2014 / 12

Final Rule Issued for OSHA Recordkeeping Requirements

by Jeanne Knutzen | December 23, 2014

0 Legal Issues - Staffing

By Nickole C. Winnett In a press release issued September 11, 2014, OSHA announced the final rule for Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements. For Federal Plan States, the regulation will go into effect on January 1, 2015; State Plan States will announce their dates independently but are encouraged to meet the same deadline. This regulation brings some major new changes for employers. Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, cited the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report stating that 4,405 workers were killed on the job in 2013 to emphasize the importance of this new rule. Establishments in certain low-hazard industries are partially exempt from routinely keeping OSHA injury and illness records. Under the new rule, there will be a shift in the number of industries which are partially exempt from keeping these records. Previous regulations used the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system to categorize industries. The new rule now relies on the North American Industry Classification Systems (NAICS) along with injury and illness data from BLS from 2007 through 2009 to categorize the industry as low-hazard and exempt employers from OSHA recordkeeping requirements. As a result of this update, employers in several new industries are now required to keep OSHA injury and illness records. A list of these new industries can be found here. The new rule maintains the exemption for any employer with 10 or fewer employees from the requirement to routinely keep records of worker injuries and illnesses. The rule expands the list of severe injuries, which all OSHA-covered industries must report to OSHA regardless of size or partial exemption status. The current rule stipulates that when there is a fatality or three or more hospitalizations, the employer must inform OSHA within eight hours of the occurrence. Under the new rule, a fatality (within 30 days of the work-related incident) must still be reported within eight hours of the death. However, employers will now have a 24 hour window in which to report to OSHA all work-related inpatient hospitalizations that require care and treatment of a single employee, all amputations, and all losses of an eye which occur within 24 hours of the incident. The available methods of reporting by the employer have also been expanded. In addition to calling OSHA's confidential number (1-800-321-OSHA) or calling the local OSHA Area Office, employers will be able to go to the web portal, which OSHA is developing, and make a report electronically. OSHA has stated that not all reported incidents will lead to an inspection. OSHA noted, however, that hospitalization and partial body loss are significant events that indicate serious hazards are likely to be present at a workplace and that an intervention is warranted to protect the other workers at the establishment. OSHA said in its press teleconference that it sees a report as opening a dialog with the employer and that its decisions regarding whether an investigation will be opened will be case-specific. OSHA is most interested in knowing what caused the injury, what the employer intends to do as a result of the incident, and putting the employer on notice–all of which it expects will make an employer more likely to take the necessary steps to rectify the situation. Based on OSHA's conversation(s) with an employer, OSHA indicated that it may decide to take no further action, roll the employer straight into a consultation program, or conduct an inspection. Significantly and most troubling, OSHA also stated during its press teleconference that it will make an employer's report of all fatalities, hospitalizations, amputations, and/or eye losses publicly available on the OSHA website. OSHA stated that it believes that public disclosure will incentivize employers to ensure a safe workplace for their employees.

Nickole Winnett is a senior associate in the Washington, D.C. Region Office of Jackson Lewis P.C. and is a member of the Workplace Safety and Health practice group. She heads the Workplace Violence sub-specialty practice group and is a member of the Process Safety Management sub-specialty practice group. Winnett is also co-author of Jackson Lewis' OSHA Law Blog.

Are These Turnover Myths Hurting Your Company?

by Jeanne Knutzen | December 23, 2014

0 Hiring - Best Practices

By Karaka Leslie There's a lot of misinformation out there regarding employee turnover. Some "experts" recommend employers keep an almost hyper vigilant watch on turnover rates, while others recommend employers stop worrying about the rates altogether! Despite all the talk, however, nobody has come up with a foolproof solution for resolving high turnover. The needs, desires, and perceptions of your employees contribute to your rates, which makes solving the problem of high turnover more difficult than one might assume. That said, some misinformation is more harmful than others. Here are the top five myths to avoid taking at face value. MYTH #1 Low turnover means your employees like their jobs. One would think that all the time, energy, and effort spent recruiting employees would amount to a workforce where everyone is a perfect fit. Not so! While this is a nice idea, the truth is low turnover could simply mean your employees can't find jobs they want. That's why turnover isn't always a bad thing. When employees become disengaged, disgruntled, and (sorry) lazy but stay put, productivity decreases and their negativity impacts the entire work environment. One weak link will drag the rest of the team down, so a higher turnover rate is a better bet than a crop of toxic long-term employees. MYTH #2. If an employee leaves your company, he or she was never a good fit to begin with. Sure, sometimes a person just isn't as right for the job as you'd hoped, but your first thought as the employee heads for the door shouldn't be, "Well, he didn't really belong anyway." It's probably more likely that business processes or company culture is the root cause of the employee's departure. Poor management, inadequate training, or incomplete onboarding will lead to turnover more often than "poor fit." MYTH #3. Employee turnover is on the rise. Rumor has it that turnover has been skyrocketing within the last few years as a result of the recovering economy. However, in fact, turnover rates have remained relatively stable. A study done by SHRM found that between 2009 and 2011, employee turnover fluctuated approximately 2%. Employee turnover is an inevitable part of doing business, as employees will always have reasons to change jobs, but it’s not an expanding problem. MYTH #4. Employees primarily leave jobs for more money. Of course some employees leave their jobs after being offered more money by another company, but money isn't the main cause of turnover. Statistics show that employees are far more likely to remain at or leave a company because of their relationship with their manager or opportunities for growth. MYTH #5. Employee turnover is unpredictable. You can't always know beforehand that an employee has decided to leave. However, you can plan for a certain amount of employee turnover. One way to go about this is to evaluate your turnover rates from past years and use the percentage to forecast future rates. Doing so can help budget for recruiting costs and determine how much time HR needs to devote to managing employee turnover. Your company's turnover rate is a significant number, especially as it relates to employee satisfaction and recruiting costs. Still, when evaluating the issues that contribute to turnover within your business, it's important not to get sucked into some of the myths being paraded around. Each company is different, and you should consider the unique needs of your organization before determining whether your turnover rates are alarmingly high, alarmingly low, or just right.

  Karaka Leslie is one of the product managers at PayScale, a compensation data and software company. Karaka started her career as an agency recruiter, helping companies find the best talent. Since then, she has worked with numerous businesses to assist them with building a solid case for good compensation planning. Outside of compensation, she also founded a Community Giving group to help connect professionals to local community organizations focused on education and career services.    

4 Tips for a Merrier Holiday Office Party

by Jeanne Knutzen | December 23, 2014

0 Human Resources Staffing

By Josh Tolan The winter season, and all its attendant holidays, can make you really take stock of what you have. This is why many companies throw holiday parties for employees. It's a great way to say "thanks" for a job well done this past year. But holiday parties can come with their own set of minefields to navigate. An awkward holiday party is like an employee getting coal in their corporate stocking. Here are some tips to avoid this fate and keep your holiday party as merry as Santa Claus: 1) Keep Your Spirits Bright...but Under Control Tis the season to keep spirits bright, but employees who imbibe too many spirits can be a recipe for a holiday party disaster. By spirits, of course, we mean alcohol, which is often a key component to an office holiday party. You just need to look toward pop culture for an example of how dangerous drinking to excess at the holiday party can be. On the AMC's 60s-era drama Mad Men, a booze-filled party turned into a disaster when a drunk employee ran over the foot of a superior with a lawn mower. Most likely having a few too many drinks won't result in bodily injury, but it can certainly hurt your employee morale. Instead of pouring out hard liquor, pick something more mellow such as wine or something seasonal like eggnog. Watch employees who look like they might be on the verge of drinking to excess and quietly cut them off. Or you could even decide to forgo the alcohol entirely and instead provide fun seasonal beverages. Whatever you do, make sure employees don't wake up regretting their actions at your holiday party in the next morning. 2) Know Your Staff To craft the perfect holiday party, you'll first need to understand the makeup and needs of your employees. These are the same people you connected with in the hiring process, whether through an in-person interview or through online video. Think about their unique needs before scheduling your office party venue. Do most of your workers have families or are they single and ready to cut loose? If your employees are mostly family-minded, you don't want to schedule your holiday party at the new hip bar in town. Instead, you might decide on a holiday fair or family-friendly activity everyone can take part in. Likewise, if your employees are mostly single and looking to have fun this winter, a night out might be more alluring to them than going to a production of The Nutcracker. Many offices, however, have a mix of both types of employees. In this case, you'll want to schedule something that will be fun for everyone. For instance, going bowling or attending a karaoke night will allow the single workers to grab a few drinks and have fun while the families can still tag along and enjoy themselves. 3) Rock Around the Holiday Tree Winter is a great time of year in which many holidays occur. Staying clear of religious affiliation is a great rule of thumb in the office in general, but it's even more important around the holidays. Not all of your employees will observe the same religious holidays, and therefore it's good to keep this time of year as nondenominational as possible. Put aside the manger and Hanukkah candles for twinkle lights and snowmen. It will make your entire workforce feel included instead of just the members that share your religious views. 4) Consider ditching Secret Santa Secret Santa can be very stressful, especially if you end up with a coworker you don't know very well. The episode of NBC's The Office, where horrible boss Michael Scott reacts badly to a homemade present, shows the shortcomings of secret Santa present swaps. Avoid the awkwardness of buying the wrong present by encouraging your office to give to others instead. Start a toy drive or pool all the money that would be spent on gifts to give to charity instead. After all, the season is about giving back and being grateful for the gifts we already have, and no one really needs another scented candle from a coworker who has no idea what to get you. Holiday and Christmas work parties can be great ways to bond with your workforce and say a special thanks for a job well done in 2014. So before hanging up twinkle lights, make sure to check these holiday party tips twice.

  Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire, a video powered hiring network that connects job seekers and employers through video resumes and online interviews. Connect with him and Spark Hire on Twitter.

We Are All Becoming Millennials

by Jeanne Knutzen | December 23, 2014

0 Hiring - Best Practices

By Darcy Jacobsen

It's hard to read anything about business today and not trip over references to millennials and the changes they are bringing to the workplace. It has everyone in something of a lather.

It is true that there are major changes afoot in modern business and they have happened with the influx of the latest generation of workers. But those changes are bigger than any one cohort.

This Generation Y, or the Millennial Generation, born between 1982 and 1999, has created an enormous amount of anxiety as employers scramble to figure out what will attract and retain them. Generation Y will, after all, constitute 75% of the workforce by 2025. Those who win the hearts of millennials will win the war on talent. No question. But there are those on the flip side of the issue who argue that nothing is new under the sun, that the differences cited in generational attitudes are fiddle faddle, and that the uniqueness we see in this younger group is largely age and development related. That is, the thought is that millennial attitudes will shift as they age and eventually fall into the same patterns as older generations. Both sides are missing the real story. It is true that our youngest workers have ushered in a lot of new ways of thinking about old ideas. But the truth is, we are ALL becoming millennial. Take this Pew test for yourself (How Millennial Are You?) and encourage those around you to take it as well. You might be surprised at how little the results correspond to chronological age. (I scored 97% millennial although I belong to Generation X.) The fact is, we're looking so hard at this new generation that we are failing to reflect enough on the changes that are sweeping the rest of us—traditionalist, boomers, and Gen Xers included. I've been crunching data recently for our upcoming Workforce Mood Tracker report and I have to say that I've been surprised that millennials do not differ from the workforce at large in as many areas as you'd think. Consider these seven qualities that we tend to attribute to our youngest workers, and how they really describe the way we've all changed: Millennials are digitally connected 24/7. I'm a Gen Xer and I sleep with my phone next to my pillow. So does my Mom. I was in a large meeting yesterday with mixed generations, and it dawned on me that not one person out of the group was wearing a traditional watch—but every one of them had their phone on the table or in their pocket. According to the Pew Internet Project, 91% of Americans now own cell phones and 55% now own smartphones. That number is expected to grow to a near 80% share by 2017. The average person checks their phone 10 times an hour. That's person... not just millennial. We are ALL connected by mobile devices, and those of us who aren't will be soon. Any attempt to connect with your workforce that doesn't take this into account will fail. Millennials don't stay for the gold watch. No one stays for the engraved gold watch anymore. (No one even wants an engraved gold watch anymore, and if they got one they'd probably put it up on eBay). When employees do stay, they stay for their co-workers and their work. When I started my career, a respectable resume had you spending at least five years in every job; then the statistic dropped to two years. Nowadays, some employers even react the opposite way–if you have too few listings on a resume they may worry you might be complacent, in low demand, or resistant to new ideas. Average tenure rates with millennials in the workforce are around 4.6 years–but that number has remained more or less the same, with some economy driven variation, since the 1980s. That means if you're waiting around to reward and thank people until they hit their five year anniversary, they have probably already moved on–regardless of what year they were born. Millennials desire continuous positive feedback. Guess what? No one likes negative feedback... even when it is constructive. And we all like positive feedback. In fact, according to Gallup, managers who give little or no feedback fail to engage 98% of employees. Those who concentrate feedback on strengths reduce employee disengagement to less than 1%. The power of feedback is a recurring topic for us on this blog, so I won't get into too much detail on it, but suffice it to say that all employees are hungry for ongoing, real-time feedback that confirms they are doing good work and shows they are appreciated for it. When we get positive reinforcement, we are more satisfied, more engaged, and happier. Millennials demand flexibility and choice. The Millennial Generation certainly didn't discover individuality or flexibility, but their advent has coincided with a broader recognition that employee well-being–physical, psychological, and developmental–is good for business. That recognition, combined with the millennials' expectation to be treated like special snowflakes, has opened up a realization that our work lives can be much richer if we are given more control, choice, and ownership over them. Companies, too, have begun to understand that when we trust employees like responsible individuals, they will behave like responsible individuals and will work all the harder for it. Most forward-thinking companies have begun to adapt this more flexible way of thinking about their workforce–designing more choice into their total rewards and talent management strategies–and are reaping the rewards. Millennials want meaningful work and to give back. Morality and responsibility have re-entered our cultural dialogue with this generation, but they are not alone in caring about these ideas, which long pre-date them. They want to work for companies with a strong mission and cultural values. They want to work for companies who have strong moral standing and practice virtuousness. Well, so do we all. According to Don MacPherson from Modern Survey, "employees are now 37 times more likely to be fully engaged if they know and understand their organization’s values." Meaning and mission have grown in importance for us all and do not belong only to our youngest employees. Millennials expect to be developed and groomed. Again, desires for advancement and development are highly associated with millennials. Only companies with strong L&D plans have a hope of keeping this generation on board. On the other hand, this is also true for all employees. When BlessingWhite asked workers why they leave companies, the #1 answer was a "lack of opportunity to grow or advance." Stagnation affects employees in every life stage, and we all respond positively to hopes of learning or advancing in our careers. Millennials need social approval and crowdsource everything. Anyone who has a relative under the age of 30 will no doubt have witnessed firsthand the intensely social nature of the Millennial Generation–especially in how they use electronics and the internet to rate and share experiences and to gauge their own success through the eyes of their peers. Social connections and crowdsourcing are advancing not only because of adoption by millennials, but because technology has finally made them possible. Connecting with one another benefits us all, and the more workplaces make that possible, the more workers in every generation will thrive. Academic research bears this out. A recent meta-review of academic studies on generational differences found that "leaders should view generational differences not merely as idiosyncratic inter-group differences, nor as a reflection of age differences at a moment in time, but as manifestations of broader trends in society and work that continue to evolve as the generations move through their respective life courses." The study, published by Sean Lyons and Lisa Kurons in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, goes on to conclude: "This means that past management practices cannot be assumed to work in the modern context and today's practices cannot be presumed to work in the future. The generational trends evident in this review suggest that workers are becoming more independent and self-focused and less committed to their organizations and, as a result, are more mobile in their careers. Workers are increasingly seeking personal fulfillment in their work, and leaders and employers who can satisfy their individualistic growth needs will have a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talent. Employers may accept these trends and adjust to a new reality of transactional, short-term employment relationships, or must work to provide flexible work conditions, job offerings, and leadership to simultaneously meet the needs of multiple generations." Now to be sure, millennials are further ahead and leading the charge on all of these things I listed above, and Lyons and Kurons' article makes it clear there ARE proven differences among cohorts. But these are changes that affect us all. Millennials are clearing a path to make all our work lives better. It's time we stop thinking of this as a generational shift, and start thinking about it as a workforce shift. We are all millennials, now.
  Darcy Jacobsen is a content marketing manager at Globoforce, the world’s leading provider of SaaS (software-as-a-service)–based employee recognition solutions. Through its social, mobile, and global technology, Globoforce helps HR and business leaders elevate employee engagement, increase employee retention, manage company culture, and discover the power of real-time performance management. Contact Jacobsen or follow her writing at www.globoforce.com/gfblog.

When I’m hiring, what’s more important – skills, knowledge, experience (i.e. talent) or “cultural fit”?

by Jeanne Knutzen | December 10, 2014

0 Hiring - Best Practices Hiring Guide, Hiring Smart, HR perspective, Seattle Seahawks, Workplace Culture Fit

Great question…and the answer, of course – it depends. Both talent and “fit” matter, but which is most important in any hiring decision depends on the job you are trying to fill. For some jobs, “fit” is clearly the most important component of placement success because they are the requirements that make a difference to ultimate job performance.  There are many jobs where the knowledge and skills necessary to do the job are easily trained while the  "soft skills" are not.  Entry level jobs in a customer contact center, for example, lend themselves to selection processes based on “fit”, not necessarily work experience or hard skills.  We have many clients who rely on us to find them the "right fit" rather than specific skills or experience because they know that "the right fit" is what makes the difference - really! For other jobs, “fit” is less important because very specific knowledge, skills and experience are key to successful job performance....and the client needs those qualifications to be in place at the point of hire.  Many of the  temporary or contract jobs we fill are of this nature.  The client has no time to train and just needs specific work done, NOW!  Focusing too much on "fit" in those scenarios may not be needed which is why many of these clients hire temporary or contract talent on a short term basis to be able to move quickly.    As all recruiters know, finding candidates with the skills, knoweldge and experience needed to do the actual work, while also being a  good "fit" for the client's  work environment, is not a process done quickly. Putting together great teams  requires hiring managers to consider several factors:

  • The availability of skilled candidates in the marketplace.
  • Costs – how much will a fully qualified “talent” cost compared to hiring someone slightly less talented, but a better “fit?”
  • The business need – how much “ramp up time” is available between point of hire and when the employee can deliver full performance?
  • The training or support resources available for new hires.
  • The uniqueness of the job – how much information and knowledge has to be provided to any candidate, regardless of work experience or education?
  • What candidate characteristics that are considered important to performance are or are not amenable to training? Can you train someone to be more passionate about their work? To want to learn and grow professionally?
From an HR perspective, there can be issues when hiring managers put too much emphasis on “fit” to the point where the company is at risk for charges of discrimination if that "fit" systematically rejects candidates of a particular race, gender, or age will “fit?” While hiring is inherently discriminating (we have to choose one candidate from several), employers run into trouble when their choices are based on factors that are not related to job performance. The key to hiring smart is a solid identification of the factors that are actually key to performance success.  While asessing candidates based on their skills, knowledge and work experience is a relatively straight forward process, assessing candidates based on their “fit” involves a more in depth review of what that ter means - in objective, job relevant terms. The recruiters who are part of the PACE Staffing Network are experts at helping clients hire candidates who both have the skills to do the job and are good "fits" for the actual work requirements.  For a “complimentary ” Hiring Smart Guide to Interviewing, contact infodesk@pacestaffing.com or call 425-637-3312. This article was written by Jeanne Knutzen, founder and CEO of the PACE Staffing Network.