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What We're Doing Behind The Scenes

Countdown-SDbw.gifThe HR & Employee Benefits Summit will kick off in less than one month, on September 14th and 15th at the Ritz-Carlton, New-Orleans. For those that have taken advantage of the complimentary registration, you are aware of the event’s progress thus far – but over the next few weeks, the real fun will begin!

Behind the scenes, a team of event managers and coordinators is working to facilitate the needs of all attendees. This process includes everything from operational processes like hotel and room reservations and gala dinner menus, to last-minute correspondence with attendees – all to ensure the smoothest possible matching process.

Just two weeks before the event (around the first week of September), each attendee will receive a catalog of confirmed solution providers and seminars via email. You will have to digitally select the solution providers that stand out to you, along with the seminars you would like to attend.

When attendees submit this information – it initiates the matching process. This is the most crucial step for the success of the event! Using this information, the HR & Employee Benefits team begins building each attendee's personal itinerary, taking into account individual upcoming projects, selected providers and chosen seminars. 

During registration at the Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, each attendee will receive their itinerary along with their event program and will finally be able to put a face to the name of the HR & Employee Benefits Summit Team!

Should you have any questions regarding your attendance at the Summit, or would like to join us at the event as a last-minute participant, please reach out to Event Manager Shane Doherty at shane.doherty@forumevents.com


How to Reduce Liability at this Year's Holiday Party

Holiday parties are a prime way to boost morale and team work in the office. One key component of most parties, however, is alcohol. A 2012 survey found that 61 percent of organizations plan to serve alcohol at their holiday parties, and of these organizations – only half plan to regulate alcohol consumption – leaving a big hole for employer liability.

According to the survey, celebrations held away from the office, which account for 70 percent of functions, boosts the chance of intoxication and employee misconduct. How can you prevent harassment and intoxication within your team this year?

57 percent of companies plan to use drink tickets to limit employees on their alcoholic intake, while other companies are resorting to only serve certain types of alcohol (42%) and even a cash bar (25%). To avoid these last minute restrictions, one-third of all organizations have a formal or informal policy that allows and limits drinking at work-related events.

The Risks

While employee parties are often a good and fun treat, there are laws that cover employees from some negative situations that often arise (consider harassment and potentially illegal employee conduct). Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 covers employees in environments where 15 or more employees (including regular part-time ones) are gathered. For conduct to be considered unlawful under the Title VII, the conduct must be unwelcome; and the conduct must be sufficiently severe or pervasive. One single, extremely serious incident of harassment at an office party, may leave the organization open to a Title VII claim.

Also, consider the dangers of drunk driving liability. A California appellate court found an employer liable for a DUI accident that left one dead after an employee left a holiday work party at which they consumed alcohol. “It is irrelevant that foreseeable effects of the employee’s negligent conduct (here, the car accident) occurred at a time the employee was no longer acting within the scope of his or her employment,” the court ruled.

How to Limit Liability

Employers should consider taking the following steps to limit their liability while still hosting fun, morale-building festivities this season:

  • Have a comprehensive, written anti-harassment policy stated clearly in employee handbooks.
  • Before the event, send an email to all staff members attending reminding them to act responsibly at the party and clearly state the zero-tolerance for inappropriate behavior.
  • To avoid suggestive attire, enforce the company’s dress code.
  • Make it clear that attendance at the party does not impact the person’s standing at the company – allow attendance to be at free will.
  • Set a tone of moderation regarding alcohol consumption. Stress that excessive alcohol consumption will not be tolerated.
  • Limit the number of drinks, or length of time during which alcohol will be served. Provide substantial non-alcoholic alternatives.

Should an employee or coworker become heavily intoxicated or noticeably drink too much, offer them a ride home in a taxi or, so long as you have not been drinking, drive them home safely. 


'Tis the Season: Holiday Season Productivity Tips

We are officially in the midst of the holiday season, which means that the art of balancing the stress of gift giving and entertaining with life at the office is being tested. According to the American Management Association, about two-thirds of 600 full-time employees surveyed said they experienced stress during the holiday season. 44 percent of executives similarly say productivity decreases during the holiday season. Workplace consultant Anne Grady says that employee frustration doesn’t come from having too much to do, but rather from unclear expectations. So how can we balance work and play this holiday season? Here are just a few tips:

1. Know and Balance Your Stressors

One of the biggest problems with the holidays is an overload of personal to-do lists interfering with the growing office to-do list. If you’re having a panic moment, regroup and make a list of what takes priority. Dedicate specific times to get your to-do list done and keep your work and personal list separate.

2. Get Flexible At Work

Employers can help boost productivity during work hours by compromising. Understanding the needs of employees can create a better environment and boost numbers over the holiday season. Managers should consider easing up on restrictions during this time of the year, offering incentives for good work and should the question arise – beware of opportunities to work from home. While groveling employees may be a temporary hassle, it’s worth it to keep customers happy.

3. Coordinate Calendars

This is optimal time for PTO. Beware that you don’t cut yourself short in the office by being too vacation happy. Make sure that calendars are aligned and the team understands the needs of the workplace in terms of absences and vacation days. Keep a shared calendar so that if there are any discrepancies – you don’t corner yourself too late.

4. Don’t obsess about hours

You’ve set a plan, you’ve set time off dates, and you’re giving your employees some leg room. Don’t stress about employees taking an extended lunch break or coming in a few minutes late, just be aware of their deadlines and work. If employees are not getting their work done, regardless of their time in the office, you will know and be able to act accordingly.

5. Relax!

Tensions in the office this season will show in your customer appreciation. Relax and remember now is the time to be grateful and enjoy your company and work friends. Setting a healthy environment is key to a positive holiday season.


Keeping Employees Motivated This Holiday Season

The holidays are quickly approaching, which means that a lull in the office may lead to an unproductive period for employees. It’s no secret that the holidays draw extra stress for employees who are distracted by shopping lists and bills – so how can you instill a sense of motivation among your employees this season?

According to ISACA, a non-profit association, employees plan to spend nearly two full working days (14.4 hours) on average shopping online from a work computer or device this winter. One in 10 employees plans to spend at least 30 hours shopping online at work. This degree of unmotivated staff can cost your business $27,000 in staff turnover.

Research shows a motivated worker is sixteen times more productive than an unmotivated worker, so here are several ways to keep morale high over the holidays and improve employee productivity.

  1. Take advantage of a lull in the workplace by implementing personal development training. Use this time as an opportunity to learn from management levels of staff using role play and sharing skills. Encourage employee-to-employee training!
  2. Be realistic with your goals. Set goals for December only so outcomes don’t get lost and employees don’t get disheartened.
  3. Some employees may take long vacations over winter time, leaving a missing gap in the workforce. This is a prime opportunity to get a staff member to fill in and learn new skills.
  4. Creativity always kick starts the workplace. Consider a competition for the most creative out of the office message and encourage holiday decorating for a positive work culture.
  5. Welcome flexibility over the holiday season. Employees will naturally have distractions during this time, by being more flexible and understanding, you will encourage them to stay focused on work while in the office.

Remember, a motivated employee is 16 times more productive than an unmotivated worker – so encourage your team to stay in the game this holiday season. Celebrate their success and commitment to work with a holiday party and a big thank you!

How do you keep your staff motivated over the holidays?

Need some bright ideas to celebrate with your team this holiday season? Visit our blog, here. 


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