Category Archives: Employee Relations

The Rise Of Workplace Feedback Apps.

Startups are continuing to encourage remote workplaces, mobile employees and cloud-based sharing. As a result, founders and managers have run into problems related to keeping employees happy amidst the talent war, keeping remote teams connected, and keeping employees performing at their best. Big companies, similarly, have problems managing their disconnected, large teams. Both startups and big companies are using workplace feedback apps to keep otherwise distant employees connected, communicating, sharing successes, and encouraging happiness.

By developing SaaS-based workplace feedback apps that allow companies to manage multiple levels of employee satisfaction and goal progression,Rypple was one of the earliest startups to take advantage of the workplace feedback trend. The company was acquired by Salesforce in December 2011, and now a new crop of workplace feedback apps are trying to help employers and employees stay connected.

Wooboard is focused on providing employees with recognition and highlighting their accomplishments, and the company is quickly demonstrating that investor interest in the space does not begin and end with Rypple. Backed by $700,000 in seed and angel funding, Wooboard has carved out a place for itself since it launched in 2011. The app allows companies to highlight their top performers, show employees appreciation, and keep teams working together.

Workitywork puts a more unique twist on the trend by zeroing in on employee morale and satisfaction. By tracking workplace happiness daily and recording company-wide opinions, in addition to traditional recognition features like congratulatory emails, Workitywork takes a slightly different tack than others in this space. With more features related to employee happiness than just recognition, which some would argue go together, Workitywork serves as an indication of where the trend is headed.

Aside from keeping teams connected, workplace feedback apps also help keep them satisfied. As human resources and psychology experts are discovering, recognition is among the top career motivators. Feeling valued and appreciated is much more powerful, at least among non-physical employees, than money or status. Rypple, Wooboard and Workitywork are all providing managers with ways to recognize employees and keep them feeling satisfied, which in turn reduces expensive turnover rates.

“The tide is changing in the workplace. Today’s workforce doesn’t want to stay at a job for 20 years because of the great benefits and a promised pension,” said Workitywork co-founder Ashli Norton in an interview. “Today’s workforce wants to be inspired, excited, and satisfied with the work they do and the only way employers can really know if this is happening is by getting honest, real-time feedback from the team.”

Newcomers like Wooboard and Workitywork will continue to struggle to compete with Rypple, which now has the backing of an enterprise leader Salesforce. It’s clear that the increasingly mobile and complicated startup workplace will continue to fuel this new trend. Expect to see even more startups popping up in the space as entrepreneurs and big companies alike struggle to keep up with talent wars, lofty goals, and expanding teams.  Source/Credit:  Renee Warren for BetaKit,com.

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What? Company Accidentally Fires 1,300 Employees.

(Reuters) – Workers at investment firm Aviva Investors got a shock on Friday when the company accidentally sent an email with leaving instructions intended for one departing employee to the entire worldwide staff of 1,300 people.

The firm’s human resources department realized its mistake and recalled the offending message 25 minutes later and soon afterwards sent out another email apologizing to staff for the error, company spokesman Paul Lockstone said.

“An email which was intended for a member of staff who was leaving today was accidentally sent to all Aviva Investors staff worldwide,” Lockstone said.

“People were pretty quickly aware of the fact that this was a mistake … I don’t believe any of our staff would have seen it really as anything other than the mistake that it was.”

The email was a standard message sent to people leaving the company, covering things such as handing back company equipment and confidentiality rules, and did not tell recipients they were fired, Lockstone said.

Aviva Investors is the fund management arm of UK-based Aviva plc, the world’s sixth-largest insurance group, and manages assets of more than 262 billion pounds ($420 billion).

It said in January it would shed around 160 jobs, about 12 percent of its global workforce.

Lockstone said he did not know why the intended recipient of the email was leaving the company.

(Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Alison Williams)

EEOC Amends Age Discrimination Regulations.

If you haven’t looked over your employment policies in the past year, now is a good time to do so. Companies should have their employment counsel review such policies annually under any circumstances, simply to assure they remain in compliance with changing rules and regulations, suggests lawyer Jonathan Hyman, a partner at law firm Kohrman Jackson & Krantz.

If that isn’t enough reason, however, in March the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a final rule amending Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 regulations that could impact manufacturers in certain circumstances. The purpose of the ADEA is to prevent employment discrimination against employees age 40 or older.

The final rule concerns only “disparate-impact” claims and the “reasonable factors other than age” defense. In layman’s terms, that means it addresses employment practices that appear, on their face, not intended to exclude older workers but may have the impact of doing so anyway. The employment policies also must impact groups of people.

Two such examples include policies used to screen employees or procedures employed to lay off workers in broad reduction-in-workforce efforts.

Practically speaking, the final rule impacts only a small subset of circumstances, notes Hyman. However, because it relates to groups of people rather than individuals, the impact of running afoul of the rule could have larger financial implications.

According to the EEOC, “the final rule strikes the appropriate balance between protecting older workers from discriminatory, unreasonable business decisions and preserving an employer’s ability to make reasonable business decisions.”

The rule, says Hyman, is a “not so gentle, but much-needed reminder” that facially neutral employment policies aren’t enough.

What Manufacturers Can Do

Lawyer Eric Martin of McGuireWoods offers several practical steps manufacturers should take to lessen the likelihood of facing challenges on this rule.

    • Make sure employment practices used to screen employees closely relate to the work performed. “For example, if the employer imposes a mandatory ability to lift up to 50 pounds — which would tend to have a greater impact on older employees — that should be based on actual working conditions that require employees to lift 50 pounds,” he says.
    • Provide appropriate training to supervisors who have discretion to make employment decisions that could impact older workers.
    • For actions such as layoffs, determine whether the selection process impacts older workers disproportionately, and adjust as needed. “For example, selecting employees with higher pay rates for layoff may impact older workers disproportionately.” Consider using other factors, he says.
    • Use objective criteria for employment decisions. For example, he says, choosing “least productive” employees may feed into a stereotype about older workers. Objective productivity measures such as “units per shift” are better choices.
  • Thoroughly document the decision-making process. “Under the new guidelines, manufacturers must be prepared to show that the decisions they make are reasonable.”

Read the full text Jill Jusko for Industry Week here.

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