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Quote of the Day!

July 11th, 2012

“Success is not counted by how high you have climbed but by how many people you brought with you.” -Wil Rose

Quote of the Day!

July 10th, 2012

“Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines. ”
Robert H. Schuller

Quote of the Day!

July 9th, 2012

“Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.#
Peter Drucker

Quote of the Day

July 5th, 2012

The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.
V.l.

The Benefits of Workplace Humor

June 20th, 2012

It seems that humor is serious business. According to a report published in Science Daily, it’s ok — and even encouraged — to have a little fun at work!

Chris Robert, who is an assistant professor at the University of Missouri (MU), along with a business doctoral student collaborator, Wan Yan, analyzed hundreds of sources on the theories of humor. Robert professes that humor in the workplace isn’t just clowning around, but has a powerful impact on workplace cohesiveness and the quality of communication among workers. Robert, who teaches psychology at MU, says that laughter actually causes people to bond more because of the physiological effects on the body. Other benefits of workplace humor include its ability to reduce job stress, spark creativity, boost morale, relieve burnout, energize, and put things in perspective.

So, what happens physiologically when we laugh? In the short-term, when we laugh, blood flow and oxygen is increased throughout the body. When you take in more oxygen-rich air, your muscles, lungs, and heart are stimulated. Laughter also helps to increase endorphins released by your brain, which makes you feel good. In the long- term, it’s thought that positive thoughts can improve your immune system and ability to fight off illness, reports the Mayo Clinic.

But implementing humor in the workplace isn’t without its caveats. Humor shouldn’t be used to poke fun at someone, but rather to laugh about things or events. Nor should you joke about very serious subjects that may be painful to someone else, like physical disabilities, illness, or death. Be careful about humor in multi-international organizations where differences in sensibilities and senses of humor may be present, as Robert and Yan note.

All-in-all, humor in the workplace can be a powerful tool to inspire people to creativity and greatness by working in an environment where people can feel free to let loose, but also valued and trusted.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071031130917.htm      http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress-relief/SR00034

Impressing Executives: Four Ways to Build Credibility and Influence

May 21st, 2012

 

  • Don’t agree to do a task unless you are absolutely certain you will follow through. Overpromising and under-delivering is a credibility killer. The phone call you promised to make, or the data you promised to send, may have fallen off your to-do list, but they won’t fade from the other person’s memory.
  • Learn the fine art of pushing back tactfully. For example, “I understand the outcome you’re shooting for. Are you open to some other ways to get there?” Or, “I see where you’re going with this idea, but I’m concerned about a couple of potential barriers we could run into…” In both examples, affirming the other person’s idea before posing alternatives is a good way to offer opposing views to someone in power. Position yourself as someone who is thinking through their idea with them.
  • Help the person who is delegating to think through projects on the front end–don’t just be a pair of hands. Executives are busy people and they will often delegate a project without completely thinking it through. Ask questions such as, “If this project is successful, what will it look like when it’s finished?”, “Who will be impacted by this (and who should I involve)?” or, “What concerns you about this project–how are you/others at risk if it isn’t successful?” Questions such as these add value because they will inevitably shape and clarify the steps required for the best outcome. Often, I have found that the original solution morphs into a better solution.
  • Say “no,” but explain why. This is an option that should be rarely chosen, so make it count. In my prior corporate life, I was asked to head a task force to create a “company-wide recognition program.” After diligently researching many available options, the group concluded that formal, company-wide programs had limited value and short life-spans. The task force had been conceived to create more appreciation and job satisfaction for employees. We kept coming back to the ideas that most job satisfaction came from things like personal recognition from their boss/team and empowerment to have some control and influence over their own work. When the group was asked to present its findings, we opened our presentation with, “We recommend against creating a company-wide program and here are the reasons…” We recommended a solution that would get the desired results. We were a little nervous, but in the end, our “personal stock value” went up.

Joan Lloyd

 

74% of Workers are Passive Job Seekers Ready to Consider a Move

March 28th, 2012

That’s right, 74 percent. Pretty startling numbers, aren’t they?  Yet, they’re not exactly terribly surprising. As the economy continues to improve, slowly but steadily, more and more professionals are willing to jump ship for the right opportunity.

As reported by TLNT (Link to article: http://www.tlnt.com/2011/03/08/survey-74-of-workers-are-passive-job-seekers-ready-to-consider-a-move/), recent years have shown a vast majority of America’s workforce ponders a move, but this most recent study shows a decided jump in the numbers.  The most recent study, conducted by Harris Interactive, on behalf of Plateau Systems, found that 74 percent of employed full time/part time and not self-employed workers would consider a new job opportunity.

“The numbers have been high for quite some time now,” you might be thinking. “Why is this a big deal now?”

There’s more to the survey results than just the numbers. According to Plateau, “After several years of recession marked by widespread layoffs, benefit reductions and pay cuts, many assume U.S. workers would be singing ‘I can’t get no satisfaction,’ and actively hunting for new jobs. While certainly true for many, the survey indicates that most workers are satisfied or very satisfied with their current employment, and only about a quarter have an updated profile or resume on a job board or networking site like LinkedIn or Monster.”

Let’s make sure we’re getting this straight.  A vast majority of workers are satisfied with their current jobs…yet they are willing to jump ship if offered the opportunity once the economy has recovered enough for extensive job growth?

The survey identified three (3) primary reasons why workers, despite general satisfaction with their current jobs, would consider bailing on their current employers:

  1. The desire for high salary (57 percent)
  2. A need for general change (31 percent)
  3. The lack of adequate career and/or advancement opportunities (29 percent)

There they are, the three biggest obstacles, as identified by Plateau, to retaining your employees.  Let’s take a look at how to combat them.

  1. The desire for higher salary.
    Addressing salary concerns is not always the easiest problem to solve; however, there are other alternatives to a simple pay hike.  Consider:

    1. Profit Sharing  As the economy continues to improve, an added incentive for your employees to not only stay on board, but contribute to the bottom line, can be found in profit sharing. In addition to the financial benefit to employees, an added sense of contribution and commitment to the “bigger picture” are added benefits.
    2. Flexible Work Arrangements  Although most of us would appreciate a higher salary, most employees wouldn’t argue with a more flexible work arrangement. Whether that includes working from home one or more days a week, or a job share with another employee, offer your team members opportunities to work outside the 9-5 grind.
    3. Other Rewards Recognition for a job well done cannot be overrated in importance. Who doesn’t like a pat on the back from time to time? When your employees go above and beyond, or simply do a great job–let them know it. Offer small touches to help your employees feel valued, like team lunches, birthday cards, or a bonus 3-day weekend.
  2. A need for general change.
    It’s something most people have felt from time to time–like they’re in a rut. Long-time employees, when faced with an improving economy, could feel that their current job is getting a bit stale. Keep employees engaged and invested–and out of a rut–by offering:

    1. A Red Tape-Free Workplace In today’s workplace, employees are tired of hierarchies and bureaucracy.  Too many meetings, bosses who supervise too closely…avoid these detriments like the plague, and keep your employees from losing their sense of independence and professionalism.
    2. Simplify Processes Doing the same thing repeatedly expecting the same result…didn’t someone once define that as insanity?  Take a look at your internal processes, and cut the fat. Your employees can get drained and bored using time and energy on tasks and processes, simply because that’s how they’ve always been done. Keep your employees at the top of their game, and enhance your bottom line in the process, by encouraging them to offer suggestions for improving your processes. Or better yet, dedicate a day (or two) to solving your problems and simplifying your processes as a team.
    3. Give Regular Updates Sometimes workers can burn out or lose interest simply because they don’t know where they stand in an organization. When your employees are spending valuable time on projects, keep them abreast of updates, advancements, or status. By keeping your employees engaged and in the loop, they are more likely to feel continued investment in their job–and your business.
  3. The lack of adequate career and/or advancement opportunities.
    Nearly 30 percent of people surveyed feel that their current positions offer a lack of opportunities. What does this show? Your employees want to grow and offer more to your organization! I think most organizations would want this “problem.” Keep your employees motivated and continuing to grow by:

    1. Supporting Networking Encourage your employees to network–both inside and outside the company. Through networking, professionals gauge the success of their efforts, and keep abreast of developments in their areas of expertise. They’ll have a clear idea of their potential for advancement, and might also bring back new ideas to improve your company!
    2. Give Employees Access to Information  In a constantly evolving time, knowledge has become obsolete even faster than technology. Offer your employees updated information and resources so that they can educate themselves and have the tools necessary to advance within your organization.
    3. Share Potential Opportunities with Employees Most companies have regularly scheduled reviews. Use these reviews as an opportunity to discuss your employees’ goals and aspirations within your company. Then, provide encouragement and clear steps for employees to take in order to reach those goals. By simply giving your employees an idea of their potential success, they will remain engaged and excited to be a part of your company.

While a vast majority of employees may be ready to bail on their companies as the economy continues to improve, by following these tips you can ensure your employees remain valued members of your team.

Sources:
http://www.tlnt.com/2011/03/08/survey-74-of-workers-are-passive-job-seekers-ready-to-consider-a-move/

Seven Costly Legal Myths About Managing Independent Contractors

February 12th, 2012

In an effort to trim labor expenses, many businesses have cut costs by replacing employees with independent contractors. Some savings are certain-employers don’t pay employment taxes to the IRS or benefits to these workers. But with independent contractors, the risks-and the hidden costs-may reduce or even wipe out the savings!

This article focuses on seven legal myths, and what you can do to protect your business.

MYTH #1:

Employers should use the IRS’s “20 Common Law Factors Test” to determine worker status as employee or independent contractor.

REALITY:

The IRS no longer applies its long-standing, much-publicized and frequently used “20-Common Law Factors Test” to determine a worker’s status as employee or independent contractor. The IRS has replaced this test with a new approach focusing on three categories to determine if a worker is an employee or independent contractor:

  1. Behavioral Control
  2. Financial Control
  3. Type of Relationship

Companies relying on the “20 Common Law Factors Test” today risk costly fines and penalties for worker misclassification by IRS auditors.

The IRS is specifically targeting companies that laid off employees then hired back independent contractors to perform the same work (even those that rehired the same person as a contractor). Uncle Sam wants his payroll taxes, and to be safe you must classify your workforce properly, complying with the agency’s new tests.

MYTH #2: 
Employers can avoid costly worker misclassification risks by complying with the IRS Worker Status Test.

REALITY: 
The overwhelming focus on the IRS’s worker status tests has led many employers to believe they can avoid worker misclassification entirely by pleasing Uncle Sam. However, the IRS’s worker status test only applies for employment tax purposes. Many other federal (and state) laws govern the workforce, and each has its own tests to determine worker status. Four examples are:

  1. Employee benefits: A 12-factor test determines whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor under ERISA, the federal law governing employee benefits.
  2. Immigration: the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) applies a 7-factor test to determine worker status.
  3. Employment discrimination: the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) applies a test based on the “right to control the means and manner of worker’s performance” in federal employment discrimination cases.
  4. Wage and hour laws: the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) applies an “economic realities” test including six factors to determine whether the worker is economically dependent on the business to which the services are provided.

While it is important to learn the worker status rules under the various laws and regulations governing the workplace, just knowing that “all worker status tests are not the same” is an important first step in reducing legal risks.

MYTH #3: 
You can avoid costly worker misclassification liability by complying with federal statutes and regulations governing the workforce.

REALITY: 
Even if your company complies with all the laws and regulations governing the workforce, you still risk liability for misclassifying workers as independent contractors who our Courts and the IRS consider to be “common law employees.”
The IRS defines a common law employee as “any individual who, under common law, would have the status of an employee…a person who performs services for an employer who has the right to control and direct the results of the work and the way in which it is done.” For example, the employer provides the employee’s tools, materials, and workplace, and can fire the employee. 
Our Courts and the IRS will find that workers are employees if they meet the common law employee criteria, whether they are hired as independent contractors, free-lancers, temporary or other “contingent” workers. 

Many high-profile worker misclassification lawsuits, whose staggering costs to employers made national headlines such as Vizcaino v. Microsoft (settled for $97 million in June, 2001), were based on courts’ findings that plaintiffs were common law employees.

MYTH #4: 
An employment contract expressly stating that a worker is an independent contractor means that the worker is an independent contractor.

REALITY: 
In a series of recent cases, several Federal Appeals Courts across the country have ignored or rejected employment contracts that expressly designated workers as independent contractors. These and other courts have considered written contracts less important than the actual working relationships, control of worker performance and other factors when worker status is at issue. 
In December 2001 the EEOC filed a $2 billion lawsuit against Allstate Insurance Company after its life insurance agents signed written agreements to convert from employee to contractor status as part of a company-wide restructuring program. The agency recently charged Allstate with “coercive and intimidating practices” when it forced its agents to sign written statements agreeing to the change of status from employee to independent contractor.

MYTH #5: 
Hiring CEO’s, CFO’s and officers as independent contractors rather than employees is an acceptable, routine, legal business practice.

REALITY: 
While hiring corporate chief executives, as independent contractors may be a common, routine and legal business practice, it carries its own legal risks for creditors, employees and shareholders. Our current corporate accountability crisis is exposing these risks every day. Consider the Enron case. When Enron hired Stephen Cooper as its new CEO his contract designated him as an independent contractor, not a full-time employee. SEC investigators characterized the designation as “inappropriate” and scolded the company for its independent contractor designation. The SEC forced Enron to change Cooper’s contract status to “full- time employee” to promote corporate responsibility.

MYTH #6: 
All contractors are the same when it comes to legal compliance.

REALITY: 
All contractors are NOT the same. The IRS considers independent contractors to be self-employed. Each is a business owner with the right to choose from various forms of business entity, including a corporation. An independent contractor’s business entity can affect the potential liability of any company that hires or manages that person when legal disputes arise. Recognizing that all contractors are not the same can help reduce the costs of future potential legal disputes in contractor workforce management.

MYTH #7: 
Workers compensation policies protect employers from liability for work-related injuries suffered by employees, but not independent contractors.

REALITY: 
This is true, however the risks of potentially costly legal consequences also need to be considered. Because independent contractors aren’t covered by an employer’s workers compensation plan, hiring independent contractors (or converting employees to independent contractor status) can open the door to personal injury lawsuits when contractors suffer work-related injuries. Because they are not employees, independent contractors who are injured on the job can bring a personal injury lawsuit alleging negligence, defective machinery or equipment, or other grounds for liability just like any other business customer or client. Employers need to recognize the real costs of losing the protective shield that workers compensation provides against such lawsuits.

CONCLUSION – EDUCATION IS THE BEST DEFENSE
 As businesses strive to enhance profits, alternative staffing arrangements should be considered. However, to avoid being faced with unexpected, costly legal surprises, business managers need to educate themselves-and understand the real legal risks in independent contractor workforce management and the potentially high costs of ignoring these costs in their business planning.

Ron Wainrib, Esq., is editor and publisher of Temp Law On Line, at www.contingentlaw.com, a unique, one-stop legal information resource center for staffing agencies and other parties invovled in “contingent” workforce management. He publishes the Contingent Employment Law Manual, Temp Law Update newsletter, and “Contingent Workforce Forms Book”. Ron teaches staffing agencies how to avoid costly legal risks such as co-employment liability through his interactive seminars and articles. He can be reached by e-mail at Needtokno@comcast.net.

 

The information in this article should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also, please remember that state laws may differ from federal laws.

Deciding to Delegate

January 9th, 2012

You know what you want done, and you know how you would do it. But, sometimes, for efficiency, and your sanity, you need to let go of the reins. Learning what, and how, to delegate can make your days far more productive. A few of our best suggestions:

1. Assess what is necessary to complete the task at hand. Does someone else in the office have the information necessary to complete it? If not, can that information be relayed through a short email? If the answers are yes, this is a task that can be delegated to others.

2. As yourself, ”Is this a task that will be repeated regularly?”; If so, the time invested in teaching someone else to complete it will pay off.

3. Remember that giving your employees responsibility helps office morale. Bosses who micromanage can annoy employees, and make them feel that they aren’t trusted to complete tasks properly on their own. Give you employees some room, and they will be pleased with your confidence in them.

But, don’t forget these three delegating don’ts:

1. Do not delegate a task to someone else just because you don’t want to do it yourself. This destroys office morale instead of building it. As a rule of thumb, don’t give someone else a task you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself.

2. Do not delegate things that everyone in the office knows you should be doing yourself. This makes others see you as someone shirking responsibility rather than effectively leading a team.

3. Don’t take credit for others’ work. If one of your subordinates completed a report, make sure that your boss knows it.

How to Accelerate Your Career During a Struggling Economy

December 2nd, 2011

It’s easy to feel like a career “victim” of the struggling economy and job picture. Avoid this temptation. Change your outlook; change your results.

For example, if your state’s unemployment rate is 10 percent, that statistic also means that 90 percent of the workforce is still collecting a pay check. The employment glass remains over “half full”.

Proactive Tips to Re-energize Your Career

     1. Honestly evaluate your employment situation. The key word is “honestly”. What is the real reason you want to start a job search? When unemployed, define (to the face in the mirror) the job you’d really like. Has your career prepared you to land the job you want?

     2. Research and investigate all potential opportunities. The Internet offers you a staggering volume of  job opportunity information. The Internet also allows you to investigate thousands of employers that may interest you.

     3. Keep your network alive and active during your job search. Your personal network (friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, etc.) is your most valuable resource to help jumpstart your career. Studies indicate that 80 percent of people report that their network helped them find good jobs.

     4. Partner with staffing and employment firms. They typically have the best opportunities and, if you meet their criteria, their expertise will help you get that wonderful job you want.

     5. Analyze every job offer carefully. Commit to high professional standards. Evaluate offers as you would in a “hot” job market. Only accept an offer from a company you like, a job with sufficient challenges and career advancement probabilities.

Are you ready to re-energize your career? Let the job search journey begin.

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