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Are Your Employees Clueless about Benefits?

Last week I was watching the local Best Places to Work event, and I couldn’t help but think about benefits and the role they play in helping an organization become a “best place” to work.

As companies around the world vie to recruit – and retain — employees across a multitude of positions, locations, and demographics, one of the key elements to consider is the slate of benefits offered, what portions the company will support financially, and how they will be administered.

The Knowledge Gap

If I asked you to walk out of your office, select a random employee, and ask them what benefits your company offers, how would they respond? Now, take a moment and think about what your actual benefit offerings are. The contrast between the employee response and what is actually offered is a knowledge gap, and the best solution to that problem is education.

Read more at Human Resources Today

Hostile Work Environment? A Common Misconception

Anger in itself doesn't constitute a hostile work environment

Anger in itself doesn’t constitute a hostile work environment

Friend: My boss is kind of a jerk, and he’s breaking the law.

Me: Really? How?

Friend: He makes this place a hostile work environment.

Me: So he’s discriminating against others illegally?

Friend: Well, no, but he makes it uncomfortable to work there. He’s unpleasant, angry, and unpredictable.

I had this exchange with a good friend of mine recently, and the person was so convincing in the discussion that I had to go and look up “hostile work environment” one more time to be sure I was correct. Thankfully I was, but I thought it would be a good reminder to share the key pieces of the law that apply to that specific type of discrimination here.

What is a Hostile Work Environment?

In laymen’s terms, it’s an environment where a reasonable person cannot carry out the functions of their job due to some form of illegal discrimination that is occurring. Remember, all discrimination is not bad. That word has taken on some baggage in recent years, but you should discriminate on a daily basis.

The discriminatory behavior needs to be illegal, and we’re all pretty familiar with the categories that are protected under the law. And just in case you need a refresh on that, I have included the actual verbiage from the EEOC below to remind you.

What the EEOC says about a Hostile Work Environment

Harassment is a form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, (ADA).

Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws.

Petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality. To be unlawful, the conduct must create a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people. Source: eeoc

One last reminder

I ask one thing from you. If this was a good reminder for you, if you didn’t already know this, or if you just think this will be helpful to someone else, please forward this to them! The more people we can educate, whether it’s fellow HR professionals or our management staff, the better off we’ll be. :-)

Like this post? There’s more where that came from. Click here to get updates when new articles are published.

Photo source: soukup

Research Power: Anonymous vs. Confidential Surveys

I like data. I like reviewing it, pulling out trends, and sharing insights. I also like when I get the opportunity to ask others what they like and get some anonymous feedback, because I believe that anonymity helps to improve the quality and quantity of responses.

Recently I was listening to a podcast, and the speaker mentioned offering a confidential survey, which he felt was more valuable than an anonymous one. I had to stop and consider the differences, and I realized there certainly may be times when offering confidential surveys can beat offering anonymous ones.

Types of surveys

  • Anonymous-Anonymous surveys collect information and aggregate it without leaving a “trail” to find the specific participant
  • Confidential-Confidential surveys collect information but tie the response back to a unique identifier for each participant. This allows a third party to follow up if need be on specific answers.

How they work and why they matter


Keep reading…

The Next Chapter

Hey, everyone! More of a personal note today. If you’re looking for something more meaty, check back tomorrow. Thanks!

pinnacle solutionsFor the past three and a half years I have worked at Pinnacle, an amazing company with some amazing people who do amazing things. In short: it’s been an awesome experience and I can’t imagine my life without it.

And this is my last week with them.

See, I really have been curious about trying something new. Recently I was approached to join another organization that impacts the HR/talent community on a much broader scale, and I was intrigued. I’ll tell you what I told everyone I work with: I’m not really moving away from anything at Pinnacle. I truly have enjoyed the work and the culture. However, a new opportunity has presented itself, and I am incredibly excited to give it a shot.

What’s in store


Keep reading…

SHRM to Stop Supporting PHR, SPHR Certifications

So if you’re a SHRM member and/or volunteer leader, you probably saw the news yesterday that SHRM is no longer supporting the PHR and SPHR exams after 2014. Read on for how this impacts you, and for those considering a SHRM Learning System alternative, I have a recommendation for that as well at the end. Here’s the note that many of us received earlier this week:

Dear Volunteer Leaders,

As an important and valued member of the SHRM community, I am pleased to share some exciting news with you.  The Board of Directors of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has approved a plan to create a competency-based certification program for human resource professionals.

The new HR certification is based on the SHRM HR Competency Model, which consists of nine primary competency domains defined with behavioral proficiency standards across four professional levels — entry, middle, senior and executive.  The new certification will be the first of its kind focused on teaching and the testing of this practical, real-life information that HR professionals need to excel in their careers.

“The differentiator for HR professionals will not be what you know, but what you can do with what you know,” said SHRM Board Chair Bette Francis.  “SHRM has a responsibility to lead the profession towards a certification process that proves competencies.  That will benefit the individual, the profession and employers by aligning HR with the changing demands of business.”

Over the last three years, SHRM had conducted and validated research on behavioral competencies and has developed its own competency model to serve as a foundational resource for all HR professionals.  SHRM is currently working on a certification program that will create a testing regime and governance model to provide integrity to the exam process.

SHRM plans to offer the first exam for the new competency-based certification in mid-2015.  However, to ensure that no applicants are disadvantaged by this transition, SHRM will continue to support the PHR and SPHR certifications programs through the December 2014 – January 2015 test window.  Other exams will be supported through their last test window in 2014.

“We have been working towards this for several years and are taking steps to ensure a smooth transition for SHRM members and HR professionals,” said SHRM CEO and President Henry G. (Hank) Jackson.  “We are creating a clear pathway for HR professionals who are already certified under knowledge-based credentials so they can move to the new SHRM competency-based certification.  This certification will be relevant to all career levels, across all industries, and organizations around the world.”

I know you are as excited as I am about SHRM’s focus on competency-based certification and SHRM will be sharing updates with you about the new program in the coming weeks and at the Annual Conference.

Warmest regards,

Elissa C. O’Brien, SPHR
Vice President, Membership
SHRM


Keep reading…

Teamwork Lessons from Dragon Boat Racing

So this weekend I participated in something I’ve never done before. Dragon boat racing.

dragon slayersYeah, I had never heard of it before, either.

The gist of it is this:

  • Each team has 16-20 paddlers in the boat at once, plus a drummer
  • You’re racing a straight course against other teams
  • First boat to cross the finish line wins

And that’s actually pretty much the whole thing. We had a great time, and we actually missed out on placing in our division by less than one second. I think our best/final time was around 1 minute, 16 seconds. Neat stuff!

A reminder for the workplace

As we ran through our practice run last week, we were all pretty clueless at the beginning. We were all splashing and paddling as hard as we could to try to get the boat moving. However, it wasn’t until we slowed down and got in sync that we really started moving.
Keep reading…

The World of HR Blogging: Carnival of HR

I’ve posted several HR Carnivals here before. I try to make each one special, because I know how important the world of HR blogging has been to me as a hands-on HR pro, and I don’t want anyone else to miss out on that opportunity.

I’m currently subscribed to 25-30 HR blogs in Feedly.It’s a great tool for keeping up with multiple websites, because it pulls the latest content into one place where you can read without visiting 20 different sites. Very handy. Anyway, I have used HR blogs over the years to help me stay motivated, learn new tips/tricks, and improve my HR service delivery. And the cost on those improvements? A little time. If you’d like to get free updates via email, just plug in your email address here.

Hopefully you’re reading this site and others that help you to learn and do more as an HR pro. I think that’s where the true value lies in the HR blogging world, at least for us practitioners.

With all that said, let’s check out the posts submitted from other authors. I hope you enjoy!

The excellent posts


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