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* Jeffry D. Proul, Registered Representative of LifeMark Securities Corp., 400 West Metro Financial Center, Rochester, NY 14623 (585) 424-5672 Member NASD/SIPC Vital Signs Insurance Services, Inc. is not affiliated with LifeMark Securities Corp. CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: Communications are Confidential Information of LifeMark Securities Corp. and may also be privileged.

HR News

HR Advisor Newsletter

More Sexual Harassment Lawsuits in Fiscal Year 2018

By |November 3rd, 2018|

You’re reading the November edition of the HR Advisor Newsletter. We review recent statistics from the EEOC on sexual harassment lawsuits—they increased in 2018!

Did You Know?

  • • The EEOC filed 50% more sexual harassment lawsuits in Fiscal Year 2018 (2018) than it did in Fiscal Year 2017 (2017).
  • Charges filed with the EEOC alleging sexual harassment increased by more than 12% from 2017.
  • For charges alleging harassment, reasonable cause findings increased to nearly 1,200 in 2018 compared to 970 in 2017. Successful conciliations (agreements reached without a lawsuit) were up to nearly 500 from 348 in 2017.
  • The EEOC recovered nearly 50% more for victims of sexual harassment through administrative enforcement and litigation in 2018; $70 million, up from $47.5 million in 2017.

HR Tip of the Month | Workplace Chit-Chat

By |November 2nd, 2018|

You’re reading the November edition of the HR Advisor Newsletter. We provide some tips on allowing workplace chit-chat while keeping it to a minimum.

HR Tip of the Month

  • Does your workplace have too much chit-chat? A lot of employers are in the same boat, and they want to find the right balance between forbidding chit-chat and permitting too much of it. The right amount likely depends on the nature of the workplace and how disruptive the talking is, but there are some general guidelines you can follow:
    • Rather than telling employees exactly how much time they can spend having non-work conversations in a day, remind them that frequent chit-chat can make it difficult for people to work and that everyone should be respectful of others’ time and need to focus.
  • Let employees know that in most cases, personal conversations longer than a few minutes should be saved for breaks and held away from work areas.
  • As long as people are getting their jobs done and aren’t distracting other by talking, then the chit-chat probably isn’t excessive and isn’t cause for concern.

Managers Are Uncomfortable Communicating with Their Employees

By |November 1st, 2018|

You’re reading the November edition of the HR Advisor Newsletter. This month we explain why so many managers are uncomfortable talking with their employees and what you can do about it.

Many Managers Are Uncomfortable Communicating with Their Employees – Here’s How You Can Help Them

Here’s a startling statistic: Nearly 70% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with their employees. That number comes from a Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Interact, and it indicates that managers may at times shy away from doing basic management duties.

If uncomfortable managers avoid giving feedback, offering praise, showing vulnerability, providing direction, or communicating in general, they’re not helping the bottom line. Poor employee performances will go unaddressed. Star performers won’t feel recognized. Employees may distrust their managers and not admit mistakes. Efficiency and productivity won’t be a good as they could be, and that’s money down the drain.

While some managers might do better in non-management positions, others need only a little training, practice, and experience to overcome their discomfort. Here are a few ways you can develop new managers and improve the performances of existing ones:

Best Practices Before Promoting Someone to Management

  • Identify potential managers based not just on individual performance, but likelihood of success when put in charge of a team. Management requires a specific skill set—the ability to lead, to take decisive action, to facilitate compromise, to defuse escalation, to assess performance with clarity and kindness. When considering whom to promote to management, look especially for those employees who exhibit these skills or show signs that they have the potential to develop them.
  • If you see employees with the potential for leadership, give them informal leadership duties and see how well or poorly they do. Some discomfort on their part is expected, so don’t rule out someone just because they’re not fully comfortable the moment they’re asked to lead something. That said, if their feelings of discomfort persist as they’re given more informal leadership responsibilities, they’re likely not well suited to a formal leadership position—at least not yet.
  • Provide relevant skills training. If you identify an employee with strong potential for leadership in the organization, prepare them to take the role by teaching them the skills they’ll need to be successful. Consider paying for them to attend workshops or conferences. A mentorship program could also be helpful if you have good managers to help onboard new managers.

Best Practices with Current Managers

  • Provide skills training in needed areas. It’s possible that a manager may be uncomfortable communicating with employees because they’ve never really been taught how to do it. If that’s the case for any of your managers, teach them the communication skills they’re lacking. Coach your managers and give them time to practice their managerial skills. When they become more competent, they’ll feel more confident.
  • Manage your managers. Like any employee, managers need direction, guidance, and someone to hold them accountable. Do for them what they do for their subordinates.
  • If a manager’s performance is having negative impacts on the company and guidance and training do not help, you may need to look at putting them on a performance improvement plan. This plan should have clear, attainable goals and a set timeframe for completion. If they improve, great, but if not, then it may be time for the next step.
  • If the performance improvement plan doesn’t result in improved performance, it may be time to move the employee out of management. Employees who excelled as individual contributors may not do well in management, and that’s okay. They may be happier going back to what they were doing before, if that’s an option.

Management isn’t easy, and some of its duties will be uncomfortable no matter what. That said, the best managers don’t try to avoid unpleasant conversations when those conversations are needed. Because they’re generally comfortable with their managerial responsibilities, they’re able to face the more challenging moments with more confidence and conviction. And that helps your bottom line.

Learn More

Article: Managing Your Managers

Article: The Fundamentals of Performance Management

Q & A: “We hired a manager who is not performing adequately…”

Q & A: “We have a manager whose hours have been reduced…”

Q & A: “Several employees have complained that one of our managers is regularly abrasive and rude…”

Must We Allow Time-off To Vote

By |October 31st, 2018|

Question:
We have had a few employees ask if they can take time off to vote. Do we need to allow that?

Kara, JD, EPHRAnswer from Kara, JD, SPHR:

Yes, you may need to allow employees time off to vote, and you may even need to pay them for it.

The specifics will depend on state law. Most states do require some kind of time off. Two hours is the most common allowance, and generally the employer can require that the employee take it at the beginning or end of their work day. The amount of time employees must be allowed often depends on how much time they have before or after their shift while the polls are open.

To learn about the law in the state or states where you operate, check out the Jury, Witness, and Voting Leave pages in the State Laws section of the HR Support Center.

Kara practiced employment law for five years and worked in Human Resources for several years prior to that. As an attorney, she worked on many wage and hour and discrimination claims in both state and federal court. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oregon State University and earned her law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School.

Questions?
Vital Signs Insurance Services, Inc.
PO Box 6360
Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: (916) 496-8750
Fax: (916) 496-8754
Email: info@vitalsignsinsurance.com

Legal Disclaimer: The HR Support Center is not engaged in the practice of law. The content in this article should not be construed as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions concerning your situation or the information you have obtained, you should consult with a licensed attorney. The HR Support Center cannot be held legally accountable for actions related to its receipt.[/fusion_text]

California Law Alert | Voting Leave Notice

By |October 29th, 2018|

Voting Leave Notice Must Be Posted

California requires employers to post a notice informing employees of their right to voting leave. Employers should post the notice in a conspicuous location at least 10 days before a state or national election. The notice covers the basic voting leave rights for employees, which include the following:

  • Employees are eligible for paid time off for voting only if they do not have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote;
  • Employees may take as much time as they need, but they’ll be paid for a maximum of two hours;
  • An employer may require employees to give advance notice that they will need to take time off for voting;
  • An employer may require employees to take this time off at the beginning or end of their shift.
    The notice can be downloaded here.

Questions?
Vital Signs Insurance Services, Inc.
PO Box 6360
Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: (916) 496-8750
Email: info@vitalsignsinsurance.com
Fax: (916) 496-8754

Legal Disclaimer: The HR Support Center is not engaged in the practice of law. The content in this article should not be construed as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions concerning your situation or the information you have obtained, you should consult with a licensed attorney. The HR Support center cannot be held legally accountable for actions related to its receipt.

Can a non-exempt employee manage another non-exempt employee?

By |October 29th, 2018|

Answer from Kate, SHRM-CP:

Yes, it is completely permissible for non-exempt employees to manage other non-exempt employees. In fact, employers are under no obligation to classify employees as exempt, even if they meet the criteria under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Employers may have an entire workforce of non-exempt employees if they wish. It is just very important to make sure that they are paid for any overtime and follow other wage and hour laws applicable to non-exempt employees.

Kate has several years of experience working in customer service and quickly moved into HR. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Kate loves to explore the country with her husband and friends. .

Questions?
Vital Signs Insurance Services, Inc.
PO Box 6360
Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: (916) 496-8750
Email: info@vitalsignsinsurance.com
Fax: (916) 496-8754

Legal Disclaimer: The HR Support Center is not engaged in the practice of law. The content in this article should not be construed as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions concerning your situation or the information you have obtained, you should consult with a licensed attorney. The HR Support Center cannot be held legally accountable for actions related to its receipt.

Health Insurance | Simply Explained

By |October 25th, 2018|

Health Insurance clearly explained.

Health Insurance in California can be very confusing. That’s why Vital Signs Insurance is in business! Our professionals are here to help explain it as accurately as possible. This video is an easy to understand source on how your insurance works!

Call (916)496-8750

California Law Alert | Sexual Harassment Prevention

By |October 18th, 2018|

Mandatory Sexual Harassment Prevention Training for All Employees

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a bill into law that will expand sexual harassment prevention training requirements to cover non-supervisors as well as supervisors in the coming years. Specifically, by January 1, 2020, employers with five or more employees must provide interactive sexual harassment prevention training to all employees in California. After that, all employees must receive training every two years. Supervisory employees must receive two hours of training and non-supervisory employees must receive one hour. New employees must receive the appropriate training within six months of hire.

Content and Delivery
The Department of Fair Employment and Housing will make compliant one-hour and two-hour trainings available on their website that employers may use free of charge. These will likely be released around the new year. Employers are welcome to develop their own trainings so long as they meet the state’s requirements.

The training and education must include information and practical guidance regarding the applicable federal and state statutory provisions and the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment. It must also include practical examples aimed at instructing supervisors in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, and be presented by trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

The training may be completed by employees individually or as part of a group presentation. It may be completed in shorter segments or in conjunction with other training, so long as the applicable hourly total requirement is met.

Seasonal and Temporary Employees
Beginning January 1, 2020, employers must provide training for seasonal and temporary employees, as well as any employee that is hired to work for less than six months, within 30 calendar days of hire or within their 100 hours worked, whichever comes first. Temporary services employers are responsible for training their employees.

Questions?
Vital Signs Insurance Services, Inc.
PO Box 6360
Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: (916) 496-8750
Email: info@vitalsignsinsurance.com
Fax: (916) 496-8754

Legal Disclaimer: The HR Support Center is not engaged in the practice of law. The content in this article should not be construed as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions concerning your situation or the information you have obtained, you should consult with a licensed attorney. The HR Support center cannot be held legally accountable for actions related to its receipt.

When are we required to pay for trainings?

By |October 17th, 2018|

Question:
When are we required to pay for trainings?

Answer from Daniel, SHRM-CP:

In general, time spent in job-related training is counted as time worked and must be paid. However, not every lecture, meeting, training program, or similar activity would qualify. If all four of the following criteria are met, you do not need to pay the employee for the training:
1. The training occurs outside of the employee’s normal work hours;
2. The training is completely voluntary (there will be no company-initiated consequences if the employee does not attend);
3. The training is not specifically job-related (it may be tangentially related to their job, such as most continuing education, without being specific to how they do their job on a day-to-day basis); and
4. No work for the employer is performed during the training (e.g. reading or replying to email).

Daniel has over 10 years of experience in the communications, government relations, political advocacy, and customer service fields. He has a BS in Journalism and Communications. He has run a small business of his own and sat on the Board of Directors of several local non-profits. In his free time he enjoys cooking, hiking, camping, and home brewing.

Questions?
Vital Signs Insurance Services, Inc.
PO Box 6360
Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: (916) 496-8750
Email: info@vitalsignsinsurance.com
Fax: (916) 496-8754

Legal Disclaimer: The HR Support Center is not engaged in the practice of law. The content in this email should not be construed as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions concerning your situation or the information you have obtained, you should consult with a licensed attorney. The HR Support Center cannot be held legally accountable for actions related to its receipt.

Can we tell employees not to discuss politics at work?

By |October 3rd, 2018|

Question:
We usually don’t mind employees chit-chatting while they work, but some recent politics-related conversations have gotten rather loud and heated. Can we tell employees not to discuss politics at work?

Answer from Kyle, PHR:

You can limit political speech and associated conduct that are not work-related—provided you don’t infringe on protected Section 7 rights or applicable state laws. Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act gives non-supervisory employees the right to talk about the terms and conditions of their employment and the right to unionize. While this law protects some political activities, it doesn’t give employees the right to discuss politics that aren’t work-related during work hours.

That said, I recommend having a policy that focuses on job performance rather than political discussions specifically. If an employee spends too much time engaged in extra office chat, regardless of the topic, they’re probably not performing to your expectations. If nothing else, they’re distracting others. By prohibiting excessive chit-chat generally, you avoid creating the appearance of targeting political speech, and you reduce instances of other disruptive speech and behavior.

You’re also certainly welcome to tell employees that all conversations should be held with indoor voices and that non-work-related topics should be reserved for break areas where they won’t be distracting those who need to focus.

Kyle is a professional author, editor, and researcher specializing in workplace culture, retention strategies, and employee engagement. He has previously worked with book publishers, educational institutions, magazines, news and opinion websites, nationally-known business leaders, and non-profit organizations. He has a BA in English, an MA in philosophy, and a PHR certification.

Questions?
Vital Signs Insurance Services, Inc.
PO Box 6360
Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: (916) 496-8750
Email: info@vitalsignsinsurance.com
Fax: (916) 496-8754

Legal Disclaimer: The HR Support Center is not engaged in the practice of law. The content in this ARTICLE should not be construed as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions concerning your situation or the information you have obtained, you should consult with a licensed attorney. The HR Support Center cannot be held legally accountable for actions related to its receipt.