Three Golden Rules for Millennials in the Workplace

 
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Leadership

I have never seen leaders struggle more than they do with Millennials. The Millennial generation, with its oldest members now well into their thirties, is still seen as entitled, fickle, and hard to retain. That perception is wrong, and I encourage leaders and senior staff to adopt a different view.

To start, here are three rules to live by:

  • Manage People, Not Positions

Baby Boomers grew up learning that “children should be seen and not heard.” To compensate for their own silence, they urged their Millennial offspring to speak up. From their first words, Millennials have learned that their voice matters. If they see a problem, they roll up their sleeves and solve it. They want a job that comes with purpose, not just a paycheck.

One study found that 76% of Millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work, and 88% say their job is more fulfilling when there are opportunities to make a difference. Millennials want to raise their voice (and they want to use it for good)!

Many organizations say they like when Millennials speak up, but I’ve rarely found an organization built to the strengths of this generation. I’m here to tell you that any organization that embraces this approach will see its staff rise and grow to meet the challenge.

  • Innovate to Retain Top Talent

A company’s tax status is no excuse for poor innovation. Failure to innovate makes it hard to recruit and retain employees.

Millennials have a strong tendency to job hop, averaging nearly 3 jobs in their first 5 years after graduation. By comparison, Millennials’ predecessors, Generation X, averaged 2 jobs in their first 10 years after college.

Where innovation thrives, so do Millennials. These employees are “entrepreneurial,” which means they are attracted to fast-paced, changing cultures that take risks. But they are also immersed in lifestyle culture and aim to build their own personal brands.

Millennials want more than just “tech frills,” like catered snacks and an in-house barista. They prioritize authenticity, flexibility, and opportunities to travel.

I learned that it offers employees the opportunity to travel to Kenya, India, or Ecuador on group staff trips to see firsthand the organization’s work in communities around the world. Not every employer can offer this, but connecting Millennials to your work’s global impact can be essential.

And, it’s important to recognize how connecting your employees to their work in a meaningful way can help lend itself to the success of your business.

  • Millennials Are Leaders, Too

Success begins with leadership. Millennial CEOs encourage their employees to go beyond earning a living and live their personal purpose through their work. We all need workplaces to embrace Millennials for who they are and for what they bring to the organization.

Too many leaders are throwing in the towel and doing as little as possible when it comes to managing Millennials. Leaders need to fundamentally alter this mind-set and see Millennials as an asset.

Why is this so important? Believe it or not, there is a generation after the Millennials: Gen Z. These are the interns at your office right now. Typically, the ones on the front lines of managing a new generation are members of the generation right above them. For Gen Z, that will be Mil

EEO-1 DEADLINE UPDATE

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If you’re required to file an EEO-1 each year, the deadline to submit this year has been extended until May 31, 2019. The EEO-1 is an annual survey that requires all private employers with 100 or more employees, and federal government contractors or first-tier subcontractors with 50 or more employees and a federal contract, subcontract or purchase order amounting to $50,000 or more to file the EEO-1 report. The filing of the EEO-1 report, is required by federal law per Section 709(c), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.

New Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training Required

 
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California recently passed a law that all employers with 5+ or more employees must provide sexual harassment to all supervisory and nonsupervisory employees alike.

This training must be completed no later than January 1, 2020, and the California DFEH has recently ruled that any employees who were trained in 2018 or before, must be retrained again in 2019. This includes supervisory employees.

Here are the programs we offer:

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training (Supervisory Level):

The training session fulfills the mandatory two hour “interactive” session for the State of California. Recognizing Sexual Harassment and Causes, Addresses all key areas of Harassment, Sexual Harassment; Discrimination; Retaliation; Hostile Work Environment and Bullying, Elements of an Effective Harassment Prevention Program/Policy.

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training (Staff Level):

Recognizing Sexual Harassment and Causes, Addresses all key areas of Harassment, Sexual Harassment; Discrimination; Retaliation; Hostile Work Environment and Bullying, Reporting processes and procedures for the staff level.

We offer BOTH On-Site and Off-Site Options. We can come to your business location and conduct training for any size group. All attendees will receive a certificate of completion.

For smaller groups, HR Advisors offers once a month classroom style training for individuals or newly hired employees who need training.

1st Quarter-Supervisory Level training available on Friday, February 8th and Friday, March 8th, 2019.

1st Quarter- Staff Level training available on Friday, February 22 and Friday, March 22, 2019.

(Seating is limited, so call now to reserve your seat)

2019 Law Updates

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California’s minimum wage: As of January 1, 2019, the minimum wage in California increased. With the increase in the state minimum wage, there is a corresponding raise in the minimum salary required to qualify as exempt under the “white collar” exemptions.

Employers with 25 or fewer employees:

  • New Employee Hourly Wage: $11.00 per hour

  • Minimum Salary for Exempt Employees: $45,769

Employees with 26 or more employees:

  • New Employee Hourly Wage: $12.00 per hour

  • New Minimum Salary for Exempt Employees: $49,920

SB 1343 (Sexual Harassment Training):  Existing law requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide supervisors with sexual harassment training.  This new law expands the training requirement to employers with 5 or more employees and requires that employers provide at least 2 hours of training to supervisory employees and at least one hour of training to non-supervisory employees by January 1, 2020 and once every two years thereafter.  It also requires the DFEH to develop and post training materials for employers to use for these purposes.

SB 1300 (FEHA Amendments):  This bill amends FEHA in a number of respects, including (1) to add a provision making it an unlawful practice for an employer to require an employee to release a FEHA claim in exchange for a bonus, raise, or continued employment; (2) to make employers liable for any kind of unlawful harassment by non-employees (not just for sexual harassment as under existing law) where the employer knew or should have known of the harassment and failed to take appropriate remedial action; and (3) to add certain statements of legislative intent to make it harder for employers to prevail on harassment claims (e.g. a legislative declaration that harassment cases are rarely appropriate for resolution on summary judgment, and a declaration that a single act of harassment may suffice to support a finding of a hostile work environment).

SB 1976 (Lactation Accommodation):  This new law makes changes to existing lactation accommodation law.  The existing law requires employers to make reasonable efforts to provide a location other than a toilet stall to be used for lactation.  The new law specifies that the location should be something other than a bathroom and further specifies that it generally should be a permanent location but that it can be a temporary location if (1) the employer is unable to provide a permanent location due to operational, financial, or space limitations; (2) the temporary location is private and free from intrusion while being used for lactation purposes; and (3) the temporary location is not used for other purposes while being used for lactation.  The new law also provides that an agricultural employer may comply by allowing an employee to use the air-conditioned cab of a tractor or truck.  If an employer can prove that it is an undue hardship to comply with these requirements, the employer may be able to provide a location (including a bathroom) other than a toilet stall for the employee to use for lactation purposes.

Mileage Reimbursements- The Internal Revenue Service issued the 2019 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2019, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

  • 58 cents per mile driven for business use, up 3.5 cents from the rate for 2018,

  • 20 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, up 2 cents from the rate for 2018, and

  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

SB 1412 (Criminal History Inquiries):  This bill amends Labor Code section 432.7, which limits employers’ ability to conduct criminal history inquiries and to use criminal history information in employment decisions.  Existing law makes an exception for employers who are required by federal or state law to inquire into an applicant’s or employee’s criminal history.  The amendment is intended to tighten the exception to apply only where an employer is required by law to inquire into a “particular conviction” or where an employer cannot by law hire someone with a “particular conviction.”  to make clear that employers may only consider “particular convictions” when assessing criminal history.  “Particular conviction” is defined only to mean “a conviction for specific criminal conduct or a category of criminal offenses prescribed by any federal law, federal regulation or state law that contains requirements, exclusions, or both, expressly based on that specific criminal conduct or category of criminal offenses.” 

SB 1252 (Copy of Payroll Records):  Existing law already requires that employees have a right to inspect or copy their payroll records and that they must be allowed to do so within 21 days of such a request.  This new law clarifies that if an employee requests a copy of the records, the employer must provide the copies (as opposed to requiring employees to copy the records themselves).

AB 1565 (Contractor Liability):  This new law took effect immediately as urgency legislation. It clarifies a new law enacted last year making certain direct contractors performing work in the state liable for unpaid wages by subcontractors.  The amendments to the law provide requirements that must be met in order for a direct contractor to withhold payments to a subcontractor for “disputed sums.”  In order to withhold payment, the contractor must specify in its contract with a subcontractor all items of information that will be requested of the subcontractor, such as payroll records and other information related to hours worked, etc.

AB 3109 (Disclosure of Sexual Harassment):  This bill makes void and unenforceable any provision in a contract or settlement agreement that prevents a party to the contract from testifying about criminal conduct or sexual harassment in an administrative, legislative, or judicial proceeding. 

SB 224 (Sexual Harassment):  This bill amends section 51.9 of the Civil Code to expand the types of relationships that can be subject to a claim for sexual harassment to include lobbyists, elected officials, directors, producers, and investors.  This statute generally applies to work relationships where one person holds himself out as being able to help someone establish a business or professional relationship directly or with a third party.  

SB 820 (Settlement of Sexual Harassment Claims):  This new law prohibits provisions in settlement agreements entered into after January 1, 2019 that prevent disclosure of factual information pertaining to claims of sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender discrimination or related retaliation that have been filed in court or before an administrative agency.  The new law does not prohibit a provision that prevents the parties to the agreement from disclosing the amount of the settlement.  Additionally, at the claimant’ request, the settlement agreement may include a provision that limits the disclosure of the claimant’s identity or of facts that would lead to the discovery of the claimant’s identity.

SB 1123 (Paid Family Leave Uses):  California has a paid family leave program that provides partial wage replacement to employees who take leaves of absence for specified purposes.  This new law expands the program to provide paid family leave benefits beginning January 1, 2021 to employees who take time off for reasons associated with being called to active duty or a spouse, domestic partner, parent, or child being called to active duty.

AB 2034 (Human Trafficking):  This new law requires employers who operate an intercity passenger rail, light rail, or bus station to provide by January 1, 2021 at least 20 minutes of training on human trafficking awareness to employees who are likely to come into contact with human trafficking victims.

SB 970 (Human Trafficking):  This new law amends FEHA to require hotel and motel employers, by January 1, 2020, to provide at least 20 minutes of training on human trafficking awareness to employees who are likely to come into contact with victims of human trafficking.  These employees include reception employees, housekeeping employees, bell desk employees, and other employees who regularly interact with customers.  The new law requires covered employers to provide such training to covered employees within 6 months of hire and once every two years thereafter.

AB 1654 (PAGA Relief for Unionized Construction Employers):  This new law provides that unionized workers in the construction industry are not covered by PAGA (i.e. they cannot bring PAGA claims), provided that the CBA (1) is entered into prior to January 1, 2025; (2) provides for the wages, hours of work, and working conditions of employees, premium wage rates for all overtime hours worked, and for the employee to receive a regular hourly pay rate of not less than 30 percent more than the state minimum wage rate; (3) prohibits all of the violations of the Labor Code that normally would be addressable under PAGA; (4) provides for a grievance and binding arbitration procedure to redress those violations and authorizes the arbitrator to award any and all remedies otherwise available under the Labor Code (except PAGA remedies); and (5) expressly waives PAGA rights. 

SB 826 (Gender Composition of Boards of Directors):  This new law provides for mandatory inclusion of women on corporate boards of directors.  Specifically, by the end of 2019, publicly held domestic or foreign corporations with principal executive offices in California must have a minimum of one female director on its board, and by the end of 2021, these corporations must comply with the following: (1) If its number of directors is six or more, the corporation shall have a minimum of three female directors; (2) If its number of directors is five, the corporation shall have a minimum of two female directors; (3) If its number of directors is four or fewer, the corporation shall have a minimum of one female director. 

Salary Increases Required for Exempt Employees in 2019

 
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To qualify as an exempt employee, California requires that an employee must be “primarily engaged in the duties that meet the test of the exemption” and “earns a monthly salary equivalent to no less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment.” Labor Code section 515. This forms the two-part test the employees must meet to be exempt: (1) the salary basis test and (2) the duties test.

Here are five general issues employers should know about the salary basis test going into 2019:

 

1. Salary required to meet “white collar” exemption increases on January 1, 2019.

To be exempt from the requirement of having to pay overtime to the employee, the employee must perform specified duties in a particular manner and be paid “a monthly salary equivalent to no less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment.” As of January 1, 2019, the minimum wage in California increased from $11.00 to $12.00 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees (the increase is from $10.50 per hour to $11.00 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees on January 1, 2019).  With the increase in the state minimum wage, there is a corresponding raise in the minimum salary required to qualify as exempt under the “white collar” exemptions.  Therefore, on January 1, 2019, in order to qualify for a white collar exemption, the employee must receive an annual salary of at least $49,920 for large employers and $45,760 for small employers.

 

2. Salary must be predetermined and guaranteed.

The courts set forth that in order to qualify as a “salary” the pay “must still be a predetermined amount that is not subject to reduction based upon the quantity or quality of work.”  Therefore, bonuses, commissions, and other payments made to the employee during the course of the year are usually not considered part of the employee’s salary to qualify as exempt. 

 

3. The employee’s salary cannot be reduced for quality or quantity of work.

An employee is paid on a “salary basis” if the employee “regularly receives each pay period on a weekly, or less frequent basis, a predetermined amount constituting all or part of the employee’s compensation, which amount is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of the work performed. An exempt employee must receive the full salary for any week in which the employee performs any work without regard to the number of days or hours worked. Exempt employees need not be paid for any workweek in which they perform no work. An employee is not paid on a salary basis if deductions from the employee’s predetermined compensation are made for absences occasioned by the employer or by the operating requirements of the business. If the employee is ready, willing and able to work, deductions may not be made for time when work is not available.

 

4. If misclassified, the employee is entitled to unpaid overtime.

For all non-exempt employees, overtime is owed at a rate of one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of eight hours up to and including 12 hours in any workday, and for the first eight hours worked on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek.  Double the employee’s regular rate of pay is owed for all hours worked in excess of 12 hours in any workday and for all hours worked in excess of eight on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek. In addition to the unpaid overtime that is owed to misclassified employees, employers also face substantial penalties that accrue as a result of the employee not being paid all wages when earned.

 

5. Employers bear the burden of proof in establishing the exemption.

California courts have made clear that the employer bears the burden of proof when asserting that an employee is an exempt employee.The assertion of an exemption from the overtime laws is considered to be an affirmative defense, and therefore the employer bears the burden of proving the employee’s exemption. 

Five Things You Should Know About Holidays and Holiday Pay In California

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1. California employers are not required to provide employees time off for holidays.

 There is no requirement that California employers provide time off (except for religious accommodations, - see below) for holidays. California's DLSE's website states the following: Hours worked on holidays, Saturdays, and Sundays are treated like hours worked on any other day of the week. California law does not require that an employer provide its employees with paid holidays, that it close its business on any holiday, or that employees be given the day off for any particular holiday. 

2. California employers are not required to pay for time off for holidays, nor are they required to pay additional wages if employees work on holidays.

Likewise, there is no requirement that employers pay employees extra pay or "holiday pay" for work performed on holidays. Employers can voluntarily agree to pay employees extra pay for work that is required during holidays, but these terms would be governed by policy set forth by the employer. Therefore, employers are urged to make sure their holiday pay policies are clearly set forth. California's legislature has proposed bills that would require certain employers to pay employees double time for work done on Thanksgiving, but none of these bills have become law. For example, the "Double Pay on the Holiday Act of 2016" proposed to require an employer to pay at least 2 times the regular rate of pay to employees at retail and grocery store establishments on Thanksgiving. None of these attempts by the legislature have been successful yet in requiring California employers to pay any extra "holiday pay."

3. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for employees who cannot work on certain holidays due to religious observances.

Employers need to be aware of any religious observances of their employees since employers need to provide reasonable accommodations for employees due to religious reasons. The analysis of reasonable accommodation is required is a case by case analysis based on the company's type of business and the accommodation requested by the employee. If the employer's operations require employees to work during normally recognized holidays, such as a restaurant, then this should be communicated to employees in the handbook or other policies and set the expectation that an essential function of the job requires work during normal holidays.

4. If an employer does pay for time off during holidays, the employer does not have to allow employees to accrue holiday paid time off.

If an employee leaves employment before the holiday arrives, the employer is not required to pay the employee for the day off. However, the employer's policy regarding holiday pay must clearly set out that this benefit does not accrue to employees and that they must be employed during the specific holidays to receive the holiday pay. Often the employer will also require that the employee works the days leading up to and following the holiday in order be eligible for the holiday pay.

5. If a pay day falls on certain holidays, and the employer is closed, the employer may process payroll on the next business day.

If an employer is closed on holidays listed in the California Government Code, then the employer may pay wages on the next business days. The DLSE's website explains this, and other considerations, for the timing requirements for payroll. 

The holidays listed in the Government Code are as follows:

 

January 1 - New Year's Day

Third Monday in January - Martin Luther King Jr. Day

February 12 - Lincoln's Birthday

Third Monday in February - Washington's Birthday

Last Monday in May - Memorial Day

July 4 - Independence Day

First Monday in September - Labor Day

Second Monday in October - Columbus Day

November 11 - Veterans Day

Fourth Thursday in November - Thanksgiving Day

Day after Thanksgiving

December 25 - Christmas

Managing Different Generations in the Workplace

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As the economy continues to grow and the job market becomes increasingly robust, many employers around the country are probably starting to get antsy, wondering how they can entice their best employees to stick around instead of looking for a bump in pay or responsibilities elsewhere. Building employee loyalty can be a tough task for managers, but it’s something they can’t afford to ignore, as competition for skilled talent grows fiercer every day.

Today’s changing work environment is only making things more complicated, particularly when it comes to trying to satisfy and meet the expectations of employees across several generations. In 2016, Millennials became the largest generation in the labor force, and as of 2017, there were more than 56 million Millennials either working or looking for work. Following close behind are the nation’s 53 million Gen X’s and 41 million Baby Boomers. All this makes for a crowded workplace where managers need to keep things running smoothly while also exploring new ways to make their employees feel fulfilled and ensure they have a clear vision of their future with the firm.

What are some of the best strategies for pursuing this goal?

 First of all, make everyone feel appreciated. It might seem like the easy answer here is more compensation but cash bonuses aren’t the only way to say “thank you” anymore. As the survey reveals, for Millennials, loyalty is closely tied to a sense of opportunities for career growth. Eighty-six percent of Millennials surveyed said that their company providing career training and development would keep them from leaving their current position. But if that position is lacking in growth opportunities and the potential for leadership development, 67% of Millennials said they would be more likely to leave instead.

Next, employers need to prioritize flexibility when it comes to learning and advancement. This can go a long way toward creating a culture of continuous, lifelong learning, which is only going to become more essential in the workplace as key skills and competencies change and evolve faster every year. Giving employees the freedom to pursue professional development in whatever format and on whatever schedule is most convenient to them is a great approach.

 It’s also in tune with Millennial expectations, given that they consistently rank training and development even higher than cash bonuses on their list of priorities in the workplace. It’s a great way to keep Gen X employees—many of whom are a few decades into their career and likely in management roles at this point from feeling like they’re hitting mid-career plateaus or stagnation.

 Last but certainly not least, encouraging better communication is key. Employees across generations want feedback, but they differ in how they want to receive it. Millennials prefer to get feedback almost constantly while 60% of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers want a less frequent approach and prefer annual or biannual, formalized performance reviews.

Employers also need to make sure that feedback itself is constructive and helpful. With 78% of Gen Xers responding that performance reviews do not yield meaningful growth opportunities and 42% of all employees saying they would grade their employers at a C or below, it’s clear that many managers have work to do to make the review process productive for employees and not just an exercise.

It’s helpful to study this and other data to gain insight into what each specific generation values most so that needs and expectations can be balanced effectively across the workplace. In the end, however, there’s more that unites us than separates us, and every manager would do well to remember that all generations want:

To be treated fairly

Work that provides personal satisfaction

Employers that understand personal lives are important

Work that is valued by employers and customers

A clear sense of purpose from employers

Keep these tenets—and that focus on employee growth and professional development—in mind and employee loyalty is likely to disappear from your list of management concerns.

 

-MB

Is the Annual Company Holiday Party Still a Thing?

 
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In recent years, many companies have downsized their holiday parties to less lavish affairs or hosted other types of events that replaced the traditional after-hours holiday soiree. The decision whether to host a holiday party may come down to cost or employee interest.

 Moving away from the traditional party "seemed to come along with businesses becoming more budget-conscious in the aftermath of the recession, but it is also consistent with the business trend of focusing on company culture," said Catherine Wragg, senior vice president for human resources at TriNet, headquartered in Dublin, California. "Using that holiday budget to have more meaningful team-building activities throughout the year helps employees engage with the company on a more consistent basis and contribute their time and skills in a way that is focused on building community."

 

Could a Holiday Party Become a Liability?

One reason companies may choose events other than the traditional party to celebrate the holidays could be the desire to avoid potential liability. An employer could be held responsible for any activities that happen during the party, and some companies have decided the risk may not be worth it.

Employment attorneys agree that holiday parties can be risky for employers. "More bad behavior occurs at company holiday parties than at any other time of year," said Mark F. Kluger, attorney and partner at Kluger Healey LLC in Fairfield, N.J. "The combination of the holiday season, pent-up feelings about co-workers and, most importantly, alcohol often lead to uninhibited behavior ranging from sexual harassment to expressions of intolerance." 

Community Service Projects, Team-Building Trips Might Be Preferable

One way to celebrate the holiday season is to have employees participate in a service project together.

One idea is to distribute toys to underprivileged and needy children in the community. Choosing a local organization to collaborate with to have an impact where employees live and work. When employees end their workday at noon and spend the rest of the day together having a light lunch and wrapping presents for others, it becomes a team-building activity while increasing the holiday spirit. Other community service projects, such as collecting items for a local food pantry or running a mitten and hat drive for a homeless shelter, can also be strong team-building activities during the holiday season.

 Another idea would be to do a "mystery trip" as an alternative to the standard holiday party. Doing a mystery trip opens the door to encourage team building and building relationships among people in the different teams of the company; doing this leads to experiences and memories that will last longer than a cocktail party will.

Employers might want to consider not doing an event at all. According to a TriNet survey, 73 percent of employees would prefer a cash bonus during holiday time, while 51 percent favor having extra paid time off between Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Because December can be a busy time for many people, a traditional holiday party could feel like an obligation to employees.

Politics & The Workplace

 
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While the midterm elections have passed, there are still a wide number of people strongly debating what current policy and events will mean to people’s futures. Passions are running high, and not every discussion ends up being civil. Managers must make sure that the discussion doesn’t divide staff members into angry, tribal camps, while at the same time make sure not to simply silence everyone’s views or attempt to force employees to take on management’s views. Employees need to be able to discuss how to handle the issues the best possible way.

1. Hold Transparent Discussions Between Staff and Management

Company leaders should allow employees the freedom to have discussions; banning all political conversations just causes further divide. Cultivate a culture where everyone feels welcome whether they are liberal, conservative or anywhere in-between. Don't force the political view of the executive team on the rest of the organization either.

2. Tell People to Keep It Lighthearted

Management should communicate to all employees that it is perfectly OK to engage in political discussion, as long as they keep it as lighthearted as possible. Encourage non-confrontational questions, rather than discussions about hot-button issues where there is little to no middle ground. Develop a culture that is respectful to others’ views and fosters an open mindedness.

3. Encourage A Culture of Respect

Whether the topic is politics or pay, employers should focus on promoting the organizational expectation of a respectful workplace. It is important that company leaders model this expectation in how they communicate and interact with employees. It's also important that the leadership team is trained on key actions and talk points when those discussions pop up in the workplace.

4. Redirect Conversations About Non-Work-Related Topics

Political opinions about non-work-related topics should not be discussed at work for the same reason personal matters should be left at the door: they have the potential to create a hostile work environment. However, a healthy dialogue about political matters that impact the business is important. Train managers to redirect to the issues that impact work life, not personal life.

5. Help People Gain Perspective

Reasonable people can disagree on movies, child rearing, sports, personal financial management strategies, educational institutions and so much more. When a disagreement becomes emotional, managers should help employees step back and try to recognize and appreciate diversity, the commonality of good intentions, and the work that diverse individuals can accomplish together.

6. Foster an Inclusive Environment

Educate your employees on the value and importance of having a diverse and inclusive environment. Let them know that dialogue is encouraged, but the office is not the environment for debates. If employees aren't open to hearing different points of view, they should refrain from starting and/or joining the conversation.

Employee Negligence and Cybersecurity Risks

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Employee negligence is the main cause of data breaches, according to an industry report. The report found that 47 percent of business leaders said human error such as accidental loss of a device or document by an employee had caused a data breach at their organization.

Another report reveals that 61 percent of small to medium sized businesses suffered a cyber-attack in 2017 and 54 percent experienced a data breach. The cost of these attacks can range from thousands well into the millions of dollars. Of the businesses stricken with ransomware attacks and data breaches, 60 percent shut down within six months of a breach, according to the U.S. National Cyber Security Alliance.

Having a comprehensive and detailed internet and computer use policy in your employee handbook can help lower your risks. Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, and no single-shot solution exists to deliver absolute protection. It a good idea to be informed of such risks to your company. Contact your human resources department and information technology support to help put a protection plan in place. Contact us if you are in need of support on this matter.

ICE Increases Enforcement

 
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U.S Immigration & Customs Enforcement

After California Governor Jerry Brown signed sanctuary laws in October 2017, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has cracked down on arresting undocumented individuals in California. ICE Director Thomas Homan stated that because California's sanctuary laws limit cooperation with state law enforcement partners, ICE actions "will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests, instead of focusing on arrests at jails and prisons where transfers are safer for ICE officers and the community."
In January 2018, ICE issued Notices of Inspection (NOIs) to 77 companies in Northern California. The following month, ICE issued 122 NOIs to companies in Southern  California and made over 200 arrests. According to Homan, "88 % were convicted criminals." Employers who received NOIs regarding their I-9 forms had three days to prepare for the inspections. Failure to comply could result in civil fines and possible criminal prosecution.

Since September 2017, ICE has conducted raids all over the U.S. and issued one of the largest fines in its history -- Asplundh Tree received a $95 million penalty. ICE also served audit notices on 98 7-Eleven franchises and conducted raids that led to over 20 arrests.

California is not the only enforcement target. 

Below are ICE's statistics for the 2017 fiscal year:

  • Conducted 1,360 I-9 audits

  • Made 139 criminal arrests and 172 administrative arrests

  • Ordered businesses to pay $97.6 million in judicial forfeiture, fines, and restitution and $7.8 million in civil fines


These statistics are part of the first two prongs of ICE's three-pronged enforcement process: 

  1. I-9 inspections and civil fines

  2. Arrests of employers and unauthorized workers


ICE offers the IMAGE Program which trains and certifies employers to set an example for other employers.

Employers who are looking to get certified must:

  • Complete the IMAGE Self-Assessment Application

  • Sign an IMAGE partnership agreement

  • Enroll in E-Verify within 60 days

  • Establish a written hiring and employment eligibility verification policy

  • Conduct yearly I-9 self-audits

  • Submit to an initial I-9 inspection


For employers who enroll in the IMAGE Program, ICE will:

  • Waive potential fines if substantive violations are discovered on fewer than 50 percent of the Form I-9s. If more than 50 percent of forms have substantive violations, they will mitigate fines.

  • Not conduct another inspection for two years.

  • Provide information and training before, during and after inspection.

Expansion of Sexual Harassment Training Obligations

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Governor Brown Signs SB 1343 Expanding Sexual Harassment Training Obligations

On September 30, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1343, which lowers the number of employees a company must have to trigger mandatory sexual harassment training.

SB 1343 takes effect on January 1, 2020.  Any California employer with 5 or more employees will be required to provide mandatory sexual harassment training to all employees both supervisory and non-supervisory employees, as well as temporary and seasonal workers..

Currently, any California employer with 50 or more employees is required to provide at least 2 hours of sexual harassment training to all supervisory employees within 6 months of assuming the supervisory position.  After the initial training, employees are required to have updated sexual harassment training once every 2 years.

Please contact HR Advisors for more information about our Sexual Harassment Training Program.

Tips for Open Enrollement

6 tips to share with your employees during open enrollment.

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1. Take an active role.

Many employers are working on making enrollment quick and easy. One of the ways your company can do this is by clearly communicating what is changing from previous years. You should also encourage your employees to take advantage of the resources you provide.

2. Assess your and your dependents’ health care needs.

Encourage employees to start by reviewing how much they have spent out-of-pocket in the past year, the costs of their regular prescriptions, and the number of doctor visits they have had. If they are participating in a flexible spending account, encourage them to re-evaluate their contribution levels based on their actual and anticipated expenses for 2019. It’s also important to think about any life changes that may impact their decisions, such as an addition to the family or the development of a new medical condition that may impact health care expenses.

3. Evaluate your plan’s provider network.

There have been many changes taking place in the provider community, including doctor’s groups joining together and hospitals and health systems re-contracting with insurers. As a result, health plan options may include vastly different combinations of doctors and hospitals than in the past.

4. Evaluate whether a consumer-driven health plan is right for you.

CDHPs often have lower premiums, which make them an attractive option for individuals who want to reduce the costs taken out of their paychecks each pay period. While employees may have a higher deductible to meet, many employers combine these plans with health reimbursement accounts or health savings accounts, which employees can use to help pay for eligible out-of-pocket health care costs. It’s important for employees to understand how the employer’s contributions work so they can maximize this subsidy.

5. Determine the best source of coverage for your dependents.

If an employee’s spouse, partner or adult children have access to health coverage elsewhere, including through their employer, it may be more cost effective for them to enroll in this coverage instead of being covered by you. Encourage employees to carefully review and compare these plans to ensure they are choosing the coverage they need at the most favorable cost.

6. Take advantage of health and wellness programs.

Many employers offer a wide range of health and wellness programs, such as health assessments, weight loss programs and health coaching to help employees get and stay healthy. Taking part in these programs can help employees understand their current health status, and they might even be able to take advantage of a financial incentive for doing so.

Halloween & The Workplace

 
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Beware, Halloween is right around the corner!

You just picked out your costume, so now what? It’s important to remember that if you plan to wear that costume to work or decorate your office space, you must always consider your audience. To help prevent any scary situations, here are five things to think about:

1. Holiday Decorating Policy

Always check to make sure your company doesn’t have a policy or restrictions on certain decorations. For safety reasons, it is common for companies to prohibit items such as open flame candles, electrical lights and fog machines. Better to be safe than sorry!

2. Simplicity is Key

Wearing elaborate or heavy costumes can present some complications or snags in being able to perform your daily tasks. After 8 hours of trying to maneuver through your work day, it might not be worth the trouble. Instead, dig out those cat ears, witch hats and pumpkin t-shirts and call it a festive and successful workday!

3. Holidays Don’t Cancel Out the Dress Code

Everyone should continue to follow the standard for dress in their workplace even on Halloween. In recent years, it seems that almost any costume can be modified to become “sexy.”, however, just because it is a holiday, it doesn’t mean that the company’s dress code policy doesn’t apply.

4. Stay Clear of Controversy

One person’s idea of a funny costume may not be the same as another’s. Avoid costumes that could be insensitive to someone culture, religion, political stance, or related to a recent hot-button news story.

5. Find Other Ways to Celebrate

Instead of dressing up, place some sweet treats on your desk. Another option is to plan a department lunch and decorate pumpkins that can be displayed in your workspace. While many companies encourage healthy eating habits, there’s nothing wrong with indulging a little during the holidays!

If your company is restricting what you can do to celebrate this year, don’t take it personally. The people who make these decisions want to keep everyone’s best interests in mind.

Forms I-9 Scam Wreaking Havoc on Employers: What to Watch For

 
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If you get a very convincing email from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) about information on your employees’ I-9s, do not follow the instructions! The I-9 information request is the latest in a series of sophisticated scams targeting employers. Moreover, the scam appears to be working.

Employers are not required to submit I-9s to the USCIS, so such a request should raise some red flags. Nevertheless, the request is throwing employers off because the emails look very authentic. In fact, the emails actually come from a uscis.gov email address and they even contain logos from both USCIS and the Office of Inspector General.

As if that’s not enough to fool some time-strapped HR professionals, many of the emails also contain other details designed to make the messages appear legitimate — like your company’s mailing address.

However, the USCIS, has made it abundantly clear it’s not sending any emails to employers about their I-9s. It’s also warning companies not to click on any links in the email or respond to the sender. Another reason employers may be eager to cooperate is that the Federal Government recently announced they are ramping up I-9 audits; but again, the USCIS will never email you about an I-9 audit.

What to do if you are targeted:

To prevent your company from falling victim to this I-9 scam, there are several preemptive steps you should take ASAP.

 First, make sure your employees are aware of the I-9 scam email and what the phony email will look like. If workers do receive an I-9 information request, they should forward those messages to the Federal Trade Commission via the ftccomplaintassistant.gov website.

 Lastly, if you receive an email from the USCIS and are not sure if it’s legit, you can always double-check by forwarding it to uscis.webmaster@uscis.dhs.gov.

The Importance of Regular Feedback

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Giving your employees feedback about their work performance makes a positive impact on your company. Below is a short list of why this type of communication is key.

  • Regular performance feedback lets your employees know what they're doing well, and which areas they can improve in. Instead of just pointing out what is not working, good performance feedback offers tips and suggestions on how to do better in the workplace.
  • When managers and employees communicate honestly on a regular basis, it creates a better relationship between them over time. The main reason employees leave a company is when they have a poor relationship with their manager. If feedback is given both ways, it can help retain employees. Also, employees will likely feel more comfortable approaching their managers with questions, comments, or concerns, and managers will have an easier time giving direction.
  • Feedback eliminates guesswork. When managers and employees are guessing, it typically means communication is lacking. Poor communication can lead to poor performance and low productivity or work quality. Regular feedback provides employees with an understanding of exactly what is expected of them.
  • Regular performance feedback helps improve conversation skills. It encourages to communicate better with not only their manager but other co-workers as well, which improves teamwork.

For more guidance on employee evaluations and employee relations, contact HR Advisors!

The 6 Worst HR Mistakes

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The number of lawsuits against employers has increased significantly over the past 10 years and one small HR mistake could cost a company a great amount of time and money.
Below are some of the most important HR mistakes to avoid.

1. Using the wrong wording in job ads and interviews. It is very important that managers and supervisors are aware of the topics they should avoid in job postings and during interviews. Statements or questions that relate to race, religion, age, disability etc. could expose the company to a hiring-bias lawsuit. The main question should be: "How well can this candidate perform the job duties?"

2. Wage-and-hour errors. Employee-pay lawsuits have increased by 300% over the past 10 years. Employers must ensure that workers are properly classified (exempt vs non-exempt). It is recommended that employers create a policy regarding unauthorized overtime, and to apply progressive discipline for employees working off-the-clock, but they must be paid for any time
worked whether or not it was approved. It is also important to make sure that overtime pay is calculated accurately.

3. The beginning and end of an employee's tenure are the most legally risky. Employers should avoid making any legally binding promises to workers. Also, without the proper documentation, the company cannot defend that the business decision to terminate an employee was not based on a discriminatory reason (race, religion, sex, age, disability or retaliation for voicing a legal complaint).

4. Giving the impression of electronic privacy. Employees should be informed that their computer usage and data can and will be monitored.

5. Lack of supervisor training. Employers should make it a priority to properly train supervisors and managers so they are aware of their legal limits when it comes to interviews, hiring, daily management and terminations.

Management Practices to Improve Employee Productivity

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Increasing productivity is a major goal for most (if not all) employers. Managers and supervisors play an important role in ensuring that the company is getting the most from their employees. Below are some tips for managers to help improve productivity.

1. Economic Incentives. Designing a program that benefits employees at all levels of the company will motivate "lower-level" workers to contribute to the company's success, rather than just those at the upper level.

2. Constructive Feedback. Providing regular feedback to employees helps them understand what they are doing well and what they need to improve on. Delivering the message in an encouraging way is key.

3. Training. It is important that managers and supervisors at all levels in the company have received the proper training.

4. Employee Support. Management support in times of need (updating equipment, emotional support and work-life balance support) will never go unappreciated and boosts employee morale.

5. Employee Recognition. Management does not gain anything by withholding praise when it is well deserved. Studies have shown that many employees value recognition for their hard work over money.

6. Lead by Example. Employees can be quickly demoralized when they see senior-level managers behaving in a way that they do not respect. Employees notice when those in leadership positions are "walking the talk," and they also notice when they aren't!

For information on management training, please contact HR Advisors.

3 Ways to Provide Actionable, Helpful Feedback That Improves Performance

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Giving helpful, constructive feedback can be surprisingly difficult. While it’s easy for most people to work out how a behavior or process doesn’t work, turning this into a piece of advice that’s actionable and helpful is rarely an easy process.

Despite this, giving feedback is one of the most important aspects of building a great team. Without feedback, it’s impossible to know where and how to improve and put the changes into place that required to develop and get better.

Luckily, it’s possible to provide actionable, helpful feedback to colleagues and team members using a few simple techniques. Apply the three tactics below to give your colleagues and employees helpful feedback that they can use to improve.

Make sure your feedback is relevant, timely and specific. 

The best feedback ticks three boxes: it’s highly relevant to the task or situation that’s at hand, it’s delivered at the right moment to help the recipient, and it’s very specific and directly applicable.

Does your feedback meet all three criteria? Many people give great advice that’s not relevant to the situation, or they deliver the right advice at the wrong moment. Lots of great advice is given that’s also too general to put into practice.

Giving relevant, timely and specific advice makes your feedback more valuable than any other messages your team members or employees receive. It gives an employee the chance to directly implement your advice and improve a specific situation.

Before you give advice, make sure that it ticks all of the three boxes above: it’s highly specific, timely and relevant. When all three conditions are met, your feedback is far more likely to have a positive effect on your employees or team members.

Be positive, and ensure your feedback has a constructive tone. 

It’s easy to sound overly negative when you give feedback. Because of tone, it’s quite common for people to interpret positive, constructive feedback as an insult or mean, negative statement about their job performance.

Because of this, it’s important to make sure that your feedback is always built to be positive and constructive. Great feedback should give people valuable help, and not feel like it detracts from their abilities or belittles them.

Before you give feedback, think about how you would react if you were the recipient instead of the giver. Would you view it as a helpful piece of actionable advice or as a personal insult or complaint?

Phrasing, tone and word choice can have a huge impact on the way your feedback is received, even if it doesn’t change its content much. Before you give any advice, use the above test to make sure the recipient isn’t likely to misinterpret your feedback.

Be consistent, or else your feedback is largely meaningless. 

One of the most common complaints of disgruntled or frustrated employees is that their bosses simply don’t listen to them. When you give inconsistent feedback, it’s extremely difficult for your employees or team members to know what to do.

As written above, great feedback is relevant, timely and specific. It’s also consistent, with great feedback maintaining the same message no matter how or when it ends up being delivered.

If you deliver inconsistent feedback to an employee, it becomes difficult for them to know how to improve. This is particularly true if several people each provide their own contradictory feedback on how a person, task or project could be made better.

When you’re part of a team, ensure you all have the same goals and can deliver the same key messages in your feedback. As an individual, make sure you stick to one message and remain consistent when you offer feedback to your team members.