Archive for July, 2010

What’s the real cost of employee absences?

Friday, July 30th, 2010

A new study published by Mercer and Kronos reports that employee absences cost employers 35% of payroll cost.  That’s quite a bit of money for time not spent working.  Plus most companies have some form of sick leave, vacation leave, and holiday time not to mention required leaves under FMLA and other federal or state laws so you are paying somebody to track all of this too.

I’m a believer in PTO (Paid Time Off).   What do I care as your employer  if you need a day off to take the dog to the vet, stay home with a sick kid, need a mental health day or like to celebrate a holiday I don’t know about? Way too much information and the end result is the same, you aren’t working.   How about this instead- “All employees receive the following paid holidays (insert the days your company is closed).  In addition to paid holidays after the first 90 days of employment employees accrue 10 hours of PTO per month in years 1-3 of employment.  Employees accrue 12 hours per month of PTO per month in years 4 and 5 of employment and 15 hours of PTO per month after the fifth year.  Employees are encourage to use their PTO in the year earned, however up to 24 hours may be transferred at each year end.   PTO balance has no monetary value and will not be converted to cash and paid at termination. (depending on state law).  PTO of more than 3 days will required either a two week advance request or if an advance request is not possible an explanation to your manager as to the reason for the PTO.”

I’ve managed both PTO programs only, vacation & sick time off, and a combination of all three- PTO always is the favorite with the employees- AND less abused with frequent unplanned absences, sick people working when they should be at home….and it’s so much easier to track on the HR side.

Join the conversation:  Is PTO a good idea?

Approach with caution- using the internet for recruiting

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Since 75% of HR professionals admit to Googling, Twittering and Facebooking in their quest to find out the dirt on a candidate let’s consider what that really means.

  • Who did you really find? There are several Kathryn Carlsons out there working in HR, you  are going to have to dig a bit to make sure you really have found me.  All the other Kathryns seem very nice by the way but they aren’t me. Plus what you do find on me is nothing I wouldn’t have told you if you asked because I monitor my online profile very, very carefully and I never accept an inviation  to any site unless I know I can count on the person to provide truthful information about me.  Facebook- nothing there I’m ashamed of and you will have to hack in anyway because I only share my Facebook page with family and very good friends.   Want some  insight on who I am- the OPUS assessment I took before being hired at KPA provided more information that then any web search.  A web search only confirms that I have worked in various area of HR for a number of years, published a bit, write a blog on HR issues, and been quoted in some articles.
  • Did your candidate really post that information? I did a Google search yesterday and lo and behold there was a new link with my name – it was me, it was from a article that used some information I had published and it was all good, but I didn’t put it out there.  If it hadn’t been good or truthful I would have taken steps to remove it.
  • Texts, pictures, and videos may have been manipulated before posting or after posting. Not convinced? Call the Department of Agriculture and let them explain how they fired Shirley Sherrod because of a doctored clip and then they had to apologize and offer her a new job  and the President appologized personally and the NAACP apologized and on and on…just because nobody took 10 minutes to research if this was the full text of a speech or a clip used by a blogger for his own purposes.

By the way those Internet searches you are doing in your effort to be a good recruiter/hiring manager? They are bound to reveal information you wish you didn’t have and go to great pains to not collect on an employment application or during the interview…  if you really want to know information about race, religion, disability, sexual preference and where they take vacations and what their pet’s name is…go for it… and then explain why that information never factored in the hiring decision when you are sued for discrimination.

Bottom line- If you use the internet to research information consider it part of the background check and do it after you get a release from the applicant.  Publish a social media policy so employees understand the ground rules and know that you will be checking up.  Stop and think before you use any information you find.

Join the conversation:  Have you Googled yourself lately?

Happy Birthday ADA (Americans With Disablities Act)

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Happy 20th  Birthday to the ADA (Americans with Disability Act)! Since becoming the law on July 26, 1990 the ADA has protected the rights of the disabled including access to public places, enforcing non-discrimination and requiring “reasonable accomodation” in the workplace.  Further protections for the disabled were provided by the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA).  This law made clear that courts needed to focus their attention on the illegal discrimination – not on whether the victim was disabled within the meaning of the law.    So how effective has the ADA been in the past 20 years? Unfortunately discrimination against those with disabilities continues in the workplace. Consider the following statistics from the EEOC website:

  • 1993: 15,274 charges of discrimination filed with EEOC, which obtained $15,496,811 in relief for 1,851 people though its administrative process;
  • 2009: 21,451 charges of discrimination filed, roughly a 30% increase.  EEOC got $67,826,112 in relief for 3,238 people;
  • From 1993 to 2009, ADA charges rose from 17.4% of all charges filed with the EEOC to 23% of all charges filed as ADA charges became a greater part of the EEOC’s workload;
  • During the same period, the EEOC filed 874 lawsuits claiming violations of the ADA, collecting a total of $86,633,804 for victims of disability discrimination.
  • Join the conversation: What is your experience hiring a disabled person or as a disabled person applying for work?

    75% of HR professionals research candidates online- so what?

    Friday, July 23rd, 2010

    The recent events around the firing (and then the apology and new job offer) of Shirley Sherrod because of a highly edited blog clip and the excellent and fascinating article in this week’s New York Time magazine that reports ” 75 percent of recruiters and HR professionals research candidates online – from blogs to Twitter to last night’s photos on Facebook. …70 percent say they’ve rejected candidates due to findings…”  has me thinking this has all gone way too far and way to fast.  So what  if 75% of us are playing with our new tools to dig out everything we can find on a candidate-I’m more interested in are we are we being thoughtful in our use.  Don’t get me wrong- I think we need to know lots and lots about those we hire and work with, I spent years in the background checking industry after all- but let’s consider if digging around on a Facebook page is really as good as doing a structured interview face to face.  Does checking out a Twitter feed really gives me insight into how the person does their job or at best give me a sense of could they write haiku?  With privacy controls that can limit information, knowing that what is on the web stays on the web for forever and a day, plus the ability to Google yourself and get ahead of what is out there about you- having bad information out there for recruiters and employers to find is really at best a cognitive ability test.

    Join the conversation: Do you use social media to research candidates and check up on employees?

    Light at the end of the tunnel as employers start hiring again

    Monday, July 19th, 2010

    While the unemployment rate remains over 9% (9.3% according to the last Bureau of Labor Statistics report) there seem to be a bit of light at the end of the recession tunnel. The National Association of Buiness Economics reported that 31% of employers surveyed had added staff in the past 3 months, up from 6% last year AND 39% expect to hire between now and December 2010.  If you are one of those employers who will be hiring this year do yourself a favor and before you start hiring review your processes- since you probably will only be hiring a few individuals this year it is critical to do it right the first time.

    1)  First things first, make sure you have a job description for the position

    2) Use a checklist to ensure objective, legally defensible interviewing

    3) Check references and depending on the position peform a background check/drug test

    4)  Provide a conditional offer letter and written pay plan to the prospective employee

    5)  Make sure you have some basic orientation actitivities planned for the first day/first week so they hit the ground running.  No need to spend hours and hours on orientation but everyone like to know where the bathroom is and an organization chart is alway handy!

    Additional information on best practices in hiring can be found in the KPA webinars- “How to Hire the Right Employees” and “Bulletproof Your Employment Practices”.  Recorded versions may be dowloaded at

    Hope you are one of the lucky employers who will be hiring this year- join the conversation and  let me know if you are hiring or still waiting for the economy to improve further.

    Truth in HR (or blogs you need to read besides this one)

    Thursday, July 15th, 2010

    Ever wonder what HR people really think once they get past being politically, socially and corporately correct? Looking for some common sense in the HR process? Check out Punk Rock HR for some of the funniest but also most truthful HR commentary on the web. Laurie isn’t afraid to say what she is really thinking (something many of us are trained not to do in HR). 

    If you have time to read more than one or two blogs (mine for pratical advice and regulatory updates and Laurie’s  for laughs and some HR truth telling) then take a look at Fistful of Talent- a community of bloggers who talk about all things HR.  Interested in rentention programs or maybe how to hire better, pondering the question on why HR still isn’t considered strategic rather than an administrative or just want to see what others thought about the recent SHRM conference – there is something for everyone involved in HR at this site.

    It’s easy to get bogged down in blogs- way too much information out there these days so I’ve tried to limit my reading to 3-5 sites (and I get paid to read up on HR news and commentary and summarize for our clients), but I’m curious as to what HR  blogs are you reading these days?

    How Does Your Benefit Plan Stack Up?

    Thursday, July 8th, 2010

    The Society for Human Resources (SHRM) released their new benefit report last week.   In the report 98% of the employers surveyed reported offering health insurance, spending on average $7038 per employee on healthcare coverage costs. 75% of the companies reported offering some type of wellness program.   Companies also reported that they spend on average 19% of salary for mandatory benefits, 18% for voluntary benefits and 11% for pay for time not worked.  92% offer a defined contribution retirement plan with 72% providing an employer match.

    Some of the more unique benefits programs include allowing pets at work (6%) ,  offering self defense classes (3%)  and offering concierge services (2%).

    Since benefits are a key factor in employee satisfaction make sure your plans measure up against others in your area or industry ( 79% of employers reported they review plans annually, do you?).  Download the full report at

    Join the conversation:   How would you rank your benefit plan?

    Yet another discrimation lawsuit and settlement in the transportation industry

    Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

    Because KPA offers HR compliance consulting and HR software we monitor all of the lawsuits and settlements brought by the EEOC.   Frankly it is rather depressing to me (as an HR professional and as a person)  that 45 years after the EEOC was established there are still so many claims and settlements for discrimination, harassment and retaliation.    My friends who are  employment attorneys could not be more pleased that there seems to be a never ending source of revenue from employers who can’t be bothered with good HR practices UNTIL the lawsuit lands on their desk.

    The latest discrimination and retaliation claim settled by a company involved in the transportation industry involves McGriff Industries. McGriff Industries settled the suit for $100,000 along with required activities involving implementing effective anti-discrimination policies and procedures, and training its employees, supervisors and managers on the prohibitions against racial misconduct in the workplace. The company will also be required to develop a system for reporting, investigating and addressing complaints of workplace racial misconduct; hold all employees accountable for engaging in it; and hold supervisors and managers accountable for tolerating or failing to address such misconduct.  

      Let’s review the 4 things employees really must do to ensure they are not next in the list of companies the EEOC has settled with in 2010. 

    1) When in doubt on the right thing to do - don’t do anything (don’t fire, don’t hire,) without consulting the experts (your attorney, a certified HR professional) and then listen to what they tell you.

    2) Automate processes for hiring, performance management, training and termination with software so you have complete records, and forced compliance to best practices for essential HR process. With the multitude of HR software programs out there at every price point,  some even specialized by industry, there is no excuse not to automate process and force compliance. 

    3) Establish policies and procedures for employees to report issues and concern- and respond to them (ethically, humanely and legally).

    4) Train, train, train- never assume your managers and employees know what to do and more importantly what not to do to avoid harrassment, discrimination or retaliation.

     Join the conversation: Are you sure your company would survive an EEOC audit?

    Employee Bill of Rights- Happy 4th of July!

    Friday, July 2nd, 2010

    In honor of the 4th of July holiday let’s take a moment to celebrate our rights as citizens here in the United States and also discuss what rights employees have the workplace.

    1) Employees have the right (confirmed by a number of state and federal laws) to not be discriminated against or harrasssed in the hiring process and in the workplace.

    2) Employees have the right to be paid for work completed and to have meal and rest periods as appropriate (the Fair Labor Standards Act and individual state law defines wage payment along with meal and rest periods).

    3) Unless under contract employees have the right to leave employment that does not suit them (employers also have the right to fire employees “at will”  in most states except when under contract or because of discrimination or retaliation).

    4) Employees do not have the right to paid holidays, sick time or vacation pay under federal Law (FLSA). Some states do provide for paid time off.   Check out the your state’s Department of Labor website  more information on paid leave laws.   Employees do have the rights to unpaid leave under Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and some state laws.

    5) Employees have the right to reasonable accomodations for disabilities  under the Americans With Disablity Act (ADA).

    Happy 4th of July to all employees and employers!

    Meet with your Insurance Broker to Update Benefit Plans Before Fall Enrollment

    Thursday, July 1st, 2010

    Compliance Tip of the MonthMost open enrollment periods for benefits programs happen in the fall so use the summer months to get a head start. After researching what health care reform requirements will impact you, schedule a meeting with your insurance broker. Draw on the agent’s expertise to walk through your benefits plans, plan by plan, and make changes where necessary (such as to the dependent age coverage limitations, which are increasing to age 26). Be sure that the broker and insurance carrier work together to present you with revised plan documents, as necessary. You can also view list of binary brokers that could benefit these programs. KPA offers a free webinar and white paper on How Healthcare Reform Impacts Dealerships.