Category Archives: Uncategorized


The New Overtime Rule 2016

overtime rule

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published monumental changes to the overtime rule that will make approximately 4.2 million currently exempt employees eligible for overtime pay later this year.

The DOL has issued its long-awaited Final Rule that will make it harder for many workers to be qualify for the overtime exemption.

This rule goes into effect Dec. 1, 2016.

FLSA New vs Old Overtime Rule

The key provisions include:

  • Raises the salary threshold for overtime exempt status from $455 a week to $913 a week ($47,476 per year)
  • Increases the threshold to qualify for the “highly compensated employee” exemption from $100,000 to $134,004 per year
  • The salary threshold will be adjusted every 3 years, beginning January 1, 2020, based on census data
  • For the first time, employers can use non-discretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10% of the standard salary test.  To qualify for this credit, the non-discretionary payments must be paid on a quarterly or more frequent basis and employers can make a “catch-up” payment if an employee doesn’t earn enough non-discretionary payments in a given quarter to meet the standard salary level test.

Notably, the final rule does not change any of the existing job requirements to qualify for an exemption.

What to do…

Identify current exempt employees who will lose exempt status based on the increased salary threshold (anyone earning under $47,476) and either reclassify these employees as non-exempt or raise their salary/non-discretionary compensation to meet the new salary test.

With changes coming to the Wage and Hour landscape, now is the time for employers to analyze the classification of each exempt employee and independent contractors. This will go a long way in avoiding huge headaches and penalties. Employers need to start preparing now by reviewing employee classifications and job descriptions, and consider how their pay systems could be affected if many of their exempt employees become hourly or if independent contractors are deemed employees.

We are available to assist you navigate this new rule and ensure your organization is in compliance.

Increased Employee Engagement Equals Increased Profit

Employee Engagement

How are you leading your team? From the back? With your mind? Or with your heart?

Recent Gallup study, State of the American Workplace, revealed only 30 percent of the nations’ workers were fully engaged at their jobs. That means a whopping 70 percent are completely disengaged at work.

Traditional leadership practices have produced the enemy that is low engagement. Employee engagement predicts how well an organization will perform – all the way down to the bottom line. The difference in profitability from the top quartile to the bottom quartile is a whopping 22 percent! Let me say that again… 22 PERCENT. When you consider low employee engagement costs the U.S. economy roughly $370 billion a year, it’s important to get the focus right.

A comprehensive sincere commitment to a top-to-bottom assessment coupled with a comprehensive strategic initiative is a must for companies that want to not only survive, but THRIVE.

Today’s business leaders and executives must step up. You need to hire and nurture high-performance managers. Taking it one step further, you must transform your management team in talent magnets.

Top 5 characteristics of talent magnets are:

Motivate – they challenge themselves and others to improve.
Assertiveness – they push past obstacles and make tough decisions.
Accountable – They create processes to help deliver on team goals.
Build Relationships – personalize how they manage.
Make bold decisions and move forward…

Let us help you to boost employee morale, lower turnover and bolster your bottom line.

We would love to hear from you. Contact us now to schedule a free evaluation.

Change starts now! Let AmeriSource HR help you develop a winning people strategy to maximize engagement and profits.

AmeriSource HR… Developing YOUR People Strategy.

Why You Need to Offer This Important Employee Benefit

Over the past few years, the concept of employee benefits has changed. In the old days, a company could provide its workers with a package of paid time off, decent health insurance and a 401(k) plan, and be in the running for “Employer of the Year”. These days, companies need to do more to attract and retain the best employees, offering benefits that address their real-world needs. In these increasingly uncertain economic times, another perk has been added to the list of items companies are offering employees: financial wellness benefits. These include comprehensive programs that educate, encourage and assist employees to become more financially literate.

There is a real need for these benefits. According to a recent survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, 64% of Americans don’t have enough money on hand to cover an unexpected expense of $1,000. Let that sink in. Only about a third of us have a rainy day fund available to pay for any one of the many curves life throws at us, such as an emergency car repair or a trip to the dentist to repair a chipped tooth. Living this close to the financial edge can be stressful, to say the least. Many people cope with that kind of stress in unhealthy ways by engaging in unhealthy behaviors, such as overeating and alcohol abuse, which all too often translate into increased expenses for their employers. Employees who are obsessed with their finances are more likely to be less productive on the job, which can have a direct impact on the bottom line.

It’s not enough anymore for employers to match contributions to a retirement plan. They need to adopt a holistic approach, empowering employees with the tools needed to set budgets, dig out of debt and set their sights on a realistic plan for retirement. A solid financial wellness program should include personalized and focused information that is unbiased, workable financial tools and available live coaching from experts. It’s important to realize the race to the financial finish line is a marathon, not a sprint.

AmeriSource Development Solutions makes it easy for you to offer your employees financial wellness benefits. We have partnered with Financially Fit, an online program that includes on-spot personal finance training videos and exercises that will teach them what they need to know to increase financial fitness and achieve financial goals. When your employees join Financially Fit, they’ll have access to the CORE Curriculum, unlimited access to a team of professionals, and the Financially Fit for Life eBook.

Watch the video to learn more about the advantages of the Financially Fit program!

If this video has inspired you to offer this vital element to your employees, contact us today. Let us help you to boost employee morale, lower turnover and bolster your bottom line.

AmeriSource… Developing YOUR People Strategy.

You Should Be On Vacation!

You Should Be on Vacation!

Are you planning on taking a vacation this summer? You should be!

Studies show that employees who utilize their paid vacation days are happier and healthier, and more productive when they return to work.

Here is why you should take a vacation and encourage your employees to take one too!

  • Better health – Studies have shown that men who go on vacation every year reduce their overall death rate by 20%. Almost everyone reports feeling better and more energized after a vacation.
  • Better focus and concentration when you return – studies have shown a correlation between vacation and higher performance reviews. On average, ten hours of vacation results in an 8% increase.
  • For business owners, vacations can be a time to take a step back and assess the business away from the stress over every day. It can be a perfect time to look at the big picture, and make some long term plans.
  • Improved sleep –your brain needs sleep to process what it learned during the day, and help reinforce learning.
  • More energy and overall satisfaction with life. Most employees report feeling more energetic even before the vacation begins, as they get excited about planning, and working hard to get work done before they leave.

Why People Don’t Take Vacations

In short, because they have too much work! Since the recession in 2009, many companies have been doing more with fewer people, and increased workloads keep employees busy all the time. In small businesses the main reasons for not utilizing paid time (in descending order) are:

  • Too much work to do
  • Accumulating vacation time for the future
  • I enjoy my job
  • My company needs me
  • I can’t afford to travel
  • Don’t need the days
  • I can get cash for days
  • Work would pile up
  • Hard to schedule

And a few people even cite:

  • Discouraged by employer
  • It would put my job at risk

How to Get Away

In a small business, a single person can carry much more of the workload than in a large business, and if you are the business owner it can feel impossible to leave for even a few days. But you should. And here is how:

  • Delegate – if you are a business owner and don’t feel comfortable leaving your current employees alone – you may have a hiring issue! But if they are simply unproven, give them the opportunity to grow, and to shine.
  • Gatekeeper – one way to protect your time off is to enlist a coworker as a gatekeeper for your information. Anyone that wants to contact you must first go through this person, who has the ability to determine what is important enough to contact you.
  • Email bankruptcy – this may seem extreme, but it could work (and some pretty famous guys use a similar method). In your vacation message be very clear that emails received while you are away will be deleted, and whom to contact in the meantime. And when you return – delete all your emails. Seriously.
  • Set limits – OK, you aren’t really going to delete all your emails. But if you must check your messages while you are on vacation, set limits. For instance, only check once per day, and never check when you should be having family time.

Whichever method you choose, you won’t regret taking time off. And if you need any help with your employees while you’re gone, let us know, we are here to help!

DEADLINE: OSHA 300 Summary Posted by February 1st!

It’s That Time of Year ….. Time to get the OSHA 300 Summary Posted 

Each February-April a summary of the previous year’s injury and illness record must be posted for employee inspection.

Employers are required by OSHA to complete Form 300, the Injury and Illness Log, and must post Form 300A, the Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, by February 1, 2015.

OSHA, the Department of Labor’s Office of Safety & Health Administration, sets and enforces standards to assure safe and healthful working conditions. Under the OSHA Recordkeeping regulation (29 CFR 1904), covered employers are required to prepare and maintain records of serious occupational injuries and illnesses, using the OSHA 300 Log. Form 300A, the Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, must include the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred in 2014 and be posted in a common area in the workplace from February 1 to April 30.

Basic requirement.

If your company had ten (10) or fewer employees at all times during the last calendar year, you do not need to keep OSHA injury and illness records unless OSHA or the BLS informs you in writing that you must keep records under § 1904.41 or § 1904.42. If your company had more than ten (10) employees at any time during the last calendar year, you must keep OSHA injury and illness records unless your establishment is classified as a partially exempt industry under § 1904.2.

New injury reporting requirements go into effect January 1, 2015 

Beginning January 1, 2015, there was a change to what covered employers are required to report to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Employers will now be required to report:

  1. All work-related fatalities within 8 hours; and
  2. All in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye within 24 hours of finding out about the incident.

Previously, employers were required to report all workplace fatalities and when three or more workers were hospitalized in the same incident.

The updated reporting requirements are not simply paperwork but have a life-saving purpose: they will enable employers and workers to prevent future injuries by identifying and eliminating the most serious workplace hazards.

Employers have three options for reporting these severe incidents to OSHA:

  1. They can call OSHA during normal business hours –

Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH)
Toll-Free (855) 268-5251
(602) 542-5795

  1. They can call the 24-hour OSHA hotline at 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742), or
  2. They can report online at https://www.osha.gov/report_online/

For more information and resources, visit OSHA’s web page on the updated reporting requirements, or contact AmeriSource HR’s Risk and Safety Director, Ken Wollenberg at 602-908-0401 for specific reporting questions for your industry.

Is Your Customer Service Scaring Away Customers?

customer service

Hiring the right people for customer service positions can be very challenging. We all have had experiences where our opinion of a business was formed, good or bad, after speaking with just one person.

In a highly publicized case, a Customer Service Representative (CSR) for Comcast fought with a customer who was attempting to cancel his service. The phone call went viral, forcing the company to issue public apologies and the President of Comcast to apologize to the customer.

This is an extreme case, however, we’ve all encountered customer service reps that influenced our feelings about a company.

Hire for Attitude, Train for Skills

Any position that interacts with the public should be staffed with care; from the VP of Sales down to the entry-level person who sits at the desk and answers the phones. For the positions that have direct contact with customers, we recommend that you hire for attitude and train for skills. Someone who has all the right training, knowledge and skills can still have the wrong attitude and not be a good fit for the position.

Great Customer Service Possess the Right Personality Traits

Great customer service is defined by a person who possess the right personality traits. Kindness, generosity, curiosity, team focus, and positivity or optimism are all traits associated with great customer service. One of the more important traits is conscientiousness, which can be described as being thorough, careful or vigilant, and striving to do a task well. People who are conscientious tend to be on time, organized and dependable.

Ask the Right Questions!

The best way to ensure you are hiring the right candidate is to ask the appropriate questions during the interview process that will elicit the response you are looking for, such as; “Tell me about a time when customer really made you upset, and what you did about it”.

Once you have found the right person, you can then provide any additional training that may be needed to perform the job well. If you concentrate on personality and train for skills, you will find yourself hiring all the right people to get the job done.

If you are in need of training on how to complete a successful interview in hiring a great customer service representative, or are looking to outsource your recruiting, AmeriSource HR has qualified staff on hand to assist you. Give us a call or send us a message today!

E-Cigarette Policies In The Workplace

e-cigarettes and vaping in the workplace

Where there’s smoke… there isn’t necessarily fire.

Does your company have a policy on e-cigarettes? It might be time to create one. E-cigarettes are a fast growing trend, and currently there are no laws regulating their use in the workplace. It is up to the employer to create and enforce a policy which is beneficial to all employees.

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, electronic vaping devises or digital vapor devices as they are sometimes known are battery-powered devices which simulate tobacco smoking. The device contains a heating element which vaporizes a liquid solution of nicotine and flavorings, or sometimes just flavorings. These devices can resemble cigarettes or cigars, or look quite different. They release a vapor that is less harmful than cigarettes but has not been thoroughly researched to know if it is completely safe.

Arguments for allowing employees to use e-cigarettes in a business environment are persuasive.

Some smokers argue that using such devices helps them quit smoking regular cigarettes. Another argument is that e-cigarettes can also reduce time spent away from productive work normally spent taking a smoke break. The vapor they release has been proven to contain drastically fewer carcinogens than regular cigarettes, which in turn, should be harmless in the form of second hand smoke.

However, convincing arguments have also been made against the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace.

With some e-cigarettes it can be very hard to tell by a casual observer, (say a client walking by), that it is a vaporizer and not a real cigarette.  The vapor itself is a concern because marijuana or THC can be consumed in the same way. The FDA has conveyed their own concerns about the safety of these devices and the second-hand smoke they emit. Some non-smokers are offended by e-cigarettes and would be prefer not to be exposed to the vapor no matter how safe it is claimed to be. Employers in manufacturing environments may have additional safety concerns for employees that need to use two hands to attend to their duties.

Currently, there are no State or Federal laws regarding the use of e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes and the issues around the topic will likely become more prominent in the near future.  It is in the best interest of employers to take action now and create a policy that works for their employees and their business. If you would like to discuss, or need assistance forming a policy, please contact AmeriSource HR Consulting Group.

How to Deal with Attendance Issues Before They Become a Real Problem!

How to Proactively Deal with Attendance Issues

We all love this time of the year!  The weather is “just right”. The nights are getting longer and warmer.  Friends are getting together more for happy hours. Golf tournaments are happening all around the valley. The downside for business owners is that attendance issues increase as the weather gets warmer.

This time of year, more employees are taking sick days when they are not sick, such as wanting to stretch the weekend into 3 days to extend a vacation or recoup from a “rough” night out. Matters get worse when they are sick and they do come to work because they have run out of sick days or know that they have been “out sick” too much.  It is usually just a couple of employees who are consistently the culprits.

These attendance issues can create multiple problems:

  • It affects the morale of the employees who make a point to come to work every day and are on time.
  • Work may not be getting completed on time.
  • Other employees are getting stuck with an additional work load.
  • Employees who come to work sick are not getting the rest they need to get better AND they are exposing co-workers to their illness.

Here are some ideas that you as a business owner can do to help control and possibly reduce attendance issues:

Make sure that your employees understand your view towards attendance.

  • Share your passion towards having low absentee and tardiness department.
  • Have an attendance policy that clearly lays out the guidelines and expectations.
  • Lead by example.

Have your employee’s call you directly instead of their immediate supervisor.

  • They might think twice about calling out knowing that you, the owner, will answer the call or hear the voicemail.

Ensure that you are accurately tracking time off – use a software system if you have access to one.

  • This helps track trends before it becomes a bigger issue.
  • Ensures you are not singling any particular employee out.

Watch for These Attendance Trends.

  • Out sick on Mondays and Fridays = taking advantage of sick days for pleasure.
  • Consistently 5 – 10 minutes late = lack of effort to get to work on time.

Create an award program to recognize those who don’t call out or are tardy over a specified amount of time.

  • This shows that although you are a stickler when it comes to attendance, you also want to show your appreciation to the employees who make it a point to respect your attendance views.

When you determine an attendance problem, schedule a meeting.

  • Do not let the problem persist.
  • If it is isolated to one or two employees who are repeat offenders, meet with them one on one.
  • If it is a multiple people, hold a “team” meeting and show the statistics. Set goals to correct the problem and hold all team members accountable. Peer pressure can work in your favor.

Allow your employees the time off, when needed, to deal with personal business.

  • Understand that employees will need time to take care of personal things on occasion.
  • If they feel that you respect that, they are less apt to take advantage on other occasions.

Deal with the issue before it becomes a real problem.

Remember, one bad apple can spoil the bunch!! 

Warmer Weather Challenges in Addressing Dress Codes

Warmer Weather Challenges

I am the last to point any fingers!  I, too, get excited to reach deep in my closet and pull out the cute summer dresses, the tank tops and my colorful collection of flip flops when the weather is warming up. However, with every company I have worked at or with as a client, not a year goes by that I don’t have to remind employees what is and isn’t appropriate to wear to the office. In fact, I just spoke with a business owner this week about this very concern.

Years ago, one of my employees wore a summer top to the office that appeared respectable when standing. However, even the slightest lean forward would provide the entire office a display of her thong underwear that were riding higher than the jeans she was wearing.  To make a point of it, and trying to be funny, one of the male employees reached over while she was bending to get some files out of a lower level drawer and snapped her thong.

She had it coming, didn’t she?

Well, she reported the incident. It resulted in an internal investigation, a written warning for the male employee and a refresher training on Sexual Harassment for the entire office.

What can you do to avoid those uncomfortable and time consuming situations at the workplace? Get proactive on having a dress code in place, especially for the summer season.

Here are some tips to consider when creating a dress code policy:

Determine Your ‘No-Go Zones’

  • For ladies, this is typically making sure that bra straps, belly buttons, cleavage and lower back tattoos are not exposed. No shorts or beach flip-flops.
  • For men, this is typically no bare shoulders, no shorts, no flip-flops, no ripped denim, and button down shirts with too many button undone.

Consider Clarifying Different Expectations by Department or Customer Contact.

  • Salespersons or front desk receptionists might be required to ALWAYS keep their shoulders covered, since they are your first line of contact with your customers.
  • Female desk employees might be entitled to wear sleeveless blouses as their interactions are limited to other co-workers.
  • Warehouse staff might be able to wear shorts, but office employees cannot.

 Write it Down and Make it Definitive.

  • If you are going to make a policy that binds employees to a certain behavior, you should be very precise in your language to avoid any misinterpretation, e.g. all tattoos and piercings must be covered at all times.
  • Even if you make an exception, say, for woman’s earrings, it’s best to be specific about how many earrings are appropriate.

Send out a “friendly reminder” of the dress code policy each year just PRIOR to the warm weather.

  • Nine times out of ten, employees understand the purpose of a dress code and a friendly reminder is enough to remedy any usual violations.
  • However, managers should be on guard if staff members react with any “red flag” objections that could be an early sign of trouble.

 

Keep in mind, the appearance of your staff should support your culture and create a credible image in the mind of your customer.

If you decide to tackle the development your own policy. I strongly recommend having it reviewed by an HR expert or an attorney. While Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits any employer discrimination based on gender, race, or religion, these are obviously highly sensitive areas, so it’s best to ensure your policy has been reviewed appropriately to help avoid any legal issues down the road.