What is your workplace culture?

What is your workplace culture?  As an leader do you know?  Do you know the signs?

As an executive coach as well as a leadership trainer, I have been on the other end of conversations with employees that are too afraid to bring up challenging topics with their own bosses.  It is discouraging that some organizations continue to perpetuate a fear of reprisal if an employee verbalizes an opposing point of view.    Experts say, “we have become more brutal within organizations, and I don’t think that’s creating more productivity,” says Sheila M. Keegan, a London -based psychologist and business consultant who authored The Psychology of Fear in Organizations.  If employees are frightened, they simply do not perform well.  They are focused on the wrong things and are constantly looking over their shoulder waiting for the other shoe to drop.  We all know that when we are happy and productive, we work more effectively.

How do we know if we have a culture of fear?  One telling sign is how employees behave in meetings.  Are they afraid to speak up until senior leaders leave the room?   “Employees at such organizations tend to keep a low profile.  They may work to the rule, doing exactly what is required of them but no more.  They have been the product of having their suggestions in the past being rejected, so they have stopped sharing their thoughts.”

Employees suffering from high stress levels are less engaged and less productive.  Even with improvement in the economy, fear and uncertainty continue to be fueled by technological advances that are eliminating more and more jobs.  Fear can quickly spread and undermine the morale of the entire workforce.  The best, but not easy, route is to get people talking and being honest with each other.

Keegan offers these tips:

  • Build Trust.  That means being straightforward, admitting mistakes, keeping promises, showing vulnerability and letting go of grievances.
  • Improve your listening skills.  Focus on what your employees are saying to you.  Hear and interpret their verbal and nonverbal communication.  Maintain a neutral and open attitude.  Most importantly, don’t judge.
  • Encourage risk-taking and reward.  Urge employees to experiment, learn and improvise.  Help them rediscover their sense of joy and intrinsic reward of working.
  • Treat employees with respect.  Acknowledge their worth and help them succeed.  If you are nice to people and support them, they become loyal.

For more information visit: www.shrm.org.

Massachusetts Earned Sick Leave

Compliance Issues
Massachusetts voters approved a new sick leave law that went into effect on July 1, 2015. Many employers took advantage of the so-called “safe harbor” provision in the law and the implementing regulations that allowed them to delay full implementation until January 1, 2016, as long as they complied with certain general provisions of the law. This safe harbor expired on January 1, 2016 – so employers that relied on the safe harbor rules should have put in place new policies to comply with the sick leave law and distributed those policies to their employees before December 31, 2015.

Summary of the Law
Must provide all employees, including part-time, seasonal, and temporary employees, one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours per year. Employers with 11 or more employees must provide paid sick time; employers with fewer than 11 employees must provide unpaid sick time. The law permits employees to take sick leave for the following purposes:

(1) An employee’s own physical or mental illness or injury that requires care;
(2) To care for the employee’s immediate family member suffering from physical or mental illness or injury;
(3) For the employee’s own or their immediate family member’s attendance at routine medical appointments; or
(4) To address the psychological, physical, or legal effects of domestic violence against the employee or the employee’s child.

Employers with Paid Time off Plans
Employers with a policy in place that provides paid time off (PTO) or paid sick leave will be deemed in compliance with the Earned Sick Time Law if they provide certain criteria in their current policies, as follows:

  • Employers that provide employees with 40 or more hours of paid time off or vacation that also can be used as earned sick time consistent with the Earned Sick Time Law are not required to provide additional sick leave to employees who use all their time for other purposes (e., vacation or personal time), provided that the employers’ leave policies make clear that additional time will not be provided.
  • Employers may have their own sick leave or paid time off policies, as long as all employees can use at least the same amount of time, for the same purposes, under the same conditions, and with the same job protections provided in the Earned Sick Time Law.
  • Employers that provide other forms of PTO or vacation time are not required to provide additional paid sick time if employees can use the PTO or vacation time for sick leave on the same terms and conditions provided under the sick leave law. Further, if an employee exhausts the time by using it for purposes other than sick leave (i.e., vacation or PTO), the employer does not need to give the employee additional sick time, as long as it has given employees notice that additional sick time will not be provided in such circumstances.

The Earned Sick Time Notice of Employee Rights requires a new All-In-One poster instead of the Peel-N-Post overlay.

New Minimum Wage Regulations!

New Year and New Minimum Wage 

Increases for 2016

As you prepare for your first payrolls of 2016, I would like to make you aware of state minimum hourly wage changes for 2016.  In most of these states, the new minimum wage rates will apply as of January 1, 2016, while increased minimum wage rates in a few states will take effect later in 2016. If you are a multi-state employer with operations outside of Massachusetts, it is important to know that many states provide annual increases to the State Minimum Wage based on the U.S. Consumer Price Index and inflation.

Current Federal Minimum Wage Rate

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. However, because the FLSA does not supersede any state or local laws that are more favorable to employees, if a state has a minimum wage that is higher than the federal minimum, employers subject to the state minimum wage law are obligated to pay the higher rate to employees working in that state.  As of January 1, 2016, the minimum wage rate for federal contractors will rise by five cents, to $10.15, under an executive order issued by President Obama.

Minimum Wage Increased by State

As of January 1, 2016, new minimum wage rates will be in effect in the following states:

  • Connecticut:  $9.60 (up from $9.15);
  • Massachusetts:  $10.00 (up from $9.00);
  • New York:  $9.00 (up from $8.75);
  • Rhode Island:  $9.60 (up from $9.00);
  • Vermont:  $9.60 (up from $9.15);

If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.