It’s Time to Give Your Performance Review… a Performance Review

Fifty-eight percent of executives believe that their current performance review processes neither drive employee engagement nor high performance, according to a recent survey from Deloitte. These findings have many organizations looking into how they are conducting reviews. Read this blog post from UBA to learn more.


If you’ve felt the itch to reimagine your company’s performance review structure, your head is probably in the right place.

According to a recent Deloitte survey, 58 percent of executives believe that their current performance management processes neither drive employee engagement nor high performance. If engagement and performance are low, it’s time to start addressing how you’re conducting performance reviews.

History of Performance Reviews

The modern performance review originated during the Industrial Revolution, when a laborer’s performance could be accurately measured by their product output: the number of railroad ties installed, textiles produced, for example.

In today’s economy, there are more “knowledge workers” than ever before: people who are paid to think and produce ideas rather than material goods. In this type of work model, that traditional approach to performance reviews is no longer suitable.

The Problem

Beyond their outdated structure, today’s widespread ranking- and ratings-based performance reviews damage employee engagement by isolating high performers and costing managers more overhead evaluation time. Only eight percent of companies report that their performance management process drives high levels of value, while 58 percent said it isn’t an effective use of time.

Tips to Improve Your Performance Review Model

Consider an Ongoing Conversation vs Yearly Review

Many employees find that annual check-ins are simply not enough to gain a big-picture understanding of performance over time. Instead of waiting until the end of the year to evaluate, consider bi-weekly or quarterly check-ins with all direct managers. Accenture—one of the largest consultancies in the world—recently scrapped annual performance reviews in favor of a system in which employees receive timely feedback from their managers immediately after a completed assignment.

The big takeaway is that leading organizations are ditching the annual evaluation cycle and replacing it with ongoing feedback and coaching. By opting for a continuous review model, organizations can promote more gradual, holistic employee development.

Decoupling Yearly Performance from Compensation

Several years back, the separation of pay from performance was making its way into corporate playbooks. In 2015, General Electric actually abandoned its merit pay model.

The most common method for decoupling salary and performance (in a linear way), is to instill more continuous, instant feedback per project, while still retaining a single annual conversation about money.

This approach fosters a 360-degree view of compensation and gives employees more time to think about their performance and ways to improve throughout the year.

SOURCE: Olson, B. (19 November 2019) "It’s Time to Give Your Performance Review… a Performance Review" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from http://blog.ubabenefits.com/its-time-to-give-your-performance-review-a-performance-review


Why using a 401(k) to pay for emergencies is hurting employers and employees

Are your employees financially stressed? According to HR leaders, more and more employees are withdrawing $1,000 or less from their 401(k) retirement accounts to help pay for emergency expenses. Read this blog post from Employee Benefit News for more.


More than ever, HR leaders at Fortune 500 companies are reporting that employees are withdrawing $1,000 or less from their hard-earned 401(k) retirement accounts to pay for emergency expenses. These employees — often living at the brink of being financially unstable — are using the funds for unexpected emergency expenses like car repairs, medical bills or even to purchase books for their college-age children.

Corporate leaders are now, more than ever, concerned that many of their employees live under a high degree of financial stress that can affect their productivity, creativity and even their health, resulting in absenteeism and drops in productivity that ultimately impact the bottom line. HR managers are especially feeling the pain as they are called upon to handle the excessive paperwork needed for the 401(k) plan withdrawals, causing extra work that could be spent more productively on other projects that benefit all employees.

The fact that more Americans than ever are dipping into their 401(k) accounts for emergency funds reveals that many are living above their means or working below their needs financially. While it’s important to have an emergency fund, for many people savings is a luxury they simply can’t afford. According to a Federal Reserve survey, nearly 40 percent of Americans said they don’t have enough cash on hand to cover an unexpected $400 expense. The quick fix for many is to use credit cards or ask family or friends for a loan when an emergency arises, but when those are not options, tapping into the 401(k) accounts is becoming increasingly common.

Some companies are partnering with payday loan companies so employees will refrain from tapping into their retirement funds. This is actually a worse idea because they’re setting their employees up to fail by enabling a vicious cycle of debt employees may never be free of.

Financial education could be the key to helping employees gain control of their financial lives. Companies that promote financial literacy courses and attendance at financial seminars or conferences offer the first step toward a better path for future financial stability. Offering or subsidizing the cost of continuing education courses help inspire employees to begin a lifelong journey of education for higher salaries and career advancement. Companies that promote education and career advancement attract, engage and retain employees longer than companies that don’t.

Flexible benefits can help

Companies can help their employees refrain from using their 401(k) retirement accounts as a bank if they offer flexible benefits. Employees get to choose how to use their earned benefits, like utilizing the monetary value of their unused paid time off (PTO) for other priorities such as paying for an emergency expense, paying down student loan debt or funding a vacation, among other things. Companies that offer flexible benefits are giving workers the ability to finally be in the driver’s seat of their careers and lives. When companies empower employees in this way, job satisfaction, productivity and creativity go way up.

Flexible benefits are a no brainer to organizations that want to attract, recruit, engage and retain top talent. Salary isn’t the only factor in determining a good career move, and companies that want to win the talent war will offer some type of flexible benefits. Every employee should have the ability to choose benefits based on their individual needs, avoiding the damaging financial practice of using 401(k) accounts for emergency expenses.

SOURCE: Whalen, R. (25 November 2019) "Why using a 401(k) to pay for emergencies is hurting employers and employees" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/employees-are-using-401k-funds-for-emergencies


Implementing Auto Safety in the Workplace

Driving requires concentration and awareness. It only takes one distraction to lose control of your vehicle and crash. Most drivers overlook the importance of keeping their eyes on the road with a significant number attempting to text while driving. In this article, Cathleen Christensen, the Vice President of Property & Casualty at Hierl Insurance, sheds light on this issue and highlights some measures employers can take to curb such accidents.

After falling from 42,836 deaths in 2004 to 32,744 in 2014, fatalities are on the rise again and stand at 37,133 for 2017. The number one cause of all car accidents is distracted driving. “These crashes are largely due to drivers’ negligence,” Cathleen explained. A car traveling at about 55 miles per hour takes approximately five seconds to cover the length of a football field. Five seconds is also the average duration it takes to read a text. At work zones, the few seconds it takes for a driver to get distracted are enough to have them crashing into the work zone. In fact, distracted drivers are 29 times more likely to crash in work zones.

Insurance Losses

Insurance companies are taking the brunt of the financial consequences of drivers’ carelessness by paying for serious losses. The 2016 industry-wide commercial auto combined ratio reached a 15-year high of 110.4%, and the segment has produced an underwriting loss for six years running after years of underwriting profits. According to Cathleen, “One of the primary causes of the industry losing money is distracted drivers. These are drivers who are either talking on the phone or texting while driving. The real consequences are higher insurance premiums for our business customers.”

Measures Employers Should Take to Avoid Losses

Everyone needs to be aware of these measures to minimize accidents caused by distracted driving:

  • Better public education – Drivers need to be educated on the dangers of using their mobile devices while driving.
  • Implement safety policies and make sure employees understand them. These policies include making drivers aware of speed limits, checking their speed gauges and locking their vehicles when they are away from them.
  • Implement a policy regarding the use of phones while driving. Consider using an app that will help keep this policy in place. Employers should prohibit any work-related activity that requires drivers to text or make calls while driving.

Commercial drivers should not be left behind when developing new safety standards for your workforce. Some great recommendations are the following:

  • Review driving records
  • Review and inspect equipment for commercial drivers on a regular basis
  • Implement a sleep safety policy – truck drivers are especially prone to falling asleep while driving due to fatigue as a result of driving very long distances without rest
  • Educate employees on these requirements

What Can Hierl Do to Help?

At Hierl, we listen to clients’ needs and learn about their business to create programs that meet or exceed their expectations. We continuously work with customers to ensure driver safety and provide them with a matrix to help them have an objective measure to look at driving records. We also provide employers with communication material to keep their drivers aware of issues and concerns related to their safety as a prevention measure.

For more information regarding this issue, you can contact Cathleen Christensen at 920-921-5921 or by email at cchristensen@hierl.com.


How to Handle Pay-History Inquiries —The Right Way

Is your hiring team educated and up to date on pay-history regulations? Currently, there are 17 state-wide and 19 local bans that prevent potential employers from inquiring about a candidate's pay history. Read this blog post from UBA to learn more.


We’ve all been there. You’ve gotten deep into the job interview process, and then you’re face-to-face with the awkward question: would you share your previous salary?

Whether the question rears its head in a digital application or during initial in-persons, none of us like answering it. Many people, especially young people, are less committed to their employers and seek new jobs every few years in order to rapidly spike their salaries, yet having to confront the pay question is never comfortable.

Why Pay-History Bans Exist

To date, there are 17 state-wide bans on potential employers inquiring about pay history, as well as 19 local bans. The goal of these bans is to end the cycle of pay discrimination, as well as the cycle of low-earning and poverty.

Everyone knows that it has long been illegal for employers to pay different wages to men and women for the same work, but despite this, the wage gap between men’s and women’s earnings persists. One 2019 PayScale report found that women still make only $0.79 for each dollar men do. A Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) analysis discovered that in 2018, median weekly earnings for female full-time wage and salary workers was 81% of men’s earnings. When it comes to minority women and women of color, the pay gap is even more pronounced. The salary history ban is designed to put a stop to that, and begin to repair the damage it has caused.

Pay-history bans allow people who have experienced historically low pay or pay discrimination to have a fresh start when they come in to interview. Some bans go even further than merely blocking pay history questions. A few also prohibit an employer from relying on an applicant's pay history to set compensation if discovered or volunteered; others forbid an employer from taking action against employees who choose to discuss pay with coworkers.

Navigating Pay History

It’s important to ensure your hiring team is educated and aware of pay-history regulations. Read on for thought-starters on what your team can do to make sure you are compliant with these laws.

  1. Audit and review recruiting materials. The first step for many employers is to audit and remove any recruiting materials that ask salary-history questions in states where this is illegal. This includes but is not limited to digital applications, printed materials, and interview scripts.
  2. Develop alternate methods for assigning salary. Your HR and recruiting teams should be focused on finding the right candidate for the job, not necessarily the one who has the right salary profile or history. Asking questions about a candidate's comprehensive experience, previous tenure, and education can be smarter ways to determine what is fair when discussing salary. Using a junior, mid-level, senior, coding model can help your team develop salary ranges that are fair.
  3. Foster a culture of transparency. If it makes sense for your organization, it’s not a bad idea to share salary ranges for each job internally. This will help employees feel confident that their compensation is fair in relation to their colleagues’.

SOURCE: Olson, B. (12 November 2019) "How to Handle Pay-History Inquiries —The Right Way" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from http://blog.ubabenefits.com/how-to-handle-pay-history-inquiries-the-right-way


It’s time to consider a wage and hour audit

When is the last time your company conducted a wage and hour audit? According to the Department of Labor (DOL), a record $322 million of unpaid wages were recovered for the 2019 fiscal year, $18 million more than what was recovered for the 2018 fiscal year. Read this blog post to learn more.


Those who believed the Trump administration would scale back the Obama-era Department of Labor’s aggressive enforcement of wage and hour laws may be surprised to learn that the DOL recently announced that it recovered a record $322 million in unpaid wages for fiscal year 2019. This is $18 million more than that recovered in the last fiscal year, which was the previous record.

The agency has set records in back wages collected every year since 2015, according to data released by the DOL. This year, the average wages DOL recovered per employee were $1,025. The agency’s office of federal contractor compliance also announced that it had recovered a record $41 million in settlements over discrimination actions involving federal contractors, an increase of 150% over the last fiscal year.

Effective Jan. 1, the new salary threshold that most salaried employees must earn to be exempt from overtime pay will be $35,568, or $684 per week, under the final rule issued by the DOL in September.

With the new salary threshold taking effect soon, and the DOL continuing to aggressively enforce wage and hour laws, it is a good time to consider conducting a wage and hour audit to ensure that employees are properly classified as exempt or nonexempt and that other pay practices comply with the law.

Employers who did this in 2016, only to find out later that the Obama administration’s proposed hike in the salary threshold would not take effect, may have a strong feeling of déjà vu. But this time, there does not appear to be any viable legal challenge that would delay or block the salary threshold change, so employers must be prepared to either increase salaries of “white-collar” exempt employees (who earn less than $35,568) or reclassify them as hourly employees by January.

Among other things, a wage and hour audit should include the following:

  • Review all individuals classified as independent contractors;
  • Review all employees classified as exempt from overtime under one or more “white-collar” exemptions (administrative, executive, and professional), who must earn at least the $35,568 salary threshold beginning January 1, 2020;
  • Review all other employees classified as exempt from overtime, including computer and sales employees; and
  • Review all individuals classified as interns, trainees, volunteers, and the like.

In addition to ensuring whether employees are properly classified as exempt or nonexempt, a thorough wage and hour audit should look at a number of other issues, including timekeeping and rounding of hours worked, meal and rest breaks, whether bonuses and other special payments need to be included in employees’ regular rate of pay for calculating overtime, and payments besides regular wages, such as paid leave and reimbursement of expenses.

SOURCE: Allen, S. (8 November 2019) "It’s time to consider a wage and hour audit" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/employers-should-consider-a-wage-and-hour-audit


Strategies for communicating with all five generations in the workforce

The age gap in the workforce today is getting increasingly wide, with more employees over the age of 85 than ever before. Read this blog post for strategies to help employers communicate with all five generations in today's workforce.


The age gap in today’s workforce is getting increasingly wide. Just look at the Democratic primary for the nation’s highest office.

With Pete Buttigieg, 37, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, 78, running for president, the age range of the job applicants for the biggest job in the U.S. now spans four decades. There are also more workers over 85 working than ever before, according to Labor Department and U.S. Census Bureau data.

Here’s another fact: Today 38% of Americans work for a boss who is younger than they are, said Lindsey Pollak, author of “Remix: How to Lead and Succeed in the Multigenerational Workplace,” at the Atlantic’s Aging Up conference on Wednesday.

“This is the first time in our country's history that we have five distinct generations in the workplace,” said Pollak, who has spent more than 10 years researching and studying millennials. “They are the largest generation in the workplace. You've heard a lot from millennials today, but all of the rest of us are here too.”

“To succeed in this environment, however you approach it, you have to think about all of those generations,” she said.

How can employers win the war on talent with such a diverse age range in the modern workforce? Pollak uses the example of a music remix to frame various engagement strategies — an idea she got based on her interview of a DJ. For example, playing a remix of a classic song at a party could entice both the younger and older generations to get on the dance floor, she said.

“[The DJ] said the trick is to play a remix because the older people at the party recognize the classic and say I know that song. And they come and dance,” Pollak said. “The younger people recognize the remix… and they come and dance. So the solution to a five-generation workplace is not either-or. We did it the millennial way or we do it the boomer way. It's always about, how can we bring everybody together?“

Pollak offered three examples of how employers can appeal to multiple generations. The first centers on recruitment. Employers should recruit from across generations. One example was a solution by a pool and beach club in Galveston, Texas, which began recruiting older workers after they experienced a downturn in teenage applicants, she said.

“[The beach club] looked around and said, who really comes and swims here every day? It's the people over 50 who want a low-impact exercise,” she said. “And so they started putting up posters saying, do you want to turn your passion into a career?”

The idea worked. Lifeguard staff became people over 55 including one 83-year-old lifeguard, Pollak said.

A second strategy involves communication, she said. Asking employees about their preferred communication style is one key way to ease multigenerational differences.

“The simple [strategy] here is to not look for the one way that everybody wants to communicate. There isn't one. It depends on your personality. It depends on the work that you do. It depends on your personal preferences,” she said.

The solution is to simply get in the habit of asking everyone at work how they prefer to communicate. Asking employees their communication style of preference — whether that be over text, a phone call or social media — can help improve communication.

Employers should look for mentoring opportunities, along with reverse mentoring experiences, where younger workers can help guide older workers on new skills, she said.

“Mentoring is an example of a classic practice that should never go out of style. There is nothing old fashioned or outdated about mentoring,” she said.

Mentoring also goes in both directions. Junior staff may be more proficient using various apps, for instance, and be good candidates to train other colleagues. To have a successful multi-generational workforce, employers should consider input from employees in a variety of age groups.

“Think of yourself as having a multigenerational board of advisers,” Pollak said. “What if you had a person from each generation who was advising you on how to look at the world and how to think about your job and your career?”

SOURCE: Siew, W. (31 October 2019) "Strategies for communicating with all five generations in the workforce" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/news/strategies-for-communicating-with-all-five-generations-in-the-workforce


What is Emotional Agility, and How Can You Manage Your Emotions in the Workplace?

What is emotional agility? Emotional agility is defined as one's ability to deal with stressors and discomfort at work and in life. Read this blog post to learn more about being emotionally agile and how to manage your emotions in the workplace.


It’s a buzzword we hear all the time: emotional agility. So you may be asking, what exactly IS emotional agility? It’s defined as one’s ability to deal with stressors and discomfort in work and life. People are preprogrammed to deal with situations in certain ways, but these types of reactions don’t always allow room for emotional growth.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space,” explains Dr. Susan David, an award-winning Harvard Medical School psychologist. “This space is born out of emotional agility. In that space is our power to choose. And it’s in that choice that lies our growth and freedom.”

When people are emotionally agile, that space gives them the opportunity to deal with difficult and stressful situations and become resilient. Dr. David elaborates: “Emotional agility is being sensitive to the context and responding to the world right now—and that allows us to move into a space where we are managing our lives more in accord with our values.”

Stop Managing Emotions at Work, and Start Experiencing Them

“Firstly, it’s normal, healthy and good to experience the full range of emotions,” Dr. David continued. It’s unrealistic to try to focus on being happy and positive all the time. This hyper-focus lessens one’s adaptability and agility.

The workplace demands a lot of employees. No matter how stressful or taxing, employees are expected to hide their emotions at work and only portray positive emotions. However, research shows that experiencing difficult emotions helps people successfully navigate complex situations at work and at home.

Dr. David believes all emotions are necessary for employees to succeed in their careers: “There is no collaboration … without potential conflict. There is no innovation … without the potential of failure. And if there’s no openness to the emotions, the disappointment and the loss that comes with failure, well then you’re not going to get real innovation.”

Becoming Emotionally Agile

Even with the best intentions, things don’t always pan out like we plan. Unexpected or non-ideal outcomes in the workplace can elicit rigid or preprogrammed reactions to emotions, like ignoring them, bottling them up, placing blame, or replaying situations over and over in one’s head.

“Rigidity in the face of complexity is toxic,” Dr. David said. In order to become emotionally agile, people need to acknowledge and understand their emotional responses but not take them as fact. For example, if a person is feeling a stress response, it doesn’t mean everything about their life has to be stressful. By understanding these emotions, one can learn from them and ultimately move forward.

Dr. David elaborates: “The radical acceptance of our emotions — even the difficult ones, even the messy ones — is the cornerstone to resilience, to effectiveness, to success, to relationships, and to truly thriving.”

Bonus: Tips & Tricks to Cope With Stressful Workdays

  1. Compartmentalization (when negative emotions from home affect your work). Try your best to leave personal matters and issues at home. When you commute to work, use that time to tell your mind to let go. You can also compartmentalize work-related stressors so that your emotions at work don’t spill over into your personal life too.
  2. Deep breathing & relaxation techniques. This will help with emotions like anxiety, worry, frustration, and anger. Take deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling slowly until you calm down. Slowly count to 10. You can take a walk to cool down and listen to some relaxing music. Talk to someone who can help you calm down.
  3. The 10-second rule. This is especially helpful if you are feeling angry, frustrated or even irate. If you feel your temper rising, try and count to 10 to recompose yourself. If possible, excuse yourself from the situation to get some distance, but remember to reassure the other party that you will return to deal with the matter.

Sources:

SOURCE: Olson, B. (5 November 2019) "What is Emotional Agility, and How Can You Manage Your Emotions in the Workplace?" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from http://blog.ubabenefits.com/what-is-emotional-agility


Construction Risk Advisor - November 2019

Improving Safety Through New-hire Orientation

According to industry experts, workplace injuries in the construction industry cost businesses over $1 billion per week in 2018. Safety management remains a hugely important factor in the construction industry, but it’s not only for the obvious reasons of protecting your employees. Your safety management performance can also directly affect being awarded contracts as well as negotiating them.

As an employer in the construction industry, preventing potentially fatal accidents is a process that starts long before an employee even reaches a construction site. Your responsibility to protect your workers begins from day one, long before they start what will be their everyday work.

The Importance of Orientation

One of the best methods for protecting your employees from the beginning is to have an effective and extensive orientation process. While onboarding new employees is an important step for all companies, those in highly regulated industries should prioritize it even more.

Newsletter Provided by: Hierl's Property & Casualty Experts

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In the construction industry, new hires fall victim to a disproportionate number of injuries. According to industry experts, more than 50% of injuries involve employees with less than 12 months of experience.

While there are universal factors across construction, even if a new hire has prior experience in the industry, it is important to introduce them to your company’s culture, past experiences and specific projects.

Ponder the Process

With new employees being at greater risk for injuries, it’s imperative that companies take the time to ensure that orientation is well-thought-out. Consider these steps as part of your hiring and onboarding plan:

  1. Pre-employment screening—This can include drug and alcohol screening as well as checking training certificates and credentials, motor vehicle records and driver qualifications.
  2. Safety onboarding—Provide an accident-prevention program, a safety procedures manual and hands-on training for specific safety skills.
  3. Mentorships—Pair up new hires with experienced workers so they can be immersed in your company’s safety policies and have consistent reinforcement.
  4. Check-ins—Schedule regular reviews with new hires to make sure that the training was adequate and effective for them.

Value Your Workers

Having successful safety policies and introducing them effectively is very important, not only to ensure the wellness of your workforce, but also to help your company secure contracts. Protect your present and plan for your future by making orientation a priority.