Medical marijuana manufacturers and dispensaries in Iowa must be ready to put their products on sale by December 1, meaning you need to understand the implications of the state’s medical marijuana law on your drug-free-workplace policies.
tvirbickis / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Marijuana for medical use was passed by the Iowa Legislature in 2017, but no manufacturers or dispensaries were immediately set up. Now such establishments must be ready to begin sales by December 1. Since the statute is still new, it hasn’t been tested in the state’s courts. Therefore, it’s difficult to predict the legal risks of employment decisions related to an employee’s legal use of medical marijuana products.
Under Iowa’s medical marijuana law, individuals may receive a medical cannabidiol card only if they have a qualifying medical condition. The scope of eligible conditions is limited, and the number of Iowans with cards remains low. Also under the state’s law, medical marijuana products may not be smoked, nor may they be sold as an edible.
The state’s law also places heavy restrictions on the amount of THC, one of marijuana’s main psychoactive components, that may be contained in legal medicinal products.
Many employers enforce strict drug-free policies within the workplace and require drug tests for employees before they are hired or after an accident has occurred. With the new medical marijuana law, a positive drug test from an applicant or current employee raises questions about whether the employer must hire the individual or whether the employee can be fired.
Under the law, an employer that has established a policy and testing program under Section 730.5 of the Iowa Code may test and take actions against current and prospective employees who have a positive drug test because of their legal use of medical marijuana.
But even with that statutory protection, taking action against current or prospective employees may place an employer in a precarious position. In other states with medical marijuana laws, individuals legally using marijuana for medical purposes have argued that the failure to accommodate their marijuana use is discriminatory. Most states that have already faced such legal actions have found the employees’ arguments meritless under laws similar to Iowa’s.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) took steps toward allowing automatic small-balance 401(k) plan transfers to a new employer’s plan in a job change by proposing to exempt a vendor’s auto-portability program from some prohibited-transaction restrictions.
The vendor requesting the DOL approval, Retirement Clearinghouse (RCH), helps employees consolidate smaller retirement accounts left behind at past companies or sitting in individual retirement accounts (IRAs) into their current employer’s 401(k) plan. Fees for locating, matching, and rolling in former accounts are deducted from the participant’s account balance. Accounts eligible for an automatic transfer to a new employer’s plan—unless a participant opts out of this choice—must contain $5,000 or less. Rollovers of larger accounts to a new plan require employee approval.
RCH’s objective is to improve overall asset allocation, eliminate duplicative fees for participants, and reduce cashouts from tax-deferred retirement savings, according to the DOL’s notice of proposed exemption, published November 7 (83 Fed. Reg. 55741).
Under such an auto-portability program, employees would be told that their 401(k) savings will be moved to tax-favored IRAs when they leave a job or if the plan is terminated, and that the employee’s savings in the IRA would then be automatically transferred to the new 401(k) or other individual account plan of the new employer when the accountholder starts another job.
ERISA Transaction Prohibitions
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) prohibits a fiduciary from causing a plan to engage in a transaction if he or she knows or should know that the transaction constitutes a direct or indirect transfer to, or use by or for the benefit of, a party in interest of any plan assets.
The federal tax code also bans a plan fiduciary from dealing with the assets of the plan in its own interest or for its own account. Without a DOL exemption, RCH would violate this prohibition by receiving a fee for transferring assets from a default IRA to an individual’s new plan account without the individual’s affirmative consent, because the DOL considers RCH the fiduciary for these transactions rather than the distributing or receiving plan sponsors.
The DOL proposal is aimed at reducing plan “leakage,” in which employees cash out their smaller retirement plan balances in a job change, often due to confusion or lack of education about the steps required to roll over retirement savings into a new employer’s plan.
Other vendors could compete with RCH to offer this type of automatic rollover service if they agree to the terms set in the DOL notice.
In its related advisory opinion to RCH, the DOL outlined its understanding of the company’s services and procedures for working with plan recordkeepers to transfer participants’ smaller balances automatically to a new employer plan.
“Based on these representations, it is the view of the Department that the plan sponsors of the former and new plans would not be acting as a fiduciary with respect to the decision to transfer the individual’s default IRA into the new employer’s plan,” the DOL concluded in Advisory Opinion 2018-01A, issued November 5.
“Once a plan fiduciary properly distributes the entire benefit to which a plan participant is entitled, the distribution ends the individual’s status as a participant covered under the plan” and the distributed assets “are no longer plan assets under ERISA,” the opinion said.
The DOL noted that this advisory opinion did not address the prohibited-transaction implications of RCH’s receiving additional fees for exercising fiduciary discretion in the transfers described. Instead, this aspect of approval for RCH’s auto-portability program was the subject of the proposed exemption notice published in the Federal Register.
Public Comment Period
The agency is accepting public comments on the proposed exemption for RCH’s auto-portability program until December 7.
RCH is constructing a system to share data on 401(k) participants with recordkeepers to find a departing employee’s new plan and facilitate the transfer. The platform has been in development for years by the North Carolina-based company.
RCH plans to charge a maximum one-time fee of $59 for each transfer. For accounts with $590 or less, the charge will be 10 percent of the balance, and the service is free for accounts with $50 or less. There also is a 20-percent reduction in the fee charged to a plan when the annual volume of roll-in transactions exceeds 1 million transactions per year, meaning the benefits of scale are passed on to participants in the form of reduced fees, according to the DOL notice.
Jane Meacham is the editor of BLR’s retirement plan compliance publications. She has nearly 30 years’ experience as a writer/editor of financial services news.
With healthcare spending expected to rise on average 5.5% annually until the year 2026[i], supporting employee health is now every company’s business.
Source: fcafotodigital / E+ / Getty
With evidence growing on the positive relationship between diet and health, more people than ever are starting to take matters into their own hands, and plates. Almost 75% of people surveyed had a “health problem that could become serious if not addressed by changes in their diet.” Yet the question of what they should and shouldn’t eat came in dead last as one of the reasons they found it difficult to adhere to a specific eating style to improve their health. The #1 difficulty surveyors reported was that “food is not available or cooked properly out” (i.e., office, social and business events)[ii]
The question that must be answered now is, how can companies take a more active role to help facilitate their employee’s healthy diet? Offering employees easy-access to food that caters to specific eating styles such as gluten-free, dairy-free, low-sugar, high protein and vegetarian meals, for example, could prove to be a powerful tool to impact employee health, costs, productivity and even quality of life.
Here are a few ideas to help employees help themselves to health:
Provide on-site dining that supports a variety of eating styles and dietary restrictions. The expression, “the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach” has never been truer. Employees appreciate meals that are subsidized, complimentary or simply accessible to them. Daily offerings of fresh quality foods aren’t restricted to large corporations. Smaller firms can provide a few breakfast items such as oatmeal cups, hard-boiled eggs or fresh fruit.
Contract with a local caterer to offer simple lunches such as; grilled chicken, roasted vegetables, grain or bean salads, and vegetarian chili. Supporting employee eating styles encourages them to stay on track, saves time and hassle, and shows employer support for individual health goals.
Sponsor cooking classes or demos for different eating styles to develop employee’s cooking skills. Foods prepared at home are less likely to be loaded with salt, fat, and sugar so the more employees develop basic cooking skills, the easier and more likely they are to prepare simple, healthy meals at home. Invite a local chef or cooking school student into the office over lunch one day and watch employee’s eyes light up and engage in conversation with co-workers.
Partner with local restaurants and organic eateries that provide healthy options and reward employees with discounts and gift certificates. There are so many new restaurants, take-out meal services and organic markets popping up in cities across the country. Establish partnerships with those who provide meals with simple, whole foods and cater to specific eating styles. Use discount coupons and gift certificates to motivate employees or reward them for a job well-done.
Sponsor “Eating Clubs” to support a variety of food plans.
Having a tribe of people who share the same health goals or eating style is a huge recipe for success. Offer to sponsor The Keto Club, The Vegan Group or whatever is most popular in the office. Having the ability to share in the challenges and lessons learned from others who simply “get it” can make all the difference in the world. Treat the group to a special snack box delivered each month and set-up a Facebook group or discussion forum for members to share knowledge.
Host a Health Coach at lunch to conduct a session on a variety of health topics and use it as another way to provide dietary education and bring employees together.
Provide access to healthy “meals to go” for busy employees working through lunch or late at night. Perhaps a few extra lunches could be provided to employees to grab and go during busy times. They can use the time saved to take a quick walk or download a meditation app for a few minutes to relax and decompress. Stock a few meals for employees working late trying to meet a deadline. It’s best for them to eat a healthy meal and get a good night sleep in preparation for that big meeting tomorrow.
Support access to “meal-prep kits” to encourage fast, healthy cooking at home. Partner with meal-kit delivery services and provide employees with either discounted delivery at home or on-site pick up to stay on track with their food plan. Grabbing a meal kit on the way home from the office is not only a time-saver but also a great way to get the whole family involved in the cooking process at home.
Supporting employees to make positive changes in their diet and health is everybody’s business. It’s time companies step up their game to get to the heart and stomach of their employees, in both the theoretical and physical sense.
Recruiting top talent to your organization can be a difficult task. Between the historically low unemployment rate and the cottage industry of jobs websites out there, it can be challenging to locate strong candidates and persuade them to join your business. In an effort to spread their message as widely as possible, an increasing number of employers are using social media to advertise job openings. However, a recent claim filed against Facebook provides employers with an important lesson about how antidiscrimination laws can be applied to our modern, social-media-filled world.
Background on Discrimination and Ads
Federal law prevents employers or employment agencies from discriminating against protected classes, such as gender. This concept has long been applied to “help wanted” advertisements and job postings. The classic example of an impermissible advertisement would be an ad for an administrative assistant position encouraging females to apply.
A less obvious example that is equally illegal according to guidance published by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): An advertisement that encourages “recent college graduates” to apply may be challenged for being biased against older workers.
Applying the Concept to Social Media
What we find interesting about the recent claim against Facebook is that the advertisements in question do not, on their face, suggest that individuals of any particular protected classification would be favored or disfavored in the recruitment process. Nevertheless, lawyers have filed a class action lawsuit against Facebook and various employers.
As you may know, Facebook permits advertisers to target certain demographics with their ads. Your marketing department almost certainly uses these tools to make sure your product advertisements reach your company’s intended audience. However, the lawsuit claims that certain employers are using these same tools to target advertisements about job openings to men but not women. (Facebook has faced similar allegations relating to age discrimination in the past.)
The lawyers for the group of jobseekers laid out how the alleged discrimination worked. A group of job hunters performed job searches through Facebook. When they selected advertisements for various positions, they clicked on a standard Facebook disclosure relating to the ads that explained why they received them. The discriminatory ads in question disclosed that the jobseekers saw them because they were men of a certain age in a certain location. Women in the same area, searching the same variables, would not have received the same advertisements.
Men would receive advertisements for manual labor, mechanical positions, or even sports marketing representatives, while women might see only home health or childcare openings. The lawyers argue that, when purchasing an ad through Facebook, an employer has the choice of selecting which gender it wishes to see its advertisement. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits gender discrimination in employment advertising, which the parties bringing this charge allege Facebook’s targeted advertising amounts to. In addition, Facebook receives advertising revenue from these employers, potentially violating state laws that forbid aiding and abetting discrimination.
Implications for Facebook
This charge raises the interesting question of whether Facebook, with over two billion active monthly users, can or should be considered an employment agency. Many hourly workers, lacking resumes or steady means of finding hourly work, turn to Facebook and other social media sites. Lawyers for the jobseekers in the case argue that Facebook, with access to years of users’ data, can target individuals with a high degree of precision to match them with advertisements. In this way, the lawyers contend, Facebook is in effect acting as an employment agency.
Federal law prevents employers or employment agencies from discriminating based on protected classes such as gender. LinkedIn and Google, according to The New York Times, also allow advertisers to exclude men or women from receiving ads. While the latter have stated they will change their policies moving forward, Facebook has only said it is reviewing the matter.
In its defense, Facebook has turned to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a federal law that protects Internet companies from liability for content generated by third parties. Under this law, websites can offer platforms for controversial speech without worry of a lawsuit. However, this law doesn’t protect entities responsible for the creation or development of illegal or discriminatory content. If the EEOC finds that Facebook’s algorithms matching ads to potential employees—and its close relationship with the employers posting such ads—amount to aiding in the creation of these ads, Facebook will have a difficult time arguing that it wasn’t guilty of perpetrating or allowing discriminatory behavior. All social media companies should review their policies—and algorithms—to make sure that they are not guilty of discrimination against protected classes.
Meanwhile, some businesses have defended their advertising practices by arguing that their Facebook postings are just one piece of a broad effort to spread the word across multiple media and platforms. Taken as a whole, they claim, their advertisements are designed to reach people of all genders, races, and ages.
We will continue to monitor this case as it works its way through the courts. In the meantime, you should review your job advertising practices and the policies and practices of any third-party websites you use to make sure they aren’t restricting the ads to users of certain ages, genders, or races. This class action suggests it may not be enough to double-check that the text of the advertisement is nondiscriminatory. You may also need to be sure that the advertisement will be served to a diverse population.
A new report by Globoforce called “Social Impact in the Human Workplace” examined whether the combination of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements and low unemployment are creating power shifts in the workplace. The results show that indeed power is shifting in the workplace.
Source: ronstik / iStock / Getty
The survey’s findings reveal that employees are now asking for more out of their employers, especially with regard to pay equity. Men are more likely to agree that they are paid fairly (70%), compared to women (61%), and more women than men reported not receiving any monetary bonuses. As the old command-and-control management style continues to crumble, companies are challenged to match how work gets done today. Organizations need to create workplaces where employees feel fairly compensated, feel safe, are heard, have strong connections with both their managers as well as co-workers, feel recognized and are inspired to perform their best work.
“The forces shaping our societal landscape—calls for fairness, equity, transparency, and trust—are driving an awakening in the workplace,” said Derek Irvine, Globoforce senior vice president of client strategy and consulting. “It is simply unacceptable to treat men and women differently at work. This year’s employee survey tells the story of a workforce ready to make an impact—but unwilling to stick around if inequity and bureaucratic processes get in the way. Organizations that provide a positive culture for their people will see renewed commitment, engagement, and strengthened relationships that fuel the backbone of their business and their bottom line.”
The “Social Impact in the Human Workplace” report reveals that employees are holding their employers to higher standards. They are expecting more out of their workplace, fueled by growing distrust in positional authority. Employees increasingly want their voices to be heard, to be recognized for their accomplishments, and transparency in the way they are rewarded and evaluated.
The report identifies the following trends:
Most employees have not been recognized recently, but there are opportunities to make recognition more meaningful. The recognition experience varies greatly across the workforce with only 16% of workers having been recognized in the last month, due in part by the fact that one in three companies (30%) have no formal recognition program. In addition, another 25% of companies have a recognition program that is not tied to core values, which does not lead employees to feel engaged. Giving everyone in the company the power to recognize others through social recognition also has a positive impact on employees’ experience at work. When only senior leaders are allowed to recognize, 73% of workers report a positive experience. That number jumps to 88% when everyone in the company can celebrate good work.
Annual performance reviews still remain in many organizations, but workers want more flexibility and openness. The more frequently an employee reports checking in with their manager, the more likely they are to trust and respect their manager. 38% of workers say they check in with their manager daily and another 35% check in on a weekly basis.
Traditional compensation can present pay equity risks. More women than men reported not receiving any bonus. In the United States, nearly two times as many men as women received a bonus greater than $5,000, and in the United Kingdom, more than three times as many men as women received a bonus greater than £5,000.
While there is progress around belonging, psychological safety varies greatly by gender and position in a company. 82% of workers say they feel a sense of belonging in the workplace. But when workers were asked if they feel safe offering a dissenting or unpopular view at work, only 65% agreed. Women are less likely to feel safe speaking up (60%), compared to men (70%). And individual contributors are much less likely to feel safe speaking up (59%) than senior management (81%).
Traditional methods for celebrating life events and service anniversaries leave employees feeling uninspired and causing them to rethink their commitment to the organization. In response to traditional service anniversaries, more than half (51%) of respondents said, “It made me feel nothing at all.” Another 13% reported, “It made me feel less valued.” Celebrating just one life event in a meaningful way with your colleagues and community at work can have a sizable impact, making workers 19% more likely to feel like they belong.
This survey was directed by the WorkHuman Analytics & Research Institute at Globoforce from July 9-23, 2018. This is the the10th deployment of the employee survey since its launch in Spring 2011. The respondent sampling of this survey was conducted by independent market research firm Research Now SSI. The final sample of the survey was composed of 3,607 randomly selected fully employed persons in the U.S., U.K, Canada, and Ireland (age 18 or older). The survey has a margin of error of +/- 1.6 percentage points at a 95% level of confidence.
Contender or Pretender? It’s a recurring segment in sports media, and a fun talking point amongst fans, where the debate is whether a team is “for real,” particularly early in the season. Read on to see how contender or pretender can be applied to employees.
Source: rudall30 / iStock / Getty
Take the NFL. After two weeks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were 2-0 and flying high, having defeated one of the top contenders in the NFC (New Orleans Saints), and the defending Super Bowl Champs (Philadelphia Eagles). They won one game over their next seven, nosediving (predictably to most) to the bottom of the standings. Pretender status confirmed. The Miami Dolphins started a red-hot 3-0. But a closer look demonstrates that two of those wins were against pretty bad teams, and they are now 5-5 and trending in the wrong direction. Unless they prove something against good competition, a pretender for now. The Houston Texans started an uninspiring 0-3. They’ve since won six in a row and lead their division. Believe it or not, they have turned themselves into contenders for a playoff spot.
This same exercise is happening now in the NBA, which began its season less than a month ago. Can the Boston Celtics shake off their early-season rust and become the top team in the Eastern Conference that many predicted? Are the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks, who everyone thought would be good, actually this good and ready to make a leap into the NBA Finals? Is it possible that the Houston Rockets, who made the Western Conference Finals last year, will actually miss the playoffs this year?
Even though NBA teams have only played 15% or so of the season schedule thus far, the experts are digging into the numbers and analytics to determine whether these slow (or fast) starts are for real or if there is more under the surface. Hindsight is always 20/20, so in the NFL it is easier to dissect and explain the early season results now that we are in Week 11 of the NFL season and have a clearer picture of where these teams stand. Obviously, in sports, there are always upsets and surprises, but the more information you compile the more accurately you are able to predict who will be the top teams heading into the playoffs at the end of a grueling regular season.
The same goes for employers and their best talent. The more information you gather, the more you pay attention to the details and communicate with your workforce, the better you will be at identifying those employees who are true “contenders”—key contributors to your team both currently and for the future. We talk a lot on this blog about legal compliance issues and how employers can run their operations to minimize their risk from a liability perspective. While this is of course incredibly important, the fact of that matter is that businesses have, well, a business to run. Therefore, while employers must keep up to date and adapt to changing laws, they also must focus on how to put the “best product on the field” so to speak.
One of the factors in running an efficient, profitable and successful business is not only to recruit and/or identify good employees but also to ensure you foster and ultimately retain those employees who you believe are important contributors to your workforce. As expected, this takes work and effort. Communication is necessary to identify who are your top performing and most dedicated employees, and also to ensure that they feel valued and are happy with their job. Creativity may be needed to provide competitive employee benefits to ensure these valued employees don’t leave for a competing offer—while salary surely is a component to this, certain studies have shown that a large percentage of employees value additional benefits over a mere pay raise, so strategic thinking towards this goal is a benefit.
Installing a professional development plan helps to locate those employees who may have a bright future with the company, and an employee who sees a commitment to them (in terms of education and training) will be even more motivated to remain with the company to reap these future benefits. Training managers and supervisors to pay attention to signs evidencing that employees are becoming disgruntled or are experiencing deteriorating motivation may be a good idea so that these issues can be addressed before they poison the entire workforce or result in an exodus of workers.
Identifying your company’s “contenders” is often more than just looking over easily available numbers and figures, which can be misleading without the appropriate context. You have to do your research, and dig below the surface, to determine who has the requisite skills, talent, and motivation to be a contributor for years to come. And then you have to consider the steps necessary to invest and foster that talent to ensure that employee stays a productive member of your workforce and/or management, and to retain that talent so that your investment gives you a great return.
In doing so, be patient, don’t jump to conclusions, and do your due diligence. Over time, true talent reveals itself and it’s up to you to determine who is “for real” and who is not. Just think, if the NBA season ended today, the Rockets would not make the playoffs and the Celtics would be only a 6th seed in the Eastern Conference. But this obviously isn’t the case and there is a lot of season yet to be played. Well, as a Celtics fan, I sure hope so.
Today we are pleased to present an excerpt from Dan Schawbel’s book, Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connections in the Age of Isolation. With recruiting technology rapidly replacing in-person interviews, hiring managers are beginning to miss something very important: the personality of the candidate. Without further ado, here is that excerpt:
Source: Pixelci / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Over the past decade, hiring has changed for the better—and for the worse. But one thing that has remained constant is that when you make the right hiring decisions, you advance your team, your company, and your own career. However, because the pace of business is constantly speeding up and companies are always looking for ways to save money, many have looked to technology to lower the cost of recruiting talent and increase the number of people they can reach.
While these companies tout how much money they’re saving by doing their interviewing by phone or video, they don’t seem to realize that neither of those approaches can ever replace in‑person interviews, in which you actually meet people, see their body language, and observe how they handle themselves. In short, those approaches are missing the critical emotional connections and personality traits that will help you hire the best possible candidate, who will stay with you longer. This is huge. Hiring someone who doesn’t fit with your company’s culture or can’t work with the rest of the team will have a measurable negative impact on your ability to compete, keep customers happy, and adapt to change. It can also send a ripple effect through your team and cause others to question their overall commitment.
Some job seekers believe that technology has made the interview process more efficient, but most feel that it causes frustration, lacks transparency, is less personal, and doesn’t provide the essential feedback they seek.2 They fare much better when online assessments and automation bring them closer to a personal interviewer than when that technology removes the humanity from the experience. Job seekers benefit from technologies that help them find jobs but require human interaction to make the right employment decision. Whom you work with is just as important as, if not more so than, where you work or what you do.
Because relationships are the cornerstone to a healthy workplace, shouldn’t we put more emphasis on personality when recruiting new employees? It’s challenging to work with someone we don’t like, but it’s exciting to work with someone who has a great personality that meshes well with our own. Hard skills are important, but they can be learned on the job. It’s the soft, intangible skills that are so valuable to creating a team that thrives. They’re also the ones that technology has a difficult time assessing.
As companies experiment with using machines, predictive algorithms, bots, and artificial intelligence to do their recruiting, we need to take a step back and really think about our objective. Recruiting, at its core, should be focused on matching the right talent with the right job and team. As we continue to invest more in machines, we lose track of the actual connections that make for good hires and work friendships. Companies are using machines to eliminate bias, assess human qualities like personality, scrub résumés to identify and analyze word choices, and scrub social media posts to review gestures and emotions. Although this might help narrow down hundreds or even thousands of applicants, at the end of the day only a human should be making hiring decisions, and we can’t rely on these tools to make those decisions for us. In our Virgin Pulse study, 93 percent of people agreed with that thought.7 But what worries me is the remaining 7 percent—and my suspicion that humans are gradually being removed from the hiring process by a growing number of tech- based options.8
To start with, using technology to interview is rife with complications. For example, candidates must have a good Internet connection, which, shockingly, isn’t always guaranteed. I once lost reception during a job interview and immediately got rejected for the position even though I was qualified. Poor connectivity can also cause delays, which can make candidates seem less competent or give rise to misunderstandings. (How many times have you been watching the news and wondered why a reporter in another country is goofily nodding and not responding to a question posed by the US‑based anchor?) Few candidates will have their home set up with the lighting, sound, backgrounds, and makeup artists that are optimal for the perfect interview. And let’s not forget about the introverted candidates and others who are camera shy and might not perform as well in a video as they would in person. All in all, while using tech might be easier, it’s simply not a pleasant way to be recruited, and it’s a horrible way to make a final decision about a candidate.
A perfect technological connection is no guarantee, either. Sam Worobec, director of training at Chipotle Mexican Grill, explained to me why he’ll never use video for another candidate interview. “I hired someone that was a rock-star on camera. He gave all of the right answers, had a great personality, and had the demo reel to show how talented he was. During the face‑to‑face interview, we breezed through the process, and the whole team fell in love with the guy. Two weeks later I let him go,” says Sam. “He was completely self-serving and arrogant. He was extremely charismatic, but he was a cancer to the team.” His advice? “Digging in during a face‑to‑face interview is the only way to really get to know if someone will be a great fit for your team. The video interview is just a weeding process.”
Mike Schneller, associate director of talent acquisition for Biogen, agrees with Sam. “Throughout the course of an in‑person interview, you are given the opportunity to understand the person in front of you for who they truly are; there is no technology for them to hide behind, no cell phones, no video conferencing, no email. It is just you and the candidate, discussing what could potentially be a life-altering decision for the both of you.” Mike believes that you can make the wrong hiring decision when technology is present, because people have a false sense of confidence, which can keep you from seeing what you really need to see: their honesty. “Human‑to‑human interaction is the only honest connection we have left during the interview process; let’s not overlook the value of a handshake,” he told me.
It’s also important to keep in mind that job interviews are a two-way street. Sure, the candidates need to impress you. But you have to impress them as well. When you have in‑person interviews, you’re giving them an important opportunity to meet you, observe the office environment, get a taste of the corporate culture, and get to know some of their prospective teammates.
Most likely, while reading this article, you’re sitting in front of a computer, and more than likely, you’ve been positioned in the same spot for more than several minutes. A 2013 Ergotron survey found that Americans spend 13 hours of each day sitting. Combined with an average eight hours of sleep, that amounts to 21 hours of sitting or lying down. Unfortunately, an array of problems can arise from sitting too long. Because so much of the sitting happens at work, there are things you can do to help employees deal with the situation and improve their health.
Introducing ‘Sitting Disease’
In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that across all civilian jobs, workers spend an average of 39 percent of the workday sitting. However, the rate can increase to between 75 and 90 percent for occupations that involve working at computers or workstations, including HR managers, lawyers, accountants, and software developers. We sit at our desks while working, sit when eating meals, sit in our cars during our commutes, and lie down while sleeping. Our bodies of course use less energy to sit than to walk or stand.
Research shows that long periods of physical inactivity, including sitting, raise the risk for developing heart disease, high blood pressure, excess body fat around the waist, obesity, diabetes, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Further, studies have found that those who sit for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity have similar risks of death as people who suffer from obesity or smoke.
Enter “sitting disease” or a “sedentary lifestyle.” The terms refer to the array of health problems that can result from sitting for long periods of time. Unfortunately, research indicates that regular or intense workouts won’t necessarily negate the problems that arise from sitting disease. Further, there is limited research to support the notion that some periods of idle standing will combat the effects.
Regardless, employers and employees find themselves facing new hurdles as the nature of their daily tasks increasingly requires extended periods of working at computers and workstations. Headlines like “sitting is the new smoking” are sweeping the Internet. Employers may not be able to do away with computers or workstations, for now, but is “sitting” required? If not, can an employee stand and work at her workstation? Further, can she simultaneously walk and work at her workstation? If sitting is required, must she sit in a chair? If she must sit in a chair, can she move her legs under the desk while sitting?
Workstation Modifications Could Help
Interestingly, the fitness and office industries have come together to create ways for employees to work and work out at the same time. Here are examples:
Probably the least controversial of the so-called “workstation modifications” are standing desks, which are simply props that elevate your workstation and require you to stand to access it.
Sit-to-stand desks are a type of standing desk that can move up or down depending on your preference.
Wellness balls are similar to stability balls (inflated balls on which you can perform core and strength exercises) but are used in lieu of an office chair.
Treadmill desks elevate your workstation above a moving platform.
Under-desk elliptical machines contain only the pedal portion (and not the arm portion) of an elliptical machine and are operated by pushing the pedals.
Weighing Employers’ Legal Obligations
While workstation modifications could produce health benefits for employees, are you as the employer legally required to make the adjustments? Whether you’re required to provide a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) depends on the reason for which the adjustments are being sought. You must first determine whether an employee has made such a request. And, remember, there is no need for the individual to mention the terms “ADA” or “reasonable accommodation.”
If the employee is simply health-conscious and mentions that a treadmill desk would allow her to get in her “steps” while billing hours, she likely has not requested an accommodation, and the interactive process isn’t required. If she suggests, however, that using a standing desk could alleviate a physical condition, she may be seeking a reasonable accommodation, and you should engage in the ADA’s interactive process with her.
During the process, you can consider a variety of factors, including the nature and cost of the proposed accommodation, the company’s financial resources, the nature of your operations, and the proposal’s impact on coworkers. Further, you aren’t required to provide the accommodation the employee wants—you may select from all the reasonable options as long as the chosen one is effective. Therefore, you could alternatively offer to let the employee use a less expensive or intrusive option such as a wellness ball.
Morale Booster for Health-Conscious Employees
For health-conscious employees, you may be under no legal requirement to offer an accommodation, but providing them with a workstation modification, even unpaid, can increase employee morale. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress and improve mood. An under-desk elliptical or treadmill desk could facilitate exercise and lead to a happier employee.
Be aware, however, that bringing exercise equipment into your workplace could implicate the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). Although the OSH Act doesn’t explicitly regulate exercise equipment in workplaces that aren’t fitness facilities, its general duty clause requires you to ensure that your place of employment is “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious harm.”
Employers seeking to boost morale but incur less risk may look to wellness activities designed to get employees moving. Although there is limited research on the health benefits of idle standing at standing desks, there is a plethora of research on the positive outcomes associated with movement.
While workstation modifications are likely here to stay, you should remain vigilant because employees’ requests for the changes may trigger legal obligations.
In a country where you’re told you can be anything you want to be, what does the ultimate dream job even look like to the average American? Are most dream jobs ones in which you’re the boss—or do a majority of Americans have the cliché standbys of being a lawyer, a doctor or a teacher?
Source: SunnyGraph / iStock / Getty
In order find out, MidAmerica Nazarene University recently conducted a survey with 2,000 Americans to see what their dream jobs were, how much money they made and who exactly in the country had one of these coveted positions.
Americans Want to be Their Own Boss—but Don’t Want Long Hours
One of the most abundantly clear things that was revealed on this jobs survey was how much workers wanted a sense of independence or autonomy in their dream job. In fact, 41% of respondents indicated they want to be business owners. The only catch? The majority of respondents said they would be unwilling to own their own business if it meant they had to work more than 60 hours per week.
But not everyone on the survey dreamed of being their own boss, with 12% who said their dream job was a C-suite title, 23% who wanted a mid-level management role and 18% who dreamed of just having an associate position.
Beyond titles, the survey asked the respondents more specific information about what the day-to-day looks like in a dream job such as location, industry, commute, travel and even what kind of lunch break this job would have. Here’s what the dream job looks like broken down:
Type of commute: Drive
Distance from work: Less than two miles
Hours: Between 9 and 5
Travel expected: Twice a month
Relationships with coworkers: Strictly professional
Lunch break duration: One hour
Company size: Fewer than 30 people
Paid time off per year: 52 days (note: the average American worker gets 15 days)
Average work week: 38 hours
Option to work remote: 11 days per month
What’s the Dream Salary?
When you talk about jobs, the discussion inevitably leads to money. So how much does the American dream job make? Unsurprisingly, this depends on who you ask.
The men on the survey said on average that their dream salary would be $444,958 per year while women said they would love a job that made $278,637—a $166,321 difference. There were also differences in opinions on what the most important perks were in a dream job. Men who were surveyed said the most important perks were a matched 401k, followed by help with student loans, a gym membership, office snacks and the ability to work remotely. For women, their top dream perk was also a matched 401k, but they placed working remotely at a higher priority, followed by help with student loans, a flexible schedule, and unlimited vacation.
The survey also asked participants what their main priority would be in their dream job. For men, their top priority was a great income, flexibility, and creative freedom. For women, the dream job looked a bit different with flexibility at the top, followed by creative freedom and then, finally, income.
Who Has the American Dream Job?
One of the most telling data points from the survey was just how few people claimed to have their dream job—with only 25% saying their current job was their dream job. But if you don’t currently have your dream job, what is it that you want to do?
Many of the respondents who weren’t crazy about their 9 to 5 spent much of their time daydreaming about a job in entertainment—and specifically those who were in the following industries:
Hospitality & Food
Marketing & Advertising
Those who are currently unemployed
So, who on the survey was most likely to have their dream job currently? Here’s what the data showed:
Someone with a high salary
A member of the Baby Boomer generation
A doctorate degree recipient
A person who lives in the Southwest portion of the country
What this survey shows is that while Americans have a pretty specific vision of the perks and benefits of a dream position, the scope and job title are a little more open-ended. What’s clear is this: Workers want more flexibility, a bigger income—and help with student loan debt.
Matthew Zajechowsk is a Senior Content Strategist at Digital Third Coast. He is passionate about all things content and trending news. Connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has quietly maintained its focus on disability discrimination. Since July 1, 2018, the agency has filed 19 lawsuits alleging various violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and has collected more than $6 million in settlements.
Leave policies. A major area of focus for the EEOC is employer leave policies that haven’t been updated to align with its position on leave as a reasonable accommodation. One of the agency’s six national enforcement priorities is eliminating employers’ maximum or fixed-leave limits for workers and “100 percent healed” policies. The EEOC recently settled a case involving such a policy.
Mueller Industries agreed to pay $1 million for failing to grant extended leave to employees with medical conditions. The company held its employees to strict limits on how much time they could take off and required them to be fully healed before they returned to work. The EEOC accused the company of violating the ADA by discharging disabled workers for using leave as a reasonable accommodation or for exceeding the limits set out in its “maximum leave” policy.
Other recent settlements involving an employer’s maintenance of a leave policy that fails to reasonably accommodate disabled workers include a $2.25 million settlement with Coca-Cola, a $3.5 million settlement with Las Vegas tavern chain Dotty’s, and an $832,500 settlement with Associated Fresh Market. (Details on the Coca-Cola and Fresh Market settlements are included below.)
Prescription drug policies. The EEOC is also targeting employers’ prescription drug policies. Some employers that require drug testing have been firing employees without investigating their prescription drug use. According to the agency, the failure to investigate why an employee is taking prescription drugs violates the ADA’s requirement that an employer engage in an individualized assessment to determine what, if any, impact prescription drug use might have on the employee’s ability to perform her job.
ADA website accessibility lawsuits. While the EEOC is pushing reasonable accommodation litigation, plaintiffs’ attorneys have been filing lawsuits alleging violations of the ADA’s public accommodation requirements based on website accessibility. In 2017, lawsuits alleging website inaccessibility were filed against 814 companies. In 2018, 685 lawsuits have been filed so far, most of them in either the 2nd Circuit or the 11th Circuit. Not much guidance on what the ADA requires for website accessibility has been provided to employers. In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently placed its ADA website compliance guidelines on its “inactive list.”
Recent website accessibility lawsuits filed in California under the ADA allege that online job application systems maintained by Hard Rock Café, GameStop, Dart Container, Albertsons, and seven other employers discriminate against blind applicants. Visually impaired individuals require screen reader software that allows them to “read” Internet sites. While there are questions about whether federal law requires websites to be accessible to disabled individuals, California provides for money damages if a company fails to accommodate a disabled user or discuss potential accommodations.
Employer takeaways. In light of the increased focus on disability discrimination by both the EEOC and plaintiffs’ attorneys, employers should:
Review their absence/leave policies to eliminate any maximum leave or “100 percent healed” requirements;
Determine whether their website is accessible to disabled individuals, and if not, implement any changes needed to make it accessible; and
Ensure that visually impaired applicants can use your online application system.
While there are no regulations addressing website accessibility, employers can use version 2.0 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which is the standard used by the federal government for its websites. The WCAG has also been cited as a model by the DOJ.
Recent Race Discrimination Settlement
On September 14, the EEOC announced that Cargill Meat Solutions will pay $1.5 million and provide antidiscrimination training for its managers and employees to resolve allegations that it denied prayer breaks to and harassed 138 Muslim, Somali, and African workers.
Recent Disability Discrimination Settlements
On August 23, Coca-Cola Refreshments USA, Inc., agreed to pay $2.25 million and update its policies and procedures to improve accommodations provided to employees returning to work after disability-related absences. The company will also establish a dedicated accommodation and leave management team to provide assistance to its employees. Monetary payments will be distributed among the employees who filed discrimination charges and donated as annual financial support to select “non-profit entities dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities find and keep employment.”
On July 12, Associated Fresh Market (AFM) agreed to pay $832,500 to resolve allegations of disability discrimination uncovered during an EEOC investigation. The investigation revealed that AFM had a practice of disciplining or firing employees because of their need for reasonable accommodations under the ADA. Although it denied that it violated the ADA, AFM acknowledged a need to improve its interactions with job applicants and employees who have disabilities. In addition to making monetary payments to the discrimination victims, AFM agreed to change its ADA policies and procedures and conduct training for its HR team and all store directors, assistant store directors, and employees.
Recent Gender Discrimination Settlements
On July 17, Estée Lauder agreed to pay $1.1 million to resolve an EEOC lawsuit charging it with engaging in sex discrimination against male employees. The EEOC alleged that Estée Lauder discriminated against a class of 210 male employees who were new fathers by providing them less paid leave to bond with newborn or newly adopted or fostered children than it provided new mothers. The agency also alleged that the company unlawfully denied new fathers the same return-to-work benefits it provided new mothers, such as temporary modified work schedules to ease their transition back to work after the arrival of a child and their exhaustion of paid parental leave.
The consent decree requires Estée Lauder to administer its parental leave and related return-to-work benefits in a manner that ensures equality for male and female employees and uses sex-neutral criteria, requirements, and processes. The settlement applies retroactively to all employees who experienced a qualifying event (i.e., birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child) since January 1, 2018. The decree also requires Estée Lauder to provide training on unlawful sex discrimination and allow monitoring by the EEOC.