Human Resource Information System and other key technologies to improve your business.

Fight cyber threats: Take action to ensure your emails and data are secure

Yahoo just announced this week that more than 500 million accounts had information stolen in what news reports say is one of the largest cyber-security breaches in history.  Yahoo has reported that a “state sponsored actor” was behind the breach.

What does this mean to you and your business?  It is important to make sure that your data, email, and online accounts are secure.  Below are several steps you can take immediately to ensure an increased level of security.

  • Change your passwords frequently: People are generally bad at selecting and creating passwords.   Create random passwords, make them long and use different ones for each account.  If you have problems remembering randomly generated passwords (everyone does!) consider a password manager such as  LastPass, Dashlane, KeePass, 1Password, and RoboForm.
  • Update your account information: Take time to review your most important account information for accuracy.  Make sure your email address, phone number and contact information are correct.  You will have a better chance to recover information if those items are accurate.
  • Consider two-factor authentication for your most important accounts: Adding a second level of authentication for the services you care most about will decrease your security risk.  This can be done by adding a text message code, a security key, randomly generated passwords, or even a phone call.  Search the help or support pages on your account web pages to find how you to implement multi- or two- factor authentication for each.
  • Review your privacy settings on your social network accounts: Are you sharing data and information with only whom you intend to?  Take the time to review privacy settings and err on being conservative.  If you are unsure of what you are allowing others to see, turn it off.
  • Have a good antivirus and firewall protection: Check that these systems are up-to-date and functioning properly.  There are several sites that can help you choose the best protection for you.
  • Pay attention to security alerts and suspicious links:– Browsers are now equipped with warnings to alert you if you attempt to visit a dangerous site. Don’t ignore these warnings.  Be aware of suspicious links and never download a file that your antivirus software or browser says is malicious.
  • Minimize the damage: Even the best practices may be susceptible to a hack.  If your account is hacked, be aware of what help is available.  Avoid storing unnecessary account information.   Make sure you have a good backup of your valuable data.  Hardware failures, accidental deletions, viruses and malware can destroy your data.  Have an automatic backup solution that works for you.   Also, take the additional step to test your backup system regularly so that it is working when you need it.

 

If you need help, contact the Human Resource experts at BCN. We are here to help, whether it is about  your employment policies or everyday decisions that impact your bottom line. Visit us at www.bcnservices.com or call us toll-free at 800-891-9911.

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Marcus Merillat, IT Manager

Does texting belong in your workplace?

Chances are, technology and communication trends have advanced more swiftly than your company policies. Do your managers give work instruction to employees via text message? Are your employees reporting a work absence using text messaging? Is this communication happening on personal devices or work devices? Does it matter?

Our Human Resources Department has seen an increase in complaints from employees who are reporting bullying, sexually explicit photos, and racial slurs sent by text messages from co-workers or supervisors. Even more alarming is the group text, which may start out with work-related content and digress into a conversation that wouldn’t be, and shouldn’t be, spoken aloud in the workplace.

Set your policy and tell employees

First and foremost, employers should make their position on texting known. A company’s silence on the matter may be viewed as acceptance of this type of behavior. Even if your employee handbook states that employees are to call their supervisor if they will not be reporting to work, a practice of accepting text messages makes this your new, unwritten policy. (Anybody familiar with a “Code Red” from A Few Good Men where extrajudicial punishment was used causing a character in the movie to die)

At a minimum, your anti-harassment policy should be updated to include all forms of harassment and all forms of communication.

Text messages are documentation

Your supervisors and managers need to be aware that any text messages they send to employees can (and will) serve as documentation. Promises of money, work performance critiques and requests for dates verbalized in the past and viewed as passing comments are now documented and available to be produced on demand.

However, this street runs both ways. In the matter of U.S. District Court case of Enriquez v. U.S. Cellular Corp., an employee sued because her supervisor sent her inappropriate and, what she claimed were, offensive texts. However, evidence was presented that the employee had in turn sent the texts on to other employees indicating that she did not find them offensive. Judgement was found in favor of the employer in this case.

What about texts sent between members of your management team? Is there an expectation of a response whether or not it was sent during business hours? What about when that manager is on vacation or out sick?

Regardless of whether or not you decide to use texting as a part of your regular business communications, make sure your expectations are clearly understood by your employees. Our Human Resources professionals at BCN Services are available to discuss policy options and assist in updating your employee handbook and communicating with your employees. Contact us at 800-891-9911 anytime for assistance.

 

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Sue Kester, HR Manager

Back-to-school season benefits employees as well as kids

It’s that time of year.  The days are getting shorter and cooler.  We’re sending our kids back to school, but what about our employees?

September is not typically the time of year that companies start new initiatives or take on additional expenses, but there are many continuing education opportunities available to employees in the fall, and business owners would do well to take note.

Whether you want to have a new manager trained, certify your professional staff, or simply learn more about the latest and greatest trends in your field, there are training options out there for your employees and for you .

Community Colleges
Many colleges and universities offer targeted training opportunities.  Whether you or your employee are working toward a degree, a professional certification or simply have an interest in a specific topic, most colleges and universities accommodate working schedules including offering evening and weekend classes at convenient times.

Seminars/Webinars
Both professional associations and independent training academies offer a wide variety of both on-site seminars and on-line webinars.  Whether you want your Project Manager to improve his organizational skills or your Administrative Assistant to have a stronger Excel base, business seminars may be a cost-effective alternative to a collegiate classroom.

BCN University
Have a new manager – or a manager that needs to brush up on her people skills?  Consider BCN’s Learning Management System for self-study sessions on a variety of topics including “Conflict Management,”  “Be an Effective Manager” or “Dealing with Difficult Workplace Behaviors.”

Have a need for targeted safety training?  “Hazard Communication,”  “Forklift Safety,” “ Blood-borne Pathogens” and many others can be found in our safety library which is available to BCN Services clients at no additional cost.

As always, the BCN Services Human Resources team is available to discuss specific situations in your workplace and help guide you with any and all employee matters, including training. Contact us at 800-891-9911 or contact us here.

 

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Sue Kester, HR Manager

Boomers and employees of all ages benefit from solid technology training

Are older workers resistant to using technology tools to do their jobs?  Do they not want to learn something new?  Is the adage about old dogs and new tricks true?

It’s easy to blame older workers’ unwillingness to learn new things when they don’t use the technology you invested in, but that may not be the cause of the problem.  Make sure they’ve been effectively trained, know why the new approach is needed and how they will personally benefit from using the new tool.  This is true for everyone, not just your older workers.

Consider this about Baby Boomers:  They are the second largest group of bloggers (after moms).  Two out of three of them take photos with their cell phones.  Sixty percent of them text.  They’ve invaded Facebook, Twitter, Skype and YouTube.   It’s not that they can’t learn how to do things on the computer. The work place problem could stem from ineffective instruction, poor communication about the relevant goals, and/or the failure to tie the change to personal effectiveness.

Consider these things when  trying to teach new technology to employees, regardless of their age:

Are you using the right instructor?

When there is a failure to learn, look at the quality of the teacher. Most often, IT resources are the ones who design and offer the training needed to learn new hardware and software applications. Unless your company is remarkably unique, these people are probably not even speaking the same language as some of your workers. Those who are comfortable with computers tend to rattle off jargon and terms in quick succession, “demonstrate” with a series of rapid key strokes, and assume everybody gets it. That is not teaching. It’s geeks sharing with geeks. If you’re not a geek, you have no idea what just happened.

Those who didn’t use computers during their formative years may need a different training approach than those who did.  Offer the class in a way they can understand.  You need a trainer who understands that students learn in different ways and who creates examples, analogies, and practice exercises that are class specific.

Clearly explain the reason for the change

Don’t jump into implementation without effectively explaining why it’s needed to those who have to live with it. Talk about why the company needs this change, how important it is for everyone to make the change, and what you are doing to help people understand and use the new technology so employees don’t make wrong assumptions. Make these employees partners and they are more likely to step up to the challenge. (Conversely, “do it because I said so” stops working with most people before they are out of elementary school.) Debunk the falsehoods coming out of the rumor mill at the same time. And do all of this before training so they are ready to learn.

Tie the change to improved personal effectiveness

There’s an old saying in training: “They gotta wanna.” The first piece of any successful training effort-is helping trainees see the value of performing differently themselves. This isn’t a case of telling someone to learn it “or else.” And it’s not usually a case of “you can make more money if you learn this.”

When you need employees to learn new technology, focus on the fact that their contribution is valuable and needs to be fully integrated with what the rest of the company is doing. Virtually every tech improvement is meant to achieve better integration in some way.

Most people want to be good at what they do. Helping them understand that their work becomes more valuable if they use the new system increases the value of the change in personal terms.

For more about training and other human resources help, contact the experts at BCN Services by calling 1-800-891-9911 or contact us here.

 

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Sue Kester, HR Manager