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wacky boss behavior

Lighter side: Wacky boss behavior

wacky boss behavior

The last few weeks in August are popular for vacations. People try to enjoy a few more days of summer weather or take time off to get families ready for back to school. With that in mind, it seems like the perfect time to feature a bit lighter post on almost everyone’s favorite topics: wacky boss behavior.

Now don’t get us wrong: We love bosses, and in fact, we’ve held managerial roles ourselves. But it’s just a law of human nature for people to gripe, whine, complain, joke and exchange stories about authority figures – and who better than the ones we interact with every day? Talking about our bosses seems to be one of America’s favorite pastimes.

With that in mind, we bring you this gem:

“If ever you find yourself doubting your competence as a manager and need a pick me up, just say to yourself, “At least I’ve never asked an employee to shave my back,” which isn’t something everyone in the world can say, according to a new survey from CareerBuilder.”

Based on a survey of 3,000 workers, CareerBuilder compiled an amusing list of the Most Unusual Boss Requests, noting that while their list may represent extreme examples, 21% of the survey respondents reported having had a boss who asked them to do things unrelated to their jobs.

Despite these findings, the survey found that 62% of responding employees would give their bosses an “A” or “B” for performance. Only 10% would give their bosses a “D,” and only 6% percent would fail them.

Here’s a fun follow-up game: spot the potential lawsuits in that list, whee!

Wacky boss behavior might be amusing, but the reality is that one employee’s amusing story is another employee’s basis for litigation.

If you enjoy stories about bad bosses, be sure to check out our Bad Boss Hall of Fame. We hadn’t made a new entry in some time – we’ll try to do better. The posts are a testament to the importance of training! There’s a lot of good advice from the “what not to do” school of management, but we prefer a more positive approach.

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Compliance just got more expensive: DOL penalties increased substantially this month


Beginning in August, employers should be aware that penalties associated with several employment-related regulatory agencies under the Department of Labor (DOL) increased substantially.

The increases were mandated with the 2015 passage of The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act, which is designed to update penalties many of which had not changed in more than 25 years. The purpose of the increase is to deter violations and to strengthen enforcement. The penalties are scheduled to increase annually to reflect inflation.

The penalty increases affect:

  • Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) – which affects ERISA
  • Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
  • Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA)
  • Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)
  • Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OCWP)

Also take note: this follows on the heels of the EEOC announcement that violations of posting requirements increased by 150% in July. Notices include those under Title VII, the ADA, and GINA.

For reference, see the DOL Chart of of Penalties for all agencies, a 14 page listing of new fines and penalties under the Inflation Adjustment Act.

The DOL Labor Blog talks about how the Inflation Adjustment Act was intended to strengthen the deterrent effect of penalties in The Benefits of Penalties.

“Adjusting our penalties can lead to significant benefits for workers and responsible employers who will have a more level playing field when competing with those who try to gain a competitive advantage by cutting corners on safety and other basic protections for American workers. As always, we at the Labor Department define success as encouraging employers to comply with the law, not by the amount of penalties we assess, so we stand ready to continue to provide technical assistance to all employers who want to do the right thing.”

Additional Resources


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Employer toolkit for the Zika virus

News reports over the past week have focused on an outbreak of the Zika virus in Florida: the total number of cases has now reached 21. But that number may be deceptive in that it focuses on “active transmission” cases or those that were contracted locally. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), another 1800+ travel-associated cases have been reported in the U.S.

There are several things that employers need to think about related to the Zika virus:

  • Understanding potential employment related risk and liability issues
  • Understanding which work populations are at greatest risk
  • Being aware of the facts to allay any employee concerns, fears, myths
  • Reviewing best practices for this or any potential health-related emergency

This post will offer related tools and resources for employers and employees, a preliminary workplace toolkit.

In thinking about work populations that might be at highest risk, business travelers who travel to affected areas are highest on the list. Other populations with risk of exposure include healthcare workers, laboratory workers and outdoor workers. The U.S. Department of Labor Blog offers advice on How to Protect Workers from Zika Exposure in both English and Spanish.

BLR Safety Advisor says that the first work-related Zika infection was reported to the Allegheny County (Pennsylvania) Health Department in June 2016, the result of a needlestick. They note:

Although Zika is not yet widespread in the United States, potential exposures clearly exist. What’s the risk in your workplace? Obviously, healthcare and laboratory workers are at risk of Zika, but are workers in other industries? And what steps can you take to protect workers against Zika infection?

In their article, Could Zika strike your workplace? Recommendations for employers, they offer advice from the CDPH, federal OSHA, and the CDC, with tips for each of the work populations identified as highest potential risk.  Also see the source: OSHA / NIOSH: Interim Guidance for Protecting Workers from Occupational Exposure to Zika Virus. Also see the CDC on Healthcare providers and Schools.

Zika 101 for Employers & Employees (embedded below or available at the link) is a 46-minute webinar is presented by the National Safety Council, the CDC and NIOSH:

For more good advice from employment law, safety and HR experts see:

At present, the Zika travel warning for Florida is very narrow – a one-square mile block. For workers who travel globally, see the CDC Zika Travel Advisories

The biggest concern is transmission by pregnant women. See NPR: With Zika in Miami, What Should Pregnant Women Across The U.S. Do? and the CDC on Pregnancy & Zika
and information for Parents.

General education and learning resources




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reading the news

HR News Roundup: MA Pay Equity, millennials, diversity, incentives & more

reading the news

5 devastating mistakes in managing millennials
Bill Faeth,

Ah, millennials: the generation that has received more coverage than any other in the past few years.
They’re perpetual job-hoppers, they’re entitled, they’re not driven, they don’t have real goals, they’re lazy. One big millennials headline that we’ve left out? They’re hard to manage.
It may be true that some millennials require different management techniques from other age groups, but their different way of working doesn’t make them hard to manage. You just have to take time to understand them.
Check out our list of ways to mismanage millennials, written by a millennial.

A groundbreaking new Pay Equity law
Andrew McIlvaine, HRE Daily

Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, employers in Massachusetts will be prohibited from asking job candidates about their salary history before offering them a job or asking candidates’ former employers about their pay. The new law, the Pay Equity Act, is designed to reduce the pay disparities between men and women in the workplace.
Although other states (including California and Maryland) have also enacted recent legislation designed to reduce pay inequity, Massachusetts is the first state to ban employers from asking about candidates’ salary history. The law, signed earlier this week by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, not only had bipartisan support in the state legislature but also from business groups such as the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

Where machines could replace humans—and where they can’t (yet)
Michael Chui, James Manyika, and Mehdi Miremadi, McKinsey Quarterly

In fact, as our research has begun to show, the story is more nuanced. While automation will eliminate very few occupations entirely in the next decade, it will affect portions of almost all jobs to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the type of work they entail. Automation, now going beyond routine manufacturing activities, has the potential, as least with regard to its technical feasibility, to transform sectors such as healthcare and finance, which involve a substantial share of knowledge work.
These conclusions rest on our detailed analysis of 2,000-plus work activities for more than 800 occupations. Using data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and O*Net, we’ve quantified both the amount of time spent on these activities across the economy of the United States and the technical feasibility of automating each of them. The full results, forthcoming in early 2017, will include several other countries,1 but we released some initial findings late last year and are following up now with additional interim results.

Diversity leaders: 6 things NEVER to say about disabilities
Lori Golden, for Diversity, Inc.

In building an inclusive culture, we’re on the front lines and need to be visibly living our organizations’ values every day. It’s important that we set the tone not only in what we do and say, but how we say it—in formal messaging as well as everyday conversation. This is where even diversity leaders can get stuck.
Sometimes inclusive language can seem a bit cumbersome, but with a few simple changes each of us can make a significant difference—helping to promote an inclusive culture while setting an example both inside and outside our organizations.

A humane approach to layoffs
Jon Hyman, Workforce

What happened to treating employees with dignity, fairness and respect? Just because we are laying people off doesn’t mean that we should stop exhibiting these values.

How to make your one-on-ones with employees more productive
Rebecca Knight, Harvard Business Review

One-on-one meetings with direct reports often feel more hurried and disorganized than they need to be. It’s important to check in regularly with each of your employees, but how can you make the best use of the time? How can you make the meetings more productive and collaborative? What do you need to change as the manager and what do you need to ask your direct report to do differently as well?

Daniel Pink on incentives and the two types of motivation

Motivation is a tricky multifaceted thing. How do we motivate people to become the best they can be? How do we motivate ourselves? Sometimes when we are running towards a goal we suddenly lose steam and peter out before we cross the finish line. Why do we lose our motivation part way to achieving our goal?
Dan Pink wrote an excellent book on motivation called Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. We’ve talked about the book before but it’s worth going into a bit more detail.
When Pink discusses motivation he breaks it into two specific types: extrinsic and intrinsic.

What CEOs are reading

The slightly lazier days of summer are upon the northern hemisphere, with beach vacations beckoning. South of the equator, temperatures are dipping and cozy weekends lie ahead. So what books will corporate leaders be reading in the coming months? Here are recommendations from more than a dozen, including McKinsey’s Dominic Barton, JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, and Corning’s Wendell Weeks. It’s an eclectic list of fiction and nonfiction, spanning everything from classics to newcomers, business topics to biographies and folk tales.

More HR News Briefs

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religious discrimination

EEOC: Religious discrimination

religious discrimination


The number of religious discrimination claims filed in the past 15 years exceeds the number filed before 2001. From 1997 through 2000, the EEOC received fewer than 2,000 such charges each year. Since 2001, the number of religious discrimination claims filed each year has exceeded 2,000, and the number filed since 2008 has exceeded 3,000 a year.

This is an excerpt from Dana Wilkie’s SHRM article, In Political Climate Focused on Muslims, EEOC Cracks Down on Religious Discrimination. Wilkie talks about how the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced its intention to collect better, more precise date on religious discrimination claims, and to increase awareness among workers and employers. She points to one such effort, a fact sheet specifically designed for young workers: EEOC: Religion & Your Job Rights  (Also see the previously released Questions and Answers for Employees:Workplace Rights of Employees Who Are, or Are Perceived to Be, Muslim or Middle Eastern.)

For good employer advice on avoiding religious discrimination, we point to employment law attorney Robin Shea’s post in Employment & Labor Insider, Hallelujah! 5 things about religion in the workplace that you may not have known

Shea offers five handy tips – we’ll offer the headlines, but click through to get her helpful perspective.

No. 1: “Religion” includes a lot
No. 2: It is not “religious harassment” to wear clothing or jewelry at work that relates to one’s faith.
No. 3: If an employee needs a religious accommodation, the employer has to provide it unless doing so would be an undue hardship.
No. 4: It’s not enough for an employee to tell the employer, “I need Sundays off.”
No. 5: It’s ok to let your religious “freak flag” fly at work (within reason).


EEOC Resources for employers

For additional articles about the EEOC and religious discrimination

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Financial Stress Infographic

Financial stress take a toll in the workplace

Financial worries are a big issue for the nation at large, one of the key issues driving voter choices this election. In a Gallup study on financial worries this spring, Americans reported a higher level of worry than in the previous year. Some of the concerns highlighted in the study include:

Worries about not having enough money for retirement increased four percentage points and edge out not being able to pay for serious medical costs as the No. 1 worry. Now a majority, 51%, also worry about maintaining their standard of living.

Nearly half of Americans report being concerned about not being able to pay medical costs for their normal healthcare (45%), while about one in three worry about not being able to pay their rent, mortgage or other housing costs (34%). Americans are least concerned about not being able to make minimum payments on their credit cards (21%), though like all of the issues measured, this is up from the prior year.

Additionally, 37% of Americans report being worried about not having enough money to pay for their children’s college, which is consistent with the range of 34% to 43% who have reported such worries since Gallup first asked this question in 2007.

More recently, a study conducted by Financial Finesse for the American Psychological Association looked at the impact of financial stress on the American workplace.

The study showed that:

  • Money was reported as one of the top sources of significant stress
  • 25% of those surveyed indicated high or overwhelming financial stress; 60% reported some financial stress; only 15% reported no financial stress
  • One-third of those surveyed were assessed as vulnerable to living beyond their means and having serious debt
  • Of those reporting overwhelming stress, many live paycheck to paycheck, with no emergency funds and difficulty paying bills each month.
  • While all demographics reported stress, women are more likely than men to report feeling overwhelming financial stress. Mothers with minor children living in households with income below $60,000 (9% of sample) are the most financially stressed.

An AP-AOL Health Poll found that people experiencing high financial stress are more likely to struggle with depression, anxiety and heart problems; They also experience more relationship issues and substance abuse problems.For an overview of those problems, see the infographic below or access the full Financial Stress Report (PDF).

Liz Davidson, CEO and founder of Financial Finesse, recommends that employers should play a role in helping employees address these concerns. She suggests that employers use Financial Finesse’s C.A.L.M. Financial Stress Reduction Model™ as a standard in their financial wellness efforts to help employees get a handle on their cash management:

C – Create a plan to manage cash flow, working with a coach if necessary
A – Automate bill payment & saving for emergencies
L – Lower nonessential spending and debt
M – Make progress one step at a time

We would also suggest tapping in to any resources that your Employee Assistance Program may offer to employees, such as debt counseling, financial planning and stress reduction coaching. Financial worries continually rank among the top issues that our employee members call to discuss and are frequently at the root of relationship difficulties.

Financial Stress Infographic

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