Monthly Archives: January 2014

To Ban or Not to Ban? – Handling Interoffice Relationships

With the year’s most romantic day right around the corner, it’s time to brush up on the romance lingo and give some thought to rules and regulations of workplace amour.

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Should management stay out of affairs of the heart or conversely, instituted clear written workplace romance policies? Should it endorse office relationships and foster the idea that workplace is a great place to find true love ( After all, According to CareerBuilder’s 2012 annual office romance survey, 38 percent of respondents have dated a co-worker at least once in their career, and one-third of them ended up married.) or quite the opposite, ban relationships within a specific chain of commands/ departments or dating altogether ? And finally, do love contracts help to reduce risk of harassment or unfair treatment lawsuits, or are they ineffective and simply cause employees to hide their interoffice relationships?

According to a recent survey of employees and HR professionals conducted by SHRM, the number of company policies addressing office romance have significantly increased in the last 8 years.  42%, of businesses had established either written or verbal workplace-romance policies (In 2005, 20 percent of respondents had such policies). To explain this increase Christine Amalfe, an attorney in Gibbons P.C.’s litigation and employment and labor law departments, said:

“More and more companies have implemented policies because they realize they aren’t going to stop people from having romantic relationships (…) They want to best protect the company from a claim of sexual harassment and ensure there’s no favoritism or conflict, which could hurt productivity and impact morale.”

According to the survey, the most common workplace-romance policy (99% in 2013, up from 80% in 2005, and 64% in 2001) forbids  love matches between supervisors and subordinates. Almost half of these policies (45 percent) forbid romances between employees of significantly different rank. Typically, these prohibitions are designed to protect the company from sexual harassment lawsuits if the subordinate claims the supervisor or higher-ranking colleague is making unwanted advances. Supervisor-subordinate romances are also problematic because they can spark complaints of favoritism, contribute to an unhealthy work environment by creating unnecessary gossip, and reduce productivity.

What’s sticking however, is  that plenty of companies ban intimate relationships even  when they aren’t supervisory:  between coworkers who report to the same supervisor, an employee and a client or customer, or even between their employees and those of competitor organizations. By establishing such strict laws, businesses seem to be trying to achieve the impossible –  control human nature – and  send a negative message by distastefully imposing themselves into employees personal lives.

This my be the reason why most  of the surveyed HR professionals (75%!) consider these contracts “ineffective and say that it actually encourages workers to hide the relationship from peers.”.

The subject for workplace romance poses a very difficult question to HR professionals: where should we draw a line between work-related issued and employees personal issues and does a consensual relationship between two employees cross that line? Because the answer to this question is rather ambiguous, most companies choose to stay on the safe side and officially

prohibit such conduct rather than risk potential consequences.

For more details about the results of SHRM survey, read Dana Wilkie’s article Forbidden Love: Workplace-Romance Policies Now Stricter 

 

 

 

 

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Announcing new complimentary seminars for the Education Facilities Forum in Philadelphia on April 28 & 29, 2014.

1. Washington D.C. Smart Roof Program: Portfolio-based Roof Asset and Energy Management Presented by Richard Rast, President of BLUEFIN, LLC 

The way you manage your roofs can have a big impact on your energy consumption and carbon footprint, and position you as a community leader. This presentation demonstrates through a case study in our nation’s Capital how you can turn your roofs from a liability into a sustainable asset. The Washington D.C. Department of General Services is successfully integrating roof asset and energy management to reduce its energy use by 20% across its entire municipal portfolio, including schools, police and fire facilities, and parks and recreation buildings. This municipality includes 435 buildings with over 40 million square feet.

This presentation will demonstrate the Smart Roof Objectives:

1) Conserve Energy: Insulating, air-barrier, and day lighting

2) Reduce Runoff: Collecting, retaining, and re-using rainwater

3) Reflect Heat: Reducing temperatures across the city

4) Collect Solar Energy: Producing electricity and hot water

5) Manage Carbon: Tracking and reducing carbon footprints

6) Lead: Identifying and demonstrating best practices

2. How to Design & Specify High-Performance Hybrid Buildings Presented by Jack Laken, P.Eng. B.Sc., President of Termobuild Canada, Toronto, Ontario 

From our experience capital project managers like you are on the lookout for new ways of enhancing their projects, particularly when it comes to comfort, energy efficiency, and safety at conventional cost.

In short by pairing ventilated pre-cast floor with any HVAC system leads to unexpected 7 built in and free systems your buildings can instantly benefit from:

1. air driven radiant heating and concrete cooling,

2. energy storage ( no ice required) or standby heating and cooling,

3. improved indoor comfort,

4. reduced energy bills,

5. reduced maintenance cost

6. peak power reduction ( no ice required)

7. added resilience to climate change.

Using our advanced method of pairing ventilation with pre-cast floors it is easy to take advantage of today’s “high performance” standards and position your buildings for new developments already on the horizon with low energy buildings, and more.

3. Innovative HVAC in Schools – Presented by Lee Alcorn, LG 

Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) technology was introduced as a system to minimize losses found in conventional HVAC systems. The modular design of a VRF system provides exceptional dehumidification and temperature control by efficiently adapting to the changing

loads. This presentation will provide an overview of VRF and Duct-Free Systems in the education market. Learn how a quiet, energy efficient, easy to design, install and maintain VRF System can improve the learning environment.

4. Educate Hand Hygiene and Reduce Germs in your Schools by Leverage Existing Budgets Presented by Kimberly-Clark Professional 

On average teachers miss 5.3 days of school each year due to preventable illness. Many school districts report their teacher absenteeism is even higher. Data shows teachers are exposed to more germs than any other profession and their illness costs school districts money, holds back student performance and projects an image that schools are not healthy.

How can we do better without adding new cost items to facilities budget? How can we educate better hand hygiene habits in our schools to create a healthier environment?

Kimberly Clark Professional has developed The Healthy Schools Project to educate students, teachers and administrators to wash, wipe and sanitize to prevent the spread of germs and illness. This program is a comprehensive way to keep your school healthy that is proven to reduce germs in the classroom.

Learn how your budgets for washroom products can provide create a healthier learning environment for your students, teachers, administrators and parents.

5. What We Need is a Plan: School Safety, Security and the Integrator Presented by Steve Surfaro, Axis Communication’s Business Development Manager and Security Industry Liaison 

From program management to application and deployment, security practitioners from schools, corporations and Government agencies alike are asking the question: “Do we have enough security” and do we have a sound security and crisis management plan. This session asks the question and provides key direction.

The fusion of security master planning, together with the design and deployment skills of today’s security integrator build a project foundation, but the challenges don’t stop there. Consistent funding, a demonstration of how solutions support school safety and first responders and the training of key personnel are trending requirements

It might take the form of a person responsible for coordination of an incident. Video surveillance playback requires training and there might not be the expertise available and because the system is used forensically or post-incident, there is no one monitoring the system. One an incident occurs, is there a balance of proactive sensing systems and review tools to get quick answers to first responders?

In this session, learn to make design and deployment decisions based on quantifiable risk, value engineering and resources.

6. Before, During and After the Active Shooter Event – Are You Prepared? – Presented by Patrick V. Fiel Sr., National Security Expert 

Patrick will discuss risk assessments of the workplace, the shooter’s behavior, innovative security solutions and preparedness, aimed at mitigating this risk.

Patrick will present current information that will help organizations prepare for a potential crisis situation involving an active shooter. Patrick will speak on risk assessments of facilities, innovative security technologies, and the shooter behavior. The presentation will present ideas and solutions that will help organizations mitigate the risk of an active shooter event. The ideas presented will address what an organization can do to prevent such an event from occurring as well as what steps can be taken before, during and after a crisis situation such as an active shooter.

What will the attendees learn from the program?

1. Ways to prevent a crisis situation from occurring: Attendees will learn how a risk assessment can identify potential short falls in their organization’s security as well as what innovative security technologies and other solutions are available to address these short falls.

2. Ways to deal with an active shooter prior to police arrival: Attendees will learn what steps can be taken to handle an active shooter situation as it is occurring and prior to police arrival.

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5 Workplace Resolutions for the New Year

Sadly, more often than not New Year resolutions turn into a ‘to do’ list for the first week of January. However, if approached with a serious plan and a pinch of motivation, setting professional goals at the beginning of the New Year can really make a difference in your workplace. Here are just a few ideas that can make your work life a little bit brighter by increasing productivity and eliminating bad habits that hinder professional success.

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1. Turn Complaints into Improvement Ideas – Enough already. Walk into the New Year with a challenge: go 21 days without complaining. You can recognize when something isn’t optimum and take positive action, but complaining isn’t allowed. Reason? Mere complaining does nothing else but spreads negativity. Often times people are willing to whine, but refuse to step up and contribute to making a change. As a manager you can engage the complainer and get them to take some reasonability to improving the situation, or even make a rule that your employees can come to you with a complaint only when they have a suggestion and are willing to take an action. For instance, your employees should talk to their coworker about an issue and try to settle it, before complaining about him or her to you. If they complain about a procedure, they should be willing to participate in an event or training to improve the process. Whenever we face something that we don’t like or we know can be improved, we can aimlessly complain about or we can try to change it. Make the right choice this year around.

2. Reduce Stress – True, easier said than done. Although it comes as no surprise that overstressing has a negative impact on both personal and professional life, with the prevailing tough economy, workplace related stress is on the rise and it is impossible to completely eliminate it from our work lives. Nevertheless, we should look for ways to reduce stress to a moderate amount when it can actually motivate us to do better and work harder, instead of making us literally physically sick. Some good ways to control the workplace stress level is to eliminate things pulling down our productivity, like obsessively checking our email or putting too many items on our to-do list. It is also essential to prioritize tasks and, if possible, taking one thing at a time. Focus in on what matters and you’ll see your productivity increase and stress decrease this year.

3. Embrace Life Long Learning – weather it’s learning another language, taking extra classes in graphic design, or getting certification in an industry-related field – expanding your skills set will make you a more valuable asset for the company and a more attractive candidate in the job market. The Internet offers so many alternatives to traditional education. Utilize such wonderful tools as Lynda.com or skillshare.com

4. Eliminate Gossiping – Make it a resolution to stay away from the office drama. Gossping doesn’t serve a purpose, significantly decreases work productivity, and leads to unnecessary quarrels.  The next time a colleague tries to engage you in the office drama of the day, offer a one-word response, like “interesting”, and follow it with, “I’ve got to go. See you later.” Repeat as necessary

5. Be More OrganizedLast but not leastkeep that desk neat! As Ilya Pozin stated in his article for Parade: “it’s hard to be productive or taken seriously as a professional when your desk looks like a Hoarders intervention waiting to happen”. Naturally, a clean desk is only prelude to organizational improvements. Utilizing Google apps or other tools  like Evernote and Expensive can help you to keep track of deadlines, to do lists,a nd meetings. 

Good luck in the New Year from

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Announcing the Seminar Line-up for The New York HR and Employee Benefits Summit!

It’s time to throw back the curtains and flip on the spotlights!

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Without further ado, we present the Seminar Program for the New York HR and Employee Benefits Summit

Andaz Wall Street                                                                                                                            New York City, NY                                                                                                                    January 27, 2014

1. Building Wellness Programs That Drive Success

No one understands the value of healthy employees more than healthcare providers. As a leading healthcare company, HealthNow has helped millions of people live healthier lives—including their own employees. Find out how HealthNow utilizes the cloud-based Employee Success Platform™ to create successful employee wellness programs that engage, align and recognize employees. You’ll learn about how the program’s success has improved lives, saved money, and engaged employees—and how you can, too.

Learning objectives:

  • Why HealthNow chose to partner with Achievers to invest in wellness, rewards, and recognition
  • How to integrate wellness initiatives into an Employee Success Platform ™
  • The business benefits of a healthy workforce
  • How to structure an effective wellness campaign
  • The power of healthy competition

Hosted by Shannetta Mennenga, Director of Corporate Cultural Alignment at HealthNow, New York, Inc.

 

2. Coaching the Coach: The Keys Strategic People Development

Most organizations have performance conversations twice a year during annual reviews but by then, it could be too late to redirect people. This workshop provides the leadership development that coaches need with a step-by-step methodology for planning, managing and motivating team and individual development, proactively. We will also cover the soft skills of employee conversations and the tools and templates to document them with so that participants leave with a complete Coaching System to implement immediately.

Attendees will:

  • Discuss the differences between Performance Management and Strategic People Development.
  • Learn a systematic approach to coaching and motivating performance before it becomes corrective, starting with team and individual development planning
  • Practice the necessary soft skills for coaching people in one-on-one’s, performance reviews, succession planning and progressive discipline conversations (including what works and what doesn’t).
  • Leave with a premade Coaching Binder that provides attendees with each of documentation templates and coaching tools we cover in an easy to use Coaching System that is ready as soon as they return to their teams!

Hosted by Lisa Rueth, President of Trinity Solutions

3. Leading Out of a Down-Turn with Strategy, Alignment and Engagement

This session will take a deep dive into the best practices of organizations that have gone from reduction to growth during the economic down-turn.

Using the Strategic Engagement model, research shows how companies bypassed reduction and harvested their intelligence to thrive at a time when most organizations highest desire was to avoid the next reduction in force. The Strategic Engagement Model uses 4 key components to innovatively solve problems, adapt to unexpected challenges in the market and connect employee contribution to the company for growth. This session will cover the keys to success, the pitfalls to avoid and the main leadership behaviors that encourage that increase productivity, innovation and engagement.

Hosted by Lisa Rueth, President of Trinity Solutions

 

4. Before, During and After the Active Shooter Event- Are You Prepared?

Patrick will discuss risk assessments of the workplace, the shooter’s behavior, innovative security solutions and preparedness, aimed at mitigating this risk.

Patrick will present current information that will help organizations prepare for a potential crisis situation involving an active shooter.  Patrick will speak on risk assessments of facilities, innovative security technologies, and the shooter behavior. The presentation will present ideas and solutions that will help organizations mitigate the risk of an active shooter event.  The ideas presented will address what an organization can do to prevent such an event from occurring as well as what steps can be taken before, during and after a crisis situation such as an active shooter.

What will the attendees learn from the program? 

1. Ways to prevent a crisis situation from occurring: Attendees will learn how a risk assessment can identify potential short falls in their organization’s security as well as what innovative security technologies and other solutions are available to address these short falls.

2. Ways to deal with an active shooter prior to police arrival: Attendees will learn what steps can be taken to handle an active shooter situation as it is occurring and prior to police arrival.

Hosted by Patrick V. Fiel Sr, Principal, PVF Consulting

4. Making Work More Rewarding Through Creating an “ALL IN” Culture Base

 Chester’s keynote is based on his latest Bestselling book called, All In:  How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results.

The main topic of All In is Company Culture and what it takes to have a high performing culture in business. Chester brings excitement and a lot of laughter, but his message also contains hard data proven to bring real change and real results.  Your will walk away with the tools to immediately implement in their workplaces.  He provides real life examples of what high performing organizations are doing to get their people engaged.  Typically Chester receives comments like the one below.

  • “Our team found his work to be right on target. It is timely and powerful. The supervisors were most impacted by Chester’s ability to communicate important truths in a fun and engaging presentation. He is an exceptional thought leader that inserts brilliant truths in a fun and engaging presentation that the entire team enjoyed” – Britt Berrett – President (Texas Healthcare)

Hosted by Chester Elton, Motivation Expert & NY Times Bestselling Author

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