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STAFF MANAGEMENT

Try skip-level meetings to get straight answers

By Lynne Curry bio Question: The three of us run a mid-sized practice. Despite the pandemic, we’re doing well. We’re hiring, in part because we’re growing, and in part because we’ve had resignations. We don’t understand why so many employees have resigned since mid-October. We have a bright future, but sense we have a problem. As we don’t know what it is, we can’t fix it. It’s not that our employees are choosing unemployment; they’re leaving for jobs in other practices. We’ve tried to exit interview the employees who’ve quit, but only reached two of them. Both said negative things, but when we brought what they’d said up with their former managers, the managers convinced us we’d talked to disgruntled employees whom they’d disciplined for performance problems. We’ve tried an… . . . read more

MANAGING STAFF

What I really wanted for Christmas

By Lynne Curry bio “What I really wanted for Christmas,” the woman said, “Wasn’t a turkey or a ham. It’s communication. The management around here keeps us in the dark, but then expects us to carry out their last minute orders without knowing the full story.” Have you thought about how you could have wished your employees happy holidays this year? Did you throw them an end-of-the-year party, hand out bonus checks or give them well-chosen presents? Or did you give them gifts that last longer—more of what they wanted in their jobs? Communication When changes loom, senior management often calls mid-level managers into closed door meetings and gives them information about what’s coming so they’ll know what to expect. The mid-levels then return their desks or stations and get right… . . . read more

HUMAN RESOURCES

5 people problems and how to solve them

By Lynne Curry bio We can’t guess all the challenges facing us as office managers in this new year, but we can assume that we will be dealing with an old one: people and their personalities. Whether working together virtually or in-person, chances are good you will be dealing with people problems. Here are five common problems and strategies for dealing with them. Stopping a bully senior manager without losing your job Question: I face a situation that has no easy answer and no easy solution. As the office manager and human resources director, I supposedly enforce our corporation’s code of conduct and oversee the human resource issues. I report to the report to the chief operating officer, a bully who runs roughshod over any employee unlucky enough to cross… . . . read more

MANAGING STAFF

Professionals working remotely clock long and weekend hours

A new study by global staffing firm Robert Half shows employees are working around the clock while at home. More than half (55 per cent) of professionals who transitioned to a remote setup as a result of the pandemic said they work on the weekend. In addition, one-third (34 per cent) of remote employees reported regularly putting in more than eight hours a day. “Despite the significant benefits of working remotely, such as saving time spent commuting and increased flexibility, it can also lead to putting in longer hours,” said David King, senior district president of Robert Half. “Heavier workloads have become a reality for many professionals during the pandemic, making it more challenging to disconnect while at home. It is critical that employers encourage their teams to take regular… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Expect a change of course under Biden for retirement accounts and immigration

By Mike O’Brien bio Experts predict that the Biden administration will differ from Trump’s in several respects. Mr. Biden supports ending upfront tax breaks for contributing to traditional 401(k) plans and replacing them with flat-tax credits. Current tax benefits for retirement savings provide “upper-income families with a much stronger tax break for saving and a limited benefit for middle-class and other workers with lower earnings,” according to Biden’s campaign website. “The Biden plan will equalize benefits across the income scale, so that low- and middle-income workers will also get a tax break when they put money away for retirement.” The Biden administration is also expected to implement automatic 401(k) enrollment, multiemployer pension plan relief (providing federally-backed loans to underfunded multiemployer defined benefit pension plans), and adjust social security payroll taxes. Mr…. . . . read more

HR Q&A

Does your law office owe employees paid sick leave when they self-quarantine?

By Lynne Curry bio Question: After I spent a weekend bar hopping, I felt remorseful, and self-quarantined so I wouldn’t bring COVID into my workplace and make others ill. I also took a COVID-19 test and luckily tested negative. Since my law office employer had moved everyone back on-site, I couldn’t work remotely and labeled my time off as sick leave. I just got my paycheck and apparently my employer has denied my sick leave. What’s my recourse? Answer: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) allows most private sector employees up to 80 hours of paid sick leave in five instances. A health care provider advises the employee to self-quarantine; the employee is seeking a diagnosis for COVID-19 symptoms; the employee or someone the employee is caring for is… . . . read more

PRODUCTIVITY

Technical issues and too many participants are biggest virtual meeting pet peeves

Have you had about enough of video meetings? If so, you’re not alone. A new study by global staffing firm Robert Half shows video calls may be wearing on workers. Almost three-quarters of professionals surveyed (72 per cent) said they participate in virtual meetings. Those respondents reported spending about a quarter of their workday (24 per cent) on camera with business contacts or colleagues. In addition: 44 per cent said they’ve experienced video call fatigue since the start of the pandemic. 59 per cent said video calls can be helpful but are not always necessary. 22 per cent noted that the practicality and novelty of video conferencing has worn off over the past eight months. 15 per cent confirmed they find virtual meetings inefficient and exhausting and prefer to communicate via… . . . read more

CYBERSECURITY

Disinformation endangers your company, not just democracy

By Doug Striker bio Did you hear about the rumor that COVID-19 was spread by mobile devices using the 5G network? It sounds so insane and far-fetched that no one would believe it, right? I mean, how in the world would a virus travel through a cell phone frequency band, into a cell phone or tablet, and then out of the device into a person’s body? But thanks to social media, fake news sites set up by bad actors, and Average Joes (like you and me) who click that “share” button all too readily, the rumor spread like wildfire, gaining so much traction that people were literally lighting cell phone towers on fire around the world. Why would someone spread such nonsense? And when I say “someone,” I not only… . . . read more

COVID-19

Our employees may stage a Thanksgiving rebellion

By Lynne Curry bio Question: I overheard a breakroom conversation last week and learned several employees were planning to get together with extended families for Thanksgiving. One employee was letting another know that if she didn’t “have any place to go,” she could join their family gathering. I honestly couldn’t believe this given the uptick in COVID-19 in our community, so I decided to call an all-hands meeting. I held the meeting in the downstairs lobby so we could physically distance. I started with the Center for Disease Control (CDC)’s guidance that we celebrate virtually or within our household. I added that the CDC specifically says those who don’t currently live in our household, even if family members, need to be viewed as members of different households. I reminded everyone… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

How HR regulations could change under Biden administration

By Mike O’Brien bio Employers may be wondering how a Biden administration will affect workplace laws. Prior to the election, Biden’s campaign website gives some clues as to his priorities in this area. Biden lists the failure to pay minimum wage and overtime pay, forcing off-the-clock work, and misclassifying workers as problems resulting in billions of dollars a year in wage theft. To address those issues, he proposes a phased-in implementation of a $15 per hour federal minimum wage (including eliminating the tip credit). He also supports the adoption of a more stringent test for classifying workers as independent contractors, similar to the ABC test employed by California. This type of test would almost certainly result in many more workers being deemed employees and fewer being properly classified as independent… . . . read more


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