Wow – 2014 has come to an end already. Seems like just yesterday we were ringing it in as a new year and not Father Time has marched us right on to another year. Clear Choice Staffing Solutions staff has had many changes and more growth. This all had do to with you, our clients and employees. Because of you each, we’ve experienced these things that have made us who we are today and to that, we say Thank You.
We are looking forward to what is in store for a Happy New Year and a prosperous 2015 with you and encourage you to check our Event Calendar each week as well as this blog. We hope we have provided your information you can use and maybe gave you a moment to stop and think.
As you ring in the new year, we wish you happiness and safety. Most of all we wish you a healthy and prosperous New Year and look forward to working with you in 2015.
As we prepare to say good bye to 2014 and welcome 2015, many of us will have created New Years Resolutions. From losing weight to stop smoking to become more financially secure. The lists have many things. Few will accomplish all, some will accomplish part, but most won’t see one all the way through.
What about the workplace though? Not your individual employees, but the company as a whole. What about New Years Resolutions for the workplace and all that make up the existence? Clear Choice Staffing Solutions would like to take this time now to offer some suggestions on New Years Resolutions that you, the business owner or manager can put in place. Make it a team effort where everyone on your payroll. Encourage all to make an effort to complete the list so that this time next year, when 2015 is coming to an end, you do in fact have something to celebrate.
1. End The Gossiping
Everyone leave that gossiping in the car or at home. Stop the workplace drama this year. Show respect for your co-workers and management. Make this the year that professionalism and respect rule. The next time a co-worker begins a gossip session, re-direct their conversation or just be honest and respectfully decline to participate.
2. Abstain From Complaining
Each employee should make it a point NOT to be the one that constantly complains about anything and everything.
3. Break Times Are A Must
In the workplace, there are often smokers and they take their smoke break without fail. Make 2015 the year that everyone, smokers and non-smokers, take a break away from their workstation. If its just to step outside and check the weather, the brain and eyes need the rest. It has been proven that this actually makes for a more productive day.
4. Do Become Too Content
Encourage your employees to challenge themselves and provide them them the opportunity to do this. It can with lunch-n-learn sessions that feature company products or services. Maybe products and services of competitors in the industry. Even ways to make a better workplace, anything that they can build from and grow.
We’re all human and we all make mistakes. Encourage your staff to accept responsibility when they have made a mistake and then everyone learn from it and move on.
6. Be Social
Encourage the staff to get to know each other beyond their job responsibilities. Encourage them to mingle and provide the opportunity for them to do this. If the budget is too tight for company funded functions, plan potluck lunches just for fun, no special even or holiday needed. Encourage outside activities like a bowling league or softball team.
7. Minimize Internet Addiction
Today, everywhere we look, business or personal, people are distracted by social media. The internet is tempting us to come inside and forgo interaction with each other in person. With the required breaks we discussed above, employees will get away from their desks during breaks when they are prone to check-in on Facebook or check their emails.
8. Get Physical
By this we mean exercise. Encourage your staff to get some form of exercise each day. Maybe walking around the building, inside or outside. Walk to the bank or the post office. Exercise makes us healthier both mentally and physically. When we’re healthier, we’re more productive.
9. Stress Management
Stress takes over our lives and without realizing it, it affects us. Mentally and physically. Encourage your staff to minimize their stress at work and home. Offer resources they can find help if needed.
10. Positive Attitude
Yes, life is a challenge sometimes. Everything doesn’t always work out as we plan. Encourage your staff to think positive, even when things are going “right”. Maybe the company lost that big contract. Encourage the staff to dust off their boots and saddle up another horse. Meaning, turn that energy and focus to another client or project.
In this blog, Clear Choice Staffing Solutions has been discussing your rights and your employer’s rights in different scenarios. Such as your employer’s right to read your emails, their rights to request your password and how they can legally spy on you. In Part 3 of our 3 part series “What Are Their Rights? What Are Your Rights”, we look at an employer tracking your productivity.
What if your employer announced that starting next year, they are going to begin tracking your productivity with electronic sensors? Is this unsettling for you? Would you feel like you’re just another cog in the company system with big brother watching over you? Would you feel like it could improve life for the company and you? Or is this another invasion of privacy?
Sociometric Solutions is a company that has created and designed tracking devices for other companies to gather real-time information for measuring their employee’s productivity by way of sensors being placed inside their employee’s ID badges. This works by identifying their movement, tone of voice, even and employee’s posture as they communicate with others.
Companies like Google believe that the conversations at in the break room create a community in the workplace and have a big impact in the workplace. However, for most business, there is still the belief that most of an employee’s productive time is at their desk or workstation. Some experts, such as the people at Sociometric Solutions, don’t believe this may necessarily be the case.
The sensors they have designed are intended to measure how and when employees are really being productive. The information that is collected on each individual is made anonymous in order to ease concerns of privacy. The information that is collected is used to determine ways for employees to be more efficient as well as the company in general.
The unanswered question to this is the legality of it all. Online privacy is a major issue in regards to banking, paying bills and shipping already. Many expect this tracking method to have the privacy stumbling block in the way for sometime.
How Is This Tracking System Work?
An electronic sensor is placed in employee badges. There is also a Bluetooth, a microphone that records the tone of the employee’s voice, speaking speed and volume. There is also a motion sensor that measures the employee’s movements and an infrared beam. Sounds like an episode of Star Trek doesn’t it?
The analytic tools are used to determine the basics conversations between people such as the tone when they speak. Does their tone get faster? Does their tone get higher? How excited are they when they speak? How passionate are they when talking? There is also an infrared beam in the sensor that detects other badges in sight and thus, it can be monitored how employees address one another.
To insure privacy is maintained, any information that identifies individuals is removed before the system generates a report for the employer. So what good is this productivity tracking going to do for employers? A large bank has used the sensor system and found out some helpful information about their employees.
They found it is important for employees be allowed to take breaks with each other because they often used this time to troubleshoot problems in the workplace problem. They found there co-workers shared a cohesiveness and the bank saw productivity improve by 10 percent when changes were made in the workplace culture.
Some experts say that a person with a dominate personality may shut down when they are being tracked because a distrust forms. While there could be some helpful analytics for employers to learn from using this type of employee tracking, at the day’s end, employees should feel comfortable with the process and that itself, may take some time.
May the joy of Christmas be with you and yours today!
In this blog, Clear Choice Staffing Solutions recently discussed your rights and your employer’s rights to read your emails. We’ve also discussed earlier about your employer’s rights to request your password to company provided programs (after you’ve been instructed to never share this information with anyone).
Today, Clear Choice Staffing Solutions wants to to talk about your employer watching you. Or as many put it, spying on you. Is it legal? Are they infringing on your privacy rights? How far can they go and be within the law? Here are 9 things your employer may be watching you:
Technology is wonderful in so many ways. It has even brought us an program where employers can record each and every keystroke you make on your computer. Keylogging programs let’s your employer watch anything and everything you type, even your passwords. There is some level of protection via the Federal Wiretap Act and the Stored Communication Act. Depending on where you live, your state may offer a level of protection also. To date though, looks like employers aren’t having much issues with this practice that may be seen as intrusive.
It is common place for most companies to have policies in place stating they have the right to monitor employee’s emails. This allows them to view those personal emails you send on company owned equipment and using your personal email address, such as AOL, Gmail, Yahoo or others isn’t any protection from that either. Yes, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act is a law that limits this activity, but it isn’t a very strong protection.
Employers are allowed to put consent forms into applications, contracts and handbooks, which circumvent your privacy rights. So, should you send confidential information or forward an inappropriate message to your own home or other person(s), you’re setting yourself up for possible dismissal.
Monitoring Internet Usage
Most employers monitoring employee internet usage, that really shouldn’t surprise anyone. So if you are logging in on FaceBook, visit porn sites or YouTube, even doing your Christmas shopping, the big guys are going to know. This can be proof that you violate your employer’s policy on Internet usage and that you aren’t doing what you’re paid to do, work. Disciplinary actions could be taken against you.
FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter
There are some employers who have demanded employee’s provide their passwords to social media accounts so they can monitor the activity. A couple of states have banned this from being legal, but in the other 48 states, it is legal. Remember, they don’t really need your passwords anyway to see what you’re posting and more and more employers are using FaceBook and other social media sites to keep a watch of what’s going on with their employees. So if you violate your noncompete agreement or use your Family and Medical Leave to travel, it can be reason for termination. Using FaceBook to sexually harass a co-worker is definitely reason for termination.
However, you are protected using social media to discuss working conditions even if your employer has a policy in place that states employees are not allowed to have a discussion about the company via social media. Your employer can not search for anything private about any disability, genetic condition, pregnancy, or other information that is protected.
In 12 states, there are limits to being able to record conversations without all parties consenting. However, employers could be allowed to record conversations, even in those 12 states. If one person is aware of a recording in progress, in most states it makes the recording legal. There are exceptions to federal wiretap laws for employers that obtain employee consent and for legitimate business recordings, like customer service. However, they are subject to strict conditions. Good chance that in that stack of Welcome Aboard paperwork, you signed a consent form.
With the exception of recording you in the bathroom, video monitoring isn’t that unusual by employers. The limitations of employers using non-audio videos are limited. There are some states that have put privacy laws in effect that do limit this, however, there are plenty of employers are watching their employees via video cameras.
Proof Of Medical Issues Required
There have been laws passed in some states that now allow employers the right to deny contraceptive coverage in the health insurance plans if there isn’t a medical reason. Most likely, this won’t hold up in court even though it is a law and the new Affordable Care Act has squashed that anyway. Nevertheless, your employer could be entitled to your medical information in limited circumstances. Such as, If you request disability accommodations or request time off under Family and Medical Leave.
Filing workers compensation claims entitle your employer to some medical information as well. It is also common for employers to require a not from your doctor when you call in sick, which is within their rights. What they can’t do is require detailed diagnosis that may disclose your medical condition. The doctor note requirement can not be discriminating either.
Company Owned Devices
Using a company owned device to text, use of company owned vehicle equipped with a GPS, badge or passcode requirement to enter the workplace or the company owned copier, you can be pretty sure that you are being watched by your. When using company owned devices and property, you can be pretty certain that there is no secret.
Behavior and Conduct Off-Duty
There are some states that limit employers ability and right to dismiss you for some legal off-duty conduct. There are several states that allow employers to dismiss employees for medical marijuana use that was purchased legally. Having a second job, consuming alcohol and smoking outside the workplace on your own time are grounds for dismissal in some states.
Better Safe Than Fired
Laws vary from state to state, so what is considered invading your privacy may vary as well. The best thing to do is be safe in your activities, at work or on your own time.
Just how private is your email at work and what your rights in that regard? Should your boss have access to your email? If yes, should they have to give you advance notice they will be reading it? This could be maybe a bigger debate in the workforce than the minimum wage controversy or random drug testing. Is there no privacy in the workplace today? Do we not have any freedom or protection of our rights in the workplace today?
Clear Choice Staffing Solutions has done some research on this subject. When it comes to whether or not your boss can read your email and just exactly how much privacy you have in regards to your email at work, this is what we have found:
Your work email address is property of your employer. What does this mean? Well, most likely, you were given an employee handbook or a stack of paperwork that covers these things. Like most new adventures in our lives, like buying a car or house, who takes the time to read all that, right?
That is where you missed the fact that you gave consent and wasnotified then and there, that your email would be monitored. Even though there is protection of privacy by way of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, there are more loop holes in that act than there are in a bowl of fruity flavored loop cereal.
So what should you do? Well first of all, do not open any attachments received by email if you don’t the person who sent it. If there is something inappropriate in there, it could be grounds for termination. Never send your lawyer an email from your work email because it may waive your attorney-client protection.
Personal Email And Work Devices
The personal emails you open on any device owned by your employer will be accessible on the company’s server. Forever. Technology today allows companies to track every keystroke you make with key-logging programs, even your passwords. Leaving your email open on your company owned laptop leaves it open for anyone in the company to read it. They can even access anything that you have used auto-fill password programs. Using a device that your employer owns give your employer access.
What about your personal email account that you access on an employer owned device? Well that can be tricky. Your email through AOL, Gmail, Yahoo or other outside parties are stored on their servers, not your employers. The emails you have read and the emails you haven’t read are treated differently in the courts.
If you leave your employer (on your own will or your dismissed) and turn in any work owned device that you’ve used for personal email purposes and the employer reads it, they may have violated the Stored Communications Act, IF you have not opened it yourself.
Passwords – Are They Private?
The Electronic Communications Privacy Act or the Stored Communications Act both protect you should your employer access your personal email or social media accounts after they have gained access to your passwords by computer monitoring or keylogging programs.
Personal emails on home computer
Working from home has its benefits. It also has its risks. Doing work for your employer on your personal home computer is call to be cautious. Some employers require that you have software installed on your home computer in order to access company information. That software could give your employer access to your personal email and other private accounts. If this happens, your employer could find themselves in violation of the Stored Communications Act.
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is another law that could offer you protection from employer intrusion. Employers face harsh punishments when they have exceeded their authority to gain access to company information.
Working Condition Discussions
Non-government employees that have a non-supervisory position are protected by The National Labor Relations Act protects. They can not be disciplined for having email discussions of working conditions. This allows them to discuss benefits and wages as well as mock and protest working conditions.
Under tort law, some states have protection against “invasion of privacy” and “intrusion upon seclusion”. Nevertheless, many courts have found that when it comes to the workplace, there is little or no expectation of privacy by employees.
The best protection you may have is privacy language within the contract between you and your employer, if you are able to negotiate such a contract. You may also be protected by your union by way of collective bargaining agreement with the employer.
Every state has different laws. Should you suspect that your employer has made illegal moves like reading your email, an appointment with an employment lawyer should be the first thing you do. However, the safest thing to do is not sending personal email on company owned devices. Keep your private business private by using your personal cellphone or laptop.
So you have been employed with the same company for just over a year or so. You were told upon being hired that the one year anniversary would be a review followed by a raise. This is pretty much standard process for most businesses, but, a raise is not a requirement.
So what do you do when its time for your review, and you feel like you deserve a raise, but nothing is said about getting one? Ask yourself if your boss feels the same as you do, in that you deserve a raise. If you can answer yes to that question, then there are ways to ask and get that raise, but carefully. Ask yourself these questions:
What is the going rate for your position in this industry today?
If you are doing more than your job was described? Have you taken on additional duties?
Have you done anything to save the company money or save a big client?
Has inflation taken a rise that left your salary below standard living costs?
If your answers to these questions all point to the direction that you do deserve a raise, Clear Choice Staffing Solutions offers you these tips on asking for the raise:
For your employer, your salary is a result of what your job is worth. It is not an account to fund your personal life. Sharing your personal woes is not how to negotiate a raise. Keep it professional and discus your achievements and what you bring to the table. If you have picked up other responsibilities in addition to what your original job outlined, discuss those. By having done your research, mention what the industry standards are for your position.
Work Then Ask
Make sure you have performed your job as the company expected before you ask for that raise. Then steer the conversation to discuss the responsibilities you have taken on and how you have excelled in those responsibilities. You will have a better chance of remembering your past accomplishments than your boss, so don’t be shy in bringing them up.
Time it Right
If you know the company is struggling financially, then wait before you ask. You may be right on top of your job and the company’s financial situation is related to your performance, however, when there are economic troubles that have resulted in cost cutting, it isn’t the right time.
Comparison Is Not Needed
Do not compare what you make versus what your co-workers make. First of all, it is unethical. Most company policies as well as just common sense, you don’t discuss your salary with co-workers. Second of all, it is unhealthy and negative to bring up comparisons.
Don’t Make Threats
Threatening to find another job that “knows your worth” will do one thing for sure: Annoy your boss. It may also backfire on you. So if you are going to give an ultimatum, then be prepared to back it up.
Why you deserve a raise may have be a combination of many things, including just the personal need for more money. Be prepared as you walk in for your review. Rehearse what you’re going to say and how you’ll say it. You can be certain that your boss has practiced what they were going to say, you should be just a ready.
Here at Clear Choice Staffing Solutions, we know that with the holidays into the New Year, people decide to make changes in their lives, both personal and professional. And with that often means you lose a key employee. They found a better paying job, closer to home, flexible hours, better benefits, the list can go on and on and on. Maybe they’re moving closer to an elderly parent to help out or take over the family business. They could be going back to school even. Or perhaps, they just decided to venture off into their own business.
After you’ve caught your breath, you need to realize that sometimes losing that key team player is a good thing. Before you decide to click off this blog and move on to something you like better, allow me to explain.
The studies by Andrew V. Shipilov, Frédéric Godart and Kim Claes found some balance to this sudden departure that may surprise you. In fact, they believe from their studies and the results there of that your company may actually see a better performance of the company as a whole. Huh? How?
- Critical Information Gained About Your Competitors: This could be the most crucial of all. As employees leave a job, they often stay in contact with their former co-workers, maybe even their boss. They can often create a bridge between the “old” and the “new” which will provide you the opportunity for informal communication, which can give you an inside track as to what’s going on in the other camp.
- Industry Influence By Departed Employees: Just as new employees join your operation and speak of their former employer and position, you can be sure your former key employee will do likewise at their job too. This exposes your competitors to your company’s operating philosophies and principles, and yes, maybe trade secrets too. However, it can also lead to an change in the perception of your company that is known industry wide.
- Organization Changes Are Enabled: When your key employee leaves, this makes room for new team players to bring in their outside experiences that may be unique from how things are for your company. Fresh ideas can have a positive impact on company wide creative performance.
There are top consulting companies that actually ask their key employees to leave the company and return. In the MBA programs, this is called raison d’être, meaning provide high-potential employees with new horizons. Allow them to return is they desire, keeping in mind that a certain degree of turnover is not only good for the employees, but for the company too.
Naturally, too many employee departures can be harmful to business too, such as affecting the day-to-day business. Therefore it is important to have a strategy to manage departed employees and a strategy to keep key employees.
If you’re only losing one or two, a small percentage of your staff, it is a good thing. If you’re noticing a mass exit of some of the best employees, then perhaps you need to take a look at things a little deeper. Creating a relationship with Clear Choice Staffing Solutions, we can help you employ the right people at the right time and look at why you may be having a mass exit of key team players.
Clear Choice Staffing Solutions realizes, as you probably do as well, that it is standard protocol for companies to have stated in the employee hand books it is not acceptable to share your employee log-in credentials like password access with anyone. In most cases, it is subject to immediate termination. This isn’t just email log-in, but it can apply to your employee code or password to access certain areas, the safe or other places that are monitored for security.
However, when you are about to go on vacation and your manager sends you an email asking for your log-in credentials or other security measure, should you share it? According to the employee handbook, you could be fired immediately. However, refusing to give this information to your manager could be considered insubordination, another cause for immediate firing.
Out of the 50 United States, 49 do not have a law requiring employers to provide a just or reasonable cause to terminate an employee. Exception to this is the federal law that protects all workers against discrimination, the need to take Family and Medical Leave, filing worker’s compensation or objecting to participate in illegal activity the company is doing.
If your job is handling the company’s financial information or classified documents that are illegal to grant access to anyone not authorized or license, your concerns are valid. Chances are, your boss will have access to that type of information anyway and wouldn’t need your log-in credentials.
Still though, it feels like an invasion of privacy, even if it is company information they are asking access too. So how should you handle such a request? Clear Choice Staffing Solutions has some suggestions to offer you:
Cover Yourself: If your manager or their boss request your log-in credentials, password, send an email to your boss, copy their boss and copy HR with a statement such as: “This is confirming that I have been requested to provide you my email log-in credentials (or whatever information you were asked for) before leaving for my scheduled time off. “
“My understanding of company policy as stated in the employee handbook, dated XXX-XX-XXXX, states clearly this is an infraction of company policy and puts me in position for immediate dismissal. However, I am willing to your comply unless you advise me otherwise within the next 24 hours.”
That 24 hours allows them to rescind their request and if they don’t you have protected yourself by including other parties of authority into the knowledge that you have been specifically requested to do share your confidential log-in credentials.
When you haven’t heard back from anyone, send a follow up email with the information that was required with a statement such as:
“As I have not heard from you otherwise since my last email communication, I am complying with your request and provide my log-in credentials as follows: XXXXX “.
You don’t want to be insubordinate, however, you want to make sure you have yourself protected as well. By sending these types of emails, you’ve let other parties know what’s going on. You should also print these emails out so that the date/time are visible as well.
Our last blog we discussed 8 things that can be causing you backaches, depression, headaches and other desk job injury while at work. From the air you’re breathing to the ergonomics of your work station and even meetings can all contribute to health problems. Clear Choice Staffing Solutions continues this with other things to be aware of:
Too Much Light: Headaches from an over-illuminated area is only one problem. Too much illumination is as bad for your body and mind as too much darkness. Your internal clock gets out of whack and cause you problems such as high blood pressure, high level of fatigue, stress as well as elevated risk of certain carcinomas.
Boredom: Research has shown that boredom shortens our lifespan.
Buttons, Door Handles, Keyboards: Bacteria breeds on door handles, elevator buttons, keyboards and let’s not forget shaking hands. Keeping your hands washed and these common area clean can eliminate or at least lessen the possibility of germs and things like coliforms, e.Coli, staphylococcus and other infections.
Over Typing: Too much typing leads to carpal tunnel syndrome, nothing new there. The strain your hands and wrists go through with this repetitiveness can cause permanent muscle waste and nerve damage.
Deadlines: Deadlines causestress, nothing new there either. They also cause problems with your ability to learn as they begin to affect your memory. Short term stress is just as harmful on the body as long term, on-going stress.
Your Mouse:Keeping your computermouse in the same area all day, every day can cause repetitive strain to your upper limb. Especially when there are long periods of movement repetition in a sustained position that is awkward such as pressing the mouse against your desk.
Too Much Smartphone: Excessivetexting and emailing cause muscle fatigue and what has been described as “Blackberry Thumb”. The pain from this repetitiveness can cause pain in the wrist and even debilitate your hands.
Fast Food Lunch: Definite nothing new here that fast food is not the healthiest thing to eat, especially on a daily basis. The occasional indulgence is okay, but too much will cause negative effects such as heart disease.
The things we’ve discussed in these 2 part series is referred to as the “Sitting Disease”. They can all be harmful, even detrimental to your health. However, you can combat this disease and win too. Take the precautions to avoid, eliminate or at lest minimize these things and you’ll over come the “Sitting Disease”.