Uncover and Promote Employee Leadership in Your Business

Employee leadership is considered one of the most promising aspects of human resources and training within organizations. After all, leaders have to come from somewhere!

There are obvious benefits to building up leaders from within:

  • They have a deeper understanding of the company’s mission than a new hire from “outside.”
  • They will work hard to justify the company’s faith in promoting them to leadership positions.
  • Workforce morale overall rises when employees see “one of their own” moving ahead. (It could happen to them, too.)
  • The organization itself benefits from promoting a motivated, talented, and experienced employee.

Given these favorable outcomes, what can you do to recognize, encourage, and reward employee leadership?

Learn to identify potential leaders.

Part of the leadership cultivation process is keeping an eye out for the most promising candidates within the organization. Generally speaking, such individuals won’t be hard to miss. They display genuine enthusiasm for their job responsibilities, frequently go above and beyond, and are more than willing to assist co-workers with important tasks.

But it’s important to watch for other key signs. At company meetings, for example, see which employees contribute the most and come up with the most striking, out-of-the-box ideas. Consider inviting these individuals to sit in on a higher-level meeting. Encourage them to take part, contributing ideas and insights based on their professional experience.

Ask the right questions.

Savvy business owners also take time to identify a potential leader’s ambitions and needs. They ask probing, foward-looking questions like:

  • Are there other positions in the organization you’d like to explore?
  • What skills do you possess that you feel aren’t being utilized by our company?
  • Which current skill would you like to improve?
  • Are there new skills you’d like to develop?

The answers you receive will prove to be a helpful guide as you oversee the individual’s progress towards leadership.

Look for alignment with your company’s vision.

Employees who “get” the organization’s vision and mission statement are often the most promising leadership candidates. It’s up to you and your executive team to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to understand this vision (and feels comfortable asking questions to gain a deeper understanding).

This alignment “gives [employees] ownership of what they create and helps them support organizational causes with more purpose,” notes Cía.

Offer training opportunities and mentorship.

Budding leaders often learn most when they have access to training and development opportunities (classes, webinars, conferences, etc.). Since the cost and time-commitment of formal training can be daunting, offer to foot the bill for work-related development opportunities and invite employees to take part.

Employees can benefit hugely from working with mentors, too. LMBC, a professional services solutions provider, suggests enlisting “older generation leaders” to act as mentors and role models to employees. This experience “will help future leaders learn the ropes more quickly and form good habits from leading others.”

Give potential leaders challenging assignments.

Ambitious employees often want to test themselves and build their portfolio of talents.  However, this is only possible if the organization enables them to tackle a challenging project or initiative–even if the end-result isn’t “perfect.”

One option is appointing them to manage a small group of fellow employees on a special project. In addition, you can invite them to appoint a team of their own to brainstorm solutions to nagging organizational and/or customer service issues.

The key, says Forbes, is letting the potential leader struggle, if necessary. No one is saying you must “force prospective leaders to swim or die,” and you or a manager should pitch in if things get too difficult. Most important, you should be sure to refrain from rushing “to their aid at the first sign of danger,” because it’s more desirable that they “make their own decisions and find their own solutions.”

Reward performance and initiative.

As you work to promote employee leadership, always remember to provide tangible rewards. For example, don’t hesitate to praise the employee in public or through company-wide communications. In addition, you should include performance objectives and achievements in the employee’s annual or semi-annual evaluations and congratulate them for their efforts. Offer personalized guidance or advice, when necessary, and always in an upbeat fashion.

With the right level of support and training, you can develop the next generation of leaders within your organization. Think of the time and resources you’ll save by not having to look beyond your company walls and not having to rely upon “outside” candidates to fill leadership positions.


Employee Taxes: Are Your Employees Withholding Enough Income Tax?

In 2019, many Americans had a rude awakening: their tax refunds weren’t as big as they’d expected. Many people owed instead of getting a refund. Employee taxes, such as federal income tax withholding, seemed to have been under-withheld.

Changes to the tax code left employers and employees alike wondering what steps they could take to avoid tax surprises in future years.

The key to helping employees avoid under-withholding is taking a proactive stance on employee taxes. The experts below can help your team understand what happened with the changes to the tax code. From there, they offer actionable advice to help employees get their withholdings updated to minimize surprises.

Why some taxpayers were caught off-guard

“You fill out a W4 when you get a new job, and then you don’t think about it again until you have the next first day of the next new job,” says Ben Watson, CPA and CFO of Dollar Sprout. The “set it and forget” nature of the W4 form means that life changes, but the information on your W4 form doesn’t. Out-of-date information can lead to under-withholding employee taxes, especially in a year with significant changes to the tax code.

Even if employees had taken steps to update their W4, the form itself might have been the reason for under-withholding. “It’s possible that the current version of the W4 form hasn’t been the best tool to help employees get the right withholdings, even if they go step-by-step through the worksheet,” says Brenda Soucy, an IRS Enrolled Agent and manager with Lopez, Chaff, & Wiesman Associates Inc.

Soucy adds that multiple income streams can also create an under-withholding situation. “If you have a bunch of smaller jobs where you make $20,000 on each job, your withholding on those jobs assume this single job is your only income,” she says. “But if you have three of those $20,000 jobs, that’ll put you in a higher tax bracket.”

The rise of the gig economy adds to the scenario Soucy describes. Jobs like rideshare driving and delivery services typically don’t withhold employee taxes. Employees might not have increased withholdings at their full-time jobs to account for their increase in income, leading to under-withholding.

New tools to estimate withholdings

While launching a year later than changes to the tax code, there are new tools that will help with adjustments.

The first new tool is a revised W4 form. Estimated to arrive for employer use in December 2019, Soucy says the new form “takes many new factors into account, like dependents, other income, and multiple jobs.”

These changes point toward more accurate estimates for withholdings moving forward.

The IRS has also released a new online withholding calculator. Employers can distribute a link to the calculator to employees and invite them to update their W4 form withholdings, even before the new W4 form is released.

Steps employers can take

In addition to the new tools from the IRS, employers can help educate employees about changes to the tax code.

Watson suggests that employers partner either with their existing financial services partners or look to firms in the community to provide education.

“Reach out to your tax firm. Reach out to your payroll provider. Ask them, ‘What do we need to know?'” he says. “By inviting partners to share information about tax code changes, the burden doesn’t fall on employers to pass this information on to their employees.”

Atiya Brown is a CPA and consumer debt management specialist who also advocates for employers to bring in specialists to keep employees up-to-date each year.

“The changes that happen in an employee’s life aren’t necessarily something employers know about or even think about,” she says. “By having someone come in and explain all these new changes – changes to deductions, the W4 form, the new online withholding calculator – employers are taking a proactive stance.”

Brown also adds that employees can forget that they’re in control of their withholdings. “When employees have the perception that an employer under-withheld their taxes, their employer does what the employee told them to do on their W4 form.”

By empowering employees with up-to-date tax information annually, your company can play a role in demystifying a seemingly complex process.

To put your company ahead of the pack, here are a few additional tips from the experts above that can help pave the way to more accurate withholdings.

Don’t forget about employee benefits.

“Don’t just offer benefits. Offer the education to help employees understand the tax implications of their benefits,” says Watson. When you invite financial partners to educate employees, make sure they thoroughly address the breadth of your company’s benefits. And, just as important, how each of these benefits impacts an employee’s tax situation.

Have open conversations about gig income.

Brown wants employers to embrace the reality that many employees might have a side hustle to make ends meet. “Employees should know that they can increase their withholdings at their employer to account for income from a gig job,” she says. “Employees can even specify a specific additional dollar amount to be withheld from each paycheck.”

Conversations like these can also help employees avoid end-of-year tax surprises.

Engage Human Resources.

“Have HR put together a week each year with the sole purpose of encouraging employees to update all of their information on file with the company,” says Watson. HR departments can build annual agendas that include lunch-and-learns and “CPA Days”.  During these events, employees can receive general tax information, benefits education and enrollment, and more. Employee taxes are a very human topic with wide-reaching effects on an employee’s life beyond the workplace.

While companies could see payroll taxes as something unpleasant to discuss, employers can lead a narrative that creates happier employees.

“As an employer, you want your employees to be happy,” says Brown. “If employees perceive that their under-withholding is something that’s their employer’s fault, that’s a source of tension in your company. Education has the potential to create happier, more empowered employees. Whichever avenue employers choose to pursue employee education, whether a webinar or lunch-and-learn, that’s a step toward decreasing potential tension.”


Supercharge Your Employee Benefits With These 5 Out-of-the-Box Perks

When you think of expanding your company’s employee benefits, you might be blinded by dollar signs. When mega-companies offer perks like free meals, luxury on-site gyms, and complete student loan forgiveness, sprucing-up your own game can seem like an expensive endeavor.

However, not all high-value benefits are costly to offer!

Here are five ideas for low-cost, high-value benefits to offer your employees. With a small investment, you might find that you significantly increase employee satisfaction.

Flexible Savings Accounts

Better health, dental, and vision benefits are top of the list for many when it comes to employee benefits. Expanding your benefits to include flexible spending accounts (FSAs) can instantly make your health coverage more robust.

These accounts let employees contribute tax-free dollars into a special savings account. This account can be used throughout the year to pay for qualified health expenses. Additionally, with a low per-employee cost (some plans are under $10/employee per month), it’s an easy benefit expense to absorb.

Flexible Spending Account

Source: NueSynergy

Health Add-Ons

Want to expand your company’s health benefits? There’s an app or membership for that. Technology’s given rise to apps and physician membership programs that can provide your employees an edge on their care.

Here are a few lower-cost add ons to boost your company’s medical benefits:

  • One Medical – Offers concierge-level care for a much lower monthly fee, including telemedicine with zero copay and app-based health support.
  • Maven – If you’re a majority-female workplace, don’t miss Maven. They have specialty medical plans tailored toward a woman’s every stage of life.
  • Doctor on Demand – This app can help your employees connect with a doctor via their phone — no waiting for virtual primary care.

Pet Insurance

Your company’s pet parents could be hungry for benefits that recognize their furry dependents. Pet insurance is a low-cost offering with a high appreciation rate.

In fact, many of the nation’s leading pet insurance providers have zero enrollment fees for employers. Your company can sign-up as a partner, and employees will have instant access to preferred partner rates.

If you’re looking to attract younger talent, keep in mind that millennial pet ownership just surpassed the baby boomer generation. Because of this, pet insurance can help your benefits package seem more robust to a younger field of workers.

Source: Nationwide

Wellness Apps

Today’s workforce is more attuned to their mobile devices than any other generation. Why not add benefits that tap into those devices?

Wellness apps can help your employees lower stress, get fit, and zone out with purpose. Check out meditation apps like Headspace; group activity apps like Fitbit Health Solutions; and team challenge apps like MakeMe. These apps all have corporate plans with low investment with the potential for high return and employee satisfaction.

Personal Care Perks

Beyond the apps and subscriptions, you can amp-up your benefits by scheduling personal care days throughout the year. By working with local salons, spas, and barber shops, you can host in-house events like free to low-cost beard trims, blowouts, group yoga classes, or massages. A single day each month can help your employees feel valued and appreciated and for a low, scheduled investment.

With these five low-to-no-cost employee benefits ideas in your pocket, you’re one step ahead. Expanding your benefits doesn’t have to be a high-cost endeavor. In fact, you might even find higher employee satisfaction by spending less.

 


Employee Burnout: The Risks and Ways to Combat It

Are your employees stressed out at work to the point that they are feeling burned out?

Employee burnout is a common problem businesses face in the U.S. and around the globe — so much so that the World Health Organization recently addressed the issue during its World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

The WHO concluded that “burnout” is an “occupational phenomenon” and “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

The agency even updated its International Classification of Diseases, which is the global information standard for the identification of health trends and statistics, to include the following indicators of the syndrome:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  • Reduced professional efficacy

And not managing workplace stress may have more risks than you think.

De acuerdo a Mayo Clinic, ignored or unaddressed job burnout has significant consequences, including:

  • Excessive stress
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Sadness, anger or irritability
  • Alcohol or substance misuse
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Vulnerability to illnesses

Health problems such as these can potentially cause low job performance, disengagement, missed work or high employee turnover, to name a few.

However, the good news is that there are ways to combat employee burnout and mitigate associated risks. Here’s how.

Create a Flexible Work Environment

Lessen employee burnout at your business by providing a flexible work environment. You can do this by establishing communal work areas, multi-use furniture or unassigned desks. Unlike a traditional office space which often consists of private offices or high wall cubicles, this set up can help facilitate collaboration between employees who might otherwise have minimal interaction.

More importantly, a flexible work design increases employee comfort and productivity and improves employee well-being, according to TurningArt. Therefore, this effort may indeed reduce burnout. As an added benefit, a flexible work environment can help your business maximize spatial efficiency and reduce costs.

Flexibility in terms of employee schedules is also an integral piece in keeping your employees happy and less likely to burn out. By allowing flexible work hours, your employees will be able to adjust the time or place their work is completed. This arrangement can help accommodate their personal needs, such as to better manage a long commute or to allow parents to take their children to school.

Overall, flexible schedules can enable your employees improve their work-life balance and feel less stressed at work — factors that may help prevent burnout and improve employee retention. In fact, according to a 2018 Work Environment Survey, 73 percent of full-time office professionals say a flexible schedule is in their top two reasons to stay with a company.

Conduct Wellness Programs

Another way to prevent employee burnout is by offering wellness programs to promote healthy habits. And there are many wellness programs for small businesses that don’t require a lot of time and money.

For instance, stock your breakroom vending machine with granola bars and flavored seltzer water instead of high-fat and sugary items like candy bars or sodas. You can also regularly stock your breakroom with complimentary fresh fruit, for instance, apples, oranges and bananas, to give your employees a healthy treat and energy boost.

You can also wrestle burnout by implementing daily 15 minute nature walks to allow your employees to get some fresh air and exercise. To boost employee camaraderie, try initiating workplace walking or running clubs. For an added incentive, support leading participants with a monthly prize or a half-day off.

Offer Professional Development

Professional development can mean more to your employees than just job training and educational opportunities, it can help mitigate employee burnout. That’s because it provides the opportunity to connect with your employees in a more personalized way. For instance, instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach to employee growth, give your employees a development plan that is tailored-made for them.

A targeted approach to professional development based on each employee’s specific skill set and strengths will not only help them achieve their personal career goals, but will also make them feel more valued. Solidify this connection by asking your employees for regular feedback or ideas for business improvements and then take action on some of those ideas to show that they are appreciated.

When offering professional development, relay your business’s mission and how each member fits as an integral part of the team. This is also an opportunity to relay job expectations so your employees feel more comfortable at work. To avoid members being overworked or working exclusively on their own responsibilities, which can lead to burnout, offer social support by facilitating peer connections and encouraging mentorship.

Recognize Your Employees

Help create a positive work environment and reduce burnout by taking the time to recognize your employees for their solid performance. There are many easy, low cost ways to recognize your employees on a regular basis. For instance, a simple shout out in the monthly newsletter or email to relay an employee achievement can go a long way. You can also give a handwritten note expressing gratitude for their work.

Another idea is to offer high performing staff a day off or allow them to work from home for a day. This can help support work-life balance, so your employees return to work recharged and less likely to burnout. You can take it a step further by adding PTO or implementing quarterly bonus incentives. Recognize a group of employees by having a quarterly party or treating them to a meal at a fine restaurant. All of these ways can help your employees feel valued, less stressed and more motivated to succeed in their jobs.

Employee burnout poses risks to not only your employees, but also to your business. However, by providing the right opportunities and incentives, you can help your employees strike a balance between their personal lives and work and take the edge off burnout.


Is your workplace safety plan up to snuff?

Maintaining a clean workplace safety record in your business is no accident. It takes both clear safety procedures and planned remediation strategies for destructive events beyond your control. Even if nothing bad happens, employees will know you care about their welfare.  And you can enjoy some peace of mind. But where do you start?

Workplace safety begins with an inventory of the hazards your business faces – starting with risks for injuries to employees – to build a plan around. Physical hazards for manufacturing operations or others involving the use of machinery and power tools are straightforward. If you have such a business, chances are you’re already familiar with federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules specific to your business that address particular hazards.

But every business can be the scene of a workplace injury or medical crisis, including ones involving your customers. It could be a slip-and-fall, or a sudden health emergency such as a heart attack or stroke. And then there are the risks of a fire, gas leak, electrical shock, and so on.

Plan to Save Lives

You’ve also got weather-related events to consider. Do you operate in a hurricane, flood, tornado or earthquake zone? Keep them in mind. How about an extended power outage? And while the odds are surely extremely thin, you can’t ignore the possibility of an active shooter on your premises. Planning for that could save lives.

The mission of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is to prepare the public for nearly every kind of physical calamity, from active shooters to wildfires. This page on its website catalogs some 30 hazards (not limited to worksites) and offers response plans for each.

Much thinking about such contingencies, and how to make a plan to deal with them, has also already been done for you by OSHA. And be aware that making a contingency plan probably isn’t even optional for you. “Almost every business is required to have an emergency action plan” (EAP) to foster workplace safety, according to OSHA. You can use an OSHA online tool to determine whether you’re one of those businesses. But even if you aren’t, it’s a good idea to have one anyway. Plus, it might be required by your property-casualty insurance carrier. If it’s not, it will at least make them happier to do business with you.

Mandatory Emergency Action Plan

An OSHA-mandated EAP needs to include procedures for the following areas:

  • Reporting a fire or other emergency
  • Emergency evacuation, including type of evacuation and exit route assignments
  • For employees who remain to operate critical plant operations before they evacuate
  • Accounting for all employees after evacuation
  • To be followed by employees performing rescue or medical duties

The EAP also needs to include the name and job title of every employee who may be contacted by employees who need more information about the plan.

Under OSHA rules, if you have at least 10 employees, the plan needs to be in writing. Otherwise, it can be delivered orally. In either case, it needs to be presented to all employees. But since you’ll need to write it up to create the EAP (unless you can keep it all straight in your head), you’d might as well give employees a hard copy version even if not required to do so. They can refer to it when needed.

OSHA’s mandated workplace safety plan (classified as Standard 1910.38, should you want more detail) also requires you to designate and train employees to help evacuate other employees in an emergency, as well as any other specific tasks you might decide to assign them. You’ll also need to establish a communication system, possibly including an alarm, so that everybody will know what’s happening and what they need to do.

One way to ensure that employees know what’s in your safety plan is to involve some or all of them in creating it in the first place. They may be better acquainted with some potential safety issues and ways to address them, than you. Depending on the size of your staff, creating a safety committee could formalize the process.

Keep Your Emergency Plan Current

Your safety needs and the best ways to address them can evolve over time. That means you’ll need to revisit your EAP periodically to ensure that it’s up to date. Similarly, as you bring new employees on board, include presenting your EAP to them as part of their orientation process.

There’s more to workplace safety than following OSHA standards. For example, employees’ health—mental and physical—often play a role in workplace accidents. Government agencies do set standards for the maximum shift for employees with certain kinds of jobs, like truck drivers and airplane pilots. Otherwise, the only rule you have to follow is paying overtime for wage-based employees whose average weekly hours worked exceeds 40.

Naturally, physical fatigue can lead to serious accidents. But so too can employee job burnout. Among other effects, it can lead to increased mental distance from one’s job, according to the World Health Organization, not to mention serious health consequences. Being on the lookout for signs of employee burnout and confronting the sources of the problem can be an integral part of a workplace safety program.

Focusing excessively on every conceivable workplace safety risk could cause you to burn out, too. Avoid that by acting proactively to assess your risks and minimize them, then move on with the business of running your business.


FMLA Compliance & ADA compliance: What You Need to Know

Starting and building up your own business is an exhilarating experience. The trick is to stay focused on the core issues.  Which means become sidetracked by necessary but potentially distracting employer responsibilities like FMLA compliance and ADA compliance. You can avoid getting bogged down by learning the basics of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). That way you can address issues proactively and stay ahead of the game.

The federal government enacted The Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.  Three years later the government enacted the Family and Medical Leave Act. The scope of ADA compliance extends beyond the employment relationship, but only employee rights under the ADA are discussed here.

The ADA’s employment provisions, applicable to employers with at least 15 employees, seek to prevent employers from discriminating against employees with disabilities in any facet of the employment. Those include how employees are recruited and hired, fired, laid off, paid, trained, assigned tasks, promoted, granted leave, employee benefits, and “all other employment-related activities,” according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency with primary responsibility for enforcing the law.

Disability Defined

ADA compliance first requires knowing how the law defines disability. The law involves general principles, not a list of conditions. It basically boils down to this. An individual is deemed to have a disability if they:

  • Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity
  • Has a record of a substantial impairment
  • Is regarded as having a substantially limiting impairment

As the saying goes, the devil is in the details. For example, what does “is regarded as having” mean? The answer, according to the EEOC: The individual “is subject to an action prohibited by the ADA based on a condition that is not transitory or minor.”

What about the meaning of “major life activity?” They include seeing, speaking, breathing, performing manual tasks, walking, caring for oneself, learning and working. The government tightened up the ADA in 2008. At this time it was made clear that the fact that a person with some disabilities can take steps to mitigate them (e.g. with medication) does not mean the person is without a disability.

For employers, the crux of the ADA often comes down to the the terms “reasonable accommodation” and “undue hardship.”

ADA compliance doesn’t require you to hire, promote, and so on, every person with a disability without regard to whether it prevents the person from actually performing the job. But you are required to make a reasonable accommodation to enable the person to function effectively despite the disability, without causing undue hardship to your business.

ADA Reasonable Accommodation

Examples of reasonable accommodations include:

  • installing a wheelchair ramp
  • altering a workspace
  • job restructuring
  • furnishing training materials in Braille
  • providing a sign language interpreter,
  • possibly  “providing a quieter workspace or making other changes to reduce noisy distractions for someone with a mental disability”

However, if your business is small, those accommodations might bankrupt you. So, the general standard for “undue hardship” offered by the EEOC would be an accommodation that “would be unduly costly, extensive, substantial or disruptive, or would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business.”

You can find the more nuanced meaning of these ADA terms in detailed regulations and court rulings. The same applies to FMLA compliance, a federal law that applies to employers with at least 50 employees. In a nutshell, the law requires those employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid “job-protected” leave to eligible employees within a 12-month period.  And, in some cases involving military service members, you may have to provide up  to 26 weeks. An employee can take the leave all at once, or in small segments adding up to the 12-week maximum.

FMLA Job-protected Leave

Job-protected means the employee can return from leave—not necessarily to the same job, but at least a comparable one.

FMLA lets employers restrict leave eligibility to employees who have worked for you for at least 12 months. Those 12 months don’t have to be consecutive.  However, you can require the employee to have logged at least 1,250 hours of service during the prior 12-month period.

If it’s built into your regular leave policy, you generally can have an employee’s FMLA leave time run concurrently with the employee’s accrued paid leave. This is the case whether it’s vacation or sick leave time. That would prevent an employee from adding accrued paid time off to the maximum of 12 weeks unpaid FMLA leave.

Also, the 50-plus employee threshold for being subject to FMLA compliance gives some (temporarily) larger employers a break.  Your headcount could exceed 50. But, only if you had a spike in your payroll pushing you above the 50-employee threshold due to seasonal staffing.

FMLA Leave Categories

Assuming you are subject to the FMLA, the question arises: What reasons for the leave request are covered by the law? Here’s a rundown supplied by the Department of Labor:

  • The birth of a son or daughter or placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption
  • To care for a spouse, son, daughter, or parent who has a serious health condition
  • For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job
  • For any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a military member on covered active duty or call to covered active duty status

That covers a lot of territory. However, some FMLA compliance requirements apply to employees as well. For example, they can’t simply spring a FMLA leave request on you and waltz out the door. They need to satisfy the same notice requirements you have in place for other kinds of leave.  An employee may be required to provide you with a 30-day notice if the need for their leave is foreseeable. An example of a foreseeable need is the birth of a child.

Also, if you want confirmation that the condition (such as a serious illness) giving rise to the leave request really exists, you can request a medical certification, including a second and third opinion (those two at your own expense) if you’re skeptical about the first one. You can also have the employee periodically re-certify the condition.

Maintain Health Benefits

If you provide health benefits to your employees, you must keep an employee out on FMLA leave on your plan under the same terms as other employees. In that situation it would be inaccurate to call FMLA leave “unpaid”.  Why?  Because you’ll still incur the cost of the share of the employee’s health benefit that you were paying. However, the employee must continue to pay the employee share.

Finally, as noted, you must give the employee his/her former job, or an equivalent one in duties and pay. An equivalent job, according to the Department of Labor, is one that’s “virtually identical to the original job in terms of pay, benefits, and other employment terms and conditions including shift and location.”

However, “key” employees, defined as salaried workers among the highest 10 percent of your workforce within a 75-mile radius, don’t have to be given their old job (or an equivalent one) back.

By keeping this FMLA / ADA overview in mind, you’ll be better equipped to begin the process of addressing disability, family and medical leave issues as they arise. Those laws have been on the books long enough for a mountain of regulations and court decisions to pile up addressing the finer points of the law. Consult with an expert to make sure you’ve covered all your bases.  And, of course, avoid getting sidetracked from the core priorities of your business.


Should you Re-Hire a Former Employee?

In today’s highly competitive job market, the option to re-hire a former employee could prove invaluable to many small businesses.

Hiring a typical job-seeker–that is, someone completely new to your organization–is fraught with all the expected risks. Does he or she really have the skills to do the job? How well will they fit in with their co-workers and our culture? What if we’ve made a huge hiring mistake?

On the other hand, recruiting and re-hiring an ex-employee (or what’s become known as a “boomerang employee”) may eliminate some of these nagging questions. Of course, since no hiring outcome can be absolutely guaranteed, there are additional risks to consider.

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of the decision to re-hire a former employee:

You know what you’re getting.

Generally speaking, you can rely upon your knowledge and experience of a former employee when considering whether or not to re-hire them. In many cases, you can access the individual’s prior HR record and take a close look at his or her performance evaluations during their time of service. As a result, there’s often less risk when contemplating a re-hire move.

The boomerang employee knows your business.

An ex-employee is already familiar with your culture, products, customer service strategies, internal processes, and so on. This can sharply reduce the need for training (and the costs/time involved).

They bring a fresh outlook.

Let’s say the employee originally left for a “better” opportunity. Employees who wish to return, notes Forbes, might have “gained valuable experience during the time they were gone,” perhaps a “new skill set, more leadership experience, or even experience and insights into how other companies handle situations” that can be of value in your workplace.

The returning employee can motivate your current staff.

At one time or another, all employees wonder if the grass is greener somewhere else. The presence of a re-hired boomerang employee “can improve department retention efforts by attesting to improvements made since they left,” according to Puerta de cristal.

With these positive elements in mind, you should also consider the impact of some potentially negative factors:

They were let go for compelling reasons.

A former employee who you terminated for poor performance or inappropriate behavior is obviously a bad candidate for re-hiring. As Insperity notes, “the underlying behavior behind performance problems and personnel issues … is not easily changed.” A person who “was a problem employee before will probably be a problem again.”

They harbor lingering resentments.

Sometimes, a departing employee feels mistreated or otherwise slighted in some way. It’s vitally important that no such lingering grudge is still present; otherwise, the personality fit won’t work.

Coincidentally, rehiring an ex-employee might trigger anger among your current workforce, and prompt other staff defections.

They cling to old habits.

A former employee who seems stuck in “old” ways of doing things might not meld nicely with your new, improved company culture. If you cling to “how I did things in the past”, you can do a disservice to your operational processes now.

So how can you go about determining if the “pros” outweigh the “cons” of rehiring?

Ask tough questions.

Be sure you interview an ex-employee just as you would any other job candidate (same questions, same scenarios, etc.). But go further. Ask open-ended questions designed to uncover what types of knowledge and experience they’ve acquired since leaving your company. Also, ask questions that help you better understand their feelings towards your business, both in the days of their exit and now. You may or may not get sincere answers, but reading between the lines may help clarify the situation.

Talk with other team members.

Depending on the circumstances, there may be several current employees who remember the person now being considered for re-hire. Talk to your HR staff about the best way to approach these employees, with the goal of discussing the impact (favorable or otherwise) of bringing the ex-employee back on board. If you encounter great enthusiasm among staff members, the decision might become clearer. But if the former employee’s return generates considerable resistance, it’s a red flag you should seriously consider.

In past job markets awash in candidates, there were always new people to contemplate hiring. When qualified job candidate selection is more limited, the idea of hiring a boomerang employee can make a great deal of sense. Explore various opportunities and then use your best judgment about that final hiring decision.

 


Want to Improve Productivity? Whittle Down Your Choices

Humans make upwards of 35,000 decisions each day. Would your ability to make 40,000 help you improve productivity?

It turns out that the exact opposite is true.

All humans experience decision fatigue. In the simplest of terms, the more decisions people make in a defined period, the lower the quality those decisions become. That’s probably not the impact you want your decision-making to have in your company. What’s also true, however, is that too many options can make you over-thing and jam-up sound decision-making, too.

That’s called analysis paralysis, and it can do a real number on your productivity, and not in a good way.

Let’s have a look at analysis paralysis – what it is, why it’s a problem, and tips to help you avoid it. By taking a few simple actions, you can improve productivity throughout your company and leave the logjam of analysis paralysis far behind.

Do more choices improve productivity? No.

“Think about when your computer is sluggish, lagging, and not operating well,” says Joanne Ketch, a licensed therapist well-versed in how the brain makes decisions. “You bring up Task Manager. You see all the programs and processes that are running, using your system’s resources whether you are aware of them or not. They are slowing your computer and getting in the way of its functioning, reducing the computer’s productivity. Look at humans as having a Task Manager.”

Ketch says that people aren’t always aware of what they have running in the background, slowing productivity. The key to boosting productivity is becoming aware of what’s running in the background.

When you’re in a position of leadership, decision-making is literally your job, and you likely have a myriad of pressing matters running in your background. There’s so much on your plate, and you don’t know where to focus first. How do you choose where to focus your time when you have so many options?

“We all get to choose where we focus,” says Neen James, autor de Attention Pays: How to Drive Profitability, Productivity, and Accountability. “When our attention spans are split, we’re allowing them to be split between multiple stimuli, inputs, devices, and decisions.”

When your Task Manager is on overload, you’ve allowed too many pieces of input into your machine. That’s what causes analysis paralysis. To improve productivity, smart leaders decrease their input. They reduce what’s running in the background.

Tips to decrease analysis paralysis

To help take control of your Task Manager, there are active steps you can take to help both yourself and your teams.

Reduce distractions

“Turn off all bells and whistles, notifications, and stimuli that are wasting your attention. Focus on the evidence you have and trust your experience,” says James. Distractions add to what’s running in your background.

Consider outsourcing

“A cleaning service or even an errand in your personal life,” says Ketch. “From the business side, look at what roles and responsibilities it’s time to outsource or delegate.” Even important decisions and critical data can be distractions if they’re drawing your attention away from decisions that most need your attention and expertise.

Ask bigger, better questions

“Does this get me closer to my goals? Is this in line with our strategic objectives? Will this move the project/initiative/goal forward?” James says. Questions like these will help you decrease distractions, keep you from over-thinking and help you to identify areas where you can delegate or outsource. They’ll also help you focus on the most critical decisions to move your company forward.

Set boundaries

“Productivity drain often comes down to boundaries,” says Ketch. “Boundaries from a personal or work relationship standpoint are barriers to success and distractions.” Ketch suggests that leaders explore working with a mentor, life/business coach, or therapist to identify areas and activities that could be hampering productivity.

Set timelines

“Set a deadline, make it public, and honor it. Hold yourself accountable,” James says. By being public and forthcoming about schedules, you’re also helping your team know when it’s time to end the idea gathering/brainstorming phase and switch over to narrowing down options to those most promising. Analysis paralysis often happens when teams fail to make the switch from gathering ideas to narrowing them down.

Self-care

“Build business retreats and self-care into your planning,” Ketch says. “Do not rely on what’s leftover to sustain your energy.” If you’re not taking care of yourself and encouraging your teams to do the same, productivity isn’t likely to accelerate or improve.

Now, you have six actionable ideas to improve productivity and keep both decision fatigue and analysis paralysis at bay. When you can shift your input and focus to the matters where you’re the most crucial decision-making component, you’ll free up the mental energy needed to make better decisions faster and with fewer distractions.


How Better Listening Makes You a Better Leader

Talking, rather than listening, seems to be a common trait among leaders in business, culture, politics, and elsewhere. The presumption is that anyone who attains the status of “leader” must have important things to say, and don’t have to bother hearing what anyone else wants to tell them.

In fact, the opposite is true.

The most effective business leaders get more accomplished because they know how to listen. While, of course, it’s important to weigh in on business strategy and organizational design, there’s a great deal to be gained by listening to what others have to say. The alternative–not paying attention to others and often not understanding what they are trying to tell you–is a good recipe for business failure, and should therefore be avoided at all costs.

If you want to improve your ability to hear those around you, keep the following tips in mind:

Stop thinking about what you’ll say next.

When in conversation, we’re all guilty of thinking more about what we plan to say next, rather than making the effort to truly hear what’s being said.

But as The New York Times points out, it’s more important to be “comfortable not knowing what you’re going to say next.” Rely on your ability to “think of something in the moment based on what the other person just said,” because this “sends a powerful signal to the other person that you’re truly listening to them.”

Tune out distractions.

It’s become a challenge for all of us to clear our heads in order to listen to what someone else is saying. But it’s imperative to make the effort. In a conversation with a customer, employee, vendor, or other stakeholder, do the following to listen better:

  • Shut off mobile devices.
  • Look away from your computer screen.
  • Close your office door to screen out external noise.
  • Avoid interrupting the other person.

Also, refrain from jumping in when there’s a pause in the conversation. “Never rush a speaker by completing his or her sentence,” notes Right Management. Being patient “will go a long way to building trust and rapport.”

Observe non-verbal cues.

People communicate through non-verbal cues and body language almost as much as they do through words. Effective listeners closely watch the speaker’s gestures, facial expressions, and their tone of voice. From these “clues,” they often deduce the real meaning behind what the other person is trying to articulate.

Expert listeners use their own body language to communicate, as well. While listening, they nod at appropriate moments, engage in friendly and welcoming eye contact, and display “open” body language (that is, not standing or sitting at a distance, with arms crossed). These non-verbal cues let the other person know they really are the focus of your attention.

Ask the right questions.

A good listener demonstrates his or her focus by following up on what the other person has said with a pertinent question. (This is also a good way to ensure you grasp the point of the conversation.)

When the moment is right, ask questions that drill down beneath the surface of the discussion. Avoid questions the other person can only answer with a “yes” or a “no.” Instead, ask open-ended questions that invite deeper commentary or invite the speaker to offer examples of what they’re talking about. These exchanges have the potential to yield far more effective insights that benefit everyone involved.

Listen to your team.

The strongest business leaders have abandoned the need to dominate a conversation. They understand that empathy grows out of genuinely hearing what others have to tell them and that they can make better decisions because of what they’ve learned.

This is often particularly true with people who make up your workforce. Leaders who “fail to truly listen to their employees run the risk of losing them,” notes Medio, adding that employees “who don’t feel listened to are more likely to feel resentment at their job and seek other opportunities.”

Business leaders who listen have a competitive edge over people who never stop talking and who neglect the growth that comes from listening to others.


Cómo no administrar a los empleados

Los jefes a menudo luchan contra la necesidad de administrar a los empleados, pero desafortunadamente, muchos ni siquiera reconocen que lo están haciendo. Si está lidiando con la retención, podría deberse a que usted o uno de sus supervisores está microgestionando empleados y alejándolos.

Peor aún, la microgestión puede dificultar el crecimiento de la creatividad dentro de la organización. "La innovación se ahoga porque los errores, que son una parte necesaria del aprendizaje y el crecimiento, no se toleran", señala Cía. Además, cuando los supervisores esencialmente están haciendo el trabajo de otra persona, "no están haciendo el suyo tan bien como deberían".

Aquí hay consejos sobre cómo dejar de lado el impulso de microgestión y dar a los miembros de su equipo una mayor libertad para hacer su trabajo:

Comience confiando en sus empleados.

Ningún lugar de trabajo puede funcionar por mucho tiempo sin una base de confianza. Presumiblemente, sus empleados son individuos que han demostrado que poseen las habilidades y / o experiencia para manejar sus responsabilidades laborales. Al asumir una actitud de confianza, los ayudas a ganar la confianza necesaria para resolver problemas o desafíos. Es posible que esto no ocurra de inmediato, incluso los empleados veteranos que vienen de otras empresas necesitan tiempo para adaptarse a la cultura de su empresa. Pero confiar en ellos para tener éxito ayuda a lograr el objetivo deseado.

Deje que los empleados sepan lo que espera.

Algunas microgestiones ocurren porque los empleados no entienden las instrucciones que se les dan. O tienen que adivinar lo que quiere su jefe. Un enfoque más efectivo implica describir las expectativas en el comienzo de un proyecto o tarea. Deje que los miembros de su equipo sepan cómo será el "éxito". Mejor aún, comparta ejemplos de iniciativas pasadas que sean de naturaleza similar. Y recuerde proporcionarles los recursos necesarios para realizar la tarea.

Admita que no puede hacer todo usted mismo.

Muchos dueños de negocios comenzaron como empresarios que tenían que hacer todo por sí mismos. Cuando necesita contratar a otros para hacer crecer el negocio, a veces es difícil "reconocer que otros pueden hacer algunas tareas mejor que tú"Y" aún más difícil de aceptar que otros harán la misma tarea de manera diferente ", pero hasta que deje de lado estos prejuicios obstinados, sus empleados no serán tan productivos como podrían ser.

Delega más.

Si tiene dudas sobre cuánto puede delegar en el equipo, intente asignar una tarea pequeña o de corto plazo a las personas y deje que "corran" con ella. El resultado de esa asignación determinará su próximo paso: (1) continuar dando proyectos individuales más sustanciales; o (2) tómese un tiempo para aconsejar al individuo sobre cómo mejorar su proceso y tener más éxito.

Siempre comunicate.

Brindar retroalimentación no es lo mismo que tratar de administrar a los empleados. A medida que las personas asuman más responsabilidad, consulte con ellos de vez en cuando. Asegúrese de ofrecer comentarios generales sobre qué tan bien están avanzando. Si el progreso es lento, proporcione retroalimentación constructiva que los impulse a adoptar un enfoque diferente. Si se le ocurre una idea sobre probar algo nuevo, esté abierto a sugerencias y fomente hábitos de trabajo más creativos. Los empleados ganan confianza cuando el jefe muestra una actitud de tolerancia y apoyo.

Los gerentes efectivos programan visitas periódicas con los empleados, al menos una vez al mes. "Una vez que te pones en marcha, las conversaciones de responsabilidad ayudan a los miembros de tu equipo a hacer ajustes en el momento y evitar catástrofes importantes". Forbes notas

La microgestión puede ser algo astuto, y los supervisores pueden ni siquiera darse cuenta de que lo están haciendo. Pero al prestar atención a las banderas rojas, como una caída visible en la moral del lugar de trabajo o un éxodo de empleados valorados, los propietarios de negocios pueden trabajar para minimizar la necesidad de microgestión y hacer más para fomentar la creatividad y la independencia.

Este enfoque no solo generará mayor confianza e innovación entre los miembros de su equipo, sino que también puede mejorar significativamente sus esfuerzos de retención. Los empleados están mucho menos inclinados a buscar trabajo en otro lugar si se sienten valorados por sus esfuerzos dentro de su organización.


7 cosas que hacer antes de elegir una solución de recursos humanos en la nube

Está pensando en invertir en una solución en la nube para abordar sus puntos débiles de recursos humanos, pero no está seguro de por dónde empezar. Aquí hay 7 cosas a considerar antes de elegir una solución de nube de recursos humanos.

Reconoce tus puntos de dolor

Sepa exactamente cuáles son sus áreas problemáticas de recursos humanos antes de contactar a los proveedores para obtener una solución en la nube de recursos humanos. Hacerlo lo preparará para comunicar eficazmente sus puntos débiles al proveedor. También ayudará a garantizar que esté adquiriendo el producto correcto. Muchas soluciones de recursos humanos en la nube abordarán una gran cantidad de problemas, pero eso no significa que resolverán sus problemas existentes.

Considera tus procesos

Es mejor encontrar una solución en la nube de recursos humanos que funcione como su negocio. Para reducir el riesgo de implementar un producto que no funciona como se esperaba, deberá observar o identificar sus propios procesos y flujos de trabajo existentes. Esto lo ayudará a determinar qué tareas de recursos humanos son las más importantes para racionalizar o mejorar.

Decide qué características de software necesitas ahora y más adelante

Las soluciones de recursos humanos en la nube ofrecen muchas características, como la gestión del rendimiento, el autoservicio de los empleados y la asistencia y el seguimiento de los solicitantes. Para ayudar a reducir las cosas antes de decidirse por una solución, debe priorizar una lista de características principales. Esta lista debe comenzar con las características que necesitará para cumplir con los requisitos de su negocio.

Tenga en cuenta que algunas empresas pueden estar satisfechas con el conjunto de características en una solución de nube de nivel de entrada. Otros, aquellos con requisitos más complejos, pueden necesitar un software que se especialice en un área determinada, como la administración de beneficios, por ejemplo. Además, piense qué tan bien el software escalará a medida que su negocio crezca. Esto lo ayudará a asegurarse de que ofrece las características y capacidades necesarias que necesitará en el futuro.

Determinar las capacidades de integración

Antes de elegir una solución en la nube de recursos humanos, deberá determinar si el software debe integrarse con su infraestructura existente. Por ejemplo, ¿lo necesitará para integrarse con sus paquetes de software heredados, sitio web corporativo, cliente de correo electrónico, aplicaciones de planificación de recursos empresariales y otro software de back office?

Además, tenga en cuenta los programas de recursos humanos u otros programas que ya usa, como el software de nómina y contabilidad, para determinar si esos elementos tienen la capacidad de integrarse con su nueva solución.

Establecer un presupuesto

Determine un presupuesto apropiado para una solución asequible que satisfaga mejor los requisitos de su negocio antes de comprar proveedores, y considere el tamaño de su empresa y las necesidades de funcionalidad. Esto asegurará que su presupuesto se vincule con sus objetivos estratégicos de recursos humanos y pueda manejar las compras que lo ayuden a crecer y respaldar su negocio.

Pruebe antes de comprar

Antes de comprometerse con un software en particular, pruebe las soluciones que satisfagan sus necesidades asistiendo a demostraciones o participando en pruebas gratuitas, si están disponibles. Esto ayudará a determinar qué tan fácil de usar es el sistema y cuánta capacitación del usuario se necesitará. Además, verifique si la solución ofrece soporte telefónico, video tutoriales, asistentes de configuración y chat en vivo las 24 horas, los 7 días de la semana para ayudarlo a tomar una decisión. Lea las opiniones de los clientes para ayudar a determinar qué hará o no el software por usted.

Piense en la seguridad de la nube

Al igual que con cualquier tecnología basada en la nube, deberá investigar cómo la solución protege los datos de clientes y empleados antes de comprar, ya que esta información se almacena en línea. Asegúrese de hacer preguntas a todos los posibles proveedores con respecto a sus certificaciones de seguridad, planes de respuesta a incidentes, controles de acceso y opciones de cifrado para proteger los datos críticos.

Al considerar estos 7 temas, estará en camino de elegir una solución de nube de recursos humanos que agregue valor.


¿Por qué todos mis empleados se van?

¿Sabes qué trabajo les gusta hacer a tus empleados? La mayoría de los propietarios y gerentes de negocios no tienen idea, según una reciente revisión de Harvard Business Review artículo Escrito por tres ejecutivos de Facebook y un profesor universitario. "Se derrama en las entrevistas de salida, una práctica estándar en cada departamento de recursos humanos para averiguar por qué se van las personas con talento y qué los habría convencido de quedarse", dice el artículo.

Un enfoque más inteligente es averiguar por qué las personas se van antes de en realidad lo hacen UNA estudio reciente del Instituto de Investigación ADP encontró que el 5% de todos los trabajadores dejan su trabajo cada mes, y la mayoría de la rotación de empleados es voluntaria.

"El desempleo está en un mínimo de 17 años, y el cambio de trabajo está en un nivel récord", dice el co-director del Instituto de Investigación ADP Ahu Yildirmaz. "Siempre ha sido importante para los empleadores minimizar el volumen de negocios, pero ahora es más crítico que nunca dado el estado actual del mercado laboral".

40 razones para irse

El estudio de ADP determinó 40 factores que contribuyen a la rotación voluntaria. Esos factores se pueden categorizar como: "Pagos, ascensos, horas extra / tiempo premium, viajes diarios, experiencia y tenencia, y otras características del trabajo".

La influencia específica que tiene cada una de estas categorías en hacer que los empleados se vayan varía según la industria. El pago y la promoción son los principales impulsores de la rotación voluntaria. El tiempo de viaje, según el estudio, es un factor más importante que la experiencia y la tenencia.

Comprender por qué los empleados se van puede ayudar a una empresa de varias maneras. En primer lugar, esto puede guiarlo en la contratación. Si sabe que un viaje largo es un factor importante en la razón por la cual cierta clase de empleados tiende a renunciar, puede volver a considerar si contratar a alguien que pasará una hora en la autopista todos los días para ir al trabajo.

Estas ideas también pueden ayudarlo a determinar cuál de sus trabajadores probablemente se irá. También pueden ayudar a descubrir los problemas del lugar de trabajo que necesita abordar. Tal vez pueda ofrecer trabajo remoto o un horario flexible a ese trabajador con el viaje largo. Si los buenos trabajadores se van a otro lado debido a los beneficios, es posible que deba reconsiderar su paquete de beneficios.

Llevar a cabo entrevistas de estancia

¿Cuál es la mejor manera para que una empresa descubra qué está causando sus problemas de rotación? Usted sin duda ha hecho entrevistas cuando estaba decidiendo contratar a alguien. Y, muchos de ustedes podrían haber realizado "entrevistas de salida" después de que alguien se haya ido.

Susan Heathfield, un experto en gestión de personas para TheBalance, sugiere que también realice "entrevistas de permanencia" para determinar las razones por las cuales los empleados permanecen en su empresa. "Luego, preste atención y mejore los factores que identifican que hacen que regresen todos los días", sugiere.

Si presta mucha atención a la razón por la cual los empleados se van, es muy probable que su volumen de negocios disminuya. Y los trabajadores que se queden serán más productivos.


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