plethora of websites such as social media platforms, personal email accounts, instant messengers, financial institutions, sports, entertainment and music sites, as well as inappropriate websites. It is easy to become distracted with an overabundance of virtual activity at our fingertips, and blocking sites sends a serious message to workers that business technology and time is for business-purposes only.

Security of confidential company data and information. In today’s interconnected world, employers recognize the importance of protecting confidential company information. Employers often choose to block certain websites because of the risk of a security breach. Employers are concerned with the exposure of any release of its data, work products, ideas and information not otherwise disclosed to the public or its competitors. Blocking certain websites gives an organization an opportunity to decrease the risk of its confidential information being accessed by external influences.

What employers can do to be more transparent with staff

There are no foolproof methods to preventing an employee from using their work time for personal reasons or inadvertently exposing the company to security breaches.

Employees can still access many websites of their choosing through their personal technology. However, the aforementioned reasons are convincing enough for employees to take more accountability in using company-issued technology for business purposes only. An employer that endorses a policy and practice of business technology for business reasons sets a clear expectation for employees to remember and follow.

  • Enforce a written policy that sets clear expectations for in-house and remote employees about not using company-issued technology to visit certain websites and explain the reason for such policies. Policies and procedures should be well-defined, widely communicated and reviewed at least annually.
  • Inform new employees that certain websites are not accessible via company technology. Highlight the written policy for both new and existing employees. Again, explain the reason for this policy.
  • Offer training and other educational opportunities that motivate productivity during times when work focus suffers.
  • Work with the company’s internal IT department to ensure that websites are properly blocked.

Usually, when employers remain transparent with staff regarding why a policy exists, employees are more receptive. In general, employers are encouraged to consult with an experienced HR professional or employment lawyer to avoid any potential legality pitfalls in the workplace.

SOURCE: Banks, S. (11 March 2019) "A guide to managing employee website usage" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/a-guide-to-managing-employee-website-usage?brief=00000152-14a5-d1cc-a5fa-7cff48fe0001


How to Develop an Attitude of Gratitude Towards Employees

Employees are more likely to trust their employers who recognize their value. Read this blog post from SHRM to learn how you can develop an attitude of gratitude towards your employees.


Many companies plan to boost employee engagement in 2019. With benefits for both employees and employers, the strategy is easy to understand. What’s more, a strong employee recognition program can set your company apart in a tight job market.

Indeed, we find that demonstrating pride in our employees leads them to take pride in our company. A human-centric approach creates a company culture that puts workers first. Employees are more likely to trust (and feel trusted by) companies that recognize their value.

Putting employees first can also pay big dividends to the bottom line– a strong connection exists between employee trust and company performance. Companies with high degrees of worker trust consistently outperform in terms of productivity, innovation and retention. Happier employees also contribute to a positive company culture.

That positive culture can stretch far beyond the office walls. When job seekers research your company on social media and third-party review sites – something nearly everyone does these days – they will see positive feedback from your employees. This sets your company apart from the crowd and can help attract top talent to your organization.

Creative ways to show you care

When you recognize the value your employees bring, you demonstrate the company’s values of gratitude and appreciation. Don’t just assume employees already know you think they are amazing, show them. Here are some ideas to help you acknowledge employee contributions:

  • Reserve a designated “thank you” time during staff meetings – This provides a chance for managers and team members to express gratitude towards each other.
  • Implement a weekly email “shout-out” campaign – Spread recognition of top performers to the entire firm on a weekly basis.
  • Recognize individual successes with quarterly awards – Prizes for notable achievements and employees who consistently give 110 percent cannot be overvalued.
  • Provide special well-being perks to all – Ideas include reimbursing employees for fitness classes, books or purchases of apps that promote healthy living. Provide periodic yoga classes, chair massages or meditation sessions.
  • Plan special team celebrations after wrapping up a big project – Consider generational differences and crowdsource ideas so employees get something they really want.
  • Arrange annual team retreats packed with fun activities.

When companies celebrate their employees, everyone wins. Employees are happier. There is less burnout and turnover. We have seen a myriad of bottom-line benefits from on-going employee appreciation programs at Indeed. Recognition truly transforms workers, teams and companies.

SOURCE: Wolfe, P. (4 April 2019) "How to Develop an Attitude of Gratitude Towards Employees" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://blog.shrm.org/blog/how-to-develop-an-attitude-of-gratitude-towards-employees


HR’s newest mission: Building a culture of trust

Fifty-eight percent of people report that they trust strangers more than their own bosses, according to a Harvard Business Review survey. Continue reading this blog post to learn more about building a culture of trust.


NEW YORK -- In an environment of workplace uncertainty and change, building or even just maintaining trust can be a herculean task for employers.

Indeed, 58% of people say they trust strangers more than their own bosses, according to a Harvard Business Review survey. Trust is a critical component to creating a happy and effective workplace, Andrew Ross Sorkin, co-anchor of CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” said Tuesday at CNBC’s @Work Talent and HR event in New York City.

So how can HR professionals build employee trust? It begins with getting them to believe they have their employees’ best interests at heart.

“I don’t think we’d ever be satisfied until everyone felt that way,” said Jayne Parker, senior executive vice president and CHRO at the Walt Disney Company. “We do a lot of research to look at this because we know how important trust is.”

About 30% of workers aren’t happy with their jobs, according to a recent CNBC/SurveyMonkey survey. Factors contributing to an employee’s sense of work satisfaction are pay, opportunity, autonomy, recognition and meaning, Jon Cohen, SurveyMonkey’s chief research officer, said during another session at the event.

“Workers want to trust their managers and believe they want them to succeed,” Cohen said. “Of the employees who don’t trust their boss, two-thirds said they’d consider quitting.”

With a company the size of Disney, developing teams and building trust within those individual units can translate to overall company trust. Disney has worked hard, Parker said, to make sure employees can say, “I trust the person I work for. I trust they’ll treat me with sincerity.”

Indeed, 65% of employees who don't trust their direct supervisors to provide them opportunities to advance their careers have considered quitting their jobs in the last three months, according to the survey, which was discussed at the event. Conversely, just 17% of people who trust their supervisors "a lot" to advance their career have considered quitting.

SurveyMonkey asked 9,000 U.S. workers whether they were satisfied with their jobs; 85% of respondents said they were “somewhat satisfied” with their work. However, these results shouldn’t give employers comfort, says Cohen. Those employees still have plenty of reasons to look for new jobs — uncertainty being one of them.

“The happiness people report at work is real, but the anxiety is real too,” Cohen says.

Disney recently closed its $71.3 billion deal to acquire large swaths of Fox’s entertainment segment. As such, there is insecurity within the offices of both entertainment giants, Parker explained.

As the closing date approached, reports started circulating that employees of both companies were expecting layoffs. In a situation like this distrust starts to emerge and people begin to ask “backstabbing questions,” Parker said. Employees want to know who will have their back. It’s up to the employer to be as transparent as possible and be honest that there will be changes made.

The employee may not happily skip off after this conversation, but they can have a better understanding of what is going on, easing the tension of the situation.

“We spent the past year focusing on sincerity and authenticity,” Parker said of the merger. “We have to be honest that there is going to be change in the company.”

SOURCE: Schiavo, A.; Webster, K. (3 April 2019) "HR’s newest mission: Building a culture of trust" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/news/hr-mission-to-build-a-workplace-culture-of-trust?brief=00000152-14a7-d1cc-a5fa-7cffccf00000


What Employers Need to Know About Successful Second Chance Hiring

It was pretty standard to assume if you checked the "have you been convicted of a felony" box, you weren't going to get the job you were applying for. Now, many companies are beginning to explore untapped talent pools and unlikely candidates. Continue reading to learn more.


Between the First Step Act bill being passed and SHRM's efforts towards Getting talent back to work, there are a lot of discussions opening up around second chance hiring. Before, it was pretty standard to assume that if you checked that box of "have you been convicted of a felony," you weren't going to get the job.

Today, our unemployment rate is the lowest it's ever been - forcing companies to explore untapped talent pools and unlikely candidates. As the Founder of a staffing agency for second chances, this makes me very excited. But it also frightens me.

I have worked with inmates, felons, and people in recovery over the past five years by helping them find their passion and meaningful employment. It is not as simple as making a decision to hire people with a criminal background. With this being such a hot topic, I thought I'd give a few tips for those considering hiring people with a criminal background.

1. Non-violent drug charges aren't always the safest bet.

I hear it all the time. And usually people who have never been arrested or spent time in prison. They talk about just hiring people who have non-violent drug charges. In my personal experience, those are usually some of my more difficult cases. A lot of people with non-violent drug charges have one of two addictions: 1. making fast money OR  2. doing drugs. Relapse for either of these are more likely if an individual isn't seeking proper treatment or counseling. A job opportunity alone isn't always enough to keep someone on the right path. I have noticed that my best employees are the most unlikely and most overlooked: Those who lost the most. AKA: People who spent time in prison for harsher charges such as assault, robbery or murder.

2. People who spent time in prison are great manipulators.

Manipulation is a skill best learned in prison. Inmates are very resourceful and know how to get what they want. This is why the formerly incarcerated individuals who are reformed make amazing sales people, debt collectors or call center representatives. But we won't always have a reformed person with a change of heart sitting across from us as we are interviewing for a position. Even your greatest "people-reading" employee can be tricked into making the wrong hire if they are not educated on what to look for and what to ask in the interviewing process. Making the right second chance hire can grow your business tremendously but only if you make strategic hires and give the right second chances to the right people. Not everyone wants to change and we have to accept that as a possibility for responsible hiring.

3. Second chance hiring isn't charity.

When people talk about giving a second chance, it always sounds very charity or philanthropy-like. While I'm glad these discussions are happening, I'm disappointed people speak about second chance hiring like it's a favor to someone. It's actually a favor to your company to bring in a hungry, hard-working, loyal employee that will be grateful you gave them a chance. Growing a team of second chance employees can literally grow your business faster. Your second chance hires will go the extra mile, stay late and come in early. Not for a raise or recognition, but to help grow the company that helped grow them. An organic tea company came to us to make their first official second chance hire a year ago. Today, they've hired 70 people who have a criminal background.

When I first started my company, a for-profit staffing agency for second chances, people thought I was crazy. (I am, proudly) But it seemed like a far-fetched goal to bank on the success of felons. I knew how effective second chance hiring would be, so instead of starting a non-profit and spending my time raising money, I wanted to raise men and women through meaningful job placements. I have seen first-hand the successes and failures when it comes to helping people coming out of prison find employment. My biggest fear is that we are going to successfully create an awareness for second chance hiring and see poor results because of lack of education or tools. This could hurt the reputation of what we are trying to do and hurt the reputation of people who really do deserve real opportunities and have transformed their lives.

SOURCE: Garcia, C. (4 April 2019) "What Employers Need to Know About Successful Second Chance Hiring" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://blog.shrm.org/blog/what-employers-need-to-know-about-successful-second-chance-hiring

This post is the first in a series for Second Chance Month, which highlights the need to improve re-entry for citizens returning to society and reduce recidivism. One of the primary ways to do this is by providing an opportunity for gainful employment. To sign the pledge and access the toolkit with information on how to create second chances at your company, visit GettingTalentBacktoWork.org.  


The HR tech disconnect: Are there too many digital tools?

Eighty-seven percent of HR professionals reported that having tools that integrate with existing technology is key, according to a new survey of more than 500 HR employees. Read this blog post to learn more.


Investing in new technology that combines with current systems looks to be a priority for HR departments.

That’s according to a new survey of more than 500 HR employees from Reward Gateway, which found that 87% of HR professionals say having tools that integrate into their existing technology is key.

That priority is likely due to the fact that HR technology is siloed, the employee engagement technology company found. Many employers use separate platforms for tasks relating to employee communication, recognition, applicant tracking, onboarding and performance management.

More than a fifth of companies use 10 or more different systems and applications at work, and roughly 60% are using more than five systems every day. In addition, HR professionals spent 512 hours a year, nearly two hours a day, manually checking, responding to and keeping up with multiple HR applications, Reward Gateway says.

“Many companies have systems-of-record in place with up-to-date details on their employees,” says Will Tracz, chief technology officer at Reward Gateway. “Creating and maintaining data in other systems, outside of this, often takes time and is prone to error, particularly in fast-moving businesses.”

The new survey echoes similar findings, which indicate that while employers may be increasingly using HR tech, they may not be doing so efficiently. For instance, research from the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants found that HR departments could be dropping the ball when it comes to using HR technology.

Karen Greenbaum, president and CEO of AESC told Employee Benefit News in November that total digital transformation is about more than just implementing new tech in the office.

“It’s not just, ‘Do they understand what artificial intelligence means,’ or what augmented reality means,” she says. “[It’s] ‘Do you really have an organization that can adapt to a new world?’”

Still, HR leaders are turning to tech solutions. Data from global talent acquisition and management firm Randstad Sourceright found that HR departments are going on a tech “buying spree.” The vast majority (92%) of those in the Randstad survey of more than 800 C-suite and HR leaders and 1,700 professionals believe that technology enhances the attraction, engagement and retention of talent.

Reward Gateway received similar responses. HR teams are hoping new tech will not only integrate with existing systems, but also help them achieve their goals, which include higher employee engagement, increased productivity and attracting talent.

SOURCE: Hroncich, C. (29 March 2019) "The HR tech disconnect: Are there too many digital tools?" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/hr-tech-disconnect-are-there-too-many-digital-tools?brief=00000152-146e-d1cc-a5fa-7cff8fee0000


DOL Focuses on ‘Joint Employer’ Definition

Recently, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced a proposed rule that narrows the definition of "joint employer" under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Continue reading to learn more about this proposed rule.


The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced on April 1 a proposed rule that would narrow the definition of "joint employer" under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The proposed rule would align the FLSA's definition of joint-employer status to be consistent with the National Labor Relations Board's proposed rule and update the DOL's definition, which was adopted more than 60 years ago.

Four-Factor Test

The proposal addresses the circumstances under which businesses can be held jointly responsible for certain wage violations by contractors or franchisees—such as failing to pay minimum wage or overtime. A four-factor test would be used to analyze whether a potential joint employer exercises the power to:

  • Hire or fire an employee.
  • Supervise and control an employee's work schedules or employment conditions.
  • Determine an employee's rate and method of pay.
  • Maintain a worker's employment records.

The department's proposal offers guidance on how to apply the test and what additional factors should and shouldn't be considered to determine joint-employer status.

"This proposal would ensure employers and joint employers clearly understand their responsibilities to pay at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek," according to the DOL.

In 2017, the department withdrew an interpretation that had been issued by former President Barack Obama's administration that broadly defined "joint employer."

The Obama-era interpretation was expansive and could be taken to apply to many companies based on the nature of their business and relationships with other companies—even when those relationships are not generally understood to create a joint-employment relationship, said Mark Kisicki, an attorney with Ogletree Deakins in Phoenix.

The proposed test aligns with a more modern view of the workplace, said Marty Heller, an attorney with Fisher Phillips in Atlanta. The test is a modified version of the standard that some federal courts already apply, he noted.

Additional Clarity

Significantly, the proposed rule would remove the threat of businesses being deemed joint employers based on the mere possibility that they could exercise control over a worker's employment conditions, Heller said. A business may have the contractual right under a staffing-agency or franchise agreement to exercise control over employment conditions, but that's not the same as doing so.

The proposal focuses on the actual exercise of control, rather than potential (or reserved) but unexercised control, Kisicki explained.

The rule would also clarify that the following factors don't influence the joint-employer analysis:

  • Having a franchisor business model.
  • Providing a sample employee handbook to a franchisee.
  • Allowing an employer to operate a facility on the company's grounds.
  • Jointly participating with an employer in an apprenticeship program.
  • Offering an association health or retirement plan to an employer or participating in a plan with the employer.
  • Requiring a business partner to establish minimum wages and workplace-safety, sexual-harassment-prevention and other policies.

"The proposed changes are designed to reduce uncertainty over joint employer status and clarify for workers who is responsible for their employment protections, promote greater uniformity among court decisions, reduce litigation and encourage innovation in the economy," according to the DOL.

The proposal provides a lot of examples that are important in the #MeToo era, said Tammy McCutchen, an attorney with Littler in Washington, D.C., and the former head of the DOL's Wage and Hour Division under President George W. Bush.

Importantly, companies would not be deemed joint employers simply because they ask or require their business partners to maintain anti-harassment policies, provide safety training or otherwise ensure that their business partners are good corporate citizens, she said.

Review Policies and Practices

Employers and other interested parties will have 60 days to comment on the proposed rule once it is published in the Federal Register. The DOL will review the comments before drafting a final rule—which will be sent to the Office of Management and Budget for review before it is published.

"Now is the time to review the proposal and decide if you want to submit a comment," Heller said. Employers that wish to comment on the proposal may do so by visiting www.regulations.gov.

"Take a look at what's been proposed, look at the examples in the fact sheet and the FAQs," McCutchen said. Employers may want to comment on any aspects of the examples that are confusing or don't address a company's particular circumstances. "Start thinking about your current business relationships and any adjustments that ought to be made," she said, noting that the DOL might make some changes to the rule before it is finalized.

"The proposed rule will not be adopted in the immediate future and will be challenged at various steps by worker-advocacy groups, so it will be quite some time before there is a tested, final rule that employers can safely rely upon," Kisicki said.

SOURCE: Nagele-Piazza, L. (1 April 2019) "DOL Focuses on ‘Joint Employer’ Definition" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/employment-law/pages/labor-department-seeks-to-revise-joint-employer-rule.aspx


7 ways employers can support employee caregivers

Research from Harvard Business School revealed that 73 percent of employees in the United States act as caregivers for a child, parent or friend. Read this blog post from Employee Benefit News for seven ways employers can support employee caregivers.


The number of caregiving adults in the U.S. has reached a tipping point.

As the baby boomer generation gets older, an increasing number of people in the workforce are taking on the role of unpaid caregiver for a family member or friend. Many also are in the midst of raising their own children, which means they’re pulled in many different directions, trying to keep up with work commitments and family responsibilities. In fact, according to researchers at Harvard Business School, 73% of employees in the U.S. are caring for a child, parent or friend.

What do all these statistics point to? They mean that employers have an opportunity to play a role in helping employees balance these often competing priorities.

The Harvard study highlights the impact of employee caregiving responsibilities on the workplace. While only 24% of employers surveyed believed employee caregiving influenced their employees’ performance at work, 80% of the employees who were surveyed admitted that caregiving had an effect on their productivity at work and interfered with their ability to do their best work.

The survey also found that caregiving can affect employee retention, with 32% of the employees surveyed saying they had left a job because of their caregiving responsibilities. In addition, employees who are caregivers are more likely to miss work, arrive late or leave early, which affects not only productivity, but also the employees’ ability to progress in their careers.

Employers can take a proactive role in supporting employees who are caregivers. That support, in turn, can have a positive effect on productivity, morale and employee retention. Here are seven strategies employers should consider.

Create an organization-wide understanding of the challenges caregivers face.

Employees who aren’t sure that their managers and leaders would understand the juggling they’re doing and the stresses they face are more likely to not only have problems at work, but — because they face high stress levels trying to get everything done at home and work — they also are at higher risk for a number of health problems such as depression and heart disease. By creating a culture that allows employees to openly express their challenges and ask for support, employers can not only keep employees healthy and productive, they also can reduce secondary costs associated with decreased productivity and chronic health problems.

Know what challenges employees face.

Regular employee surveys can help employers assess employees’ needs in terms of caregiving and tailor the benefits the organization offers to help meet those needs.

Communicate the benefits that are available.

In many cases, employers already offer programs and benefits that can help employees who are caregivers such as an employee assistance program and referral services for finding caregivers who can help when the employee isn’t able to. However, many employees aren’t aware these programs are available, so it’s important to continuously share information about them in company newsletters, emails and at meetings.

Consider flex time and remote work options.

Depending on the employees’ work responsibilities, employers can offer flexible work arrangements that allow employees to work different hours or to telecommute for a certain number of days per week.

Change the approach to paid time off.

Rather than dividing paid time off into vacation days, sick days and personal days, consider grouping all time off into one category. That allows employees to take time off for caregiving as needed. A growing number of companies, including Adobe, Deloitte, Bristol-Meyers Squibb and Coca-Cola, are also offering paid family leave benefits so that employees can take time off to provide care.

Connect employees with resources.

Beyond an EAP and referral services, employers can offer programs that connect caregivers with resources for both their caregiving role and for the self-care they need to remain healthy and able to handle both job and caregiving roles better. Those resources can include:

Beyond an EAP and referral services, employers can offer programs that connect caregivers with resources for both their caregiving role and for the self-care they need to remain healthy and able to handle both job and caregiving roles better. Those resources can include:

  • Advisory services that help employees connect with healthcare providers for their parents, children and themselves
  • Nurse managers, case managers and geriatric care managers who can help employees who are managing the care of a family member who’s living with a serious health condition or disability
  • Advocates who can help employees who are dealing with complex insurance claims for the person they care for, planning for long-term care, or managing the legal and financial complexities that can arise when a parent or spouse dies

Internal caregiver resources groups that bring together employees who are dealing with the issues surrounding caregiving so that they can share ideas and experiences

Measure how well your support is working.

The first step to supporting caregivers in the workforce is to implement policies, programs and benefits that offer them the tools they need to balance work and caregiving. An equally important second step is to regularly review what is offered, how much the offerings are used, and by which employees. Ask employees for feedback on how effectively what the organization provides is in helping them with issues they face as working caregivers and solicit ideas for new approaches and tools they’d like to have.

SOURCE: Varn, M. (25 March 2019) "7 ways employers can support employee caregivers" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/list/7-ways-employers-can-support-employee-caregivers