WageWatch Ibrief Blog

Login

MOTIVATING EMPLOYEES BY JOB DESIGN

With changing demographics and a more competitive job market, human resources are more challenged than ever before to hire, engage, maintain and keep employees happy and motivated.  Workers want more choice and flexibility in how they approach tasks, for example, more opportunities to work collaboratively.  They look for more opportunities to change duties, for exploration, to learn and to advance in their career in a less linear way.    It is not only desirable but essential for businesses to have motivated employees.  Today many human resource professionals are looking at how to design jobs, work environments, and cultures that motivate employees.

Job specialization is the earliest approach to job design. Job specialization is efficient but leads to boredom and monotony. Early alternatives to job specialization include job rotation, job enlargement, and job enrichment.

Job rotation involves moving employees from job to job at regular intervals. When employees periodically move to different jobs, the monotonous aspects of job specialization can be relieved.

Job enlargement consists of making a job larger in scope by combining additional task activities into each job through expansion

Job enrichment is concerned with designing jobs that include a greater variety of work content, require a higher level of knowledge and skill, give the worker more autonomy and responsibility, and provide the opportunity for personal growth.

Research shows that there are five job components that increase the motivating potential of a job: skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback.

  • Skills
    • People will be more motivated if they are using a variety of skills in their positions, rather than one thing repeatedly.
  • Tasks
    • Employees are motivated to complete tasks if they identify with them and have seen them through from start to finish.
    • When employees feel that their work is significant to their organization, they are motivated to do well
  • Autonomy
    • Employees like to be able to make decisions and have flexibility in their roles. Most employees will have lowered motivation if they feel they have no freedom or are being micromanaged.
  • Feedback
    • Employees need feedback (both positive and negative) in order to stay motivated.

The quality of life in a total job and work environment is also an important part of a positive and motivating experience for employees.  The elements included in ‘quality of life’ include open communication equitable reward system, employees’ job security and satisfaction, participative management, development of employee skill, etc.  Since a significant amount of one’s life is spent at work, jobs need to provide satisfaction for sustained interest.  Jobs provide employees not only a living but also help in achieving other goals such as economic, social, political and cultural.

The concept of empowerment extends the idea of autonomy.  The idea behind empowerment is that employees have the ability to make decisions and perform their jobs effectively.  Instead of dictating employees roles, companies create an environment where employees thrive, feel motivated, and have the discretion to make decisions about the content and context of their jobs. Empowerment is a contemporary way of motivating employees through job design.

A growing body of research on the relational structures of jobs suggests that interpersonal relationships play a key role in making the work experience important and meaningful to employees.  Interpersonal relationships can often enhance employees’ motivations, opportunities, and resources at work.

Though employees need to have some intrinsic motivation (internal motivation) to complete the tasks assigned to them in their roles, they also need to be motivated by their employers. By designing jobs that encompass all of the core characteristics, you can help increase employee motivation, in turn improving performance.

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary, incentive and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. The PeerMark™ Wage Survey is the only Web-based custom survey tool that allows individual survey participants to select their competitive set for comparison purposes.  Our experienced compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs.  We can help you ensure internal equity and compliance with regulations as well as help you structure your compensation programs to support your company’s business strategy and objectives.   For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data, and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

HUMAN RESOURCES SHIFTING FOCUS FOR 2017

The traditional workforce is changing faster than our organizations can keep up and the way employees work is becoming more fluid, flexible, and dynamic.  In 2017 Human Resource leaders need to rethink traditional policies to meet the needs of a more open, expressive, and changing workforce.  With changing demographics and a more competitive job market, human resources are more challenged than ever before to hire, engage, maintain, and keep employees happy and motivated.  Human Resource Professionals should strive to become more innovative, nimble, and observant, and to create agiler human-natured organizations.

Millennials are now the predominant group in the workplace and we have the most diverse, multi-generational workforce in history. HR professionals are challenged with understanding what drives each group and trying to keep everyone happy.  Benefits and other programs may need to be redesigned to meet those needs.

Over the last couple of decades, technology has made it easier to work and to be expected to work beyond the 40-hour workweek.  While some jobs truly require this, many don’t.   More employees are now pushing back on this trend.  Employers who limit intrusions into employees’ time off will have an edge in attracting and retaining good employees who want to be able to leave their jobs at the office. Help people take time off.  Many employees don’t use all the vacation time that their benefits package offers. This may be because they don’t feel that their workload allows it or due to workplace culture.  Studies show that well-rested, refreshed employees are more productive and less likely to burn out.

Workers want more choice and flexibility in how they approach tasks, for example, more opportunities to work collaboratively.  They look for more opportunities to change duties, for exploration, to learn and to advance in their career in a less linear way.   Put more into training and developing staff.  As companies have tried to do more work for less money, their employees often bear the brunt of those sacrifices.  Make this the year that you invest in your employees as a long-term investment in your organization.

While recent years have been tough on business, it has also been tough on employees.  As business tightened its belt, employees were expected to take on more work, more hours, and more stress.  Budgets may still be tight, but recognizing and rewarding your employees’ efforts is essential.   Get creative with rewards.  Find out what your employees need and want.

Make sure feedback is timely, appropriate, and genuine. This will go a long way with the employee and makes for a more positive workplace environment overall.  Feedback is one of the strongest tools managers have for getting better results from their teams.  Talking to your employees about the areas in which you’d like to see improve or describing what you’d like to see done differently can go a long way toward making that change happen.  Positive feedback will generally keep people motivated and display the behaviors that drove the praise in the first place.

2017 will continue to see our workplaces evolve into more humane, people-centered spaces. Rather than reacting to pressure from business leaders and employees, HR leaders will need to rethink traditional policies to meet the needs of a more open and expressive workforce, taking a front seat in driving successful business outcomes.

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary, incentive and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. The PeerMark™ Wage Survey is the only Web-based custom survey tool that allows individual survey participants to select their competitive set for comparison purposes.  Our experienced compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs.  We can help you ensure internal equity and compliance with regulations as well as help you structure your compensation programs to support your company’s business strategy and objectives.   For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data, and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

THE DATA TELLS A STORY

Determining the appropriate salary level is never as simple as we would like. The reason is that despite all the diligent work that goes into salary surveys, the resulting pay data for a given job is always a broad range.  So deciding what precisely to pay an individual takes good judgment that comes with experience.

The challenge in the interpretation of salary survey data is that it requires a combination of good analytics and common sense. The reality is that often a lot of work is required in order to analyze market pay and determine your pay point and pay range. This often involves analyzing several surveys and/or survey reports and considering other factors such as company strategy, payroll budget, and internal equity before landing on an appropriate salary.  As Compensation and HR professionals we have to be able to say, here is the data, here is how it is analyzed, and here are the judgments we made as experienced professionals.

The WageWatch PeerMark ™ report allows our survey participants to build their own competitive sets, select from a list of 300+ job titles, and quickly generate a market variance report for the participant’s local market.  For the more demanding and complex data needs, a WageWatch Consultant can build your custom reports for you that will meet your specific needs. We will work with you to define your report specifications, target market areas, competitive set and any other specifications.

WageWatch compensation consultants are your data partners on whom you can rely on to get the most comparable data from your market, with the expertise to know how and what data to extract from each market or sub-market in order to provide you with survey report(s) containing the best competitive results.  Custom reports solve many compensation problems.  For example you may run into a market area that is heavy with one or two competitors not allowing you to report any data or perhaps the survey market does not contain enough competitors of a similar size and scope that fits your organizational needs.  This is where our compensation consultants can assist having the experience needed to work around some of these challenges and capture your specific needs such as peer groups, industry focus or geographic cut.  This additional data analysis can enhance the overall story that you will have to present back to your executive team.   We can build multi-market competitive sets across multiple locations. These many be niche markets in highly competitive hyper segments or broad multi-city or state benchmarks for management companies entering new markets. Custom reports can also be powerful resources for developing union defense strategies, management and executive job pricing, pricing jobs in rural markets with few competitors, segmenting markets into micro markets, and blending markets into macro markets.

WageWatch compensation consultants can also help you with your analysis of the market data compared to your current salary ranges and incumbent salaries to update your current structure or in creating a whole new structure.  Perhaps you are looking at moving more toward performance-based pay.  We are prepared and experienced to be able to help you with a variety of compensation needs, for example,  analyzing the compensation impact of organizational changes with an internal equity and external competitiveness analysis. Our analysis is full service.  In addition to the compensation review, our consultants can help with FLSA classifications, hybrid jobs, writing job descriptions, mapping new organization charts, and crafting employee communications.

As the economy continues to improve, we expect to see more pressure put on salary budgets and merit increases in order to meet rising demand for talent. Our consultants can work with you to get the balance right on budgeted wage increases and their relationship with structure adjustments.  When wage increases and adjustments are made, often other potential concerns are uncovered such as wage compression and paying out of range. WageWatch consultants are here to offer comprehensive guidance on your structure maintenance and adjustment requirements.

WageWatch salary surveys provide data tools and report statistics for analysts of all experience levels. Please contact WageWatch if you need assistance with interpretation the statistics reported, help building custom reports, or have a need for our wide range of consulting services. For more information on our services and surveys please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

 

 

BEST PRACTICES FOR BONUS COMMUNICATION AND DELIVERY

The primary purpose of an annual incentive or bonus plan is to drive and reward behaviors that have an impact on the operating success of the company.  When designing your incentive plan you need to have a clear measurement system for what success is in your company and then make sure the measurements are meaningful to the employees who are doing the work.  For any incentive plan to be effective it needs to be meaningful and have clarity relating both to the plan provisions and to the results needed to earn and maximize an award and the award should be attainable.  Employees need to see a link between how their job performance affects results, and the award amount needs to be sufficient enough to motivate.

Generally, two to four performance metrics are included in a bonus plan design.  The metrics are primarily financial, though quantifiable business objectives can also be used. Corporate or business unit financial metrics are used to fund the incentive pool, and individual performance measures may also be used to determine final individual payouts.   Results that are measured can be quantitative and qualitative, such as customer service quality, the number of customers served, and the effectiveness of programs, etc. Often a balanced scorecard approach is used.

Employers should give careful attention not only to the design but also to the implementation and communication of incentive programs.  The most common pitfall when creating a bonus program is inadequate communication.  Bonus plan communications should be both clear and timely.  Make sure the plan is communicated prior to the beginning of the bonus period and this initial bonus communication should address the structure of the plan, decision-making criteria, fairness, measurability, and target.  Equally important are follow-up communications regarding the progress toward attainment of the goals that should happen at frequent and regular intervals throughout the bonus plan period.  You want your employees to have an on-going understanding of where they are and what they need to do to meet and/or exceed their bonus target.

When bonuses are paid or awarded, clear communications again are very important.  Managers should have individual meetings with each bonus plan recipient and clearly communicate the outcome for the incentive period.  Whatever the amount, be sure to let the recipient know that he/she is valued.  Be sure to discuss specific accomplishments and strengths that went into the bonus award.  If the employee was expecting more, be sure to emphasize the broader context of the company’s approach to bonuses.   Let each person know how the bonus was calculated.  No matter what the award is, the conversation regarding the award amount is an opportunity not only for clarity and understanding but to thank the individual for their hard work and to hopefully improve morale and motivate for future performance.

Employees want to know they are being fairly compensated for their work and their job performance.  Bonus plans that are meaningful to your employees and aligned with the bottom line of your company can help build moral and drive behaviors that are critical to the success of the company.

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary, incentive and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. The PeerMark™ Wage Survey is the only Web-based custom survey tool that allows individual survey participants to select their competitive set for comparison purposes.  Our experienced compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs.  We can help you ensure internal equity and compliance with regulations as well as help you structure your compensation programs to support your company’s business strategy and objectives.   For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data, and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

JOINT EMPLOYER LIABILITY

The use of sub-contractors, temporary staffing, leased employees and independent contractors can provide employers with quick temporary staffing and reduce benefits and payroll costs. However, the employer client can be considered a joint employer with the leasing or temporary agency when they share certain key employment terms such as the ability to hire, fire or discipline the workers, affect their compensation and benefits, and direct and supervise their performance.  When businesses use temporary agency, leased, or contract workers, though the employer is the temporary help, leasing, or contracting company, the client business may be regarded as a joint employer under some laws.

The Family and Medical Leave Act has specific language regarding joint employer relationships. While the leasing or temporary help agency is the primary employer, the client company may be required to place the worker in the same or comparable position upon his or her return from FMLA leave.  Additionally, leased and temporary workers will count as employees of the client company for the purposes of determining whether a business is subject to the FMLA regulations.

In the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982, leased and temporary workers are the client’s employees for the purposes of qualifying retirement plans and certain fringe benefits such as life insurance and cafeteria plans (does not apply to health insurance benefits), if the workers have been engaged with the client company on a full-time basis for a minimum of one year and the client company primarily controls or directs their work.

An employer can face a charge of discrimination under Title VII anti-discrimination legislation brought by an individual who worked for the employer under one of these leasing or sub-contractor relationships.

It has also come into question with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) whether leased and temporary workers must be included in collective bargaining agreements that cover the client’s regular employees.

Some states have passed legislation on joint employer liability as it pertains to workers’ compensation regulation.  New York ruled that the client is the common law employer of leased employees and is therefore primarily responsible for providing workers’ compensation benefits. To date there have been no guidelines for joint employer status under OSHA or other health and safety regulations.

Employers need to be aware of and have guidelines regarding the degree of control they have over these temporary, leased and contract workers. The greater the degree of control, the greater the likelihood that the employer could be determined to be a joint employer.

At WageWatch our compensation consultants are focused on your organization’s compensation needs and ready to help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives. WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practices data that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

NEW FLSA OVERTIME REGULATIONS ARE IN TURMOIL

In September, 21 states sued the Department of Labor to block implementation of the FLSA overtime regulations slated to go into effect on December 1st of this year.  Separately, over 50 business groups challenged the DOL’s authority to establish a salary test for determining if an employee is or is not exempt from overtime. Those two cases were eventually consolidated.  On November 22nd, federal judge Amos Mazzant, a judge for the eastern district of Texas, appointed by President Barack Obama, entered a nationwide preliminary injunction to stop the implementation of the new overtime regulations. The new regulations would have increased the minimum salary for exempt “white collar” executive, administrative and professional employees from $455 per week to $913 per week, or $47,476 per year.

The Federal Court ruled that Congress intended the EAP exemption to apply to employees doing actual executive, administrative, and professional duties rather than an employee’s salary.  The Court concluded, that the new regulations, which raise the salary threshold significantly would have created “essentially a de facto salary-only test.”  The Court explained, “[t]he [DOL’s] role is to carry out Congress’s intent.  If Congress intended the salary requirement to supplant the duties test, then Congress, and not the Department, should make that change.”

This past Thursday, December 1st, the DOL filed an appeal asking the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the preliminary injunction against its new overtime regulations. Since an appeal in the Fifth Circuit can take a year or more, many labor experts and attorneys expect there will be further legislative or administrative action once the Inauguration occurs and a new Secretary of Labor is in place and this likely will happen well before a final court ruling takes place.

However, many employers have already implemented changes, by either raising exempt employees’ salaries to meet the new threshold or reclassifying employees who are still earning less to nonexempt status.  Employers who have already implemented such changes, may want to leave decisions in place as It would be difficult to take back salary increases.  Employers may want to postpone reclassifications that have not yet been done to give the litigation a chance to play out.  And Employers may want to communicate that there may be future changes depending on Federal Court, Congressional, or Trump administration activities.  Employers shouldn’t assume that the overtime rule will be permanently barred and should have a plan to move forward if necessary in the future.

This said, here are a few possible future scenarios that could unfold:

  • A lame-duck Congress comes up with a compromise bill for President Obama’s signature (not likely);
  • President Elect Trump addresses this after his confirmation by abandoning the Obama administration’s defense of the final rule; and
  • The new administration may introduce legislation seeking a compromise, with a lower, or graduated salary threshold increase, and without the automatic escalator clause.

Regardless of what action the current administration or the new administration take, it is very likely we will see more activity at the state and local government levels. Unions are leading the effort for a $15 minimum wage at the state and local levels. They have had some success in California, Oregon, Washington and New York. As part of that effort, adding a doubling of salary for exempt employees is a logical extension of the unions’ efforts. Why? Because the minimum wage effort impacts exempt employees under FLSA. Exempt employees who are not paid for overtime may see their line employees earning more than they do.

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date HR metrics, benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. The PeerMark™ Wage Survey is the only Web-based custom survey tool that allows individual survey participants to select their competitive set for comparison purposes.  Our experienced compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs.  We can help you ensure internal equity and compliance with regulations as well as help you structure your compensation programs to support your company’s business strategy and objectives.   For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

Mindfulness: Embraced by Businesses

In a world where multitasking and information overload are the norm, an old idea, Mindfulness, is becoming increasingly appealing to organizations who are effectively applying it to their businesses.  Mindfulness is training the mind to focus. Our ability to concentrate is seriously compromised the more we multitask. And technology, though useful to us in so many ways has actually impeded our ability to concentrate or to be mindful of what matters moment by moment. If you would like to investigate further for your organization or for yourself, Psychology Today has an overview of the practice

(http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/mindfulness) on their website.

 

Many Fortune 500 and other organizations are embracing and promoting mindfulness for their workforce.  Business schools are beginning to teach mindfulness and it is included in many MBA programs. In the workplace, mindfulness is a skill that aids concentration, clarity and equanimity.  Present moment awareness keeps your mind from dwelling on the past or obsessing on the future.  Becoming more aware of what is going on around you allows us to be fully focused on the task at hand and more likely to spot opportunities. Mindfulness also makes us more conscious of what is going on within us, helping to identify and remove subconscious thinking that can be obstacles to success. Mindfulness also enhances creativity, innovation, and improves the brain’s ability to process information.  So it is not surprising that more and more corporations are embracing mindfulness as a business practice.

 

To be mindful is to be awake, to be conscious, to be aware and to appreciate the impact of one’s actions. Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly witnessing one’s thoughts and feelings without judgment.  Mindfulness is a 2,500 year old tradition of Eastern Cultures that now is considered a science of the mind.  Many consider mindfulness to have its origins Buddhism; however, it can be traced back more than 2,500 years ago, when Hindus practiced a range of meditations, which included mindfulness.

 

It may be time to consider mindfulness, as a business skill.  Extensive research has been done over the last 15 years that show mindfulness is linked to psychological and physical, health. It decreases blood pressure, regulates the heart, increases the immune function, and enhances memory.  It essentially, rewires our brain.  The idea that increasing mindfulness may lead to better decision-making deserves attention.

At WageWatch our compensation consultants are focused on your organization’s compensation needs and ready to help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives. WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practices data that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online .

MINIMUM WAGE UPDATE JANUARY 2017

Voters in four states Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington approved ballot measures that will raise their state minimum wage by between 43% and 60% over the next few years.  Arizona, Colorado, and Maine will incrementally increase their minimum wages to $12 an hour by 2020. Washington’s will be increased incrementally to $13.50 an hour by 2020.

State increases that are effective January 2017 include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Vermont.  New York’s minimum wage will increase again December 31, 2016.  Maryland, Minnesota and Washington DC have minimum wage changes mid- year 2017.

New York is the second state to pass a new law to raise the minimum wage in New York City to $15 per hour by the end of 2018. Washington D.C. followed suit, enacting a law to raise the minimum wage in the District to $15 per hour by July 1, 2020.  California will increase their minimum wage to $15 per hour by Jan. 1, 2022, for employers with 26 or more employees. For employers with 25 or fewer employees the minimum wage will reach $15 per hour by Jan. 1, 2023. Increases may be paused by the governor if certain economic or budgetary conditions exist. Beginning the first Jan. 1 after the minimum wage reaches $15 per hour for smaller employers, the minimum wage is indexed annually for inflation.

Fourteen states began 2016 with higher minimum wages. Of those, 12 states increased their rates through legislation passed in the 2014 or 2015 sessions, while two states automatically increased their rates based on the cost of living.

Of the 11 states that currently tie increases to the cost of living, eight did not increase their minimum wage rates for 2016.

State and City minimum wage increases continue to make front page news. An unprecedented number of cities and counties have moved to adopt higher local minimum wages. In addition, cities are proposing substantially higher wage levels than in past years.  Cities with minimum wage ordinances include San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle (SEA-TAC), Montgomery County and Prince Georges County MD, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and others have already approved increases. Many other cities have ordinances that become effective in 2017 and beyond.

Follow this link to the WageWatch MinimumWage Chart with details of federal, state and local minimum wage and pending increases:

https://wagewatch.com/resources/Minimum_Wage_Chart_Jan_2017.xlsx

At WageWatch our compensation consultants are focused on your organization’s compensation needs and ready to help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives. WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practices data that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

Posted in Uncategorized on November 15th, 2016 · Comments Off on MINIMUM WAGE UPDATE JANUARY 2017

HOW ABOUT A SIX HOUR WORKDAY?

Can a move to a six hour workday increase productivity and the happiness quotient of employees and their families and at the same time increase productivity and company profits?   In the U.S., more than 60 years after workers, through their unions, began organizing for an eight-hour day in the 1860s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938 for all workers to see limits on working hours — initially 44 hours a week, then phased to 42 and eventually 40 by 1940.

Today some businesses in Sweden are trying out a six hour workday hoping to get more done in a shorter amount of time and ensure people have the energy to enjoy their private lives.   This change is purely experimental and a voluntary one that has not been mandated by law nor implemented nationwide.

A Toyota vehicle service center in Sweden’s second largest city Gothenburg, moved to shorter days thirteen years ago. The service center reported a happier staff, a lower turnover rate, and an increase in profits during that time.  The new system keeps the garages open longer and generates new business.  Employees are doing the same amount in the six hour workday, often more than they did in the eight hour day.  The service center reports that employees have more stamina to do this heavy work, and they have seen greater profits and customers because cars are getting fixed faster.

The most high-profile case in recent months is the publicly funded Svartedalens nursing home in west Sweden which started a trial of a six-hour day in February 2015 to continue until the end of 2016 when they will determine whether the cost of hiring new staff members to cover the hours lost is worth the improvements to patient care and boosting of employees’ morale.   The nursing home has 80 nurses working six hour shifts maintaining their eight-hour salaries while 80 staffers at another nursing home work their standard hours.  At half way through 2016, the nursing home trying the six hour workday has half the average sick leave, the nurses are happier and the care is better.   The study however, equates productivity with quality of care, which doesn’t necessarily translate to white-collar work.

Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska University Hospital’s orthopedics unit switched 89 nurses and doctors to a six hour day last year, hiring 15 staffers to ensure the hospital work got done. The test was expensive, costing the hospital $123,000 a month, but no one has called in sick since it began and the nurses and doctors have been found to be more efficient.

A number of startup companies have announced that they are also testing the concept. These include Background AB, a creative communication agency in Falun, Dalarna and Filimundus, an app developer based in Stockholm.   Linus Feldt, Filimundus CEO believes that staying focused on a specific work task for eight hours is a huge challenge.  During an eight or more hour workday, employees take frequent breaks and look for distractions and diversions such as social media to make the work day more endurable.  With the six hour work day, staff members at Filimundus are not allowed on social media, meetings are kept to a minimum, and the company does it’s best to eliminate other unproductive distractions.

Most of the companies who have made the shift to the six hour workday have reported a positive impact, from increased efficiency to better communication and fewer staff sick days.  A 2014 Stanford University research paper found a “non-linear” relationship between hours worked and productivity as well as too much work can actually impinge productivity.  According to a study by the Families and Work Institute, overworked employees make more mistakes.  Research has shown that condensing work into more efficient hours is very unlikely to hurt productivity.  There is no need to lower pay and in fact companies are likely to save money through less sick and personal leave, less stress leading to better health, and lower turnover costs.

Opponents to the 6 hour workday feel that if Sweden were to adopt this standard, the economy would suffer from reduced competitiveness and strained finances.  The six-hour day has not being embraced by larger Swedish companies and other towns in Sweden that previously tested shorter workdays ultimately abandoned them.  In the northern city of Kiruna, officials scrapped a six-hour day for 250 municipal employees after 16 years, citing high expenses and resentment among workers who were not part of the program.

The 6 hour work day would be less accepted in the U.S. because the eight+ hour workday ethic is so deeply embedded in our culture.  According to Gallup’s 2014 poll, full-time employees in the U.S. work an average of 47 hours per week.  It will be interesting to watch how the six hour workday plays out in Sweden.  However, even with encouraging results, it’s unlikely that the U.S. will shift to shorter days any time soon.  The rest of the world (outside of Europe) a 40 hour work week would be very nice improvement as well.

At WageWatch our compensation consultants are focused on your organization’s compensation needs and ready to help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives. WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practices data that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

Posted in Uncategorized on November 9th, 2016 · Comments Off on HOW ABOUT A SIX HOUR WORKDAY?

Independent Contractor or Employee?

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck.  In other words, if you are treating the ‘independent contractor’ like an employee by doing things such as providing work materials and office space, designating working hours, providing training and direction regarding how and when to perform the work, then the ‘independent contractor’ is most likely an employee.  Independent contractor is defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act, IRS regulations, and the decisions of some courts.  Many states also have specific independent contractor regulations.  The IRS and many states have adopted common law principles to define an independent contractor. These rules focus primarily on the level of control an employer has over a service or product. For independent contractors, the company can direct or control only the result of the work done, and not the means and methods in getting to the result.

The rules are not always clear-cut to determine the correct status, but generally characteristics of an Independent Contractor include:

  • The work assignment is temporary and typically for a specific project; and
  • The work assignment is not an integral part of the business and is not something typically done by employees.

The Independent Contractor will:

  • Supply his or her own equipment, materials and tools;
  • Pay for their own expenses;
  • Control the hours worked;
  • Determine how and when to perform the work;
  • Retain a degree of control and independence;
  • Operate under a business name and has his/her own employees; and
  • Advertise his/her business’ services and has more than one client.

Some courts and federal agencies use an “economic realities test” which looks at the dependence of the worker on the business.  If a large portion of a worker’s salary is from one specific company, this may qualify them as an employee. Other factors considered are level of skill, integral nature of the work, intent of the parties and payment of social security taxes and benefits.

Misclassification of an individual as an independent contractor may have a number of costly legal consequences such as reimbursement of all wages including overtime, taxes and penalties for federal and state income taxes, social security, Medicare and unemployment, providing employee benefits and workers compensation for any injuries.

There is no set number of factors that makes the worker an employee or an independent contractor.  Also, factors which are relevant in one situation may not be relevant in another.  The best approach is to look at the entire relationship, consider the degree or extent of the right to direct and control the work, and be sure to document all factors used in your determination process.

At WageWatch our compensation consultants are focused on your organization’s compensation needs and ready to help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives. WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practices data that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.