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preventing workplace accidents

10 Tips for Preventing Workplace Accidents and Injuries

Ouch! Going to work can hurt. In fact, every day, more than 30,000 workers are injured at work or develop occupational illnesses. And these injuries come at a high cost. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, our nation’s top 10 workplace injuries cost us an estimated $55.4 billion each year. In this month’s HR Synergy blog, we share 10 tips for preventing workplace accidents and injuries.

Most Workplace Accidents and Injuries are Preventable

Research tells us that most workplace injuries are preventable. In fact, very few injuries are the result of unavoidable accidents caused by technical problems like equipment failure.

Preventing Workplace Accidents and Injuries

Employers can prevent most workplace accidents and injuries by:

  1. Establishing and enforcing safety policies and procedures. This should include all OSHA rules and regulations, as well as any additional safety procedures and precautions appropriate to your specific industry or workplace.
  2. Instructing employees on how to report concerns about unsafe or hazardous conditions.
  3. Developing clear repercussions for supervisors and employees who do not follow established safety policies and procedures.
  4. Providing employees with adequate safety training and equipment. Note that some employee training may need to be ongoing, or require regular updates or “refreshers.”
  5. Ensuring that anyone who is operating power equipment or exposed to hazardous materials has received adequate training on usage and handling.
  6. Following government rules regarding safe usage, storage, and cleanup of hazardous materials.
  7. Prohibiting employees from working if they are tired or in danger of overexertion.
  8. Conducting routine safety inspections.
  9. Training all employees on what to do in an emergency. This may include annual practice drills.
  10. Educating employees on the importance of proper workplace ergonomics.

“Safety policies and procedures should be clearly defined in a safety manual, which should be accessible to all employees. It’s also important to engage your employees in the development and enforcement of your safety policies and procedures,” says HR Synergy President Michelle Gray.

By following the tips outlined above, you will have a healthier, more productive workforce, and may reduce your overall workers’ compensation costs.

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Outsourced HR Solutions for NH Businesses and Nonprofits

Need help developing your organization’s safety policies and procedures? Contact the professionals at HR Synergy. We provide outsourced HR Solutions—from policy development, to risk assessment, to labor law compliance and more—for NH businesses and nonprofits.

 

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summer dress code policy

Why You Need a Summer Dress Code Policy

Before we know it, summer will be here. And as the weather starts to warm up, many of your employees may begin to dress down.  Some may even cross the line in terms of what is appropriate for the workplace. In this month’s HR Synergy blog, we discuss why you need a summer dress code policy and offer guidelines on developing one for your workplace.

Presenting a Positive Image for Your Company

Of course, you want all of your employees to present a positive image for your company. Inappropriate workplace attireespecially that which is offensive or distracting—reflects poorly on your brand. But what you consider inappropriate may seem quite acceptable to someone else. By developing a summer dress code policy, you will set clear expectations for both employees and management, and help keep things cool as the temperatures rise.

But before you can set expectations on appropriate workplace attire, you need to decide on the formality of your workplace dress code, based on the standards of your industry. Is it formal/professional, business casual, or casual?  “At many companies, this will also vary according to the amount of interaction employees have with customers,” notes HR Synergy President Michelle Gray.

Guidelines for Developing a Summer Dress Code Policy:

  1. Put Your Summer Dress Code Policy in Writing

Your summer dress code policy should be a formal document that is included in your employee handbook. Copies of the policy should be easily seen in heavily-trafficked areas, including hallways, meeting rooms, break rooms, and restrooms. “We encourage our clients to review the policy at the start of the summer season during staff meetings,” Gray notes. This ensures there is no confusion about the policy.

  1. Apply Your Summer Dress Code Equally

When writing your workplace dress code policy, be careful not to focus more on one gender than the other. “I often find that businesses tend to focus on more on female dress attire,” Gray says. To be effective, your workplace dress code policy needs to be applied equally to all employees, regardless of gender, age, or level.

  1. Be Specific

As noted, the purpose of your summer dress code policy is to set clear expectations for both employees and management. Thus, you should provide specific examples of what attire is not acceptable for your type of business. Here are some considerations and questions to get you started:

  • Parameters for dress and skirt hemlines (e.g. no more than 2 inches above the knee)
  • Pant length requirements (i.e. Are capris or shorts allowed?)
  • Attire that is not permitted, such as T-shirts, tank tops, low-cut shirts, halter tops, crop tops, sweatpants, sweatshirts, athletic wear, logo wear, jeans, or leggings
  • Reminders that all clothing should be ironed, clean, and free of holes and stains
  • Should men’s shirts be tucked in and must they have collars?
  • Are sleeveless tops allowed? Is there a minimum strap width requirement?
  • What about footwear? Are sandals and flip-flops allowed?
  • Is there a Friday “jean day” and are there any restrictions (e.g. rips and holes, color/fading, etc.)?
  • Summertime is also a good time to restate any policies your company may have around the visibility of tattoos.
  1. Explain the Consequences

Your summer dress code policy needs to state the consequences for failing to comply with it. Also, any special events or circumstances that can alter the dress code should be outlined in your policy and communicated to your employees.

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Outsourced HR Services for NH Businesses and Non-Profits

Whether you need help developing employee policies, improving employee communication, or increasing employee morale or productivity, the professionals at HR Synergy are here to help. Contact us today!

 

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Did March Madness Happen at Your Office?

Did March Madness Happen at Your Office?

In light of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) March Madness that just came to pass, basketball fans across the country got excited to find out who would win the tournament and who won the gambling pool at the office.  The March Madness Tournament draws in billions of dollars each year, with last year’s raking in roughly $9 billion.  Some of that money might be changing hands from your office employees who ran a pool of their own.

 

Legality

If you’re wondering whether the office NCAA Tournament pool is just harmless fun or if it’s legal the answer to that question is: no.  In most states, except for Nevada, betting on college sports is illegal. For the state of New Hampshire, wagering on games or sports is illegal, however, some states, like Vermont and Montana, may allow for limited legal betting such as having a winner-take-all format wherein the officiator of the pool receives no cut or profit from the pool.  Check your state’s gambling laws to make sure you and your employees remain compliant with the laws.

Risks and Repercussions

Although your office’s pool may be illegal, the chances of facing any prosecution for participating in a betting pool as an employer or as an employee are slim to none.  Few employers, if any, have gotten in trouble for March Madness pools or other sports wagering in the past.  Unlicensed sports betting, like the inter-office pool that might be going on that your work place, may not necessarily be the main concern of the FBI or police.  However, getting caught in the scheme will land the officiating employee(s) a misdemeanor charge, if you’re lucky, or a one-year stay at the nearest jail.  Trouble might also be brewing for you, the employer, especially if you own the property of your workplace location as you will be subject to the same criminal liability as the organizer.  Any participant, whether he or she is only involved in a single bet will also be liable for these consequences.

Rather than the FBI or the local police, you should be more cautious of an IRS investigation.  Most might forget this step, but if your company policy permits such pools and you or your employees profit from them at all, you must report your winnings when you sit down to do your federal income tax.  If you don’t declare your winnings as an income, there’s a large chance that you will get audited by the IRS.

Dice and Poker Chips on Game Table

Keeping It Under Control

For the benefit of your company and your employees, the safest bet is to prohibit office pools or wagering of any type from being conducted in the workplace.  Describing the type of prohibited and acceptable behaviors in a comprehensive gambling policy will greatly decrease the likelihood of there being any illegal pools or wagering in your workplace.  Some things to considering implementing or updating in your policy can include: establishing work areas such as offices, break rooms, and parking lots as places where gambling is prohibited; indicating that the use of company-owned computers and servers for gambling purposes is restricted; clearly outlining what constitutes as gambling and potential course of action for policy violations.

 

HR Synergy is your outsourced human resources specialists—contact us today and our expert team can help you create and develop policies that will allow you to create better workplace interactions, keeping you and your employees happy.

 

Written by:

Bianca Wee Sit, Public Relations Intern

HR Synergy

 

 

 

Happier Employees, Happier You

As a business owner, you want to retain your employees and have them stay with your company for as long as possible as it can get costly to replace your staff frequently.  Nobody wants to put in money to hire and train employees only to do so again six months later.  Learn how happier employees could lead to a happier you– here are some tips to keep your employees, and yourself, happy and productive.

Why They Leave

Before getting into the tips, we must first get into the reason for why employee retention might be on the decline.  Business can lose employees for a multitude of reasons—whether it’s because of a whole family move, to stay home with the children, or going back to school.  However, most of the reasons why people leave their jobs are under the control of the employer.  Elements such as the company culture and environment, as well as how the employee perceives his or her job and opportunities there can all be influenced by you, the employer.

Communication

One of the best things an employer can do to improve retention rates is to have better communications with their employees.  An employer is too much of an integral part in employees’ daily work life that having a good professional relationship with their boss causes improved morale, productivity, loyalty.  It can also reduce mistakes that happen from lack of communications, and prevent angry employees from disrupting the workflow of your company.

To improve communication with your employees try implementing more of the following:

Having face-to-face conversations:  Interacting with employees personally not only

strengthens the work relationships, but it also helps build trust and respect that emails and text can’t provide.

Being approachable:  Before you can have face-to-face conversations, you need to

be approachable.  Be more engaging and take your employees out to lunch.

Keeping employees informed and up-to-date with company happenings

Listening to them or providing avenues for sounding off:  Communication is a two-way street, and you need to listen as well.  Hear them out by having regular staff meetings, a suggestion box, or have a running employee satisfaction survey.

 

Acting on any complaints:  What use is listening if you don’t do something

about it.  Act on what you hear and provide solutions to your employees’ complaints.

 

Boost Teamwork

Another root cause of employees leaving work is disagreements or discomfort with fellow team member.  Employees spend most of their time at work with co-workers, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that improving the relationships they have with one another will help keep them happy and more likely to enjoy coming into work.

Try these tips with your teams to improve employee relations:

Outlining Clear Roles: Working with members to outline skill sets and deadline

charts before the start of projects helps identify individual roles and reduces stress levels.

Identifying existing problems: Leaving issues to resolve themselves over time may

not be the most optimal solution.  Having group members collectively discuss problems as they arise solves the

risk of the issues growing larger later.

Mediate Disputes: Providing detailed instructions to teams on how to remedy

issues will empower members of the team to solve them efficiently and productively.

Encouraging social activity: When workers know each other well allows them to be

more comfortable with discussing issues, thus increasing team work.

Implementing recognition programs: Rewarding your team for good performance

will encourage them to keep up the work and keep producing quality material.

 

Next Steps

Improving your relationship with your employees as well as their relationships with themselves will get you back on track for a productive year.  If these tips weren’t enough, HR Synergy can help you take care of the most important aspects of your business because we know that employees are everything to your business.

 

Written by:

Bianca Wee Sit, Public Relations Intern

HR Synergy, LLC.

culture of kindness in the workplace

Creating a Culture of Kindness in the Workplace

by Michelle Gray, President, HR Synergy, LLC

Workplace culture is one of the most overlooked, yet important parts of running a successful business. As an HR consultant, I observe situations everyday where employees feel burnt out and unappreciated, and wonder why they stay with their employer. Unfortunately, in many cases, these people are the most talented, loyal, and passionate employees. At a time when attracting and retaining quality employees is both difficult and costly, I have advised many of my clients to work on creating a culture of kindness in the workplace.

What is a Culture of Kindness?

To some, this concept may sound a bit fluffy. What exactly do I mean by kindness? Sure, being kind in the workplace involves caring about a co-worker’s concerns and appreciating their contributions. But it also means recognizing the humanity of a colleague:

  • Fully listening when someone speaks to you.
  • Looking the person in the eyes with genuine attention.
  • Simply acknowledging someone’s presence by saying “hello,” or sharing a casual smile.
  • Asking someone if they are feeling better.
  • Displaying thoughtfulness without expecting anything in return.
  • Pitching in when someone needs a little extra help.
  • Picking up coffee for a colleague.  

Benefits of Creating a Culture of Kindness in the Workplace

According to research conducted by psychologist Jonathan Haidt, when leaders are polite, respectful, sensitive, or willing to make sacrifices for their teams,  employees may feel more loyal and committed to their boss. Another study indicated that when leaders are fair, members of their teams collaborate better and work more productivelytogether and individually.

In their book, Leading with Kindness, authors William Baker and Michael O’Malley contend that corporate kindness positively impacts profits. They identify six qualities of kind managers—compassion, integrity, gratitude, authenticity, humility, and humor—and believe a kind management style improves employee performance and retention.

culture of kindness in the workplace

Kindness is Contagious in the Workplace

Haidt also found that employees of compassionate leaders are more likely to act in a helpful and friendly manner toward other employees, even when they had nothing to gain. Researchers Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler have also found that if you’re kind, those around you are more likely to act kindly, too.

Kindness Must Come from the Top

As business owners and managers, we are constantly multi-tasking, focused on the “big picture” and the needs of our customers. Frequently, we forget that our employees are also our customers and our greatest asset. Creating a culture of kindness in the workplace begins with us. It has to be part of our corporate DNA. How are you creating a culture of kindness in the workplace?

Outsourced Human Resource Services

HR Synergy provides employers with assistance in all areas of HR, including coaching and consulting, recruiting and retention, employee relations, policy development, labor law compliance, benefits management. and more. Contact us today to learn how your company can benefit from HR Synergy’s experience.

How the Trump Administration May Affect Employers

How the Trump Administration May Affect Employers

Before taking office on January 20, President Donald Trump identified several employment-related actions among his administrative priorities. This has left many business owners and HR professionals wondering how the Trump administration may affect employers. Although no one can positively predict the future, here are some key areas that employers and HR professionals should be watching:

Repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

One of President Donald Trump’s first moves after taking office was signing an executive order to limit what he referred to as the “burdens of the Affordable Care Act,” the first step toward fulfilling his campaign promise to dismantle the law. According to NPR health correspondent Alison Kodjak, President Trump believes the law is hurting the entire healthcare industry. She says President Trump wants to make health insurance accessible to all and ease the burden across the board—not just on individuals, but on insurance companies, hospitals, doctors, and medical device-makers.  

This is obviously a sweeping mandate, and according to Kodjack, President Trump and his colleagues on Capitol Hill don’t yet seem to be on the same page about what they want. For the time being, we’ll just have to watch and wait.

Federal Overtime Rule

The Department of Labor’s Federal Overtime Rule remains on hold with an uncertain future. Some speculate that the the injunction could become permanent, while others suggest the new salary threshold may be lowered or the rule’s automatic salary increases eliminated.

Chief of Staff Reince Priebus issued a memo to the heads of executive departments and agencies on January 20, ordering a freeze of federal regulations that haven’t yet gone into effect. This freeze suggests that the Trump administration may reverse the controversial overtime rules. Prior to taking office, President Trump expressed that he favors a small business exemption to the rule. He also characterized the rule as an example of “overregulation.”

While existing rules remain in place, employers will have to make their own decisions  on whether it makes sense for them to roll out any planned changes.

Minimum Wage

While on the campaign trail, President Trump supported a $10-an-hour minimum wage, but also said that states should take the lead in this area. The trend of states raising their own minimum wage rates will likely continue.

Immigration

Immigration reform was the centerpiece of President Trump’s campaign. In addition to instituting an immigrant travel ban, President Trump plans to revamp the H-1B visa program that allows highly-skilled foreigners to work at U.S. companies. According to a January 23 draft executive order, we can expect a report within the next 90 days that details the administration’s plans for allocating visas and making the program more efficient.

As part of his immigration plan, President Trump also supports requiring all employers to use E-verifyan employment eligibility verification system. Currently, over 600,000 employers already use the system.

To counteract immigration reform measures put in place by the Obama administration, President Trump may also move to cancel the work authorization granted under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Maternity Leave and Childcare

According to the Society for Human Resource Professionals, although President Trump is calling for decreased deregulation overall, he supports increased regulation in a few areas. On September 13, he unveiled a plan to enhance unemployment insurance to include six weeks of paid maternity leave, similar to California’s program. He is also is calling for increased incentives for employers to provide child care at work.

When Will Changes Take Effect?

Any administration’s changes take time to go into effect. Executive orders can quickly be reversed and regulatory changes typically undergo a notice and comment period. Of course, Congress must still originate new laws and changes to existing laws.

Help Understanding New and Changing Employer Regulations

 How the Trump Administration May Affect Employers

 

 

 

If you need help understanding new and changing employer regulations, contact the professionals at HR Synergy. Our labor law compliance experts will give you and your management team the knowledge and tools you need to comply with federal and state regulations, avoiding costly fines and penalties. Contact us today!

Cost of Workplace Romance

The Cost of Workplace Romance to Employers

Looking for love this Valentine’s Day? According to a recent CareerBuilder.com study, many of us look no further than where we spend the majority of our time: the workplace. In fact, 4 out of 10 people have dated someone at work and 17 percent have done it twice. With so many people falling in love at the office, it’s important for employers to understand the cost of workplace romance and what can be done to minimize its impact.

Why do so Many People Fall in Love at Work?

Because it’s easy. According to John Duffy, licensed psychologist and best-selling author, “We see the people we work with more than anyone else. In many corporate cultures, people work together for many hours a day, often well into the evening. They get to know one another quite intimately, and sometimes become attracted to one another and fall in love.” While workplace relationships work out for some people, they can cause problems for not only the couple involved, but their co-workers and employers.

The Cost of Workplace Romance

There are several ways workplace romance can cause trouble for employers, including:

  • Appearances of favoritism when it comes to work assignments and pay raises, which can negatively affect an entire office.
  • Potential conflicts of interest.
  • Disruptive gossip, rumors, and innuendo, which can hurt overall employee productivity.
  • Assertions of sexual harassment if the relationship ends badly.
  • Potential legal consequences from sexual harassment allegations.
  • Damaged work relationships, which can extend beyond the couple involved in a failed romance.
  • Risk of losing valued employees who feel the need to leave after a relationship doesn’t work out.

Managing the Cost of Workplace Romance

All employers, regardless of size, should have a formal policy on workplace relationships. Establishing clear and consistent guidelines around office dating will help employers avoid the potential problems and complications outlined above. Because issues around workplace relationships can be complex and frequently require an understanding of personnel law, it is wise to consult a professional when developing your policy.

cost of workplace romance

Help in Developing Workplace Dating Policies in NH

Whether you need help developing an individual policy or revamping your entire employee handbook, the professionals at at HR Synergy are here to serve you. Contact us today.

 

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The Importance of Compensation Analysis

The Importance of Compensation Analysis

Now more than ever, employers are feeling the strain of finding and hiring the right people. With the recent changes in salary and wage regulations, businesses are being forced to review how their positions are classified and compensated. Perfect time to conduct a compensation analysis!  A company-wide compensation analysis may sound like a lot of effort, but it’s a good practice for employers to periodically review all positions throughout their organization. This helps ensure they are offering competitive wages for attracting and retaining employees.

More than Money

Compensation isn’t just about money. Paid time off, health benefits, even stock shares are all things that make up the benefits that attract and retain employees. Obviously, some industries, like business and finance, are going to be more concerned about monetary compensation than others, such as nonprofits and healthcare. Different industries lend themselves to higher rates of pay and compensation, and that’s understood.  

Many think that money is the biggest factor in employee retention, but that simply isn’t the case. While wages and hours worked are crucial to an employee’s happiness, about 88% of employees leave for reasons beyond the paycheck. Making sure employees feel valued, appreciated, and taken care of is essential to keeping them happy in their jobs.

Finding the balance between competitive wages and benefits and proper compensation for the value of an employee’s work is hard to do. When good workers feel valued for their work, they are more likely to stay. If they don’t, high qualifying jobs go to less qualified, lower quality workers. Employers could end up spending too much money on employees that are not quite at the right level. And good employees will not stay long if the job isn’t worth the work.

The Importance of Compensation Analysis

Compensation Analysis as a Retention Tool

An annual or bi-annual compensation analysis, which incorporates salary surveys and salary benchmarking, is an invaluable retention tool. This will help show if your company is paying its employees fair and competitive wages, while taking into consideration the responsibilities they are carrying out.

Compensation Analysis Services

A thorough compensation analysis helps you attract, retain and engage the best people in the most cost-effective way possible. Not sure where to start? Contact the professionals at HR Synergy today.

 

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planning your office holiday party

Holiday Office Party Planning Tips

Holiday office parties are often anticipated all year long. They’re a great chance to boost morale and appreciation within your workplace. Finding that balance between fun and responsible can be a little tricky for businesses sometimes. It can be hard to determine what you’ll have at your party and what level of professionalism you should try to maintain. As you go into planning and party mode, remember to keep the big picture in mind.

Parties and Professionalism

It’s important to remember that your employees still represent your business, even at the holiday office party. If you are hosting your party at an off-site venue, make your expectations clear to your employees. Let them know how to dress, what to expect, and if it is an employee-only event beforehand. This helps your employees come with certain expectations and an understanding of what will be appropriate for the event. Clue them into any relevant details, including how formal the party will be. This is totally dependent on you and what you want the party to be like—you can steer the event to represent your business well, even while having fun.

holiday office party planning tips

Should there be Drinking?

Holiday parties are often synonymous with alcohol, but there are several things to consider. First, if you are hosting your party at an off-site venue, they may require you to pay an extra fee or only use their bar for alcohol. Some venues do not allow any outside beverages, so it’s important to clarify this before the big event.

Also consider your employees: What would be appropriate? What types of risks could be involved if you allow alcohol? Are there any employees driving company cars that prohibits any consumption? There are always risks, as well as pros and cons, when trying to decide what should be allowed at bigger events. As the business owner, it’s important to make prudent and considerate decisions. The holiday party is a great night for your employees, but your business needs to run well for the rest of the year!

holiday office party planning tips

Have a Safe and Fun-Filled Holiday Season!

We’d like to wish everyone a healthy, joyful and safe Holiday Season! At HR Synergy, we know that employees are everything. When it comes to taking care of your business and employees, only the best will do! Let HR Synergy help you with taking care of the most important aspects of your business, and get ready for a fantastic new year!

 

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