impactnews: One-on-One with Kelly Mitchell on the State of HR at Mid-Year

With mid-year upon us and fall looming ahead, impactnews takes a summertime look at a number of newly evolving trends emerging in HR. With an eye toward helping you optimize strategic decision-making for your company or organization, we’re pleased to present an impactInterview with Kelly Mitchell, Principal at impactHR.

impactnews: What is the general “state of the union” today in human resources, both in the Greater Baltimore-Washington area and across the country?

KM: Right now, there are many issues, from a legislative standpoint, that are up in the air – we have a lot of new laws taking effect in terms of increased minimum wage levels and mandated sick leave policies. As part of that, we’re always asking the question: what do companies and organizations need to do to prepare for some of these changes?

From a trend perspective, since the beginning of this year, we’ve seen an uptick in support needed from our clients around compensation, much in line with the interview on this topic last month with our Dora Daniels. Among other issues around compensation, we’re seeing companies interested in investing in understanding how competitive they are in the marketplace in terms of employee pay.

And that’s tied into finding the right people, and keeping them. I think as the labor market improves – it is becoming more challenging for employers to find the right talent, and if they do find

Kelly Mitchell, Principal, impactHR

Kelly Mitchell, Principal, impactHR

it, what are some of the programs they need to employ to keep them? And again, compensation should be considered as one part of an overall retention program. This involves benchmarking in regard to whether a company is being competitive with pay and whether they’re paying their people the right amount. And then more importantly, what are some of the incentives they’re building into their compensation to keep their employees?

A second trend we’re seeing is on employee training and development. Over the last several months, a lot of companies we work with are investing in further developing their workforce, which ties closely into employee retention. Interestingly, this really goes beyond soft skills training programs, like effective communication or team-building. We’re really talking about ongoing, strategic activities, such as putting in place robust career development programs for employees. Our clients, without doubt, are more than ever prioritizing the need to further develop the skills and the competencies of their workforce.

And, as always, a third trend is compliance. With ever-changing laws, regulatory requirements and the uncertainty of the new administration, all of this impacts what we do for our clients in terms of compliance and making sure they have their i’s dotted and t’s crossed. Or, as I like to say, it’s helping our clients be “ahead of the eight ball,” and not chasing it all the time. So I think we’re seeing more of that pro-activeness, rather than reactiveness, with companies and organizations.

impactnews: With compliance in mind, what is one of the most urgent issues you see confronting employers now?

KM: I think one key issue is the liberalized use of marijuana, both medicinal and recreational, and how it impacts employees in the workplace. I’m getting more calls from companies asking about what their drug-testing policies should be and what these should be for multistate employers. California, for example, has a law in place that stipulates recreational marijuana use, now legal in that state, can be counted towards drug testing policies. And in Maine, they have a new law in place which says most of the state’s employers are not allowed to fire an employee for a positive drug test, but can do so only if the employer proves they were impaired on the job.

Every state has its own laws for drug testing, and we now have 29 states that have legalized marijuana for medical use (and seven states plus DC have legalized it for recreational use). A lot of companies in states where recreational use is legalized, such as CA, MA, ME and NV, are saying: “You know what? We’re getting rid of our whole drug testing policy, because what’s the point?” In this context, the point is that drug testing limits their ability to hire qualified people if those people are legally recreational marijuana users.

From a business perspective, my thought is: what does your drug use policy look like? Your employees have to be 100% fit for duty at all times, so if they’re a recreational user, they still can’t use while they’re at work. Medical marijuana, to be sure, is a different topic. The interesting part here is how you manage those who have to take marijuana as an accommodation during the worktime. This is a whole new world of complexity that companies and organizations are grappling with.

USCIS: New I-9 Form Released this Month, Effective Now 

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) earlier this month released a new Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Employers can use this revised version now, but they may continue using the Form I-9 with a revision date of November 14, 2016 through September 17, 2017. Beginning September 18, employers must use the revised form with a revision date of July 17, 2017 for all new employees.

The revisions to the Form I-9 are minor and employers will not need to change their processes. Revisions to the Form I-9 Instructions include:

  • The name of the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair
  • Employment Practices has been changed to: Immigrant and Employee Rights Section
  • The words “the end of” have been removed from the phrase “the first day of employment”

Revisions related to the List of Acceptable Documents on Form I-9 are:

  • The Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) has been added to List C
  • All the certifications of report of birth issued by the Department of State (Form FS-545, Form DS-1350, and Form FS-240) have been combined into selection C#2 in List C
  • All List C documents except the Social Security card have been renumbered

Learn more

 Executives: New 10-Year Study Reveals Four Traits of Successful CEOs

Do most CEOs tend to live glamorous lives and possess Ivy League degrees? Quite the contrary, according to a new 10-year study of CEO traits and behaviors by two executive consultants, Elena Lytkinda Botelho and Kim Powell. Botelho and Powell’s study, in fact, found that only 7% of executives have an Ivy League degree while 8% of executives didn’t graduate from college.

More concretely, the study reveals four behavioral traits the researchers conclude help make CEOs more successful: quick decision making, reliability, masters at relationships and adapting swiftly to change.

According to Botelho and Powell, CEOs must have a willingness to make decisions and act on them quickly. For reliability, an effective CEO wants to be counted on – they want to be the one to pull things together when a problem arises. The third trait – masters at relationships – means successful CEOs aren’t out to be liked necessarily, but they do want to be relatable and motivate their teams to do something great. The fourth trait, adapting swiftly to change, may be the most pertinent to today’s fast-moving business climate.

Learn more

Government Contractors: OFCCP Issues Reminder to Post EEO Poster on Premises

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) recently sent out a public notice of reminder that every employer covered by OFCCP’s nondiscrimination and EEO laws is required to post prominently the “Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law” poster on its premises. This poster is free and downloadable from the OFCCP website.

In addition, the OFCCP issues a reminder that contractors never have to pay a third party to obtain the OFCCP’s EEO Poster. The EEO poster is free at all times and is available in English, Spanish, and Chinese. This poster provides information on OFCCP’s nondiscrimination and EEO laws and the procedures for filing complaints with the agency.

impactHR Wraps Up 2017 Pajamas/Gift Cards Drive for Critically Ill Children   

impactHR is pleased to wrap up its 2017 “Gift Card and Pajamas” donation drive for the Baltimore-based Casey Cares Foundation. Casey Cares encourages year-round donations of gift cards and pajamas for children who are critically ill and receiving treatment in Baltimore-Washington area hospitals. All of us at impactHR are grateful to each and every donor for this year’s drive (and we’re already looking forward to next year’s drive).

If you or your organization would like to participate in Casey Care’s on-going drive, we invite you to consider donating:

1) $10-$20 Gift Cards from Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, chain restaurants and movie theaters
2) New, two-piece pajamas in all sizes (adult sizes for teenagers are a priority size for Casey Cares)

How are donations used? Casey Cares deliver thousands of pajamas each year for hospitals in our region to distribute to children on extended hospital stays. In addition, gift cards are delivered to families for a movie and pizza night at home for children too sick to leave their homes. When children are up to going out, Casey Cares adds restaurant gift cards to their tickets for special events to complete their “night out.”

Learn more

MD General Assembly: New Law Bolsters Privacy Protections for MD Workers  

Amidst the frenzy of activity in the General Assembly of Maryland this year, one measure signed into law pertinent to state employers. The “Maryland Personal Information Protection Act – Revisions” expands privacy protections for Maryland workers, requiring businesses to take reasonable steps to protect the personal information of employees, former employees and customers when destroying records.

This new law, which takes effect January 1, 2018, adds definitions to what constitutes reasonable security procedures and practices and what personal identifying information businesses must protect. The measure outlines specific requirements to protect against unauthorized access to employee identifying information. It also requires employee notification of a breach in certain circumstances.

Learn more

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