WageWatch Ibrief Blog

Login

Blog Archives

INTERNAL PAY EQUITY COMPLIANCE

A company’s approach to internal pay equity is as important as the actual pay programs it implements.  Many factors can impact internal pay equity such as internal increases remaining low while new hires demand salaries that exceed current tenured employees.  Organizations should conduct periodic pay equity studies to keep on top of potential pay equity risks and ensure an understanding of the pay structure, as well as knowledge of and ability to explain pay differences among comparable employees.

When conducting your pay equity study, be aware of these five major federal laws that address equal pay:

  1. The Equal Pay Act – equal pay for equal work among women and men.
  2. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin in all employment terms and conditions, including pay.
  3. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act clarifies that each paycheck containing discriminatory compensation is actionable under Title VII.
  4. Executive Order 11246 prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment decisions, including compensation, on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, when contracts or subcontracts exceed $10,000.
  5. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects the rights of most private-sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve their wages and working conditions.

Most companies keep a close eye on pay decisions, such as merit raises and starting pay and the processes that guide them.  Unfortunately, tracking individual decisions might not be enough.  The Ledbetter Act requires knowledge of past pay decisions that may have impacted a discrimination claim.  Pay today equals the pay at hire plus all subsequent changes in pay.  Comparing the current pay of employees who were dissimilar in the past means that more historical information may be needed to understand their pay differences.

Pay differences can be defended by differences in knowledge, skill, education, ability, effort or responsibility provided it is required to perform the job.  Pay equity studies typically rely on the data that is available such as job title or grade, time in the job, company seniority, performance ratings, increased percentages, geographic locations, education, and prior job experience.

A pay equity study may involve the appropriate legal counsel, an experienced analyst as well as HR information systems and compensation specialists.  Detailed analysis can point to employees who should be paid similarly but who are subject to large pay differences and will highlight additional factors that explain the difference or highlight inexplicable differences that merit adjustment.   Conducting a well-designed and well-executed pay equity study using well-maintained and complete data is a good business practice that serves as an important tool in managing the risk associated with allegations of pay discrimination.

Change can be challenging and demanding.  At WageWatch our compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs and help ensure your wages and salaries are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives.  In addition to our PeerMark Salary Survey for over 100 local lodging markets in the U.S. and Canada, we offer a National Benchmark Salary Survey.  With over 9,000 hotels and 200 casinos in our database, WageWatch’s hotel and gaming salary surveys are the most comprehensive surveys available to Human Resource professionals. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary surveys, benefit surveys, and custom compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

 

HIRING STRATEGIES IN A TIGHT JOB MARKET

It is becoming increasingly challenging to recruit top talent due to the relatively low unemployment rate, the increase in job openings, and the lack of experienced candidates.  These factors require that companies need to be more creative and aggressive in their hiring practices.  In addition, there has also been an attitude change; it is much less of ‘who do I want’ and more of ‘who wants me’ attitude.  Listed below are some tips that may help provide success in the search for new talent:

  • Use multiple forms of social media: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and actively engage on them. Connect to a related industry and check the posts and comments.  If there is someone who stands out,  you may have found a new employee
  • Turn part-time positions into full-time positions
  • Provide training opportunities for current employees to fill open positions
  • Restructure work in ways that adapt to the new workforce; reduce education and other requirements
  • Review the list of job skills and keep the essential skills versus losing a perfect candidate
  • Partner with a local community college and offer to speak with students; provide internship opportunities
  • Participate in job fairs and get involved in the local community
  • Speak at professional organizations and/or special interest meetings to meet potential candidates
  • Offer incentives to current employees who refer new hires, post open positions for visibility to all employees
  • Post for positions that you may have no intention of filling to gain a supply of candidates when a job does open-up
  • Provide a sign-on bonus to new employees
  • Ensure company website is mobile-friendly; a high percentage of searches are conducted using mobile devices

Another important factor is to understand the current perceptions of your company.  It is much easier to keep current employees versus hiring new employees.  It may be valuable to consider the following tactics to retain your current talent:

  • Be more competitive in wages
  • Provide employees stock ownership and/or stock options
  • Offer training programs for current employees to enhance bench strength
  • Provide a sense of organizational purpose and mission (valued by Millennials)
  • Permit flexible work schedules and work at home opportunities (valued by Millennials)

During the interview process, it is more important than ever to ensure that the process is as quick as possible to not lose viable candidates; ensure ongoing communication throughout the process to demonstrate interest.

Change can be challenging and demanding.  At WageWatch our compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs and help ensure your wages and salaries are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives.  In addition to our PeerMark  Salary Survey for over 100 local lodging markets in the U.S. and Canada, we offer a National Benchmark Salary Survey. With over 9,000 hotels and 200 casinos in our database, WageWatch’s hotel and gaming salary surveys are the most comprehensive surveys available to Human Resource professionals. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary surveys, benefit surveys, and custom compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

 

DRAMATIC CHANGES FOR PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT

Organizations are exploring some new and innovative performance management systems in an effort to truly inspire and motivate their teams with some encouraging results.  Traditional performance management systems typically set goals related to the business plan, utilize performance appraisals that are too lengthy, redundant, hastily completed to meet deadlines, and often don’t allow employees any real input.  Many HR leaders believe that performance reviews yield inaccurate results due to biased approaches and misleading inputs.  Performance Appraisals are essentially a forced ranking system that can actually be very demotivating.

The traditional systems are beginning to shift to a more effective coaching system that focuses on employee achievement of measurable goals and objectives rather than formalized annual appraisal systems that primarily communicate one-way.  There are many examples of progressive companies that have replaced their traditional performance management systems with a culture of coaching, feedback, development, and high performance. Critical to success is that everyone in a leadership role is trained on how to coach and provide constant performance feedback, which in turn, engages employees and creates a desire to continuously improve.

The goal of managing performance is being replaced with a goal of obtaining the best possible sustainable performance under the current circumstances.   Key elements of this new paradigm include:

  • Simplify the Process:  Train managers on how to coach, give feedback and regularly check in with employees.  Focus on developing employees rather than evaluating and giving them a ‘rating’.  Ask questions that help target what the employee needs, such as, “What skills would you most like to improve on?” or “What can I do to help you?”  Review employee progress more frequently making the process less intimidating and more sensitive.
  • Streamline, shorten or completely replace Performance Review forms: Replace the forms with on-going coaching and feedback.  Feedback must be timely to be meaningful.
  • More agile, relevant, frequent and transparent goal management:  Include employees in the discussion of key performance objectives, ensuring they understand the reasons for the goals and can see how they are linked to organizational goals.  Utilize more short-term goals that are easier for employees to derive meaning from what they do every day.  Create achievable goals and regularly monitor employee progress.
  • Address career goals and future training needs:  Include a system that supports follow-up and delivery of the training and career opportunities.  Create a culture where managers can delegate without feeling threatened, knowing they also have opportunity and training for the next career advancement.
  • Eliminate direct correlation between performance rating and compensation:  Make pay adjustments based on a combination of elements such as performance, customer and business impact, skill scarcity and the competitive nature of employees’ positions.

Employees want to perform at their best.  They want to understand the goals and to be motivated.  They want to contribute, be supported, to learn and to have fun.  Management and leaders need to create the conditions needed for a great performance to take place and for business to flourish.  The ideal process for managing performance is one that successfully motivates and supports staff to contribute to the achievement of the goals and objectives of the organization.  A culture that encourages on-going communication and coaching between managers and their employees has many benefits and advantages over traditional Performance Management.

Change can be challenging and demanding.  At WageWatch our compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs and help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives.  WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary surveys 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.

HUMAN RESOURCES ROLE IN INNOVATION

How can human resources contribute to innovation?  How can we turn new ideas into reality, break old paradigms, and step outside of the box with new solutions to old problems?  Innovation may begin with creativity but it is more than an idea — it takes place when great ideas come to fruition and make their mark in the world.  In the past, most businesses focused on continuous improvement of their products and services to maintain a competitive edge.  But in today’s economy, that’s not always enough.

As Human Resource professionals, we are fortunate to be responsible for many areas of an organization that can directly impact and contributes to innovation; including recruitment, performance management, recognition, rewards, training, and employee engagement.  Human Resources can also play a key role in creating an organizational structure and overall culture that fosters and supports innovation.

Recruiting can focus on hiring for innovation by identifying people who can “think outside the box” or have skills and capabilities that lend toward innovation.  Performance management can serve as a valuable tool in the creation of a sustainable culture of innovation.  Performance measures can give consideration as to whether or not employees are given the time and resources to experiment, generate and explore ideas, and make presentations to management.  Rewards can be used to reinforce the importance of innovation and recognition can be used to encourage and inspire employees to innovate and share ideas.  HR’s role in organizational design provides huge potential for enabling innovation.  For example, organizational design can be used to facilitate easier exchange of employees’ ideas across boundaries and functions.

An example of a human resource is driven innovation that used an out-of-the-box idea to improve the recruiting process is La Cantera Resort in San Antonio, TX, A Destination Hotel, they have incorporated an idea made popular by Disney, the Fast PASS.  In Disney’s version, guests can avoid the line and use a Fast PASS to get a ticket to ride an attraction at a specified time with limited to no waiting.  This helps improve the guest experience, improves wait times, improves communication and enhances the ability to meet the expectation of guests.  At Destination Hotels, they have incorporated this concept into their recruitment practices.  Special “FAST PASS” cards are given to managers who can spot people in their daily interactions (at grocery stores, restaurants, bars, the mall, etc.) providing exceptional customer service and invite them to consider an employment opening/opportunity with Destination.  They can call a specific number and get a “prioritized/guaranteed” in-person interview as opposed to filling out an application during certain hours and hoping for a chance to be considered.  Like Disney, the approach at Destination Hotels improves the experience for the candidate and the HR function/hiring managers.  It speeds up the ability to source the most qualified talent and create a match to open position needs at the resort. Destination competes on innovation.

While HR can have a significant impact on many of the key drivers of innovation, it is a collaborative process and requires many areas to come together in order to succeed.  Executive leaders hold the key to the level and success of innovation in their organization.  They control the strategic direction, influence the culture, and directly and indirectly control all organizational practices.   Managers must know how to lead innovative teams, and individuals must know how to apply innovative thinking.  Every department or function must be part of the process.  For example, Information Technology has become an enabler of innovative ideas, but it is also often the starting point for innovative products or services and Finance has a unique opportunity through the budget development to add innovation either as a line in the overall budget or as a percentage of every departmental budget.

Organizations need to develop practices that make it easier to innovate.  For example, at the core of an organization’s culture should be an acceptance of the need to experiment and understand that this comes with the risk of failure and that failure needs to be seen as a learning experience and an important step in the process.  Culture is definitely key to sustainable innovation.  The mindset and culture of the HR team have an exponential impact and influence on the entire organization.  HR leaders can help enable their organizations to differentiate themselves by understanding the critical importance of innovation today and how their role can contribute by attracting and keeping the most innovative people, constantly improving their skills and creating and enabling a culture of innovation.

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.

ARE YOU ATTRACTING TOP TALENT?

Organizations are finding it to be a huge challenge to attract and retain a group of talented and hardworking employees that are loyal to the company and its mission.  Finding high caliber employees with advanced skills to perform important jobs within a company is a challenge, especially as unemployment continues to decline.  Everyone is looking for top talent, and those companies that excel in attracting and retaining this talent are the ones that will reap the rewards.

To retain talent, it is essential that loyalty is established.  In order to do this, the employee must feel that their job is instrumental in achieving the goals of the company, making them excited to come into work each day and give it they’re all.  It is also important that the work the employee puts in is acknowledged, affirming their place within the company, and offering them opportunities for growth.

While compensation and benefits packages are one of the largest factors considered by employees, it isn’t enough to make the top talent stay.  The following are a few ways that you can attract and retain the best employees at your company:

  • Promote Open Communication
    When a company is completely open with employees, everyone will feel respected. Instead of allowing rumors to spread, let your employees know as soon as possible about anything that is going on in regards to the company. When possible, let your employees be a part of the decision making process. A culture of open communication is very attractive to employees.
  • Provide Opportunities for Team Building
    Most employees enjoy interacting with their coworkers.  By encouraging teamwork, employees are able to build great working relationships and establish a trusting, open environment for the company.  When working together toward a common goal, employees are more motivated and excited about their jobs, often producing excellent results.
  • Cater to Individual Work Style
    Each employee has a different way that they prefer to work, learn and be managed.  When you as an employer take the time and effort to make adjustments for each employee’s needs, they will respect the company more and loyalty will, once again, be built.  This will also help you to establish teams that will work best together based on their work styles.
  • Acknowledge Your Talent
    When an employee does a good job, it is important that you recognize them for their efforts, so they feel that they are a valued member of the team.  A majority of employees leaving a company do so because they feel unappreciated.  Employees want to feel that the work they are doing is making a difference, so acknowledging their work often is essential.  Also, review surveys for 2013 healthcare compensation, 2013 casino compensation and other market compensation data surveys for your industry to determine what benefits and bonuses you should be rewarding your employees with.

Implementing the above suggestions will help your company to build a culture that encourages retention of employees, which in turn will attract top talent.  In addition to providing a great work environment that respects employees and provides opportunities for learning and growth, it is also important that they receive a solid benefits package.  At WageWatch, we provide accurate data for 2013 healthcare compensation, 2013 casino compensation and compensation information for a wide variety of other industries.  To learn more about our up-to-date market compensation data, such as 2013 healthcare compensation surveys or university benefits surveys, call 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

MOTIVATING EMPLOYEES BY JOB DESIGN

With changing demographics and a more competitive job market, human resources is 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 an 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.

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 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.

MINDFULNESS: EMBRACED BY BUSINESS

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

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.

STRATEGIC ISSUES AND THE PAY MODEL

Perceptions of compensation vary.  It is seen as a measure of equity and justice.  Stockholders are focused on executive compensation.  Legislators may view average annual pay changes as a guide to adjusting eligibility for social services.  Employees see compensation as a reward for their services and a job well done.  Managers will view compensation from the perspective of a labor cost, but also from a competitive perspective that enables them to recruit, engage and retain employees.  The four basic compensation policy decisions that an employer must consider in managing compensation are: 1) internal consistency, 2) external competitiveness, 3) employee contributions, and 4) administration of the pay system.  The balance between the four policies becomes the employer’s compensation strategy.

It is important that compensation is linked to an organization’s overall goals and strategies and aligned with the Human Resource strategy.  Not doing so, can lead to serious issues of employee retention, engagement, and productivity that can be laborious and expensive to repair.  Compensation for many organizations is the single largest business expense and is visible and important to employees, managers, and stockholders.  Therefore it is important to strategically plan and regularly evaluate compensation systems.  Working with your company’s executives is key to ensuring your compensation philosophy is supporting business objectives.  Strategic objectives will include significant challenges and priorities now and over the next two to five years.  Some examples are business growth plans, key talent and training objectives, market competition, and whether or not you are in a union environment.  Some other key considerations for your compensation program are:

  • Attracting the appropriate skill sets and types of employees when needed
  • Rewarding employees for their efforts, such as increasing workloads, taking on new tasks and projects
  • Employee morale and perceived value of company’s benefits, incentives, and work environment
  • A mix of base pay, incentive pay, work environment and benefits that makes the most sense for the organization
  • The link between base and incentive pay with performance
  • Legal issues such as wage and hour

An example of a compensation strategy that aligns with other Human Resource initiatives is matching pay ranges to the desired outcome.  If quality, experience, and a sophisticated skill set are a strategic advantage to an organization, then it will not be successful hiring employees significantly below the market rate.  Determining whether the organization wants to lead, lag or match the market is a key decision.  A ‘mixed market position’ approach has become more common as employers realize that a one-size-fits-all strategy does not fit the entire workforce.  For example, location and market competitiveness will impact your pay levels and certain key or hard to fill or retain positions may require pay well above the market, while other positions may be ok with a lag approach.

A successful compensation program will focus on top priorities, guide employees to where their effort can create the most value, create financial and non-financial consequences for success and failure, drive and reward the development of skills and encourage teamwork and collaboration.  Many organizations today keep an eye toward aligning workers’ interests with company goals through innovative types of rewards in the workplace, including skill-based pay and goal sharing.  The right total rewards system is a blend of monetary and nonmonetary rewards offered to employees and can generate valuable business results.  These results range from enhanced individual and organizational performance to improved job satisfaction, employee loyalty, and workforce morale.

Maintaining a competitive advantage and being able to retain key employees is increasingly important.  At WageWatch, our compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs and help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives.  WageWatch also 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 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 .

 

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 boost 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 halfway 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 the 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 workday more endurable.  With the six-hour workday, 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 of the six-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 been 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 six-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 anytime soon.  The rest of the world (outside of Europe) a 40-hour work week would be a 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.

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
  • 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
  • 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 the 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.