Human Resources

Incentivizing your employees to reach a goal – whether it’s total sales, keeping the kitchen clean, or taking the stairs every day – doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, incentives improve employee engagement, and engaged employees improve your bottom line. Organizations with higher employee engagement have higher productivity, profits, sales, customer loyalty, and stock returns!

There is a vast amount of research on incentivizing employees, and among the things we know is that tangible benefits are more valuable to employees than cash. And the more unique or frivolous the better! Think massages, exotic foods or drinks, logoed tennis shoes, front row parking. The reward doesn’t have to be expensive. It will be compelling to employees if it’s something they wouldn’t – or can’t – buy themselves.

Content is courtesy of Transcend Technologies Group, Inc.

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Question & Answer

February 4, 2016

in Human Resources, Misc.

Q: We’re interested in implementing a performance improvement plan for one of our employees. What does it entail?

A: A performance improvement plan is a tool that employers can use to help underperforming employees succeed in the organization. The plan allows you to specify the company’s expectations with respect to employee performance and behavior and to define what success looks like going forward.

The plan itself can be detailed on a single-page form. For your convenience, we have a sample performance improvement plan document on the HR Support Center. In the document you will want to note the basic performance issue (e.g. efficiency, attendance), list examples of the employee’s performance deficiencies, and then state what actions you expect from the employee, how they should be accomplished, and in what timeframe they need to be completed. It is recommended that the plan also make it clear what the consequences will be for failing to meet and sustain improved performance.

As you do with every step of this process, document the meeting in which the performance improvement plan is implemented. You may also want to note that the performance plan is not intended to be an employment contract or guarantee of continuing employment.

The performance improvement plan also provides for follow-up meetings to discuss the employee’s progress. Upon the conclusion of the performance improvement plan, the company will make a decision as to the employee’s continued employment. We generally recommend that the life of the plan be two to three months. We also recommend either weekly or bi-weekly progress meetings with the employee.

If the employee continues to underperform or fails to sustain improved performance, you may need to move on to termination. In this case, you will have the documentation to demonstrate that you gave them a chance to improve. This record will make it more difficult for the employee to challenge the reason for the termination.

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When employees become disabled and unable to work, their jobs might be protected, but they’re often left with no replacement income. To help individuals in this situation, five states provide, or require that employers provide, short-term disability insurance to eligible workers. This benefit pays a percentage of an eligible employee’s income in the event that the employee becomes disabled as a result of an off-the-job injury or illness, including disability due to pregnancy. As this temporary disability insurance covers non-work related injuries, illnesses, or disabilities, it is different than workers’ compensation.

In this article, we’ll look at each of these state’s requirements for eligibility, coverage, and filing for benefits.

In order to be eligible for benefits, individuals in California must be employed or actively looking for work at the time they become disabled, and they must be unable to do their regular or customary work for at least eight consecutive days. If employed, they must have lost wages because of the disability and have earned at least $300 from which deductions were withheld during a previous period.

To receive benefits, individuals must complete and submit a claim form within 49 days of the date they became disabled. Filing can be done online or by mail. Medical certification by a physician or accredited practitioner is required.

Those who qualify for benefits will receive weekly compensation of about 55% of their previous weekly earnings in the highest quarter of the base period. They may collect up to 52 weeks of benefits, generally.

The withholding rate for 2016 is 0.9 percent per pay period, and the maximum to withhold for each employee is $960.68 per year. California allows employers to have a private plan in place of the state plan, but either way employers in the state are required to display specific informational posters about the program.

More information on California’s disability insurance program is available on the state website here.

To be eligible in Hawaii, individuals must be currently employed and have worked at least 14 weeks at 20 hours or more during each of those weeks, earning not less than $400 in the 52 weeks preceding the disability. The 14 weeks need not be consecutive or with the same employer.

To file for benefits, employees must immediately notify their employer of the disability and request Form TDI-45. Within 90 days from becoming disabled, the employee must fill out Part A, take the form to their physician or practitioner for medical certification, have the employer fill out Part B, and mail the completed form to the insurance company.

Eligible employees receive a partial wage replacement of up to 58% of their average weekly wages, with a maximum of $570.00 per week. Benefits begin the eighth day of the disability and may be paid for up to 26 weeks.

Employers in Hawaii must purchase the insuring plan from a carrier, adopt a self-insured plan, or have an equally favorable collectively bargained sick leave plan. Employers may pay all of the cost of the plan or share the cost with employees. The cost to employees for the insurance cannot be more than 0.5% of their weekly earnings, with a maximum weekly wage base of $982.36 in 2016; this means the maximum deduction for any employee will be $4.91 per week.

More information on Hawaii’s disability insurance program is available on the state website here.

New Jersey
To be eligible for benefits in New Jersey, employees must have been unable to work for seven days and have 1) worked at least 20 weeks, earning $168 or more in each of those weeks unless there was a declared state of emergency preventing work or 2) earned $8,400 or more in the 52 calendar weeks preceding the week the disability began.

Employees should apply for benefits within 30 days. The application must be completed by the employee, their physician, and their employers from the last six months. Eligible employees can receive benefits for up to 26 weeks with a maximum weekly payment of $615. Employees contribute 0.20% on the first $32,600 they earn, up to a maximum of $65.20 per year.

Eligible employees can receive benefits for up to 26 weeks with a maximum weekly payment of $615. Employees contribute 0.20% on the first $32,600 they earn, up to a maximum of $65.20 per year.

The cost for employers varies from 0.10% to 0.75%. In 2016 employers will contribute between $32.60 and $244.50 on the first $32,600 each employee earns. Employers may use the state plan or a private plan.

More information on New Jersey’s disability insurance program is available on the state website here.

New York
To be eligible in New York, an individual must have worked for a covered employer for at least four weeks and be unable to work due to disability for at least seven days. Benefit rights begin the eighth consecutive day of disability and last for up to 26 weeks during a 52-week period.

The insurance pays up to 50% of an employee’s average weekly wages, but no more than $170 per week. To receive benefits, eligible employees need to apply within 30 days. Certification from a physician or practitioner is required.

Employers can pay for all or some of the plan, or self-insure, but employees can be charged no more than 0.5% of their income each week, up to a maximum of 60 cents per week.

More information on New York’s disability insurance program is available on the state website here.

Rhode Island
Rhode Island was the first state to provide state disability leave—in 1942.

To be eligible for temporary disability benefits in Rhode Island, employees must have earned wages in the state and paid into the insurance fund. They must also have been paid at least $11,520 in one of the year-long base periods the state uses to determine eligibility. Alternatively, workers will be eligible if they earned $1,920 in one of the base period quarters and total base period wages of at least 1.5 times the highest quarter earnings, with total base period earnings of at least $3,840 . Employees must be unemployed for at least seven days due to non-job related illness or injury to qualify for benefits.

The program pays 4.62% of wages paid in the highest quarter of the base period, but not more than $795 total, for a maximum of 30 weeks. Employees can receive disability benefits even if they are still being paid through their employment. However, employees cannot receive disability benefits if they are performing any services for their employer.

The cost to employees is 1.2% of first $66,300 on earnings. Employees should apply online or by mail within 30 days of the start of the disability.

More information on Rhode Island’s disability insurance program is available on the state website here

Content is courtesy of Transcend Technologies Group, Inc.

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Eight years ago you hired an extremely talented, energetic individual who quickly became a source of enthusiasm and expertise in your workplace. A friend to everyone, this star employee excelled in their work, acing every performance review. Until recently.

About six months ago, this individual developed a snooty attitude with management. Regular absences and tardiness soon followed. Projects weren’t completed when they needed to be. Those that got done were usually done poorly. You put the employee on a progressive discipline plan in accordance with your policy, hoping to see a return to their longtime stellar performance, but the employee showed no interest in improving.

It may be time to terminate employment, but because this employee is so well liked by their coworkers, you need to be prepared for the ramifications of letting them go.

First, this employee has built up a lot of relationship capital. You should expect the employees closest to this person to be very upset. Some of them might even want to quit. You’ll need to meet with these individuals, listen to their concerns, and try to help them adjust to the abrupt change.

Second, while this employee isn’t in management, colleagues may go to them for mentoring, guidance, and direction. You can expect some of these colleagues to be a tad aimless following the termination. Keep your eyes open for employees who look a little lost and offer to help them with whatever they need.

Third, because this employee was once very good at their job—and may still appear to be so—people in the office might fear that they’ll be let go next. You can reassure them without violating confidentiality by being openly appreciative of everyone’s contributions. Even small words of encouragement said here and there can put people’s minds to rest.

If you suspect that the fallout of the termination could be very disruptive to business operations, and you haven’t terminated others for the same cause, you may want to consider alternatives to termination, such as reassignment to a different manager.

But if you’ve decided termination is the best path forward, you’ll need to prepare for the likely consequences. Don’t wait to see what happens. Take proactive steps to ensure that upset employees are heard, aimless employees are guided, and anxious employees are reassured. The road will be rocky, but you can help smooth the way by addressing these issues before they significantly disrupt your workflow.

Content is courtesy of Transcend Technologies Group, Inc.

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Harassment Prevention Training

Regular harassment prevention training can significantly reduce the likelihood of workplace harassment as well as provide a valuable defense if your company is involved in a harassment suit. It’s important to let employees know that harassment related to any protected class will not be tolerated. Protected classes include race, nationality, sexual orientation, and physical or mental disability, just to name a few.

Harassment prevention training should be thorough, so assess whether you have the resources to put the training on yourself or whether you should seek outside assistance. Your employee handbook should have a detailed anti-harassment policy and a clear complaint procedure so that even an employee who may not attend training is familiar with your policies.


The content in this section is courtesy of:   Transcend Technologies Group, Inc., 9401 E. Stockton Blvd Ste. 240, Elk Grove, CA 95624

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