Monday, February 14, 2011

Employee Handbook - Will you be our Valentine?

For centuries, February has long been the month of romance—a time to pay attention to the people in our lives that make our day-to-day easier. As HR pros, the first quarter can be looked at through the same lens. It is a time to pay attention to the foundations of people management—the employee handbook.  Hey Handbook: Will you by our Valentine?
Employee handbooks are living dynamic documents that need to grow and change with your strategic objectives of your organization. HR folks love them because they represent pillars of consistency that level the playing field; outlining the rules of the game and protecting us from unbiased practices; yet, most of us cringe at the idea of a handbook audit.  The beginning of the year is a good time to reflect upon the changes that occurred in the previous year and morph your handbook to reflect changes in not only federal and state laws but the programs and services you offer to your employees. For example, maybe your company went from a sick/vacation leave policy to a PTO policy, has this been reflected in your handbook?? If not, definitely time to update, not only to reduce liability, but also to ensure clear communication to your workforce.
So go ahead and Hug that Handbook!!—revitalize it and send it out to your employees for signature. You will reduce risk for your organization and your employees will appreciate (not not be confused with agree with) your forethought to clear policy and procedure communication. Heart your Handbook!

Amal Babar, MBA, SPHR
HR Guru
Team LotusHR

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What is the only thing worse than 1 HR rep...?

Dunder Mifflin should have used Lotus HR!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Did you just say "Time-Share HR"!?

Q:        What is Lotus HR?
A:        Lotus HR is an HR Outsourcing company specializing in providing HR expertise to small to medium sized businesses.  Our smallest client has 2 employees; our largest has 300, getting ready to go to 500 ee’s thru an acquisition.  Every client is assigned a Certified Human Resource Business Partner (Certifications: SPHR, PHR, MBA, CEBS, to name a few). The HRBP provides virtual (24/7) and “on-site” Human Resource support and guidance. We subscribe to a “shared services” business model – our team of HR professionals work together to solve problems, come up with creative ideas to resolve employee issues, and deliver HR that has real value and ROI to our clients.  We are passionate about delivering HR that will positively impact an organization, whether it be 5 employees or 500.  Think “FRACTIONAL HR” or “TIME-SHARE HR” (yeah, we said it)!

Q:        What type of HR services do you provide?
A:        Unlike Accounting, HR can be a bit ambiguous – does it mean people, processes?  We believe HR is about managing your best employees to produce more, limit the liabilities of having employees, and creating an environment were people want to work...and believe HR has a part in this!  Small business has gotten the short end of the stick as business owners don't have the "band-width" to manage everything...Lotus HR helps manage the people part of the equation.  We determine through initial discovery and an HR Audit – the processes, liabilities, and compliance issues that need improvement and we start there.  A mutually agreed-upon service plan is established and we then get to work.  Some of the areas of HR we cover:  Build or rebuild an HR Department, Performance Management, Manager Training, Recruiting and on-boarding assistance, Handbook/Policies and Procedures, Employee Communication, Termination Assistance, Employee Discipline, “Undercover Boss” services, State and Federal Compliance assistance, Exit Interviews, Bilingual HR support, Incident Investigation, and on and on and on…

Q:        Virtual?  What do you mean?
A:        Our HR management careers were spent in Fortune 500 companies – where if you needed an HR manager (for counseling, training meetings, Q&A) they were an email, conference call or web-meeting away.  We decided to bring this model to the small business owner.  It saves on overhead, is extremely efficient and it works.  This is how we deliver 80% of our service – virtually.  Our HR Business Partners still visit clients “on-site” on a regular basis, so there is still the “hi-touch” approach to our service model.  Technology has changed the way we do business and we have a subscription.

Q:        How is this different from a PEO?
A:        PEOs (Professional Employer Organization) have their place.  We have found that 95% of small business needs more flexibility and a more strategic approach to managing their employees.  PEOs provide payroll, employee benefits, worker’s compensation, and HR (the HR they provide is very “reactionary”).  The founding partners of Lotus HR started their careers in the PEO space, and have worked for the largest and most successful PEOs – we get it and understand it.  But we ran into more companies that needed basic HR guidance than a fully loaded HR outsourcing model…hence Lotus HR was created.  With our background and experience, we can assist our client in the areas of payroll, employee benefits and worker’s compensation – “best in class” vendor and product selection, marketplace best practices, trends, etc., but HR is our niche - and we have chosen to stick with it.

Q:        What and how do you charge?
A:        A predictable monthly fee is what our clients asked for – and we deliver a flat fee, monthly retainer.  We determine, based on the HR Audit performed and initial discovery, what the client will need, how often they will need it and we come up with a mutually beneficial dollar amount.  Currently, our fees range from $900 to $4500 per month, depending on number of employees, resources needed and the projects that need to be managed.  Considering the client only has a few options:  Hire an internal FT employee to manage HR (55k-75k per year) or ignore it completely, we are a great alternative! 

Q:        Is there long term commitment?
A:        12 month agreement.  At the end of 12 months, there is a mutual decision whether we continue with the arrangement.  We are eager to build our company, our client base, and delivering a top-notch product/service is our goal.  Renewing our agreements keeps us motivated to deliver!  The best partnerships are with handshakes – but we do have a Client Services Agreement for each client that spells out expectations.

Q:        What if I need a FT HR person?
A:         First we will ask – “Do you really need a FT HR person?”   If the answer is yes, we know the best and the brightest in the HR industry.  We can be retained as your “HR Talent Search” coordinator and place a quality person in your organization.  Who better to find a Quality HR person than a company that specializes in delivering it!

Interested in learning more about Lotus HR? 
Call:  281.799.4684

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Floating Holidays!

As HR professionals we recognize that diversity breeds collaboration and new ideas and better communication. We understand that by being inclusive in our hiring practices we do a great service to our workforce by providing different cultural perceptions to business challenges. We know that Title 7 is the crux of the law for adding value to companies of almost every size and every industry. But all too often companies with the best of intentions miss the boat during the days that reside on the calendar from around mid December though the end of the month. Even seasoned HR professionals can be found guilty of isolating certain parts of their employee base without even realizing it. 

If the idea of a floating holiday policy seems foreign or even worse, unnecessary to you; here's a few things to remember. Holidays are important to different people for different reasons. Webster's Dictionary defines the word "holiday" as 1) a holy day 2) a day for which one is not obligated to work. So even the origins of the word "holiday" references a religious aspect. And with that being said it is important to realize that there are employees in your workforce that place different variations of that "religious significance" on different days of the year. In many cultures or religions the calendar does not even account for when the holiday is actually recognized. Factors like the Lunar Calendar or the Solar Calendar or even the years particular Solstice can impact when a certain holiday is observed. 

So while the majority of the Western Civilization is celebrating one particular holiday; keep in mind others in your company could have a different view or variation the celebration or have no regard for the observance at all. So in light of the wonderful holidays in all of the different parts of the world, no matter what day of the year it is...

"Happy Floating Holidays" from Team LotusHR!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Top 10 ways to stay out of EE litigation...

Lotus HR Top 10 List - Avoid being invited into the courtroom by your employee!

1. Review ALL documents an employee is to sign! Be sure they are not biased or slanted. Have an employee that does not speak English and only Spanish? Make sure the documents are available in Spanish!

2. Make sure job application and any other document presented to a new hire (offer of employment) is signed by the candidate!

3. Turnover happens when hiring is done without strategy! Hiring an over-qualified candidate? Expect them to eventually get bored. Hiring a candidate who may not have the qualifications you are looking for? Don’t hire them unless you have a plan to train them.

4. New Hire orientation for EVERY new hire! Avoid the “I was never told” defense!

5. Every new hire must understand the “communication process” within your company! Who can they go to if they have an issue, complaint or question? Make it known.

6. Develop performance by instituting a formal review program. Commit to it and get it done!

7. Discipline or Termination? Review the employee file for all pertinent information that supports your case.

8. Laying off several employees? Make sure you consider age, sex, race – any detail that may result in an employee feeling they are being discriminated against. Have a plan. Consult an expert!

9. The employee you are terming has a life, family – treat them the way you would want to be treated.

10. If it isn’t in writing, it didn’t happen! Document everything – email, memo’s, warning, compliments and praises – they all go in the file and will help support your decisions.

Happy Holidays! 

Team Lotus.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Office Boo's!

I’m sure you’re like most people in that you’ve worked for more than one company; which naturally brings to light the urge to compare them. I only bring this up because in my line of work I have the opportunity to go into many different companies and offices throughout the week. So I naturally do a lot of mental comparisons of culture, dress, energy, and people interaction between our clients and potential clients. And this week I got to see first-hand how 2 large companies in the Houston Area “handle” Halloween. Although it’s not a nationally observed “day off type holiday”, like Christmas; I am amazed at how absolutely crazy people get about decorating their offices for Halloween! This week I saw a Hospital (yes a hospital) with a decoration of a half decomposed body hanging from a rope inside their main lobby with a sign that said “Enter at your own Risk!” I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes! Not to mention the not so subtle implication about the quality of their medical care. Now I’m not your (sorry for the generalization and possibly offensive stereo-type reference) stodgy old hard-line HR fuddy-duddy, but even I thought it was probably poor judgment.
I also was in the world HQ of a major pre-paid funeral service company and (no-kidding) they had decorated a hearse with zombies (which were actually mannequins, complete with fake blood and missing limbs) coming out of the doors and carriage! Now I actually liked that personally but I do think it might have bordered on poor taste.
So for all of the employee issues, practical jokes gone bad and complaints about attire that the holidays will bring to light and end up heaping loads of investigative work on all of you HR professionals out there, relax! Go easy on your employees. You know as well as I do that they were more than likely under the influence of 4 Jolly Ranchers, 6 Chico Sticks, more candycorn than should be allowed by law and enough Hershey Kisses to keep the Chilean coal-miners alive for a year.
Holiday parties, Halloween office haunts and a sugar-saturated workforce is obviously a recipe for disaster. So be pro-active and make sure you’re prepared to have those tough conversations with that secretary who shows up in the “scary hooker” costume or even the white executive who thinks it’s funny to come dressed as “Buckwheat” from the Little Rascals (yes I’m showing my age and yes that really happened) But remember the holidays, especially Halloween, can really bring out the dark side (and the stupid side) of even your best employees! And besides it’s not really even a new conversation… remember all the conversations you had to have with some of your employees after your company decided to go to Casual Friday? The two scenarios are virtually the same! So in a salute to all of the tough conversations and disciplinary action forms you had to write up because of someone’s pixie stick-fueled temporary lack of judgment, enjoy this clip of a Casual Friday gone bad!
Happy Halloween to all of the Lotus HR clients and partners! BOO!!!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Help Wanted" says Government Agencies...

Government Agencies "We are Hiring" continues...

Check out a recent post from our friends at BLR:

OSHA's requirement that training be comprehensible to employees is nothing new. What is new, however, is the enforcement angle. Says Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, "OSHA compliance officers will verify not only that training has been provided, but that it was provided in a format that workers being trained can understand."

An OSHA memorandum provides examples of what is required:

· If an employee does not speak or comprehend English, training must be provided in a language the employee does understand.

· In the case of an employee with a limited vocabulary, the training must account for that limitation.

· If an employee is not literate, an employer will not satisfy its training obligation by telling the employee to read training materials.

"As a general matter," says the memo, "employers are expected to realize that if they customarily need to communicate work instructions or other workplace information to employees at a certain vocabulary level or in a language other than English, they will need to provide safety and health training to employees in the same manner."

While meeting this requirement may present difficulties and extra costs, it can also improve safety performance and reduce the risk of accidents. Employees who don't understand safety instructions or safety training information are much more likely to have accidents and be injured on the job.