Step out of your cluttered headspace to do better work

What national yoga month should mean for your work life

September is National Yoga Month! But don’t worry. This doesn’t mean you have to spend the month trying to perfect your One-Handed Tree pose (seriously, don’t try this one alone!). However, it can mean intentionally doing a small behavior in your workday to make the rest of it better.

There are some aspects of yoga that you can fit into your work day that help relieve stress and counter the effects of so much time spent sitting at a desk. Here are just a few.

Breathing: Slow down stress and anxiety
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Have you ever felt light-headed before a presentation or on edge trying to meet a deadline? During periods of stress or anxiety, we tend to feel short of breath or breathe quicker. Sometimes we may even feel like we might snap at any minute.

Focusing on targeted breathing exercises in yoga has been shown to alleviate anxiety and lower stress levels, among other health benefits.

Simply taking a minute or two to sit quietly and connect with your breath can help calm your body and focus your mind.

You can do this easily at your desk several times a day by closing your eyes and breathing in slowly through your nose, expanding your stomach, and then breathing out through your mouth, with your throat contracted as though you are saying the word, “Ha.”

Mindfulness: Focus on the present
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Mindfulness is awareness of the present moment. It sounds simple but is difficult to maintain when our minds are often focused on the big picture and the future, all that needs to get done in a day, worrying about an upcoming meeting, or angrily anticipating the traffic on our commutes home.

By focusing on breathing and concentrating on how we feel physically and emotionally in a moment without judging those feelings, we can begin to be mindful.

Mindfulness not only helps calm the body and gives the mind a break, it can also bring a new perspective to the tasks at hand. We all get stressed about what needs to be done tomorrow. Instead, focus all your energy on what you are doing in the present moment.

Focused energy is infinitely more powerful than scattered energy.

Like the sun’s ability to light a piece of paper on fire when its energy is focused through a magnifying glass, your ability to succeed at each task is increasingly stronger the more focused you are on that task.

Asanas: Postures for a healthier workday

Is sitting the new smoking, as many articles have suggested?

When looking at research on the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, the answer might be yes. Sitting hunched over a keyboard for several hours a day has been connected with back pain, unhealthy posture, leg tightness, and more serious conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and a shorter life span.

Adding more movement to the work day helps both employees and employers by reducing health-related absences from the office, reducing health care costs, and improving employee morale and performance. Try standing while you talk on the phone or walking over to a co-worker’s desk to discuss an email.

You can also try these few yoga postures (asanas) in your office or at home to increase circulation, stretch your limbs, and create more energy in your body. Here are a few basic postures to try:

Downward-Facing Dog
This pose stretches and strengthens many parts of the body, including those most affected by sitting at a desk. Bring life back to your shoulders, neck, legs, wrists, and brain by coming into an upside-down ‘V’ shape. With hands outstretched in front of you and feet grounded at about hips-width apart, heels on the floor, raise your hips into the air as though a string is lifting them straight up to the sky.

Ground all fingers into the floor and point them forward, making sure your weight is balanced equally between your hands and feet and pressing your chest back toward your legs. Hanging out in this position is a great place to practice focused breathing and mindfulness as you take note of how each part of your body is feeling.

Mountain Pose
To counteract the all the hours of desk-hunching, try stretching your back and opening your chest by standing with your feet hips-width apart. Raise your hands over your head with palms facing each other. Make sure your shoulders are not tensed up and bend backwards as far as is comfortable while pressing your chest forward.

Forward Fold
This is a simple pose that can be done easily next to your desk and can help decompress your upper body. Stand up with your feet hips-width apart and bend forward from your hips, keeping your back straight as long as you can until you fold over with your head facing down. Let your arms and neck hang and sway gently from side to side.

Happy Baby Pose
This is a fun pose to help stretch your hip joints and roll out your back muscles. It also might make you laugh to be rolling around like a baby. Lie flat on your back and pull your knees into your chest. Grab the outside of your feet and pull them down toward you so that your knees fall to either side of your upper body. Gently roll from side to side and smile!

Feeling inspired? Visit the Yoga Health Foundation to see what events are in your area or to sign up for a free week of classes at a yoga studio near you.

Here’s to a happy and healthy workday!
 
 

5 Interview Do’s (and Don’ts) to Keep Your Company from Legal Woes

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There are a lot of rules to protect employees. A whole lot!

In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor enforces more than 180 laws covering everything from wages to worker’s compensation and everything in between. And those are just the federal ones.

But what about before an employee signs an offer letter?

Some of the most forgotten legal protections for employees begin well before their hire date. Any candidate that participates in your company’s recruitment process has anti-discrimination rights guaranteed under both state and federal law.

How do you know if your recruitment process is abiding by these laws? Here are a few things you should and shouldn’t do during an interview.
 

Avoid these interview gaffes

1. Ask about protected characteristics
That means, race, color, national origin, age, gender (including pregnancy and sexual orientation), physical ability, religion, and marital status.

While most employers already know these questions are off-limits, be careful of indirect questions with the same results. These usually sound like these:

  • What year did you graduate high school?
  • Do you have any kids?
  • What’s your home life like?

2. Ask about arrests
Many cities and states, including California, have passed legislation that limits when an employer can ask about criminal background history and what they can ask about.

Arrests that do not result in convictions should not disqualify a candidate, and convictions that do not relate to the job at hand should be considered carefully.
 

3. Discuss drug or alcohol use
It’s tempting for managers to ask about drug and alcohol use. But you’ll want to stay away from asking if a candidate used illegal drugs in the past. However, you can ask if that candidate currently uses any illegal drugs. Walk this line carefully, though.
 

4. Ask about politics, groups, or social organizations, unless relevant to the position
Instead, ask about specific professional associations, if relevant. Avoid discussing the candidate’s involvement in church, parent-teacher associations, or political affiliations.
 

5. Wing it!
While some interviews will need to be less scripted, you should be thinking out your questions and the requirements of the position thoroughly before the interview. Taking time to organize will help keep you objective and fair.
 

What to do instead

1. Keep questions consistent between candidates (per position)
Core questions related to the position itself shouldn’t change much from interview to interview. Of course, follow-up questions can vary and will be more specific to each candidate’s ability to perform the job.

To help keep questions consistent it’s a good idea to agree to a list of questions ahead of time and distribute them to anyone participating in the interview process.
 

2. Link your decisions to objective criteria wherever possible
First impressions are subjective, which is part of why interviews are difficult.

When considering your candidate, try to get beyond your initial reactions and really understand why you think the candidate may not fit. If the candidate’s experience doesn’t mesh with your company culture, which aspect of your culture, specifically?
 

3. Take detailed notes
If you’re ever in a situation where a candidate claims they were not hired due to a discriminatory reason, having detailed notes of why you made your decision will be crucial. Remember, the burden is on the employer to disprove this allegation, and if your only answer is “they just were not a good fit,” you won’t get very far.

On the flipside, having detailed notes about what you do like about a candidate can be crucial for deciding between two (or more) qualified candidates. Relying on memory alone when it’s a close call opens the door for subjectivity and bias.
 

4. Identify the essential functions and requirements of the position BEFORE the interview
Have you ever been in an interview where the recruiter speaks in vague generalities about the position? Or interviewed for a job that didn’t have a description at all?

Why is this a problem? An employee’s performance is tied to job expectations. Without clearly defined job requirements set from the beginning, there’s little accountability or direction for potential candidates. Bad for the company. Bad for the employee.
 

5. Have specific intent for each question asked
These last two points go hand in hand. Take some time to really think about what this position actually requires. What skills, education, and experience are you looking for, and why?
 

While the interview portion of the recruitment process is all about narrowing down your selections and ultimately disqualifying certain candidates, employers should take extra care to ensure their decisions are objective and consistent with job necessity.

Have questions about job interviews? Ask in the comments below and we’ll find an answer.
 

TargetCW Services Highlight: International Payroll

International Terminal Business Travel Transportation Concept

Did you know that TargetCW can aid in your company’s International Contingent Workforce payroll? Through various partnerships and fully owned subsidiaries, we offer a one stop-solution for all your international employment needs. We take on the standard employment burdens for various countries, just like we do in the United States.

We currently have legal operating entities in Canada and the United Kingdom. In addition, we have business partnerships in over 45 countries!

Our program has a variety of unique benefits that make payrolling international workers simple:

  • Currency conversion built into the mark up rate
  • We handle all GST/VAT according to country law
  • You can pay your invoice in US dollars
  • Offer letters/employment contracts are created and managed by TargetCW
  • Time and expense tracking through our online systems for all workers US and abroad
  • Benefits for various countries are administered by the appropriate office

Our team of international professionals and HR experts know the intricate employment laws of each country and the standard business practices to make sure your candidate is comfortable with their assignment. We look forward to working with you!

FIND OUT MORE

Did you Know? 2016 Mandatory Changes to State Labor Law Posters

Did you know there have been almost 100 mandatory state posting changes? Make sure your company has the most updated poster displayed. In addition, the following states have mandatory changes that are now in effect.

  • California – Notice to Employees—Injuries Caused by Work (workers’ compensation), effective Jan. 1, 2016
  • Colorado – Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2016
  • Florida – Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2016
  • Kentucky –Safety and Health on the Job, effective Jan. 1, 2016
  • Louisiana – Earned Income Credit, effective Jan. 1, 2016
  • Massachusetts — Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2016
  • Michigan – Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2016
  • Missouri – Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2016
  • New York –Minimum Wage, effective Dec. 31, 2015
  • Ohio – Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2016
  • Oregon – Minimum Wage, Family Leave Act, and Sick Time Law, effective Jan. 1, 2016
  • Rhode Island – Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2016
  • Virginia — Job Safety and Health Protection, Feb. 11, 2016

Motivating Your Contingent Workforce

The contingent workforce is growing and it’s critical for companies to be aware of the unique needs of contingent workers. Because the needs of contingent workers are different, employers need to approach contingent workforce employee engagement differently, too.

In terms of motivation, temporary workers require more attention. Because the jobs are temporary, there is usually no chance of raises, promotions, or paid time off, which are all the typical sources of motivation that employers depend on. Below are some tips to keep contingent workers motivated:

  • Make them feel welcome. Many times contingent workers are treated differently than full time employees. Include them in social events, training, and company outings. An open company culture will increase your employee retention.
  • Stay connected. Don’t forget about your temporary worker or put them on the back burner. Keep constant communication and give them the guidance they need.
  • Reward them. Give your contingent workers the recognition they deserve. If they go above and beyond, incentivizing will help improve engagement.
  • Have next actions prepared. Unlike full time employees, a temporary worker has to constantly consider how they will pay their bills. Giving them early notice of future work or lack of work will greatly influence whether they come back for another project.

The Interns are Coming!

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Interns make ideal workers — hungry to learn, eager to make a good impression, and willing to perform a wide range of tasks. The relatively small amount of money employers spend on intern wages and benefits is a good investment, because it often produces dedicated future long-term employees.

PROS:

  • Year round source of highly motivated pre-professionals
  • Students bring new perspectives to old problems
  • Visibility of your organization is increased on campus
  • Quality candidates for temporary or seasonal positions and projects
  • Freedom for professional staff to pursue more creative projects
  • Flexible, cost-effective work force not requiring a long-term employer commitment
  • Proven, cost-effective way to recruit and evaluate potential employees
  • Your image in the community is enhanced as you contribute your expertise to the educational enterprise

CONS:

  • Administrative burden on HR Department
  • Increased Employer Liability risks

Unpaid Interns are Ancient History

The U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which applies to all companies that have at least two employees, are directly engaged in interstate commerce, or have annual sales of at least $500,000, severely restricts an employer’s ability to use unpaid interns or trainees. It does not limit an employer’s ability to hire paid interns. Even if a student is working through a school program for which he or she is being “paid” in college credits, the student still has the right under the FLSA to be paid, unless the employer is not deriving any immediate advantage by using him/her. Also, workers’ compensation boards have found that interns contribute enough to a company to make them employees. It’s wise to cover interns under a workers’ compensation policy in case of on the job injuries.

For obvious reasons, unpaid internships are financially attractive to smaller, growing companies — but they also run the risk of noncompliance with the law. That aside, compensating your interns can actually affect your company in positive ways. Paying students motivates them to do good work. Managers tend to underutilize or devalue unpaid interns. Will an unpaid intern remain motivated enough to do their best work? Probably not.

Here’s how to manage your internship program so it’s mutually beneficial and rewarding:

  • Lawyer Up: Treating interns like slaves isn’t just unethical, it’s against the law. The Department of Labor is really cracking down on unpaid internships, so it wouldn’t hurt to discuss your program with your attorney to ensure it’s in compliance with the law. Make sure your interns are earning college credit in exchange for their time. Be sure to keep their hours reasonable, keep their tasks educational, and keep giving them feedback on their performance. Don’t forget to prepare standard paperwork like nondisclosure agreements.
  • It’s All About Them: In the not so exact words of John F. Kennedy, don’t ask what your intern can do for your agency, ask what your agency can do for your intern. At the beginning of the internship period, sit down with the intern and discuss his or her goals. What are they trying to accomplish? What skills do they want to develop or grow? How do they like to be managed? How will they be evaluated at the end of the internship? Clarify these expectations early on.
  • Have a Point Person: Taking direction from multiple employees is going to get confusing, especially when it comes to prioritizing projects. It’s best to have an internship coordinator to act as the main contact at the agency, who the intern can report to. An internship coordinator can really help with streamlining projects, and supervise the completion. This is also a great opportunity to maybe give a junior staffer some management experience.
  • Give Them a Project: It’s easy to delegate random and ad-hoc tasks to interns, but consider actually giving your intern a project to work on throughout the summer. Maybe they can work on building a new media list or do some research on a potential client. What about a draft marketing plan? Not only will something constant help avoid downtime, at the end of the term they’ll have something tangible for a portfolio.
  • Involve Them: Being an intern isn’t just about learning how to develop work products, it’s also about learning how to function in an office environment. Help your interns understand what’s expected professionally by involving them in meetings, new business pitches, and team building activities. Also, ask for their opinions. It will help them gain confidence speaking in meetings and articulating their ideas. And you never know what you can learn from them.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN ABOUT OUR INTERNSHIP PROGRAM

Legal Challenges for 2016

We’ve compiled some of the hot HR topics of 2016, no doubt some of these will make the spotlight, but as an HR professional, it’s important that you are aware and prepared to handle these challenges.

  1. At a federal level, same-sex marriages are afforded the same rights as opposite-sex couples. The Supreme Court ruling impacts people in all states. Be sure your policies across different locations/divisions are in compliance. As a CA based employer we are very much ahead of the curve.
  2. Paid Sick leave is normal for most companies, but is your contingent workforce in compliance? As the landscape changes make sure your agencies and partners are in full compliance.
  3. Co-employment has always been a hot topic, but with a wealth of new rulings and the ACA definitions/mandates, you are no longer protected by using an agency. The best protection is to make sure your agencies and partners are in compliance.
  4. Privacy and the wearable workforce. New technologies such as google glasses, VR headsets, and body area network ware pose new challenges to harassment, privacy and network intrusion. Be sure to implement specific and rights protecting policies around these new technologies.
  5. The home-based workforce is rapidly growing as a great cost and space effective resource to augment your workforce. Whether you do it directly or through a partner, make sure you have a good “home workers guide” that explains expectations, safety and other unique challenges to the home based workers. Just because it’s their home, doesn’t mean you are released from liability.
  6. Specific is the new general. More and more cases are moving in favor of employees because of the lack of clarity in employer documents and handbooks. Be specific and cover all known areas where a violation may occur and where you ARE NOT infringing on an employee’s rights. As new areas of concern come up, revise the policy and redistribution to employees.
  7. The hourly worker has power! Lately the WhiteHouse has been a strong advocate of the traditional hourly worker. New rights, benefits and wage restrictions are providing more benefit. Make sure you are up to speed. One client in CA recently discovered their hourly timecard didn’t include meal breaks.
  8. Last but not least is 1099 misclassification. Just don’t do it.

Happy New Year

Minimum Wage Updates for 2016

 

Location New Hourly Rate Effective Date
CA Statewide 10.00 1/1/16
Oakland, CA 12.55 1/1/16
Berkeley, CA 12.53 10/1/16
Los Angeles, CA 10.50 7/1/16
Palo Alto, CA 11.00 1/1/16
Richmond, CA 11.52 1/1/16
Santa Clara, CA 11.00 1/1/16
San Francisco, CA 13.00 7/1/16
Emeryville, CA 14.82 7/1/16
Minnesota 9.50 8/1/16
Vermont 9.60 1/1/16
Michigan 8.50 1/1/16
New York 9.00 12/31/15
Rhode Island 9.60 1/1/16
Mass 10.00 1/1/16
Connecticut 9.60 1/1/16
Nebraska 9.00 1/1/16
St. Louis, MO 9.00 1/1/16
West Virginia 8.75 12/31/15
Maryland 8.75 7/1/16
Montgomery, MD 10.75 10/1/16
Prince George, MD 10.75 10/1/16
Arkansas 8.00 1/1/16
Washington DC 11.50 1/1/16
Alaska 9.75 1/1/16
Hawaii 8.50 1/1/16
Chicago, IL 10.50 7/1/16
Seattle, WA 13.00 1/1/16
Tacoma, WA 10.35 2/1/16
Lexington, KY 8.20 7/1/16
Louisville, KY 8.25 7/1/16
Birmingham, AL 8.50 7/1/16
  • Exempt minimum wage increases to 41,600/year
  • Computer software professional min pay rate: 41.85/hour or 87,185.14/year
  • Emeryville, CA minimum wage: 14.82/hour on July 1, 2DOL Overtime Proposal for exempt employees
    Current FLSA salary threshold: 455/week or 23,660/year will increase to 921/week, 47,892/year

 

The San Diego Union-Tribune Recognized TargetCW as one of the Top Workplaces in 2015

The San Diego Union-Tribune recognized TargetCW as as one of the top places to work in San Diego in 2015. We’re pretty excited about it, but with outstanding customer service, a culture of hard work and fun, and a frozen yogurt machine, we’re not surprised.

Looking for a job? Why not join our team?

Need help? We offer a range of contingent workforce solutions for companies of all sizes.