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winning workplaces

Winning Workplaces 2016

winning workplaces


Interested in learning how to make your company one of the nation’s winning workplaces? You can get some ideas from Fortune’s 100 Best companies to Work For. It’s always fun to read reviews and profiles, which can be great research for picking up workplace trends and ideas. 2016 marks the 19th year that Fortune has been compiling the list. Companies are selected annually based on extensive surveys conducted in partnership with Great Place to Work. This year, Google/Alphabet is the No. 1 place to work for the seventh time in 10 years. Six newcomers include Veterans United at No. 30, Hilton Hotels at No. 56, and Slalom Consulting at No. 100. IKEA’s U.S. division returns to the list, along with GoDaddy and Sheetz.

If you’d like to narrow your focus, the full list offers filters to sort by industry, by size, or by headquarter location. In the plain list version, you can also search by perk, which can be helpful. You can also use the Compare Tool, which  let’s you line up companies side by side to compare ratings, and key data points including benefits.

Great Places to Work has also released compilations of workplaces based on specific demographics or industries.

100 Best Workplaces for Women
100 Best Workplaces for Millennials
30 Best Places to Work in Finance & Insurance
20 Best Workplaces in Healthcare

For a shortcut, both Fortune & Great Places to Work have culled various lessons from the lists and posted these as articles or blog posts. Here are a few

Culture Tips From The Best Places To Work
The article looks at company culture at these three “best” pick — Google, Facebook and Whole Foods — and points to practices that help to create great work cultures. These characteristics include:

  • Communicating well
  • Offering development opportunities
  • Providing flexibility
  • Practicing what they preach
  • Being transparent
  • Giving power to their people

How to Create a Culture that Works for All Ages

“For example, millennials are often portrayed as promiscuous job-hoppers, lacking the loyalty of their elders. But our data suggests that when millennials’ expectations of an excellent company culture are met, they are more than willing to stay. Millennials who feel they’re at a great workplace are an incredible 25X more likely to want to stay with their workplace for a long time.

And overall, we discovered that employees of all ages are looking for similar things in a great workplace: a company they can be proud of, a sense of community with their colleagues, and honest, ethical leaders.”

Here’s the Secret to How the Best Employers Inspire Workers
The best workplaces reinforce cooperation, teamwork, camaraderie and interpersonal bonds in creative ways.

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HR News Roundup

HR News Roundup: Weeding out psychopaths; dysfunction at work; health benefits survey results, and more news

HR News Roundup

Weeding out psychopaths
Julie Cook Ramirez, Human Resource Executive Online

“While references to history’s most famous psychopaths tend to focus on the most extreme cases, such as Henry VIII, Adolf Hitler and Ted Bundy, the vast majority of psychopaths live relatively normal lives and rarely, if ever, resort to violence to satisfy their own personal desires or greed. The label is frequently affixed to business leaders such as Enron executives Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, Ponzi mastermind Bernie Madoff and Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli, for example.
By no means are psychopaths limited to the C-suite. As in society at large, they exist throughout the workforce, at every level and in every industry and profession. But as volatility and uncertainty in the business environment grows — a trend many experts predict will continue — it’s as crucial as ever for HR to keep psychopaths out of their workplaces. The case becomes even stronger if you factor in the potential of these individuals to inflict widespread, long-lasting damage on their organizations and co-workers.”

Successful C-Suite Psychopaths
Michael J. O’Brien, HRE Daily

“Higher-than-expected levels of psychopathic traits exist among people found in the upper echelons of the corporate business sector, and companies should undertake psychological screening to help identify ‘successful psychopaths.’
That’s according to new research presented at the Australian Psychological Society’s Congress, which was recently held in Melbourne.”

50 forms of dysfunction in the workplace
lolly Daskal, Inc.

Every workplace has some degree of dysfunction, of course. Often the ones that are the healthiest think they’re the worst, and vice versa.
But dysfunction–in any form and any degree–comes at a cost, keeping us from effective outcomes, efficient results and successful conclusions.
At its worst, it can bring down an entire organization.
The first step is recognizing the problem.
Do any of these sound like your workplace? If so, you may need help getting the culture back on track.

Why psychological safety matters and what to do about it
Amy Edmondson, Jeff Polzer, Harvard Business School

” … interpersonal risk is a powerful barrier to collaboration and good decision making in organizations. This executive did not feel safe to share his conflicting opinion. Psychological safety describes a climate where people recognize their ability and responsibility to overcome fear and reluctance to speak up with potentially controversial ideas or questions. A lack of psychological safety can be found at the root of many noteworthy organizational errors and failures. In corporations, hospitals, and government agencies, our research has shown that reluctance to offer ideas and expertise undermines many decisions and harms the execution of work that requires judgment or collaboration.”

2016 Employer Health Benefits Survey
Kaiser Family Foundation

Annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $18,142 this year, up 3 percent from last year, with workers on average paying $5,277 towards the cost of their coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Education Trust 2016 Employer Health Benefits Survey. The 2016 survey includes information on the use of incentives for employer wellness programs, plan cost-sharing as well as firm offer rate. Survey results are released here in a variety of ways, including a full report with downloadable tables on a variety of topics, summary of findings, and an article published in the journal Health Affairs.

Managing food allergies in the workplace

Food allergies, whether mild or serious, are medical conditions that affect up to 15 million people in the United States, according to Food Allergy Research & Education, a nonprofit organization. For workers, having a food allergy can present a number of challenges.

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Lighter side diversions


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zipped lips

Open secrets: Would salary transparency be good for your organization?

What would happen in your organization if you had salary transparency? If everyone knew each other’s pay, would chaos ensue? David Burkus makes the case for why you should know how much your coworkers get paid in short TEDx video. Burkus is a business author, podcaster and associate professor of management at Oral Roberts University. “He challenges traditional principles of business management and argues that many of them are outdated, outmoded or simply don’t work — and reveals what does.”

The salary transparency or open pay trend has been gathering steam, particularly in tech and startups. Here’s a roundup of thoughts on the topic.

Meet The Companies That Make Their Salaries Public – And Say They Are Happier For It

Louise Ridle interviews several companies that have adopted pay transparency, including Joel Gascoigne, CEO of Buffer:

“Someone felt that if their friends and family knew their salary, it might change the relationship they have with them,” Gascoigne explains. But that initial discomfort proved unfounded, he says: “In the end, an overwhelming result we found was that a lot of these kinds of fears showed themselves much less than expected in reality.”

Before the spreadsheet was released, Buffer’s team had frank conversations about how much different people’s salaries should be and why, which “helped us avoid any kind of surprise,” he admits.

The decision has made it a more enjoyable place to work, Gascoigne says, pointing out that when salaries are out in the open, “a lot of the politics can go away”.

Open Salaries: the Good, the Bad and the Awkward
Sue Shellenbarger, Wall Street Journal

Pay secrecy is linked to lower employee performance and a higher likelihood of quitting when employees suspect performance assessments or criteria for setting pay are unfair, says a 2015 study co-authored by Peter Bamberger, associate dean for research and faculty at Tel Aviv University in Israel. Many people would rather look for a new job than ask for a raise, the Robert Half survey says; while 89% of participants said they deserve a raise, only 54% said they plan to ask for one.

How Much Salary Transparency Is Right for Your Business?

Sharon Florentine, CIO, talks about what is driving this trend:

The transparency trend is being driven by a number of factors, according to the Society for Human Resource Management: increasing availability of such information from sites such as, and companies like compensation benchmarking software provider; an increasingly tight labor market and awareness of pay equity; and the influence of the millennial generation, who’re already accustomed to openness and transparency through social media.

Her article suggests there may be a middle ground and offers five factors companies should consider before deciding whether to make salaries transparent.


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Hispanic workforce

Hispanic workforce demographics

Hispanic workforce


From September 15 through October 15, the nation marks National Hispanic Heritage Month, and to mark this, the Department of Labor offers a short video look at the Hispanic Workforce:

Direct link; Link to Spanish version.

It’s an opportune time to think about changing workforce demographics and to take stock of diversity, recruitment, training and other issues. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) present this joint report on The Changing U.S. Workforce: The Growing Hispanic Demographic and the Workplace.

The report urges policy makers, business owners and other decision makers to invest in workforce development and education. Effective practices and strategies that the report identifies include:

• Developing tools to support and improve educational and career outcomes such as structured pathways from college to certain jobs and mentoring to help address the lack of soft skills.

• Facilitating training programs and apprenticeships for entry-level workers to create foundations for success.

• Utilizing creative benefits to help recruit and retain Hispanic Millennials.

For additional reports on Hispanic demographics and the Hispanic workforce, see:

Labor force characteristics by race and ethnicity, 2015 from BLS

Another good reference to bookmark and follow is PewResearchCenter’s Hispanic Trends. Here are a few recent reports we found of interest:

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HR News Roundup

HR News Roundup: Election Dos & Don’ts; Talking terminations; Humor & more

HR News Roundup

Employer dos and don’ts for 2016 elections (NLRB-friendly version)
Robin Shea, Employment & Labor Insider

“Labor Day marked the beginning of the “serious” election season. In 2012, I posted on dos and don’ts for employers, but many of my old recommendations aren’t going to work in today’s labor law climate. Here’s an updated guide to help employers and their employees survive to November 8, and beyond, which I think will comply with the latest positions of the National Labor Relations Board . . .”

No, It’s Not OK to Talk on the Phone in the Shared Office Bathroom
Suzanne Lucas, Inc.

“A friend of mine recently had a woman come into her office bathroom chatting away–on speakerphone. Do I even need to say this? No speaker phones in the bathroom! Talking on the phone is bad enough when you’re in the bathroom, but definitely no speaker phones in a shared bathroom. Maybe you’re some sort of special princess who has no bodily functions but it’s guaranteed your co-workers do and you don’t want those sounds coming over your speaker phone.
Once more, no talking on the phone while in the office bathroom, regardless of what you are doing in there. Sure, you may be running in to grab a tissue or to put some hand sanitizer on your hands, but you can hang up. No one will die.”

Don’t Let Power Corrupt You
Dacher Keltner, Harvard Business Review

“In the behavioral research I’ve conducted over the past 20 years, I’ve uncovered a disturbing pattern: While people usually gain power through traits and actions that advance the interests of others, such as empathy, collaboration, openness, fairness, and sharing; when they start to feel powerful or enjoy a position of privilege, those qualities begin to fade. The powerful are more likely than other people to engage in rude, selfish, and unethical behavior. The 19th-century historian and politician Lord Acton got it right: Power does tend to corrupt.
I call this phenomenon “the power paradox,” and I’ve studied it in numerous settings: colleges, the U.S. Senate, pro sports teams, and a variety of other professional workplaces. In each I’ve observed that people rise on the basis of their good qualities, but their behavior grows increasingly worse as they move up the ladder.”

Employee Terminations: What to Say to Your Team After Firing an Employee
Karen Cavenaugh, Insperity Blog

“Communicating with your team after a firing is a lot like walking a tightrope. It can be difficult to find the balance between not saying enough and saying too much – and it’s not much fun either. But with the right approach, you can actually bring your team closer together.”

How to test your decision-making instincts
Andrew Campbell and Jo Whitehead, McKinsey Quarterly (archives)

“Given the powerful influence of positive and negative emotions on our unconscious, it is tempting to argue that leaders should never trust their gut: they should make decisions based solely on objective, logical analysis. But this advice overlooks the fact that we can’t get away from the influence of our gut instincts. They influence the way we frame a situation. They influence the options we choose to analyze. They cause us to consult some people and pay less attention to others. They encourage us to collect more data in one area but not in another. They influence the amount of time and effort we put into decisions. In other words, they infiltrate our decision making even when we are trying to be analytical and rational.
This means that to protect decisions against bias, we first need to know when we can trust our gut feelings, confident that they are drawing on appropriate experiences and emotions. There are four tests.”

5 Ways Employers Can Help Prevent Suicide
National Business Group on Health (NGBH) Blog

“Over the last half century, suicide rates have increased by 60% in some areas of the world, particularly in developing countries. The causes of suicide are complex and varied. Risk factors include depression, substance abuse, previous suicide attempt(s), self-harm, abuse, violence, chronic pain, stressful life events and loss, as well as social, biological, environmental and cultural influences.
Employers can help address the risk of suicide in their employee population by doing the following.”

Hunting ADA Violations
Katie Siegel, Risk & Insurance

“Since 2011, the EEOC filed more than 200 lawsuits involving claims of disability discrimination, through which it has recovered approximately $52 million, according to statistics compiled by the commission.
The primary driver of this activity, said Terri Rhodes, executive director of the Disability Management Employer Coalition, is increased strategic enforcement of the ADA by the Department of Labor and the EEOC.
“They have intensified an initiative to do more employer site visits, so litigation can come out of that,” she said.”

A Robot May Be Training to Do Your Job. Don’t Panic.
Alexandra Levit, New York Times

“Over the last two decades, machines have indeed usurped many human jobs in industries like manufacturing, hospitality, transportation and customer service. But here’s what I find interesting: We hang our hats on the idea that there are certain professions, such as teaching and caregiving, in which humans could never be replaced by robots because of the level of personal interaction required.
But according to Richard Yonck, executive director and analyst for Intelligent Future Consulting and author of the forthcoming book “Heart of the Machine: Our Future in a World of Artificial Emotional Intelligence,” we should never say never.”

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The lighter side: Goat edition
We offer the following YouTube video for stress relief. If your employer blocks YT, you may need to view from home.

Goat Babies in Pajamas!
Maymo the Dog meets baby goats
Goats yelling like humans (loud sound alert)
Unlikely friends: Goats & Rhinos

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Biannual FMLA Update – Tips & Tools

Once or twice a year, we like to offer a compilation of anything new that has happened in FMLA, along with some of the best articles and resources we’ve seen on the topic in employment law and HR blogs and publications. You can see our last update in February 2015: FMLA Update – News Tips and Resources. It includes some updated Fact Sheets and guidance about joint employment.

In May, we posted about FMLA Issues New Employee Poster & Employer’s Guide

In July, we posted about ADA Reasonable Accommodation: Expert Insight – important due to the intersection with FMLA

One important recent change: HR.BLR reports that ERISA, FLSA, FMLA penalties increased by DOL rule

Other noteworthy articles include:


Administration / Management

Potential Problems

Special Circumstances

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