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How much job training equates to time wasted:  About 20%, according to one LinkedIn study.  That’s the percentage of learners who never apply their training to their job.  That same study says 67% of learners apply the lessons learned, but in the end, revert to previous habits.  Another study found 45% of training content is never applied.

For HR professionals designing or monitoring the Return on Investment of training programs, those are disturbing statistics, especially when you consider the decrease in productivity this causes and the cost of wasted money.

So, how do you mitigate or address the issue?

Learning Metrics

Gone is the day leaders make learning strategy decisions via gut and intuition.  Arrived is the day leaders look at learning data and statistics to make decisions and provide evidence for an action.

There was a time when the only metrics requested from learning and development officials were the number of people taking part in the training and the cost involved.  In other words:  basic effectiveness and efficiency.

As with everything, however, learning and development has evolved.  It’s now a business critical change agent.  It’s not enough, though, to measure inputs, the number of courses, and attendance.  Learning and development must look at the output and outcomes.

“We’re in the process of trying to become a learning organization, and to become a learning organization you have to be nimble.  You have to have a culture of leaders as teachers.  You have to have a culture of recognizing those things that contribute, and actually those things what lead to success,” Brad Samargya said.  Samargya is the Chief Learning Officer for mobile phone maker Ericsson.

All of the descriptions Samargya is using refer back to the content, specifically how it is delivered and is it of substance.  When both pieces are in concert, HR professionals should see an increase in quality around the metrics gathered.

Delivery

First, let’s focus on delivery.

Samantha Hammock is the Chief Learning Officer for American Express.  Her company employs a learning management system as part of their learning process.  Hammock says measurement is the company’s biggest need.

“If we’re going to mandate training, we had better be robust in tracking and reporting. Is the experience getting better, is the knowledge increasing. We have put it thru workforce analytics to slice and dice some of those metrics,” Hammock said.

Of course, learning management systems are not the only way to deliver learning.  Mobile learning for instance, makes content available on smartphones, tablets, and other devices.  Not only is the content accessible anywhere, but anytime.  Video learning is similar in that the content is available in the ever-popular YouTube format.  Gamification, or education by gaming, again delivers learning in a form much for attractive than your regular classroom format, and micro-learning, or the strategy of delivering learning content over a short amount of time.

None of those work without one specific ingredient, however:  the content.  Providing relevant content is key to a good learning strategy, good metrics, and  to ensure your learners are engaged and continue to come back for more.

The modern employee is distracted, overwhelmed and has little time to spare. Catering content to their needs is not only important – it’s critical.

The content presented to employees must be applicable and timely to help them with their daily duties, expand their mind, and provide them with quick takeaways that can immediately be applied.

Metrics to Watch

There are a handful of metrics derived for HR professionals to analyze.

  1. Completion rates – This metric is important because it indicates the level of learner engagement, motivation and participation. Low completion rates indicate employees aren’t investing in the material or how it relates to their jobs.  High completion rates show employees are invested.
  2. Performance and Progress – This particular metric is split into two categories: the individual and the group.  For the individual, metrics will give you a detailed look at how the employee is doing with the learning.  For the group, the metric will include the details around specific trends.  For instance, how the group is progressing through the material.  Both individual metrics and group metrics allow for the tracking of course effectiveness and engagement.
  3. Satisfaction and approval – This metric gives HR professionals some indication of how the employee or employees feel about the content. The is a powerful metric because it allows HR or learning managers to adjust current content or, if need be, create better content based on the needs of the employee.
  4. Instructor and manager ratings – This metric may not always be applicable as, in some cases, material is not presented by an instructor or manager but through a technology interface of some sort. If that is not the case, this will indicate how learners feel about the instructor or manager.  It can also be directly linked to the reason an employee or group of employees are not learning at the level expected.
  5. Competency and proficiency – Competency and proficiency metrics show HR professionals if employees have the knowledge and skills to achieve a desired outcome. If not, this metric allows for learning managers to adjust the material accordingly.  It also allows from some insight into an employee or group’s currently proficiency.

In summation

The challenges facing HR professionals when using analytics to transform the learning and development program are connected.  Before companies can actually engage with the transformation, data has to be present.  Whether it is realized or not, companies do have learning data available.  What may not exist is the ability to evaluate that data.

Data provides invaluable insight into the future learning opportunities of a company’s workforce.  Now, more than ever before, HR professionals have a real opportunity to do what all leaders and C-suite members want to do:  predict the future.  By leveraging and understanding the data generated by learning programs, HR professionals can better evaluate the content and their effectiveness.  It can lead to better outcomes both developmentally for the employee and financially for the employer.

By Mason Stevenson

Originally posted on hrexchangenetwork.com

When it comes to culture, companies have to walk the walk and talk the talk.

HR professionals have all been there.  A potential new employee comes in for an interview.  Company representatives question the prospect and then ask if the candidate has any questions.  With surety, the first question uttered will be about the company’s culture.  The response has to be real and backed-up with proof.

Why?

In addition to the usual reasons (truthfulness, respect and ethics and so on), look at the current make up of the workforce for guidance.  Companies are dealing with one that’s multigenerational; one that stretches from spectrum to spectrum in terms of what they want and need from their employers.  Take Generation Z for instance.  These workers are very confident and that bleeds into the way in which they approach the interview/hiring process.  They will want to explore the office and talk to current employees.  They are going to test what HR says about the culture.

Having said that, what constitutes an excellent company culture?

Company Culture Tips

An excellent company culture is:

  • Richly Diverse – A company culture thrives on diversity.  This doesn’t just push toward ethnic or gender diversity, though that is equally important.  It must also embrace cognitive diversity; the different ways in which people perceive and digest information.  Leaning on this allows for ideas to be evaluated from multiple angles and can reveal both the pros and cons of an action.  A diverse company culture also looks at all dimensions of diversity including hiring or seeking employees from diverse backgrounds both personally and professionally.  That may include, as an example, hiring a candidate with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD).  Other examples include hiring more veterans or the formerly incarcerated.  These present unique challenges, but given the right action plan, those issues can be overcome and the company can benefit.
  • Innovative – A company culture must always look to the future.  That means embracing innovation.  Employees at all levels need to feel the freedom to posit ideas for consideration.  And those ideas need to be thoroughly discussed and evaluated.  That’s the key to innovation.  Most employees just want their ideas considered.  If it’s not an idea that is feasible or realistic, that’s fine.  The importance lies in that the employee has a voice.
  • Open to dissent – Speaking of employee voices, workers need to feel they can dissent from leadership.  This doesn’t mean protest or rebel against a decision, but that their concerns will be heard and they will not see retaliation from sharing those ideas.
  • Transparent – A company culture that embraces transparency will not, in most cases, fail.  Why?  In a transparent culture, everyone knows the important bits of information, but more importantly, they can take ownership of what’s happening.  Employees who are proud to work for their employers ultimately take more ownership in the company’s destiny.  They will be more engaged and will pour more energy into ensuring success than the average employee.
  • Aligned with company brand – Employees and customers must see value in the brand which helps support the culture.  It has to resonate with them.  For HR, this might include a partnership with the company’s marketing or public relations department.
  • Supported by all, especially leadership – If leaders don’t see value in or support the culture, expect the same from employees.  Leaders have to actively engage in the culture and make it a staple in their normal operations.  Lead by example.  When the CEO cares… the employees care.
  • Aligns with strategy and process – Think about this from a talent perspective.  The culture needs to align with processes like hiring, compensation and benefits, development and hiring.  And don’t forget about succession planning.  How will the culture align in the future?
  • Collaborative – This is a great way to instill the culture for your employees.  Look at ways to encourage collaboration between teams of employees.  This reinforces the idea that everyone is part of a much larger team.
  • Feedback driven – Give employees regular feedback on performance.  This will help in aligning their performance with the goals of the company.  But don’t save this for a once-a-year event.  Any time an employee or team makes progress toward the company’s goals and in doing so supports the culture, it’s time for some P.R.O.P.S. or Peer Recognition of Peer Success.
  • Deliberate – Culture should be deliberate.  It’s not something that just happens.  Values must be known and supported, especially by leadership.  Otherwise, the culture that is trying to be built will slowly pass into oblivion and the process will have to start all over again.

Benefits of an Excellent Company Culture

The tips listed above are just that, tips.  If they’re not internalized and not used properly the company will not benefit.  On the flip side, if those pieces are practiced well, companies will see some huge advantages.

For one, expect to see an improved environment.  It will truly become a pleasant place to work.  It’s pleasing socially and psychologically.  If that’s the case, expect to see the quality of work improve.  That means higher increases in productivity which leads to more business success.

By Mason Stevenson

Originally posted on hrexchangenetwork.com

Question: Should we include holidays, PTO, vacation, or other leave taken during the workweek in calculating overtime premium pay under FLSA rules?

Answer: No. Because holiday, PTO, and vacation hours are not actually hours worked they do not count towards overtime pay.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), an employer who requires or permits an employee to work overtime is generally required to pay the employee premium pay for such overtime work. Unless specifically exempted, employees covered by the FLSA must receive overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek at a rate not less than time and one-half their regular rates of pay. The key consideration for premium pay under the FLSA is whether or not the employee actually works more than 40 hours in the workweek, not just that he or she is paid for more than 40 hours in the workweek.

For example, an employee is off work for one day for a company-paid holiday and takes the next day as a paid vacation day. He then works 10 hours for the next three days of the workweek. Under the FLSA, he would be paid straight time at his regular rate for the 46 hours recorded for that week as follows: 8 hours of holiday pay + 8 hours of vacation pay + 30 hours of regular pay for time worked = 46 hours at his regular pay rate.

Employers should also check state laws for overtime requirements regarding holiday and vacation time.

Originally posted on thinkhr.com

By now you’ve heard of the term “gig economy” but you may not know what it means. Is it describing the economy of musicians as they work gigs? Does it mean something about computers and the measurement of space allotted for their programs? Does it have something to do with fishing? Well, not exactly. But, have no fear! We will break this term down into easy bites and you’ll be an expert on the gig economy in no time.

What IS the Gig Economy?

The term “gig economy” refers to the new landscape of employment in the world where workers are hired for temporary, flexible jobs instead of full-time permanent positions. Think of it this way: workers in a gig economy are paid for completing a job in a predetermined timeframe—like musicians are paid for a night of music (a gig) at a venue. In a gig economy, you see that independent contractors and freelancers tend to be hired over the more traditional, full-time job seekers. Examples of jobs that thrive in this economy are technology-based positions, creative jobs, and the new tide of service-based positions in companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Instacart.

 

Gig Economy Numbers

Forbes magazine reports that according to the 2018 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 55 million people in the US classified as gig workers. This is a huge number! In fact, that translates to more than 35% of the current US workforce. Projected to rise to 42% in 2020, over 40% of these workers are estimated to be millennials.  As those numbers increase, the proportion of male to female workers shifts. Once right at 50/50, the new ratio is 60/40. This is attributed to larger numbers of women returning to school for postsecondary education. In fact, many leave the workforce completely to return to school versus taking courses and working at the same time.

 

Pros of Gig Economy Jobs

There are many pros to a job in this category. Job seekers who are looking for gig economy positions name flexible workplaces and flexible hours as their top priorities. The shift to remote offices as well as the freedom to work at whatever hours are most convenient definitely supports this new economy. Employees who have the discipline to manage their workflow and complete tasks on time are ones that will thrive in a gig job. The positives are not limited to just the employees, though. Employers like being able to choose new hires from a much larger pool of candidates because they are not tied down to job seekers in their immediate vicinity. Employers are also able to save money as they do not have to invest in work equipment, health benefits, or on-going training for these independent workers.

 

Cons of Gig Economy Jobs

The cons of gig work are some of the flip sides to the pros of gig work. These drawbacks include the absence of health benefits and 401k benefits. Freelancers have to buy their own healthcare and figure out their own savings schedule for retirement—both of which aren’t impossible, but they do take up time and tend to be at a greater expense than the benefits offered in a traditional work environment. Gig workers also face the reality of no paid sick days or vacation days. If a freelancer has the flu, he isn’t paid for the time he misses from work and his deadline isn’t adjusted in this task-based economy. On the employer side of the equation, companies report that the pool of qualified candidates for higher level management positions continues to get smaller as the trend for gig workers who freelance from job-to-job increases.

The workplace continues to evolve from a traditional 9-5 workday in a traditional office environment to one that is a flexible work cycle in an ever-changing location. Employees place high priority on setting their own rhythm for work flow and prize independence. Employers are encouraged to stay in-tune with the gig economy and to seek ways to marry their company’s needs with the needs of this new workforce population. Both employer and employee can benefit from this new work landscape.

Question: Our company offers group medical and dental plans for all employees. We also have an executive-only medical plan that covers out-of-pocket expenses that the regular group plan does not pay. Does COBRA apply to the executive-only plan? Do we have to include it in our summary plan description (SPD)?

Answer: The coverage continuation requirements of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) pertain to group health plans sponsored by employers with 20 or more workers (except certain church plans). This is referred to as federal COBRA, which is enforced and regulated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Labor (DOL).

Any employer-sponsored plan or program providing health benefits (medical, dental, vision, etc.) is a group health plan under COBRA. Briefly, if the employee’s access to the program or benefits is based on the person’s current or past relationship with an employer, it is a group plan. An executive-only medical plan is a group health plan – and subject to COBRA – since eligibility for the plan is connected to employment. (Reference: 26 CFR § 54.4980B-2 )

Next, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) imposes numerous reporting and disclosure requirements on employee benefits plans, including rules for plan documents and summary plan descriptions (SPDs). Plans sponsored by governmental employers and certain church plans are exempt from ERISA, but plans sponsored by private-sector employers must comply with ERISA’s plan document and SPD rules. There is an exception, however, for an executive plan that meets the following conditions:

  • The plan primarily provides welfare (e.g., health) benefits for a select group of management or highly-compensated employees; and
  • No part of the plan is funded through employee contributions or a trust.

The most common example is an executive-only medical insurance plan for which the employer pays 100 percent of premiums. In that case, an SPD is not required and Form 5500 reporting does not apply. A plan document is required but it does not have to be made available to employees. The plan document does have to be provided to the Department of Labor (DOL) if requested. (Reference: 29 CFR § 2520.104-24)

By Kathleen A. Berger

Originally posted on thinkhr.com

Every company wants to lead their industry, and doing so means remaining competitive.  With the rate of speed the world experiences change in this age that is a very difficult proposition.  For an HR professional, it is increasingly more difficult to stay ahead of the curve.

So, what are the critical pieces to the strategy?

  • Agility
  • Change Management
  • Culture

Knowing that, how do the three concepts tie to one another?

We start with agility.

When it comes to this part of the strategy, what HR professionals really want is to be able to adjust at a moment’s notice.  But it’s not enough to just be able to make the change.  The HR professional wants to effectively implement the change in the organization.

Of course, that change doesn’t just happen at the drop of the hat.  It requires leadership and even some maintenance.

That’s where change management comes into the mix.  HR Exchange Network contributor John Whitaker says:

“Change can and will come quickly. Change management is a helpful (and sometimes hopeful) way to plan the actions and responses needed during a change process. But you must take advantage of those times where you are thrown into a chaotic situation without the benefit of planning.”

Finally, that brings us to culture.

In addressing this concept, CultureIQ worked with Bloomberg to survey 300 senior executives about the Future of Work.  In that research, one of the first things they learned is work is becoming more complex.  How?  Consider first that companies are becoming more agile either by force or organically.  Executives know they have to do this in order to remain competitive.  Optimizing a talented workforce, predicting talent needs and keeping retention rates high are critical to sustaining your organization’s competitive advantage.

In fact, CEOs recognized that one of the most important factors in their organization’s performance for the next three years was ensuring their organization was agile.

CultureIQ says agility ranked higher than other attributes like collaboration, engagement, or innovation.

A company’s culture is imperative to its strategy especially when you consider this fact:  culture influences whether talent is attracted or not attracted to the company.  It’s also significant in the company’s ability to retain their best employees.

According to Gallup, 4 in 10 U.S. employees strongly agree their organization’s mission and purpose makes them feel their job is important.  Furthermore:

“By doubling that ratio to eight in 10 employees, organizations could realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism, a 33% improvement in quality, or in the case of healthcare, even a 50% drop in patient safety incidents.”

Gallup has studied organizational culture and leadership for years.  They find some organizations have difficulty in successfully establishing their “ideal” culture and attribute that to the fact that culture is constantly in flux and is not the same one moment to the next.

Earlier this year, researchers looked specifically at how HR leaders fit into the process of changing culture.

“Our analytics show that in the world’s highest performing organizations, HR leaders play a central role in creating and sustaining the culture their organization aspires to have. As the stewards and keepers of the culture, HR leaders are responsible for inspiring desired employee behaviors and beliefs — and in turn, realizing the performance gains of a thriving culture.

By owning their pivotal strategic and tactical roles in shaping work culture, HR leaders can cultivate exceptional performance and prove to senior leadership that they deserve a seat at the table.”

For HR, Gallup set forth three roles that explain how leaders influence culture.

  1. Champion – Executive leaders create the vision of the perfect culture, but HR leaders champion it. They are responsible for turning words into deeds.
  2. Coach – HR leaders, as coaches, make sure managers and employees are on the same page and help the two entities take ownership of the culture.
  3. Consultant – HR leaders here consistently check culture metrics such as employee engagement, customer outlines and performance indicators. In this way, HR leaders can make sure the culture strategy stays on track.

By Mason Stevenson

Originally posted on hrexchangenetwork.com

 

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While more and more perks — catered lunches, on-site gyms, immunizations programs — are about employee health, wellness, and happiness, they ultimately are also designed to keep workers at work. A recent article in Quartz at Work points out that more than anything, employees want more time off and out of the office. Unlimited time off, to be exact.

Once the perk of tech firms and startups, more companies are beginning to explore unlimited paid time off. And, though still rare at only one to two percent of companies, it’s a popular request in part because workforce demographics continue to shift. Nearly half of employees are Millennials, whose priorities are changing the benefits conversation. For this group, finding more balance and having more control of their time are key. In part, this may be because time off has fundamentally changed. Well and Good looks at the fact that, with near-constant connectedness, vacation days often still involve checking email and getting other notifications.

Add to that cultural and workplace expectations of accessibility and availability, and workers are at risk for burnout. One in four workers report feeling burned out all the time and almost half feel burned out sometimes. This burnout can cost employers in lost productivity, and employees in terms of health and happiness. Today, someone doesn’t need to psychically spend 90 hours a week at the office to be working 90 hours. With our always-on lives, restorative time off is rarer but still as important to prevent burnout.

That doesn’t mean every business is jumping on the unlimited time off bandwagon. Want other ideas? A writer for The Guardian suggests a middle ground, with more days off the longer an employee has worked at a company. And, while rollover sounds generous, it may make employees less likely to use it. Want to give it a try but concerned about misuse? Business Management Daily suggests it’s also more than reasonable to consider limits on unlimited and critical to set sound guidelines around pay as well as whether days off can be all in a row.

For many employees, unlimited time off offers the extra flexibility for life’s challenges and can aid satisfaction and retention. Before HR Departments worry the system will be abused, research shows that people take significantly less time off when it’s unlimited. In fact, what may be more impactful is a minimum number of days off may be required so as to ensure employees take advantage of a benefit meant to restore and replenish their energy, creativity, and engagement. To work, it needs to be modeled by managers and other higher-ups, as a CEO details in a Chicago Daily Herald article.

By Bill Olson

Originally posted on ubabenefits.com

2019 has ushered in many new trends such as retro cartoon character timepieces, meatless hamburgers, and 5G networks to name a few. Not surprisingly, trend-watching doesn’t stop with pop culture, fashion, and technology. Your company’s human resources department should also take notice of the top changes in the marketplace, so they are poised to attract and retain the best talent. These top trends include a greater emphasis on soft skills, increased workforce flexibility, and salary transparency.

SOFT SKILLS

Gone are the days of hiring a candidate solely based on their hard skills—their education and technical background. While the proper education and training are important factors in getting the job completed, a well-rounded employee must have the soft skills needed to work with a team, problem solve, and communicate ideas and processes. According to Tim Sackett, SHRM-SCP and president of HRU Technical Resources in Michigan, “Employers should be looking for soft skills more and training for hard skills, but we struggle with that.” While hard skills can be measured, soft skills are harder to quantify. However, soft skills facilitate human connections and are the one thing that machines cannot replace.  They are invaluable to the success of a company.

WORKFORCE FLEXIBILITY

As millennials begin to flood the workplace, the traditional view of the workweek has changed. Job seekers report they place a high importance on having the flexibility of when and where to work. The typical work day has evolved from a 9am – 5pm day to a flexible 24-hour work cycle that adjusts to the needs of the employee. Employers are able to offer greater flexibility about when the work is completed and where it takes place. This flexibility has so much importance that job seekers say remote work options and the freedom of an adaptable schedule have a higher priority to them over pay.

SALARY TRANSPARENCY

In the wake of the very public outing of the gender and race pay gaps, companies are opening up conversations about wages in the workplace. Once a hushed subject punishable by termination, salary information is now often being shared in the office. Employers have found that the more transparent and open that they are about the compensation levels in their organization, the more trustworthy they appear to their workforce. One way to stay educated on the welcome trend of pay equality is to visit the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’s website to review wage ranges across the nation. Another great resource is the Department of Labor’s free publication called “Employer’s Guide on Equal Pay.”

By watching the trends in the marketplace, employers can focus on what is important to their staff. Honest discussions about salary and compensation, when and where to work, and developing the employee as a whole, including soft skills, sets your company up for success. When you listen to what the market is saying, you show you are sensitive to what their priorities are—and this is always on trend.

Summer internships offer students opportunities to gain real-world experience and hands-on career development. Conversely, internship programs give employers access to highly motivated and educated young workers and give junior managers more experience training and supervising. There are benefits for everyone involved.

However, there are some people risks that many employers overlook. One of the largest issues is determining what interns should be paid – or not paid.

The Department of Labor issued new guidance on January 5, 2018, that gives employers more flexibility in deciding whether to pay interns. A seven-criteria test is now used to determine if an internship may be unpaid, but the biggest change is that not all factors need to be met – no single factor is decisive, and the determination is made on the unique circumstances of each case.

If the job training program primarily provides professional experience that furthers a student’s educational goals, a student may not be considered an employee entitled to compensation. However, if students are doing work usually done by employees and are not receiving training and close mentoring, they should be paid wages. If there is any doubt, the best approach is to pay the student.

4 Reasons to Pay Interns

However, while it’s now legally permissible to classify more interns as unpaid, there are still compelling reasons to pay interns even when the internship does meet the criteria for unpaid status.

Unpaid internships tend to exclude students from lower- and middle-income backgrounds, who cannot afford not to work at paid jobs during the summer. In addition, they may need to pay up to several thousand dollars for course credit, in addition to coming up with funds for housing, clothing, and transportation related to the internship. This can put internships out of reach for some of the students who can benefit from them the most.

Unpaid internships may devalue the work paid employees are doing. After all, interns are working alongside regular employees — often doing some of the same tasks — and not being compensated for that work. This may send the message to employees that their work, or time, is not valued.

Unpaid internships can create a negative impression of your company. Customers or the community may see you as taking advantage of these students, which is not the message you want to portray. It’s a good community relations move to offer youth paid opportunities.

The work the unpaid intern is doing may actually be work that should be compensable. Improperly classifying an internship and not paying the student could result in wage claims that include back pay, penalties, and fines. To mitigate those risks, once again, the best approach is to pay the student.

Hiring summer students is a great way to help youth learn what it takes to be successful in business while helping employers get special projects completed. Plan ahead and structure your program so that your summer internship program is a great experience for everyone.

 

by Rachel Sobel
Originally posted on ThinkHR.com

Switching over to AEIS Advisors was the best decision we’ve made this year. Ronald and his team were able to identify discrepancies on our billing statements which got missed by our last broker, and they saved us over $8,000 in credits! AEIS has proven to be an attentive and caring company, looking out for the best needs of their clients."

- Director of Operations

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