Building an Inclusive Arizona: Sales

CO+HOOTS Foundation Executive Director Lisa Glenn Nobles and Culture Engineered Founder Teresa Marzolph discuss how we can build an inclusive Arizona ecosystem focusing specifically on diversity in the sales cycle. The first in our monthly series on Building an Inclusive Arizona, this conversation will focus on the need for diversity in the Arizona business ecosystem and help companies develop a common language and best practices around inclusive sales cycles.

WORKFORCE EVENT: ROI of Creating a Strong Company Culture

Most professionals agree, having a strong company culture is important.  Like most things in business however, only initiatives that produce results gain support (and investment).  Because strategies to develop, sustain, or improve a company’s culture like any other project requires time and money – the question is inevitable:  what is the ROI of culture?  On March 26th,  AZ Biz Link‘s workforce event hosts a discussion with a panel of experts on the topic of creating a culture that produces valuable results.

Moderator:

  • Kevin Black, Principal & Founder | Edge Challenges

Panelists:

  • James Murphy, President & CEO | Willmeng Construction
  • Julie Eklund, Director Human Resources | Kimley Horn
  • Michele Shuey, Global Director HR Business Partnerships & Employee Engagement | Nextiva
  • Teresa Marzolph, People Strategist & Founder | Culture Engineered
  • Gretchen Mastello, SVP Global People Operations | Axon

Innovative People Event: Upward Projects Culture

People problems taking a toll on your business???😖

In this new monthly series, prominent leaders share their stories of overcoming today’s largest business challenges by making CULTURE a priority. This month we feature the culture of Upward Projects, the Phoenix-based restaurant group behind Postino, Joyride, Windsor, Churn, and Federal Pizza.

A team of primarily part-time employees earning a supplemental income in an industry many consider to be cut-throat and riddled with chaos, Upward Projects has proven culture is not just for high-tech startups and corporate America. A “people-first” company, Upward Projects has expanded to 13 locations in three states since their start in 2001, maintaining a 4.1 out of 5-star rating on Glassdoor (a rating higher than even Zappos, famed for “delivering happiness”).

How do they do it?  On August 23rd, Upward Projects Director of Recruiting, Jason Spencer, and Area Manager & Executive Team, AJ Jolley share the challenges and wins of building a community with a mission to make people feel good.  Join the discussion!  Lunch provided.

Agenda:

12:00pm – Lunch & Discussion
1:00pm – Networking

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!!!

Culture Engineered Event – Innovative People: DoubleDutch

The Energy of a Team Coming Together

DoubleDutch brings the power of digital to some of the largest live events. Established in 2011 and headquartered in Silicon Valley, they took off on the startup tech rocketship of VC funding and fast growth. As is so often the case, the journey to profitability and category leadership proved to be an intense ride with towering peaks and deep valleys that might have made it hard for some companies to recover. But not DoubleDutch. How do you revolutionize an industry?  The DoubleDutch answer – create a workplace culture of curious, fearless people.  With a 3.9 out of 5-star rating on Glassdoor and a 92% approval rating of CEO and Founder, Lawrence Coburn (who by the way responds to every Glassdoor review, personally), they maintain their position as leaders within their space.

Want to know how they do it?  Join the discussion in Scottsdale, Arizona on April 18th!  We are proud to have DoubleDutch GM and recently promoted Global Director of Employee Engagement, Jackie Roberts share with us the innovative people practices of DoubleDutch.  Get your ticket here!

Feelings in the Workplace – An Insightful Tool or the New “F” Word?

Emotional employee

Crying, yelling, arguing, fighting.  Not ideal in any workplace.  So, when the Huffington Post asked Culture Engineered for tips to include in their article, Crying At Work Happens. Here’s How to Handle It, According To Experts, we stressed the importance of taking a broader approach to such events.  Excessive emotion in the workplace is often and indicator of larger, underlying issues.  Here are some things to consider when emotions erupt in your workplace.

What’s the frequency?

How often are employees overcome with emotion in your workplace?  Weekly?  Daily?  By the hour?  While emotions are a healthy part of the human experience, they are consuming and leave little time or energy for productivity.  Too frequent of outbursts can suggest a culture of enablement or a stressful underlying culture where emotions bubble up.  Such a workplace benefits from training on managing emotions or communication, shifting to proactive interactions and away from reactive.  On the other hand, companies without emotional displays are not necessarily best either.  Life is full of ups and downs.  Given the significant amount of time spent at work, odds are, emotions will sometimes get the best of us at the office.  Letting go in front of someone requires a certain level of vulnerability and trust.  These traits are found within most successful environments.  A workplace without emotion may indicate a lack of trust or an expectation of apathy and therefore may benefit from opportunities to interact outside of work.  Company picnics and office happy hours are a great start, but trust is built by leading with integrity and compassion.  Train and encourage managers to have meaningful conversations with employees over shying away from emotional employees.

Is there a trend?

Where are the breakdowns stemming from?  If a select few are displaying signs of duress repeatedly, its less likely a company-wide culture issue.  Review the surrounding factors of each event, identifying trends.  Are the same people involved with each episode?  Are outbursts more prominent in one department or role?  Unfortunately, we often fail to talk about the string of events leading up to an emotional moment instead, focusing on the straw that broke the camel’s back.  If an employee breaks down because she was warned about coming in late that morning, there is likely more to the story.  Is there a history between the employee and manager?  Has the employee struggled to get to work on time in the past?  Why? These discussions are extremely valuable, helping employees to develop skills needed to succeed as well as uncovering organizational challenges within the company that may be temporarily are prohibiting it from greatness.

Employee behaviors can be signs of potential larger, developing issues within a workplace.  Companies willing to assess their workplace from this perspective can expect to have a more honest, committed, and successful workplace as result.  It’s not always a fun process, but when done right, companies benefit, greatly.

Your company culture – an asset or barrier?  We’re here to help.  Contact a Culture Engineer today by clicking here.

Should you ban employees from dating?

Coworkers flirting

Recently, Culture Engineered was asked by the Huffington Post how an employee should ask a co-worker out on a date.  While a topic dreaded by most HR and People professionals, it led us to consider whether or not a non-fraternization policy still holds any relevance in today’s workplace.  Do these policies protect the company legally?  How does workplace romance impact a company’s culture?  Below we consider these challenges faced by employers managing employee conduct.

Non-Fraternization Policies and the Law

Traditionally, a company policy is designed to keep the balance of power between employees (as individuals) and the company as a whole – defining good versus bad conduct and consequences that are associated with the bad.  But, can policies apply to conduct outside of work such as with romantic relationships?   A quick glance at statutes in California (Lab. Code § 96k), Colorado (Rev. Stat. § 24-34-402.5), Louisiana (La Rev. Stat § 23:961), New York (N.Y. Lab. Code § 201-d), and North Dakota (ND Cent. Code Sec. 14-02.4-01), such a policy seems useless in preventing workplace romances from developing.  Local governments within these states have similar statutes and rules prohibiting employers from taking adverse action on employees for off-duty, off-company-premises conduct, so long the conduct is lawful.  Looking deeper however, interpretation of these statutes is narrow when it comes to office romances, failing to recognize a romantic activity as a “protected recreational activity”.  So, while non-fraternization policies may cause some gray areas to surface within a company, the good news is that when challenged, they are being upheld.  But a word of caution:  be specific.  A broad non-fraternization policy may constitute as interfering with employee rights to engaged in concerted activity, protected by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) – a BIG NO-NO.  These rulings have not been so favorable for employers (ie Guardsmark, LLC v. NLRB, 2007 WL 283455 D.C. Cir. 2007).

Romance Impact to Culture

Everyone likes a good love story.  How is this viewed today by employees when it’s happening in the workplace?  In the case of two California Department of Corrections employees working at a prison where the warden was having an affair with three other employees – not so good.  Although all employees engaged in the “relationship” were consenting individuals, the situation still resulted in a sexual harassment suit.  Not that surprising?    How about the fact that no sexual advances or harassing comments had ever been made to either plaintiff?  Miller v. Department of Corrections, No. S114097, 2005 WL 1661190 (Cal. 2005) plaintiffs alleged the favoritism shown to those who engaged in a sexual relationship with the warden caused the plaintiffs to be subjected to a hostile work environment.  The California Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs causing companies even more reason to be concerned about workplace relationships – even when consensual.  But with all the studies on workplace camaraderie and positive correlation with employee engagement, there has to be some benefit to employees liking each other enough to date, right? Unfortunately, modern studies on this issue bring something we already associate with workplace romances – complexity.  In a 2016 study, researchers sought to investigate the relationship between romance in the workplace and employee engagement.  Employees participating in a romantic relationship with a coworker for the purpose of improving their workplace status had lower levels of employee engagement.  While this result was anticipated by researchers, the impact uncertainty plays in workplace relationships with regards to engagement was not.  Rather than a decrease to employee engagement, engagement increases the more uncertainty within the relationship!  So while a recent CareerBuilder survey found 37% of people say they have dated a coworker of which 33% have led to marriage – clearly not all coworkers are thrilled about it.  But you have a policy, so that can’t be happening in your company, right?  The same survey shows that 45% of survey were unsure if their company had a dating policy.  Yes, another study to suggest only HR reads the handbook – great.

In summary – some guidance is needed in the workplace and when it comes to office romances.  It’s unlikely that a healthy balance will happen organically.  Too strict of a policy – a company is likely to lose talent and make for an unrealistic vibe in which employees are forced to leave or lie.  Too vague of a policy – layout the welcome mat for the NLRB and expect to have some weird discussions with your leaders (23% of CareerBuilder survey participants admitting to dating someone in the office say they dated someone at a higher level within the company).  Take a proactive approach.  Develop your policies around the culture you wish to create rather than reactively creating policies solely to ward off lawsuits.  Only good employees follow policies, bad employees look for loopholes – and find them.  Review your policies today – who are you tailoring them to?

Does Comey’s interview satisfy workplace investigation criteria?

Objective. Genuine. Thorough.  The three keys to a successful workplace investigation.  Granted, consequences of today’s Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing extend beyond those directly involved but also the security of a nation.  But from a business perspective – Comey is a former employee, the government an employer, Trump a top executive, and the Senate Intelligence Committee HR in this serves as the “investigation”.  How do you rate it?

It’s fair to say that no one looks forward to a workplace investigation.  When handled correctly though, a well-done investigation helps to maintain the ethical integrity of an employer and its people, identifies areas where improvement is needed, and ensures everyone plays an active part guarding and creating their workplace culture.  But when tensions are high – as they usually are when an investigation is underway, how are investigations to be handled?  Here are some tips.

Investigate without bias.

Investigations usually fall to the company’s HR professional.  But what happens if you do not have an HR person?  Or, what if your company’s HR person is involved in the investigation?  Should an HR professional be tasked with investigating his/her own boss?  In such cases, look outside the organization for someone to conduct the investigation on the company’s behalf.  An example being Uber’s relatively recent decision to hire former U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, to investigate allegations of discrimination and sexual harassment (which has already led to several changes).  Often attorneys and HR consultants can assist in these investigations.  Sign them to a non-disclosure and confidentiality agreement, ensuring findings remain confidential.  While this may not protect a company from legal claims made by employees (active or former), it minimizes risk of an outsider person having loose lips.  Additionally, hiring a person or firm to conduct an investigation suggests the company is making a good faith effort to maintain a fair and ethical culture, which can help should a formal legal matter later surface.

Seek truth, not agendas.

Unfortunately issues prompting an investigation are the result of a culmination of pitfalls.  Often the issue could’ve been addressed or prevented altogether early on by better communication, transparency, accessibility, or even policy.  Investigations can be painful for companies perhaps even more so for good-intended ones.  It is important therefore, to keep in mind that investigations are part of the process in becoming a better company.  Best to uncover an issue sooner versus later as problems often perpetuate over time.  Do not censor investigation results for fear they will expose the company is imperfect.  Be genuine in resolving issues and improving a company’s culture over all else.  A good company can endure valuable criticism.  A good investigator is an honest one.  An investigation that instead seeks to vilify a scapegoat in hopes of allowing a company to save face ultimately serves no one, for long.

It ain’t over, ‘til it’s over.

The only thing worse than a workplace investigation is revisiting a workplace investigation.  Buckle down, complete it, follow-up with all involved, and document it.  While it is rare that post-investigation conversations are full of sunshine and rainbows, even bad news is better than the assumptions typically made accusers, or the accused.  Investigate every aspect possible.  Thorough investigations are often time consuming and yes, unpleasant.  As mentioned previously however, issues prompting an investigation are likely due to a multitude of mishaps, oversights, and miscommunication.   Botched investigations may be viewed as willful or retaliatory.  Do not let your investigation be another symptom of company growing pangs.  It may be the most costly one of all.

Need help with conducting your workplace investigation?  Contact us today.

 

WHERE HAVE ALL THE TEACHERS GONE…..AND WHAT ARE SCHOOLS DOING TO KEEP THEM?

According to a report by the Learning Policy Institute, four leading factors, contributing to a national teacher shortage are: 1) a decline in teacher preparation enrollments, 2) district efforts to return to pre-recession pupil-teacher ratios, 3) increasing student enrollment, and 4) high teacher attrition.  While often labor shortages can be temporary, reflective of a change to an industry or economy, this four-part combination, consisting of issues in attracting new teachers as well as retaining existing teachers suggests more of a failing culture of an entire profession.  Even be more alarming?  How school districts are responding to the shortage when compared to other industries faced with this same challenge.

Education is not the only industry experiencing a labor shortage.  Various news sources suggest that the US is suffering from labor shortages in skilled laborers, truckers, manufacturing, landscaping, and even hospitality.  It is however perhaps the industry with the slowest reaction.  Though reasons for each shortage may vary, it’s important companies within each affected industry look to focus recruiting and retention strategies around these driving forces.  When faced with staffing challenges employers are forced to innovate and again give attention to their most valuable asset – their people.  So, as dealerships shift their recruiting efforts to technical schools, or companies incorporate profit sharing incentives into skilled laborer compensation packages, it seems very little has changed in recruiting or retaining teachers.  Below are two of the most common “people strategies” implemented in a time where competing for talent is fierce.  Are schools in your community competing for talent?

Get social.

Perhaps the most powerful strategy given the role social media plays in society – social media, when used wisely, can be helpful in both attracting and retaining talent.  Monster.com provides a brief case study of Sodexo, a company committed to helping corporate clients improve performance and promote well-being through a variety of life service offerings, who after incorporating social media in their recruiting efforts saw a 25% increase in candidates. In a separate Monster.com article, social media is labeled a “virtual water cooler”, a powerful tool when shaping a workplace culture with intention.  Although navigating the world of social media within the workplace may be tricky – particularly for the public sector – is it a risk worth trying?  With growing student enrollment, high attrition, and low recruitment, shortages are predicted to grow to 112,000 by 2018.  By monitoring social media accounts and implementing a healthy social media policy, could school districts create a brand worth following?

Know your team.

What drives your teachers to teach?  As any manager or supervisor should be able to answer this simple yet important question about the people that report to them – a Principal or Superintendent should be able to answer this same question regarding their teachers.  Whether through a survey or one-on-one conversation, knowing your team is key.  If you can’t answer this question about the team you represent, make it a point to ask the question next meeting.  The asking is the most important part.  Recognizing and respecting their answer is an extremely close second.  The answer they provide, keeping in mind that it may change over time, is the key to keeping them engaged….and whether the private sector or public sector, engaged employees are critical to success.  According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, engaged employees have 41% lower absenteeism, 24% lower turnover, and 17% higher productivity – all extremely beneficial when workload is high but headcount is low.

So, while many discussions focus on better pay and benefits – also important aspects to consider when examining a labor crisis such as that of teachers – consider what the schools are doing in your community now regarding these two solutions that can be done for minimal cost.  They are solutions well-tested in the private sector, helping to distinguish the ideas of tomorrow from the antiquated traditions of the past.  Cinematographer, Conrad Hall said, “You are always a student, never a master.  You have to keep moving forward.”  Can the lessons in human capital learned from business be key to advancing education forward?

Contact a Culture Engineer

5 MYTHS ABOUT THE AZ PAID SICK TIME LAW SOON LEADING TO PENALTIES

On November 18th, 2016, Arizona’s Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act (Prop 206), passed with high voter approval increasing both minimum wage and mandated paid sick leave for Arizona employers.  While the minimum wage increase has been in effect since January 1st, the paid sick time portion of the mandate takes effect July 1st.  Generally, a state without severe weather, this new paid sick time standard is likely to rock Arizona employers like a hurricane largely due to the lack of attention received as most headlines focused on the minimum wage impact to employers.  Unfortunately, silence appears to have left many employers being unaware of the paid sick time portion or feeling they are unaffected.  Here are the top 5 myths we have found, leaving employers ill-prepared for the July 1st change.

Myth #1 – The Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act doesn’t apply to companies with fewer than 15 employees.

Perhaps the most common myth we’ve uncovered, unlike other similar labor laws and protections, the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act does not have a small business exemption.  Under the Act, “employer” is defined as any corporation, proprietorship, partnership, joint venture, limited liability company, trust, association, political subdivision of the state, individual or other entity acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee, but does not include the state of Arizona, the United States.  Therefore, the new law applies whether the company has one employee or 1,000 employees.  The only aspect that differs based on number of employees is the minimum cap of either 40 hours of paid sick time for employers with 15+ employees and 24 hours of paid sick time to employers with less than 15 employees.

Myth #2 – Only full-time employees are entitled to paid sick time under the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act.

Employees, full-time and part-time alike, are to accrue one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked.  While many larger employers likely have some sort of time off or better yet, sick time benefit and policy, it’s possible that it speaks to only full-time employees.  This change then forcing even larger, more prominent Arizona employers to revise their policies and practices around paid sick time.

Myth #3 – Seasonal and/or temporary employees are not eligible to accrue paid sick time.

Employees are to accrue paid sick time upon hire or July 1st, 2017, whichever is later – period.  Employers can however, implement a 90-day waiting period before allowing employees to use their accrued sick time.  So, it is possible to hire a seasonal or temporary employee for a 90-day period in which he/she will accrue paid sick time but will not meet the eligibility requirement to use it, so long as the duration of employment does not exceed 90 days, required by your sick time policy.  If an employee leaves the company and is rehired within nine months from separation, the employee is entitled to any previously accrued, unused paid sick time immediately upon rehire.  In summary, if employment exceeds 90 days or the employee should be rehired within nine months of separating, the employee, regardless of whether or not he/she is working in a temporary or seasonal capacity, becomes eligible to use accrued paid sick time.

Myth #4 – Straight commission employees are not entitled to paid sick time.

Here’s where things get tricky as Prop 206 does not clearly address the issue of calculating paid sick time rates for those with variable pay (due to commissions or “piecework” type pay systems).  Instead, employers should look to the enforcing agency, the Industrial Commission of Arizona which encourages employers, in the absence of guidance, to calculate an average hourly rate using time worked and compensation earned in the previous 90 days.  Needless to say, payroll processors can anticipate a frustrating first few payroll runs following July 1st in calculating sick time payouts for unique pay structures.

Myth #5 – Companies with PTO accruals that exceed 40 hours/year do not need to be reviewed.

Aside from the financial and administrative burdens associated with the changes brought by the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act, there are also legal challenges, particularly for small employers.  Employers with less than 15 employees are likely unfamiliar with handling retaliation, and discrimination claims or reasonable accommodation discussions.  This law allows for employees to use paid sick time for a variety of reasons, beyond what many may associate with the notion of sick time, forcing some potentially risky conversations to take place between employees and untrained managers.  Acceptable reasons for an employee to use accrued sick time as outlined in the Act include:

  • An employee’s mental or physical illness, injury or health condition; an employee’s need for medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition; an employee’s need for preventive medical care;
  • Care of a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition; care of a family member who needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition; care of a family member who needs preventive medical care;
  • Closure of the employee’s place of business by order of a public official due to a public health emergency or an employee’s need to care for a child whose school or place of care has been closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency, or care for oneself or a family member when it has been determined by the health authorities having jurisdiction or by a health care provider that the employee’s or family member’s presence in the community may jeopardize the health of others because of his or her exposure to a communicable disease, whether or not the employee or family member has actually contracted the communicable disease; or
  • To relocate or seek legal or medical services for the employee or family member who was subject to domestic violence, sexual violence, abuse or stalking.

So, when your employee calls out, do you ask for a reason?  If your policy is to avoid questioning absences because you have a PTO policy (and do not designate sick from vacation time), have you inadvertently given way for the employee to use the entire PTO balance to cover incremental unplanned absences?  Can coming in late, leaving early, and any schedule deviations then become unmanageable.  This is especially important as this Act also protects activities related to paid sick time in a way similar to the Family Medical Leave Act.

The Act does allow an employer to require reasonable documentation for absences of three or more consecutive days; however, “reasonable” as outlined in the Act is broad.  Attempts by the employer to challenge documentation should be done so with extreme caution given protections in using sick time.  Furthermore, employees are to be made aware of this change – informed of how much time they have accrued and used with each pay period.

 

With far reaching impact, particularly for small-to-medium sized Arizona companies, it’s important businesses start taking note now as July 1st is quickly approaching.  Like most things, waiting until the deadline will only allow for more expensive and less effective solutions.  Take the time to review the changes or engage a local expert to help guide your company with the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act. Labeled by supporters as a substantial step in ensuring Arizonans can “take care of their families without risking their jobs”, we now need to ensure companies are taking care of their employees without risking their ability to succeed.

REQUEST HELP WITH PROP 206 COMPLIANCE

When is break time?

Why do you offer breaks to your employees? Is it good for morale? Does it help ensure better quality? Well, for 21 states, if you’re a company operating in the private sector – it may be because it’s required.

Private sector employers in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia have minimum requirements for meal and/or break periods. While a company may choose to go above and beyond the minimum, the following is important for all employers to make note of, regardless of state requirements:

Track time worked by hourly employees
The actual time “worked” by an employee is a very valuable piece of information as it is used for a variety of calculations and reports. Internally, this figure can be used to determine productivity and efficiency, employee benefit eligibility, leave entitlement, and calculating overtime for payroll purposes. More broadly, this figure is reported in annual OSHA 300(A) logs, and may even be what makes or breaks a company’s worker’s comp rates (as rates take into account payroll dollars). Should the company for any reason be subjected to an audit, employers can most certainly expect to be questioned about “time worked” – given the impact this figure has on a company, and its employees. So, aside from being able to track and comply with break period requirements, an accurate “time worked” figure for hourly employees will be beneficial, legally and financially.

Consider breaks as part of an accommodation
What if an employee is taking more frequent or longer breaks than permitted? Is this a behavioral issue? Should you warn the employee or perhaps dismiss them altogether? Before moving too quickly to judgement, discuss (and of course document) a conversation with the employee. What is his/her reason for deviating from break policies? If it’s due to a medical condition or medical needs of the employee, be prepared for an accommodation discussion. A request for accommodation is not always an obvious or formal interaction. As with most expectation conversations – it’s best to first have a discussion with the employee to understand the reasons behind issues around behavior or performance. A simple accommodation such as an additional or extended break may be a worthwhile step in retaining an exceptional employee as well as avoiding unnecessary, public, legal issues.

Don’t overlook employee morale
What does your policy around breaks say about your company? Does it suggest a company that is concerned about its employees and their well-being? Or, does it suggest a company that offers only what it must? Company culture is not something that is created in a mission statement or on a company website, but collectively by policies, practices, priorities – put together and/or upheld by the company’s leadership. Let your policies reflect the priorities of the company while taking into consideration minimum requirements. Then consider, “is the minimum enough for us”?

Requirements for the 21 states listed above may be found on the US Department of Labor Wage & Hour website. Be sure your policies and practices around breaks and rest period are compliant today.

https://www.dol.gov/whd/state/meal.htm

Contact a Culture Engineer