January 25, 2015

News roundup: Sick leave, Wellness, Compliance & more

Who Has Paid Sick Leave, Who Doesn’t, and What’s Changing
Gretchen Gavett, Harvard Business Review blog:
"It’s in this climate that Obama is proposing up to seven earned paid sick days for all Americans, citing Connecticut’s 2011 law as precedence. While many expected that law to lead to costly abuse — with employees calling in sick whenever they felt like taking time off — according to data from the Center for Economic Policy and Research, those shenanigans never materialized. In addition, only a third of eligible employees even used the benefit, and they used fewer days on average than they were allotted."

Related: Valerie Jarrett on LinkedIn: Why We Think Paid Leave Is a Worker's Right, Not a Privilege

Why Employees Participate—or Don't—in Wellness Programs
Findings from the 2013 EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey, published in a December 2013 EBRI Issue Brief, highlight factors influencing participation in workplace wellness programs, including health-risk assessments, health-promotion initiatives and biometric screenings.

How Would You Define HR in 2015?
Robin Schooling, HR Cloud Blog:
"We do, however, have opportunities to redefine the role of HR in our organizations as we move to a more strategic focus on talent management and organizational capability while also controlling the cost (and time!) spent on transactional work. And part of that is the ‘culture’ thing. It’s important enough that Merriam-Webster even named ‘culture’ as the 2014 word of the year."

The Challenge of Dealing with Difficult People and Difficult Conversations
David Lee, TLNT blog:
"When I shift from feeling afraid of the potential conflict to accepting the role of leader, role model, and facilitator, I let go of my desire to “win” or get back at them. When I’m able to do that, my focus shifts to asking what actions on my part will most likely foster a productive conversation. It shifts from my personal agenda to asking, “What actions on my part are for the greater good?”"

Artificial intelligence meets the C-suite
Technology is getting smarter, faster. Are you? Experts including the authors of The Second Machine Age, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, examine the impact that “thinking” machines may have on top-management roles.

What We Can Learn from the Biggest Corporate Hacks
Eric Ravenscraft, Lifehacker:
"Companies often seem like they're monolithic titans that can't be touched. Underneath all the branding, though, they're made up of people. People who can make mistakes, overlook something, or even get lazy. Whether you're one of the people who works for a big company, or just an average Jane looking to protect her chat logs, we can all learn a thing or two from these slip-ups."

Compliance Corner

Brief takes

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.

January 24, 2015

The Daily Routine of Geniuses


Sarah Green writes about the commonalities of how geniuses structure their days and routines for work in The Daily Routines of Geniuses for the Harvard Business Review blog. Her article is based on author Mason Currey's popular book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, which examines the work lives of 161 painters, writers, and composers, philosophers, scientists, and other exceptional thinkers.

She notes:

"And although the book itself is a delightful hodgepodge of trivia, not a how-to manual, I began to notice several common elements in the lives of the healthier geniuses (the ones who relied more on discipline than on, say, booze and Benzedrine) that allowed them to pursue the luxury of a productivity-enhancing routine."

Peppered with examples from the likes of Jane Austen, William Faulkner, Mark Twain, Graham Greene, N.C. Wyeth, Charles Dickens and Beethoven, she summarizes these as:

  • A workspace with minimal distractions
  • A daily walk
  • Accountability metrics
  • A clear dividing line between important work and busywork
  • A habit of stopping when they’re on a roll, not when they’re stuck
  • A supportive partner
  • Limited social lives

You can also read a series of articles by Mason Currey at Slate. While a few of these articles focus on vices that fueled the greats (alcohol and amphetemines) and others focused on quirks (Truman Capote and Marcel Proust wrote in bed, Somerset Maugham preferred the bath ), we point you to the more instructive entry on early rising: Is waking up early the secret to artistic success?:

"In researching Daily Rituals, I came across story after story of creative artists who did their most important work—and sometimes their only work—just as the sun was rising. (Of the 161 figures in the book, about a third got up at 7 a.m. or earlier.) If I were going to extrapolate one lesson from the book, it would be this: Get up early and go straight to work, making a cup of coffee if you like but not doing much else before sitting down, and take advantage of that time before the myriad demands of daily life have a chance to take hold."

Use the drop down box to review the entire series.

For snapshot views, there are also many well-designed infographic style summaries of the book:

A cool infographic from Info We Trust, the source of the illustration in this post. You can view this in poster form - click to enlarge.

The Daily Schedules of Creative Geniuses (Interactive Graphic)

Sleeping habits of geniuses

For more inspiration from the notable, see our prior post on How successful people start their days. It discusses the morning rituals of successful executives and entrepreneurs and how they invest in their top-priority activities for the day.

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.

January 18, 2015

MLK Day as a holiday and a National Day of Service: Workplace trends

Nearly 2 out Of 5 American workers will have a paid day off for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, according to Bloomberg BNA's Holiday Practices Survey. This represents a high-water mark for the survey, which was first conducted in 1986. Here's how it stacked up with other paid holidays this year.

New Year's Day 98%
Thanksgiving Day 98%
Christmas Day 97%
Independence Day 97%
Labor Day 97%
Memorial Day 96%
Friday after Thanksgiving 73%
Martin Luther KIng Day 37%
December 26 37%
President's Day 35%
December 24 34%
Veteran's Day 22%
Columbus Day 16%

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a federal holiday that commemorates the civil rights leader's birthday. It's observed on the third Monday of January in accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, although his actual birthday is January 15. Only two other people have national holidays in the United States honoring them: George Washington and Christopher Columbus. Wikipedia offers an interesting history of how MLK became a holiday.

Since 1994, the holiday has also been designated as a National Day of Service, encouraging Americans to carry on King's legacy of service by celebrating "a day on, not a day off." At the linked site, visitors can find local service opportunities by entering a zip code.

For the 63% of organizations that don't offer the day as a paid holiday, commemorating the National Day of Service might be a good alternative way to honor Doctor King's memory. According to the SHRM 2014 Annual Benefits Survey, 16% of the surveyed companies offer paid time off for volunteering, a benefit that has seen growth in recent years. Many organizations see volunteer opportunities as a way to attract and retain talent.

The 2014 Millennial Impact Report by Achieve, a consulting firm, surveyed 1,500 employed millennials—people between the ages of 20 and 34. About a third of respondents said that their companies’ volunteer policies affected their decision to apply for a job, 39 percent said that it influenced their decision to interview, and 55 percent said that such policies played into their decision to accept an offer.

For more on workplace trends in community engagement, see the 2014 Giving in Numbers report, which is issued annually by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) and also available as an infographic. The CECP is "a coalition of CEOs united in the belief that societal improvement is an essential measure of business performance." Their website offers a variety of resources and research, particularly int he area of the business value of community service.


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.

January 16, 2015

Workplace Management, 1940s style

The workplace was a very different place in the 1940s, particularly for women, as these vintage clips demonstrate. For more in this genre, see our prior post - A focus on women in the workplace - now and then

Discipline & Reprimanding

Office Safety

Office Etiquette

Bright Young Newcomer


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.

January 11, 2015

Workplace homicides by the numbers

A doctor in Texas....an insurance business man and a restaurant manager in Idaho... a Kansas shop owner... all people who got up and went to work this past week but who never made it back home to their families, all victims of work homicide. Their stories might have been more prominent in the headlines but for the fact that the world's eyes have been turned to another deadly workplace in Paris, where cartoonists, journalists and cops were all killed while doing their jobs. It's been a tragic week on the job for many.

Vox recently issued a report on America's most violent jobs as measured by workplace homicide. The article offers 5 simple charts that tell the story at a glance by breaking down the data - we are reprinting one here about dangerous professions but be sure to check out the others, including a map to see how your state compares. The District of Columbia comes in at 18.7 work homicides per million workers, followed by Arizona at 8.3.


HR and Employment Law News says that the Paris shootings are a reminder of need for workplace violence/gun policies. They discuss this and include a video clip of Charlie Plumb of McAfee & Taft offering information that could both limit your liability in the event of workplace violence involving a gun–-as well as reduce the possibility of such violence.

At ESI EAP, we work with our client employers to develop policies and practices to help prevent work violence and offer counseling that can often help to defuse a potentially explosive situation. We also provide post-incident stress assistance, a service we have had to provide all too often. Your EAP should be a part of your organization's threat assessment intervention and response plans and can also be a vital resource in addressing troubled employees early. Be sure you know the scope and range of services that your EAP offers in violence prevention, intervention and response.

Here are some workplace violence prevention resources we've previously posted

Violence Threat Assessment for Campuses and Businesses

Workplace Violence: Prevention & Preparation

Violence prevention in the workplace

Tips from an Expert: Warning Signs of Workplace Violence

Planning terminations that involve potentially violent employees

Surviving an Active Shooter Event: Run, Hide, Fight

Workplace Violence - resources and tools

When an ordinary work day turns deadly

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.

January 10, 2015

News roundup: Whistleblowers, Empathy, EEOC, Kodak moments & more

How Companies Should Respond to Whistleblower Complaints
"Even for companies that have not yet encountered a whistleblower, steps can be taken to minimize the potential exposure to such complaints. For instance, companies that operate in highly-regulated industries, such as finance or health care, should ensure that their compliance manuals are up-to-date and employees are aware of and in compliance with all relevant regulations."
- via Paul B. Murphy, Amelia R. Medina and James L. Michaels, Risk Management

Corporate Empathy Is Not an Oxymoron
"Enlightened companies are increasingly aware that delivering empathy for their customers, employees, and the public is a powerful tool for improving profits, but attempts to implement empathy programs are frequently hamstrung by the common misconception of it as “wishy-washy,” “touchy-feely,” and overtly feminine. So empathy is de-prioritized, and relegated to the status of just yet another HR initiative that looks good in the company newsletter. It is seen as a soft and frilly add-on rather than a core tool."
-via Belinda Parmar, Harvard Business Review blog

Rookie Talent: Avoiding a Kodak Moment
The Kodak name became synonymous with a resistance to change, but it’s not just innovation the company lacked. In 2011, Kodak made the list of Top 10 Fortune 500 Employers With Older Workers, called out for employing a disproportionately high percentage of mature workers.

I can’t help but wonder: If Kodak had paid attention to its aging workforce trend, would the company have maintained market share and avoided bankruptcy?
- via Sarah Sladek, Leadership Now blog

California: On-call workers entitled to pay for all hours spent at job, court rules - "Employees who while on call are required to stay at a worksite should be compensated for all their hours, including sleep time, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday."

Might Your Workers Be Eligible For Medicaid? Start-Up Helps Employers Find Out
"The Gold ‘N Silver Inn in Reno, Nev., has long offered health coverage to its employees — but many of the cooks, dishwashers and waiters who make close to minimum wage can’t afford the $100 monthly premium.

Last January, when Nevada became one of more than two dozen states to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, 10 of the diner’s 55 employees qualified for the government insurance program for low-income Americans. None of them realized it, however, until the family-run restaurant hired BeneStream, a New York-based start-up funded partly by the Ford Foundation. BeneStream uses software to quickly determine which employees are eligible for Medicaid, then helps those workers sign up for the state-federal health program that covers 70 million people."

EEOC issues you’ll want to keep an eye on in 2015
2014 was a pretty tough year for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. But that doesn’t mean employers can relax. Employment law firm Littler Mendelson recently released its Annual Report on EEOC Developments – Fiscal Year 2014, and while the results indicate the EEOC suffered some setbacks, it’s apparent that employers need to keep an eye on several key issues in 2015.

15 for ’15: Employment and labor resolutions for the new year

News Briefs

What is the Mileage Reimbursement Rate for 2015?

Do the ADA and FMLA Provide Protections to LGBT’s in the Workplace?

On the importance of being accommodating

Progressive Discipline - How Organizations Address Performance Issues

FMLA FAQ: How Do I Calculate FMLA Leave Where My Employee's Work Schedule Varies From Week to Week?

Your 5-Day Plan to Learning Twitter

Top 4 states with highest opioid use

Yoga: A Treatment For Grief?

FAQ: What Are The Penalties For Not Getting Insurance?

The Secret to Keeping Your New Year’s Health Resolution

The 2 Most Powerful Words A Manager Can Use

Blessed are the caregivers

6 Rules for Effective Peer-to-Peer Communication


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.

January 4, 2015

HR Trends & Issues for 2015

Minimum Wage Hikes Hit 21 States via Michelle Maslowski, JDSupra

Gazing Into the Crystal Ball via David Shadovitz, HRE Online

Emerging Human Resource Trends in 2015: Is Your Business Ready?, Margaret Jacoby, Huffington Post

Psst… the 2015 Employment Issues Are Just Around the Corner. via Eric Gabrielle, BeLabor the Point

2015 is lurking: are your health and welfare and cafeteria plans up-to-date?, via Seth Hanft, EmployeeBenefitst Law Report

Nine emerging HR trends for 2015 via Tom Haak, HR Trend Institute

Top Tips for a Healthier, Happier Workforce in 2015, via Terry Banks, Occupational Health & Safety

EBN: 26 items plan sponsors should focus on in 2015

Seyfarth Shaw: EEOC-Initiated Litigation Case Law Developments in 2014 and Trends To Watch for in 2015 (PDF)

Jackson Lewis: What to Watch for at National Labor Relations Board in 2015

5 retirement plan trends for 2015: How many are you on board with? via Christian Schappel, HRMorning

HR Ringleader: Workplace Observations for 2015: The Year of Employee Aptitude

Workplace Wellness Issues to Consider in 2015 via Colin Bradley, The Employee Benefits Blog

5 Key Recruitment Trends For 2015 via Ron Stewart, TalentCulture

A Look Ahead: Paid Family & Medical Leave Insurance Program - via Daniel Schwartz, Connecticut Employment Law Blog

Disrupting HR in 2015 - via Steve Boese, Human Resource Executive

What Big Things Are Coming in 2015? Top Minds Give Their Predictions via Amy Chen, LinkedIn Blog

Experts forecast 5 recruiting trends for 2015 via Catherine Conlan, Monster

New Year, New Laws: Laws that Take Effect on January 1, 2015 via Marci Harris, LinkedIn Pulse

Visier Predicts Top Recruitment, Retention, and Compensation Trends for 2015

What's Ahead for Americans in 2015? via Frank Newport, Gallup

Larry Ferlazzo - Nine education predictions for 2015

Six 2014 Tech Stories that Will Matter in 2015 via Vauhini Vara, The New Yorker

McAfee Labs Predicts Top Cybersecurity Threats for 2015


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.

December 30, 2014

Reviewing 2014's Biggest Workplace Stories

A Year Worth Remembering - HRE picks 10 people, places and things that will finish the year in the winner’s circle.

Better to Forget - HRE's annual list of 10 people, places and things that will finish 2014 as losers

SHRM: Top 10 Employee Relations Articles of 2014

Top 13 Workplace Legal Issues Of 2014

2014 Employment and Labor Law Legislation

LinkedIn: The 25 Hottest Skills That Got People Hired in 2014

EBN: Top trends in the benefits industry in 2014

Leadership Now: The Best Leadership Books of 2014

CEO: The 5 Best Leadership Infographics Of 2014

CEO: The 5 Best CEO.com Leadership Articles Of 2014

10 healthiest states in America (2014)

Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards

Year in Risk 2014

Most Popular Insurance Journal National Stories of 2014

Social Media
LinkedIn's Best Company Pages 2014

Google 2014: A Year in Search

Google Trends List 2014

The Year on Twitter

Facebook Year in Review

The Year in Social Media: Four Big Workplace Developments from 2014

CNN: 2014 In Review Fast Facts

Humor: Dave Barry's Year in Review

2014 Year in Pictures: Part I; Part 2; Part 3

December 21, 2014

News Roundup: DOJ transgender protections; racial tension; winter smackdown & more

DOJ extends legal protections to transgender employees
"The Department of Justice has officially expanded its legal definition of sex discrimination – prohibited by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act – to include discrimination based on gender identity, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday.
The decision, circulated in a memo to all DOJ components and U.S. attorneys, marks a reversal in position, and bars the department from making arguments in court that transgender people are not covered under Title VII, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in employment. It also enables the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division to file Title VII claims against state and local public employers on behalf of transgender individuals."

Related: Dave Shadovitz on the DOJ’s Move to Protect Transgender Individuals

Guidance for HR when racial tension spreads from streets to workplace
Tammy Binford, HR Hero: "As anger peaks around the country, it’s likely some of the emotions displayed in protests will erupt at work. When that happens, HR has a job to do to keep potentially emotional conversations from escalating into workplace disruption and even discrimination or harassment claims. Effective antidiscrimination policies and training programs are a start."

How You Should Manage Depression in the Workplace
At Inc., Evil HR Lady Suzanne Lucas talks about holiday depression and enlists the help of Counselor, Stephanie Meldrum: "Of course, if you suspect you should act, but from a business standpoint. Meldrum emphasizes that it's critical to keep the relationship professional and business focused. "My general recommendation would probably be to have a conversation about the work performance issues only, and then ask a question like 'Are there any contributing factors that are getting in your way of making changes? Would a referral to the EAP for support be helpful?'"

11 Tricks Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, And Other Famous Execs Use To Run Meetings
"Americans sit through some 11 million meetings every day — with the unproductive ones costing companies $37 billion a year ... So we decided to look at how some of the most effective executives in history — from GM czar Alfred Sloan to Apple prince Steve Jobs to Facebook queen Sheryl Sandberg — run the meetings that invariably fill their calendars."

Winter Smackdown!
Sandy Smith at EHS Today: "Whether it's a polar vortex or simply a blizzard, winter weather can be tough on our bodies, our cars, our travel schedules and our psyches. Here are some tips to protect yourself and employees during the winter months."

Another Reason Mondays Are The Worst
"In 2013, Mondays were responsible for about 167,000 instances of someone getting hurt at work — more than any other day. And this is a trend that holds up pretty well: Monday has been the most injury-prone day of the week in all but two years since 2007."

Holiday focus
The 12 Days of Employment Law Christmas (2014)
Jon Hyman, Ohio Employer's Law blog has posted his annual “The 12 Days of Employment Law Christmas," amusing and informative, as he includes links to his coverage or important law related issues.

Santa Sued for Disability Discrimination Due to Reindeer Harassment
Reindeer co-workers harassed Rudolph on the basis of a perceived disability, and Santa failed to take prompt corrective action to stop the harassing behavior.

Get the Santa Tracker App

How Grinchy are employers this year?

News Briefs:


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.

December 20, 2014

The job of being Santa: pay, essential functions & more


Good news for Santa Claus - he's had a bit of a pay hike this year: "St. Nick's salary should be $139,924 in 2014 -- up more than $2,000 from last year's estimated pay of $137,795." These calculations are from Insure.com's annual Santa Index, which is based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Santa is categorized as being "an industrial engineer managing a North Pole toy factory."

Although the duties of an industrial engineer are the largest part of Santa's job, his pay is actually comprised of the going rate for 14 additional essential functions and the number of associated hours he spends each week on those functions. Here's a sampling:

  • Professional shopper / Sales and Related Workers, All Other
  • Labor negotiator (with the elves) / Labor Relations Specialists
  • Investigator (knows if you've been good or bad) / Private Detectives and Investigators
  • Sleigh pilot / Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers
  • Cookie taster / Agricultural Inspectors

Of course, the $139k pay rate is for the real Santa. Some of the mall stand-ins earn considerably less:

"Mall Santas in Southern California can make between $6,000 and $8,000 during the holiday season, Erwin says. "But doing so often requires them to work hundreds of hours."
Corporate, private or municipal events pay more per hour, but the events don't last as long as work shifts at the mall. Pay depends on the client list. Erwin says he typically earns between $8,000 and $10,000 for 60 to 90 hours of performing. He also does film work, but says with the time he spends traveling to auditions and call-backs, "Most years it seems I'm spending $1 for every two or three I earn."
Most professional Santas also do many appearances for free for charities."

As with any job, the essential functions are only part and parcel of what's needed. The job requires a gentle and jolly disposition, a hearty belly laugh and quite a bit of patience. As one Santa puts it, "And you have to believe in your own heart because some kids will challenge you and say you aren't really Santa. You have to really believe in yourself that you are Santa."

To learn more about what it takes to have the job of Santa, we turn to Jack Broom of the Seattle Times, who offers a delightful inside look at the magic of wearing the red suit. In the article, he interviews several Santas who describe the job: "Magic, wonder and awe. Talk to those who spend parts of the holiday season in Santa garb and you’ll hear the experience described as a role, a gig, an honor, a responsibility — even a calling."

He also discusses some of the nuts and bolts of the job:

"Santas typically provide their own suits, although a store or a mall might provide a Santa suit for a consistent look. Santas pay for insurance, travel expenses and often for the treats and gifts they hand out.
Santas working in malls and stores are typically paid by the hour, often by the photographer running the Santa display, rather than by the store."

In a similar vein, Kate Hill has written Confessions of a store Santa for ABC Australia. Her story talks about some of the job hazards (think bodily fluids) and the liability issues that require a higher level of political correctness.

"Everyone must have a working with children check and kids are no longer allowed to perch on Santa's knee, but are required to sit beside him.
"The only ones I hold are babies up until about nine months," said Mr Jones.
Both his hands have to be on show while a child is with him and cuddling is still okay, but Mr Jones has to angle his body away from the children.
Mr Jones said the changes are sad but necessary, designed to protect both parties."


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.

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