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Open House Success!

Last Thursday, January 14th, 2016, HR Strategies hosted an open house at their new location, allowing clients and invited guests to be able to tour the new space and see the many ways that the new location will enhance the services that are offered.

Guests were invited to enjoy refreshments in the new onsite training room while meeting the internal staff. This allowed them time to put faces with names and meet the benefits, payroll and client service reps that they talk to on a regular basis.

During the Open House we were able to give a brief demonstration of the upcoming enhancements to the Human Resource Information System (HRIS) that our clients interface with, enabling them to see the continued investment we are making into providing top of the line services and technology platforms.

The turnout by clients was fabulous and we even gave away an Apple Watch to one lucky guest! The Open House was also an opportunity for our guests to network with a sample of the diverse selection of clients using our services. In this economy, HR Strategies wants to provide as many growth opportunities as possible to their clients!

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Have a Safe & Happy Halloween!

HR Strategies works every day to keep our clients OSHA compliant, because we believe that safety in the workplace is of the utmost importance. Today, we want to remind you that safety should always come first, whether you are at work or at home. Tomorrow night, as kids across America take to the streets to collect candy, HR Strategies wants to remind you to talk to your kids about Halloween Night Safety. FedEx and Safe Kids Worldwide have created an excellent infographic with tips on how to stay safe this Halloween! Enjoy!

fedex_halloween_infographic_v9Click on the info graphic to learn more!

Tuesday Tip – Heat Safety

heat waveIn Georgia, we know that today’s Tuesday Tip is incredibly important because extreme heat is inevitable down here in the South! If your employees work outside, you need to know the following from the FEMA website:

Before Extreme Heat:

To prepare for extreme heat, you should:

  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Install window air conditioners snugly; insulate if necessary.
  • Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.

Install temporary window reflectors (for use between windows and drapes), such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.

  • Weather-strip doors and sills to keep cool air in.
  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings, or louvers. (Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent.)
  • Keep storm windows up all year.
  • Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes.
  • Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.
  • Be aware that people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than are people living in rural areas.
  • Get trained in first aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.

What you should do if the weather is extremely hot:

  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio for critical updates from the National Weather Service (NWS).
  • Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
  • Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.
  • Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
  • Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other community facilities. Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the perspiration rate of evaporation.
  • Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
  • Drink plenty of water; even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
  • Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
  • Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power during periods of extreme heat. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).

Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify an extreme heat hazard:

Heat Wave – Prolonged period of excessive heat, often combined with excessive humidity.

Heat Index – A number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to the air temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 degrees.

Heat Cramps – Muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they are often the first signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.

Heat Exhaustion – Typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim’s condition will worsen. Body temperature will keep rising and the victim may suffer heat stroke.

Heat Stroke – A life-threatening condition. The victim’s temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly.

Sun Stroke – Another term for heat stroke.

Excessive Heat Watch – Conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local Excessive Heat Warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours.

Excessive Heat Warning – Heat Index values are forecast to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least 2 days (daytime highs=105-110° Fahrenheit).

Heat Advisory – Heat Index values are forecast to meet locally defined advisory criteria for 1 to 2 days (daytime highs=100-105° Fahrenheit).

Tuesday Tip – Hurricane Preparedness

Beginning June 1st and ending November 30th, it is important to recognize that while not all of us are in danger of a direct hit by a hurricane, we are all prone to heavy rains, storms, and flooding.

hurricane2015

If your business is on or near the coast, make sure you get familiar with the following hurricane safety tips from the White House:

Before:

To prepare for a hurricane, you should take the following measures:

  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
  • Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
  • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
  • Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
  • If in a high-rise building, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.

During:

If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:

  • Listen to the radio or TV for information.
  • Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
  • Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purpose such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.
  • Find out how to keep food safe during and after and emergency.

You should evacuate under the following conditions:

  • If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions.
  • If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure – such shelter are particularly hazardous during hurricane no matter how well fastened to the ground.
  • If you live in a high-rise building – hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
  • If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an island waterway.

Read more about evacuating yourself and your family. If you are unable to evacuate, go to your wind-safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:

  • Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
  • Close all interior doors – secure and brace external doors.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm – winds will pick up again.
  • Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
  • Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
  • Avoid elevators.

After:

  • Continue listening to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.
  • Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
  • If you have become separated from your family, use your family communications plan or contact the FEMA National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System (NEFRLS) or the American Red Cross.
  • If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
  • If you cannot return home and have immediate housing needs. Text SHELTER+ your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
  • Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges. Stay off the streets. If you must go out watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks.
  • Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
  • Walk carefully around the outside your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering.
  • Stay out of any building if you smell gas, floodwaters remain around the building or your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.

Independence Day is Coming Up!

Independence has been a goal of Americans since the founding of our country, and those with their own companies tend to be particularly independent. Some people start their own business believing that it is the only route to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”; only to later realize the headaches that can come along with owning and managing a business. While they began their business to gain independence, they lose the freedom that they dream of. They become saddled with letting their business’ rule their lives, depriving them of time with family and friends, and even at times their health.

american flag drawing

It is time as business owners to create your own Declaration of Independence!

  • Independence from rising administrative costs. Outsourcing your HR administration relieves business owners from the complex HR matters of benefits, workers’ compensation claims, payroll, tax administration, regulatory compliance, etc., and by doing so reduces your overhead.
  • Independence from focusing on the mundane. Outsourcing your HR enables small business owners to focus on their core competencies, rather than focusing on running payroll, providing employee benefits, or the many other facets of human resource administration. Outsourcing allows business owners to concentrate on their passion, without being distracted by countless human resources responsibilities.
  • Independence from the worry of regulatory compliance. Outsourcing your HR administration can keep business owners compliant by working as their off-site HR department, with the back-up of legal counsel partners, firms specializing in workplace law. Outsourcing can help you reduce your risk and vulnerabilities to Federal, State, Local and Professional Regulatory changes.
  • Independence from the nightmare of Workers Compensation Insurance and Risk Management. Outsourcing can help improve the work environment and make it safer by focusing on workplace risk management, safety programs, and good human resource practices. Additionally, when you outsource with a PEO, such as HR Strategies, they can arrange workers’ compensation coverage with major insurance carriers, provide their clients with training on safety and government compliance in regards to workers compensation and risk management, and manage the complexity of claims.
  • Independence from the burden of human resource administration and paperwork. When you outsource your HR needs to a PEO you receive assistance with all of the complications and paperwork that go along with the employee lifecycle:  writing help wanted ads and job descriptions; drug screening and verifications; new hire candidate assessment tools; new hire paperwork, including I-9 compliance; customized employee handbooks; employee policies and procedures; Federal and State required postings; human resource, supervisor, and compliance training; EEOC claims; Employment Practices Liability Insurance; Employee Assistance Program; compliance with IRS, INS, ADA, EEOC, FMLA, FLSA, DOT, COBRA, Title VII, etc.; discipline and termination counseling; investigation of employee/employer and employment complaints.

 Declare Your Independence today by calling HR Strategies at 770-339-0000!

The Disciplinary Meeting & Discussion

serious-discussion

The following steps are important to follow every time you begin disciplinary action with an employee.

  • State the standard or policy.
    • It is important to the DOL that upon hire, the employee is made aware of the standard of work that is required of all employees. 
    • It is equally important to the DOL that the employee is aware of all company policies upon hire. 
    • Because of this expectation, when a former employee files a claim for unemployment benefits, the DOL always asks the employer whether or not the claimant was aware of the company policy they violated. The employee should already understand standards and policies. During a disiplinary discussion, it is important to reiterate this information.
  • Refer to specific conducts and incidents, not “attitude” or “opinions”.
    • When reviewing unemployment insurance (UI) claims, DOL Claims Examiners only look at relative ‘incidents’ when determining eligibility of benefits. 
    • Whether or not a claimant is awarded UI benefits has nothing to do with attitude or opinions.
  • Describe the effect of the violation on the business and/or other employees.
    • This is important, the DOL always wants to know how the employee’s actions affected the business.
    • If the employee merely annoys you, but can perform their duties up to standards and have no direct effect on the business; if you terminate them without just cause, they can be awarded benefits. 
  • Make clear the consequences of future violations. Will further poor performance put their job in jeopardy?
    • Whether or not the employee knew their job was in jeopardy is an important factor in a Claims Examiner’s determination.
    • It’s important that the employee understands that they could lose thier job, otherwise, they have no chance to change the behavior and improve-thus becoming eligible for UI benefits.
    • They need to understand that they may lose their job, and then you must allow an adequate amount of time for improvement. Ask your HR Strategies Human Resources Consultant more about that time period. 
  • Review the Disciplinary Report with the employee.
    • These forms show that there was a disciplinary session, that the employer put an action change plan into place, and that the employee understood that they needed to improve and agreed to follow the action plan. 
    • These forms are MAIN FORMS OF DOCUMENTATION that are essential during unemployment insurance cases.
  • Have the employee sign the report to acknowledge the discipline.
    • This proves understanding and shows the employee agrees with the changes they will have to make to keep their job.
    • Keep these in the employee’s file.

Call HR Strategies Today at 770-339-0000 or

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