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Melissa Albanes (13 Posts)

Melissa Albanes

Melissa Albanes is a Solutions Architect with SumTotal. She has a special interest in how tech trends and Big Data are changing the HR landscape—particularly in terms of Learning, Talent, and Workforce Management. In her free time, Melissa can be found on her Harley or doing outdoorsy family activities.

July 19, 2016

Navigating FLSA Compliance to Minimize Risk

If you work in HR or payroll, by now you have probably heard about the FLSA overtime rule changes, taking effect December 1, 2016. Over the next few months employers must review, analyze, prepare and reclassify employees to ensure they’re prepared—and avoid penalties. The potential costs and impact of non-compliance greatly exceed the costs of complying with the new regulations.

New FLSA Overtime Rules

Why do you need to understand this change?
President Obama and Department of Labor Secretary Perez recently announced the U.S. Department of Labor’s final decision on overtime rules which includes doubling the salary floor for exempt employees from $455 per week to $913 per week. This means that millions of additional workers—an estimated 4.2 million— may now qualify for FLSA overtime protection.

What’s the impact?
Under the new rules, you’ll need to track hours worked each week by employees who fall below a weekly salary level of $913. This represents a significant shift: many employees who previously did not track their hours will need to interact with your time and attendance systems. They’ll probably need training on the new systems and procedures as well. The changes are right around the corner and your operations and payroll personnel have limited time to prepare.

Will you be ready?
Take steps to ensure your organization complies with the new law come December 1, 2016. Workforce management solutions can play a critical role in helping your business minimize compliance risk during this type of change. Ideally, a system should facilitate legislative changes and allow you to implement policy and regulatory requirements simply and accurately—unified with robust time and absence management capabilities to support the changes in the workplace.

To help you learn more, SumTotal is hosting a complimentary webinar featuring legal experts from Baker Donelson to guide you through the upcoming changes. Reserve your space for this live session on August 3, Navigating FLSA Compliance to Minimize Risk.

June 14, 2016

The High Cost of Sleepiness

Inadequate sleep is a common and significant problem impacting the workforce. In the United States, one in three people get less than seven hours of sleep at night, with similar findings worldwide. I often hear colleagues say there are not enough hours in the day and express similar thoughts conveying lack of sleep. Trying to balance demanding workloads with personal time often leads to sacrificing sleep. People across the globe struggle to make it through the workday—especially after lunch!


What happens when you don’t ‘turn off’? Today’s workforce is more flexible than ever and working hours are no longer confined to the traditional ‘9-to-5’ workday. People now respond to emails as they wake up, during their coffee and lunch breaks and even at weekend soccer games. For many organizations, the workplace culture supports an unspoken expectation to be omnipresent—often driven by the example of leaders and managers. Visibility has become especially crucial with an increasingly remote workforce, where physically dispersed teams do not see colleagues hard at work and team members collaborate and react across different time zones. This ‘always on’ attitude is beginning to have significant effects. A recent study shows that consistent email monitoring, especially after hours, contributes to tiredness and reduced engagement the following day.

Suppose we allowed—even encouraged—employees to get that needed extra sleep AT work? Napping at work is not a new concept, nor is the discussion around its benefits. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a brief 20-30 minute nap to combat fatigue for “…improved alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep.” They also published that adults’ strongest drive to sleep during the day occurs between 1:00-3:00 in the afternoon. Those post-lunch blues? They’re real. A mid-shift snooze may be just what you need to increase performance during the second half of the day.

Sleeping at work is no longer taboo. Google, Nike and Zappos are just a few companies that encourage powernaps with onsite sleep rooms. We can also learn from successful people throughout history who routinely took naps to increase energy and alertness including Einstein, Aristotle and Salvador Dali. Businesses are becoming more aware of the link between sleep deprivation, productivity, and poor health (resulting in higher insurance costs).

The cost of absenteeism and low on-the-job work performance quickly accumulates. Researchers from Harvard recently showed that the average worker with sleeplessness results in the loss of 11.3 days’ worth of work performance each year which comes to $2,280. That figure across the United States adds up to $63.2 billion. This is a compelling reason why more companies are nestling up to the idea of midday naps.

An alert mind is a productive mind while fatigued minds lose focus and therefore output. Sleep is not a luxury and corporations are taking note. Get ready to see an increase in nap rooms and more sleep-friendly environments across the globe. If your office is already on board, don’t skip that afternoon nap the next time you’re feeling tired.

I want to hear from you—leave a comment if your workplace has considered a ‘napping at work’ program.

April 4, 2016

How Does March Madness Impact Office Productivity and Engagement?

As “mad” as it sounds, an estimated 20 percent of the workforce followed the annual basketball tournament costing employers in 2016 over $3.9 billion in the first week of March Madness1!  Extra-long lunch breaks, streaming games and filling out brackets at work are fairly common. There are similar findings of lost productivity during the Olympics and the World Cup2, 3.

Before you close your browser for being called out, hear me out! I believe that the above findings are a bit short-sighted. What if you and your colleagues were encouraged to follow the games, participate in office brackets, and had the championship games streaming in common areas? You may find that you have common ground with your co-workers—not to mention customers—and lively conversation is easy where it was typically small talk. Imagine the workplace satisfaction you will have!

Channeling enthusiasm and energy with work relationships can bring a sense of camaraderie that overflows through the workforce. After all, we’ve all been taught that in business, relationships are EVERYTHING. Positive and supportive work relationships boost morale and increase engagement. As 78 percent of us spend more time with coworkers than we do with our families4, peer relationships are critical to our professional investments and career satisfaction. Further, take into account that only 51 percent of us use our vacation days5. This may help managers justify practicing more flexibility than normal during major sporting events. Particularly when intangible benefits include departments who rarely interact begin to have rapport and INCREASE in productivity. Engagement would be through the roof!

Why not leverage these moments of sporting competition and nationalism into a positive environment with lasting results?

Comment or send me a message! Let me know if your company encourages interoffice sport synergy or punitively frowns upon it.


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