Does it seem as though you have two jobs?
StaffScapes gives you the freedom to focus on what you do best; growing your business. As a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) we take legal responsibility for a large part of your day-to-day duties letting you concentrate on your core business.
Between running your business and keeping up with ever-increasing administrative responsibilities, you may feel that you actually do have two jobs. Now imagine having only one job. For more details on how a PEO can make your business run better contact StaffScapes, Inc. 303-466-7864 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, May 17, 2013
Heat Illness Prevention
It is that time of year again when the temperature rises and heat illnesses begin to occur. OSHA is again promoting their nationwide Heat Illness Prevention Campaign. OSHA explains that their Heat Illness Prevention Campaign “aims to raise awareness and teach workers and employers about dangers of working in hot weather and provide valuable resources to address these concerns”. OSHA reports that their campaign has reached more than 7 million people and provided close to half a million fact sheets, training guides and other resources. OSHA’s heat illness website has many resources including; educational resources, guidance to employers on developing a prevention program, training, and a map of heat related fatalities. We recommend all employers visit OSHA’s website to find out more about heat illness and how it can be prevented.
Monday, April 29, 2013
Do you have job descriptions for every position in your company? If not, consider the benefits of having them. First, they clarify the essential functions and responsibilities for your employees in every role. Second, they’re a very useful tool during the interviewing and hiring processes. Third, they can be used to facilitate the performance review process, particularly with employees who are under-performing. Finally, they can protect employers from ADA claims and other potential liabilities involving wrongful termination or unemployment claims.
While job descriptions will vary based upon each position, they should all use the same template. Each description should include the basic framework of the position (department, supervisor, FLSA status, job status, grade/level, amount of travel involved, and work schedule), a summary of the position, the essential functions and any additional (plausible but not essential) responsibilities, the position qualifications, preferred skills and abilities, and the physical working environment, such as how often the employee will be sitting or standing, if there is any heavy lifting involved, etc. The job description should also include a ‘reasonable accommodations statement’, signatures by the parties that approved the job description, and a disclaimer at the end, stating that the job description is not a contract of employment and may be changed as necessary, that it is not an exhaustive list of duties, and finally, that the company is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
Here at StaffScapes, we can help you create or review your job descriptions and make sure they include all the necessary components that make them effective. StaffScapes is a Professional Employer Organization that specializes in all areas of employment, including benefits, employee relations, risk management and payroll. To learn more about our services, or schedule a meeting to review job descriptions, please visit our website or contact us at 303-466-7864 or info@StaffScapes.com.
Friday, March 15, 2013
The New I-9
After months of waiting, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office has finally announced that the revised Employment Eligibility Verification Form, Form I-9, is ready and available for immediate use.
For business owners, this means the old version should no longer be used for new hires. The link to the new form can be found here. You can also find a copy of the new I-9 in our “Documents” section (available here). For StaffScapes clients, we will be incorporating the new form into our standard employment application and will be sending copies to you in the upcoming weeks. After May 7, 2013 the old forms will no longer be accepted by the government.
Phones are back up
StaffScapes phones are back up and working. If you tried to send a fax on Friday morning, please resend to make sure that we received it. Thank you for your patience.
staffscapes phone lines temporarily down
Friday march 15, unfortunately staffscapes phone and fax lines are temporarily down
. We will post an update when we have the systems back up and running. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Monday, March 11, 2013
Unintended Consequences, cont’d
Continuing with the idea that for every decision, there are both intended and unintended consequences, another type of decision to consider relates to company growth and the impact of not knowing what exactly you get when you acquire a new business.
Often the prospect of expanding a business by acquiring a new one has countless factors to consider before moving forward. But as a business owner, or prospective owner, it’s important to know as much about what you’re getting into as possible – including how the prospective company’s worker’s compensation and unemployment history can affect you as a new owner.
Did you know that a company’s unemployment history carries over across owners, meaning you could get stuck with higher rates and costs related to unemployment as soon as you take over the business, regardless of your own company’s unemployment history? These costs could be so high they end up threatening your ability to do business. It’s like purchasing a new house and realizing (after the fact) that all the electrical work and plumbing are not up to code. It doesn’t matter that you ‘inherited’ the problem – it’s still your problem to fix. It’s the same with worker’s comp – these historical figures carry over when a business is acquired.
For this reason, when underwriting a new business it is important to obtain the past worker’s compensation claim history and unemployment claim history. Using this information, along with the worker’s comp rate and unemployment tax currently being paid on the existing business, a business owner should be able to calculate the impact a good or bad claims history could potentially have if the new business is acquired.
Here at StaffScapes we can help you identify these types of HR-related issues before you take on unnecessary risk for your business. Acquiring a new company can be a very exciting venture and should not be ruined by a preventable, unintended consequence.
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
‘Spring forward’ - carefully!
It’s that time of year! This Sunday we will set the clocks forward one hour to start Daylight Savings Time (DST). You may think this practice of adjusting the clock does not cause anyone to adjust their behavior because “it’s only an hour”, right?
Consider the following: the National Sleep Foundation conducted a study in 2009 using data from the U.S. Department of Labor and Mine Safety and Health Administration, which stated that the time change could have an impact on workplace safety. The study found that after DST begins, workplace injuries increased by 5.7% and workdays lost due to injuries increased by nearly 68% - all because employees lost, on average, 40 minutes of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation estimates it takes most people a few days to fully adjust to the loss of one hour of sleep.
So next week, when DST begins, be aware of the increased safety risk and exercise caution, especially if you work in a job that requires a high level of attention to detail.
Monday, March 04, 2013
The Law of Unintended Consequences
Have you ever made a decision that seemed right in the beginning, only to watch it slowly morph into a nightmare over time? The Law of Unintended Consequences says that for every change or action, there are both positive consequences – which we obviously want – and negative, unintended consequences (which we obviously don’t want). How often, as a manager, are you presented with a problem that seems unique and make a decision thinking it’s not likely to happen again? Have you ever considered the risk in setting precedent for those “rare” occasions?
For example, imagine there is a paid time off policy in place at Company X. Employee A approaches the manager with a crisis: his father just had a stroke and lives on the other side of the country, alone. He asks if he can fly out to take care of him for the next month and offers to work remotely so as not to disrupt his department or current projects. He’s a great employee, rarely takes time off, and the manager trusts that the employee will continue to perform at the same level he always does, even if he’s not in the office daily. So, the manager, thinking this type of situation is unique, agrees to allow the employee to work “remotely” rather than use any of his paid time off. Problem solved, right?
But what happens when, a couple weeks later, Employee B, who is an average performer and often on the brink of disciplinary action, notifies the manager that his mother has to have emergency surgery and needs someone to care for her while she recovers… oh, and she lives in a foreign country thousands of miles away. The employee says there is no one else who can help her but explains that he, too, is able to work remotely while he is away. Even though Employee B holds the same position as Employee A, the manager is not confident in Employee B’s work ethic and worries about the time zone difference further hindering his performance. The manager would rather the employee use some of his paid time off instead of work remotely but fears the employee will file a discrimination claim. How does the manager respond? What are the risks if the manager doesn’t provide the same accommodations he did for Employee A?
As managers, we must always be mindful of the ‘exceptions’ we make to policies. Ask yourself, “Would I do the same thing for every employee, if this happens again? What are the risks if I don’t?” Consider how it will affect morale or productivity. Think about the legal implications. “Special treatment” is often a slippery slope. While you may be inclined to offer it to some people, it’s usually better to stick with the policies already in place, unless you are prepared for the potential liability associated with excluding other individuals.
Friday, February 22, 2013
“Want to Be Taken Seriously? Become a Better Writer”
I recently read an article by Dave Kerpen called, “Want to Be Taken Seriously? Become a Better Writer”. I don’t know what exactly the main culprit is, but over the last few years I have noticed that the quality of writing seems to have taken a severe nosedive. Even professional news organizations like CNN have posted articles that make me cringe – misspellings, grammatical errors, confusing language – I often can’t believe the article made it to the company’s website without passing an editor’s desk.
I know not everyone is required (or expected) to write as part of their basic job duties. But for many of us, writing (emails, reports, project updates, etc.) at work is more common than we may realize. And while some people may not be sticklers for grammar or punctuation, it doesn’t hurt to consider some basic tips if you want to be taken seriously as a professional. Here were the key points I liked best from Mr. Kerpen’s article:
1. “If you want to be taken seriously by your manager… you must become a better writer.” You may disagree that your manager will respect your opinion more if you are a better writer, but what’s the risk in making an effort to improve your writing if there’s even the slightest chance you’ll benefit from it professionally?
2. “Practice, practice, practice.” Not only is it important to practice writing, as Mr. Kerpen suggests, I also think it’s important to practice proofreading. Taking a few extra minutes with each piece of writing to check your work will go a long way to avoiding mistakes that could confuse or turn off your audience. Nowadays all you need is spellcheck or a quick Google search to verify you’re spelling “definitely” correctly or that you’re using the proper form of the word "there" (or “their” or “they’re”).
3. “Say it out loud.” You’d be surprised how much reading something out loud can help you catch mistakes you otherwise wouldn’t notice. But a word of caution: phonetics (the sound of language) can often be deceiving. I recently saw a comment on Facebook that read, “I fill bad for you”. This may sound right to someone who pronounces “feel” and “fill” the same way, but they are two very different words, with two very different meanings.
4. “Make it more concise.” I have a tendency to be too ‘wordy’, trying to ensure the message is fully understood, and often risk losing my audience with the excessive language. As Mr. Kerpen suggests, I’m always asking myself, “How can I say the same thing in fewer words?”
5. “Read.” Even if you can only allocate 10 minutes each day to reading a blog or newspaper article, your Twitter feed, or emails, any chance you get to read will help improve your writing skills. Try setting a goal this year to read more books than you did last year. Read with your kids. Instead of watching that extra 30 minutes of TV after dinner, stick your nose in a book or magazine instead.
Finally, it never hurts to have a second (or third) pair of eyes look at your work before sharing with your intended audience. If the content contains confidential information this may not be possible, but for anything else, having someone check your work is a quick and easy backup to your own editing. Regardless of your rank or position, there's always room for improvement.
If you’d like to read more articles by Dave Kerpen on LinkedIn, you can access his profile here.
Friday, February 15, 2013
Emergency Service Volunteers
If you are an employer in Colorado, ask yourself: have you heard of House Bill 08-1097 - Colorado Revised Statutes §24-32-2202 et seq.? If not, you may want to consider brushing up on the subject, especially if you have any employees who volunteer as emergency service workers (with the Red Cross, local fire department, etc.).
The bill, passed in 2008, protects volunteer emergency workers against loss of job, seniority, retirement benefits, rank, etc. when requested to respond to a disaster emergency. It specifies that employers must allow volunteer service members to take up to 15 working days off per year to respond to emergency situations. In the private sector this leave may be unpaid whereas government employees will be entitled to paid leave.
To qualify, volunteer emergency service works must be certified with a credible emergency service organization through the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Division of Emergency Management by a sheriff, local agency, state agency, or by a local emergency planning committee. Employees will be entitled to job protection when they perform ‘satisfactorily’ in a disaster emergency and provide certification from the emergency organization proving their requested involvement.
While this particular law stipulates emergency service volunteers are protected if they do not show up for work because of their service, employers should note there are other –similar – laws that also provide volunteer firefighters with job protection if they are at work when called to assist with putting out a fire.