Human Resources

Employer 411: The American Health Care Act

Employer 411:  The American Health Care Act

President Trump may be a lot of things but so far he's been pretty on point with following his campaign promises regarding topics like immigration and healthcare.  This was further evidenced yesterday when the House Ways and Means Committee approved the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which replaces certain parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Since its looking like the AHCA is going to become the new realm of healthcare in the U.S., here are some key facts Employers should know...

The Office Holiday Party Survival Guide

Consider this blog post Part Two of our October 2015 post on workplace harassment and Halloween, which you can review here.  

'Tis the season! It's time for the annual office Holiday party.  The party where you get drunk with your co-workers and realize that they are people just like you.  Also, the party where lawsuits are made... sometimes.  This post is the Survival Guide for the Office Holiday Party with the general theme: #bewareofdrunkmistletoe

Tip #1:  Attendance is never required.  

Not everyone wants to be part of a celebration, whether it is for religious or personal reasons.  If you are going to throw a holiday party, be conscious of the fact that not everyone may care and that has no bearing on that person's work performance.  In other words, do not retaliate against an employee who throws shade at your office holiday party.  Let them be a Grinch on their own terms! Attendance at holiday parties should always be voluntary with no threat of being treated better or worse for attending or not.  This voluntariness may also save you the headache of a worker's comp claim if someone were to get injured.  Remember this case we talked about last year? 

Tip #2:  If there is drinking, there is no driving. 

If you are going to have booze at the holiday party (which is probably everyone reading), make sure you offer easily-obtained sober rides home.  This could be something as extravagant as a party bus or as low-key as an Uber.  The point is, employees attending an office party with alcohol should have access to transportation home.  Bonus points if the sober ride home is complementary and paid for by the employer.  

Also, make sure someone is responsible enough to observe those that may have had too much to drink but may also try to drive.  If someone's state of sobriety is even slightly in question, get them a ride home.    Remember, the term is "DD" for Designated Driver and not "DDD" for Designated Drunk Driver.  Another easy thing you can do regarding alcohol consumption is limit its use without being a prude.  For example, tell the bartenders no shots or limit an open bar for just an hour or so.  

Side note:  If there are booze there should also be food.  Hangry people are bad enough but hungry drunk people are the worst.

Tip #3:  Invite partners but kill the mistletoe.

Inviting spouses, partners and, significant others is a good way to get know your co-workers.  It can also help keep the crazies in line.  Most partners will do a decent job making sure the other isn't belligerent or causing trouble.  This will also make the quality of conversation way better.  Speaking as an attorney, we are some of the most boring people you've ever met.  Luckily at our office holiday party, the spouses bring up "normal" conversation topics like movies and music as opposed to attorney conversations that usually start with "Have you read that opinion out of the Fourth Circuit?"   Whether kids attend or not should be coordinated by the employees with kids.  Offering childcare paid for by the company is a cool perk that may bring out the parents in the group who never get to party. 

Regardless of who is invited to the party, leave the mistletoe behind.  Employees should be reminded of policies prohibiting things like physical contact (this could be as easy of reminding employees of your anti-harassment policy).  Party games like Twister, Spin-the-Bottle, or  Cards Against Humanity should also be shelved. (However, if you are reading this and can still master Twister, I'm impressed beyond words.)  

Tip #4:  Consider doing more than just drinking and eating.

Food, drink, and great conversation are a great way to bond with co-workers but you should add something else to the office holiday party.  Consider hosting a White Elephant gift exchange to the mix, organize a private screening of a movie, or have the party at a fancy bowling alley.  This will break up the excessive drinking and will also allow people to bond in a different way.  

Tip #5:  Remind employees that holiday parties are a luxury, not a right.

Monitor those in attendance at the office holiday party and make sure everyone is happy, healthy, and having a good time.  If someone's bad behavior starts to show, politely ask them to leave and/or order them an Uber home.  To the extent trouble can be stopped before it happens, the better for all.  Also, despite my title to Tip #5, office gatherings are, in my opinion, a great way to show appreciation for your employees and should happen at least annually.  It's important that your workforce operate as a team, even if the workforce is hundreds of people.  Bringing everyone together and showing them you care about them (and want to hang out with them) will go a long way when it comes to recruitment and retention.  

A Summary of the Office Holiday Party "Do's" and "Don'ts:"

  1. Don't dance like you're at a Frat Party, Strip Club, or Junior Prom.  This is a fine line so use discretion when hosting a dance party for employees.
  2. Don't allow employees to be over-served with alcoholic beverages.  
  3. Do arrange for transportation home for those employees who cannot drive.
  4. Don't hug, kiss, or grab an employee.  We're talking handshakes and high-fives only, people. 
  5. Do invite spouses, partners, significant others, and kids (if the party is kid-friendly). 
  6. Don't comment on appearances or engage in behavior that would be considered harassment inside the workplace.  
  7. Do offer food at the party.
  8. Do make holiday parties voluntary in terms of attendance. 
  9. Do remind employees of policies and expectations before the party.
  10. Don't be a total Scrooge! Allow employees to have some amount of innocent, non-harassing fun. Just be aware if things start to go badly (and in the words of Liz Lemon, "SHUT IT DOWN"). 

If you have any other questions specific to your office Holiday party, give me a call or email and we'll chat! Just remember:  #bewareofdrunkmistletoe 


PS:  This movie looks funny and is timely considering this post. 



How to Make Millennials Like You, Part 4 :-)

How to Make Millennials Like You, Part 4 :-)

How to Make Millennials Like You, Part 4 :-)  The #Millennial with the Dragon Tattoo (and why it doesn't matter)

How to Make Millennials Like You, Part 3 :-)

Why Communication is Key (and may require #texting)

We're back by popular demand! #ihavebeenreallybusy  Our apologies for the delay in your favorite #LawBlog!

Today I'm going to write about one of the most talked about topics when it comes to Millennials in the workplace:  COMMUNICATION.  (dun, dun, dun....)

I recently taught a really great class through ECU CMGT that was divided into students and professionals.  It was a boring legal seminar where we only talked about two cool things: (1) drones and (2) Millennials.  When I added the Millennial section to my HR presentation, I was worried that people would give me The Glare.  For anyone who has not taught before, The Glare is the look people give you when they feel like you are wasting their time or otherwise ruining their day.  For anyone who has taught a legal seminar, you pretty much get The Glare the entire time you talk. Regardless of this imminent threat, I added the Millennial section anyway and as a compromise so this entire section wasn't just about me venting about things, I focused the section on paid leave as a recruiting tool for Millennials.  Shockingly, I didn't receive a single Glare from anyone.  In fact, this part of the presentation sparked some of the most interest and questions and made me realize that I, the quintessential Millennial, had in fact done something right.  #selfhighfive

One of the greatest topics discussed at this class was communication and how to preserve interpersonal communication in a world where we only seem to text, instant message, chat on Facebook, etc AND how this common concern plays out in the workplace.  To jump start this post, I ask one simple question: What is interpersonal communication

While an undergrad at UNC, I actually studied Interpersonal Organizational Communication Studies as one of my majors.  If you are a Duke or NC State fan you can go ahead and stop laughing (b/c I never had a "paper class").  Everyone made fun of this major.  The comments I received from people were rarely positive but more like: "You're learning to talk?!" "Don't you already know how to communicate?"  "How will you ever find a job?!"  HAHA! Not.  Considering communication and how we communicate is one of the biggest topics surrounding Millennials, the joke is on all the #haters because I learned to define "communication" based on the value of the exchange and not so much by its mechanics.  

FOR EXAMPLE:  Professional Poker players have excellent non-verbal communication skills.  They can play the "poker face" and cause their opponents to fold.  Is resting "you-know-what face"  a valid form of communication?  Sure - considering it did exactly what the player wanted it to do. 

FOR EXAMPLE AGAIN:  I text my law partner and ask him to get our mail.  He gets the mail.  Success! That text was a form of communication. #10-4

FOR EXAMPLE AGAIN AGAIN:  I email a client and ask for documents.  Client sends documents.  #Winning 

JUST FOR FUN:  I text my spouse a bunch of cat emojis while on a run and when I get home, he has hidden my car keys.  He clearly got the message that I wanted to bring home a bunch of stray cats encountered on my run.  #boom #messagereceived 

See where I am going with this?  

We are facing a reality where they are more options to communicate with others than there have ever been before.  Due to this plethora of communication types, we are more connected with one another than we have ever been in the past.  Before texting, we had email. Before email, we had phones.  Before phones we had telegraphs and before that, letters. Before letters we had a face-to-face communication.  Interestingly enough, when the phone was invented, it was lauded as one of the greatest inventions of it's time.  When texting became a recognized form of communication about 15 years ago, it was seen as a social demise by the adults and one of the easiest ways to communicate with friends while in a classroom by the youngsters.  Alas, here we are with the #GreatDivide and I haven't even discussed the rise of Emojis... 

I give you this extended background to point out that text messaging, as odd as it may be, is still communication.  Because this is fact, not fiction, non-Millennials are going to have to learn how to deal with a generation of texting and emails as opposed to telephone and in-person conversations.  

The caveat to this general rule:  you tell the Millennials otherwise.  It's a shocking concept but for the Employers dealing with this Millennial issue, consider telling Millennials you prefer they call or talk in-person as opposed to text messaging or another alternative (albeit equally useful) form of communication.  We're not all idiots so we tend to respect our authority in the same way we listen to the airline attendants: we don't want to lose our coveted jobs just like we don't want to crash a plane.  If you get lip from some cocky Millennial (looking at you 15-20 year olds), then you hopefully have policies and procedures in place that would permit you to pass down some discipline.  If they don't want to work with you after that, then let them rejoin the unemployment line.  However, you cannot expect your Millennial employees to forgo from texting their boss if their boss is texting them so the conversation needs to go both ways and apply across the board to avoid confusion. 

In other words, don't yell at me for poor communication if you haven't communicated your expectations to me first. After all, you said it yourself that communication is key!



How to Make Millennials Like You, Part 1 :-)

One of the fastest growing concerns for a lot of industries is dealing with a lack of skilled labor.  For industries like Construction, the availability of trained and willing workers has been on the decline and, according to recent economic reports, is possibly the single biggest factor inhibiting economic growth.  If you ask the average 50+ person, this decline in workforce is due to the so-called "Millennials" being unwilling to "do the hard stuff," instead opting to super cushy jobs at silicon valley-wannabe companies where there is a foosball table in the break room.   Kids these days....

However, (shockingly) a lot of experts and surveys have chimed in and what employers are witnessing isn't necessarily a generation of gamers who sleep until noon and only communicate via text and emoticons.  Instead, this generation now entering the workforce has a new set of priorities and values that they want to see reflected in their careers.  In addition to that argument, the current workforce is also dealing with the fact that a lot of Millennials went to college, grad school and beyond, rendering them "over-qualified" for  certain jobs and unskilled for the jobs that are actually available (think: construction).  

So how does an employer attract a generation of over-educated, emoticon-using misfits that end every sentence with a #hashtag? It's all about recruiting and the overall package that is "The Job" (read: #TheJob).  In this multi-part blog series cleverly titled "How to Make Millennials Like You," I will go over some thoughts and considerations that may help recruit the younger workforce such as:  Paid Leave, Retention & Training (a.k.a. Investing in Employees), and the infamous HR topic "work-life balance." 

Yes, this may be more of an editorial with some helpful links and knowledge but as a narcissistic #Millennial myself, I feel it is my job to educate the masses on my self-serving thoughts.  Believe me, if I could insert emoticons all over this post and text it to people, I would. 

Sarcasm aside,  did you know our Firm provides HR Consulting services at an easy-to-swallow price?!  <insert happy emoticons here> !!