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  • 06 Dec 2019 10:52 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Employees prepare orders for customers at a Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. restaurant in Hollywood, California on Tuesday, July 16, 2013.

    Theron Mohamed | 4 December, 2019 

    Chipotle has nurses check whether employees who call in sick are genuinely unwell or just hungover.

    "We have nurses on call, so that if you say, 'Hey, I've been sick,' you get the call into the nurse," CEO Brian Niccol said at a Barclays conference on Wednesday. "The nurse validates that it's not a hangover, you're really sick, and then we pay for the day off to get healthy again."

    The Mexican restaurant chain trumpeted the policy as part of its improved food-safety practices. It suffered a norovirus outbreak among customers in Virginia in 2017, and an internal investigation found it was caused by store managers failing to follow safety procedures and an employee working while they were unwell.

    "We have a very different food safety culture than we did two years ago, okay?" Niccol said. "Nobody gets to the back of the restaurant without going through a wellness check."

    However, a healthy workforce isn't always enough to prevent customers from getting sick.

    "There's probably people in here that might have the common cold," Niccol said at the conference. "Even if we clean up after you, and we don't use a cleaner that kills that germ, it hangs around for the next customer.

    "Even though our team member did nothing wrong, there was nothing wrong with our food, we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard to make sure that the dining room gets sanitized in a way that it hasn't been in the past," he said.

    Chipotle has a solution: "We've got cleaner that actually kills norovirus when you clean the tables in the dining room," Niccol said.

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  • 03 Dec 2019 10:06 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    November 26, 2019 07:12 ET Source: Yoh

    PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 26, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- American worker confidence hit a record high in Q3 2019, surpassing its previous all-time high set in Q1 of this year. Following a mid-year fall in Q2 2019, the national Worker Confidence Index™ (WCI) rose 11.8 points to 116.7 in Q3 2019. The Worker Confidence Index™ is a survey of U.S. workers from HRO Today Magazine and Yoh, the leading international talent and outsourcing company owned by Day & Zimmermann, which gauges workers’ perceptions of the four key aspects of worker confidence: perceived likelihood of job loss, perceived likelihood of a promotion, perceived likelihood of a raise, and overall trust in company leadership.

    Overall, the index grew from 104.8 Q4 2018 to 116.7 in Q3 2019. This is the largest quarter-over-quarter increase the index has seen in its nearly five-year history. Of the WCI’s four indices, the job security index was the only index to report a quarterly decrease. The remaining three – likelihood of a promotion, likelihood of a raise and trust in company leadership indices – all increased. Compared to the same time last year, those same three indices were higher overall, with the Job Security Index being the only index to fall, down by 2.7 points.

    Americans’ perceived likelihood of a promotion saw the biggest jump quarter-over-quarter, rising from 110.1 in Q2 2019 to 133.9 in Q3 2019. Perceived likelihood of a raise saw the second-largest increase, going from 104.4 in Q2 2018 to 121.1 in Q3 2019. Both of these were the largest such increases quarter-over-quarter for these indices in the history of the WCI. Perceived job security and trust in company leadership saw minor falls and rises, respectively.

    “With the WCI showing worker confidence at an all-time high and unemployment numbers remaining historically low, it shows companies are investing strongly in the most important part of any healthy business – their talent,” said Kathleen King, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Solutions, Yoh. “However, this good news does present a challenge. With high confidence and high unemployment, it means hiring managers, HR and businesses in general need to work that much harder to identify candidates and fill their employment gaps. Only by working with the best staffing partners and taking advantage of the most up-to-date recruiting technology can companies truly keep up in today’s competitive talent landscape.”

    Other takeaways:

    • Workforce data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) remains consistent with findings regarding job security.
      Despite a slight fall from 104.3 in Q2 2019 to 101.5 in Q3 2019, the job security index remains high. This follows workforce data from the BLS, which found that by the end of Q3 2019, there were 1.1 percent more workers than at the end of 3Q 2018, bringing the total number of people in the U.S. workforce to over 117.2 million. Americans, overall, are getting more jobs and keeping them longer.

    • Worker Confidence Index suggests the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) will increase at the end of 2019.
      The WCI has correctly predicted the direction of consumer confidence for the next quarter’s end in 14 of the last 18 quarters. An increase in the WCI in the prior quarter would suggest an increase in the CCI at the end of the next quarter.

    • Millennials anticipate a promotion more than any other age group.
      Millennials (those under 35 in the WCI) were the most inclined to anticipate a promotion compared to other age groups, with about 45% reporting a promotion is likely over the next 12 months. Those aged 35-44 (38.2%), 45-54 (20.8%), 55-64 (12.5%), and 65+ (3.7%) are all less confident in an upcoming promotion.

    To view the entire study, please visit,

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    Source: GlobeNewswire, Inc.

  • 23 Nov 2019 1:03 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Image result for proxy voting

    ROCKVILLE, Md. (November 12, 2019) — Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (ISS), the leading provider of end-to-end governance and responsible investment solutions to the global financial community, today released updates to its 2020 benchmark proxy voting policies. The updated policies will generally be applied for shareholder meetings on or after Feb. 1, 2020.

    To ensure its global voting policies take into consideration the changing views and needs of its institutional investor clients and the perspectives of companies and the broader corporate governance community, ISS gathers input each year from institutional investors, companies, and other market constituents worldwide through a variety of channels and over many months. The updates announced today have been informed by the careful consideration of the many inputs received.

    “This is the fifteenth year in which a broad range of institutional investors, companies and other interested market constituents globally have provided thoughtful feedback through ISS’ annual benchmark policy survey, roundtables and other meetings, and through our public open comment period on proposed changes,” said Georgina Marshall, Global Head of Research and Chair of the ISS Global Policy Board.  “ISS’ clients include some of the most sophisticated institutional investors across the world and our transparent, market-based approach to evolving the policies that are the basis of ISS’ informed, independent research and voting recommendations, continues to help support them in making considered voting decisions in any particular situation, in light of their own investment and governance philosophies, stewardship responsibilities and fiduciary duties.”

    Among the changes, ISS’ policy approach for newly-public companies in the US is being updated by creating two distinct policies that address (1) problematic governance provisions and (2) multi-class capital structures with unequal voting rights, including providing a framework for addressing acceptable sunset requirements for problematic capital structures in newly-public companies.   A number of considerations will be taken into account when assessing the reasonableness of a time-based sunset provision, however sunset periods beyond seven years from the date of the IPO will not be considered reasonable. The update in this area also clarifies and narrows the focus of the policy to certain highly problematic governance structures.  Additional updates to the U.S. policy with broader application cover share repurchase programs, and shareholder proposals on independent board chairs.

    In Europe, new policies are being introduced for application in Continental Europe, UK and Ireland with regard to board gender diversity. These policies will generally provide for recommending a vote “against” the chair of a company’s nomination committee (or other relevant directors on a case-by-case basis) where the company has no female directors on the board. This in line with a similar policy previously announced for 2020 in the U.S.  Also, as many EU member states are implementing the EU Shareholder Rights Directive II that prescribes a shareholder vote on remuneration policies and reports, policy updates are being introduced for European companies that consider the responsiveness of companies to significant shareholder dissent on pay-related votes, and how remuneration committees use and explain their use of discretion in managing executive pay, including how relevant environmental, social, and governance (ESG) matters have been taken into account when determining executive remuneration outcomes. Such factors may include workplace fatalities and injuries, significant environmental incidents, large or serial fines or sanctions from regulatory bodies and/or significant adverse legal judgments or settlements. A policy change on maximum director election terms is also being announced for European companies that will take effect beginning in 2021. Following the one-year transition period, the policy update will expand to all Continental European markets the expectation that votes on directors’ elections will be for terms of a maximum of four years .

    In Japan, ISS is establishing a new policy regarding the board independence level for companies with a controlling shareholder. Under the new policy, ISS will recommend a vote against top executive(s)  at a company that has a controlling shareholder unless the board includes at least two independent directors and at least one-third of the board members are independent directors based on ISS independence criteria for Japan.

    The full set of ISS benchmark policy updates for 2020 also include changes covering board gender diversity in India, director accountability for governance failures in South Korea and a price limit for off-market repurchases of shares in Singapore.

    ISS is also enhancing its Pay-for-Performance model for the U.S. and Canada by incorporating the use of Economic Value Added (EVA) metrics in the model’s secondary Financial Performance Assessment (FPA) screen. EVA is a framework that applies a series of uniform, rules-based adjustments to financial statement accounting data, and aims to measure true underlying economic profit and capital productivity. EVA provides a strong framework for comparing performance across companies of varying business models and capital structures and many of the key measures in the current FPA, such as ROIC and EBITDA growth, have comparable measures under the EVA framework.

    For full details of all ISS benchmark policy updates for 2020, please visit the ISS Policy Gateway. To access comments received by ISS during our public open comment period on the main 2020 policy updates, please click here.

    ISS will be hosting a one-hour informational webcast on the 2020 policy updates as well as other developments in the governance landscape, on December 4 at 4:00p.m. GMT | 11:00a.m. EST | 8:00a.m. PST. To register, please click here.

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    Source: Institutional Shareholder Services Inc.

  • 19 Nov 2019 10:10 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Cindy Robbins, former president and chief people officer at Salesforce, speaks at the Riveter Summit in New York City on November 6, 2019.

    Cindy Robbins, former president and chief people officer at Salesforce, speaks at the Riveter Summit in New York City on November 6, 2019. Chuck Kennedy Photography

    By Sissi Cao • 11/16/19 8:30am

    In Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff‘s new autobiography Trailblazer, the billionaire entrepreneur dedicated a generous stack of pages to revisiting a career anecdote from 2015, when his president and chief people officer at the time, Cindy Robbins, lobbied him to order a company-wide compensation assessment. This subsequently led Salesforce to spend three rounds of financial boosters totaling nearly $9 million to finally close the pay gap between male and female employees at the 40,000-people company.

    Since then, Salesforce has been celebrated as a role model in achieving gender pay equality, staff diversity and other cultural workplace metrics among large tech companies. And Benioff, with his high-profile philanthropic efforts and civic engagement, has earned a reputation as “the nice guy in Silicon Valley.

    But, is Salesforce’s success story replicable for the rest of the male-dominated tech industry? After all, not every boss is as pro-reform as Benioff. And, even if they are, not every CEO can afford a multi-million-dollar budget to implement drastic changes.

    Earlier this month, Observer spoke with Robbins, who left Salesforce in May after 13 years, at the Riveter Summit in New York City about these topics. She also shared advice on how to negotiate a raise with a tough boss and how to push for managerial changes within a company.

    Marc Benioff told a pretty impressive story in his book about how Salesforce closed the gender pay gap. Unfortunately, not everyone has a boss like Marc Benioff. And a large portion of the workforce is employed by much smaller companies—many of which are privately held and not subject to the same level of public scrutiny as Salesforce. Do you think Salesforce’s practice is replicable at those firms at all?
    Absolutely! When we are talking about rewriting the rules in the workplace, it’s no longer about the management team or the CEO rewriting the rules in the workplace. It’s about the employees. They should come together as a team and say, “Hey, we should be looking at diversity more” or “We should be looking at women in the workplace more.” It’s a bottom-up approach.

    So, it’s not about finding the Marc Benioff. If there’s something that you believe you’re passionate about and you want to change in your company, try finding coworkers who feel the same. It’s more comfortable in many ways when it’s not just one person going up a hill. You’re all going up the hill together.

    What about startups? I think, before we talk about closing the pay gap, one of the barriers facing minority groups at small offices is that it’s hard to prove that the pay gap exists and that it’s a systematic problem because the sample size is too small.
    I’ve talked to a lot of young CEOs who are starting their companies, and what I tell them is: What an opportunity you have right now!

    For a company like Salesforce, the discussion was often “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve” like back in 1999. But we didn’t know better. I believe Marc said in his book that there was no management class in college in his time that told you this is something that you should be looking at.

    These CEOs who are just starting their companies have such a great opportunity to do this from the ground floor and do it now. Put together a  job architecture system that makes sense. Put together your compensation practices. Be transparent with your employees about your compensation philosophy. Because the more you can be transparent as a company, the more fulfilled your staff is going to be.

    What advice do you have for women who are thinking about asking for a raise?
    You always hear people say that women should speak up, that women should say this or ask that. It’s just still really hard to do, because you don’t want to be seen as the complainer or the difficult one.

    My advice is, think about the questions you are going to ask or be asked. When you are asking for a raise, what are the components about why you’re asking? Is it because you feel your performance has been stellar? Is it because you talked to somebody and feel you’re not being paid in a fair way? You have to think about those questions. Don’t just say, “Well, I’m not comfortable with my pay” or “I think I should be paid more.”

    When Salesforce began its effort to readjust the proportion of men and women in executive positions, Benioff set a target that there should be 30% women in a typical management meeting, based on the gender split of Saleforce’s entire workforce. Do you think that’s a good benchmark? Would 50% be more fair?
    That’s a very big question. Is 30% the right number? Maybe not. Maybe it is a starting point, and then in the following years, the number should be going up. I think for any company you want to keep progressing up. You want that 30% to become 35, 40 and eventually 50.

    Also, it’s not just about getting a seat in the room. As women, you need to know why you earned that seat. In my case, it’s not because I’m filling the 30% but because I’m doing well. It might be luck that got you invited to the first meeting, but then it’s your responsibility to stay in that room and get invited to the next meeting and the meeting after that.

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    Source: Observer

  • 18 Nov 2019 11:24 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)


    Valerie Bolden-Barrett


    Nov. 14, 2019

    Dive Brief:

    • It's critical that HR be able to accurately price workers' skills, PayScale said in a Nov. 12 press release.
    • That ability is central to the hiring process, which demands that HR professionals take both individuals' skills and geography into account when setting pay, the organization said; "it’s not enough to simply pay according to a location because pay can vary by specific jobs or industries." To that end, the company said, it will now offer a tool that aims to help employers put a price on skills by using big data and artificial intelligence.
    • An understanding of the value of skills can help others, too, Heather Taylor, PayScale’s head of data products, said in the statement: When managers understand the value of skills, they can be more transparent when talking with employees about professional growth and opportunities.​

    Dive Insight:

    As employers move to formalize pay bands for roles and skills to ward off discrimination claims, pay transparency has risen in popularity.

    According to experts, this can mean an employer encouraging workers to discuss pay information (which is permitted by the National Labor Relations Act anyway) or an employer making public its pay bands. 

    Some of this has been driven by outside sources. To take the guesswork out of the equation for job seekers, for example, job boards are increasingly rolling out tools like LinkedIn's Salary Insights, which appear on job listings with an estimate of what a position is likely to pay.

    But as Taylor noted, pay transparency also promises to ease some difficult discussions for managers around pay and promotion. A 2017 PayScale study revealed that employees' feelings about their organization's approach to pay fairness and transparency had a higher impact on job satisfaction than their actual pay. When managers are equipped with a deep understanding of how pay is set, they can communicate that to workers, boosting employee satisfaction and decreasing turnover.

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    Source: HR Dive

  • 12 Nov 2019 11:21 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    By Lisa Nagele-Piazza, J.D., SHRM-SCP

    November 12, 2019

    NEW ORLEANS—Deregulation has been a major priority for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) during President Donald Trump's administration, and the federal government wants to make processes less burdensome for employers, according to DOL officials.

    Many DOL regulations have "literally not been updated since the 1950s or 1960s, and yet we all know that the workplace has changed dramatically," said Solicitor of Labor Kate O'Scannlain during a Nov. 8 session of the American Bar Association's 13th Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference.

    The DOL is looking for ways to lower compliance costs for employers, O'Scannlain said, but there are regulations that the department is not willing to change, such as safety standards.

    Cheryl Stanton, the DOL's Wage and Hour Division administrator, noted that the department is still focused on enforcement. "We have not changed our commitment to low-wage workers who are in vulnerable situations," she said. The division is also focused on community outreach, she said, to help employers comply with rules and regulations and to ensure that workers understand their rights.

    Here are some of the DOL's top priorities, according to O'Scannlain and Stanton.

    1. Defending the New Overtime Rule

    The DOL issued its highly anticipated federal overtime rule in September. Under the final rule, employees who make less than $35,568 must be paid overtime premiums starting Jan. 1, 2020. Among other changes to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act's (FLSA's) "white-collar" exemptions from overtime pay, the new rule also raised the salary cutoff for highly compensated employees.

    Worker advocates have argued that the threshold still isn't high enough. "I am happy that it went up, obviously," said Michele Fisher, an attorney with Nichols Kaster in Minneapolis. But the federal level is so low that many states are working to increase their minimum exempt salary even higher, she said. "What you are going to see from the plaintiffs' bar … is us bringing state actions."

    O'Scannlain said the department carefully crafted the regulations and is confident about the final rule. "We are ready to defend them," she said.

    2. Expanding Apprenticeship Programs

    In June, the DOL announced a proposed rule to expand apprenticeship programs and help close the skills gap, O'Scannlain noted. The rule would create a process to establish industry-recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAPs), which are customizable apprenticeship models that the DOL has called "major milestones in the continuing effort to expand apprenticeships in the United States."

    The proposed apprenticeship programs would be available to certified industry groups, schools, nonprofits and unions, and would be largely free from regulatory oversight, but would not change any requirements of the current DOL-regulated apprenticeship programs. 

    3. Updating Fluctuating Workweek Rules

    The DOL is also working on proposed updates to the fluctuating workweek method of calculating overtime. Employers can use the fluctuating workweek method under the FLSA to calculate overtime pay for salaried nonexempt employees who work hours that vary each week. The recently released proposal would cover more workers and provide employers with greater flexibility by letting them pay bonuses and other incentive-based compensation under this method. The public may submit comments on the proposal by Dec. 5.

    4. Changing Tip-Sharing Rules

    On Oct. 7, the DOL announced a proposed rule about tip sharing under the FLSA. The proposal would make it easier for employers to require "front-of-the-house" employees—such as servers and bartenders—who earn at least the minimum wage and customarily receive tips to share those gratuities with cooks, dishwashers and other "back-of-the-house" workers who aren't usually tipped. The proposed rule would prohibit employers from keeping employees' tips and is open for public comment until Dec. 9.

    5. Updating the 'Regular Rate' Calculation

    Another proposed FLSA update would change the definition of the "regular rate" of pay, which is used to calculate overtime premiums. The regular rate includes hourly wages and salaries for nonexempt workers, most bonuses, shift differentials, on-call pay, and commissions. However, it excludes health insurance, paid leave, holiday bonuses and other discretionary bonuses, and certain gifts. 

    Many employers aren't sure if certain perks must be included in the regular rate of pay. So instead of risking a lawsuit, some are choosing not to offer competitive benefits. Employers may feel more comfortable offering additional rewards if the proposed changes are finalized.

    6. Clarifying the Joint-Employer Rule

    The DOL also proposed a multifactor test to determine whether businesses are joint employers and share liability for FLSA wage and hour violations. The proposal aims to provide clarity for businesses, which likely won't be deemed joint employers if they stay out of the day-to-day employment decisions of their contractors and franchisees.

    7. Allowing Online Benefit Plan Disclosures

    An Employee Benefits Security Administration proposal would allow employers to provide benefit plan disclosures online rather than by mail. O'Scannlain said this change could result in a cost savings of about $2.5 million over 10 years. The rules would apply to plan disclosures required by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and the DOL has posted a fact sheet on the proposed e-disclosure safe harbor. The comment period closes on Nov. 22.

    Stanton said the DOL wants to hear from employers and workers on these proposals because comments help the department shape regulations. 

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    Source: Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM

  • 08 Nov 2019 1:55 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Image result for Chipotle adds mental health benefits

    By Cortney Moore | FOXBusiness | November 7, 2019

    Chipotle Mexican Grill announced it will provide both mental healthcare and financial wellness benefits to its employees to help them keep up with the fast food grind.

    In a press release that went out Tuesday, the chain said it will extend access to these benefits to more than 80,000 workers in 2020 through Employee Assistance Programs.

    "This is just the beginning of how we're strategically investing in the well-being of our employees and their families," Chipotle's Chief People Officer Marissa Andrada said in the release. "Our vision for people is to create a culture where employees can thrive and pursue their passion and by extending access to all levels and enriching our Employee Assistance Program, we are ensuring that our employees can build mental fitness and bring their best selves to work every day."

    An employee rings up a customer while others prepare orders at a Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant in Hollywood, Calif., July 16, 2013. (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images, File)

    Mental health and emotional support will be provided through in-person, phone or virtual visits with a licensed counselor. Streamlining accessibility to experts in the health industry is meant to aid Chipotle employees’ personal, professional, financial and legal concerns.

    Other benefits Chipotle is adopting for next year include a mobile-friendly digital portal, a financial wellness platform, and preferred provider organization healthcare plans for hourly employees as well as gym discounts.

    The benefits will also be available to the family members of Chipotle associates, according to the release.

    In its own words, the fast-food chain is taking this step to “minimize the effect of mental health in the workplace.”

    This news comes a month after Chipotle introduced a debt-free college tuition opportunities for select employees through the Chipotle Cultivate Education benefits program.

    Chipotle isn’t the only food chain that is trying to retain talent by treating its employees well.

    A view of the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery during a press conference in Shanghai, China, December 5, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song - RC1CA10F0B00

    In early September,  coffee giant Starbucks announced employee benefits that target mental health, professional development and safe transportation via ride-share options.

    “Through strategic, long-term investments in labor hours, training, and streamlining tasks and processes critical to running a store, we will work to alleviate some of the pressure and stress that often limits our store managers to lead and grow,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said in a letter to company employees at the time.

    Starbucks hasn’t forgotten its employees who are on the ground and providing versatile food services for customers. The chain is changing the layout to some of its stores to manage online and in-person orders.

    “It was very difficult for our baristas to just try to force 80 drinks within a 15-minute window on one small handoff point, so we have extended in 200 stores across the New York, Manhattan, Financial District areas, we’ve expanded physically in that area because we know the need for convenience is growing,” Starbucks Chief Operating Officer Roz Brewer told FOX Business.

    FILE - In this Thursday, April 25, 2013, file photo, a car stops at the drive-thru at a Burger King restaurant near downtown Los Angeles. Restaurant Brands International, the parent company of Burger King and Tim Hortons, reports financial results Mo

    Burger King was embroiled in criticism earlier this year when it partnered with Mental Health America for an advertising campaign that encouraged customers to “#FeelYourWay” during Mental Health Awareness Month in May.

    The campaign involved Burger King branded Real Meal menu item that took a direct shot at McDonald’s Happy Meal with moody declarations printed on each box. The chain also put out a corresponding video that showed difficult circumstances that can try a person’s mental health while also promoting the edgy meal kit.

    Despite the creative move, the campaign received backlash from social media users and former employees who accused the burger chain of capitalizing on depression and not taking mental health seriously.

    One viral tweet from a previous assistant manager cited her experience at Burger King as a challenging ordeal.

    “This tweet has me feeling a type of way because when was an assistant manager at BK I was so overworked and stressed that I cried in the walk in multiple times,” Twitter user Clari shared. “Bring this energy to your regional managers, smaller franchise owners and your employees.”

    Burger King@BurgerKing

    not sure who needed to hear this today, but it’s ok not to be happy all the time. all that matters is that you #FeelYourWay. 

    View image on Twitter


    5:02 AM - May 1, 2019

    Twitter Ads info and privacy

    3,181 people are talking about this

    In following tweets, Clari said Burger King managers can work anywhere between 60 and 100 hours per week depending on how big of an operation it is. She added that this is a common issue with the fast food industry as a whole rather than it being exclusive to Burger King.

    Burger King did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request for comment on employee benefits and whether it will follow suit with initiatives targeting mental health.

    In a separate FOX Business report, the U.S. unemployment rate hit record lows – reaching 3.5 percent in September. With so many Americans working, fast food chains may very well feel it is necessary to extend health-conscious benefits or initiatives to remain competitive.

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    Source: Fox Business

  • 06 Nov 2019 2:54 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    new year 2020 street sign

    Ashlea Ebeling | Forbes Staff | Nov 6, 2019, 10:28am

    How much can you save for retirement in 2020? The Treasury Department has announced inflation-adjusted figures for retirement account savings for 2020: 401(k) contribution limits are up; traditional IRA contribution limits stay the same; almost all the other numbers are up.

    The amount you can contribute to your 401(k) or similar workplace retirement plan goes up from $19,000 in 2019 to $19,500 in 2020. The 401(k) catch-up contribution limit—if you’re 50 or older in 2020—will be $6,500 for workplace plans, up from $6,000. But the amount you can contribute to an Individual Retirement Account stays the same for 2020: $6,000, with a $1,000 catch-up limit if you’re 50 or older.

    So super-savers age 50-plus can sock away $33,000 in these tax-advantaged accounts for 2020. If your employer allows aftertax contributions or you’re self-employed, you can save even more. The overall defined contribution plan limit moves up to $57,000, from $56,000.

    Sounds unreachable? During 2018, 13% of employees with retirement plans at work saved the then maximum of $18,500/$24,500, according to Vanguard’s How America Saves. In plans offering catch-up contributions, 15% of those age 50 or older took advantage of the extra savings opportunity. High earners are really saving: 6 out of 10 folks earning $150,000+ contributed the maximum allowed, including catch-ups.

    Want to join in? We outline the numbers below; see IRS Notice 2019-59 for technical guidance. For more on 2020 tax numbers: Forbes contributor Kelly Phillips Erb has all the details on 2020 tax brackets, standard deduction amounts and more. We have all the details on the new higher 2020 retirement account limits too.

    401(k)s. The annual contribution limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan is $19,500 for 2020—a $500 boost over 2019. Note, you can make changes to your 401(k) election at any time during the year, not just during open enrollment season when most employers send you a reminder to update your elections for the next plan year.

    The 401(k) Catch-Up. The catch-up contribution limit for employees age 50 or older in these plans is $6,500 for 2020. That’s the first increase since 2015 when the limit rose to $6,000. Even if you don’t turn 50 until December 31, 2020, you can make the additional $6,500 catch-up contribution for the year.

    SEP IRAs and Solo 401(k)s. For the self-employed and small business owners, the amount they can save in a SEP IRA or a solo 401(k) goes up from $56,000 in 2019 to $57,000 in 2020. That’s based on the amount they can contribute as an employer, as a percentage of their salary; the compensation limit used in the savings calculation also goes up from $280,000 in 2019 to $285,000 in 2020.

    Aftertax 401(k) contributions. If your employer allows aftertax contributions to your 401(k), you also get the advantage of the $57,000 limit for 2020. It’s an overall cap, including your $19,500 (pretax or Roth in any combination) salary deferrals plus any employer contributions (but not catch-up contributions).

    The SIMPLE. The limit on SIMPLE retirement accounts goes up from $13,000 in 2019 to $13,500 in 2020. The SIMPLE catch-up limit is still $3,000.

    Defined Benefit Plans. The limitation on the annual benefit of a defined benefit plan goes up from $225,000 in 2019 to $230,000 in 2020. These are powerful pension plans (an individual version of the kind that used to be more common in the corporate world before 401(k)s took over) for high-earning self-employed folks.

    Individual Retirement Accounts. The limit on annual contributions to an Individual Retirement Account (pretax or Roth or a combination) remains at $6,000 for 2020, the same as in 2019. The catch-up contribution limit, which is not subject to inflation adjustments, remains at $1,000. (Remember that 2020 IRA contributions can be made until April 15, 2021.)

    Deductible IRA Phase-Outs. You can earn a little more in 2020 and get to deduct your contributions to a traditional pretax IRA. Note: Even if you earn too much to get a deduction for contributing to an IRA, you can still contribute—it’s just nondeductible.

    In 2020, the deduction for taxpayers making contributions to a traditional IRA is phased out for singles and heads of household who are covered by a workplace retirement plan and have modified adjusted gross incomes (AGI) between $65,000 and $75,000, up from $64,000 and $74,000 in 2019. For married couples filing jointly, in which the spouse who makes the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the income phase-out range is $104,000 to $124,000 for 2020, up from $103,000 to $123,000.

    For an IRA contributor who is not covered by a workplace retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple’s income is between $196,000 and $206,000 in 2020, up from $193,000 and $203,000 in 2019.

    Roth IRA Phase-Outs. The inflation adjustment helps Roth IRA savers too. In 2020, the AGI phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $196,000 to $206,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $193,000 to $203,000 in 2019. For singles and heads of household, the income phase-out range is $124,000 to $139,000, up from $122,000 to $137,000 in 2019.

    If you earn too much to open a Roth IRA, you can open a nondeductible IRA and convert it to a Roth IRA as Congress lifted any income restrictions for Roth IRA conversions. To learn more about the backdoor Roth, see Congress Blesses Roth IRAs For Everyone, Even The Well-Paid.

    Saver’s Credit. The income limit for the saver’s credit for low- and moderate-income workers is $65,000 for married couples filing jointly for 2020, up from $64,000; $48,750 for heads of household, up from $48,000; and $32,500 for singles and married filing separately, up from $32,000. See Grab The Saver’s Credit for details on how it can pay off.

    QLACs. The dollar limit on the amount of your IRA or 401(k) you can invest in a qualified longevity annuity contract is increased to $135,000 from $130,000. See Make Your Retirement Money Last For Life for how QLACs work.

    ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

    Source: Forbes

  • 31 Oct 2019 9:34 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Jennifer Liu - October 31, 2019

    There are plenty of draws to having a job that allows you to work from home — nixing a daily commute being just one of them. And according to one new analysis, that daily convenience, along with boosted productivity by avoiding the distractions of office life, could add up to an extra 105 hours of free time per year per remote worker.

    new report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research, on behalf of digital workplace platform Citrix, measures the economic impact of adopting widespread work-from-anywhere policies across the U.S. The survey suggests that remote work arrangements aren’t just beneficial to workers, but they could also be good for business in more ways than one.

    Time-efficiency is a huge factor, Tim Minahan, executive vice president of business strategy at Citrix, tells CNBC Make It.

    “On any given day, the average employee spends nearly 65% of their time on busy work and in meetings, 20% searching for information and just 15% — or 1.2 hours a day — on the meaningful and rewarding work they were hired to do,” he says.

    The ability to work from home, then, could help workers be more focused and boost productivity, essentially doing the same amount (or more) work in less time.

    “We’ve essentially taken our highly-trained knowledge workers and turned them into task rabbits, who, when grappling with long commutes and distractions that come with working in an office environment, find themselves rushing, stressed out and less productive,” Minahan adds.



    In turn, a remote work arrangement could afford employees more time to attend to personal matters like grocery shopping, paying bills, doing housework and spending time with family, Minahan suggests. An increase in this leisure time has the double benefit of easing stress — a 2014 PGi survey finds 82% of workers are less stressed when they work from home — while increasing worker happiness.

    To be sure, Citrix, which sells technology that makes remote work easier, could benefit if more employees had flexible work arrangements. But additional research has made many of the same points.

    Flexible work arrangements are linked to higher levels of employee happiness when such policies allow workers to better manage their time. Achieving better work-life balance, after all, is the main reason why people said they switched to a remote-work arrangement in the first place, according to one Owl Labs survey. Remote workers also count increased productivity, avoiding commuting and less stress as the top benefits to their flexible arrangement.

    While the average American worker spends just over 26 minutes commuting to work each way, those averages go much higher for some of the most populated areas of the country. New Yorkers have it worst with an average one-way commute time of 36 minutes, and all of the top-10 longest commutes clock in over half an hour each way.

    More remote-work arrangements could eliminated dead time stuck in traffic, and not to mention, ease congestion and slow fuel waste.

    As for putting more time back in the hands of workers, put another way, the 105-hour average comes out to over 13 work days that could be freed up for leisure time. That could be good for the economy as a whole, Minahan suggests.

    “From an economic perspective, additional leisure hours means more time spent consuming goods and services: going to the gym, taking in a movie, playing a round of golf,” he says.

    This isn’t to say office environments don’t serve a purpose. Some so-called office distractions can be beneficial to work: coworker interaction can improve teamwork, meetings can inspire ideas, and walking around provides not only physical activity but also creative boosts. In-person office culture also provides a crucial social network: 10% of Americans meet their spouse at work or through colleagues, while one-third have met at least one close friend through work.

    Overall, the Cebr and Citrix report indicates widespread adoption of work-from-anywhere arrangements could add $2.6 trillion to the U.S. economy. The biggest benefit comes from employing untapped talent who would have better access to the workforce through remote options. Bringing in the unemployed and economically inactive could equate to $2.08 trillion in added value per year, or a 10.2% boost to U.S. gross domestic product.

    This group alone — which includes retirees, full-time homemakers or caretakers, people who are disabled and cannot leave the house to work, and more — would be responsible for 88% of the total potential boost to productivity if they were motivated to enter the workforce through a remote arrangement (something 69% of people not currently working said they’d be open to).

    ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** 

    Source: CNBC

  • 24 Oct 2019 3:17 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    By  Myrna Hellerman  - October 16, 2019

    There is no right or wrong answer inherent in compensation survey data. The key is to use the information strategically. Here's how.

    The compensation survey is the Oracle of Delphi of the compensation world. Compensation wisdom seekers look at all of the reported data when trying to find a definitive answer to the perennial question: “What’s the right mix of pay?” 

    Unfortunately, survey results do not provide categorical insights into the intricacies of executive compensation. Moreover, the amount of information may be overwhelming, especially if all of it isn’t applicable to all organizations. 

    Survey users, particularly those who seek insights into private company pay, need to rely on both the “science” and the “art” of data analytics. 

    The results of compensation surveys provide the numerical foundation — the science — behind pay determination. The art is the thoughtful interpretation of the data within the context of your organization, its values and its pay philosophy. Together, balancing science and art lead to the identification of the right amount to be paid through the right vehicles for your executive in a given role as performed within the realities of your organization. 

    Compensation Surveys Are More Valuable to Private Companies

    In recent years, publicly traded companies have become less dependent upon compensation surveys. That’s because proxies and other SEC filings provide increasingly robust insights into the executive pay philosophy, pay levels, pay mix, pay delivery vehicles and other pay practices of the specific publicly traded companies that are the competition for executive talent. 

    Private companies, on the other hand, don’t have access to such competitor-specific pay data. As a result, they’re highly dependent on published survey data as a starting point for compensation decision-making.  

    Private companies should proceed cautiously to understand and interpret the applicability of published survey data to the pay for their own executives. As a first step, keep in mind the basic reporting process underlying a compensation survey: all the reported individual data points for a particular pay component of a given role are lined up from lowest paid to highest paid. The bottom quartile (25th percentile), median (50th percentile) and top quartile (75th percentile) data points are reported as survey benchmark levels for each pay component. However, it may be difficult to see how the components of pay are related across these measures. 

    For example, the executive who receives the reported median base salary amount is most likely a different executive from the one who receives the reported median total cash. It is difficult to determine from the survey data results how those pay levels were derived let alone the applicability of the survey benchmark level within an individual company’s pay structure. 

    Questions to consider include: 

    • Does the median base salary belong to someone who has no variable pay opportunities? 
    • Does the median total cash belong to someone with bottom quartile pay and extraordinary variable pay opportunities? 

    At private companies, there is a high level of individuality and creativity in pay practices that a survey’s discrete data points do not capture. This, in fact, can be an advantage for private companies in recruiting and retaining executive talent. As I often tell my clients, there is no right or wrong answer inherent in survey data, but it does provide a very useful guide. However, the right answer is the one that makes sense within the context of your pay philosophy, culture and budgetary constraints. 

    Considerations for Using Survey Data to Set Pay 

    As you begin a pay decision-making process influenced by salary survey data, consider the following cautionary notes as well as suggestions in italics for how to address them: 

    Compensation surveys represent the market value of the role, not the value of the person in your company fulfilling that role as defined by your company. For instance, your company’s president may have significant marketing responsibilities in addition to traditional presidential duties. Furthermore, in addition to differences in job content, the president’s role at your company might be filled by a high performer whose retention is critical to the success of the enterprise.

    In such instances, compensation above the survey benchmark level may be warranted.

    Compensation surveys represent how roles are valued at other companies, not at your company. Each company places higher or lower emphasis than the general market on its executive roles, based on its unique strategy and culture. For example, your COO may be the second most highly valued and paid role. At another similarly situated company, the CFO may occupy the second most highly valued and paid role. At a third surveyed company there may be little differentiation of pay among the key executives reporting to the CEO.

    Individual executive pay determination should consider your company’s role value hierarchy. 

    Compensation surveys don’t take into account the level of an individual’s experience in the role. The CSO at your company may be new to the role whereas the CSO at other similarly situated surveyed companies may be more seasoned.  

    Generally accepted practice is to consider +/- 15% of the survey benchmark value (e.g., median, top quartile) as a competitive range and then to place the executive’s pay within that range as illustrated below:

    Sibson Consulting Comp SurveyCredit: Sibson Consulting


    Compensation surveys don’t reflect the surveyed companies’ pay positioning and pay-mix philosophies. The pay positioning philosophy at your company might be to deliver total cash at the market median. To accomplish this, your company targets base salary and cash incentives at the market median. Another similarly situated company has a high-risk/high-reward philosophy, and it arrives at an overall median total-cash pay positioning with a pay mix that includes bottom quartile base salary and top quartile cash incentive opportunities.

    Start with the total cash compensation survey benchmark level and then build the package consistent with your pay philosophy about how much risk to build into the package. (Note that it is common for private companies to have a different pay risk profile for each individual on the executive team.)

    Many compensation surveys don’t capture the unique interplay between the current cash and long-term deferred cash/phantom ownership opportunities that commonly exist in privately held companies. For example, your company’s CFO may be a trusted advisor who has been with the company for many years, and his or her continued tenure is valued. You pay the CFO a base salary and annual incentive (bonus) on what might be considered the low side of fair. However, the CFO also has a long-term economic interest in the company that will pay out when he or she retires. In contrast, you compensate your high-performing but much shorter-tenured CTO in the top quartile for total cash but provide no long-term economic interest in the company. 

    Consider creating an inventory of the value of your long-term wealth accumulation opportunities by executive. Next, determine the total cash package (as described above). Then build into this total cash compensation package the long-term wealth accumulation opportunity that makes sense for your company. The long-term wealth accumulation opportunity should be consistent with the company’s pay philosophy, risk profile, how the role is valued and the expected long-term contribution expected from the person in the role.

    In your executive pay decision-making process, it is important to identify the appropriate balance between the external survey values and the internal value of the role. The framework below illustrates how external and internal values interplay in pay decision-making.

    sibson using comp surveysCredit: Sibson Consulting

    Putting It All Together

    For private companies that are considering an update to their compensation practices, compensation surveys are a valuable starting point. First, understand and interpret their applicability to the pay for your executives. Then, broaden your approach. Many factors can or perhaps should be considered, such as organization pay and retention history, future direction and strategic plans, and marketplace competition. 

    To use a baseball analogy, the compensation survey data will get you to the right playing field and likely to the right section of the stands. Frequently, it may even help you find the right row. Rarely, however, will it guide you to a specific seat for a given executive. That seat needs to be the one with the best view of the game from the perspective of both the company and the executive.  

    ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

    Source: Chief Executive Group, LLC

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