impactnews: How To Make Your HR Function a “Force for Good”- 03/30/2017

Fred Wilson, managing partner with Union Square Ventures, a NYC-based venture capital firm, recently wrote in Inc. magazine that a “well designed and implemented human resources organization can help. A messed up human resources organization will hurt.”

Wilson, considered one of the more influential investors in (and bloggers on) fast-growing tech companies, put this idea out there in the context of recent HR-related issues at Uber. As part of this, Wilson shares his thoughts on how to make the HR function a “force for good” in your growing company or organization. His recommendations are:

  • Hire an HR professional early on the growth path and “level up” this HR leader accordingly as the company grows
  • Ensure the HR leader reports directly to the CEO or president
  • Shape the HR department to do much more than just recruiting
  • Provide feedback frequently on employees’ “performance and development goals”
  • Give all employees a handbook that clearly lays out the company’s values and rules
  • Develop and implement a comprehensive employee on-boarding program, which helps new team members acclimate and perform better.

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Interns in the Workplace: Complying with Relevant Employment Rules

It may be hard to believe, but summer is around the corner. For some employers, this means getting ready to bring interns on board while schools are out. With this in mind, here’s a brief primer on the US Department of Labor’s (DOL) rules for employers with interns in their workplaces.

For employers, the key is making sure the roles interns undertake and the duties they perform fall within the definition of unpaid intern work. The following six criteria, according to DOL, must be applied when making this determination:

  • The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment
  • The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern
  • The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff
  • The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern
  • The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship
  • The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship

Under DOL’s rules, an employment relationship between an intern and his/her company does not exist under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) if all of the factors listed above are met. Thus, the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime provisions do not apply to these interns.

To help determine whether or not you have a valid internship position, consider the following questions:

  • Is the work a key part of the individual’s course of study? Do you have written documentation stating that the internship is approved/sponsored by the school as educationally relevant?
  • Does the individual receive educational credit for the work?
  • Does the individual get the opportunity to learn a skill, process or other business function?
  • Does the individual work for the purpose of learning and not solely performing a task for the employer?
  • Does the individual provide any benefit to you less than 50 percent of the time?
  • Does one of your staff members supervise the individual?
  • Does the individual understand that a job is not guaranteed upon completion of the internship?

The more you can answer “yes” to the above questions, the more likely you are in compliance with having a properly classified intern, and the less likely the DOL will have a case against your business that the individual should be owed wages and overtime. With compliance in order, companies and their interns can mutually benefit.

If you have any questions about internships and compliance with the FLSA, please contact an impactHR team member at info@impacthrllc.com or phone 443-741-3900.

Five Ways to Develop an Effective Employee Coaching Program

It goes without saying new employee orientation and job-specific training serve important purposes in the HR function. Employee coaching, however, is another key HR task that tends to be set aside or overlooked in the day to day life of an organization.

A business owner, for example, may think that coaching an employee is too difficult or time-consuming. Ultimately, though, it’s an executive’s leadership, experience and lessons-learned that can help create a great team of inspired, productive and loyal employees.

Employee coaching, ideally, involves executives and managers meeting regularly with employees to discuss and explore each employee’s career goals and development. Here are five steps you can take to help coach your employees to become high-performers:

  • Discuss the employee’s expectations of the job. Whenever a new employee is hired or an employee’s job functions change over time, address any questions or confusion the individual may have. To help confirm or clarify the employee’s perspective of expectations, review together a copy of the job description, department goals and company goals
  • Understand the employee’s expectations of the manager. While different employees have different communication styles, learn about what each employee expects from you as a manager and come to a reasonable working agreement
  • Learn about the employee’s expectations for professional growth. Recognizing and gathering relevant resources to help support and build a plan for each individual’s interests help strengthen employee loyalty
  • Give consistent and constructive feedback about the employee’s performance
  • Get feedback about your performance. You’re a manager as well as a member of a team. How well you respond to feedback from your teammates will influence your team’s synergy and success

Each employee should come out of every formal and informal coaching meeting with a strong picture of both the specific performance goals to achieve and how his or her contributions impact the department and the company as a whole.

DC Mayor Signs Measure Prohibiting Employee Credit History Being Used in Employment Process

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser last month signed into law a measure that prohibits employers from inquiring about – or requiring prospective or current employees to provide information about – their credit history during the employment process.

The legislation, expected to become law by April 7 after completing the required Congressional review process, was introduced in the DC Council nearly two years ago. Titled the “Fair Credit in Employment Amendment Act of 2016,” the measure allows job applicants with DC-based employers to file a grievance with the DC Office of Human Rights if they believe their credit history was unlawfully considered in the hiring or employment process. In addition, the bill provides for a number of exceptions, such as when local or federal laws require that credit history be considered in the hiring process.

The DC government’s move to enact this legislation, according to SHRM, follows a number of jurisdictions with similar laws in place: California, Chicago, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New York City, Oregon, Philadelphia, Vermont and Washington.

impactAction: employers with DC-based operations or those with multi-state operations should review their existing policies and handbooks to ensure upcoming compliance with the terms of this measure. If you have questions or need advice, please contact an impactHR team member at info@impacthrllc.com or phone 443-741-3900.

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Check Out this Wage Growth Tracker Data Tool

When it comes to helpful data tools, take a look at this nationally focused Wage Growth Tracker tool (created by the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank). This tool, according to the Atlanta Fed, is “a measure of the nominal wage growth of individuals. It is constructed using microdata from the Current Population Survey, and is the median percent change in the hourly wage of individuals observed 12 months apart.” What may be of most interest is the way this data tool allows you to view (quickly and easily) wage growth overall for full and part-time workers, plus for worker age, race, occupation and industry.

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