Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Employer Changes in Illinois: 300 Days Plus New POSTER

The following are a couple employment related changes all business owners and human resources professionals in Illinois should be aware of.

Employees of any Illinois employer now have a much longer time frame to bring a complaint or case against their employer.  This is due to a change to the Illinois Human Rights Act the Governor signed on August 24, 2018.  Specifically it was Senate Bill 20 Public Act 100-1066. 

So basically, if an employee feels they have been unfairly treated by their employer or any representative o their employer, such as their supervisor, they now have 300 days to bring that complaint to the EEOC or an attorney.  This just reinforces age old HR related advice to: DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT.  It's hard to remember what we had for lunch yesterday, let alone the who, what, when, where, how , and why of an employee situation that happened well over a year ago by the time you are notified that an employee took their full 300 days to report a problem with the employer.

Due to all the focus on sexual harassment in the media over the past year, Illinois issued a new required poster last month covering employee rights related to workplaces being free of harassment and discrimination. The direct link to the poster can be found here:

Remember, all employer posters required for federal and state must be posted in each building in the most conspicuous location that all employees in the building frequent.  Doing so will minimize your changes of fines from $210 to $10,000 per poster per building, if audited by authorities of compliance organizations such as the DOL, OSHA, etc.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Top HR Podcasts Chosen for HR Student Review

Since 2011, I have incorporated a social learning aspect to my HRM and Strategic HRM course.  The graduate students get to chose while the undergraduates are assigned a specific podcast to listen to each week.  Over the years, I have incorporated blog readings, podcasts, and HR related assessments.  While some have come and gone, I've decide this year to go full podcast as I think students get a chance to actually hear from various practitioners in the field.  Adding an auditory aspect to the learning helps enhance the overall learning experience especially when our online students already have to do a lot of reading! So here is this years winning list in no particular order:

Thursday, June 28, 2018

HR Assessment Risk Summary

In summarizing the potential for risk in the human resources and personnel practices of organizations visited over the past few years, the highest risk of audits, investigations, grievances and the resulting potential for penalties, fines and legal concerns come from six primary sources.  The main reason for concerns are because certain federal and state agencies are making it a priority to investigate:
  • Misclassification of employees as exempt, Illinois led the nation in active investigations 3,635 involving 19,765 misclassifications, 245.6 million in unreported taxable wages, 5.1 million in unemployment tax unreported, 270,570 employees impacted.
  • The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced that 84,254 workplace discrimination charges were filed with the federal agency nationwide during fiscal year (FY) 2017, and secured $398 million for victims in the private sector and state and local government workplaces through voluntary resolutions and litigation.
  • Illinois ranks 6th in the nation in the number of EEOC charges filed by employees, of those charges 54.2% were regarding retaliation by an employer.
  •  Employee Eligibility Verification I-9 compliance, $110 per form, $110 per error, up to $1,100 per error 3rd offense.
  • Fair Credit Reporting Act compliance willful $100 to $1,100 per violation plus damages, fines and legal fees.
  • Independent Contractor misclassification unpaid federal, state & other withholding, unpaid WC & unemployment premiums, work expenses, overtime, along with interest & penalties levied.  Claims have been staggering amounts to employers.  ACA in 2015 fines $2,000 per employee not covered.
It is these six that are both common outcomes of the assessments done and the most likely for future risk. However, the risks don’t end with these six.  Related concern for employer problems comes from a variety of HR Forms not being used at all or used in outdate and non-compliant manner.
  •  job applications
  • employee handbooks or policy manuals
  •  I-9 Forms
  • EEO-1 or EEO-4
  • VETS-4212
  • FMLA Applications
  • Notification, rights, release and signature authorization  of all background inquiries, particularly credit checks under FCRA
Collectively, human resource documents being inconsistently used throughout organizations, in various versions, or not at all can add to the additional risks related to personnel files and records management and retention. Recommended areas for additional human resources consulting would begin with the following:
  • EEOC compliance and Affirmative Action Plan development (to include EEO-4 & VETS-100)
  • Compensation & Benefits Analysis and Wage Studies
  • Exempt/Non-Exempt Audits (to include independent Contractors)
  • Employee Eligibility Verification I-9 Training (E-Verify)
  • HR Forms Audit and Form Development
  • FMLA Training for all Management and Department Heads
  • Recruiting & Hiring Best Practices Training
  • Personnel Files and Records Retention Training

Friday, June 15, 2018

Talking HR with Brian Pierce from WMAY

This morning I had a chance to talk with Brian Pierce from WMAY as a member of Local First Springfield. We talked about ice cream, management coaching, hiring and retaining employees and more.  Have a listen!

Listen to "Rogers HR Consulting - 6/15/18" on Spreaker.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Social Learning Platforms in the Classroom?

Yes, social learning platforms are in my classrooms (face-to-face, blended, and online) and have been part of my teaching methodology since 2011 or so.  I personally got online around 2008 not too long after social media started getting popular among the business community.  My first blog was actually on my original website (although clunky) because I remember writing a blog post about my very first Facebook post featuring my kids.  Of course, it took me a couple years to master all the start ups and I think twitter became a favorite in 2009 or 2010.  I remember, many of my SHRM friends showed me how to use twitter at conferences.  Twitter which is where I have my strongest following currently with just under 20k unique followers (no purchased lists - wouldn't even think of doing that).  In those early days, it seems like the Human Resource community was among the first to adopt the technology even though many of their employers were still strongly forbidding the use of any type of social media in the office mostly because they didn't understand it and though it was a huge waste of time.  Depending on how it is used, it certainly can be a huge waste of time but what I try to do is show students how and why to use it professionally.

I must admit, I do get some glares and sometimes unexpected reactions to my "twitter", "linked in" and "blogging" assignments when introduced at the beginning of the semester. Actually, all the social assignments are rolled up into one "Social Learning" aspect of the course.

Some words used to describe initial reactions to the assignments were: skeptical, resistant, inapplicable, not a social media user, not enthused, uninterested, and not open-minded.

After the grumbling about "so much extra work" in my class in the first few weeks, I begin to see a shift in attitude, writing, and understanding of the practical side of HR.  You see, most classrooms are assigned a text which is typically written by an academic professional who has dedicated their life to research and teaching.  Occasionally, you might find a text where a practicing professional is a co-editor but the text is still highly theoretically focused.  While it is important for students to learn the theory, they really need to understand how to practice and apply what they are learning which is why I incorporate ways they can learn from the professionals who are doing the job day in and day out. So in my class students get a mix of theory and practice.  The social learning assignments give them a chance to hear directly from those practitioners by reading blog posts, listening to podcasts, or taking assessments they can apply to their own lives.

While I'd like to eventually do a more thorough study on this topic, here is just a glimpse at what some of the students are saying in my own words during their summary reflection related to the assignment:

  • They are surprised that so much information is available by so many professionals in other fields besides HR.
  • They realize they can use these platforms for continued knowledge beyond the classroom especially if they want to get a job in or continue working in HR.
  • They have had an opportunity to build connections because of the assignment requirements and in one case a student actually got an internship that she felt never would have happened if she did not get the assignment.
  • Many had never thought of using a podcast to learn something new.  Most had never even listened to a podcast before this class.
  • If I had to guess about 9 out of 10 of my students really enjoyed the option to learn about HR this way.  Some have even decided to go into HR because of what they learned.
  • Some students began looking forward to the assignment each week and found the various assigned platforms interesting.  The assignment changed from week to week and once on a particular platform the student could chose a topic that interested them.
  • Students also liked the convenience of this type of learning such as listening to podcasts on their drive to and from work or flipping through the classroom hashtag while waiting at a doctors office.  
Like I said this is just a short list.  I hope to do more research at a later date but suffice it to say, I think this assignment is worthwhile regardless of what students think at the beginning.  Some words used describing the students reaction to learning on social media platforms: plethora of information, cutting edge ideas, beneficial, enjoyed, helpful, interesting, engaging, well-rounded learning experience, changed opinions about social media, and relevant.

Friday, February 9, 2018

#MeToo Focus in the Caribbean

The morning after a day in Jamaica starts off with a bang in Julie Pugh's session covering Harassment in the Headlines most recently refenced by hashtags #MeToo and #TimesUp.  Her session was titled Have Your Life Jacket Handy: The HR Professional's Role in Addressing Pre-Lawsuit Procedures. Whew! That's a mouthful! However, being prepared is a big deal and deserves our attention, understanding, and consideration to avoid a mouthful of curse words (quietly of course) when you get handed your first EEOC complaint or lawsuit.  Believe me, they are not fun to deal with!

I have personally had my share of harassment (especially sexual) complaints during my tenure in HR.  So far this year, I have delivered a couple of programs as well as conducted a couple of investigation and it's only February! The stories I could tell would make you wonder what type of work is actually being done in the workplace.  Matter of fact, I shared one of them in the session that helped Julie make her point about other types of complaints you can get besides harassment.  The one I shared was constructive discharge and sexual harassment. 

What I found new and interesting in this session is to look at documentation related to the topic and remove things like the word "confidential". For example: Don't tell employees in person or in harassment policies that their conversation or complaint will remain confidential.  Why? Because it won't! You can't keep it confidential.  Again, why? Because you may have to conduct interviews, talk to management, attorney's, etc.

So, what can you say or write instead on using the word confidential?
      • Say we will be "discreet", or
      • We will only share on a "need to know basis"
In addition, Julie mentioned an example of a time she was conducting training when someone in the room asked for a definition of an inappropriate behavior.  She redirected the question to make a point about how managers need to be constantly vigilant about what is discussed in the workplace while another manager got up and demonstrated the inappropriate behavior in front of the whole group.  She politely took the person to the side to have a private conversation about how inappropriate her demonstration was and how that type of reaction and attitude is exactly what they are trying to avoid in the workplace.  I can't tell you how many times employees and managers have taken pot shots at some of the main points of a harassment awareness training I was conducting.  What a great lesson on how to deal with those outbursts. 

Constant vigilance and awareness of surroundings was a key suggestions Julie shared.  As an example: she mentioned the timely resignation of Steve Wynn, Chairman & CEO, of Wynn Resorts and Wynn Macua due to sexual misconduct allegations he denies.  This occurred after we set sail from Fort Lauderdale.  It seems something about this topic is coming out weekly these days.  It's sad that it's not a surprise.  

Continue to educate staff and management about the importance of this topic from a risk management standpoint.  Most importantly, prevention is key and communication is key to prevention.

Finally, I should mention that Julie's employer where she is Partner, Graydon was one of the sponsors for #HRCruise2018 - thank you Graydon & Julie!