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May 22, 2011

News briefs: DOL app, zombie apocalypse, PTO, Milliman Medical Index & more

Somebody's watching you - Wage and hour violations? There's an app for that. Employer's Lawyer Michael Fox posts about the Department of Labor's new time sheet i-phone app, which is intended to help employees track the hours they work and the wages they are owed. The DOL says that, "This information could prove invaluable during a Wage and Hour Division investigation when an employer has failed to maintain accurate employment records." See more at Compensation Cafe: An Apple A Day May Not Keep DOL Away

Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse - In trying to pique interest in the topic of emergency preparedness, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tried a new strategy: it tapped into the current public mania for all things zombie by framing the issue as Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness Guide." It's a good study in creative communications. An item in the Wall Street Journal Health Blog notes that the page has "... nearly 1.2 million page views, compared to about 1,000 to 3,000 hits a CDC blog post usually gets over its entire lifespan of 10 days or so." The CDC is now following up with a video contest.

$20k healthcare price tag for families - According to the 2011 Milliman Medical Index, the healthcare cost for a family of four covered by a preferred provider plan is $19,393, an increase of $1,319, or 7.3% over 2010. The report notes that although "...the rate of increase is slowing from prior years, it has taken fewer than nine years for such costs to more than double. In 2002, the cost of healthcare for the typical family of four was $9,235." The report also notes that "the employees' share of the total cost is at an all-time high, having increased from 36.8% in the first year of the MMI (2005) to 39.7% in 2011." See more at 2011 Milliman Medical Index.

The PTO approach - In the latest Risk Management, Alex Korotin talks about how the "paid time off" (PRO) approach is gaining traction and that many organizations are choosing to this approach over the more traditional vacation-sick-personal days approach. He discusses pros and cons of this approach, as well as alternatives for establishing arrangements coordinated with 401ksm profit sharing plans, and credit based flex plans.

HR's Top 10 concerns - Workforce covers the top 10 HR concerns as reported by the Employers Resource Association. These issues are compiled from the more than 8,000 hotline calls made by the organization's membership of 1,300 companies in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

Wellness & retention research - Fiona Gathright posts about a new study that shows that wellness programs can bolster employee retention. Accordiong to Gathright, the top employee reasons for participation in wellness programs were listed as: reduced personal health care costs (30%), increased longevity and health maintenance (30%), employer incentives (28%), and reduced stress (28%). Related The Los Angeles Times offers a good roundup of ways that various employers are encouraging employees to move more during the workday, including low-budget, easy-to-implement options. The article notes: "In an April survey by the corporate benefits group Workplace Options, 36% of employees said their jobs offered perks such as wellness coaches, on-site health screenings and fitness programs. And 70% of Fortune 200 companies offer physical fitness programs, according to the National Business Group on Health, with many saving on healthcare as a result."

Protecting teens from harassment - We recently posted tips for keeping teen workers safe. Since that time, we found a good related post on HR Daily Advisor that suggests teens may be particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and many not know what to do if it occurs. They suggest that additional training may be in order, and offer a lost of suggestions from the EOC. Related: How to handle a sexual harassment claim, including an infographic.

Security - How secure is my password is an interactive tool that offers an estimate of how long it would take a desktop PC to crack your password. I just learned that the password I use most often would take about 150 days to crack. The site also offers a link to a good essay on how to pick a safe password. Here's another good site to bookmark an share with employees: Stay Safe Online.

Other noteworthy news

May 13, 2011

When I grow up, I want to build leadership bench strength...

In hunting for something in the archives, we stumbled on this amusing video and thought it was just the perfect thing to revisit on a Friday the 13th. Relive all the reasons you wanted to get into the Human Resource in the first place!

May 10, 2011

Planning to hire teens this summer? Tips to keep them safe

As young, first-time workers enter your workplace this spring and summer, it's critical to redouble your efforts to ensure they work safely. Here are ten quick tips for employers, along with some resources for additional information.

Know the Law. Review federal, state, and local laws governing young workers, and ensure that your managers know them, too. Check work permits.

Make safety cool. Never underestimate a teen's need to be cool! Remember how enormous peer pressure was for you in your teens? Teens may not think it's cool to appear dumb by asking questions or wearing protective equipment. Break these barriers down!

Keep a sharp eye out. Watch your young workers closely for fatigue - they may not yet have the stamina of your experienced workers. Also watch for any signs of substance abuse and establish a zero tolerance standard.

Take a lesson from Madison Avenue. There's a reason why advertising works - it repeats a message frequently and in different media. Make sure your safety message stays top of mind at all times. Stuff safety tip sheets in your paycheck envelopes, hang signs everywhere, offer small incentives for good safety suggestions.

Train, train, train! Don't forget to make safety a number one priority in any training programs. State the policies and set expectations. Point out hazards, demonstrate things that could go wrong and be explicit. Teens have an illusion of immortality that you need to break through.

Buddy up. Pair a new teenage worker with an older more experienced worker for their first few days. Have the "safety mentor" check in on the teen frequently over the first few weeks of work. This will help to spread the responsibility throughout the workforce.

Get Mom & Dad involved. Send a letter to your new employees' parents telling them about your company's safety policies, and ask for their support in reinforcing the message.

Dress for success. Make your under-age workers visible to their co-workers in some readily identifiable way so everyone can look out for them. Give teens different colored name tags, uniforms or caps so that everyone can look out for them.

Hold managers responsible. Set your expectations with supervisors and managers, and schedule trainings in laws and issues related to teen workers. Make sure your expectations have teeth - put this important issue in performance reviews!

Walk the walk. Owners and senior managers need to set the example and live the commitment. Establish the priority in your organization. Walk through your workplace on unscheduled visits. Talk to teens one-on-one about safety and probe for questions or suggestions. Many teens may not yet be assertive enough to speak up with concerns. Correct hazards or unsafe behaviors immediately.

--- Reprinted from Workers Comp Insider.

May 5, 2011

One-stop resource for a plethora of work-family issues

Whether you're an HR managers, an academic, a journalist or a policy maker, the Alfred P. Sloan Work and Family Research Network is your one-stop resource for information about work/family issues. Up until 2004, when it broadened its mission, the Network had an academic orientation; today, the initiative calls for engagements with workplace leaders and policy makers, as well.

The Sloan Work & Family Research Network has a wealth of topical work-life resources at its Boston College-affiliated website, including resources for teaching/training, definitions, audio & videos, links, suggested readings and other useful information. Some of the work-family topics, including Afterschool Care, Breastfeeding and the Workplace, Changing Definitions of Families, Dependent Care Tax Assistance, Domestic Violence and the Workplace, Elder Care at the Workplace, Employer-Supported Child Care, Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Family Leave, Flexible Work Schedules, Gender and Use of Workplace Policies, Generation X/Generation Y, Health and Workplace Flexibility, Low-Wage Workers, Military Families, Work-Family Spillover: Negative Impacts, Older Workers, Overwork, Parents Caring for Children with Disabilities, Part-Time Work, Phased Retirement, Return on Investment, Shift Work, and Telework.

Here are a few key tools we've found particularly useful:

And for recent updates...

Follow the Sloan Network on Twitter @SloanNetwork

Visit the Sloan Work & Family Blog

May 4, 2011

Changing perceptions and looking past limits

Caroline Casey has dedicated the past decade of her life to changing how global society views people with disabilities. In 2000, she rode 1,000 kilometers across India on an elephant to raise funds for Sight Savers. Then, as founding CEO of Kanchi in Dublin, she developed a set of best practices (based on ISO 9000 quality standards) for businesses, to help them see "disabled" workers as an asset as opposed to a liability. Hundreds of companies have adopted the standards, changing their policies and attitudes.

In 2004, Casey started the O2 Ability Awards to recognize Irish businesses for their inclusion of people with disabilities, both as employees and customers. The initiative has received international praise and, in 2010, a parallel program was launched in Spain.

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