Earlier today the latest workplace flexibility research from the Families and Work Institute and SHRM came out, and there were some very interesting data points in the study. A few quick hits from the 2014 National Study of Employers (link to the full study below):

  • The presence of women/minorities impacts offerings: Organizations with more women and racial or ethnic minorities who are in or report to executive leadership positions are more likely to offer a high level of health care and economic security benefits than organizations with fewer women/minorities in those positions.
  • How are employers preparing their people? Employers are more likely to provide training for supervisors in managing diversity and least likely to have a leadership development program for women (63% vs 11%).
  • The all important culture discussion: Respondents were asked to assess the supportiveness of their workplace cultures… The majority of respondents indicated “very true” to statements assessing whether supervisors are encouraged to assess employee performance by what they accomplish rather than “face time” (64%) and whether supervisors are encouraged to be supportive of employees with family needs and by finding solutions that work for both employees and the organization (58%). Far fewer employers, however, responded “very true” to statements asking whether management rewards those within the organization who support flexible work arrangements (11%) and whether their organization makes a real and ongoing effort to inform employees of the availability of work-life assistance (24%).
  • Twenty one percent of employers overall indicated they must comply with the FMLA but fail to offer at least 12 weeks of paid or unpaid leave for at least one type of leave. In other words, approximately one in five employers appear to be out of compliance with the Family and Medical Leave Act.

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Yesterday I attended day one of the Alabama SHRM Conference. The pre-con session on employee leave management was an interesting one for me, and I quickly saw three key areas where many companies can trip up if managers are not properly prepared. Just a word of warning–none of them are a quick fix. They require training, patience, and more training.

HR’s not the center of the employee leave management universe

employee leave managementWith the managers on the front lines with regard to employee communication, your organization can be in trouble before you ever know what hit you. It’s critical to train managers on what Family Medical Leave Act requirements are and how those should be routed to you or the appropriate person for employee leave management purposes. You should also cover the other key legal areas (Americans with Disabilities Act, etc.) so they know to come to you whenever one of these potentially sticky areas presents itself.

If you assume managers will know what to do, you’re kidding yourself.

Handling the “favorite” child

Another discussion I had today was around ADA accommodations for employees who request them. I think we understand the implications of offering accommodations, and some managers even seem to have a grasp on that side of the equation. I think one of the challenges that spins out of that is how the other employees see the accommodation.

Maybe someone gets an office on the first floor because they can’t climb stairs. Maybe they get a nicer chair because they have back issues. Whatever the case, it’s important to head off any commentary from the unaffected employees if it crops up.

All the work put in to provide accommodations and assist the employee can be undone by insensitive comments from other peers. I’d hope that nobody would say anything, but I’ve been around long enough to know it’s always a possibility. Situations where people think someone else is getting a benefit they don’t have, even when it’s related to employee leave management, tend to cloud peoples’ judgement at times.

Changing the mindset

Picture yourself as a supervisor with an employee on intermittent FMLA status. That’s a pretty typical employee leave management situation. When it comes time to rate employee performance, how are you going to keep the leave separate from the actual performance on the job? If I was in that situation, I admit that it would be a difficult proposition.

I think supervisors need support and encouragement to continue focusing on the work accomplishments and getting people back up to full productivity, not looking at what is not getting done due to someone being on leave for some protected status.

It would be very difficult not to, in some corner of your mind, consider the employees on FMLA as slackers compared to the rest of the staff. In this example you can substitute USERRA or ADA just as easily. I think it’s important to get it out there and off the table as soon as possible when discussing with managers.

“I know Katy’s leave is making it tough on you guys to get your deliverables completed on time, but let’s focus on the positive side of things and work to get her back up to speed as quickly and safely as possible. She’s a good worker and wants to get back to work full speed as soon as she can.”

Simple, easy, but probably a rare conversation.

Again, these are only a few of the key areas that I’ve seen can become issues if not dealt with early in the process. Have you seen these play out well (or not so well) in your own organization? Care to share any best practices around employee leave management?

Today I’m going to dispel the myth that culture is a form of hiring discrimination. Well, I’ll actually prove that it’s true, but in a different way than most people would expect. I use culture to discriminate against candidates  in every interview for every job we post. I look at how we do things, what attributes we find valuable in a candidate, and how well the person fits into those categories. In the video below I explain this in more detail.

This week I’ll be running a series of videos on culture topics, from defining culture to leveraging it in the hiring process and more. I’m a culture junkie and believe that organizations that use it well can differentiate themselves from the competition. It’s a strategic competitive advantage. Use it well. Other videos in this series:

  1. Defining corporate culture
  2. Hiring for culture fit
  3. Unique corporate culture ideas Continue reading

statistical adverse impact analysisStatistical Analysis of Adverse Impact: A Practitioner’s Guide by Stephanie R. Thomas

I know, adverse impact analysis is not my usual fare.

However, I’m working on a new project, and I need to expand my horizons a bit. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect from this book. I thought I might pick up an idea or two, but I wasn’t prepared to be sucked into the world of statistics and how they can be used to prove (or disprove) a claim of adverse impact.

Being in the government contracting industry, I have the OFCCP and the EEOC to think about, which means the topics in the book were exactly what I need to know to do my job better.

Highlights from Statistical Analysis of Adverse Impact Continue reading

I9 verification documents-challenges and solutions

i9 verification documentsI was wondering what suggestions you or others in the HR community have related to ensuring that new hires show up for orientation with the required forms(s) of ID for completion of the I-9. Currently, I include a copy of the back of the I-9 form when I send their employment offer letter and include instructions to the new hire that they will need to bring the appropriate form of ID with them to their orientation.

I am amazed at how many folks show up for orientation without the necessary ID. Then they want to fax a copy of their Social Security card, passport, etc. to me the next day – which in reality ends up being a week or so later, if at all. I don’t think faxed documents are acceptable but sometimes that is all I can get. Am I the only HR person who has this problem? Thank you for any advice! -L-

When I got this email from a reader, I was secretly relieved. Not because she was having problems with her I9’s, but because I realized I wasn’t the only one who had those same issues. It’s such a critical piece of the hiring process that our companies expect us to get right, but we are dependent on employees (many times at remote sites) to get us the I9 verification documents we need.

And as a side note, no, faxed copies are not supposed to be accepted, because you haven’t seen them in person to verify their authenticity. You need those originals or someone from your company to see those originals who can verify the documents in person.

So how can we combat this issue? Continue reading

Recently I attended a training, and the speaker offered a great piece of advice that I have taken to heart.

Before you make the ethical decision that you’re considering, can you see yourself defending it from the witness stand in a courtroom?

Ouch, but true. When we sometimes are sliding into those gray areas around employee relations and other “soft” parts of HR, it would be smart to keep that in mind.

Ever had to defend a decision in court? How did it go?

As an HR pro working for a government contractor, I had my first run-in with the Federal Service Contract Act (SCA) last year. Let’s just say it was a memorable experience. But seriously, if you’re working in the private sector and don’t have interaction with the government, you might be wondering (as I was way back when): What is SCA? How does it affect our company? How do we comply with it?

Well, I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I can get you started in the right direction.

Federal Service Contract Act wage determinations

A wage determination is a specific minimum wage set for employees of a certain category. For instance, a Senior Technician in Limestone county on an SCA contract would have to be paid a specific rate. On top of that minimum wage requirement comes a special stipend to cover benefits. For more information on wage determinations or to look one up, check out the WDOL website.

Federal Service Contract Act health and welfare stipend

In order to ensure that the workers are paid not only a minimum wage, but also a suitable amount for benefits, the employer is required to pay a set amount for “health and welfare” benefits. These benefits include, but are not limited to: health, dental, and vision insurance, life insurance, 401(k) savings match, education reimbursement, military leave, etc. The stipend amount varies by contract, but the important piece is to make sure you are providing at least the minimum amount per hour worked. If not, then you must pay the remaining stipend out in cash. Check out the resources below for more information on how this works.

Other Federal Service Contract Act requirements

There are so many twists and turns in the SCA regulations. Even numbered wage determinations are handled differently than odd numbered wage determinations. You can skip the stipend if you provide enough benefits, but you have to “true up” the numbers at year’s end to be sure you provided enough. Some employers separate their SCA employees into a separate “benefits pool,” allowing them to not pay them benefits and only pay the stipend, which is easier on the employer (though not necessarily on the SCA employees). It’s just one more administrative burden that HR pros working for federal contractors have to handle!

More SCA resources

Again, this is just a quick overview to get you started, but  I hope it was helpful. Any questions about the Federal Service Contract Act? Feel free to leave a comment below and I can try to help you find an answer!