From Uncategorized

Preparing for Adverse Weather Conditions

Let it Snow! Is your Company Prepared for the Winter Season?

New England is heading into the winter season as evidenced by the recent snowfall.  In New Hampshire, if you close your facility early and send your employees home because of bad weather, lack of power, heat or water, you must pay your non-exempt employees a minimum of two hours or all hours worked up to the time of the closure, whichever is greater.   If a facility is closed for an entire day or more due to severe weather conditions, it is important that there is a written inclement weather policy documented in the Employee Handbook. Employees should be well informed of the policy and know exactly what protocol to follow.

The Adverse Weather Policy in your Employee Handbook should address the following issues:

  1. Who is responsible for making the decision to close your facility?
  2. How will employees be notified – by phone, text, e-mail or local radio/TV announcement?
  3. When will employees be notified (how soon before their shift begins)?
  4. What is the procedure for employees who travel through an area that has been declared a state of emergency?
  5. Will both exempt and non-exempt employees be allowed to work from home or be offered other options to make up for the time lost?
  6. How will employees be compensated for lost wages? Will they have to use their accrued paid time off?
  7. What actions will take place after the adverse weather is over? Will employees be required to report to work outside of their normal scheduled hours? How will production be scheduled to make up for the missed time?

A few decades ago, a company had two options for notifying employees about a weather-related closure;  a telephone tree or a radio/TV announcement.  Some companies and professional organizations would use – and still use – school closings as their barometer. If the local school district is closed or is delayed, then the company is closed or delayed.

Now, however, technology has created many more options for communicating a closure, including automated mass e-mails, texts or phone calls.  There is a service called dialmycalls.com that will quickly send a mass text message, email or phone call to any group of contacts, for a fee.  The company has control over the contact list, the timing of the call and the content.  The trick is to make sure employees know where, when and how to expect a message.

For assistance with writing or editing your employee handbook to include an Adverse Weather Policy, please contact the professionals at HR Synergy at (603) 261-2402 we can help you with all your Human Resource needs.

 

Pre-Employment Drug Testing

One of the most important aspects of running a successful business is operational efficiency, and that extends through every level of a company’s infrastructure, from the way the computer network is maintained to the system of management used to organize employees. But there’s one area that has, in recent years, grown in importance, and that is hiring. After all, the hiring process is an extremely critical component of a workplace that can potentially affect every level of a company. When there’s an absence in an important position, work suffers. When a new person is hired, resources must be diverted for orientation or training, if it’s required. And if an employee resigns or is dismissed, this creates another hole that makes work challenging for everyone.

This is why now, more than ever, hiring the right person is an incredibly important aspect of management. And therefore, pre-employment drug testing can play a vital role in making sure that not only does the right person get the job, but no time, money or other resources are wasted on the wrong people holding onto the job for some critical period, only to create more problems with their inevitable dismissal. Often when hiring a liability, you end up owning that liability.

A person’s private life is their own affair, there’s no argument about that. However, when private activities begin to interfere with professional obligations, then it becomes a problem not just for the individual but for the organization that individual is affiliated with. Pre-employment drug testing is one of the best ways to keep problems from even occurring in the first place, and is an effective, front-line defensive and preventive measure to ensure that a working, efficient, established system in a workplace continues to operate that way without disruption.

An established, scrupulously applied pre-employment drug testing program can help a company hire the right candidate for that job!

To set up your pre-employment drug testing program call Lynn at 603-974-1030 or email lynn.snhdrugtesting@gmail.com. 

 

Southern New Hampshire,
LLC, 24 Stickney Terr Unit 5,
Hampton, NH 03842 

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

How to Recognize it, Establishing Procedures to Report it and How to Prevent it

With the rise in recent high profile sexual harassment cases, including Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and Gretchen Carlson it is time to stop shying away from the uncomfortable topic and start bringing the reality of the situation to light.  To avoid costly litigation and lawsuits, companies must protect themselves and their employees by having policies and procedures in place and making sure their managers, supervisors and employees are properly trained.

By definition, “Sexual harassment” is any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is sufficiently persistent or offensive to unreasonably interfere with an employee’s job performance or create an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.” In the past year, the EEOC received approximately 27,000 charges of sexual harassment. However, on average, approximately 30% of sexual harassment complaints go unreported.

The first step in preventing harassment is establishing a zero-tolerance policy that:

  • Explains what harassment is
  • Provides examples of such behavior
  • States who to report harassment claims to
  • Explanation of complaint procedures
  • Assures confidentiality and no retaliation

The second step, after the policy is finalized and approved, is to provide harassment training for your managers and supervisors.  It is strongly recommended that supervisors and managers have separate training sessions from employees that teaches them what to do if they receive a complaint or observe inappropriate behavior.  Supervisors and managers also have a legal liability to ensure a workplace free from harassment.

The third step would be to conduct training for all employees.  Explain the company’s zero-tolerance policy using examples and activities of various types of harassment, discuss the complaint procedures, and encourage employees to speak up without the fear of retaliation.

Do not hesitate to properly investigate the alleged conduct.  Be proactive, even if you do not have an official complaint, pay attention to office gossip, comments made outside the office and messages on social media.  Failing to prevent an issue or ignoring an existing problem can have a negative effect that includes significant financial consequences. If the victim complains to the EEOC, the company will be the subject of an investigation, and possibly a lawsuit.

Depending on the facts of a case, actual out-of-pocket costs for a company can range anywhere from $100,000 to millions of dollars. Not including damaged reputation, loss of clients, customers and investors, as well as decreased employee morale and an inability to attract and retain talent.

If you have questions, need assistance writing your Sexual Harassment policy, would like to schedule Harassment Training or are looking for some guidance, contact the professional at HR Synergy today!

Inclusion–Workplace Diversity

Inclusion—Diversity in the Workplace

Workplace Diversity card with background

If you’ve ever heard of the phrase, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” then you should also heed the same advice when it comes to the diversity of your workplace.  Put the future of your company in the hands of employees of all different types as companies need a wide array of skills, life experiences, and personality traits in order to succeed.

Work place diversity refers to the variety of differences between people in an organization.  Differences can include: race, gender, ethnicity, age, personality, cognitive style, education, background, etc.

 

Benefits

Diversity has increased significantly over the years so embracing diversity and realizing its benefits can help the success and competitiveness of your business.  Your business can hope to gain increased adaptability, a broader range of services, a variety of viewpoints, and more effective execution of duties.

Individuals perceive things differently from one another, and even more so when they come from different backgrounds and cultures.  When there are comfortable relations, the communication of various points of view provides a larger pool of ideas which your business can draw from to meet business strategy needs, as well as customer needs more efficiently.  Speaking of experiences, when you have a diversified workplace, that gives your company an arsenal of new languages, cultural understanding, and more that will allow your company to expand your services to customers and clients on a global scale.

Business that employ a diverse workforce are also able to supply a greater variety of solutions to problems as they bring individual talents as well as experiences when suggesting flexible solutions that can adapt to fluctuating markets and customer demands.  All of these things considered, employees will be inspired to perform at a higher degree of ability, thus strategies can be executed resulting in increased productivity, profit, and return on investment.

Challenges

Although workplace diversity comes with many benefits, it is not without its fair share of challenges that complicate the road towards reaping those rewards.  When many different individuals are present, there will almost always be differing and opposing opinions as perceptual, cultural, and language barriers need to be overcome.  The communication hurdle may result in confusion, teamwork, and low morale when key objectives are ineffectively communicated.

Also, a possible resistance to change may occur that can hinder your business progress towards diversifying your workplace.  There might be employees who will refuse to accept a change in the social and cultural makeup of their workplace.  They may be too used to the dynamics and processes that have existed, however, it is that type of mentality that silences new ideas and inhibits progress.

 

Laws

To accompany the trend of increasing diversity in our country, there are a slew of federal laws that are in place to help to ensure possible diversity in workplaces.  Most important are the laws dealing with discrimination such as: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that prohibits most workplace harassment and discrimination; Age Discrimination in Employment Act that governs against age discrimination; Americans with Disabilities Act which prohibits against discriminating against disabled workers or job applicants; ADA Amendments Act etc.

There are also state and local government laws in place that have enacted a variety of equal employment measures, so make sure to check those as well as the plethora of federal laws.

What You Can do to Diversify

By far, the benefits of workplace diversity is greater than the challenges that obstruct the path to it, and it will be worth your while to pursue a very diversified team.  In order to overcome these challenges, it is important to build and implement a customized strategy to maximize the effects of diversity.  Contacts us at HR Synergy, so we can help you develop and implement strategies and policies that will get you on your way to a diversified workplace culture.

 

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.

preventing workplace accidents

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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.

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!