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  • 13 Aug 2020 1:30 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    by Jeanne C. Meister  and Robert H. Brown | August 12, 2020

    The Coronavirus has drastically reshaped the economy and the labor force. Since its rapid spread around the globe, we have experienced titanic shifts in how we work, where we work, and the technologies we use to stay connected.

    Such massive change is escalating the importance of HR’s role within organizations. Workers are turning to their managers and their HR leaders, in particular, for guidance on how to navigate their “new normal” — research indicates that 73% of workers depend on their employer for support in preparing for the future of work. Just as CFOs have greatly increased their scope since the 2008 financial crisis, CHRO’s now have that same opportunity to become central C-suite players.

    We believe this is HR’s moment to lead organizations in navigating the future. They have a tremendous opportunity, and responsibility, to provide workers with guidance on the skills and capabilities they will need to be successful over the next decade as new roles continue to emerge.

    With that in mind, The Cognizant Center for Future of Work and Future Workplace jointly embarked on a nine-month initiative to determine exactly what the future of HR will look like. We brought together the Future Workplace network of nearly 100 CHROs, CLOs, and VP’s of talent and workforce transformation to envision how HR’s role might evolve over the next 10 years. This brainstorm considered economic, political, demographic, societal, cultural, business, and technology trends.

    The result was the conception of over 60 new HR jobs, including detailed responsibilities and skills needed to succeed in each role. We then created a ranking of each job by its organizational impact, allowing us to narrow the list to an initial 21 HR jobs of the future.

    We arranged these HR jobs on a 2×2 grid; the X-axis depicts time, and the order in which we expect them to appear over the next 10 years, while the y-axis depicts “technology centricity” (i.e., all jobs will utilize innovative technologies, but only the most tech-centric will actually require a grounding in computer science). Furthermore, each job was analyzed in the form of a job description (overall requirements, specific responsibilities, skills/qualifications, etc.) similar to those an HR organization will need to write in the coming decade.

    In some ways, the advent of Covid-19 compressed time like an accordion, resulting in a handful of these roles becoming “jobs of the now.” The 2020s will be a reset moment for HR. We fully expect to see more examples of these theoretical “jobs-made-real,” by visionary leaders in the coming months and years. As we’ve long maintained, before it can be built, it has to be dreamed.

    While some of the roles we identified are entirely new positions, others are new responsibilities that are becoming increasingly important as HR re-imagines and reboots its strategy in light of the pandemic. All 21 jobs embody five core themes we came across in our research.

    Individual and organizational resilience. The worldwide remote work measures taken in response to Covid-19 have caused the digital economy to grow more rapidly than ever before, along with our “always on” culture and the stresses of managing work-life balance. These challenges have put a new emphasis on the importance of worker health and wellness — and not just in terms of physical health. For HR professionals, this means the future of work will include developing a stronger focus and a more holistic view of employee wellbeing, one that encompasses the emotional, mental and spiritual health of workers along with the physical. (Even before the virus, Gallup reported two thirds of full-time workers experienced burnout on the job.)

    This paves the way for a new HR role focused on well-being as a business strategy for increasing employee retention — and not just an office perk. For example, the role Director of Wellbeing could provide strategic management over wellness and design services and practices to nurture the emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health of all employees. We are already seeing some companies hiring for the Director of Wellbeing role, and expect to see more within the decade as we believe the future of work will increasingly be the future of worker wellbeing.

    Today, with more than 88% of knowledge workers now doing their jobs remotely, this role would need to work cross functionally to make sure employees outside of the office are receiving the same benefits as those working onsite. That’s where we see the role of a Work from Home Facilitator coming in. This person would ensure that the organization’s processes, policies, and technologies are optimal for remote workers. A key metric of success for this role would be to build remote workers’ strong sense of belonging within the organization, ensuring that they know their purpose and feel deeply cared for.

    Organizational trust and safety. HR professionals are in a unique position to be guardians and models of an ethical and responsible workplace. As organizations invest in digital transformation initiatives and establish a “data culture,” we believe the expectations to uphold this responsibility will increase.

    Just last year, joint research conducted on the attitudes toward AI in the workplace by Oracle and Future Workplace found many people were concerned about data-security breaches. Of the 8,370 HR leaders, hiring managers, and workers surveyed across ten countries, 71% were “at least sometimes concerned” and 38% said that they were “very concerned” about data breaches. In fact, 80% of respondents said their company should ask for permission before using AI to gather data on them.

    This is a problem. LinkedIn research found that 67% of hiring managers and recruiters said AI saves them time as they source job candidates. But questions are now being raised around this technology and its potential for bias, inaccuracy, and lack of transparency. Every time an employee clicks, likes, and swipes on their social media channels, they reveal their interests, preferences, intent, and location to anyone equipped to collect this data — including HR professionals. As a result, employees’ awareness about privacy and how much they are willing to blithely share is intensifying.

    The need for data privacy in the age of algorithms has amplified the need for more  systems with humans in the loop to ensure fairness, explainability, and accountability among senior HR leaders. We believe this could lead to HR roles such as the Human Bias Officer, responsible for helping mitigate bias across all business functions. These professionals would ensure that people are treated fairly throughout the entire employee lifecycle — from recruiting to off-boarding — regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, background, age, or culture.

    In addition to Human Bias Officer, another new role aimed at ensuring employee safety has already emerged: Strategic HR Business Continuity Director. This person leads the HR response team and works with the CEO, CFO, CIO and the Facilities Director to propose how to create a safe workplace — for both onsite and remote workers. Elizabeth Adefioye, Senior Vice President and CHRO of Ingredion, has incorporated emergency preparedness and business continuity in her senior HR role. Says Adefioye, “Since the Covid-19 pandemic, I have been partnering with our CEO and key executives from the technology, finance, communications, and facilities departments to develop a phased, safe global approach to returning to the workplace.” According to SHRM research, this is a key objective for CHRO’s as, 34% of organizations did not have an emergency preparedness plan prior to Covid-19 pandemic.

    Creativity and innovation. As business leaders envision new ways to grow their organizations in the midst of rapid change, a new role at the intersection of corporate strategy and HR must arise. The Future of Work Leader, would be responsible for analyzing what skills will be most essential as the workforce continues to evolve. This role would focus both on setting the organization’s strategy for the future of work, as well as proposing reskilling and upskilling efforts for current employees. The position would also synthesize big-picture inputs from academia, industry association, and competitive threats in the marketplace to envision new jobs and skills critical to the organization’s continued success.

    Furthermore, as meetings and trainings continue to go virtual, another role we imagine is the VR Immersion Counselor. This role would help realize the potential of using virtual reality to scale training programs for a number of use cases, including onboarding, coaching, reskilling, upskilling, and even medical, and safety training. H&R Block is an example of a company that has already been using virtual reality simulations to train customer service representatives to de-escalate customer interactions. By practicing how to respond to difficult customer questions in a virtual reality simulation, the company has seen a 50% decrease in dissatisfied customers with 70% of H&R Block customer service representatives preferring virtual reality simulations to traditional forms of learning. Already, research from ABI, sees the VR training market reaching $6.3 billion by 2022.   

    Data literacy. Currently, only a few HR functions are building analytics capabilities into their teams to solve key people challenges — such as uncovering why one team performs better than another, or how their organization can create a more diverse and inclusive culture. In the future, we believe more HR teams will follow in the footsteps of other departments, like customer experience and finance, and adopt this practice, taking on a more data-driven function. Doing so would allow them to provide more accurate insights around everything from employee performance and retention to the engagement level of C-suite leaders.

    At a time when data scientists are in short supply, however, a new role, HR Data Detective, could help bring about this change. This person would be responsible for synthesizing disparate data streams (such as employee surveys, learning management systems, and benefits portals) to help solve business problems. Equally comfortable with being “in the weeds” of big data as well as seeing and explaining “the big picture,” data detectives would gather and compile HR-pertinent insights to help improve employee performance and drive better results for the whole business.

    We predict companies like Genetech that have already begun building this kind of data literacy into their business functions will have a competitive advantage. Chase Rowbotham, head of People Analytics at Genetech , says, “As remote work becomes the new normal, we are able to gather insights from our HR information systems to develop a number of new HR practices such as training managers of remote workers on successful strategies for leading a remote global team to ensure both productivity and continued employee engagement.”

    Human-machine partnerships. As the use of robots in companies continues to increase, it has become apparent that there is a need for human-machine collaboration in the workforce. Judgment is usually easy for humans, but still hard for computers. Robots are very good at the “science” of a job, especially when reliance on computational capabilities, analysis and pattern recognition poses questions on the most appropriate action to take next based on all data available. Humans are very good at assessing situations, or the “art” of the job, and essentially asking, “What is the right thing to do in a given situation?” Sorting out the balance of the “art of the job” (for humans) vs. the “science of the job” (for bots) will likely result in the creation of new HR roles focused on how both can work together intuitively.

    One new job that could be created is the Human-Machine Teaming Manager, a role that operates at the intersection between humans and machines and aims to create seamless collaborations. These managers would look for ways to increase cooperation rather than competition.

    For instance, James Loo, Head of Human Resources at DBS Bank (Taiwan) sees a possible new job role, ChatBot Coach, responsible for creating a seamless a candidate experience. According to Loo, “A Chatbot Coach would work with the DBS Bank recruiting team, to train the chatbot to handle the routine tasks of screening candidates and answering frequently asked questions of candidates, while the human recruiters have more time to focus on strategic areas such as engaging with hiring managers to better understand the need for a new job and the changing needs of the business for new hires.”

    Keep in mind, many of these new roles would rely on the creation of other jobs of the future (predominantly in HR), some which have already been created and many of which haven’t been “invented” yet. For example, a Human-Machine Teaming Manager may find themselves working with a Chatbot Coach to enhance an AI-powered candidate experience. These dependencies would also inform career paths. Someone with several years’ experience as an HR Data Detective may be a prime candidate for the role of Head of Business Behavior, another new HR job of the future.

    Does this all sound unlikely in the face of increasing unemployment? On the contrary, now is the time for HR leaders to plan for future growth. If we look back just a few years, several new HR jobs were just being created including the role of Financial Wellness Manager, which has now been widely adopted. In fact, a survey released by the Employee Benefit Research Institute shows that about half of companies with more than 500 employees now offer some sort of financial wellness program; 20% are actively implementing these programs for their employees today, and a further 29% are interested in implementing a financial wellness program in the future.

    The Global Head of Employee Experience is another example of a new HR role that has emerged in the last few years. This role is best exemplified by the Chief People Officer of Airbnb who re-imagined the role by bringing together disparate people, technology and real estate functions to create a consumer grade employee experience. As of June, 2020, organizations such as ABN-AMRO, ING, IBM, HPE, Novartis, and Walmart have HR professionals with this title.

    All this to say, change is coming, and it’s best to get a head start. Companies that can anticipate their organization’s future HR roles are not only in a position to outperform competitors, they are also squarely positioning HR as a strategic business driver. As new and existing roles evolve, the most successful organizations will have a clear understanding of what needs to change to meet future business priorities (both anticipated and unanticipated). You never know — one day soon, you might be recruiting someone to fill any of these 21 jobs, or doing one yourself.

    ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** 

    Source: Harvard Business Review

  • 12 Aug 2020 9:49 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    a couple and their child at the beach

    By Allen Smith, J.D.August 11, 2020

    Employer attempts to restrict where employees go on vacation to prevent their exposure to COVID-19 are limited by laws and employee-relations considerations. However, pre-travel inquiries and advisories are allowed, so long as they are applied neutrally and uniformly.

    "Employers across the country are grappling with the question of whether to change their vacation policies in light of the coronavirus pandemic and, if so, how to do it," said Anthony Mingione, an attorney with Blank Rome in New York City.

    In general, employers may reject requests for vacations to hot spots due to the need to quarantine afterwards, according to Nancy Gunzenhauser Popper, an attorney with Epstein Becker Green in New York City.

    "Employers have wide latitude in approving or not approving time off, and that does not change during COVID-19," said Michael Elkins, an attorney with MLE Law in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

    But "it is very difficult to effectively monitor where employees go when they are not working, and even more difficult to try and control it," Mingione said.

    Moreover, regulating where employees go on vacation could conflict with some state laws protecting off-duty conduct and could hurt morale, cautioned Carolyn Rashby, an attorney with Covington & Burling in San Francisco. Such laws exist, for example, in California, Colorado, Nevada, New York and North Dakota.

    Pre-Travel Inquiries

    Employers generally can require employees to inform them about travel plans. "However, employers should only require information necessary to discern whether the employee is traveling out-of-state or internationally and for how long, and should avoid asking personal details," Rashby said.

    In addition, she cautioned that employees who telecommute during the pandemic should not be required to disclose travel plans to their employers. "The purpose of a travel policy would be to protect others in the workplace from COVID-19 exposure, and that concern is not present where employees are telecommuting," she explained.

    Before implementing a pre-travel inquiry, employers should clarify their use of the information and goal of the policy, Mingione said.

    "Will there be an attempt to discourage employees from traveling to certain places? This can create problems of enforcement and morale," he noted.

    If a company with a pre-travel inquiry policy doesn't ask employees at all levels about their plans, employers should expect claims that the policy was applied unfairly or discriminatorily, Mingione cautioned.

    Employers should consider amending vacation policies to require employees who plan to travel during their vacation to provide advance notice to their supervisors or HR about the details of their travel plans, including their intended travel destinations and means of transportation, said Paul Scheck, an attorney with Shutts & Bowen in Orlando, Fla.

    Businesses also should consider requiring employees who travel to a country designated as a hot spot by the World Health Organization and/or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to self-quarantine before returning to the workplace, he added.

    Clear Communication

    "Any such amendment to an employer's current vacation policy should be clearly communicated to employees in advance," Scheck said.

    Employers should consider requiring employees who intend to travel to take their company laptops so they can work if they are stranded in another state or country or are required to self-quarantine on their return, Scheck added.

    The policy also should specify whether employees who are required to self-quarantine must telecommute during the self-quarantine or use paid time off to cover that period.

    An employee probably isn't entitled to paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) for having to self-quarantine after travel, said Suzanne Singer, an attorney with RumbergerKirk in Miami. "However, if the employee is able to get a doctor to issue a quarantine order or if the employee develops symptoms, the employee may become eligible for FFCRA sick leave," she said.

    Travel Advisories

    Employees can be required to sign a travel advisory before vacation, Singer suggested.

    The travel advisory might ask the employee to acknowledge that if the worker travels to any area designated as a hot spot, he or she may be required to self-quarantine on return. The CDC's most recent guidance recommends self-quarantining for 14 days after a potential exposure or 10 days after a positive test.

    Singer said that an employer's travel advisory also might state, "As your employer, we are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace. During the COVID-19 pandemic, nonessential travel is discouraged."

    The advisory should add, she said, that if a worker intends to travel, the following guidelines, among others, should be followed:

    • Avoid close contact with others—keep a distance of at least six feet.
    • Clean hands often—washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Wear a face covering in public.
    • Notify the employer immediately if you or a family member has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

    Health Screenings

    "Employers should encourage good choices by employees, provide up-to-date information regarding policies and COVID-19 hot spots, and develop a plan for how to reintegrate employees into the workplace following time off," Mingione said.

    Include the identification of recent travel destinations in any regular health screenings employers conduct, he suggested.

    "If employees are accustomed to providing this information before each workday, this will hopefully motivate them to make safe travel choices and help employers avoid appearing overly involved in employees' personal lives," he said.

    ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** 

    Source: Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

  • 11 Aug 2020 8:22 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)


    By Cheryl Pinarchick and Joshua Nadreau, Fisher Phillips | Jul 27, 2020

    Incentivizing employees can be an important factor when it comes to an employer’s bottom line.  Several common misconceptions about the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) have driven decisions regarding incentive payments for too long.

    Over the last few months, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division has clarified how the FLSA applies to incentive payments made to overtime-eligible employees. While a wake-up call for some employers, these are not really changes in the law per se.

    Rather, the change is that by announcing these clarifications, the agency has provided employers with more knowledge and empowered them to explore compensation structures that include incentives.

    Whether adding, removing, or tweaking incentive payments, employers will want to revisit these three aspects of the FLSA in light of recent developments.

    1. Not Everything Increases the Regular Rate for Overtime Pay.

    Usually, we are reminding employers that all wages are factored into the “regular rate” when paying time-and-a-half unless it falls within a specific exclusion. But this year, we have regulations that help employers understand those exclusions.

    Among other things, the agency addressed the exclusion of “perks” (such as gym access/memberships, employee wellness programs, and on-site offerings) from the regular rate.

    2. Salaried Employees Can Receive Bonuses, Too!

    Examples are great, but sometimes, the particular facts are mistaken as an exacting checklist. Thankfully, the DOL has set this record straight!

    If you are paying based on a fluctuating workweek (a salary for all hours worked, plus the overtime premium) and thought you wouldn’t have to also pay incentive pay (or vice versa), there now is a regulation specifically permitting fluctuating workweek and incentive pay. Just remember to pay the overtime premium (halftime) on both.

    3. Is That Employee Actually Exempt from Overtime?

    In another area where (decades-old) examples have taken on lives of their own, the FLSA’s commissioned-employee exemption has been interpreted as applying to a smaller subset of employees than the actual test dictates.

    This exemption from overtime-only has a few prongs, but one that has caused many employers to not even consider it is the requirement that it be a “retail or service establishment.”

    Several businesses that are commonly used by individuals today were deemed to be “lacking” the retail concept (including banks, dry cleaners, insurance agencies, tax preparers, and travel agencies, to name a few), making the exemption an uphill battle despite the fact that a particular establishment might meet all of the relevant factors.

    Now the infamous list has been removed, and employers that can meet the “retail” test just might be able to use the exemption for qualifying employees.

    Of course, there are more details to consider before making a change, including taking state law into account. But at a time when employers are looking at their bottom lines and still want to incentivize employees, these developments might provide just the right balance.

    ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** 

    Source: HR Daily Advisor

  • 11 Aug 2020 8:15 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    AUTHOR Katie Clarey | PUBLISHED Aug. 6, 2020

    As the term "virtual reality" comes closer to defining the year 2020, HR professionals will find the coronavirus has moved yet another thing online: open enrollment. The communication methods employers use to encourage workers to select benefits will need to follow suit. As DirectPath VP of Client Services Kim Buckey put it, "posters aren't going to cut it."

    Like birthday parties and weddings, open enrollment education events have adapted to the virtual environment, said Buckey, whose company provides enrollment support services to employers and employees. DirectPath has noted a developing interest in virtual benefit fairs, for example. "You're not going to be able to set up something where people can meet with vendors, but you can certainly do that online," Buckey said.

    Telephonic enrollment has also garnered more attention amid the pandemic. Employees can schedule an appointment to chat with a representative about an employer's benefits offerings and, in the same phone call, learn about their options and enroll on the spot.

    Even as benefits education and enrollment mediums morph to the demands of COVID-19, HR professionals must clear the hurdles of informing employees they exist and convincing them to take action. Buckey offered three tips for practitioners heading into open enrollment season.

    1. Start early. Communicate often.

    If benefits professionals haven't initiated any open enrollment communications plans, they should start now, Buckey said. "Lay the groundwork. Remind people that enrollment is coming up."

    Employees may welcome this information. The novel coronavirus has refreshed many employees' interest in their benefits, prompting workers to investigate the coverage they have and consider what they may want to change in the coming year, Buckey said.

    While employees' attention lingers on benefits, employers can remind them to tend to benefits-related tasks. Workers need to check in with their primary caregivers, for example, to ensure they're still in business. "In some areas where there are primarily private practices, a lot of those practices have had to close because they lost so much income during the shutdown," Buckey said. "This is a good opportunity to think about where you're going to receive care going forward."

    2. Bring communications into focus.

    Open enrollment necessitates an overarching strategy. Employers ought to consider what they want to accomplish during the season, Buckey said. Employers may want to shift employees to a certain plan. They may want to increase participation in offerings such as health savings accounts. Or they may want to ensure workers looked into their options. 

    As employers deploy communications about open enrollment, they must ensure each message is crafted for a specific purpose and a specific audience. "Having a plan so you can target your communications is essential," Buckey said. "That way, you're not advertising student loan benefits to someone entering retirement."

    Messaging should be brief. "Don't try and do all things with each communication. Have a reason for what you're sending out, and keep it short and simple," Buckey said. "No one these days, or even in the best of times, has time to go through a fifty-page document." Buckey suggested communications run no longer than half a page to a page. "That's about how much we can handle. Keep it engaging and visual."

    Employers should make clear how the communications relate to employees. "Emphasize the 'what's in it for me,'" Buckey said. "If you can point out the value of an employee taking action, usually that translates into dollars."

    3. Use a variety of employee-facing tools

    "Meet employees where they are," Buckey suggested. The "overdone phrase" offers employers a useful open enrollment communication strategy, and one that's particularly applicable during a pandemic. 

    Employers can start by sending out mailers. "Get materials in front of other family members," Buckey said. Then go virtual. DirectPath serves clients who have used Facebook pages, Twitter chats and email campaigns to advertise benefits offerings. "There are so many tools out there that can be used," Buckey said. "There's no excuse for not taking advantage of these opportunities when these tools are so widespread."

    ***** ***** ***** ***** ****** 

    Source: HR Dive

  • 11 Aug 2020 8:07 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Businessman holding a head

    Mark Murphy | August 7, 2020 

    It doesn't take a clinical psychologist to know that employees' mental health has declined precipitously during this pandemic. And even though I'm married to a clinical psychologist, the warning signs are apparent to virtually all laypeople.

    Whether it's fatigue, loss of focus, anxiety, or guilt, the pandemic has taken a huge toll on our collective mental well-being. And there's an abundance of data to support that claim.

    Paychex's recent study of more than 1,000 employees, called Mental Health at Work During COVID-19, discovered that not only has employee mental health suffered during the pandemic but that employees are afraid to discuss those effects with their bosses.

    Out of the 1,017 full-time employees who took the survey, more than half of respondents (54%) said they felt uncomfortable talking to their managers and supervisors about mental health. And even worse is that 30% of respondents feared that discussing their mental health could lead to being fired or furloughed, and 29% thought discussing their issues could cost them a promotion.

    Now, employees did share their concerns about their declining mental health, just not with their bosses or HR. According to 35% of employees who discussed their mental health concerns, they discussed their issues with coworkers. Only 21% discussed mental health with a supervisor, and just 5% said they spoke with an HR representative.

    This should be troubling news for every leader. While it's great that lots of employees feel comfortable discussing their issues with their coworkers, it's disturbing that having a conversation with the boss is seen as so risky.

    And yet, we shouldn't be surprised. In the study Why CEOs Get Fired, we discovered that executives who received bad news early were far less likely to get fired than those whose employees avoided disclosing harsh realities. In other words, while it's nice to hear positive news all the time, if you do not hear bad news, you're probably in real trouble.

    And yet, notwithstanding those findings, we encountered an untold number of senior executives who simply wouldn't countenance bad news.

    Let's be honest for a moment; in the past few months, have you felt a bit more anxious about your career than you were six months ago? Have you felt a bit less productive than you were six months ago? Have you felt, even a little bit, more irritable than you were six months ago?

    Those are all warning signs of declining mental health. And if you haven't felt any of those, then you are truly unique, because virtually every worker has recently suffered at least a few of those symptoms.

    The question isn't whether your employees have felt a decline in their mental health; the Paychex study is clear proof that lots of employees are suffering. The big question for leaders, and HR departments, is whether we're willing to hear those concerns and act appropriately (i.e., without punishing employees for raising their issues).

    The Paychex data also found that nearly half of employees reported worsening mental health, motivation, morale, productivity and stress since the pandemic outbreak. So the big test for leaders is, do you hear those concerns? Have at least a third of employees come to you to share their concerns about increased stress or decreased productivity? And if not, how are you going to get them to share their issues?

    We know from the Paychex data that remote employees have suffered a greater decrease in motivation than in-person employees. And we know from the more than 20,000 people that have taken the quiz "Is Your Personality Suited To Working Remotely Or In The Office?” that remote employees are more likely to say that, "being 'average' in my work is a truly terrible thought for me."

    I want you to imagine that you're a high-achieving remote employee (this is not a stretch for most of my readers). Now imagine that, because of the pandemic, you're feeling stress levels you haven't experienced before; your kids are home, you're afraid of catching a potentially fatal disease, you're feeling socially isolated, etc. In the background of all these stressful feelings, you've got this idea that you need to deliver excellent work (e.g., being an average employee is not good enough for you).

    You're experiencing exogenous stress, and at the same time, you're feeling some self-recrimination for not being your best self. This is a wildly complex array of emotions. And if you don't feel like you've got a smart trusted advisor to guide you through this psychological tumult, you're likely to feel far worse than someone who's mindlessly punching the clock.

    So again, I ask every leader, are you hearing about your employees' deep concerns? Are they proactively sharing their expected declines in mental health? If they're not coming to you, as their leader, they may be approaching their coworkers. But they may also not be approaching anyone at all. And if you care about achieving your team's maximal productivity and performance, that should concern you greatly.

    ***** ***** ***** ***** ****** 

    Source; Forbes

  • 05 Aug 2020 2:19 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Stack of coins and red arrow with reflection on white background

    Dawn Graham | Jul 22, 2020

    If you ask leaders about their organization’s greatest asset, most will unhesitatingly respond, “our people.” However, if this were the case, it would be easily evident through visible actions and a clear money trail.

    For every company investing heavily in their employees, dozens are not. And, although it’s currently an employer’s market, the pendulum will swing back as it always does.

    Stellar talent - the kind that moves the dial on profits, brings an innovative mindset and influences others to drive the vision forward whether in the mailroom or boardroom - isn’t going to settle for a company who invests less in them than they invest in the organization as employees.

    Here are 10 common counterproductive practices that cause companies to lose great talent:

    1. Not compensating promotions adequately. This one is first because as a career coach who helps clients negotiate compensation packages, a huge pet peeve is how silly internal raise policies typically are. Many organizations put arbitrary limits on how much of a bump an internal employee can receive, even if promoted, taking on extra work or significantly outperforming peers. This is counterproductive for many reasons, but primarily because if an outside candidate was pursued, the combined cost of recruiting, training and compensation would far outweigh what they could rightfully pay an internal employee who is proven and can hit the ground running. There’s a lot of data showing people who stay with a company for several years are compensated lower than market rate, which means jumping to a competitor may be the best way to get a healthy boost. Employees be aware: If you don’t ask, you won’t get, so build your case and show your manager concrete results. While it may take time, notice if your manager is willing to go to bat for you or give you specific tasks to impact your compensation. If you get the, “that’s our company policy so there’s nothing I can do” reply, you may need to pursue external options to get a bigger boost.
    2. The cookie cutter approach to rewards. In an effort not to rock the boat, many companies uphold policies which end up rewarding the lowest performers and punishing the highest performers. This leads to a performance culture of mediocrity as the A-players leave to find an organization that will reward them for their extra contributions. It really doesn’t make sense to invest extra time to be proactive, forward-thinking and exceptional in a department that rewards everyone in generally the same manner. If there are no incentives to rise to the top, you’ll be left with a bunch of employees who regress to the average. Employees be aware: If you’re okay doing twice the work for the same pay as those who are slacking, your company will be happy to let you. Be proactive in advocating for yourself with data, and if the response is lukewarm, consider future options where your abilities might be recognized.
    3. Atrocious recruiting practices. Ghosting, a lack of transparency, dozens of application hurdles or putting candidates through hoops when an internal candidate has been identified are a few popular hiring practices that need to stop. If you’ve been in a job search over the last few years, you’ve likely experienced all of these. If this is how a company courts you, it’s likely an unfortunate reflection of how you’ll be treated once you join. No matter what the website highlights as their company values, if you’re not seeing these enacted during their first impression when presumably they’re displaying their best behavior, it’s a good sign of what’s ahead. Employees be aware: In the same way an employer is looking for red flags in candidates, you need to evaluate them for the same. Trust what you see, not what they say so you can make the best decision for yourself.
    4. Cutthroat or club culture. Whether it’s using intense competition to drive productivity or a lack of diversity which creates an environment that suppresses certain groups and inhibits their success, a negative culture is a perfect way to drive good talent to a place where they feel appreciated and can do their best work. While I’d love to say this leads to automatic doom, many companies have flourished despite a well-known reputation for displaying this type of behavior. However, social media has become a platform for calling out some of these companies, so change is possible through the power of the masses. Employees be aware: Culture is strong and driven by leadership, so if a department’s values (the real ones, not what’s displayed on a website) don’t align with yours, you’ll likely be happier and more successful someplace else.
    5. Short-term thinking. While this isn’t always evident on the outside, many companies survive without a viable strategy, focusing on short-term gains or spending money on optics and advertising versus viable, long-term solutions. When the timing and market are right, these companies can sustain and even thrive. However, when a crisis hits, the facade shatters quickly, and they throw even more energy into siphoning the water out of the boat instead of repairing the hole. Many companies are experiencing this now, so pay attention to how the impact of the pandemic is being handled. Employees be aware: Some less agile companies may need more runway to transform, but if you don’t see signs your organization is evolving in a direction consistent with the market of the future by taking risks, engaging different thinking, and being open to testing new ideas, it may be only a matter of time before you’ll be applying for unemployment.
    6. Complacency. Similar to short-term thinking, complacency tends to be more of a standard operating procedure (SOP) of companies who believe they’re too big to fail, thrive on long-held traditions or are so insular they believe what’s happening in the world doesn’t impact them. Holding on for dear life to old ways of operating instead of trying innovative solutions has been a death sentence for many long-standing organizations. And many have become so large, agility and adaptability are all but impossible due to the internal systems that have been implemented. For motivated, inspired employees looking to make a difference, being told “that’s the way we’ve always done it” is soul-crushing. Eventually, they stop sharing ideas and instead put that energy into finding a role where they can have an impact. Employees be aware: The world is changing at warp speed and job security doesn’t exist, even in what may seem to be the most stable companies (see Enron, Arthur Andersen, Lehman Bros, Kodak, Toys ‘R’ Us, etc.). Stay vigilant - consistently build your skills, brand and network.
    7. Treating performance reviews like a checkbox item. If you’re in an organization that actually takes the performance management process seriously, including aligning it with job descriptions in the hiring process, you’re in the minority. There are many reasons this process may not work - it’s not enforced, the forms are too cumbersome, measures aren’t actually measurable or don’t fit the role, no training is provided, etc. Regardless, it’s critical to know where you stand as an employee, and how you’re being evaluated. Employees be aware: If the performance process at your company is less than adequate, consider maintaining your own dashboard to capture what you’re doing and ask that it be included in the discussion (and your personnel file!) so you know there’s a record of your efforts. Here’s one way to do it.
    8. Appeasing the incompetent. A common practice in large companies is to simply transfer difficult employees instead of doing the work to implement a performance improvement plan or to fire them. To avoid the hassle (and paperwork), the poor performer is passed to the next department or worse, promoted into another role. Some managers simply ignore the bad behavior and instead start to pile work onto the rest of the team, sometimes even masking this as a “reward” for doing such a good job. If you want to quickly tick off stellar employees, allow them to witness or experience this behavior. They’ll soon be updating their LinkedIn profile and resume. Employees be aware: While there’s little benefit to pointing out your teammate’s inadequacies (your boss likely knows and is choosing to do nothing), track your own output and results to show your productivity to your leader. Also, asking what to take off of your plate to accommodate extra assignments can be a diplomatic way to express you recognize the inequity of work distribution.
    9. Not re-skilling/up-skilling. While no one could foresee the pandemic, technology was advancing at a record pace even before “Covid-19” became a regular part of our vocabulary. New industries were emerging, old industries were dying out, and organizations were learning the status quo wasn’t going to be sustainable for the long-term. The pandemic has accelerated that. In this brief video, Michelle Weise shares startling statistics regarding the future of work including that in 2014, LinkedIn’s top 10 jobs were roles that didn’t exist five years earlier (e.g., big data architect, cloud manager, UI/UX designer, etc.) Employees be aware: If your company is more focused on surviving than thriving right now, then reinventing yourself to align with the needs of the new market will fall on your shoulders. Don’t wait for your company to change direction - take charge now to ensure you have a marketable skillset for the future.
    10. Requiring a 4-year degree. For decades, companies have used 4-year degrees as an easy way to whittle down the hundreds of resumes they received online, regardless of their relevance to the role. Thankfully, this is one counterproductive action that’s losing steam. With technology being part of nearly every job today and AI growing by leaps and bounds, many tech giants no longer require a college degree and instead are hiring coders and programmers who prove they have the chops. Google recently announced it’s offering 100,000 scholarships that will be treated like a 4-year degree when applying to related roles in the company. Forward-thinking organizations know the computer science lessons learned in universities are nearly history even before students walk across the stage to receive their diplomas and that education isn’t finite, but lifelong. Employees be aware: Coding bootcamps, MOOCs focused on programming, trade schools and several other real-world training is at your fingertips. Be open to options and ensure your education equips you with the skills you need to be employable.

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    Source: Forbes

  • 04 Aug 2020 10:17 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Katie Clarey | PUBLISHED: July 31, 2020

    Dive Brief:

    • Caregiving responsibilities pressured workers into quitting their jobs and applying for unemployment benefits as the COVID-19 crisis developed in the U.S., according to the results of a July 23 survey by Morning Consult for the Bipartisan Policy Center. Of the 1,500 unemployment insurance recipients interviewed, most received the benefits because they were furloughed (35%) or laid off (37%). Six percent quit their jobs. Slightly more than half (52%) of parents who quit said child care or school closures caused their resignations. More than a third (37%) of caregivers who quit did so to look after a sick family member.
    • Caregiving responsibilities pose a barrier to workforce re-entry for unemployment insurance recipients, the survey found. Nearly 60% of parents receiving benefits who aren't looking to return to work said caregiving duties stand in their way, with 41% specifically citing school closures. This challenge is more pronounced among people of color. Fifty-five percent of Hispanic and 44% of Black parents are not returning to work because of caregiving needs.
    • Two in three respondents said they would be somewhat or very likely to return to work sooner if they had access to paid family leave, the survey found. Three in four said they would be somewhat or very likely to return on a reduced schedule, so long as they could receive partial unemployment benefits to make up for their reduced wages.

    Dive Insight:

    Paid leave will pave the way out of the caregiving crisis, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center. "Wider access to paid leave is vital for creating the necessary flexibility for caregivers and workers amidst continuing school, child, and adult care closures, and intermittent reopenings," it said in a blog post analyzing its survey findings.

    The organization called on Congress to improve access to paid leave by expanding the provisions in the next COVID-19 relief package. The existing package covers workers only at companies with fewer than 500 employees, and the coverage expires at the end of the year. "Congress should lift the 500 employee cap, expand coverage to new parents, and extend the program to June of 2021 to cover a likely second wave," the Center said.

    The caregiving issue didn't arise during the pandemic, nor will it disappear with it. Caregiver service site found caregiving duties impacted workers' absenteeism and productivity before COVID-19 reached the U.S. in a May survey. Eighty-six percent of respondents said they had stayed home from work to care for a family member or pet at least a few times per year; more than half said they did so at least once every couple of months.

    Despite the issue's persistence, a long-term legislative solution appears far off. During a June 18 U.S. Senate Committee on Finance hearing, lawmakers discussed the problems working families face and appeared to agree on the severity of the situation. But each potential paid leave provision faces hurdles. 

    Some employers have elected to add or enhance paid leave benefits for caregivers to aid them through the COVID-19 crisis. As employers consider how to address caregivers' needs in the longer-term, they may consider training for managers. Results of a recent Disability Management Employer Coalition survey found more than half of employers interviewed said supervisors had not received training on workplace benefits and resources available for caregivers.

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    Source: HR Dive

  • 30 Jul 2020 10:07 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Diversity officers are in demand across corporate America but are ...

    PUBLISHED WED, JUL 29 202012:40 PM EDT | Seema Mody


    • Diversity officers across corporate America are under pressure to solve complicated, important and deeply sensitive issues related to race. 
    • While demand for diversity officers is rising, their success depends on a number of factors including their access to the boardroom and the C-suite. 
    • Financial compensation is another challenge faced by diversity executives.

    Diversity officers across corporate America are under pressure to solve complicated, important and deeply sensitive issues related to race — all while trying to consult employees and help their C-suite manage any blunders of the past.

    How do companies improve the diversity at the top? How do companies ensure executives aren’t using bias when promoting individuals? How do managers create an inclusive environment for all people of color? These are the type of questions diversity officers are addressing at major firms, and time is ticking for action. 

    “Often as a CDO [Chief Diversity Officer], you really have seven jobs in one. You’re PR, most recently a pandemic specialist. My number one job has been ‘counselor in chief,’ not only for our agencies in our networks, but certainly my fellow colleagues in diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Tiffany Warren, chief diversity officer at Omnicom Group, in an interview CNBC.

    Financial compensation is another challenge faced by diversity executives.

    Compiling data from 12 salary reports, Glassdoor found that the average salary for chief diversity officers is $127,239, which is less than the average pay of individuals who hold positions in the C-suite.

    “I think in general, chief diversity officers are underpaid mainly because it’s looked at as overhead and it’s not looked at as a strategic position,” Warren said. 

    Warren said she is hopeful that as corporations prioritize diversity initiatives, more attention will be placed on equity and compensation of those individuals who help businesses drive these efforts.

    While demand for diversity officers is rising, their success depends on a number of factors including their access to the boardroom and executives at the highest levels. 

    ″[CDOs] have to understand the strategy, they have to craft a strategy that aligns with the business and they need to partner with leaders across the firm. They also need to partner with the board so the board can help to really drive this across the firm,” said Kara Helander, chief inclusion and diversity officer for The Carlyle Group. She also is a member of CNBC’s Workforce Executive Council, a network of C-level HR and inclusion officers.

    Jacqueline Welch, chief diversity officer at Freddie Mac, agrees.

    “If you don’t have that front line view of, ‘OK, here’s the business, here’s what we’re trying to accomplish,’ likely you’ll develop things in a vacuum that aren’t value add,” said Welch, who is also a member of CNBC’s Workforce Executive Council.

    Both Helander and Welch said they do have that direct line of communication into their respective CEOs, which allows them to fulfill their broader objectives around diversity.

    Warren said she, too, reports to the CEO of Omnicom and regularly presents to the board.

    “I’m very connected to the board of directors. I present to them, I talk to them,” Warren said. “I’m included in many meetings. I do think that it’s important for the CDO to have a seat at the table, not to be shown the table and then told they can’t have that seat.” 

    Demand is rising for chief diversity officers across the U.S., with job postings for diversity and inclusion roles on Glassdoor up 55% since early June when the conversation around racial tensions — and corporate America’s response —took center stage.

    Major companies on the hunt for a CDO include IlluminaLevi Strauss, Silicon Valley Bank, among others, according to a review of LinkedIn and Glassdoor listings.

    Industry experts caution not to put too much emphasis on a company’s hiring of a CDO and instead track their progress in promoting people of color to senior management roles and address race-related issues.

    ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** 

    Source: CNBC

  • 29 Jul 2020 3:33 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    After spending a May day preparing her classroom to reopen for preschoolers, Ana Aguilar was informed that the tots would not have to wear face masks when they came back. What’s more, she had to sign a form agreeing not to sue the school if she caught COVID-19 or suffered any injury from it while working there.

    Other teachers signed the form distributed by the Montessori Schools of Irvine, but Aguilar said she felt uncomfortable, although it stipulated that staff members would be masked. At 23, she has a compromised immune system and was also worried that she could pass the coronavirus on to her fiancé and other family members.

    Aguilar refused to sign, and a week later she was fired. “They said it was my choice to sign the paper, but it wasn’t really my choice,” said Aguilar, who’s currently jobless and receiving $276 a week in unemployment benefits. “I felt so bullied.”

    As employers in California and across the country ask employees to return to the workplace, many have considered and some are requiring employees to sign similar waivers, employment lawyers say. And many employees, mostly lower-wage and minority workers in essential jobs, are calling lawyers to complain about the waivers.

    “These are illegal agreements that are totally unfair to workers,” said Christian Schreiber, a San Francisco lawyer who represents Aguilar and other employees.

    The California State Legislature last year passed a law, AB-51, prohibiting employers from requiring employees or job applicants to sign away their right to pursue legal claims or benefits under state law. The law, which also prohibits firing any employee for refusing to sign, is being challenged in court by business groups.

    Only a few employers have forced employees to sign liability waivers, at least partly because these waivers likely would be held unenforceable by courts, lawyers who represent employers say.

    “Courts don’t recognize them because of the unequal bargaining power between employers and employees,” said Isaac Mamaysky, a partner at the Potomac Law Group in New York City. “With so many unemployed, people would sign just about anything to get a job.”

    Another reason they are considered unenforceable: Workers who get sick or injured on the job generally are compensated through state workers’ compensation systems rather than through the courts, and state laws don’t allow employers to force employees to sign away their right to pursue workers’ comp claims, Mamaysky said.

    Companies may have the right to require nonemployees working on their premises to sign COVID waivers. When the New York Stock Exchange reopened in late May, it made floor traders sign a form clearing the exchange of liability if they contracted COVID-19. That was legally permissible because the traders were not exchange employees, an NYSE spokesman said. He declined to say whether any traders have become infected with the virus.

    The Las Vegas-based restaurant chain Nacho Daddy, which did require employees to surrender their right to sue over COVID-19, reportedly fired some who refused. Following negative media coverage, Nacho Daddy removed the language that waived legal rights and instead had employees agree to follow safety rules such as masking and social distancing. The company did not respond to a request for comment.

    Having employees agree to comply with safety rules is a more common and legally acceptable approach than waivers.

    “I suggest my clients go to this reasonable middle ground: Here’s what we promise to you, here’s what we want you to promise to us,” said David Barron, an employment lawyer with Cozen O’Connor in Houston.

    Business groups hope Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will make liability waivers unnecessary. He has proposed a Senate bill with broad liability protection for employers for five years against a range of coronavirus-related claims, and says he won’t back any COVID relief bill that doesn’t include such protections. President Donald Trump has said he supports the liability protection.

    At least 10 states already have enacted laws providing some form of immunity for businesses from lawsuits brought by employees and others who contract COVID-19. Similar bills are pending in about 10 more states, according to the National Employment Law Project. The California Assembly is considering a liability protection bill for public K-12 schools.

    Federal legislation to provide COVID liability relief for employers should protect only those that follow applicable health and safety guidelines, said John Abegg, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, which supports McConnell’s proposal.

    But even if McConnell is able to overcome Democratic opposition and pass liability protection as part of a new pandemic economic relief bill, that still wouldn’t shield employers from lawsuits claiming gross negligence or reckless or intentional conduct in failing to implement COVID-19 safety precautions.

    Across the country, hospitals and nursing homes, as well as companies like McDonald’s, Walmart and Safeway, have been hit with wrongful death lawsuits filed by families of employees who died from the virus. They typically cite egregious conduct that goes beyond ordinary negligence, potentially erasing any statutory liability relief.

    Nearly 50 COVID-related lawsuits have been filed relating to conditions of employment, including exposure to the coronavirus or the lack of protective equipment, according to data collected by the law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth.

    In many states, alleging intentional misconduct also may allow workers harmed by COVID-19, and their families, to file lawsuits rather than go through the workers’ compensation system, and thus seek bigger damage awards.

    For instance, a suit filed in Alameda County Superior Court in June by the widow of a longtime employee of Safeway’s distribution center in Tracy, California, alleged that the company had concealed a COVID-19 outbreak from workers and informed them that personal protective equipment was not recommended, contrary to guidelines from federal and state authorities.

    “I don’t know of any jurisdiction that would allow a waiver against intentional misconduct,” said Louis DiLorenzo, head of the labor and employment practice for Bond Schoeneck & King in New York, who represents employers. “That would encourage misconduct.”

    Worker advocates argue that lawsuits like the one against Safeway should be encouraged — rather than blocked by waivers or immunity laws — to bring to light serious public safety problems. Cases against McDonald’s in Oakland and Chicago — in which workers claimed the restaurants had created a “public nuisance” by not taking steps to adequately protect workers and customers from COVID-19 — resulted in court orders in late June for those McDonald’s restaurants to implement safety measures such as masks, social distancing and temperature checks.

    “A very tiny number of cases are being filed by workers, and those cases are valuable,” said Hugh Baran, a staff lawyer at the National Employment Law Project. “These are the kinds of claims we should want workers to bring.”

    Schreiber said he contacted the Montessori school about Aguilar’s firing, and it offered to reinstate her without having her sign the waiver. But Aguilar declined, saying the school was putting teachers at risk by not requiring pupils to wear masks. The school then offered her six weeks of severance pay, which she is considering.

    By refusing to sign the waiver or accept her job back, she said, she was standing up for all the teachers at the school, many of whom have children and can’t afford to lose their job.

    “I liked my job and I needed the paycheck,” Aguilar said. “But making you sign these papers is telling you that whatever happens, they really don’t care.”

    ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** 

    Source: Kaiser Health News

  • 29 Jul 2020 3:31 PM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

    Chris Hagan | Friday, July 24, 2020 | Sacramento, CA

    With state and federal worker assistance set to expire at the end of July, Gov. Gavin Newsom discussed efforts to extend protections for essential workers, but stopped short of further executive orders to lock in those measures. 

    During his Friday COVID-19 briefing, the governor focused on efforts to work with state legislative leaders on bills to extend some of his temporary executive orders. Those include expanded COVID-19 sick pay, worker compensation insurance for essential workers and eviction protections for renters. 

    As cases and death continue to rise — the state reported 9,718 news cases Thursday and a record 159 deaths — Newsom reiterated that Latino communities make up a large percentage of the state's essential workers and "disproportionately are being impacted by the virus." 

    Many of those essential workers have not received support to allow them to isolate or quarantine when they feel sick, he said. To combat that, the state is expanding its Project Roomkey program to help essential workers get hotel rooms or other housing to allow them to isolate from family members.

    Newsom also introduced a new handbook for employers around worker safety and testing. He said the state will also be starting a public awareness campaign aimed at educating businesses and workers about the new rules. 

    Many businesses have expressed confusion over the rapidly changing regulations around the stay-at-home orders. Newsom said he takes responsibility, and will work to make new regulations simpler and easier for businesses.

    "If I reflect back with objectivity … when we began to reopen the economy we focused so much on when. But we didn't focus on how, especially how to educate," he said.

    Still, Newsom said the state will be looking at "strategic enforcement of labor laws," but focus more on education than punishing businesses.

    Newsom did not announce any new protections for unemployed workers as the federal $600 of additional benefits are set to expire July 31, but said he had confidence in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi getting a deal done. He also hinted at an announcement next week around the state's embattled Employment Development Department, which has struggled to process 7 million first-time jobless claims since March 12. 

    The governor once again asked Californians to wear masks whenever they can't distance themselves from others. As the state moved into the weekend, he cautioned against unnecessary travel or gatherings.

    Overall, California now has more than 425,000 confirmed cases, surpassing New York for the most of any state earlier this week. The state had two days in a row this week with more than 12,000 new cases, both records.

    The state's positivity rate — the percentage of tests that come back positive — is at 7.5% over the past 14 days, and has stayed steady this week. Hospitalizations continue to increase but more slowly, while there was an 11% increase in ICU hospitalizations over the past 14 days.

    On Thursday, Bay Area Democratic state Sen. Steve Glazer proposed new lockdown orders — with exceptions for essential trips for food and health care — in counties where the 14-day rate of positive tests exceeds 2% in either that county or its neighboring counties.

    Asked about the impact another wave of stay-at-home orders would have on small businesses, Glazer said the economy and public health are “handcuffed together.”

    “You can’t have one without the other,” he said. “No business is going to thrive unless we can kill this virus. I recognize the impacts a shelter in place has on people, but that really is the foundation for bringing our economy back.”

    But not every lawmaker has approved of Newsom's use of executive power. Republican Assemblymember Kevin Riley of Rocklin posted a 123 page document laying out all of Newson's executive orders, saying it "lays bare the anatomy of one-man rule."

    Newsom didn't announce any new executive orders on Friday.

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    Source: CapRadio

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