April 18, 2015

EEOC's Proposed Rule on Employer Wellness Permits Incentives

Last week, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) describing how Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to employer wellness programs that are part of group health plans. It offers "guidance to both employers and employees about how wellness programs offered as part of an employer's group health plan can comply with the ADA consistent with provisions governing wellness programs in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as amended by the Affordable Care Act."

This is a proposed rule. Members of the public have 60 days (or until Friday, June 19) to submit comments.

EEOC Press release

Fact Sheet for Small Business

Questions & Answers

More information
EEOC Issues Proposed Wellness Program Amendments to ADA Regulations
The National Law Review : "The proposed rule clarifies that an employer may offer limited incentives up to a maximum of 30 percent of the total cost of employee-only coverage, whether in the form of a reward or penalty, to promote an employee’s participation in a wellness program that includes disability-related inquiries or biometric examinations as long as participation is voluntary. It is significant that the proposed rule does authorize penalties as the EEOC’s litigations and an EEOC official’s statements had seemed particularly critical of penalties, even though they may have exactly the same economic impact to an employee as a reward."

EEOC Issues Rules for Employee Wellness Program Incentives
Alex Wayne, Insurance Journal : ""Under Thursday’s proposed rules, employers would not be allowed to threaten or otherwise coerce workers to participate, other than by using financial rewards and penalties. Companies couldn’t punish workers with disciplinary measures such as suspension or firing if they opt out."

Revealed! The EEOC’s new proposed wellness program rules.
Employment Law Attorney and blogger Eric B. Meyer offers five key takeaways for employer

Business relieved at EEOC wellness guidance
Dan Cook, Benefits Pro

EEOC Publishes Major Rule on Wellness Incentives
Occupational Health & Safety


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Looking for the most comprehensive and effective wellness program for your employees? ESI TotalCare Wellness pairs Behavioral Health Clinicians with certified Wellness Coaches to provide employees and their families with the help, motivation, tools and support to make changes and improve their lives. Call 800-535-4841 for more information.

April 17, 2015

Test your nonverbal communication skills

How well do you read nonverbal cues in people? Take the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test. This test was developed by Simon Baron-Cohen at the University of Cambridge in 1997 and then revised in 2001. You will be shown 37 pictures showing just the eyes part of people's faces. You will be asked to guess what emotion these eyes are showing. You'll also be asked a few basic questions about yourself and your computer use.

You can learn more about the "eyes test" at Psych Tutor. It's been used in a number of studies over the years, although there has been some criticism leveled that it is gender biased due to a restricted range of female images and expressions.

More resources
Nonverbal Communication
Improving Your Nonverbal Skills and Reading Body Language

Amy Cuddy on Body Language
Social psychologist and Associate Professor at Harvard Business School Amy Cuddy's TED talk. See more work from Amy Cuddy.


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Looking for the most comprehensive and effective wellness program for your employees? ESI TotalCare Wellness pairs Behavioral Health Clinicians with certified Wellness Coaches to provide employees and their families with the help, motivation, tools and support to make changes and improve their lives. Call 800-535-4841 for more information.

April 6, 2015

The Lighter Side: How your up-and-coming employees view the workplace

Meet your future workforce. These hilarious and adorable clips are written and read by kids and enacted by adults. They show how kids envision various on-the-job scenarios, with a heavy emphasis on recruitment. They seem pretty accurate to us! Be sure to see the kids themselves who make appearances at the end of each clip.

If you enjoyed these, we posted a few other job-related clips in a prior post:
The Lighter Side: Kid Snippets - Job Interview


"Career Day"

"Late to Work"


"Job Applicant"

"Boss John"

"Conference Call"

March 30, 2015

News Roundup: Swearing, Innovating, Engaging & More

Let's swear off rudeness at work
Leah Eichler, The Globe and Mail:
"A man eager to get to his job interview pushes another public transit user out of the way and tells him to go forth and multiply – with himself. The commuter arrives at his appointment, only to discover that the gentleman he swore at is none other than the executive waiting to interview him.
This actually happened recently in London and not surprisingly, the story went viral. It obviously touched a nerve, since many of us can relate to being mistreated by our fellow commuters and quietly hope for retribution. But such incivility doesn’t stop when we get off the train. Rudeness permeates the workplace, too, and it’s just plain bad business."

Athletes Help Cheerleader With Down Syndrome Defy Bullies
Bill Chappell, NPR
If you have time to read or listen to only one story today, make it be this one. It's really heartwarming.

The 10 Best Ways HR Can Improve Workplace Creativity and Innovation
Cliff Stevenson, i4cp
"In i4cp's newest report, Human Capital Practices that Drive Innovation, human capital professionals were asked to rate their organizations' effectiveness across eight types of innovation, including often overlooked elements such as product development and process effectiveness innovation. By creating an index of effectiveness scores, combined with i4cp's Market Performance Index rating for each respondent, i4cp was able to determine the top ten human capital practices that not only drive innovation, but are also correlated to overall market performance.
The best news is that all of the practices that were found to be the most effective were those on which HR could have immediate impact -- from seemingly small things like promoting values to major changes such as the creation of online forums to foster new ideas."

What You Owe Your Employer - And What Your Employer Owes You
Liz Ryan, Forbes contributor
"Nearly every day someone asks me “Now that the old working world is gone, and the corporate ladder is sawdust under our feet, what does a paycheck actually buy an employer? What does a working person owe his or her job, and what does the job owe an employee?”
This is a great question. I answer this way:
"An employee’s job is to give his or her best work every day. A manager’s job is to give the person a reason to come back to work tomorrow."

The casual workplace is making sexual harassment harder to identify—and stop
Vivian Giang, Quartz
"A lewd text in the middle of the night, disturbing comments made in the waning hours of some work event, offhand jokes about sexual escapades in company-wide emails—decades after the Mad Men era of patriarchal office etiquette, data suggests our more casual workplace may be making it difficult for some employees to identify and protect themselves against gendered harassment.
Take, for example, Ellen Pao’s closely followed lawsuit against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers."

Moving the Engagement Needle
Steve Boese, Human Resource Executive
"It could be the most vexing paradox in HR and talent management today: Employee engagement has emerged as one of the most pressing challenges—if not the most—for business leaders, while overall employee-engagement levels remain depressingly low in most organizations. The most commonly cited “macro” employee-engagement survey from Gallup reports about 31 percent of U.S. employees as “engaged,” with more than half (51 percent) of workers “not engaged,” and a worrisome 17.5 percent “actively disengaged” in 2014. These engagement levels, while up a bit from 2013, still remain stubbornly low when compared to most HR leaders’ goals.
It is a troubling set of circumstances—we know engagement levels are too low (and have been for a long time); and we know that increasing engagement levels will improve productivity, increase innovation and enhance customer service. But for many organizations, moving the needle on engagement has proven difficult. "

CEOs, They're Just Like Us: The Secret Lives of Company Executives
Kristen Felicetti, AOL Jobs
"The fictional CEOs and top executives on film and television live fantasy lives of luxury and indulgence. Think Miranda Priestly's chauffeured town car and high-fashion wardrobe, Christian Grey's private helicopter, Don Draper's expensive scotch, or Jack Donaghy's finely tailored suits. However, when it comes to your own office, the company CEO is probably living more modestly.
CareerBuilder released a lighthearted survey that took a look at the preferences of those who command the corner office. The study was conducted online from November to December 2014 by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among more than 500 executives (hiring and human resources managers in senior leadership positions including CEOs, CFOs, COOs and Senior VP)."

More noteworthy news
Meetings that should be e-mails, and e-mails that should be meetings

A CEO shares the most impressive question a job candidate can ask

Biggest Failures, Best Advice and Defining Success From 14 Inspiring Entrepreneurs

Preparing for the unthinkable: Violence in the workplace

By the Numbers
6 Beautiful and eco-friendly offices that make work seem like a dream

6 Proven Strategies That Move The Needle On Gender Equality In Corporate America

10 punctuation essentials for every writer

9 Additions You Need to Make to Your HR Manual Right Now

10 easy ways to age-proof your brain

11 Quotes That Perfectly Sum Up The Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness

12 The Dirty Dozen Tax Scams, 2015 Style

20 Embarrassing Things Never to Say in a Job Interview

Compliance Corner
Employers: What You Need to Know if You Conduct Background Checks - Despite its name the FCRA does not just apply to credit reporting

The Importance of Tracking Employee Time – Simple Practices to Avoid Big Headaches

What Factors Bear Upon The Enforceability Of Noncompete Agreements?

Employer's Lack of FMLA Compliance in Handling FMLA Leave Request is a Lesson for the Rest of Us

Workplace Wellness
10 Best Practices to Staying Healthy at Work

Is Stress at the Office Contagious?

What Happens To Our Brains When We Exercise And How It Makes Us Happier

Healthy eating in the workplace


esi.JPG Want to ensure a winning team in your organization? In addition to help for your employees, ESI EAP offers a full suite of tools for supervisors and managers, including our ESI Management Academy. Trainings cover compliance issues, management skills and more. If you want to learn more about how ESI can provide more employee EAP benefits and more employer services, call us at 800-535-4841.

March 27, 2015

Mindfulness in the Boardroom: the Meditation Trend

Will capitalism complicate something as simple as following your breath? That's a question Joe Pinsker poses in his article for The Atlantic, Corporations' Newest Productivity Hack: Meditation. He interviews David Gelles, a New York Times business reporter who tracks the intersection of "mindfulness" and corporate America.

"Gelles first reported on the rise of corporate mindfulness programs in 2012 for The Financial Times, when he described a rare but promising initiative at General Mills. In the years since, similar programs have popped up at Ford, Google, Target, Adobe—and even Goldman Sachs and Davos. This adoption has been rapid, perhaps due to its potential to help the bottom line: Aetna estimates that since instituting its mindfulness program, it has saved about $2,000 per employee in healthcare costs, and gained about $3,000 per employee in productivity. Mindful employees, the thinking goes, are healthier and more focused."

Gelles also authored a newly published book, Mindful Work, prompting the interview with Pinsker. The interview ranges from the earliest intersection of mediation and corporate America to current day trends and manifestations in the workplace. Gelles attributes the increasing adoption of mediation programs to three reasons: scientific research that quantifies the effects of mindfulness, mindfulness having become a secular pursuit, and the third:

"The third is, I think mindfulness is being accepted in the workplace today because we need it more than ever, it seems. We are so stressed. We are so bombarded with constant information overload. We are so addicted to our technology that the promise of a technique that allows us to come back to the present moment and stop obsessing about whatever it we just read in our Twitter stream or what we're about to post on our Facebook page has a unique and enduring allure that is totally understandable. I mean, after a totally frenetic workday here at The Times, the opportunity to quiet down is totally lovely."

Pinsker and Gelles go on to discuss examples of how these programs are being implemented at various companies.

Perhaps one of the most compelling examples can be seen in Gelles' recent article, At Aetna, a C.E.O.’s Management by Mantra, in which he profiles Mark Bertolini and his near-death experience that led him to meditation. After a life-threatening skiing injury, Bertolini searched for an alternative to pharmaceuticals to manage his chronic pain. He turned to yoga and meditation. He credits this with helping him to regain his health, and in realizing these benefits, he thought, "If yoga and mindfulness had helped him, why shouldn’t they help his employees, and even Aetna’s millions of customers?" He began folding it into the company.

"When Mr. Bertolini reviewed Aetna’s financial performance for 2012, he noticed something surprising: Health care costs had fallen. For the year, paid medical claims per employee were down 7.3 percent. That amounted to about $9 million in savings. The next year, health care costs rose 5.7 percent, but have remained about 3 percent lower than they were before yoga and meditation were introduced at the company.
Mr. Bertolini doesn’t attribute all those cost savings to yoga and meditation alone. Other wellness initiatives, including a weight loss program and new health screenings, had also been ramping up during this period. But he says he believes they made an impact. “It was a culmination of a set of programs that led to a steady decrease in health care costs,” Mr. Bertolini said. “I wouldn’t say it’s all just yoga and mindfulness, but they helped.”

Gelles also links Bertolini's experience with mindfulness to his recent decision to increase Aetna's U.S. minimum wage to $16 an hour, from $12. He quotes the CEO as saying: "It’s made me question what I do and how I look at the world,” he said. “It’s made me consider my influence and how I treat people.”


Related:

Mindfulness Meditation? Am I Doing It Right?

How to practice mindfulness: Expert tips on learning to embrace the present

Mindfulness Tied to Better Physical Health

New to Mindfulness? How to Get Started

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Looking for the most comprehensive and effective wellness program for your employees? ESI TotalCare Wellness pairs Behavioral Health Clinicians with certified Wellness Coaches to provide employees and their families with the help, motivation, tools and support to make changes and improve their lives. Call 800-535-4841 for more information.

March 26, 2015

Wellness Themes & Resources for April

Alcohol Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD)
Here is a Fact Sheet about Alcohol and other Drugs in the Workplace that looks at the prevalence, the risk factors, the costs and more. There are many other resources on the site that can be sued for communications - including these self-assessment quizzes:
Am I Alcoholic?
Am I Drug Addicted?

National Autism Awareness Month
"Autism spectrum disorder is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today. Some of the behaviors associated with autism include delayed learning of language; difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation; difficulty with executive functioning, which relates to reasoning and planning; narrow, intense interests; poor motor skills’ and sensory sensitivities. Again, a person on the spectrum might follow many of these behaviors or just a few, or many others besides."
The Autism Society is marking its 50th year of service and offers many resources. Learn more about symptoms and living with autism.

Distracting Driving Awareness Month
The National Safety Council (NSC) says: "Eighty percent of American drivers believe hands-free devices are safer than using a handheld phone. But that is just not the case. More than 30 studies show hands-free devices are no safer because the brain remains distracted by the conversation. When talking on a cell phone, drivers can miss seeing up to half of what's around them, such as traffic lights, stop signs and pedestrians.
The NSC link above offers fact sheets, posters and infographics

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month
More than a quarter of a million people are sexually assaulted each year in the U.S. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) offers information and resources. In the business environment, a way to commemorate the month might be holding harassment trainings.

Additional areas of focus in April
National Minority Health Month

National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Youth Sports Safety Month

National Donate Life Month

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month

April 6-12 - National Public Health Week
The theme for this year is "Healthiest Nation 2030" because the public health community is rallying around a goal of making the U.S. the Healthiest Nation in One Generation — by 2030.

April 7 - World Health Day

April 28 - Workers Memorial Day


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Looking for the most comprehensive and effective wellness program for your employees? ESI TotalCare Wellness pairs Behavioral Health Clinicians with certified Wellness Coaches to provide employees and their families with the help, motivation, tools and support to make changes and improve their lives. Call 800-535-4841 for more information.

March 22, 2015

Telecommuting Tool Kit: Trends, success factors, legal issues & more

Telecommuters, flexible workplace, distributed workforce or remote workers: - whatever name you choose to call it, it's a trend that's growing in leaps and bounds. According to Global Workforce Analytics, about 3.3 million people in the U.S. work from home as their primary place of business - and that doesn't include the self-employed for volunteers. While there are no reliable statistics about the number of people who work from home on a less frequent basis, Global Workplace Analytics estimates the number could be as high as 25 million.

It's no secret why it's a popular alternative for employers and employees alike. Just a few of the benefits include flexibility and satisfaction for employees who don't have to spend time commuting; reduced overhead costs for employers; access to a larger talent pool; and an increase in worker satisfaction leading to greater productivity and reduced turnover. See an extensive list of telecommuting benefits, advantages and considerations for employers.

Recently, Harvard Business Review blogs featured two articles on telecommuting and ways to make it work. We'll offer a brief overview of both, along with a variety of other links and tools that we think might be helpful to any employers who currently have remote workers or are considering adopting telecommuting.

Why Remote Work Thrives in Some Companies and Fails in Others
Sean Graber asks, "Has remote work lived up to the hype?" He answers yes, in some companies, and offers two examples of two: Automattic (the creator of WordPress) and the U.S. government. The former is a completely distributed model, and the latter is selective by department.

"Why are some organizations reaping benefits but others not? Conditions are seemingly ideal: More and more people are choosing to work remotely. By one estimate, the number of remote workers in the U.S. grew by nearly 80% between 2005 and 2012. Advances in technology are keeping pace. About 94% of U.S. households have access to broadband Internet — one of the most important enablers of remote work. Workers also have access to an array of tools that allow them to videoconference, collaborate on shared documents, and manage complex workflows with colleagues around the world.
How tools are changing the way we manage, learn, and get things done. So what’s the problem? The answer is simple: Many companies focus too much on technology and not enough on process. This is akin to trying to fix a sports team’s performance by buying better equipment. These adjustments alone might result in minor improvements, but real change requires a return to fundamentals."

He suggests three critical success factors or principles that must be in place, and elaborates on each: Communication, Coordination, Culture. There are tools and technologies that enable these and he suggests some. The trickiest might be creating a cohesive culture, which some organizations address by an initial in-house orientation and periodic in-person meetings; other organizations use social share tools to foster culture.

5 Basic Needs of Virtual Workforces
Randy Rayess offers three examples of tech companies with "distributed workforces" - he also includes Automattic. He notes:

"In our experience at VenturePact, telecommuters tend to be self-starters and quick learners. You don’t have to micromanage them, just provide clear, high-level direction. But there are some common pain points. In a 2014 Robert Half Technology survey of U.S.-based CIOs, 30% said communication was their greatest remote management challenge, followed by productivity (22%) and technology (22%). Focusing on a few principles can help address these challenges"
He identifies 5 key principles and a discussion about each: Convenience, Transparency, Accountability, Communication and Trust.

Telecommuting tools

Should You Hire Remote Workers? - Neil Patel, Forbes

Workers Without Borders: Managing the Remote Revolution - Anthony Smith, Entrepreneur

10 Tips for Making Telecommuting Work - Stephen Bruce, HR Daily Advisor

7 Mistakes Managers Make When Managing Remote Workers - Anita Bruzzese, The Fast Track

Employment Law Issues

Time to Tackle Telecommuting - Employment Law Attorney Jon Hyman, Workforce

Telecommuting—Great, But Watch These Legal Pitfalls - - Stephen Bruce, HR Daily Advisor

Do Your Employees Telecommute? You Should Know… Lance Godard, JDSUPRA

Tech Tools

10 tools for more productive telecommuting - PCWorld

17 Tools for Remote Workers - Kevan Lee, FastCompany

Telecommuting Tools

esi.JPG Want to ensure a winning team in your organization? In addition to help for your employees, ESI EAP offers a full suite of tools for supervisors and managers, including our ESI Management Academy. Trainings cover compliance issues, management skills and more. If you want to learn more about how ESI can provide more employee EAP benefits and more employer services, call us at 800-535-4841.

March 21, 2015

Linda Hill: How to manage for collective creativity

"If we want to build organizations that can innovate time and again, we must unlearn our conventional notions of leadership."

That's one of the opening premises that Linda Hill puts forth in her TED talk on How to manage for collective creativity. Ms. Hill is a Harvard professor and co-author of "Collective Genius." She spent nearly a decade observing leaders of innovation in some of the world's most creative companies like Pixar and Google. She talks about what she learned about how they use a set of tools and tactics to keep great ideas flowing — from everyone in the company, not just the designated "creatives."

For an alternate video source and for an interactive transcript, view this talk at the TED site. How to manage for collective creativity


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Looking for the most comprehensive and effective wellness program for your employees? ESI TotalCare Wellness pairs Behavioral Health Clinicians with certified Wellness Coaches to provide employees and their families with the help, motivation, tools and support to make changes and improve their lives. Call 800-535-4841 for more information.

March 15, 2015

Confusion about Exempt vs Non-exempt employees

What does "exempt" mean in terms of employment? The concept of exempt vs nonexempt employees comes from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as a distinction to protect employees from working long hours without extra payment. But the terms are often confused and misunderstood by employers and employees alike.

It's pretty important for employers to understand the distinction. This past week, statistics were released by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts showing that "8,160 FLSA cases were launched in the 12 months ending Sept. 30, an 8.8 percent increase from the 7,500 FLSA cases filed during the previous 12 months." (See FLSA, FMLA Lawsuits Soaring, New Statistics Show)

Mike Haberman of Omega HR Solutions has a several great posts that discuss and clarify the issue. In What exactly does “exempt” mean? he defines the overall terms, noting that exempt means a "... particular employee is exempt from being paid overtime, in other words you do NOT have to pay them anymore even when they work more than 40 hours in a week." In contrast, for a non-exempt employee, "you MUST pay them overtime whenever they work more than that 40 hours. In some states overtime has to be paid for work of more than 8 hours in a day."

An employer can't simply decide to make the entire workforce exempt in an effort to get around overtime. Haberman lays out the current criteria, one of which is minimum salary. Although the current level is $455 a week, pending FLSA changes will likely bump that up significantly. And salary is only one criteria in classifying an employee as exempt. See his related post, FLSA Exemptions are about DUTIES not Titles.

In The USDOL is getting ready to disrupt your workplace! Halberman discusses some of the significant changes that are under review.

For additional resources, see

The Department of Labor's FLSA Overtime Security Advisor, an interactive tool

A Substantial Salary-Test Jump Is Likely

Exempt or Non-Exempt: The Risk of Misclassifying Employees

7 Most Common Misconceptions Around Exemptions


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ESI-Logo.jpg When complex employee issues arise, ESI EAP offers member employers direct access to Certified Senior Professionals in Human Resources (SPHR) and senior clinical counselors. If you need an Employee Assistance Program give us a call: 800-535-4841.

March 14, 2015

Inspiration of the Week: A World Without Barriers

In Istanbul, an entire neighborhood took sign language courses to help a hearing-impaired neighbor feel included and welcome. He didn't know about this until they choreographed a surprise one day, meeting and greeting him in his own language. It's pretty heartwarming stuff, both in the photos and the video.

OK, the neighborhood had more than a little help from Samsung and ad agency Leo Burnett to raise awareness about the Samsung Duyan Eller, a new call center catering towards the hearing impaired in Turkey -- a service which is pretty neat in and of itself.

It's also a reminder of the power of storytelling in promoting our messages. Every year, billions are spent in advertising and promotion to build brand and image. It's great to see a company finding a very human and inclusive way to tell their story.

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