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Inspiring HR pros to compose an innovative career path at HR West

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Let the countdown to HR West 2016 begin! Are you ready to get compose a new and innovative path to your personal and professional fulfillment in 2016? 


As a classical violinist turned innovative composer, Kai Kight uses music as a metaphor to inspire individuals and organizations across the world to compose paths of imagination and fulfillment. Inspired by his own mother who, when diagnosed with cancer, revealed regrets of not bringing her ideas to the world, Kai is on a mission to spark a global mindset shift in which ingenuity is the norm, not the exception.


When the Fortune 500 consulting firm PWC needed a unique way to inspire their millennial employees to find their purpose, they called Kai. When the legendary Walt Disney company needed a fresh approach to spark the creativity of their designers and animators, they called Kai. When the Superbowl-winning Seattle Seahawks of the NFL needed an innovative method to enhance the performance mindset of their star players, they called Kai. 


In his emotionally powerful presentations, Kai performs mesmerizing original music and vulnerably shares stories from his own transformation as an artist. Kai translates these insights into takeaways that audiences can easily infuse into their own lives and work environments. 


We are honored to have Kight present the final keynote of HR West - on March 9, 2016. Get ready to be inspired to have the human resources career and life that you may, for now, only be dreaming of. Join colleagues and friends at HR West 2016 -- HR in the most innovative place on earth! 


Watch highlights and testimonials of Kai Kight, innovative violinist, composer, and speaker, and don't miss seeing and hearing him live!  Register today.




Tags:  conference  HR  HR conference  HR West 2016  kai kight  NCHRA 

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Drug use tipster may be blowing smoke

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Thursday, December 3, 2015

With the legalization of marijuana in Oregon and Washington, many employers are seeing an uptick in positive drug tests. There is still some uncertainty among employers and employees alike about what may be acceptable and appropriate “use” and what constitutes a violation of a workplace policy. It is clear that employers still have the right to maintain a zero tolerance policy, but once you have the policy how do you enforce it? One situation that has become more frequent is a tip from a coworker or an anonymous source that an employee “smokes marijuana regularly” or even that employees are using marijuana in the workplace. The appropriate response to those tips is going to depend on your company policy. Do you have a policy that prohibits drug use either on or off the job? Does your policy say you have the right to test employees? What are the specific times (pre-employment, post-incident, random, reasonable suspicion, etc.) that you can test? Is an anonymous tip or a tip from a coworker enough to send your employee in for a reasonable suspicion drug test?

An anonymous tip or an isolated report from a coworker is not enough, on its own, to require a drug test even under a zero tolerance policy. Generally speaking, in order to require that an employee submit to a drug test you must have a policy that says you can, and the individual circumstances have to fit the reasons for drug testing that are enumerated in your policy. Most drug and alcohol policies allow an employer to test when they have “reasonable suspicion” that an employee is violating the policy. Reasonable suspicion doesn’t mean you have to be certain. But you do have to have objective, credible facts that form the basis for a suspicion prior to requiring an employee to submit to a test.

A report of drug use should prompt an investigation such as a check-in with the employee and an evaluation of whether there are other factors beyond the tip that might add up to “reasonable suspicion.” When you talk to the employee, does her performance, appearance, odor, or behavior indicate that she may be using marijuana in violation of your policy? Consider the credibility of the source of the tip; does the person making the report potentially have a grudge against the employee he or she is accusing? (For example, it’s not unusual for an employee going through a difficult divorce to be the subject of a report by a disgruntled spouse.) If you see signs that lead you to believe you may have reasonable suspicion, such as bloodshot eyes and an odor coupled with a glazed demeanor or inappropriate laughter, you should document those observations. Then ask another member of your management team if they notice anything out of the ordinary or troubling about the appearance, behavior, or performance of the employee and have them document their observations as well.

If you and another member of your management team think you have reasonable suspicion, then you should send the employee in for a drug test. Explain the factors that you have observed to the employee and give her an opportunity to explain. Beware, however, of letting the employee talk you out of the test. If her excuse is that she couldn’t sleep the night before and she is just tired, you can reply “if that’s all it is, then your test will be clean. But based on what we have seen today, we have to make sure. It’s our obligation to keep the workplace safe.”

Once you have decided to drug test an employee, it is important that you actually take the employee in to be tested or have the testing or sample collection done on-site. If it’s a reasonable suspicion test, the employee should be taken off the job until you receive the test results. In the event that the employee is clean, then the employee should be paid for the time that she missed while waiting for the results. If the employee tests positive, you should either terminate or offer a last chance agreement according to your company policies and practices.

Of course situations and workplaces all have their unique culture and challenges. If you do receive a tip of drug use, be sure to consult with your employment attorney to ensure that your response is appropriate.

About the Author


Lorraine Hoffman is an employment and labor attorney at Vigilant, a company headquartered in Oregon, dedicated to helping companies in Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho and California solve their most complex employment issues.




Tags:  drug testing  employee  hr  human resources  Lorraine Hoffman  marijuana  NCHRA  V  Vigilant  workplace 

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The Top Four Ways to Communicate for a Happier Work Environment

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Monday, November 30, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, November 24, 2015

By Karen RodriguezExec|Comm Partner

Studies show that 25 percent of employees do not trust their superiors, and with more than 2 million Americans are voluntarily leaving their jobs every month, one of the top reasons cited is that they “just don’t like their boss.”


Getting along with your employees can be a complicated challenge. Everyone has his or her our own unique way of communicating. So an important first step to improving communication with your employees and co-workers is to first identify your own personal communication style. In doing so, you’ll be able to recognize how you and your employees, colleagues, or superiors are alike (or different) with regard to your various communication needs. The goal is to maximize attention and involvement!


Here are the four most common communicator types. Which one describes your style?


The Director
The Director has a short attention span, processes information quickly and is most interested in the bottom line. Because they are quick processors of information, it is best to come to them with a bulleted list of conclusions. This type of manager tends to guard their time, so you would prefer that people prepare thoroughly before they begin speaking with you and expect interruptions. Be sure to preface your meetings with the fact(s) that you plan to start precisely on time and that those in attendance know of or have an agenda in place.


The Free Spirit

The Free Spirit is typically a creative, "big picture" person who thrives on options, but is not always strong on follow through. This type of manager’s attitude towards time limitations or structure is relaxed and they have no problem making lots of changes in the direction in their meetings. Because they can be scattered those who hold meetings with this type of communicator usually likes to discuss lots of topics at once, and without necessarily finishing one thoroughly before going on to the next one. While they often tend to start and end meetings ...late, a Free Spirit also needs to have enough time to assimilate what is being said so that they can think about things thoroughly.


The Humanist
For the Humanist to be happy, everyone else has to be happy too. This type of manager is very concerned with the feelings of others and always wants to be sure that the needs of others are thoroughly met. Be prepared to have anything you present to them to be passed around the entire department for full consensus. Communicating with a Humanist requires patience and tact, as they like to spend more than the allotted amount time discussing issues during meetings. Humanist managers want people to be as open and honest with them. The more questions they are asked the better—it ensures them that people are being heard and their needs are being tended to.

The Historian
This type of manager thrives on detail and reacts best to structure and precision. They respect people who always provide them with thorough analyses and background information. They tend to process information in a very linear and methodical way and do not like to jump from subject to subject. It's important for the Historian to discuss things in an orderly and step-by-step fashion. The Historian likes everything and everyone to be on time, and stay on the agenda (or follow a timeline) to ensure that everything up for discussion will be covered. 


As you come to understand these types of communication styles, you will hopefully be able to have a better relationship with your employees and colleagues, which can ultimately provide a more enjoyable work environment!


So again, which “type” are you? How has our communication style shaped some of your success as it applies to communicating effectively in your workplace? Leave a comment below!

About the Author

As the manager of the Exec-Comm brand, marketing and design efforts, Karen Rodriguez oversees the firm’s identity, touching all aspects of the brand (online presence and web site, web-based learning center, advertising, PR, classroom materials, and live special events). Since joining Exec-Comm in 1999 and entering into partnership status in 2009, she introduced (and still manages) the firm’s blog, The Chat, launched the company's quarterly lunch and learn series: The Learning Exchange, and its open-enrollment seminars in New York and San Francisco. Karen holds a B.F.A. from Parsons The New School for Design in New York City, and lives in Aberdeen, NJ, with her husband and three sons.



Tags:  communication  employee  Exec-Comm  HR  Karen Rodriguez  meetings  style  success  workplace 

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5 Simple Ways You Can Recognize Employees Starting Today

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Monday, November 23, 2015
Updated: Friday, November 20, 2015

Contributed by Emil Shour - Marketing Coordinator, SnackNation



If your company doesn’t have some type of employee recognition program or a way of making employees feel appreciated, your business is in trouble.


Why do I make that bold claim?


If you haven’t heard by now, being unappreciated is the number one reason why Americans leave their jobs.


Not benefits, not pay, not even having a terrible boss – simply the lack of recognition by our peers.


So, how can your company do a better job of recognizing employees?


Here are 5 simple employee appreciation ideas to help get you started:


1. Go the Extra Mile


The Staten Island University Hospital Radiology Lab Transportation Staff has the difficult job of wheeling patients around for testing. When they were falling short of their goal for number of moves per hour, the experts at Michael C. Fina came up with an idea to appreciate employees that got the hospital results: the Go the Extra Mile (or GEM program for short).

When an employee witnessed another going above and beyond, they would nominate them for the GEM award. The program was simple, but gave the staffers recognition they could actually hold in their hands, which went far towards making them feel really appreciated. 

2. Recognize employees through your social media channels


The St. Louis Children’s hospital leveraged social media to take employee recognition to the next level during their employee recognition gala. Employees nominated for awards of honor were profiled on Facebook and they even made the effort to Skype employees into the gala for special recognition if they couldn’t make it.


Dedicated employees working late shifts were still justly recognized. 


Supplement your appreciation and recognition awards with social media.

3. Recognize people by their passions

LA based Ad Agency Omelet exemplifies this idea perfectly.

Their employee recognition idea involves recognizing something at the core of every employee: passions. Omelet has a program they call 60/60, which awards employees two hours each and every week to work on a project they’re passionate about – and it doesn’t even have to relate to their work!

Through the program, employees have been able to work on anything from sports sites to food blogs. When you value an employee’s passions, they know you value them as a unique individual.

4. Give praise in person

At SnackNation, The “Crush-It” Call is a time-honored tradition. Each Friday afternoon, the entire SnackNation team huddles together and goes around the room stating 2 things:

  1. “Crush” someone on the team whose work they want to recognize and why
  2. Something you are grateful for

It’s a great chance for people to not only recognize each other, but also bring that person’s hard work to the attention of the entire team. As our team has grown, this gives everyone a chance to see the awesome achievements of everyone else in the company.

5. Support a good cause

Ad agency Drake Cooper recognizes employees through philanthropic side projects. They have a program called Dream Big where they allow staff to select a nonprofit for the agency to work with for free. Letting staff have the time to work on a passion project and do good is a great way to offer recognition (and earn some good karma).


SnackNation is a one-of-a-kind monthly healthy snack delivery service that helps employees be happier, healthier, and highly productiveIt’s also a way to give your employees convenient “grab and go” access to healthy foods so they can stay on site, stay properly fueled, and save themselves time and energy. Visit:

Tags:  EMPLOYEE  HR  human resources  management  NCHRA  programs  recognition  SnackNation 

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What’s Causing Private Exchange Enrollments to Double?

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Friday, November 20, 2015
Updated: Thursday, November 19, 2015


If you work in your company’s HR department, you’ve likely been hearing a lot about private health insurance exchanges as alternatives to traditional group health insurance plans. With their increasing popularity, you can expect to hear even more: According to Accenture, private exchange enrollments have annually grown more than 100 percent since 2013. In 2015, nearly 6 million people received their health insurance benefits through a private exchange; Accenture forecasts that number will grow to 12 million enrollees in 2016, skyrocketing to 40 million enrollees by 2018. Leading the private exchange trend are mid-sized companies employing between 100 and 2,500 people.


Yet what are the main factors driving the popularity of the private exchange health insurance model? Let’s take a closer look.

More Choice For Less Money

Simply put, private exchanges offer employers and their employees a greater number of plans from which to choose, at a cost lower than many group health insurance offerings. In a group health insurance situation, employers may be able to offer one or two distinct plans; private exchanges are often able to offer many more than that, with a variety of add-on insurance options available, as well. Employees are able to choose a plan that best meets their needs and their budget, and employers aren’t stuck paying for one-size-fits-some plans, including benefits that will go unused.

Fewer Administrative Headaches

There are numerous compliance-related regulations associated with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that require companies to file detailed reports. In a traditional group health insurance model, much of the reporting falls on the shoulders of the human resources department. Private exchanges reduce the paperwork burden for HR teams by handling most, if not all, of the compliance-related reporting. This means HR staff can focus on other pressing issues rather than get stuck in increasingly complicated benefits administration and compliance-focused tasks.

Avoiding Cadillac Tax Concerns

Starting in 2018, employers who provide employees with high-cost health coverage — annually, over $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families — will be subject to a 40 percent excise tax on any amount that exceeds the maximums. As the time for the Cadillac tax to take effect gets closer, many employers are looking for strategies to help them avoid running into tax issues. Private exchanges allow employers to reduce costs and sidestep Cadillac tax issues, while still offering their employees a robust benefits package.

Fulfilling the Employer Mandate

Also known as the Employer Shared Responsibility Provision, the ACA’s employer mandate states that companies employing 50 or more full-time employees must provide health insurance to at least 95 percent of their employees and employees’ dependents, or face a fine. With this provision going into effect in 2016, many employers are looking for a fast, cost-effective way to ensure they’re in compliance. Private health insurance exchanges allow employers to quickly deploy comprehensive health insurance solutions for their employees that meet those federal guidelines.

Private Exchange Popularity Continues to Grow

The popularity of private exchanges is growing, and experts predict the trend will continue. Because they offer a greater variety of plans at a lower cost, they’re attractive to both employers and employees. Additionally, they reduce the administrative burden on HR teams while fulfilling the ACA’s employer mandate and helping businesses avoid getting hit with the Cadillac tax. 


About the Author:

Lauren Mandel is the Content Marketing Manager of GoHealth Insurance.  GoHealth powers one of the nation’s leading private health insurance exchanges for individuals and families.

Tags:  affordable care act  culture  EMPL  employee  enrollment  final four  GoHealth Insurance  H WEST  HEALTH  healthcare expenditures  HR  human resources  INSURANCE  Lauren Mandel  management  NCHRA  PRIVATE  workplace 

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