LATEST NEWS & VIEWS

  • GOOGLE HR FACES ANOTHER PR DISASTER

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Discrimination & Harassment, Employment Law, Latest News & Views, Uncategorized

    “I’m Not Returning to Google After Maternity Leave, and Here is Why.” That was the subject line of a post alleging pregnancy discrimination and retaliation that went up on an internal Google message board for new and expectant mothers.

    The unnamed Google worker alleges that her manager actively retaliated against her after she told HR about the manager’s comments disparaging pregnant women. Thousands of her co-workers have since read the memo and it has been published by VICE.

    Angry messages and public shaming

    The employee says that, despite assurances from HR that she would not face any retaliation from her supervisor for reporting the pregnancy discrimination allegations, her manager began sending angry messages, ignoring her in meetings and humiliating her in front of her peers.

    The abusive interactions, she says, impacted her health and caused her to be concerned about her unborn baby.

    Joining a new team did not resolve the situation, she says.

    And, she says in the memo, after joinng the new group she was given fewer responsibilities and told not to take on more managerial duties or attend some management events until she returned from maternity leave.

    In the end, she says, she reported that she was being discriminated against because she was pregnant and HR launched an investigation.

    HR’s findings? Poor communication and inadvertent exclusion from management gatherings due to administrative errors. It did not find that the employee’s manager discriminated against her.

    HR also told her, she says, that there was no evidence she was discouraged from taking early leave when she developed complications with her pregnancy.

    Damage control

    The employee did not indicate whether she plans to sue Google under The Pregnancy Discrimination Act. But, if her allegations about hostile messages and unfair reductions in her responsibilities are backed up by internal communications records, Google could face a damaging court battle or an expensive settlement.

    Google released a statement after the VICE story came out, saying, “We prohibit retaliation in the workplace and publicly share our very clear policy. To make sure that no complaint raised goes unheard at Google, we give employees multiple channels to report concerns, including anonymously, and investigate all allegations of retaliation.”

    Reminder for other employers

    Any company as large and high-profile as Alphabet Inc.’s Google is going to have its share of employee complaints and HR missteps.

    But the Mountain View, CA-based tech behemoth has faced both complaints from many unhappy workers and an unusually public discussion of its response to those complaints.

    Google workers have sent all-hands emails on issues ranging from sexual harassment and retaliation, to racial and gender-based discrimination, to Pentagon contracts. And a steady stream of those internal messages has leaked out onto social media and gone viral.

    Regardless of how this allegation of pregnancy discrimination and retaliation plays out, it is yet another blow to Google’s reputation as an employer.

    And it’s another useful reminder that all employers need to be vigilant in training employees on compliance obligations and identifying, addressing, and rectifying instances of pregnancy and other discrimination at every level of their workforce.

    The post Google HR faces another PR disaster appeared first on HR Morning.

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  • HOUSE-PASSED GREEN CARD REVAMP FACES HURDLES

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Employment Law, Latest News & Views

    The U.S. House of Representatives voted July 10 to eliminate limits on the percentage of employment-based permanent residency work visas (green cards) awarded to immigrants from any one country.

    The measure would apply to two types of work visas – EB-2 visas, for workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability and EB-3 visas, for skilled workers and professionals.

    Sponsors hope the bill would relieve backlogs of skilled workers seeking permanent U.S. work permits.

    Visa issues worsen skilled labor shortage

    Supporters of the measure say that backlogs for skilled workers seeking permanent work visas – which can stretch decades – are making the skilled labor shortage worse and hurting America companies’ competitiveness.

    Supporters of the bill include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

    SHRM issued a press release saying, “Eliminating employment per-country caps will create a first-come, first-served green card system, putting talent and skills first so we can meet the current and future workforce needs of this country.”

    The industry group called the measure “an important first step in addressing workplace immigration issues.”

    Tech companies are also backing the measure, since they employ a huge number of H-1B visa workers, whose permits last just six years.

    Each year, hundreds are forced to leave the U.S. and their jobs when temporary work permits expire.

    Employers say that the turnover, especially among highly-skilled tech workers, is costly and disruptive.

    Opponents fear impact on American workers

    The bill has widespread backing from business groups and bipartisan support in the House and Senate.

    Still, the measure is not guaranteed to pass the Senate and get to President Trump’s desk or to get his signature if it does.

    Opponents, including members of the administration, see the measure hurting American workers.

    Others worry that if per-country limits on the number of green cards are lifted, almost all residency permits will go to workers and family members from India and China, where the backlog is highest.

    And that seems to be guaranteed under the current version of the bill.

    Quotas now limit the number of visas awarded to immigrants from any one country to 7% of the 140,000 employment-based residency permits issued each year.

    Indian workers would get nearly all green cards after 2020

    The bill would increase that to 85% of green cards going to Chinese and Indian skilled workers and their families in 2020, with the remainder reserved for to workers from all other countries.

    In 2021 and 2022, the percentage of green cards going to countries other than India and China would drop to just 10% of the total.

    Because of the huge number of Indians awaiting green cards, they would obtain the vast majority of permanent visas for about a decade.

    If signed into law, the quota changes would apply as of October 1, at the start of the government’s fiscal year 2020.

    The post House-passed green card revamp faces hurdles appeared first on HRMorning.

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  • IN BATTLE OF PGA V. ADA, GOLFER JOHN DALY GETS AN ACCOMMODATION

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Employment Law, Latest News & Views

    Turns out even the PGA (the Professional Golfers Association) falls under the auspices of the ADA (the Americans with Disabilities Act), which apparently offers no mulligans the second time around.

    According to the published reports, pro golfer John Daly has been granted permission by the PGA to ride in a cart during competition in this week’s PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, on Long Island, NY. 

    The pro golfing circuit has long required players to walk the course, with a caddy to tote the bag. Daly won this event in 1991 and so, has a lifetime exemption to play in the tournament, one of professionals golf’s four major tournaments.

    Daly suffers from osteoarthritis in his right knee. He withdrew from the U.S. Senior Open last year after his request for a cart under the ADA was denied. Daly’s knee problems also sidelined him from the Open Championship. He regularly tees it up on the senior circuit, known as the Champions Tour, which allows players to use golf carts.

    The last player to use a cart during a major was Casey Martin at the 2012 U.S. Open. Martin fought the PGA Tour for the right to ride in tournaments through the ADA, ultimately winning his suit. Martin also used a cart at the 1998 U.S. Open.

    Daly, 53, a rotund and colorful figure on the tour, epitomizes the image of the overweight, chain-smoking, beer-guzzling golfer. He’s made just one cut at the PGA Championship since 2007, finishing tied for 12th as Kiawah Island in 2012. He lasted played Bethpage Black in competition at the 2002 U.S. Open, and tied for 70th.

    The PGA Championship opens May 16.

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  • CALIFORNIA SEXUAL HARASSMENT CASE ENDS IN $11M JURY AWARD

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Discrimination & Harassment, Employment Law, Latest News & Views, Uncategorized

     

    For the second time this year, a California jury has awarded a sizeable $11 million verdict against an employer stemming from a workplace sexual harassment lawsuit, according to numerous published reports.

    Late last week, a Los Angeles jury found against Alki David, a billionaire Beverly Hills producer of holograms of celebrities, and sided with one of his former employees, Chastity Jones.

    Jones alleged that David touched her inappropriately, hired a stripper to perform at work, and demanded that she view pornographic videos with him.

    She testified that she was fired for refusing to have sex with David.

    In January, another Los Angeles jury awarded more than $11 million to two former employees who claimed they were sexually harassed and retaliated against for complaining about the harassment.

    In that case, Megan Meadowcroft and Amber Brown, who worked at the Keyways Vineyard and Winery in Temecula, California, alleged they had been harassed by the general manager, Carlos Pineiro.

    During opening statements in the Jones trial, her attorney alleged David once ran his hands up Jones’ legs and ordered her to watch a porn video.

    Jones also testified a male stripper was hired to perform to celebrate an executive’s birthday. Jones said the performance was offensive and a form of sexual harassment.

    The jury apparently agreed. David said he planned to appeal.

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  • COURT RULING: EMPLOYERS MUST SEND EEOC PAY DATA BY SEPTEMBER

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: EEO-1, eeoc, In this week's e-newsletter, Latest News & Views, pay data, pay gap, Special Report

    Attention all EEO-1 reporting employers: Some additional compliance requirements are heading your way. 
    A federal judge recently ruled that in addition to submitting EEO-1 surveys on employee demographic data, employers now must also report employee pay data to the Commission. The deadline for this new requirement is September 30, 2019.

    To fall under the EEO-1 reporting requirement, employers must have at least 100 employees and federal contractors. At least 50 of those workers need to have a contract of $50,000 or more.

    Focus on pay gaps

    The EEOC is requiring employers to report the hours worked and earnings for all full- and part-time workers from any pay period between October 1 and December 31, 2018 (the employer can choose which period).

    Employers will also be required to report the employees’ sex and race/ethnicity, as the collection of this data is to help identify and correct systemic pay gaps based on these factors.

    The judge already decided the EEOC should also collect a second year of pay data — the Commission is deciding whether it wants 2017 data, or if it’ll wait until 2019 ends.

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  • REMOTE WORK: 5 LEGAL PITFALLS TRIPPING UP COMPANIES NOW

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: benefits, In this week's e-newsletter, Latest News & Views, perks, Policies, remote work, remote work policies, working from home

    The freedom to work from home is one of the most highly sought after perks today.

    And in order to attract and retain top talent, many companies are implementing a work from home benefit for their employees. 

    But without a clear remote work policy, things can quickly spiral out of control.

    Creating an airtight policy

    Not only will policies keep employees on track while working from home, but they’ll help avoid potential legal problems that can arise from remote work.

    Here are five legal pitfalls you’ll want to look out for when drafting a remote work policy, according to business expert Jo Faragher and employment law attorney Christine Hanley.

    1. FLSA violations. One of the most obvious problems with remote employees is it’s impossible to know how many hours they’re actually working out of the office.

    If your workers are salaried and exempt from overtime, this isn’t a big deal: They’ll get paid the same regardless of how many hours they put in at home. But if your employees are paid by the hour and eligible for overtime, major FLSA violations are lurking in remote work.

    Even if you instruct your employees to not exceed 40 hours a week, they still must be paid overtime if they do. And keeping tabs on their activity is significantly more difficult when they’re out of the office.

    But there are ways you can keep them on track. At the start of each remote day, ask what the employee will be working on, with whom and what hours they’re active.

    Another good idea is setting hours when no employees should be checking email or logging onto their computers.

    2. Discrimination/ADA issues. Remote employees can easily fall victim to “out of sight, out of mind.” But this bad management habit can quickly lead to something more serious.

    For example, say your remote workers are primarily women caring for their children and disabled employees who need to work from home as their ADA accommodation.

    If you don’t offer these remote workers the same support and opportunities for advancement as your in-office workers, you could be faced with sex discrimination and disability discrimination lawsuits.

    To avoid this, your policy should discuss remote workers’ right to training, promotions and visibility.

    3. Work environment obligations. Just because an employee isn’t working in the office doesn’t mean an employer isn’t responsible for their health and safety.

    Before granting an employee permission to work from home, an employer should determine remote workers’ environments are suitable for getting the job done and don’t pose any undue risk.

    Remember: If an employee gets hurt on the job, even if they aren’t in the office, the employer could still face legal consequences.

    4. Data security concerns. When employees start doing business outside the office and on mobile devices, a whole host of new security concerns pop up.

    To help control potential breaches, it’s best to restrict remote employees’ ability to print or download confidential documents.

    It’s also a good idea to remind remote workers of the security dangers of working in public spaces.

    5. Worksite closures. Something else you’ll want spelled out in your policy is what remote workers are supposed to do when the company or worksite is closed.

    If they end up working when the company isn’t open, the employee is most likely still owed wages. It’s important to clarify what’s expected of remote workers in this situation.

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  • STARTING A CROSS-TRAINING PROGRAM

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: cross-training, Latest News & Views, Management, new skills, training

    As the job market tightens, many companies turn to formal cross-training programs to make sure they’re operating at top efficiency.

    Since not all workers will be excited about learning a new set of skills, the steps taken to prepare employees for a cross-training program go a long way toward making sure it’s a success.

    Here are some strategies employers can use to start laying the groundwork for a successful program.

    Ease into it

    When it comes to cross-training employees, the best bet is to take it one step at a time, one department at a time.

    Jumping into a mass training can cause a lot of unforeseen snags – not the least of which is a confused and intimidated workforce.

    Overcome fear of change

    Of course, sometimes the reason a message falls flat is because workers don’t want to hear it.

    Fear of change caused by a misunderstanding – like cross-training is a forerunner of downsizing – can sabotage even the most well-crafted training sessions.

    If workers don’t understand why cross-training is necessary, it can lead to a lot of ugly rumors circulating around the workplace.

    The more information workers have early on as to why the company is cross-training (e.g., to offer learning opportunities, prepare for summer vacations), the more comfortable they’ll feel with the new program.

    This way supervisors won’t have to worry about facing down a barrage of questions or skeptical looks, and instead will have a more open – and even eager – audience.

    Get supervisors’ input

    Frontline supervisors tend to have pretty good insight into what makes employees tick. Make it a point to get supervisors and team leaders to share some of that insight before the first cross-training session.

    Ask the top brass to sit in

    Nothing can hammer home the importance of cross-training like seeing a member of the company’s top brass sign off on it.

    So invite some of the C-level executives to sit in on any meetings announcing the new training program.

    It’ll show workers just how important having staff flexibility is to the company.

    Tip: If no one from the top brass can make it to a meeting, ask one of them if they’d be willing to send out a company-wide email voicing their support for the initiative. It won’t carry as much weight as actually seeing them in the room, but it’s definitely the next best thing.

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  • UNITED PARCEL SERVICE SUED FOR RACIAL BIAS

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Discrimination & Harassment, Employment Law, Latest News & Views

    19 United Parcel Service employees are suing the giant parcel distributor, saying they suffered repeated racial discrimination and the company did nothing to stop it, according to published reports.

    Managers and supervisors enabled and even encouraged the hate at the distribution center in Maumee, Ohio, according to the lawsuit filed March 13.

    The workers claim nooses were hung above the workstation of an African-American employee, that a monkey doll dressed as a UPS employee was placed near others and the N-word was frequently used.

    The workers, many of whom have been at the company for more than two decades, argue the racist comments caused reactions ranging from “fear, anger and disgust to dismay” about the comments and lack of action from the company.

    UPS has said it promptly investigated and took swift disciplinary action against those found to have engaged in inappropriate actions. UPS also said it has participated in remedial actions in cooperation with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission to ensure employees are trained and has also monitored its operations to ensure a positive and harassment-free environment.

    Lawyers are asking a judge to award each worker at least $25,000 in damages, relief to address the company’s “pattern and practice of discrimination” as well as legal costs.

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  • IBM’S JOB APPLICATION GAFFE HOLDS AN IMPORTANT LESSON FOR ALL EMPLOYERS

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: hiring, Hiring & Recruiting, In this week's e-newsletter, Latest News & Views, recruiting, social media

    There’s an important lesson for organizations of all sizes in a recent embarrassment for one of the world’s best-known companies – check your job postings carefully before they go up on the internet!

    Questions about race and ethnicity are commonly included on U.S.-based company’s application forms to help companies track diversity and comply with affirmative action requirements. But an IBM application included terms that startled the applicant. The pull-down menu for the required field “Ethnic Group” displayed categories including “mullatto” and “yellow.”

    The applicant, who is an Asian-American, tweeted about his experience, and included a screen shot of the web application form, saying “@ibm applied for a job on your career site. Aren’t these ethnic group labels a little antiquated? To make matters worse, I couldn’t submit my application w/o selecting an option. I ended up selecting “Yellow” and “Coloured.”

    Lost in translation?

    IBM responded a day later by apologizing and saying the job posting had been copied and translated from similar postings intended for positions in other countries. The company said that the categories included on the posting are required by the governments in Brazil and South Africa for census and other uses.

    IBM replaced the questions from its application form to reflect U.S. standard terms including American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African-American, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and White. The revised application also gives applicants the  the option to refuse to provide an ethnic identifier.

    Like other global companies, IBM must localize content to comply with a wider variety of regulations and cultural norms than most businesses when designing its job applications and other forms. But every organization can avoid a similar error – and, potentially, public embarrassment – by ensuring that all job postings and other public docs are reviewed carefully before they go live.

     

     

     

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  • PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT TRENDS FOR 2019

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: annual performance reviews, compensation, HR trends, Latest News & Views, Performance Management, Performance Managemnt, Retention & Turnover, Special Report

    Performance review

    As we move into 2019, organizations of all sizes are once again reviewing employee performance management strategies.

    In a field as dynamic and fast-changing as HR, the new year is seeing HR teams trying new approaches that include recent scientific insights, productivity research and technology developments.

    The traditional annual review is on its way out at more and more organizations, with increasing focus on continuous performance appraisal and management. Companies are refining the metrics they track and the amount and types of employee feedback they include in their processes. Managers are expected to coach employees to help them realize potential. More companies are looking to separate goals setting and evaluations from compensation discussions. And jobs, schedules and training are getting more personalized.

    While HR Pros have been reading about some of these trends for a couple of years, actual rollouts have mostly been limited to a few large corporations.

    Here are six trends expected to gain traction across a much wider set of organizations during 2019.

    The (lingering) death of the annual review

    HR pros often struggle to get managers and employees to treat performance management as a positive opportunity for growth rather than an unavoidable, but deeply uncomfortable, ritual. Taking a fresh approach to how you think about feedback might make a real difference. Besides helping to keep everyone aligned with the organization’s strategy, building a culture of open communication and constant improvement helps all employees to guide their own professional development in ways that are truly meaningful to them.

    Many of the HR practices we’ve taken for granted for decades were developed to manage a largely industrial workforce whose job functions changed very little from year to year. Performance metrics were based on concrete production targets.

    Today, most employees are tasked with adjusting to constantly shifting targets as organizations seek growth in a constantly shifting competitive environment. In such fast-changing workplace, employees don’t just want real-time feedback. They need it to be successful, so your organization’s success might depend on making that happen.

    HR software provider Impraise reports that more than 70% of users say that getting regular feedback from peers and managers helps them improve their performance.

    How you design your feedback processes can make the difference between an engaged and energized workforce and one where both managers and workers dread and resent performance reviews.

    Flipping the feedback loop

    Most of us are familiar with the concept of the “flight or fight” response to anything we perceive as a threat, a response that comes from one of the oldest and least evolved structures in the human brain. Unfortunately, although understandably, most humans respond to even well-intentioned criticism much the same way they’d react to a physical threat — they switch from thinking to reacting. And that isn’t a one-way street. Research shows that both giving and receiving feedback are stressful — they feel like conflict and we prepare and react accordingly.

    That has a real impact on how employees — and supervisors — perceive performance management, whether in an annual sit down that ends with numerical rankings or a continuous communication model where supervisors give feedback to workers weekly, or even daily.

    So, is there a solution to this deeply seated, brain-based problem? According to research published by the NeuroLeadership Institute (NLI), the trick is to flip the feedback loop on its head.

    “Crowd-sourced” performance assessments

    Instead of structuring performance discussions around GIVING feedback, the researchers recommend training everyone — employees, supervisors, managers and execs —to instead ASK for feedback on a regular basis. That puts the asker in a position of control and reduces the stress reaction. It also means that everyone needs to think about specific aspects of the job they want to discuss before they begin the conversation.

    NLI’s research indicates you can help form a healthy organizational culture by encouraging a common habit of thoughtful and honest communication by changing your feedback. Other research by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and the Center for Effective Organizations (CEO) supports the idea that organizational and financial results improve when positive and productive goal setting, performance assessments and career development conversations result in better employee motivation, engagement and retention.

    For HR pros, that means training managers and supervisors to give regular feedback. But it also means training them to encourage employees to ask for feedback — and to share their own feedback with peers.

    Moving away from “stack and rank”

    Along with the move from annual and semi-annual reviews to continuous performance feedback, companies are revisiting how they evaluate and rate performance. Rather than following a rigid and often flawed “stack and rank” process of measuring performance, companies ranging from global tech giants to family-owned small employers are moving away from point-based assessments.

    That doesn’t mean all assessments are going to become purely qualitative. Especially for production and sales teams, firm numeric targets remain critical to evaluating performance. But most employees — especially the majority in the middle who are doing a good job but aren’t either stars or laggards —benefit more from continuous guidance and coaching than from being ranked and rated against inflexible goals that are handed down once a year.

    With a continuous performance management system in place, employees can be evaluated on how they’ve responded to feedback from peers and supervisors and whether they’ve adapted to changes in company goals or individual job targets over the year.

    Coaching

    Employees come into a new job with a set of talents and competencies but how well they adapt and improve depends a lot on how —and how well — they’re coached. Companies will focus a lot on how to improve their coaching over the next 12 – 18 months.

    Coaching can include sharing with employees examples of what has and hasn’t worked in the past and discussing how those examples relate to overall strategic goals. With technology speeding up how quickly companies can judge success or failure, those examples will move closer and closer to real-time, helping to drive lessons home.

    Along with changes in how performance reviews are conducted, coaching helps to focus discussions on what is needed for future success rather than on post mortems.

    Separating evaluations and compensation

    Many companies that have moved to continuous feedback have also taken the next step and separated performance evaluation from any discussion about compensation.

    The idea of disconnecting formal performance evaluations and compensation decisions feels counter-intuitive. Most companies have always linked evaluations, comparative ratings and compensation. Top performers get above average compensation and increases. Poor performers see below average pay and most are compensated around the market average for their jobs and seniority.

    The problems with this approach also cluster in the middle, however. There is always a limit to the available compensation budget. If a manager has already decided to pay one employee slightly more than his or her peer, they might be tempted to tweak ratings to justify the difference. When employees find out about the ratings difference (and they always seem to find out) they are likely to be demoralized, not driven to work harder. Over time, employees come to see things as a horse race and are more likely to undercut each other instead of working together.

    Job Personalization

    Personalization is moving out of the realm of business-to-consumer commerce and into almost every arena of human activity. For HR, this trend means empowering employees to find the best path to mastering skills needed to do their jobs. That translates into a need for customized training that focuses on the specific requirements of a job and individual employees’ specific skills and skill gaps.

    That can be tough for small HR departments. The good news is that there are a growing number of technology solutions that can help even the smallest HR team develop and implement flexible, personalized programs. When those are tied closely to continuous evaluation and feedback, training plans can adapt more quickly to changing job requirements — and become more relevant to employees.

    Increased focus on emotional health and stress management

    Every HR pro knows employees’ mental health is just as important as their physical health. And when employees aren’t getting what they need, their work suffers. Research by the British government found that the number of people who left their job due to mental health was 50% higher than the number who left for physical health reasons.

    The best way to help? Communicate, communicate, communicate. It is important to create an atmosphere of understanding and openness where employees dealing with emotional stress and more serious mental health issues are comfortable discussing any difficulties they are experiencing with work.

    Employers can help by creating a framework for discussion and finding assistance, when appropriate.  Here are some ideas from experts in the field:

    Assess the workplace by reviewing existing data, conducting anonymous surveys, and identifying the appropriate people or departments that will be responsible for overseeing programs.

    • Understand common risk factors and examine where workplace processes and procedures might be changed to help avoid those factors
    • Ask employees for their input, including suggestions for practical improvements
    • Research best practices and
    • Create a yardstick to measure the effectiveness of programs

    One of the main things that negatively impacts employee mental health? Feelings of isolation and loneliness in the workplace. And, thanks in part to technology, employees are feeling lonelier than ever.

    Regular check-ins with both onsite and remote employees — in person or via a phone call, team celebrations and company-supported social activities are all low-cost ways to keep workers feeling supported and recognized.

    The trends for 2019 include truly fundamental changes to how HR – and the organization – looks at performance management and compensation.

    But for HR, the one thing that stays the same is the certainty of constant change. Your ability to adapt and evolve is what makes an HR professional so valuable.

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