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Author Archive

Four Keys to Improving Your Culture

In the previous articles of the series on workplace culture, we showed you how to identify and evaluate your culture by examining the rules that govern behavior, the traditions that facilitate interactions, and people you employ. We turn now to the final topic in this series: how to improve your culture. There’s no easy formula to fixing all cultural problems because each workplace is unique. The rules and traditions that lead one team to success might bring a different team to ruin. Some teams will thrive in a highly centralized environment, while others will reach new heights through delegated decision-making. Much depends on individual situations and circumstances. Nevertheless, succ

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The Fundamentals of Performance Management

There’s a lot of debate in the HR world about what performance management process employers should use. The annual performance review, once the standard, has fallen out of favor with some employers. They’ve opted instead for more frequent feedback about performance, sometimes involving the employee’s peers in addition to their supervisor. Others, to be sure, still prefer the traditional annual performance review. The right process to pick depends in large part on what you want to accomplish with performance management and what you’re willing to invest in it. Here are some principles to keep in mind when deciding on your policy and performing assessments: Performance reviews a

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Why Paid Sick Leave Is Becoming More Popular

We’ve all seen it—one of our employees has a bad cold, maybe even the flu, but they come to work anyway. In some cases, the employee has the option of taking time off, and you’d prefer they do so, but still they show up, putting everyone in the workplace at risk. The reasons vary. Sometimes the employee can’t afford the reduced hours. Sometimes they can take the financial hit, but they’re worried about falling behind on their projects, missing an important meeting, or looking bad next to their co-workers who never seem to take a day off. Some employers encourage sick employees to stay home and rest. To that end, they offer paid sick or personal time so that employees who already

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FLSA Amended to Allow Tip Pooling if No Tip Credit is Taken

The rules around tip pooling have been mired in litigation since 2011, when regulations came into effect that forbid tip pooling between employees who customarily receive tips and those who do not. The recently passed federal budget bill has created clarity by amending the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and eliminating that rule for employers who do not take a tip credit. Since the rule has been eliminated entirely, court decisions interpreting it—such as Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association, et al v. the U.S. Department of Labor—are irrelevant. The amended portion of the FLSA, while allowing for tip pooling between front and back of house employees if no tip credit is taken, cl

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Second Circuit Rules Sexual Orientation is Protected by Title VII

Yesterday the Second Circuit Court of Appeals became the second federal appellate court to rule that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the word sex includes sexual orientation. The first was the Seventh Circuit, which we reported on last April. The Second Circuit Court’s ruling yesterday affects only New York, Vermont, and Connecticut. All three of these states already prohibit discrimination in employment because of sexual orientation, so the ruling does not have a significant impact on employers there. It does, however, ensure that it is possible for employees who feel they have been discriminated against based on sexual orientation to sue under both state and federal l

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Employee Files: When More is Better

As much as we may want to simplify our HR processes, not all employee information is best kept in the same place. For instance, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recommends storing Form I-9s in a different file than other personnel records, so they can easily be audited (by you or the government). We also suggest keeping medical records and related accommodation and leave requests in a separate location so you can more easily evaluate what kind of accommodations and leaves you’ve provided in the past. A separate file for these documents should also reduce the number of individuals who have access to sensitive medical information. And, it may go without sayin

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Did You Know?

In order to be exempt from overtime, your managers need to do more than have “Manager” in their job title. In fact, the act of managing alone is not even enough. When classifying a manager as an exempt employee, you’re usually using what’s called the White Collar Executive Exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act. To use this classification correctly, you must ensure that your employee passes all three parts of the following duties test: Their primary duty is the management of the enterprise or a customarily recognized department or subdivision; and They customarily and regularly direct the work of two or more full-time employees or equivalent (e.g., two 40-hour per week

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Why Courts, States, and Employers Are Focusing on Pay Equity

The federal Equal Pay Act went into effect in 1963, but it hasn’t brought an end to pay disparities between men and women. Neither have state laws with the same objective. Long story short: the laws weren’t strong enough, and they didn’t account for all the causes of unequal pay. In many cases, it has been possible for an employer to comply with these laws while still giving unequal pay for equal work. Often, it’s not that employers have deliberately chosen to pay women less than men for the same jobs. In many cases, the basis for pay differentials has seemed sensible, such as salary history. But it turns out that basing pay on salary history perpetuates discrimination over an emp

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Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning With year-end and first-of-the-year goals out of the way and a lull between holidays, there’s no better time to do some organizational spring cleaning. As many experts in tidying up and clearing clutter will tell you, a clean space with room for movement (both physical and psychological) will boost productivity and just make people feel better. You may be low on time, or you might feel ready to embrace some serious reorganization. Depending on the number of hours available, consider mixing and matching the following spring cleaning options, from quickest to most comprehensive. Do a walk-through of the workplace to ensure that pathways are clear and free of trippi

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Trending Employment Laws in 2018

When a city or state passes a new kind of employment law or practice, you can expect other locations to follow their lead. We’ve seen this with paid sick leave, ban the box, social media privacy laws, and other legislation. This year will have its own trending employment laws and best practices. Here are a few to keep your eye on: Sexual harassment prevention: With the public hearing every day about new harassment allegations, employers are looking for better ways to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Training is necessary and important—and sometimes required by law—but it’s only one preventative step. Accountability is also a must, as is a culture of trust so when hara

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