Why appreciation is important in the workplace

Have you ever felt unappreciated at work? Then you understand how important recognition in the workplace can be. Workplace recognition motivates, provides a sense of accomplishment and makes employees feel valued for their work.

Gallup research finds that “only one in three workers in the U.S. strongly agree that they received recognition or praise for doing good work in the past seven days.” Employees often feel that their best efforts are routinely ignored. Those who do not feel adequately recognized say they are twice as likely to quit in the next year, research found. Read more

Morale may get a boost during March brackets, but try to minimize distractions

It’s here! March Madness is upon us and the bustle around your office involves which teams made the tournament, selecting brackets and game start times. While you may dread this time of year as a manager, this annual sporting event may not be as detrimental to office productivity as was once thought.

An OfficeTeam survey of 1,000 managers and 400 workers in office environments found that 11 percent of managers find March Madness activities to be a welcome diversion. Those managers believe the activity can increase teamwork and boost morale. Read more

Workplace breast-pumping is a protected activity

In February 2019, a jury awarded a former employee of a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in Delaware more than $1.5 million in damages for gender-based discrimination and harassment after the company demoted her for pumping breast milk while at work. According to the lawsuit, when the employee was hired as an assistant manager she was told that it would not affect her need to pump her breast milk every two hours, as her doctor recommended. However, immediately after starting the position, she was forced to work 10-hour training sessions with just one break during the shift. Additionally, the space she was allotted for breast pumping was the manager’s office which had windows and a surveillance camera that she was told could not be turned off.

When the employee concluded her training, she was transferred to a different location where she dealt with complaints from co-workers who asserted that she was allowed too many “breaks” to pump. She was ultimately demoted.

The jury looked at several laws in making their decision, but one was of important note in this case. When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as the “Affordable Care Act,” or ACA) was enacted in 2010, it effectively amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to require all employers covered by the FLSA to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has the need to express the milk.”

Employers are also required to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.” This law covers nonexempt (hourly) employees. The time spent pumping breast milk need not be compensated unless the employer provides compensated breaks to the employee and if the employee uses that break time to express milk.

Although the provision covers all employers covered by the FLSA, there is a U.S. Department of Labor exemption for employers with fewer than 50 employees if the employer can demonstrate that compliance with the provision would impose an undue hardship.

It is important to know that some states have more expansive laws covering this topic. If you have questions regarding how this affects your business, please contact the specialists at BCN Services at 1-800-891-9911.

Alicia Freeman, Operations Manager

Fire prevention checklist offers tips to keep your workplace safe

Safety in the workplace is something to be concerned about. In today’s fast-paced world of work, safety items can be unintentionally overlooked.

With that in mind, we thought we’d provide a quick read safety checklist of common sense “to do’s” to help you assess your place of business when it comes to basic fire prevention standards. Do a regular walkaround of your workplace to see if any of these need attention throughout the year:

  1. Provide an adequate number of fire extinguishers and service them at least once annually. Visit the OSHA website at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/evacuation/portable_placement.html for tips about placing and using portable extinguishers.
  2. Train employees how to use fire extinguishers.
  3. Train employees how to respond should a fire occur.
  4. Ensure that building “exit” signs are readily visible and well lit.
  5. Ensure that there are enough exits to facilitate a prompt escape, if needed.
  6. Post your emergency evacuation plan and have periodic fire drills that put your plan in practice.
  7. Keep aisles, stairwells and exits clear – DO NOT block these areas with furniture or other obstacles.
  8. Store materials no closer to the ceiling than 36 inches (in a non-sprinklered room) or 18 inches (in a sprinklered room).
  9. Do not overload electrical outlets. Check your outlets regularly.
  10. Provide safety ashtrays in areas where smoking is allowed.
  11. Store hazardous chemicals properly and locate them away from sources such as gas pilot lights.
  12. Keep work areas free of refuse.
  13. Don’t use compressed air to blow dust off equipment or other work surfaces. Dust levels in the air can quickly reach dangerous levels that can pose a health hazard to your workers and, if combustible, may even explode when contacting lights or other common electrical sources.
  14. Do not use flexible cords that are frayed or have damaged plugs. Take them out of service by placing a tag on them that visibly says, “Damaged, Do Not Use” and report them for replacement. Replace and discard as soon as possible.
  15. Be aware that unusually warm or hot outlets may be a sign of unsafe wiring. Unplug any cords to the outlet, mark the outlet as “Do Not Use”, and report the condition immediately to someone who can safely follow up.

We can help you determine what safety changes are needed in your workplace. In addition to the above checklist review, BCN Services has a staff of safety consultants who will come to your place of business to offer a friendly set of eyes and do a more thorough safety walk-through at no charge. Our consultants have decades of experience across many industries.

Call the BCN Services Risk Management Department at 1.800.891-9911, ext. 108 and arrange a walk-through today. Let’s focus on safety in the workplace in 2019.

Patrick Boeheim, Safety and Risk Manager