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Summer Outings

It’s time to change up the office routine and enjoy some summer-time fun in the workplace! 

  • Plan activities that take advantage of the summer weather allowing employees to step away from their computers. 
  • Organize activities personalized to your employees current interests. Keeping in mind not all may want to participate and ensure activities will not create a liability for your company (ie. allowing alcohol)

A good outing engages employees at the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels. Emotional activities help connect employees to their job and your organization’s values. Activities that engage employees on the emotional level give opportunities to get to know your employees on a personal level. Help celebrate work/life balance with mental-level activities that stimulate the mind and spark creativity. The last level to consider for activities is the spiritual level, where employees work together towards a shared responsibility. Fitting activities to consider are: 

  • Ice cream social
  • Lunch out
  • End of workday family visit party
  • Work walking groups
  • Outdoor patio gathering
  • Park outing
  • Cook-off
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Company softball/kickball game
  • Attend a sporting event
  • Break-room games
  • Hike
  • Boat cruise
  • Kayak/Canoe/Tube
  • Go-kart race
  • 5K race event
  • Volunteer at a local school
  • Work in a community garden
  • Mentor students

The focus of summer activities should be to unite your employees, not make them feel excluded or uncomfortable. While creating and implementing meaningful company experiences is a time investment, it is balanced with the benefits of more productive, engaged, and loyal employees. With preparation and clear policies, you can keep your employees safe, while enjoying special summer perks.

Smart Summer Safety

Be smart and keep your workplace safe and fun this summer. Workplace summer safety includes preparing for weather-related disasters and preventing heat-related illness. As an employer, it is your responsibility to train employees on severe weather plans and provide necessary emergency supplies. See the “Natural disasters and weather workplace preparedness” graphic below for information about how to train your employees for earthquakes, floods, heat, hurricanes, lighting, tornadoes, and wildfires.

While OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) does not specifically have federal regulations to maintain a certain workplace temperature, the General Duty Clause, sections 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act requires a work environment that “is free from recognizable hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious harm to employees.” The recommended temperature range is 68-76°F and humidity range is 20-60%. Be aware that California, Washington, and Minnesota each have heat-stress standards that you must follow if conducting business in these states.

Certain jobs and locations put employees at greater risk of heat-related illness. At-risk jobs include agriculture, construction workers, emergency response, indoor employees in bulky clothing using heavy equipment, landscaping, oil and gas operations, transportation, and utility. At-risk locations that need reduction in heat via air conditioning and ventilation include but are not limited to boiler rooms, chemical plants, commercial kitchens, factories, food canneries, and laundries. Be especially mindful when the heat index risk level is moderate or higher; see the chart below for heat indices and protective measures. More than half of heat-related employee deaths occur within the first three days on the job. As employees return to work after COVID-19 kept them away, employers need to provide safety refreshers and time to acclimate.

Implement a heat-stress program to educate employees how to prevent, recognize, and treat signs of heat-related illness. To prevent heat illness, have employees drink a cup of water every 15-20 minutes. Require frequent breaks in the shade or air-conditioning. Encourage or provide employees to wear appropriate attire, such as hats, light-colored and light-weight clothing, breathable/wicking clothing, ice-packet vests, and heat-reflective attire. Allow them to work during cooler, less humid times of the day. Ask employees to download the OSHA’s heat safety tool on their phones. Use the chart below created from the CDC guidance to recognize symptoms and how to treat heat-illnesses.

Another factor to consider this summer is that wearing masks can intensify heat-related illness by trapping hot air and making it difficult to breathe. Be mindful of those that continue to wear a mask, whether by choice or necessity. With preparation and clear policies, you can keep your employees safe, while enjoying special summer perks.

Embrace Workplace Diversity and Thrive

There are similarities and differences in all facets of your employees’ lives. Diversity in the workplace is more than racial differences. Common aspects of diversity include, but are not limited to: accent, age, disability, ethnicity, family status, sex, gender identity/expression, introvert vs extrovert, language, neurodiversity, physical characteristics, political preference, race/color, religion/belief/spirituality, sexual orientation, veteran status, and weight.

Our recent work-from-home (WFH) global shift creates space for more diversity in the workforce, as people who were unable to work in a traditional setting are now being included, which strengthens your organization. WFH naturally removes location bias and increases an organization’s geographical diversity, which can broaden diversity in age, culture, ethnicity, gender, mobility challenges, race, and sexual orientation. Instead of focusing on hiring those who “fit” your company’s culture, shift to a “culture add” mindset; look for potential employees who expand your company’s outlook.

Prejudices hamper growth, while diversity fights unconscious bias. Ultimately, embracing diversity in the workplace allows organizations to develop creative solutions that relate to our diverse world. McKinsey’s research shows that ethnically diverse and gender-diverse companies perform 35% and 15% better than peer companies, respectively. Fostering an inclusive, diverse organization improves company culture, employee retention, and engagement. Increased employee engagement can lead to collaboration, communication, and ultimately company success. As employees with a variety of skills work together, they generate innovative ideas that are productive, progressive, and profitable. A diverse workforce’s insights into a range of clients and their needs helps your organization thrive. Ultimately, this appreciation of your customer base improves employer brand and global reputation.

Does your business/organization have a DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) plan? A quality DEI encompasses diversity in work styles, characteristics, and experiences that set employees apart. Your organization needs to learn how to leverage these attributes in conjunction with your business objectives. A team composed of individuals with diverse attributes, insights, and work practices will be more prosperous.  However, DEI is not a one-off training; it is continuous education that evolves with your employees and organization. It takes years to build a strong DEI program and there are specialists who can help you. HR Synergy encourages you to reach out to these specialists to create and implement your company’s DEI plan. 

If you are unsure how to navigate more diverse hiring practices, HR Synergy is happy to help you. Click here to contact us.

The Importance of Workplace Wellness Programs

Workplace wellness is in the forefront of your employees’ minds. You can RETAIN and ATTRACT employees with holistic wellness programs. Especially now during the pandemic, 90% of millennials want training on their mental, physical, and financial health, aka integrative health benefits. Employee stressors impact your bottom line. Whereas, connecting employees and your business’s mission through initiatives empowers your employees, raises engagement, improves productivity, and can lead to retention. Integrative health benefits are a key to attract new employees and are a major factor in retention for 56% of employees. Healthier employees over six years also correlate with up to 75% greater stock appreciation. Bringing integrative health benefits to your employees gives you a return-on-investment (ROI) by reducing days lost per year to illness. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every $1 invested in employee mental healthcare, gives a $4 return in productivity (via reduction in healthcare premiums and absenteeism), over a 400% ROI.

Keys to develop successful integrative care:

        1. Hybrid offerings
        2. Eligibility/voluntary EAP (employee assistance program)
        3. Streamline access
        4. Inform

It is important your business’s integrative care is accessible, streamline, and transparent. Including digital and physical integrative care through a hybrid model during this time of increased work-from-home employees is important. It is crucial to include full-time and part-time employees as well in the programs. You can provide services to part-time employees, employee’s family members, and employees under different health plans through a voluntary employee assistance program (EAP). Over half of Americans have misconceptions about what benefits and programs are offered, specifically mental health care. You want your employees to be able to easily access and use the programs offered through a single platform. Incentive programs and wellness challenges are a wonderful way to educate employees on offerings and about the platform itself. Have the employees use the platform itself to track their wellness challenge points. To increase visibility, have employees include a link to the wellness platform in their internal email signatures. Incentivize participation by offering health-related prizes, like money added to their health spending account.

Employee Wellness Challenge Ideas:

    • Stair Challenges: bell at top for encouragement
    • Walking Challenges: step number or distance
    • Habit-Building Challenges: water consumption, sleep hours, mindfulness
    • New Hire Exploration Challenge: organizational culture, important locations
    • Nutrition Challenges: healthy free group lunches, “accountability partners”, live/virtual nutrition webinars/seminars
    • Financial Wellness Challenges: education
    • Sustainability Challenges: personal health and environmental health
    • Charity Challenges: monetary, item, volunteer time donations
    • Vacation Exploration Challenge: encourage use of PTO
    • Social Challenge: community-building virtually/live

In order to build your wellness workplace, you need to plan, allocate, and execute. An effective plan requires employee buy-in. Once you have earned that, determine how everyone will track their initiative activity and determine what workplace improvements fit with your organization. Through a survey and initial biometric readings, chart the most pervasive health risks and access employees’ ideas for office enhancements. Next, decide leaders for your initiatives and for your workplace enrichments. Implement the wellness challenges and workplace improvements. Lastly, create and utilize a tool to assess employees’ health and wellness advancements due to your wellness program.

What will your workplace look like after COVID?

Are you planning to have employees return to the office? Work 100% remote? A combination of the two? If you are planning a combination of in-office and remote workers, you should be thinking about office safety and collaboration between remote and on-site employees.

There are three ways to mitigate risks to in-office employees. First, continue at-home, self-screening of COVID-19 symptoms. Next, arrange for transparent testing protocols that conserve employee privacy and protects the health of others. Finally, readily provide official documents certifying ability to work when needed.

COVID has made remote working the rule rather than the perk. But motivators are different for  remote workers. Instead of benefits like parking or on-site gyms, you may want to think beyond short-term incentives. Remote teams need to feel valued or they will look elsewhere for a job. Being aware of what’s going on in remote workers’ lives is more challenging than reading the office atmosphere. If you feel there is conflict in the team, intervene immediately to prevent escalation. You want remote workers to feel part of the team emotionally and technically connected. Make files and calendars accessible to employees by using software like Basecamp. Also, make technology available to alleviate at-home workers’ computer and internet frustrations. Check in with your remote workers regularly to make sure their needs are being met. Remember that your remote workers have unique challenges and it’s important to address those to see if they need additional support. As remote work might not end for some employees even when the pandemic passes, pay the same. “Equal pay for equal work” regardless of where your employees reside. Keep a successful team by looking after them and you will be rewarded by satisfied, fruitful, and dedicated employees.

The combination of remote/on-site employees (hybrid model) presents additional considerations beyond those above. Will on-site be flexible to the employee’s choice or employers? Employers providing this option are asked to consider office coverage and in-person team collaboration opportunities when determining schedules that work best for all.  

Navigating this changing work landscape can be stressful, and requires pivoting. We can help you maintain employee safety, sustain compliance, and keep your office culture positive. We’re here to support you to create a seamless transition. Contact us today for more information. Learn how HR Synergy can help simplify your HR needs.

 

What will the new …… “NORMAL” be for employers!

These past several weeks have taught all of us to shift gears without notice and consider how we will continue to conduct business efficiently while being empathetic to the needs of our employees and our communities.  Yet to come, is how will we handle returning to work after the pandemic?
 
Like so many, a normal day is no longer normal.   At HR Synergy our current normal ranges from attending webinars, research to learn and understand new acronyms (FFCRA, CARES Act, PPP, EIDL, etc.) to help small businesses and employers understand how to make decisions around workforce reduction, furlough, and layoffs; and presenting webinars.  The Department of Labor has been publishing updates regularly regarding changes and FAQ’s.
 
Shifting our focus to how can we help our clients and other small businesses prepare for the next phase.  We need to begin thinking about how will we transition the workforce back to the normal before COVID-19? Some challenges employers will face:
  • Who is essential to return to the “office or work site”?
  • Considering work areas, how will you continue to ensure the safety of our teams and their employees?
  • Schools are online for the remainder of the school year, what alternative plan will you consider for parents who need to be home with their children?
  • Employees who want to work remote may have proved their ability to be productive, meet deadlines while working from home while caring for school-aged children.  Are you prepared for this?
  • The essential employee you need to come back to work and refuses, not feeling comfortable that it’s safe ~ what to do?
I have no doubt that we’ll figure it out.  The NH Community is absolutely amazing! All have been creative, adaptable and compliant to do our part during the COVID-19 Pandemic. I’m grateful and proud to be a apart of such an amazing community!
 
Some days can be more exhausting than others and it’s important to be sure and take time for you.  When I am in need a break, I enjoy making masks and donating them to family members and local hospitals!
 
If you are unsure how to navigate these decisions and communicate with your team the how and why, HR Synergy is happy to help you.  Click here to contact us

HR Synergy Partners with BambooHR

BambooHR

We are pleased to announce that we are now a  BambooHR Authorized Referral Partner!

This partnership will allow us to bring you a more convenient and user-friendly way of organizing the information that matters most. BambooHR is the leading provider of tools that power the strategic evolution of HR in small-to-medium-sized businesses.

BambooHR’s cloud-based system is an intuitive, affordable way for growing companies to track and manage essential employee information in a personalized Human Resources Information System (HRIS). Now HR managers have more time for meaningful work; executives get accurate, timely reports, and employees can self-service their time off using a convenient mobile app.

The best software to streamline your HR process!

Consultants at HR Synergy will work closely with our clients to implement the software, provide training to employers on how to use the system efficiently, and answer any questions you may have along the way.

Switching to new software can be stressful, and requires a lot of attention. We are here to make that process run smoothly in the shortest amount of time. Whether or not you choose to sign up for BambooHR through us, you own the software, and all of the information in it. We simply hope to make the implementation smooth and worry free for you and your employees. Contact us today for more information. Learn how HR Synergy and BambooHR can help simplify your HR needs.

 

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OSHA 300A Form Posting Deadline

OSHA 300A Form

The Deadline to Sign and Post your 300A Form is February 1, 2020

Many but not all employers must complete the OSHA injury and illness record-keeping forms on an ongoing basis. Employers with 10 or more employees throughout the previous calendar year are required by regulation to post these forms. We encourage businesses of all sizes, utilize these forms not only for compliance but to have consistent documentation in place in the event the employee count exceeds 10 anytime during the year.
 
Small employers (less than 10 employees) and certain low-risk industries are exempt.
 
The OSHA 300A form must be posted from February 1st through April 30th each year. The form should be in a visible location and is a method of educating your employees about the safety of their work environment. 
 
HR Synergy, LLC and The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) shares with you the goal of preventing injuries and illnesses in your workplace. Accurate injury and illness records will help achieve that goal.
 
Visit OSHA.gov for more information and to download your 300A forms.
 

Please contact us at (603) 261- 2402 if you have any questions or concerns.

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The Importance of Compensation Analysis

The Importance of Compensation Analysis

Is Your Compensation Package Competitive?

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 wages. Paid time off, health benefits, even stock shares are all things that make up the benefits that attract and retain employees. Some industries, like business and finance, are going to be more competitive with compensation than others, such as nonprofits and healthcare. A compensation analysis helps employers gain an understanding of an appropriate compensation package to attract and retain key employees.  

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, 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 often invest a lot of time and resources on employees that are not quite at the right level. Good employees will not stay long if they don’t feel valued and are not paid fair wages for their 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.

New Overtime Rules Finalized

Employees who make less than $35,568 a year are eligible for overtime pay.

HR professionals and employers have been awaiting the final overtime rules update since the proposed rule in 2016.  The 2016 proposal presented a salary basis that was economically challenging for many businesses, especially non-profits and small business owners.

As of January 1, 2020, exempt employees earning less than $684.00 per week or ($35,568 annually) will be eligible for overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in any given week under the newly released rule.  In addition to changing the threshold for exempt employees the new rule increases the salary threshold for a highly compensated employee from $100,000 per year to $107,432.

With just three (3) months’ notice to prepare employers should immediately begin:

  • Reviewing existing salary of exempt employees to ensure they meet the minimum threshold.  Non-discretionary bonuses may be used to satisfy up to 10% of the standard salary level.
  • Reviewing positions classified as exempt from overtime to ensure responsibilities meet the criteria to be exempt.
  • Discussing with management teams about how the organization will handle salary adjustments that are necessary to be compliant.
  • Discussing with management on how to communicate this information to employees.

This new rule takes effect in only a few months.  If you have questions or need assistance determining which employees meet the threshold, contact the professionals at HR Synergy to help you navigate through the process.

For more information visit these helpful links: