A better place to work: How well-being impacts the bottom line

One in 10 employers is skeptical about the value of well-being programs. Health challenges, near stagnant wages, financial stress and more can take a personal toll on your employees, causing their stress levels to rise.  Continue reading to learn more.


Logically, employees bring their “whole selves” to work. Unfortunately, health challenges, relatively stagnant wages, heightened financial pressures, always-on technology and contentious geo-political climates around the world all take a personal toll on employees in the form of rising stress.

Employers recognize that the health and well-being of their workers is vital to engagement, performance and productivity, yet one in ten are skeptical about the value of well-being programs. But by learning from peers’ experiences, employers can take steps to help employees improve their well-being through access to related programs and services. And that contributes strongly to the overall success of the organization.

Survey says

According to the 252 global employers polled in the Working Well: A Global Survey of Workforce Wellbeing Strategies, building a culture of well-being is a higher priority than ever. Fully 40 percent of organizations believe they’ve actually achieved it, up from 33 percent in our 2016 survey. Of those who have not, another 81 percent are making plans to get there.

Top priorities for wellness programs in North America were to reduce stress and boost physical activity. Stress is a bottom-line issue for employers: 96 percent identified employee stress as the biggest challenge to a productive workforce.

Closely related priorities were improving nutrition and work-life issues, addressing depression and anxiety, and getting better access to health care services. On the latter, discussion with many employers confirms this includes sufficient access to mental and behavioral health providers—directly related to the top challenge of stress and its more serious potential debilitative consequences that can include anxiety, depression, addiction and more.

Health

The most frequently offered employee health benefits which respondents also assessed as most effective included the following:

  • Employee assistance programs (EAPs): By far the most frequent program, offered by 86 percent of global employers and 96 percent of US respondents. About 7 in 10 of those who offer an EAP said it’s effective in achieving their objectives, although actual experience reveals a wish that many more employees would take full advantage of EAP services. Know your numbers assessments, including health screenings and health risk appraisals, rose in prevalence globally and were considered effective by 86 percent of respondents.
  • On-site care: While smaller numbers of employers offer on-site immunizations, delivery of medical care, or fitness centers, they were still rated at just over 80 percent effective – demonstrating that convenience and access can remove barriers and enhance results.
  • Flexible working policies: These rose in prevalence over our last survey, consistent with other research demonstrating that multiple generations prize work flexibility to enable balance and help manage life’s stressors.
  • Wearables: Sensors and trackers also rose in prevalence. Globally, two-thirds of respondents credited them with effectiveness in monitoring and perhaps motivating healthy activities.

The survey also found health literacy is required to engage and drive behavioral change, and employers need targeted solutions to build it.

Finances

Validated by other research, a majority of employees live paycheck to paycheck today. Of US respondents, 87 percent reported financial distress among employees (the global average was 83 percent). Employers cited negative bottom-line results from financial stress, such as lower morale and engagement, delayed retirement and lower productivity, among other detrimental impacts. Other studies show financially stressed employees spend three hours or more each week distracted by it.

In prior years, this survey showed a top focus on saving for retirement; now, non-retirement-related objectives are rapidly catching up as priorities. It’s hard to focus on retirement when current needs are pressing. As a result, well over 7 in 10 employers also seek ways to ensure adequate insurance protection, help in saving for other future needs, better handling day-to-day expenses, reducing debt, and having emergency savings.

ROI vs. VOI

Just under half of respondents have specific, measurable goals or targets and outcomes for their well-being programs overall. But measurement is tricky, and 45 percent of respondents noted a lack of resources to support measurement as the top barrier to metrics. Nevertheless, only 8 percent perceived “no measurable return.”

Of those measuring the health care cost impact, 54 percent reported their programs were reducing trend by 2 to 5 percentage points per year. Financial well-being ratings were more challenging, with only 4 percent globally saying they have objective data to demonstrate their financial well-being program effectiveness.

Concurrently, many placed their bets on technology tools to inform program design and outreach: 84 percent rated predictive analytics as effective in helping to support well-being, even if just over a quarter offer it today—another half plan to do so in the next 2 to 3 years.

A value-of-investment priority emerges from the data. Employers intuitively pursue programs that build goodwill by providing helpful resources. The top four objectives globally focused on engagement and morale, performance and productivity, attraction and retention, and overall, enhancing the total rewards offering while managing spend. While reducing health care costs was the top objective for the US, it was fifth globally. Other objectives linked the organization’s image or brand and values and mission—if the company has a message to external customers, it needs to “walk the talk” internally with employees.

Holistic strategy

Compared to prior surveys, employers continue to explore new ways to support well-being, in response to employee and business needs. The historically stronger emphasis on health-related well-being continues, but financial well-being efforts are on the rise. For the US/Canada, the recent fast-rising program elements have been spiritual well-being (67 percent), retirement financial security and preparedness (57 percent), social connectedness (57 percent), and financial literacy/skills (63 percent).

In total, survey responses suggest employers understand that these well-being issues are interconnected and cannot be effectively addressed in isolation without a more holistic strategy and delivery solutions.

That’s where value of investment comes in, acknowledging that enhancing physical and emotional, financial, social, and other aspects of employee well-being can help make the organization a better place to work.

SOURCE: Hunt, R. (11 April 2019) "A better place to work: How well-being impacts the bottom line" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitspro.com/2019/04/11/a-better-place-to-work-how-well-being-impacts-the-bottom-line/


The talent textbook: 4 ideas for giving better feedback

How can reviewers take the sting out of negative feedback or even constructive criticism? Coaching employees who need improvement, aren’t quite ready for higher pay, more responsibility, or leadership opportunities can be difficult. Read this blog post from HR Drive for four ideas on giving better feedback.


"You got a promotion! You get a raise!" It's almost as fun for managers to say it as it is for employees to hear. Giving good news during a review is easy, but how can reviewers take the sting out of constructive — or negative — feedback?

Coaching an employee who needs to improve or who isn't quite ready for more responsibility, higher pay or leadership opportunities is perhaps the most difficult aspect of performance management, so in this installment of the Talent Textbook, we'll offer four guiding principles from experts for giving better feedback.

#1: Meet more often

Many talent experts today recommend retiring the annual performance review and replacing it with frequent feedback instead. Unlike annual reviews, continuous feedback sessions can lessen anxiety for managers and workers both, making the conversations less formal and more focused. They can help send the message that the company culture is one of listening and responding to workers' needs — and they help talent pros and managers minimize the risk that workers will be dissatisfied with or surprised by the discussion.

"That feedback should be coming constantly," said Jim Flynn, CHRO at Sitel Group. "Everyone should know where they stand constantly."

Flynn believes that frequency transforms the feedback session into a chance to reflect and recalibrate on priorities and goals. It can also ensure that workers are aware of their progress toward a pay increase, promotion or increased responsibility because their manager has reminded them more recently.

For Jodi Chavez, group president professional staffing group at Randstad Professionals, Randstad Life Sciences, focusing up frequently keeps managers better informed about workers' desires and expectations, potentially preventing turnover and keeping the feedback session from devolving into a bidding war.

"If an employee has a desire and a belief that they want this promotion or to be in that role, there can be instances where you won't be able to undo their desire to leave," she said.

"It can be easier if you catch that earlier on in the process — so constant communication, so they know what you're looking for and you can keep coaching them, is important. It only becomes an issue when no one knows that it's a desire until later in the process."

Just as you wouldn't assess business goals and objectives only once a year, talent pros should expect to assess people often to curb employee disappointment, Flynn said, and this is especially true for employees early on in their careers.

#2: Give a heads up and an open ear

There's still stress for talent pros and managers even when preparing to deliver feedback in a more casual session: Will they feel insulted? Will they disengage afterwards? The fears are relevant, so that's why the way reviewers deliver feedback matters as much as the frequency.

Chavez and Flynn agree that managers and talent pros should begin conversations with what they're going to cover in the session. They can continue to be transparent with workers by providing the reasoning behind the feedback and their expectations for the future, Flynn said.

"I think the old sandwich approach, employees see through that," Flynn said, referring to the tactic of "sandwiching" a criticism between two compliments. "I would rather be more upfront and honest, and that should be the manager's approach to everything."

In that same realm, honest feedback should never come with bias or malice attached. Jeannie Donovan, VP of HR at Velocity Global, wrote in an email to HR Dive that "clear is kind" when it comes to constructive feedback. Whether the manager is discussing goal setting or areas that need improvement, the employee's pay grade or their potential for a future promotion, Chavez said the same principle applies: stick to the facts and strive for objectivity.

"For new talent managers, I think it's important to stay very factual and to hear the employee," she said. "Don't lead with false promises, just very cut and dried — 'The role that you're in and the experience that you have puts you at this level [of pay.]'"

That's not to say that a manager should shut down further discussion, Chavez said. Discussing an employee's strengths and listening to their desires can help them visualize a realistic and reachable future for themselves within the organization.

"It's really important to sit down and talk about the positive things that the employee brings to the table — it's a non-defensive position to put the employee in," Chavez said. "Try to understand what is important to them, and let them tell you. 'I may not be able to be a supervisor, but I'd still like to learn more about how to manage people' — once you know that as a manager, giving them pieces that help fulfill that helps them stay engaged."

#3: Support your managers

Talent pros should focus on workers when they consider their feedback best practices — but managers need their attention and expertise, too. As Flynn put it, "sometimes you have to carry cold water warmly" when delivering feedback, and managers need encouragement, support and guidance from talent pros to pull it off.

"A good HR business partner should understand when those difficult conversations could be occurring," he said, noting that this partnership goes both ways. "If a manager is aware that it might be a tough conversation, it's always a good idea to give your HR business partner a heads up so they can be attuned."

Providing tools or suggestions for approaching reviews can help managers to execute conversations with employees with clarity and mutual understanding. For example, Donovan coaches her managers on the "stoplight exercise," which can be helpful when an employee is making a case for a promotion. She said that managers can take a pen to the job description for the role their charge would like to be promoted into — highlighting current responsibilities in green, responsibilities they have a slight grasp of in yellow and tasks they've never touched in red.

"This is a straightforward way to identify strengths, weaknesses, and gaps to assess readiness for that promotion. Further, if this exercise yields gaps, the results indicate where exactly to focus on growth," she wrote.

Donovan echoed Flynn's belief that managers and talent pros should partner in the feedback process, and that debriefing afterwards is as critical for retention as it is for employee satisfaction.

"Have that second set of eyes to be aware and look for signs of disengagement or other harmful behavior," said Flynn. "Some managers are hands off, so if they've had that difficult conversation make sure you're maintaining that personal connection and increasing your frequency of touch."

#4. Shift the focus forward

The last thing constructive feedback should sound like is a lecture. Reviewers should reiterate that the feedback is in service of plan to get that employee a promotion, salary bump, conference excursion, a chance to lead an internal workshop or whatever the goal is in the future, Chavez said.

"They should feel positive about what they have contributed and what they can continue to contribute," she said. "[It's about] what you can do to help foster that growth for them."

Flynn's approach is similar, keeping the conversation productive and goal-oriented: "I probably spend 25% of the time talking about past performance, and goals reached and past behavior, but I like to focus more on what are the strengths, what are weaknesses and where the potential is."

With the future in mind, Chavez points out that a transparent, frequent and collaborative review process could prevent promising talent from leaving down the road. It can even have ripple effects across an organization, according to Donovan, who saw that workers had a clearer vision of their goals when she transitioned to more continuous feedback.

"As a result of our laser-focus on more frequent performance conversations, our employees have a roadmap of what needs to be done and when, and this approach lends itself to higher productivity and a general sense of purpose across the board," Donovan wrote.

SOURCE: Fecto, M. (10 April 2019) "The talent textbook: 4 ideas for giving better feedback" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.hrdive.com/news/the-talent-textbook-4-ideas-for-giving-better-feedback/552276/


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


8 Ways to Better Manage Your Time

Ever feel like there are just not enough hours in the day? When we try to operate at a faster pace, we often tend to make even more mistakes and feel more stressed. Read this blog post for tips on how to make the most of your time.


Feel like there aren't enough hours in the day? It might sound strange, but you might want to slow your pace. When we try to operate at warp speed, we sometimes make more mistakes and often feel more stress. Check out these tips to make the most of your time without pushing yourself too hard.

  1. Log your Take a week to track how you spend most of your time at home and at work. In particular, pay attention to time spent on social media and recreational screen time such as video games, TV and web video. The average Facebook user spends 20 minutes per day on the site. That can add up. At work, look at how much of your time is focused on dealing with email vs. getting things done.
  2. Set limits. Once you know where you're spending your time, set limits for yourself. Look for apps that can let you set time limits for certain online activities. Or just use a timer to limit time writing emails or using social
  3. Make clear Give yourself an easy way to set and track goals and tasks. Whether you have an online planner or just a written to-do list, update it every day.
  4. Use your Whenever you take on a new project, try to think right away about how long it will take and when you can spend that time. If you use a calendar like Outlook, schedule time to work on projects in advance.
  5. Be Practicing mindfulness can help you become more aware of how you are spending your time. And some research shows mindfulness can actually extend your perception of time as it passes.
  6. Learn to say no. For some of us, this can be really hard. If you care about your job, you want to please your co-workers and So pushing back about a task can be difficult. But if a project or task is going to really overextend you, it's worth having a conversation with your manager about your time. Likewise, in your personal life consider your time before committing to projects.
  1. Find your focus. Interruptions can disrupt your concentration. When you really need to concentrate on something, try to get yourself away from distractions, turn off any notifications and put away your
  2. Ask for This can be another hard one for certain people. But sometimes a task or project might be easier for someone else at a given time. If you're asking for help, be respectful and if possible offer to reciprocate if you can.

Sources:

NIH, The effect of mindfulness meditation on time perception https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23778017 (Accessed 2/14/2018)

“Where do the hours go?” by Amy Novotny, American Psychological Association http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2013/03/hours.aspx (Accessed 12/12/2017)

Social Networking Sites and Addiction: Ten Lessons Learned, by Daria J. Kuss and Mark D. Griffiths;
National Institutes of Health (NIH) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5369147/ (Accessed 12/12/2017)

SOURCE: Olson, B. (12 April 2019) "8 Ways to Better Manage Your Time" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from http://blog.ubabenefits.com/8-ways-to-better-manage-your-time


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.  


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


Making the Case for Pay Transparency

Are you making the case for increasing pay transparency? Pay transparency is a strategic move that delivers measurable business benefits, according to this article from SHRM. Continue reading to learn more.


Recommending to senior leadership that your organization increase pay transparency can be a difficult sell for HR professionals. However, pay transparency is a strategic move that delivers measurable business benefits – and it’s an issue on which HR should lead.

It is important to understand that most executives in America today rose through organizational ranks that viewed compensation as a private matter. Few within organizations had access to salary information, and even fewer talked about it. As a result, many leaders still believe it is appropriate to dissuade or prohibit employees from discussing their own compensation with other employees.

Yet we now understand these outdated cultural norms have contributed to the wage gap for women and minorities, among other negative outcomes. Pay transparency can help close those gaps and produce benefits for both employers and employees.

For example, providing employees with pay ranges for their current position and those positions in their career path sets realistic expectations. This is crucial, as many employees hold unrealistic expectations based on internet salary searches for job titles that often do not account for or accurately reflect important factors such as experience level, geography, company size, actual tasks and responsibilities, or other types of compensation. These unrealistic salary expectations create serious challenges, including employee disengagement, low morale and retention problems.

Clearly communicating your company’s pay ranges facilitates an open dialogue about how those ranges are set, when and why they change, and how employees can move up within them. These discussions in turn increase mutual trust and engagement and foster productive compensation communication — all of which help retain employees, which is especially important in today’s tight labor market.

Increasing pay transparency also helps businesses attract and retain a more diverse workforce, which numerous studies have demonstrated translates into better business results. Sharing compensation data advances this effort by ensuring women and minorities have a clearer picture of the going rate for their skill sets, education, experience and performance. While many factors contribute to pay gaps, women and minority groups may have accepted lower compensation in the past because they could not access the information necessary to determine what they should be making based on what they bring to the table.

While recommending greater pay transparency to senior leadership in your organization may seem daunting, it is an important discussion to have and a compelling case for HR professionals to make. In a highly competitive labor market, businesses that make the right strategic move of increasing pay transparency will ultimately attract and retain the best talent and come out ahead of those that do not.

SOURCE: Ponder, L. (4 April 2019) "Making the Case for Pay Transparency" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://blog.shrm.org/blog/making-the-case-for-pay-transparency-0


The future is freelancing

Are you hiring freelance workers? In the past, freelance work was an option for workers who were between jobs but today, it's shifting into a lifestyle choice. Continue reading this blog post from UBA to learn more about freelancing.


The freelance revolution is here, and it’s here to stay. In the past, freelancing was an option for workers between jobs with the likely goal eventually getting back into a full-time position. Today, it’s shifted into a lifestyle choice individuals make for a host of reasons, and something they may do for the long-term. Some research points to more than half of all workers identifying as part of the contingent economy, with those numbers trending upward.

Freelance includes the gig economy, jobs like driving for Uber, but it also includes a growing number of highly qualified people who provide needed services to businesses. Forbes points to these individuals as possessing expert skills and talents that are in high demand, especially in today’s tight labor market. While these services may sometimes fill a temporary seasonal surge, more and more business are looking at building long-term relationships with freelancers who serve as integral and trusted member of in-house teams.

Before you need this specific kind of talent is the best time to assess if you are ready to work with today’s population of freelancers. Your HR and legal departments can proactively create contracts, processes and systems that make a freelance relationship one that benefits everyone and operates smoothly.

Get your tools straight. HR Technologist recommends adjusting tools beyond just considering payroll. This may mean new solutions and apps for workforce management, time tracking, and even looking toward freelance hiring apps. Staying current with available technology for both hiring and managing will help companies compete for and keep top freelance talent.

Kick off smart. Helping freelancers succeed certainly starts with on-boarding them successfully, according to Entrepreneur. It’s essential to help a freelancer understand both the culture of your company and the context of a project. Giving a freelancer a dump of information is better than nothing, but smart transfer of applicable knowledge critical. What is the goal of the project? What resources are at their disposal? Which people are their main points of contact?

Set expectations about communications. It’s essential to not just discuss how often a freelancer should check in, but to also delineate what format is most acceptable. Knowing if an in-person meeting, phone call, or email update is sufficient helps keep everyone on track. With an ever-growing remote workforce, consider the benefit of the occasional face-to-face meeting, even for freelancers.

Talk to the internal team. Buy-in from your in-house employees is essential to helping a freelancer succeed. There may be anxiety that the freelancer is competing for their job or being brought in because of a perceived skill deficit. Help your employees feel like a resource and see the freelancer as a valuable addition to the team.

Include them. While a freelancer brought in on one short project may not make the office holiday party list, work to integrate freelancers into company life in ways that make sense. If you’re hosting a lunch-and-learn on a relevant topic, extend an invite. If the team is meeting up for lunch and the freelancer is in the same city, see if they are free. Don’t be offended if they opt out, and be sure to clarify if they should track this time as billable.

Provide feedback. This, of course, helps a freelancer improve their services for your organization. It also helps them improve as professionals. It’s also worth considering giving freelancers an opportunity to give you feedback, too. Their outside perspective may help you identify opportunities for improvement within your organization.

Offer support. Another idea is to keep a list of portable benefits, such as those described in Employee Benefit News, to help support your freelance team. Whether an individual is new to freelancing or not, access to an ongoing list of insurance options and other resources available to improve their quality of freelance life and work is something they’d definitely appreciate.

For busy HR professionals looking to fill full-time openings, the addition of navigating freelancers may seem to be another duty on an already long to-do list. Why bother investing in someone who won’t be a full-time addition? Forbes points out that freelancers are a way to fast track top, diverse talent and potentially save money on salary and benefits. With many new employees leaving in less than a year, investing in long-term freelancers may just be a smart long-term cost and effort-saving measure.

Plus, HR is the heart of talent management! As the most likely group to help a more traditional organization see the future of work, you help find a vision and path for incorporating freelancers into a company culture. Ensuring your company can successfully attract and integrate contingent workers into your workforce is likely to become a more and more essential skill for you, as well. Keep your freelance-related skills sharp in case you’re asked about it in your next interview

In a tight labor market, one where Forbes shows nearly half of global companies struggling to hire for full time roles, these freelancers are not only a smart option, but they are likely to have other options. If it’s not already happening in your industry, top freelance talent is likely to become a hot commodity in the same way top full-time job seekers have.

Consider, too, if things do change, your intentional efforts with a freelancer build a solid working relationship with someone who has insight and experience working with your company. Should these freelancers decide to shift to a full-time position, and you’re hiring? They’ll be more likely to opt in with your company if their past experience was positive. Set the stage now, and see what happens!

 

Read more:

7 Workforce Management Trends for 2019

Portable Benefits: Perks for the Gig Economy

Onboarding Freelancers Is Tough — Here's How to Do It Right the First Time

HR, Time to Embrace the Freelance Revolution: Your Career Depends on It

The Agile Talent Wave: The Contingent Workforce is Taking Over

SOURCE: Olson, B. (4 April 2019) "The future is freelancing" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from http://blog.ubabenefits.com/the-future-is-freelancing


A 16-Year-Old Explains 10 Things You Need to Know About Generation Z

Generation Z, a cohort that represents one of the most diverse generations in U.S. history, is beginning to graduate and join the workforce. Continue reading this article from SHRM for 10 things the world should know about Gen Z.


Think about what life was like when you were 16. The clothes you wore, the places you shopped. What was most important to you then?

Whenever I speak to an organization eager to learn about Generation Z, I always ask that question. I get responses that include everything from the fleeting fashion trends of the day (bell-bottom jeans, anyone?) to the time-honored tradition of getting a driver’s license.

What I hope to achieve as a 16-year-old in 2018 is probably not all that different from what anyone else wanted when they were my age. It’s the way people go about reaching their goals that evolves over time—and that’s what also forms the basis of most generational clashes.

For the past several years, the world has been focused on understanding and adapting to Millennials, the largest and most-educated generation in history. Born between 1981 and the mid-1990s, this group has inspired important dialogues about generational differences and challenged all industries to evolve to meet their needs. In the workplace, Millennials have helped drive a greater focus on flexibility and collaboration and a rethinking of traditional hierarchies.

Of course, any analysis of generations relies on generalities that can’t possibly describe every person or situation. It’s important to remember that generations exist on a continuum—and that there is a large degree of individual variation within them. The point of this type of research is to identify macro trends among age groups that can help foster workplace harmony. Essentially, it’s a way of attempting to understand people better by getting a sense of their formative life experiences. The generation to which one belongs is among the many factors, such as race, religion and socioeconomic background, that can shape how a person sees the world.

But there’s little doubt that gaps among the U.S. generations have widened dramatically. For example, an 8-year-old boy in the United States who grew up with a tablet will likely have more in common with an 8-year-old in China who used a similar mobile device than he will with his 70-year-old U.S. grandparents.

In thinking about the generations, a key thing to understand is that these groups are typically categorized by events rather than arbitrary dates. Generation Z’s birth years are generally recognized as 1996 to 2009. The start year was chosen so that the cohort would include only those who do not remember the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The belief is that if you were born in 1996 or later, you simply cannot process what the world was like before those attacks. For Generation Z, the War on Terror has always been the norm.

Like all other generations, mine has been shaped by the circumstances we were born into, such as terrorism, school shootings and the Great Recession. These dark events have had profound effects on the behavioral traits of the members of Generation Z, but they have also inspired us to change the world.

Earlier this year, XYZ University, a generations research and management consulting firm where I act as the director of Gen Z studies, surveyed more than 1,800 members of Generation Z globally and released a study titled “Ready or Not, Here Comes Z.” The results were fascinating.

We discovered key characteristics about Generation Z and what the arrival of my generation will mean for the future of work. At 57 million strong and representing the most diverse generation in U.S. history, we are just starting to graduate from college and will account for 36 percent of the workforce by 2020.

Needless to say, Generation Z matters. And it is more important than ever for HR professionals to become familiar with the following 10 characteristics so that they know how to engage with my generation.

1. Gen Z Always Knows the Score

Members of this generation will put everything on the line to win. We grew up with sports woven into the fabric of our lives and culture. To us, the NFL truly does own a day of the week. But it’s more than just professional, college or even high school teams that have shaped us; it’s the youth sports that we played or watched throughout our childhoods. This is the generation of elite young teams and the stereotypical baseball mom or dad yelling at the umpire from the bleachers.

Our competitive nature applies to almost everything, from robotics to debates that test mental fortitude. We carry the mindset that we are not necessarily at school just to learn but to get good grades that will secure our place in the best colleges. Generation Z has been thrown into perhaps the most competitive educational environment in history. Right or wrong, we sometimes view someone else’s success as our own failure or their failure as our success.

We are also accustomed to getting immediate feedback. A great example is the online grading portals where we can get frequent updates on our academic performance. In the past, students sometimes had to wait weeks or longer to receive a test grade. Now, we get frustrated if we can’t access our scores within hours of finishing an exam—and sometimes our parents do, too.

2. Gen Z Adopted Gen X’s Skepticism and Individuality

Generations are shaped by the behavioral characteristics of their parents, which is why clumping Millennials and Generation Z together is a mistake. In fact, when it comes to each generation’s behavioral traits, Millennials are most similar to their parents—the Baby Boomers. Both are large, idealistic cohorts with influences that will shape consumer and workplace behavior for decades.

Members of Generation Z, on the other hand, are more akin to their parents from Generation X—a smaller group with a skeptical, individualistic focus—than they are to Millennials. That’s why many generational traits are cyclical. Just because Millennials and members of Generation Z are closer in age does not necessarily mean they share the same belief systems.

3. Gen Z Is Financially Focused

Over the past 15 to 20 years, HR professionals have been hyper-focused on employee engagement and figuring out what makes their workers tick. What drives someone to want to get up in the morning and come to work for your organization?

As it turns out, workplace engagement matters less to Generation Z than it did to previous generations. What’s most important to us is compensation and benefits. We are realists and pragmatists who view work primarily as a way to make a living rather than as the main source of meaning and purpose in our lives.

Obviously, we’d prefer to operate in an enjoyable environment, but financial stability takes precedence. XYZ University discovered that 2 in 3 Generation Zers would rather have a job that offers financial stability than one that they enjoy. That’s the opposite of Millennials, who generally prioritize finding a job that is more fulfilling over one that simply pays the bills.

That financial focus likely stems in part from witnessing the struggles our parents faced. According to a study by the Pew Charitable Trust, “Retirement Security Across Generations: Are Americans Prepared for Their Golden Years?,” members of Generation X lost 45 percent of their wealth during the Great Recession of 2008.

“Gen X is the first generation that’s unlikely to exceed the wealth of the group that came before it,” says Erin Currier, former project manager of Pew’s Economic Mobility Project in Washington, D.C. “They have lower financial net worth than previous groups had at this same age, and they lost nearly half of their wealth in the recession.”

Before Generation Z was decreed the ‘official’ name for my generation, there were a few other candidates, including the ‘Selfie Generation’ and ‘iGen.’

Employers will also need to recognize that members of Generation Z crave structure, goals, challenges and a way to measure their progress. After all, the perceived road to success has been mapped out for us our entire lives.

At the same time, it’s important to be aware of the potential for burnout among young overachievers—and to incorporate fun and breaks into the work environment and provide access to healthy escapes focused on relaxation and stress relief.

4. Gen Z Is Entrepreneurial

Even though they witnessed their parents grapple with financial challenges and felt the impact of the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression, members of Generation Z believe there is a lot of money to be made in today’s economy. Shows like “Shark Tank” have inspired us to look favorably on entrepreneurship, and we’ve also seen how technology can be leveraged to create exciting—and lucrative—business opportunities with relatively low overhead. Fifty-eight percent of the members of my generation want to own a business one day and 14 percent of us already do, according to XYZ University.

Organizations that emphasize Generation Z’s desire for entrepreneurship and allow us space to contribute ideas will see higher engagement because we’ll feel a sense of personal ownership. We are motivated to win and determined to make it happen.

5. Gen Z Is Connected

Before Generation Z was decreed the “official” name for my generation, there were a few other candidates, including the “Selfie Generation” and “iGen.”

I find those proposed names both condescending and misleading. While it’s often assumed that Generation Z is focused solely on technology, talking face to face is our preferred method of communication. Sure, social media is important and has undoubtedly affected who we are as a generation, but when we’re communicating about something that matters to us, we seek authenticity and honesty, which are best achieved in person.

“Gen Z has the power of technology in their hands, which allows them to communicate faster, more often and with many colleagues at one time; but it also brings a danger when it’s used as a crutch for messages that are better delivered face to face,” says Jill Katz, CHRO at New York City-based Assemble HR. “As humans in the workplace, they will continue to seek empathy, interest and care, which are always best received face to face.”

XYZ University’s research found that cellphones and other electronic devices are primarily used for the purpose of entertainment and are tapped for communication only when the face-to-face option isn’t available.

However, successfully engaging with Generation Z requires striking a balance between conversing directly and engaging online. Both are important, and we need to feel connected in both ways to be fully satisfied.

6. Gen Z Craves Human Interaction

Given that members of Generation Z gravitate toward in-person interactions, HR leaders should re-evaluate how to best put the “human” aspect back into business. For example, hiring processes should emphasize in-person interviews more than online applications.

A great way to engage us is to hold weekly team meetings that gather everyone together to recap their achievements. Although members of Generation Z don’t necessarily need a pat on the back, it’s human nature to want to feel appreciated. This small gesture will give us something to look forward to and keep us feeling optimistic about our work. In addition, we tend to work best up against a deadline—for example, needing to have a project done by the team meeting—due to our experience facing time-sensitive projects at school.

7. Gen Z Prefers to Work Independently

Millennials generally prefer collaborative work environments, which has posed a challenge to conventional workplace cultures and structures. In fact, many workplaces have eliminated offices and lowered cubicle walls to promote more interaction. Yet recent studies indicate that totally open offices may actually discourage people from working together. The noise and lack of privacy could prompt more people to work at home or tune others out with headphones. Since different types of work require varying levels of collaboration, focus and quiet reflection, ideal workplaces incorporate room for both togetherness and alone time.

It’s important to be aware of the potential for burnout among young overachievers—and to incorporate fun and breaks into the work environment and provide access to healthy escapes focused on relaxation and stress relief.

The emphasis on privacy will likely only intensify under Generation Z. Unlike Millennials, we have been raised to have individualistic and competitive natures. For that reason—along with growing research into optimal office design—we may see the trend shift away from collaborative workplaces toward more individualistic and competitive environments.

8. Gen Z Is So Diverse That We Don’t Even Recognize Diversity

Generation Z marks the last generation in U.S. history where a majority of the population is white. Given the shifting demographics of the country, we don’t focus as much on someone’s color, religion or sexual orientation as some of our older counterparts might. To us, a diverse population is simply the norm. What we care about most in other people is honesty, sincerity and—perhaps most important—competence.

Indeed, we have been shaped by a society that celebrates diversity and openness. A black man occupied the White House for most of our lives, and we view gay marriage as a common and accepted aspect of society.

9. Gen Z Embraces Change

Compared to teenagers of other generations, Generation Z ranks as the most informed. We worry about our future and are much less concerned about typical teen problems, such as dating or cliques, than we are about becoming successful in the world.

The chaos and unrest in our political system have inspired us to want to get involved and make a difference. Regardless of which side of the aisle we are on, most of us are informed and passionate about the issues facing our society today. Witness, for example, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who organized a political movement around gun control in the wake of a mass shooting at their school.

Social media allows us to have a voice in our political system even before we can vote. This opportunity has forced us to develop critical-thinking and reasoning skills as we engage in sophisticated debates about important issues that might not even affect us yet.

“Gen Z has a strong ability to adapt to change,” says Paul Carney, an author and speaker on HR trends and a former HR manager with the Navy Federal Credit Union. “For those of us who have spanned many decades in the workplace, we have seen the rate of change increase and it makes most of us uncomfortable. Gen Z are the people who will help all of us adapt better.”

According to numerous polls, the political views of Generation Z trend fiscally conservative (stemming from our need for financial stability) and socially liberal (fueled by diverse demographics and society).

10. Gen Z Wants a Voice

Given how socially aware and concerned its members are, Generation Z seeks jobs that provide opportunities to contribute, create, lead and learn.

“One of the best ways I have seen leaders engage with Gen Z is to ask them how they would build a product or service or design a process,” Carney says. “Gen Z has some amazing abilities to bring together information, process it and take action. When we do allow them to share ideas, great things happen.”

We’re also an exceptionally creative bunch. Managers will need to give members of this generation the time and freedom to come up with innovative ideas and accept that, despite our young age, we have valuable insights and skills to offer—just like the generations that came before us and those that will follow.

Josh Miller is a speaker, researcher and thought leader on all things Generation Z. He is the director of Gen Z studies at management consulting firm XYZ University and a high school junior in suburban Minneapolis.
Illustration by Tim McDonagh
SOURCE: Miller, J. (30 October 2018) "A 16-Year-Old Explains 10 Things You Need to Know About Generation Z" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/1118/pages/a-16-year-old-explains-10-things-you-need-to-know-about-generation-z.aspx