Tag Archives: employees

Are You Familiar With QR Codes?

QR Codes are the latest thing in recruiting technology and, according to ERE.net, there are many benefits for HR professionals. While not everyone agrees that QR codes will have that much utility, HR professionals should be aware of what they are and how they are used just in case you come across a resume that has one. 

What are QR Codes?

QR Codes are small barcodes on employee resumes or business cards that HR professionals and recruiters can scan by using their SmartPhones. When you scan a WR code on an applications resume, you are taken to targeted online links. Ideally, these links will contain something that gives you more useful information about the candidate. They might take you to a profile on LinkedIn, a Facebook page created to highlight relevant information about an applicant and his career, or a video that the applicant has made introducing himself to you. The applicant can really link the QR code to anything of his choosing and you’ll be taken directly there.

Are QR Codes Useful?

QR Codes can be useful for HR professionals because they allow quick access to employee information. However, the utility depends upon the quality of the information that the candidate has linked you to. If the candidate doesn’t provide relevant and useful links that actually add value in learning about his fitness for a position, then the QR Code is just more useless information.

QR Codes will also be most useful once an HR professional is already interested in a candidate. When you are reviewing resumes, typically you aren’t going to click on the QR code on every single resume you receive, as this could take a significant amount of time. Therefore, the original resume data that people include should still contain the meat of their details, since that’s what will convince you to click on the QR Code. Since the resume still has to contain the essential information, this too raises questions about how useful QR Codes will be. 

Finally, remember that there are other ways to access the same employee information. Googling the name of the employee, for example, can lead you to any online information you hope to find. And, unlike with QR Codes, the traditional Google method will allow you to find out information the employee doesn’t specifically want you to know, which can be more useful to getting to know a potential employee than looking at a sales pitch he has created. 

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More Employees Faking Sick Than Ever Before

According to The Times Leader quoting a study from theWorkforce Institute at Kronos, there has been an 18 percent increase inworker’s faking sick to take leave in the periods between 2007 and 2010. Another2007 study, this one performed by CCH and also quoted in The Times Leader,indicated that as many as 2/3 of employees who called their offices at the lastminute to take a sick day were not really sick.

Why Employees Call inSick

While some of these employees are calling in sick simply touse up their sick time, other employees are using sick days to tend to familyneeds or the needs of children.

To shed some light on the issue of why there are so manyemployees faking sick, the Times Leader interviewed Julie Tappero, president ofa West Coast staffing service. Tappero indicated that there are many oflegitimate reasons for employees to take sick time, even if they aren’t sick.The need for emergency care, as well as the increased need to care for bothchildren and other relatives such as older parents, are just some of thereasons that increasingly-stressed employees may decide to be absent from work.

What to Do

While it makes sense that many employees are using thesesick days to deal with issues that they have to attend to, sick time can becostly for employers. Not only do employers often pay a worker who is out forthe day, but employers are also left short-handed when someone calls in sickand productivity as a whole might suffer. This is bad news when it isunplanned, as last minute sick time usually is.

To avoid this problem, offering employees other options fora work-life balance may be your best bet. This means considering alternativessuch as flextime, which lets employees, take care of their pressing familyobligations but which also ensures that they are being honest with you andactually putting in their required work hours.

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Want to be an Innovator? Use These Innovative Hiring Practices

According to an October 6 article in CNN Money, a new book by Stephen Shapiro indicates that you may be going about hiring employees in the wrong way. CNN Money’s article on Shapiro suggests that most companies hire people because they believe those new employees will be a good fit with existing corporate culture and, once hired, most companies reward employees for a job well done. Ironically, however, Shapiro is suggesting that these common business practices may actually be stopping your company from innovating.

Innovation and Iconoclasts

Shapiro, an advisor on innovation to major companies including Staples and GE, as well as an advisor to the U.S. Air Force, recently published his advice on encouraging creativity and new thinking in a book called Best Practices are Stupid: 40 Ways to Out Innovate the Competition.

According to CNN Money, one of the top pieces of advice in his book is to carefully hire people who don’t fit your current corporate mold and even, surprisingly enough, to hire people you don’t like. Shapiro believes this is important because all too often companies don’t get any useful information when asking for new ideas, and because coming up with actual innovations is dependent upon divergent viewpoints.

Contests and Recognition

Another tip from Shapiro that may run counter to what you believe is common sense: he advises against recognizing people for doing the jobs they were hired to do. This, he believes, sets up a corporate culture where people simply do the status quo and nothing more.

Finally, Shapiro also cautions against trying to encourage creativity by creating contests offering a prize to the employee who comes up with the best new idea. The problem with this, he indicates, is that assumes there will be a good idea.

This doesn’t mean he doesn’t think you should reward innovation… you just have to do it the right way. To do that, he points to Netflix, who offered a $1 million prize to anyone who could solve a specific problem they had regarding user reviews/ recommendations. Seven years later, that $1 million prize was awarded to Canadian mathematicians who created an algorithm that made tens of millions of dollars for Netflix.

The Takeaway

While your company may not have a million dollar bounty prize to offer to innovators, there’s still plenty to learn from Shapiro’s advice. The biggest lesson is, if you want your company to be different, you have to think different. This means both hiring people who don’t fit the classic mold of your corporate culture and also stepping outside of your comfortable policies and practices to find employees and reward them in different ways.

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Your Drug Free Workplace

According to an October 15, 2011 article in The Press Enterprise, employers should make a point to talk to their employees and staff about the use of alcohol and drugs and should take precautions to ensure a drug free workplace.  By being proactive, employers can help to minimize the risk of legal liability that can result from an intoxicated employee.

Legal Risks

An employee who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol at work could injure himself or other co-workers, leaving an employer open to a potential worker’s compensation claim. Although being drunk or on drugs at work generally makes an employee ineligible for workers compensation benefits, the employer may have difficulty proving the accident was caused by intoxication.  Further, if a drunk or high employee injures a co-worker, the co-worker would likely have grounds to make a worker’s compensation claim.

An intoxicated employee could also injure customers, subjecting an employer to a lawsuit under agency rules that make the employer responsible for the acts of its agents/employees.

Finally, intoxicated employees can damage property, while addict employees can be a tax on the insurance and benefits system that the employer provides.

Maintaining a Drug Free Workplace

One of the best ways to maintain a drug free workplace is to drug test employees prior to hiring them. Drug testing is generally legal as long as it is not discriminatory, and some federal contractors may actually be required to engage in drug testing under the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988.

Once employees are hired, a clear policy should be in place about the use of drugs or alcohol. New employees should sign the policy and pledge to make the workforce drug free as part of their new employee paperwork. Periodic drug testing of employees may also be appropriate to make sure the workplace is drug free and, again, is generally legal as long as there is no discrimination on the testing.

When employees are found to be violating policy and are drunk or under the influence of alcohol at work, taking swift action to send a message to other employees is also important. This action may involve discipline or termination. A California Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that employees who are fired for the illegal use of marijuana may not sue their employers and many other states also protect the rights of employers to fire employees who engage in the use of illegal drugs.

The ADA and Drug Users

It is important to note that as you take action to keep your workplace drug free, that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
does provide some protection to those with a history of addiction. While casual drug use is not covered and it is permissible to screen out employees and refuse to hire those who have used casual drugs in the past, you should not disqualify someone for a position because of a history of addiction or treatment for addiction unless there is a bona fide occupational reason for doing so. You can, however, refuse to hire someone who is currently using illegal drugs or who comes drunk or intoxicated to work.

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Are Your Employees Engaged?

Employee engagement is an issue of great importance in the HR field. In fact, according to a recent Healthx white paper, the vast majority of organizations today consider employee engagement to be the top priority among their HR goals.  While employee engagement is an important aim, the Seattle Post Intelligence blog indicates that a recent Gallup survey found only 33 percent of employees were fully engaged, while a full 18 percent identified themselves as actively disengaged from their work.

The Importance of Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is defined as the level of interest and enthusiasm workers have for their jobs. The more engaged an employee is, the more excited he or she is about the job he is performing. Employees who are neither engaged nor disengaged, on the other hand, aren’t connected to their workplaces and aren’t likely to go the extra mile. Finally, employees who are disengaged are disconnected from their jobs and put both their own physical health and the ongoing success of workplace or team projects at risk.

As one might expect, companies with a greater percentage of engaged employees tend to be more profitable than companies with a lower number of engaged workers. Further, companies with engaged employees have higher retention rates (which means less money spent recruiting and training) and can have a better image with customers.

How to Increase Engagement

While employee engagement may be a top goal, you have to actively take steps to increase engagement if you want to achieve it. Engaging employees should be done on an organization-wide basis, and managers are essential in making sure employees remain engaged. Managers can work to increase employee engagement by:

  • Clarifying their expectations
  • Making sure employees have the resources they need to do their jobs
  • Helping employees to develop themselves professionally
  • Making sure employees connect to the company’s mission and purpose
  • Offering regular progress reports, rather than simply annual reviews.

 

When these and other efforts are instituted to help employees become passionate about their work, the efforts can pay dividends for your company. According to Gallup data, in world-class organizations, the ratio of engaged workers to disengaged employees is 10:1 while the ratio in average organizations is closer to 2:1. Increasing employee engagement is thus one of the best ways to help yourself stand apart from the crowd and to make the most of your human resources.

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Are Your Workers Stretched Too Thin?

A recent pole of UK workers indicated that many employees believe they are being stretched too thin. The reports from over-taxed workers are likely not an exaggeration either, as Randstad, the research firm who performed the survey, indicated that 23 percent of workers admitted their workforce was operating at full stretch. Yet, while employees are being asked to work harder and do more than ever before, pay freezes and wage freezes also limit the potential gain for putting forth a dedicated effort.

Productivity and Pay Freezes

The combination of many employees being asked to be more productive than ever before occurring at the same time as wage freezes is a situation that naturally leads to dissatisfaction. According to the Randstad study, one out of ten workers surveyed indicated they were seeking a new job to escape the “grind” of their old one. Another 36 percent said they would take the first new employment opportunity they were offered as long as it didn’t mean a cut in salary and benefits.

With many employers listing “increase productivity” as a top HR goal, this problem could become worse before it gets better. Many employers cannot afford to hire new workers due to the lingering effects of the economic downturn. Still others don’t want to hire new employees because of ongoing uncertainty. Yet, these businesses may still wish to pursue opportunities for change and growth- and the onus of responsibility for this growth is likely to fall on existing employees who will be asked to do ever more.

How to Boost Employee Morale

If you find your company in a situation where you are asking employees to increase productivity while at the same time freezing their wages, it is important to tread carefully so as not to lose your staff- especially if you operate in an area where there are talent shortages.

There are a number of different recognized means of boosting employee morale that can help keep your employees happy, including providing them with increased education about the benefits they do have. Making sure there is clear and solid leadership in place- without micromanaging- is another good motivating tactic as is making sure that individual employees both have enough meaningful work and are recognized for their efforts.

When you ask a lot of your employees, it is important to give back in whatever way you can and when you can’t use raises or bonuses as a tool, recognition and making employees feel their jobs matter are both keys to keeping your workers happy.

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Should You Use a Non-Compete?

According to a September article in The Boston Globe, the State House Committee in Massachusetts is considering making non-compete agreements unenforceable in the state. Bill S.932 proposes to render void any agreement placing restrictions on an employee’s employment after leaving a position, essentially making all non-compete agreements ineffective. Massachusetts would not be the first state to take such an action; non-competes are currently unenforceable in California and the ability to enter into such contracts is severely limited under other state laws throughout the US. The Boston Globe article suggests the change to Massachusetts law would be a welcome one and indicates that non-competes not only hurt the economy, but also hinder the ability of many employees to make a living, including not only top employees or people who have access to trade secrets, but also average employees in regular jobs as well. This limitation on people’s right to work is one reason why so many courts are reluctant to enforce non-competes. However, these agreements also serve an important purpose in protecting employers. 

The Case for Non-Compete Agreements 

While non-compete agreements have a bad reputation, when they are reasonable and when they are enforced, they provide an important measure of protection to employers. Without non-compete agreements,employees could potentially take clients from their former employees with impunity, essentially destroying the business of their employers. Employees could also work for years to perform research or develop technology, being paid by their employer all the while, and then take trade secrets or proprietary information to a competitor.

To avoid the possibility of employees engaging in abuses that could harm an employer, employers can and often should request that employees enter into a non-compete if any of the following are true:

  • The employee has access to sensitive information, trade secrets or emerging research and technologies
  • The employee has ready access to clients and contact information such that he could use client relationships and lists to strip a company of its customers. 

If either of these is true for your business and employees, it is important you determine what the law is for non-competes in your state and that you take steps to make new hires sign a legally binding contract. It is cases like these that give pause to the Massachusetts’ legislature’s efforts to eliminatenon-competes. While doing so might help the economy in some ways by allowing greater employee flexibility and avoiding unemployment situations, individual employers could suffer significant harm. Employers who are unable to protect themselves might be unwilling or less eager to do business in Massachusetts when they could go to a different state and be better protected. 

Drafting a Non-Compete


If you believe it is in your company’s best interests to make employees sign a non-compete, it is important to comply with all requirements so the agreement will be enforced. This means that, among other things, the agreement must be in writing and it must be narrowly tailored and limited in scope. In other words, it cannot prohibit the employee from doing anything in his field anywhere in the world. It must be specific to the geographic area where the employee would be in direct competition with your company, and it must be specific to the type of job where your former-employee could do you harm. 

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