Ashley Madison, the world’s leading website for married people seeking extramarital affairs, recently made headlines when a former employee sued the Canadian-based organization for $20-million for injuries sustained while creating fake profiles of women for the site. Doriana Silva was hired by Ashley Madison to help launch a Brazilian version of the dating site. Shortly after she came on board, she was asked to create 1000 “fake female profiles” – in a period of three weeks – in order to lure men to sign up for the new service. According to Silva, creating these profiles “created an enormous amount of keyboarding” and she quickly developed severe pain in her wrists and forearms (Source: CBC News).
Silva alleges that the company ignored her complaints and her request for a wrist rest. According to her claim, she became unable to do her job and “remains seriously disabled in many if not all aspects of her life” (Source: CBC News). She also stated that the company refused to grant her workers’ compensation or insurance despite an earlier agreement that she would be covered.
Ashley Madison refuted this claim saying that Silva exaggerated her injury in order to support demands for compensation which escalated over time (Source: City News). At the time of the injury, Ashley Madison claimed that they arranged to have Silva evaluated and that an independent insurance auditor refused her claim. The company also claimed that two separate medical professionals met with Silva and prescribed “nothing more than rest” – something that the Ashley Madison says it was willing to allow (Source: City News). You can read Ashley Madison’s full statement to the press, which includes details of their attempts to accommodate, here.
The real question is how Silva was able to sue Ashley Madison in the first place - shouldn't they have been covered by the WSIB in the event of a workplace injury?
What about WSIB coverage?
Most Ontario employers are required to be registered with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario (WSIB) within 10 days of hiring their first worker. However, there are still a small number of employers that fall outside of these requirements. In these cases, the decision is left up to the individual employer – either they can choose to be covered with the WSIB voluntarily or they can decide to go it alone. Based on the information given in the news, it appears as though Ashley Madison falls into this category.
The purpose of the WSIB is to provide workplace insurance coverage for all of your workers. One of the benefits of registering is the no-fault insurance protection from lawsuits in the event of a work-related injury.
The Ashley Madison case is an extreme example of the kinds of consequences you can face as an employer if you decide to go it alone for workplace insurance coverage. Not only have they found themselves in a lawsuit for over $20 million in compensation, they have also attracted an enormous amount of negative publicity as a result.
However, this is not to say that the company isn’t fighting back. The dating site has recently released pictures of the woman playing on a jet ski and travelling after her alleged injury. They released a statement saying, “Throughout this lawsuit, Ms. Silva has continued to lead an active life and has shown no side effects from her so called injury, as evidence by her photo postings” (Source: National Post). You can read their full statement here.
Changes to construction industry coverage
As an organization, even when you are covered by WSIB, it is critical to keep up to date with changes happening in the industry. Right now, due to a major unfunded liability, the WSIB is making significant reforms (See Blog: WSIB Making Progress: The Hard Reality for Employers).
The number of companies that are not required to have coverage with the WSIB seems to be shrinking as the WSIB attempts to bring more and more employers under its umbrella. Big news earlier this year that impacted majority of the construction industry was the introduction of Bill 119 Mandatory Coverage. As of January 1, 2013, the previously exempt contractors are now required to register with the WSIB and to ensure that any employers have access to their Clearance Number. This also applies to nearly everyone else in the construction industry as well - not just workers, but business owners too.
The Ashley Madison case and the recent changes in the construction industry only serve to emphasize the importance of keeping up-to-date with what’s going on in the WSIB and the world of disability management. Not taking this seriously, as this case demonstrates, can result in astronomical costs and potentially extreme consequences.
Don’t know where to start? Let the Clear Path team help guide you through the bureaucratic maze, improve health outcomes for your workers, and reduce your claim costs. We also offer a complimentary NEER review to those who are new to Clear Path. Our experts will forecast your costs for 2014 and identify areas of potential savings for you. Click here for more information about this service: http://www.clearpathemployer.com/free-neer-review.html
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Tip #1. Sharing information with your team is great, but occasionally you need to "protect" them from the details in order to keep them focused on achieving a goal
Unbeknownst to our heroine, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and her mockingjay pin had become important symbols for the growing rebellion against the Capitol and several of her rivals were actually working with the rebel forces to keep her alive in the latest Hunger Games competition (known as the Quarter Quell). Some were even willing to sacrifice themselves in order to keep her safe.
The leaders of the rebellion decided to keep Katniss in the dark about this plot until the very end of the film in order to keep her focused during the competition. Similarly, it is occasionally necessary to keep details that may cause a distraction away from your team members (or at least delay the release of that information). Absolute transparency about issues like a financial difficulty, a legal challenge, or an upcoming termination can be a paralyzing distraction for some employees and may cause others to bolt. This could actually transform the risk of a potential failure into a reality.
Of course, anyone who believes that their employees will not notice an increased level of anxiety from the executive suite is fooling themselves. If workers are distracted by a perceived "secret," it may be prudent to share some of the details with them. Scary news should be shared carefully and presented in a way that is motivating, not demotivating.
Tip #2. Build a team with a variety of skill sets and experience levels, but with common values
The group of tributes that ultimately prevailed in the second Hunger Games film were not carbon copies of the teenaged Katniss and Peeta from District 12. In fact, some were not young at all. In addition to the physically strong Finnick and Joanna, the team included the elderly Mags (a mentor to the athletic Finnick), the technologically savvy Beetie, the intuitive (if "nutty") Wiress, and most definitely Haymitch Abernathy (played by Woody Harrelson) who helped engineer things behind the scenes.
Each of the team members brought skill sets that complemented (rather than mirrored) each other. And most importantly, they shared the common values of loyalty, innovation, creativity, and perseverance.
As any good hiring manager knows, it is critical to build a team that is dedicated to working towards the greater good and achieving your corporate objectives, rather than solely being focused on their own victories and achievements.
Tip #3. Don't let your personal biases and first impressions preclude you from learning from someone you may not enjoy working with
One thing that Suzanne Collins does well is include a number of essentially unlikable characters in her books. Katniss Everdeen is not exactly the "rah rah" type and isn't afraid to appear prickly to others. Most of all, the character of Haymitch is crude, cynical and often drunk. But the wisdom he has gained from his experience as a past Hunger Games victor and more importantly, the relationships he has developed within the Capitol, make him an invaluable ally.
Encouraging team members to see past the differences and be open to learning from all of their team mates is one of the best ways to grow your business. Help them understand that a healthy dose of skepticism and conflicting approaches can make your team better, not worse.
Tip #4. Pushing employees to work against their strengths is likely to lead to disappointing results
In "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," President Snow requires Katniss and Peeta, the victors of the previous Hunger Games, to travel to each of the 12 Districts on a "Victory Tour." Threatening her safety and that of her loved ones, President Snow forces Katniss to put on a show that will help quell the growing discontent within the country. Of course, this only feeds the fire of rebellion and despite Katniss and Peeta's best efforts to comply with Snow's wishes, it does not work and only leads to more discontentment.
The old adage "making sure you have the right people on the bus" must be appended with "...and that everyone is sitting in the right seat." Ensure that you know the strengths of each team member if you truly want great results and don't hesitate to reassign a good employee into a different role within your organization where their strengths could be better utilized. We recommend utilizing the Gallup organization's Strengthsfinder test as a standard practice.
Tip #5. Breaking your word or making "bad faith" agreements will not lead to success
Historically, victors of the Hunger Games were free from ever having to participate in another competition (although they were expected to work as mentors). In order to eliminate the growing threat posed by Katniss, President Snow announced that the 75th edition of the Hunger Games would be a kind of "all star" edition where the participants were drawn exclusively from previous winners, knowing Katniss would be selected.
This also impacted the lives of all the other previous victors, some of which were elderly or not physically prepared for such a challenge. Ultimately, nearly half of the tributes forced to participate again were involved in a plot to keep Katniss alive and defy the power of the Capitol.
Nothing can demotivate even the best employee than management's decision not to live up to a promise made, particularly if that promise involved compensation such as a bonus, an increase in salary, a new position, or additional vacation days. The feeling of betrayal from an employee in this situation (whether or not their grievance is legitimate or only perceived), can lead to performance issues and ultimately the departure of that employee. In the unfortunate event that the company is no longer in the position to be able to live up to a promise made, it is best to address the issue directly with the impacted employee.
Tip #6. Encourage frank and honest conversations between all workers and senior management
During an early scene in the film "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," President Snow (portrayed by Canadian Donald Sutherland) pays an unscheduled visit to the home of Katniss Everdeen. During their ominous conversation he vehemently insists that they "not lie to each other." The ongoing relationship (more of a hate-hate one, not a love-hate thing) is one of the more interesting elements of the series.
But is it realistic to expect candid conversations between employees and those who can be responsible for them losing their jobs? Does disagreement with a corporate decision always mean insubordination? Wise business owners nurture a culture where honest feedback and constructive criticism is welcome to be shared by everyone in the organization. What medium that takes place in can vary - from one-on-one conversations with management, to a suggestions box, to a company "town hall" meeting. However...
Tip #7. Quash insubordination and employee defiance as quickly as possible [this tip is from the point of view of the villainous President Snow]
It is important to allow team members to express contrary opinions to those of management, but when they become less about constructive comments and more about snide remarks it is necessary for management to take action. There's another old adage that states "what you allow, you encourage." Allowing negativity and possibly even defiant actions to undermine a decision within the organization will allow these feelings to fester and create an unproductive workforce. Other employees may replicate these actions and even those who disagree may lose respect for leaders who allow others to behave in such a manner.
Facing a challenging HR situation? Want some advice from seasoned HR professionals? The experienced team at Clear Path Employer Services can help. Contact Anna at (519) 624-0800 for assistance.
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Elizabeth Witmer, who has held the position of WSIB chair for over a year now, recently reported that the WSIB has made significant progress in the quality of service it provides to Ontario workers and employers. Looking back four years earlier, the future and sustainability of the WSIB system seemed bleak as finances continued to worsen and the unfunded liability reached unbelievable levels – in 2012 the number was reported to be upwards of 13 billion. Something needed to change. Witmer exclaims that the WSIB has now begun to pull away from that “tipping point” and focusing on the “longer-term viability of workers’ compensation in Ontario.” (Source: WSIB Chair Message)
So what progress has been made exactly? According to Witmer:
The hard reality for employers
Witmer paints quite the happy picture in her message - but the bigger picture, especially where employers are concerned, leaves much to be desired. How has the WSIB been able to improve their financial situation? What has taken place in order for other costs to be reduced? The truth is, employers have been hit quite hard as a result of this “progress”.
Here are some of the most prominent changes that have occurred as a result:
Reserve factor table changes
As some of you may already be aware, the WSIB announced changes to the NEER Reserve Factor Tables in August 2013, resulting in increases in projected future costs and overall limited claim costs. Because of these increases, many employers received quite the unpleasant surprise when they saw their September 2013 NEER statement results.
“This change had a significant impact on surcharge and rebate numbers on the September statement,” Kelly Auld, Claims Manager at Clear Path, explains. “For employers that reviewed their 2013 NEER statements in June and forecasted for September 2013, some have seen their estimated rebate cut in half or have even moved from a rebate to a surcharge position."
Jennifer Wright-Tahiraj, another Claims Manager at Clear Path, adds to this saying that, “Depending on the size of the company and the number of claims they have, we have been able to estimate that the cost for the employer can range from $5,000 - $400,000 or more”.
Interestingly enough, for the first time ever, the WSIB noted on page 2 of the September 2013 NEER statement that the reserve factors are preliminary and subject to change again. This, in essence, is giving the WSIB room to change the reserve factors at any given time. In the past, the Reserve Factor Tables were never changed past March in the current review year. With this significant change to continue to update reserve factors as late as August, employers must closely monitor the WSIB website as these changes are likely to result in increased costs for the employer.
Reduced expected costs
In addition to changing the reserve factors in August, the WSIB also reduced expected costs (See Page 5 of the NEER User Guide). An employer’s refund or surcharge is determined based on a proportion of the difference between their NEER costs and expected costs. Because expected costs have been reduced, more and more employers are surpassing these numbers and are finding themselves in a surcharge position or are receiving less of a rebate than they would have otherwise.
The WSIB has also extended the NEER Review Window to four years, starting with the 2008 accident year. Instead of a claim’s cost impacting the employer for three years, it now impacts them for four – resulting in an overall increase in costs.
Difficulty obtaining SIEF cost relief
Under WSIB Policy 14-05-03, if a prior disability caused or contributed to the worker’s injury, or if the recovery period becomes prolonged or enhanced due to a pre-existing condition, all or part of the compensation and health care costs may be transferred from the employer’s experience rating or NEER statement to the Second Injury and Enhancement Fund (SIEF).
In the past, the WSIB case manager was more likely to grant cost relief in situations where it was requested. Now however, the WSIB has a specialized SIEF team in place who scrutinize each request and are much more reluctant to allow SIEF on claims.
In order to obtain cost relief, we see the WSIB more and more relying on the employer to provide the WSIB with objective medical documentation to support that the pre-existing condition is directly linked to the prolonged recovery. In the past, the pre-existing condition in itself combined with an obviously prolonged recovery would have been enough to warrant cost relief.
Behind the progress
The truth is, as positive as Witmer’s comments about the WSIB’s financial progress reads on paper, many employers have been suffering financial consequences as a result. It is now significantly more difficult for employers to be successful in reducing their WSIB costs through NEER forecasting and acquiring SIEF cost relief—even when they appear to be doing everything right.
Looking for more assistance in understanding the WSIB or reducing your costs? Our team of experts are trained in how to deal effectively with the WSIB and achieve the highest reduction in claim costs for employers. Contact us today for a consultation.
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Remember your first job? Whether you were cleaning bathroom floors or serving up fries at your local fast food joint, its likely that your first job played an important role in shaping your work ethic and influencing your overall career journey.
Similar to our recent blog “How I Hire”, this blog will dive into the new feature series by LinkedIn Today entitled “My First Job” which takes a look at the career grassroots of some of the top influencers in the business world. Over 90 influencers have participated in this discussion by posting stories about their very first money-making enterprise and how it impacted who they are as a professional. As Francesca, Senior Editor at LinkedIn, put it: “These compelling, funny, humiliating and heartening tales show the breadth of ways successful people can start working, and offer insight into the earliest experiences of some of the working world’s top minds.” Here are some of the articles that have received the most attention online:
My first job: Fired and rehired on day one
Steve Blank, Lecturer at UCSF, had quite the interesting experience with his first job in Silicon Valley. After accepting the job opportunity, he quit his job, packed up everything he owned, and moved across the country to California… only to find out that he was hired without authorization and the job no longer existed. So what did he do? He persisted and, in that same day, he managed to get himself hired for a completely different position. He continued to “show up” for different opportunities that arose, always putting himself out there and accepting challenges. It was this determined spirit which he developed in this first role that set the precedent for the professional he is today. Read the full article here.
My first job: Breeding budgies (the business, and birds, took off)
Richard Branson, Founder at Virgin Group, started his own small business at the age of 11 – breeding budgies. Being unable to sell them as quickly as they were multiplying, his mother set all of the birds free. Next he tried getting into the Christmas tree business. Turns out rabbits love to eat the tiny ones… It wasn’t until he started his next venture, Student Magazine, that he saw success. Eventually this became the Virgin Group – a venture with over 100 companies and 60,000 employees in over 50 countries. Looks like all that persistence paid off. Read the full article here.
My first job: From pizza delivery boy to CEO
Paul Metselaar, CEO of Ovation Travel Group, started off working as a pizza delivery boy in his mid-teens. He quickly discovered that, the faster he delivered, the more tips he received. He then began taking orders himself to speed up the process – doing everything he could to keep those tips coming in steadily. Since then, that small pizza shop has become a well-known and established restaurant in town. Paul’s journey from pizza boy to CEO can be summarized in three rules: 1) Don’t just do what you’re told – instead, step up to the plate and take initiative. 2) Dress the part, and 3) Become vested in your workplace – by seeing the larger picture of how your job affects the bottom line, you can motivate yourself to achieve greatness. Read the full article here.
My first job: What unloading beer taught me about leadership
John Donahoe, CEO and President at eBay, claims that his summer job unloading beer at a distribution company gave him extremely valuable insights about what it means to be a leader. The first was the importance of getting along with many different types of people. He learned quickly that their diversity, approaches to their job, and different ways they interacted were things to be appreciated and learned from, rather than trying to conform them. He also learned the value of trust – in taking responsibility and communicating your belief in others. While the job title wasn’t the most glamorous, John’s first job helped to shape him into the leader and visionary he is today. Read the full article here.
My first job: Everyone should learn to mop a floor
Dennis Berman, Business Editor of the Wall Street Journal, says that there is one thing that every 15 year old should learn… how to mop a floor. Why? His thought is that, “once you mop a floor long enough, you develop a reflexive respect for all the work underfoot and the people who do it.” Quite the valuable lesson to learn at a young age – and one that could deeply impact how you view work and organizational structure moving forward in your career. Read the full article here.
The first work experiences of these top influencers and visionaries hint at a much larger picture – the idea that every work experience contributes something in the shaping of who we are as business professionals.
As an HR professional in particular, it is important to recognize what these different experiences can bring to the table when it comes to making a hiring decision or dealing with employees within your company. These stories say a lot about work ethic, how it is developed, and what kind of values you want to be looking for when bringing someone on board.
What was your first job experience like? Share in the comments section below!
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November 1st, 2013 marked a momentous milestone for Clear Path Employer Services. It was on this day, exactly 10 years ago, that the business came into fruition. From it's humble beginnings in Anna's living room to a thriving and growing company with over 100 clients and a team of over 20 dedicated team members, there is no denying that Clear Path has come a long way over these past ten years.
In celebration of this achievement, we decided to host a big Client Appreciation Event on the date of our anniversary. The purpose of this event was to recognize and appreciate all of those who have helped us get to where we are today. With over 60 people in attendance - valued clients, partners, and employees - we were really able to ring in this occasion in style!
One of the highlights of the event were our three incredible speakers:
Matthew Mihailovich from Hicks Morley kicked it off with a talk on "Human Resources Management in an Increasingly Complex World." His seminar covered a wide variety of issues including managing the aging workforce, mental illness at work, and dealing with workplace violence and harassment. I think it's safe to say that all of you in attendance were impressed with his killer acting skills!
Anna Aceto-Guerin from Clear Path Employer Services followed Matthew's seminar with a brief overview of some of the recent updates and changes in the WSIB. Her seminar touched on the new eStatement capabilities and the modernization of the appeals process.
Last to close off our seminar series was Joan Binetti with a session entitled "Take a Giant Leap in Leadership Performance." This interactive and engaging session was a hit with everyone! From the mini dishcloth folding competition to the red clown nose on Anna, Joan's creative delivery really helped instill the importance of positive leadership performance in the workplace.
We would also like to thank all of those who donated prizes for our event:
Thank you so much to all of those who were able to join us at our Customer Appreciation Event! We are so grateful for the continued support of our clients and can think of no better way to celebrate our tenth year anniversary as a company. We hope that you thoroughly enjoyed your time!
Here is what some of our clients have to say about their overall experience:
“Loved the speakers! Very relevant topics, very dynamic! Great food, great prizes. Time for networking.”
"By far Matthew and Joan were the best speakers I've heard in any seminar/conference I've attended this year. Absolutely phenomenal. So interactive, engaging, and knowledgeable!"
“I loved the topics the speakers covered and the opportunity to ask questions and network. Food was great!"
“All speakers were very informative, the food was great and it was just a lot of fun!”
“It was good to see faces so I can relate them to the emails and voices on the phone. It's interesting to hear how Clear Path got started "in the living room"...kind of like Steve Jobs and his garage. Lunch was very good. Overall a great way to start the day and end the week.”
“Very nice event - great way to celebrate your success and have your clients together for networking too!”
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