Posted By Editor,
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
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Contributed by Becky Barton
These days it’s difficult to avoid the election mania covered by the various media outlets. Given the major spotlight on the presidential race, you may not know that the potential decriminalization of marijuana will be on the ballot in several states.
California, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada will all weigh in on legalized marijuana for recreational use (also known as “adult use” and “non-medical use”) where it is currently approved for medical use only. Another 3 states (Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota) will decide on the future of cannabis for medical use in their states.
Supporters of the ballot measures see this as a boon to the states’ economies via increased taxes and job growth for cannabusiness people. We have seen 25 states and the District of Columbia legalize marijuana in some fashion, making a continued trend of legalization highly likely.
So what does this mean for business owners and employers? Marijuana remains illegal under federal law and the state-by-state variations make this particularly confusing. For example, within the subset of those states approved for recreational use, the amount an individual can personally carry varies. As an employer, particularly a multi-state employer, these variations can be an administrative and enforcement nightmare.
Or do they? After all, alcohol is a mind and behavior altering substance that’s been legal for over 80 years and we seem to manage that in the workplace, right? Wouldn’t this be treated similarly? Well, it depends. Many laws clearly state that employers don't have to accommodate medical marijuana use during work hours or on company property while other states require reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities (specifically as it relates to drug testing and adverse action).
The key is to know what is required by the states in which you operate, create an employment policy that complies with state law and enforce it consistently amongst employees of similar work groups.
The Bottom Line: Work with an HR consultant or an employment law attorney to navigate these unchartered waters. They should be watching how these new laws are interpreted by the courts and have your back should your policy need updating.
Becky Barton is the founder of People415, a San Francisco-based Human Resource Consultancy Firm helping companies navigate every stage of their growth.
employee health and wellness
Human resources management. HR Leadership
Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh,
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
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By Matthew Coleman - Marketing Manager, MyEmployees.
There’s a disease silently infecting the modern American business world today. It lurks in the background, silently eating away at the bottom line of your company. This silent destroyer of business profits is known as your “employee turnover equation,” and it affects small businesses and corporations alike.
I’ll not bore you with stats detailing the billions of dollars lost annually to this problem. In reality, when the numbers get that large, people tend to accept them as the norm. What you need is a simple employee turnover calculator to understand exactly how it is affecting YOUR business. Once you’ve got an idea what you’re losing, there are a few simple steps you can implement to regain some of that lost profitability.
Most businesses know, on some level, that the cost of employee turnover is a problem. They view it as a mere inconvenience that must be dealt with, a cost of doing business. That’s until you put a dollar amount on its effect. Even seeing an “estimate” of what you’re losing will shock you!
See for yourself! Here’s an employee turnover calculator to help you understand just how much money employee turnover truly costs YOUR business each year. Once business owners, HR managers, CFOs, and CEOs get a look at the real numbers lost each year, quarter or even a single month... they need to take a hard look at what needs to be done to slow that tide.
Example: Let’s say you have 100 employees. Each year, you have 15% turnover. When those employees leave for whatever reason, you have to train new employees to fill the open positions. If it takes 2 weeks to train each new employee, at 40 hours per week, on a $8 hourly salary for the new employee, and a $25 hourly salary for the trainer, you’re looking at $42,768 per year! And that doesn’t even cover recruiting!
Those are just blind estimates. Take a minute to input your data into the employee turnover calculator to get a true number for your own business. Prepare to be shocked!
While you can’t stop employee turnover completely, you can take steps to diminish it. Examine your company culture for ways to improve employee engagement. Find ways to inspire employees to take more pride in their job by asking them for input on how to do their tasks more efficiently. Survey employees and ask their thoughts on how the workplace can be improved (and then implement do some of the suggestions!). Create an employee recognition platform that recognizes people for their effort, and awards them regularly and consistently.
It’s a proven fact! When employees are engaged, they work harder, are more efficient, and take pride in what they do. A “World Class” atmosphere of teamwork develops. A cooperative, competitive spirit blossoms, encouraging everyone to be a better employee and a better person. People stop coming to work because they have to, and start coming because they want to. They are more productive and happier. That means fewer performance-based layoffs and fewer top producers leaving your company for greener pastures.
Engaged employees have significantly lower levels of absenteeism, on the job accidents, and fewer HR issues. What is that doing to your bottom line every year? According to Gallup Research, companies with high levels of employee engagement are 400% more profitable. Yes, 400%!! Pair that increase in productivity and profitability with the savings from reduced turnover, and your business can expect exponential growth in sales and profits.
Many of the factors affecting true employee engagement need to be customized for each business. A great place to start is an employee survey. Find out what employees think about the business and work environment. You may uncover hidden systemic issues that contribute to your high rate of employee turnover.
Another excellent place to start is a consistent recognition platform. One of the most basic human needs is to feel appreciated. From a business perspective, a recognition program can reward and inspire employees while at the same time achieving company goals and objectives. It’s not magic; it's all about criteria. Check out this video for more about that: How can an Employee Recognition program increase profitability.
Employee turnover is an infection, but it doesn’t have to be a killer. The first step is using a simple employee turnover calculator to put a dollar amount on just how much it costs your business. Once you understand that, you can easily justify any investment in employee engagement and employee recognition to shrink your turnover rate drastically. Not only will you be saving the headache of replacing many of your employees, but you’ll be investing in the massive growth potential and profitability of your business.
About the Author
Matthew Coleman is the Marketing Manager for MyEmployees. The mission of MyEmployees is to engage America’s workforce, one manager, one employee at a time… forging stronger companies in the process. Twitter: @matthewjcoleman
harassment in the workplace
Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh,
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, April 15, 2015
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By Diane Buisman - Employment Attorney & Regional Director for Vigilant
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia currently have laws legalizing marijuana in some form, including four states that allow for recreational use. In Alaska, adults 21 or older can now transport, buy or possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants.
Colorado and Washington were the first two states to allow for legalized recreational marijuana thanks to ballot measures passed in 2012.
The District of Columbia became the most recent jurisdiction to join the trend; its voter-approved measure took effect in February, legalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Oregon voters approved a similar measure last fall, which will take effect on July 1, allowing adults to possess up to an ounce of marijuana in public and eight ounces in their homes.
Many other states have passed medical marijuana laws allowing for limited use of cannabis for medical treatment, with possession limits and eligible medical conditions varying from state to state.
So what is potential impact for employers?
Human resources professionals, who don’t consider this question now, may be surprised by the variety of issues they’ll face as legalized marijuana increasingly becomes part of our national culture. Going forward, HR professionals in any state where marijuana possession and use is legal (including medicinal marijuana use), should also expect a growing number of questions from employees. Be prepared to educate employees about the company’s drug policy and how it applies to legalized marijuana. Employees need to understand that even if using marijuana is legal in their state, testing positive at work can impact their job.
New drug and alcohol policies in the workplace.
For those companies that don’t have drug policies currently in effect, preparing for legalized marijuana will take a little longer. A company needs to first decide whether implementing a drug and alcohol policy is right for their workplace, depending on their industry, the safety-sensitive nature of their work environment, and the company culture. If a company wants to move forward with implementation, they’ll need to make important policy decisions, such as which substances to ban, whether to conduct drug testing, and the consequences of violating the policy. Rolling out a new drug and alcohol policy takes time and effort, requiring communication and training for employees and managers about new rights and responsibilities.
Employers who are already conducting drug testing should expect an increase in positive test results. According to Quest Diagnostics, a national lab that provides workplace drug testing, Colorado and Washington have seen an increase in positive drug tests in the general workforce by 20 and 23 percent respectively between 2012 and 2013. Employers in states where marijuana has become legally available should anticipate a similar outcome.
Is a positive test result is an actual and true measurement?
Another question that has emerged for many human resources professionals is whether or not an employee who tests positive for marijuana is actually impaired. Urine drug testing is the federal government’s preferred method for testing workers in safety-sensitive positions, and at least one study has shown that cognitive impairment from marijuana use may last up to 28 days. For these reasons, many employers have “zero tolerance” policies, meaning any presence of marijuana in the system would trigger a positive test result. Zero tolerance is especially appealing for employers in safety-sensitive industries, since any possibility of impairment could jeopardize employee safety.
For example, someone who used marijuana two weeks ago may test positive, but it’s unknown whether the employee is actually impaired by that previous use. Due to this uncertainty, some employers are uncomfortable with zero tolerance policies. One Oregon manufacturer we work with employs over 200 people. The company decided that zero tolerance isn’t a good fit for their company in light of legalized marijuana. However, the company has been grappling with identifying what level of marijuana would trigger a positive test result. The company is looking for a creative way to allow leniency for marijuana use while balancing the safety-sensitive issues at play.
Without more sophisticated testing methods, employers who want to test for marijuana, but don’t want to adopt zero tolerance, are forced to make an educated guess about impairment levels. Some employers have decided to abandon drug testing altogether; we’ve seen several employers in Washington, mostly office environments, choose this route following marijuana legalization. Since safety is less of a factor for these companies, there’s less of an upside to ongoing drug testing.
The one-size solution doesn’t fit all.
Legalized marijuana introduces a host of new questions and challenges for HR departments, and there aren’t any one-size-fits-all solutions. Human resources professionals should be prepared to answer questions from employees, as well as evaluate the best strategy and approach to marijuana use in your workplace. If legalization has become a reality in your state or city, now is the time to review your current drug and alcohol policy and tackle these difficult decisions.
About the Author
Diane Buisman is an employment attorney and the regional director at Vigilant. Headquartered in Oregon, Vigilant is dedicated to helping companies in Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho and California solve complex employment issues such as employment law, learning and development, safety and HR best practices. Connect with Diane on Linkedin.
Posted By Laura Kerekes,
Thursday, April 2, 2015
Updated: Thursday, April 2, 2015
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Unlike other sporting events like the Super Bowl or World Series, March Madness is a prolonged event; this year it started on Selection Sunday, March 15th, with the first games starting March 17th through this weekend, the "Final Four" and ending with the championship game this Monday, April 6th. There were numerous games played in between those dates – some of which were aired throughout the workday, making it an enticing distraction for many employees!
Cell phones and computers make it easy for employees to regularly and “secretly” check pools, scores, and even streaming games online. It’s inevitable that March Madness is going to impact office productivity, but if managed correctly, it’s also a great opportunity to establish an annual ritual that builds office morale, employee engagement, and comradery.
The ball is ultimately in your court to decide how March Madness fits within your culture; however, the million-dollar question: should employers put a stop to it or embrace it?
Some managers believe it’s all about meeting numbers and employees need to stay focused during work hours and save personal interests during personal time.
The reality is, it’s impossible to stop employees from being distracted during March Madness. In fact, Challenger Gray & Christmas reported “the cost in terms of lost wages paid to distracted and unproductive workers [due to March Madness] could reach as high as $1.9 billion.” However, other reports suggest the potential boost in employee morale outweighs the temporary distraction and productivity loss due to the games.
Bottom line: how you manage and communicate policies during March Madness is key.
Foster Team Spirit and Boost Morale
For managers who want to ensure employees feel valued and satisfied at work, they look for opportunities like March Madness to create fun and camaraderie.
A recent survey by OfficeTeam reported that half of senior managers said activities tied to the tournament – such as office pools focused on the 68-team brackets — boost employee morale, while 36 percent believe March Madness has a positive impact on workplace productivity.
Middle of the Road Madness
Some managers evaluate performance or attendance situations on a case-by-case basis and won’t encourage March Madness activity or pools during the workday. In fact, most managers tend to look the other way and only step in when work falls to the wayside.
Some experts argue that employers have bigger issues to address than whether a few workers are using work time to fill out brackets or checking scores online, and that businesses would be better served by allowing this minor distraction, even during busy work times.
Once the Madness Begins . . .
Whatever you decide, here are some ways to help minimize disruptions and create a positive work environment during March Madness:
• Organize a company-wide pool with no entry fee in order to avoid ethical or legal issues surrounding “office gambling.” Give away a company “gift” (not cash) to the pool winner.
• Make the break room the go-to place for bracket updates and consider putting a television in the break room so that employees have somewhere to watch the games other than the Internet.
• Encourage team spirit and allow employees to wear their favorite team’s clothing and/or decorate their workspace in their team’s colors.
• Allow employees the chance to arrive early on days when tournament games are played during work hours so they can work a full shift and still leave in time to see the games.
• Communicate company policies with employees before engaging in any March Madness activities at work, so it will be clear what is acceptable.
Like it or not, March Madness is an annual ritual that’s here to stay. If customers are happy and the work is getting done, it might be worth the positive employee experience and moral boost. After all, a little distraction could be just what everyone at the office needs. However, if an employee fails to meet a deadline or if customer service suffers as a result of March Madness distractions, then take action. The key is finding a balance that maximizes the positives while minimizing the business disruptions.
Laura Kerekes leads the HR services delivery teams, including an elite group of HR experts and a team responsible for ongoing aggregation and analysis of HR knowledge for ThinkHR. Prior to joining the company, Laura held executive HR officer positions for large multi-national companies including AirTouch and Sygen as well as other companies in high tech, financial services and consumer products industries. Laura holds an M.B.A. with honors in HR and organizational development from Golden Gate University, a B.S. in business administration with honors from The Ohio State University, and an Executive Human Resources Management certification from Stanford University. She also holds an SPHR certification. Connect with Laura on Twitter and LinkedIn.