Party Smart This
the season to be careful,” is
the motto of employers referring to holiday parties.
how unblemished a record of past parties an organization may
have, overdrinking is the major threat, because it can lead to accidents,
unwanted sexual advances, fights between co-workers, and car
accidents, just to name a few.
Here are a few tips
to plan a safe holiday gathering:
Restrict alcohol consumption. Reasonable
limits include serving only beer and wine and issuing drink
tickets, say providing only two free beverage servings to each
employee. Also, you can limit the hours during which alcohol
is served, closing the bar once the meal has begun.
Reduce the effects of alcohol consumption.
Bar snacks and other types of salty foods increase thirst and
should be avoided at holiday parties. As well, a party that
offers nothing more than music and alcohol increases the possibility
of excess drinking.
Consider a party disclosure/waiver. This is
a carefully crafted statement to the effect that participation
in an employer-sponsored party is completely voluntary on the
part of each employee. It also informs employees that they
will be required to behave responsibly on their way to and
from the party and during the festivities, with an emphasis
on alcohol consumption. One feature of the document should
be to encourage employees to carpool to the event and/or to
choose a designated driver in the family or work group in case
of over-consumption. Each employee is then required to sign
his or her understanding and acceptance of the waiver.
No matter what you
may do to prepare for a safe and enjoyable holiday party, remember to
emphasize one key point to your employees: “Please use good judgment
and common sense. If you do so, we will all have a wonderful and enjoyable
Hedley Lawson, Jr. is the managing partner of Aligned Growth Partners, LLC, a strategic, operational and organizational consulting and executive search firm (
www.alignedgrowth.com). Lawson also serves as consulting editor for Jobson's Business Essentials monthly e-newsletter. To read current and past issues of the newsletter go to
Retirement Plan Tips
Q: When does a Roth IRA make sense?
A: Here is a profile for when a Roth 401(k) would work best:
- Eligible participants are young and earning significantly high incomes
Most participants are maxing out their 401(k) contribution limits
The participants who are maxed-out can then put away as many after tax dollars as they want into the Roth 401(k)
Note, Roth IRAs have Adjusted Gross Income (AGP) caps and that makes them less attractive than Roth 401(k)s
If, on the other hand, very few people are contributing up to the maximum 401(k) limits, then a Roth 401(k) may not be very advantageous to the group as a whole.
Each practice needs to
evaluate their own demographics and understand the long- term nature of their
business. In this regard, some actuarial studies have shown that putting
after tax dollars into a Roth 401(k) can generate more total income at retirement
as compared to traditional 401(k) savings with pre-tax dollars. This
is typically true for young participants and is dependent on future interest
rates and income tax assumptions.
Victor Deksnys is the executive vice president of GallagherBPI,
a group insurance agency based in Lakespur, Calif., specializing in insurance
plans, human resources services and compliance issues for large employers.
To contact Deksnys call (415) 925-2079 or go to their Web site by
If you have a question
you’d like answered by one of our experts
to web resources about human resource policies and rules
Leave Act (FMLA)
For Thought" From Business and
on how you should run your business, and ultimately
your life, is all around this holiday season, a popular
time for stuffing stockings with books. Two new editions
recently hit the shelves at the bookstores and each
has attracted the attention of individuals and business-people
alike. Advice, like holiday cheer, is plentiful this
time of year and the sources are sometimes diverse,
ranging from the former CEO of a Fortune 500 company
to a highly successful college basketball coach.
Both publications offer interesting and provocative
thoughts that eyecare practitioners who own and manage
a practice can easily relate to and translate into
sound advice for running their business.
Tips from former Hewlett-Packard
CEO, Carly Fiorina
- The workplace is not gender blind, but women get further by focusing on possibilities, not limitations.
everything you’ve got to the job you have and recognize opportunity when it knocks. Don’t
be afraid to go after it.
- Quarterly reports are a look through the rearview mirror. Focus on leading indicators, such as customer-satisfaction trends.
people is the most important choice a manager
or leader makes. A leader’s job is to motivate
people to do things that they initially resist.
- Don’t be consumed by personal agenda. Put tough issues about the business and personality conflicts on the table and talk about them face to face. It’s
a big part of keeping a team functioning.
can’t make everyone happy. Leaders
motivate people to do things they resist.
Advice for success from Duke’s Basketball
- Adversity. “Failure
can never be your destination.”
When someone believes in you, it “raises
your confidence level and allows you to try things
that are impossible to do by yourself.”
- Communication. “My
team has one rule regarding communication: When
you talk to one another, you look each other
in the eye.”
When offered the chance to attend the U. S. Military
Academy and play basketball, he did not want
to go. But his dad, not a man of many words,
was “vocal and emphatic,” that
he not turn down the opportunity out of fear. “Always
surround yourself with individuals who will help
to enable your courage when it is lacking from
- Guidance. “You can go to someone you trust and respect…but
remember: Solutions are personal. They are yours.”
- Imagination. “Imagination
gives you a destination. The greatest gift a coach
can give a player, a teacher can give a student,
and a parent can give to their child is the opportunity
to imagine great things. These dreams in childhood
pave the way for future successes.”
Common Problems in Performance Appraisal Meetings
employee performance reviews always seems to be a challenging
process. Even if you are successful in taking the time
to prepare and discuss the appraisal with your employee,
you may inevitably experience a few disappointments
or surprises along the way.
the recent Employer Resource Institute's 2006 California Employment Law Update, management
consultant Rhoma Young explained some of the potential
problem areas employers need to be aware of during the
performance appraisal meeting. Here are a few “No
consider in your planning process:
Rushing through the meeting
Doing too much of the talking
Discussing activities instead of results
- Discussing performance in generalities without specifics to support the rating
- Avoiding or underemphasizing discussion of genuine performance problems
- Getting emotionally involved and losing objectivity and control of the interview
- Getting sidetracked or bogged down in details
- Over-praising or using too many negative examples of performance deficiencies
- Failure to build on the employee's strengths in developing solutions to performance problems
- Failure to involve the employee adequately in the planning and goal/objective-setting process
- Not listening or not pursuing new information or suggestions the employee offers
- Comparing employees instead of making individual assessments in terms of potential
- Succumbing to the halo or central effect on ratings (that is, giving a favorable overall rating based on one job aspect, as opposed to a rating that fairly takes into account performance in all job areas)
- Failure to write down all the key points, goals, objectives and target dates mutually agreed to
- Failure to close with a summary that leaves the employee with a clear understanding of where they stand, what they need to do in the future to meet standards, and how and when the supervisor will assist the employee in doing so
Rules in Favor of Proration of Bonus After FMLA Leave
federal appeals court has ruled that an employer may prorate an hours worked-based "production
bonus" for employees who are absent from work while on leave under
the Family and Medical Leave Act.
In Sommer v. Vanguard Group,
No. 05-4034 (3d Cir. Aug. 24, 2006), the United States Court
of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which has appellate jurisdiction
over federal cases arising in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware
and the Virgin Islands, held that the employer did not violate the
FMLA when it reduced a former employee's annual bonus payment based
on the employee's eight-week leave under the FMLA.
decision represents the first where a federal appellate court
has considered the legality of proration of bonus programs under
the FMLA. Accordingly, this decision provides valuable guidance for
employers in structuring bonus programs to permit reductions based
on employee leaves of absence.