Developing the best formula for happiness in the workplace

I was reading some marketing articles over the weekend and came across an article about “Happiness in the Workplace”.   Skimming it briefly, I didn’t see much in value for my marketing endeavors but then I came across another article on the same topic.

So it gave me pause. What is happiness in the workplace anyway?  It sounds a little ambiguous to me since “happy” is a relative term and can change from day-to-day.  After reading the article more in-depth, the point became clear: Happiness is really more of a choice than a feeling.  It’s an action.  I also think that the more engaged you are at your job the “happier” you are.

A happy person is also contagious.  If you work around people who always complain, the natural effect is to start looking at your work world a little more negatively.  But if you are surrounded by happy, positive people, you tend to see your environment in that way as well.

In the article “15 Proven Tips to Be Happy at Work,” John Rampton offers these tips that are worth repeating.  I picked my top 10 and expounded on them.

  1. Have a sense of meaning. Think about what your role is in your company. How are you impacting those around you?  Your clients, your co-workers, the UPS person.  You may dislike parts of your job, but they have meaning.  Your role can influence others and you may not even know it.
  2. Create an office nest. The environment that we create around us is so important in how we view ourselves. Pictures of people and phrases that are important to you or motivate you can be a reminder of why you do what you do.
  3. Smile– So simple, so easy — makes a difference J
  4. Be future-oriented.– Do you have goals? Does your company have goals?  If you keep those goals in front of you, your perspective will change as you go about your day.  Take time during each week to consider these goals and how you and your company are working towards them.
  5. Say “thank you.”– This is something so simple to do and it will impact those around you.
  6. Take a breather.– Taking time away from the office and daily stresses can help. We can recharge ourselves both mentally and physically by just taking a little time for ourselves.
  7. Eat healthy & stay hydrated.- Taking care of yourself can impact your life in subtle ways. Our concentration improves.  When we feel good physically, it makes an impact on our mental state and thus the result is “happy.”
  8. Accept people for who they are.– We are all different.  No one thinks exactly like you.  This is a great thing.  When we can embrace this concept and accept this you will naturally become happier.  Realize that you cannot change people.
  9. Reward yourself.- You work hard. Sometimes just a little reward for that work can change your perspective.  If you had a hard week or a big goal was met at the office, reward yourself with a nice dinner out or purchase that new gadget you have been wanting.
  10. Reflect- Why do you do what you do? Take time to evaluate what you do, why you do it and what brought you to this career path.  Reflection is a reminder that what you do is for a purpose. it may refocus you and the result is happiness.

While these tips seem basic, it is important to remember that we are all responsible for ourselves and how we interact day-to-day with our coworkers. If you are a leader in your organization, putting some of these tips into practice will transfer to your staff.  When employees see their managers and coworkers happier, they will naturally strive towards the same.

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Wendy Allen, Marketing Manager

When can you dock a salaried employee’s pay?

Docking an exempt or salaried employee’s pay is only allowed in certain circumstances.

Generally, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not permit deductions from exempt employees. According to the regulations, the amount of money a salaried employee earns isn’t dependent on the number of days or hours he or she works. You also can’t deduct money based on the quantity or quality of work the employee produces.

However, there are some exceptions to the rule:

  • Exempt employees do not need to be paid for any workweek in which they perform no work.
  • Deductions may be made for exempt employees who are absent for a day or more for personal reasons other than sickness or accident. (Deductions must be made in full-day increments, not for partial-day absences.)
  • Deductions may be made for exempt employee absences of one day or more caused by sickness or disability, if the company maintains a plan that compensates for loss of salary caused by sickness and disability and the employee has exhausted his or her “bank” of leave.
  • Deductions may be made for penalties imposed for safety rules violation of major significance
  • Amounts received by an employee for jury or witness fees or military pay may be offset. Beyond those offsets, deductions may not be made for absences caused by employee jury duty, attendance as a witness or temporary military leave.
  • Deductions may be made for unpaid disciplinary suspensions of one or more full days for breaking workplace conduct rules.
  • Payment may be adjusted for partial weeks worked during the initial or final weeks of employment. For example, if Joe resigns in the middle of a workweek, pay him only for the days actually worked in that week.
  • In some cases, when a salaried/exempt employee has worked a reduced or intermittent work schedule under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA),pay may be adjusted. (You can convert a salaried employee to an hourly rate during the time he or she is on intermittent or a reduced workweek FMLA leave without destroying the person’s exempt status.

If your company inadvertently makes an improper deduction, it must be corrected immediately to avoid penalties.  If an employer is found to be “intentionally” engaging in improper pay docking, they will lose the overtime exemption for the pay period the docking occurred for other employees working in the same job classification for the same manager responsible for the deduction.

This means that the employer must pay normally exempt workers overtime wages if their hours exceed 40 hours for one work week.

If you are not sure when to dock a salaried employee’s pay or have questions regarding pay practices, please contact your BCN Services specialist for guidance.

List of permitted deduction courtesy of TrackSmart

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Lisandra Garrow, Partnership Manager

Tips for employers: When to pay an employee’s travel expenses

We often get the question: “Do I need to pay my employee for travel time?”  Unfortunately, there is not a simple “yes” or “no” answer.  A number of factors are involved, including when the employee is traveling, how the employee is traveling, and what is the employee doing at the destination.

Our HR team is happy to talk through any individual case you may have, but here are some guidelines on common situations:

Home-to-work travel:  Normal home-to-work travel is not compensable time.  However, if an employee is asked to travel to an alternate destination for work or to attend training, he or she should be compensated for any time that would be over and above normal home-to-work time.

(As a side note, any time spent in training sessions — whether it be during the employee’s regular work day or outside of the employee’s normal working hours — should be paid as hours worked if the employer has requested or required the training.)

Workday travel:  Time spent by an employee in travel as part of his or her principal activity, such as travel from job site to job site during the workday, must be counted as hours worked. Where an employee is required to report at a designated meeting place to receive instructions, perform other work or to pick up tools, travel from the designated place to the workplace is part of the day’s work and must be counted as hours worked regardless of contract, custom or practice.

Travel on a non-work day:  Even if the employee travels on a day he or she would not normally be scheduled (Sunday for example), if he is traveling for the benefit of the company during his normally scheduled work shift (between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., for example) that time would be considered time worked and should be paid accordingly.

Overtime:  Paid travel time is paid as worked time.  If an hourly (or non-exempt) employee has more than 40 hours in combined work and travel time, those hours must be paid at time and one half of the regular rate.

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Sue Kester, HR Manager