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By outsourcing and automating administrative services typically handled by a dedicated HR staffer, startups can better deploy their human capital—up to a point. Here's a look at where HR outsourcing has worked for lean, growing firms, and some cautionary notes about when it doesn't.

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It's “my Social Security week,” Aug, 18-23, so time to encourage workers to review their Social Security accounts online.

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We sparked some interesting conversation when we mentioned Aubrey Daniels in a recent post about the need for more frequent performance reviews.

You might recall that Daniels was among the first individuals to champion the notion of applying behavioral science to the workplace. As a result, he’s widely known as “the father of performance management.” In discussing our post, some people told us that they’re fans of Daniels’ work. Others said that, while important, his ideas focus too heavily on performance optimization and the bottom line—i.e., wringing the maximum amount of hours and effort out of every single employee.

To be fair, that’s not really true.

It is a fact that Daniels’ company focuses on enabling organizations to capture “discretionary effort” from employees. (Discretionary effort is that which goes above and beyond the minimum level required to a job.) But Daniels’ company doesn’t advise clients to extract greater effort at all costs. In fact, its approach to performance management advocates that employers manage their people with sensitivity and manage performance based on behavioral measurement and analysis, ongoing
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Here’s the list of the best selling books published by the Society for Human Resource Management for July 2014. Rankings are determined by the number of copies sold through the SHRMStore, other retailers, and special sales.

1. From Hello to Goodbye: Proactive Tips for Maintaining Positive Employee Relations
By Christine V. Walters
Reinforces the fact that a successful last day of work begins on that very first day of work and that giving attention to the employment relationship from the first day is time well spent and a valuable return on that investment of time.

2. Got a Minute? The 9 Lessons Every HR Professional Must Learn to Be Successful
By Dale J. Dwyer and Sheri A. Caldwell
A book about the challenges, missteps, and day-to-day frustrations faced by HR professionals and people managers in organizations everywhere.

3. The Power of Stay Interviews for Engagement and Retention
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Employers' burdens under the Family and Medical Leave Act could be getting even more cumbersome. A ruling by the Third Circuit could require employers to prove they provided required FMLA notices to employees by a traceable means rather than first-class mail. This includes mailing with tracking numbers and signature-required delivery, or e-mail with electronic receipt.

While the ruling's impact isn't entirely clear, this analysis points to some of the likely outcomes.

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After over 40 years in insurance I still get surprised on a regular basis, but, I did not expect it to be so difficult to insure a person who has a dog in the home. Keep in mind that homeowners with dogs are covered all over the country. So what was my problem?

The customer lives on agricultural property with tractors, horses, irrigation issues - and - a Doberman. Big surprise?  Everybody in that area has a similar dog and they all have insurance. 

We were looking at their insurance and all was going well until the underwriter asked me about any security systems that might be in the home. I said "They don't have one, they have a Doberman!" Everything stopped and the underwriter gave the file back to me. 

"Nobody will insure your client  if they have "vicious dogs" !" (That wasn't correct by the way)

I asked what constitutes a vicious dog? - Well you might be surprised.
Pit Bulls & Staffordshire Terriers
Doberman Pinschers
German Shepherds
Great Danes
Presa Canarios
Alaskan Malamutes
Siberian Huskies

I then asked "How do all these people with these dogs get insurance?"

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Migraine headaches, back pain, influenza: Managers often are surprised that conditions such as these can be covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), management attorneys say.
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Employers' health costs will rise 6.5 percent in 2015 without plan changes, but can be held to 5 percent by emphasizing consumer-directed plans, increasing spousal surcharges and controlling specialty drug costs, among other steps. That's the key finding from the just-released National Business Group on Health's annual survey on prospective plan design changes. 


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The Department of State (DoS) announced that it has made "significant progress" in bringing back online the Consular Consolidated Database (CCD), used to print and approve visas and passports. The system had crashed in July 2014 and has continued to experience outages, resulting in processing backlogs. DoS said it has caught up with issuances for most of the worldwide backlog of nonimmigrant visa cases and is working to bring the CCD back to full operational capacity. "We continue to prioritize immigrant visas, adoption cases, and emergency nonimmigrant visa cases. We are printing visas for these cases and all cases with very few delays," a DoS statement noted. For information on specific cases, the agency advises checking with the embassy or consulate where the person will apply or has scheduled an interview.
DoS noted that the problems started shortly after a software update on July 20, 2014, although the agency has not been able to identify a "root cause." DoS said current efforts are focused on bringing the system back to normal operations. Once that has been accomplished, DoS will investigate the cause, and the agency also has been working with Oracle and Microsoft to implement system changes aimed at optimizing performance and addressing ongoing issues. DoS is also bringing additional servers online to increase capacity and response time. DoS noted that it has experienced minor outages in the past, but not of this magnitude.

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So, an employee came in this morning telling me that he got bit by a spider and he is pretty sure it happened on the job site.  Is this considered a job related injury?  We are a construction company that installs cellular communication towers and we work all over the State of Texas in open fields.  Any help is appreciated!
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By: Ryan Kelley

Loyalhanna Management Services

There is no greater philosophical question in the business world than the meaning of eth
ics. Ethics, commonly defined as the conscious decision and moral principle determining the right and the wrong, will continue to be a hot topic as long as businesses continue to make the wrong decisions. What is interesting and somewhat humorous at times is that ethics is sometimes used as an identifier to point out the negatives among a professional market. A business is never called upon or noticed for their ethical practices until they are accused of doing something wrong among their peers. One seldom finds an article or even an individual stating the positive ethics within a company.

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The range between pay increases given high-achievers -- roughly 8 percent of an organization's workforce -- versus lower-performing employees continues to widen as pay differentiation increases. "Employers recognize that they need to reward top-performing employees" even when overall salary budgets are constrained, according to Mercer's analysis.

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Good day! I am in the process of developing an employee handbook and I am trying to find a reference as to what is required to be in the handbook. I've found multiple things about what "should be in it" and "you might want to consider putting in", but can't seem to find what is actually required. Can anyone help?

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An Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) rule calls on federal contractors to report on employees' compensation by the information in their W-2 forms, a proposal that Alissa Horvitz, an attorney at Littler Mendelson in Washington, D.C., said "makes no sense."
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“All leaders do some coaching. If nothing else, they offer input through performance reviews. But providing feedback once a year just doesn’t cut it. Quarterly formal evaluations work better, but you’ll have greater success with even more frequent feedback, assessment, and mentoring." -- Laura Stack, “The 7 Keys to Great Coaching – and Boosting Employee Productivity;” 6/6/14;

We agree wholeheartedly, Ms. Stack! Frequent reviews, feedback, assessments and mentoring are all essential to good performance management and boosting employee productivity.

Interestingly, Stack offers ideas on both coaching and mentoring in her astute article but never directly addresses the difference between the two. So … what is the difference? Just Google the phrase “the difference between coaching and mentoring” and you’ll be treated to a dizzying spectrum of opinions, some varying widely and some only by degrees. Generally speaking, though, coaching is concerned with an individual’s performance while mentoring is focused more on a person’s development.
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The IRS has released 2015 adjustments for the Affordable Care Act’s employer and individual mandates’ affordability requirements.

For plan years beginning in 2015, an applicable large employer’s health coverage will be considered affordable under the play or pay rules if the employee’s required contribution to the plan does not exceed 9.56 percent of the employee’s household income for the year, up from 9.5 percent.

“Admittedly, this is hardly a monumental change for 2015,” said Keith R. McMurdy, a partner at Fox Rothschild LLP in New York, “but it does serve as a reminder to employers that the definition of 'affordable' can change. So a key component of building a solid ACA compliance plan includes checking to see if the various limits and percentages have changed prior to a plan year.”

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In a previous career, I spent 11 years as an automotive engineer. During those 11 years, I witnessed many mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Even more recently, this industry saw 303 mergers and acquisitions in 2011 and another 264 in 2012.

In the airline industry, we’ve seen 9 companies merge into 5 since 2005. Not counted in that total is the merger underway between American Airlines and U.S. Airways. With internet companies, we’ve seen too many to mention.

So, what’s the difference between a merger and an acquisition? In an acquisition, one company takes over another and establishes itself as the new owner. The target company ceases to exist legally.

With a merger, two companies, often of roughly the same size, agree to move forward as a single new company. Both companies' stocks are surrendered and new company stock is issued in replacement. As an example, Daimler-Benz and Chrysler ceased to exist when the two merged; a new company, DaimlerChrysler, was formed.

In reality, actual mergers of equals don't happen often. One company will buy another (acquisition) and, as part of the deal, the acquired company can claim that the action is a merger of equals. Why would they want to do this? Being bought out carries negative connotations. “Branding” the action a merger can make the takeover more palatable.

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For quite some time, contingent staffing was primarily a gap-filler for many employers. Now there is growing evidence that it is becoming a permanent part of hiring strategies.
To read more, please go to Contingent Staffing on the Rise
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Implementing a strong ergonomics program can nip MSDs in the bud, improve the health and productivity of employees, and boost the company's bottom line.

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Let's say you have lived in a Midwestern town your whole life and you win a trip to Europe. One of your big questions will be "What do I take with me?" You know the obvious things like your tooth brush, your favorite clothes, a passport, and travelers checks but is there anything else that might be really important? Oh yea, an international cell phone?? 

Hello, international insurance!

Your domestic insurance may not cover you in a different country, or will not be easy enough to use when you need it. 

For example if you decide to drive into Mexico you need to get Mexican auto insurance. If you run into somebody in Mexico you may be staying there until you settle the claim unless you have Mexican Auto insurance. The good hands people and the lizard might be fun on Television but they may not be much help in Mexico.

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