Centerpiece

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The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is a busy time for many HR departments. Questions regarding overtime, holiday pay and seasonal hires often arise. As long as you know the FLSA rules on holiday pay and holiday scheduling, you’ll skate through the season in good cheer.

Rite-Solutions has created an internal stock market for employee ideas called Mutual Fun. Employees get $10,000 worth of “opinion money” on their first day, so they can show support for an idea by buying the stock. Later they’ll share in the proceeds if a project delivers real-world revenue.
Wonder what employees are really doing on those computers all day? A new court ruling shows that if they’re engaging in illegal cyber activities, you can show them the door. Just make sure you’ve shown them your cyber rulebook first …

True or false: Networking is a task, like building your house. Accumulate the materials, do the necessary hammering, and bingo, you’ve got your house. “False,” say authors Bob Allard and Richard Banfield, who assert that networking greatness comes from giving, not accumulating.

Do you want to help a local athletic organization that benefits your children? Join the booster club for an amateur sports program. You can likely write off the difference between the club dues and the value of the benefit received. But beware: The IRS is cracking down on inflated deductions.

Lately, Gianfranco Zaccai spends his time lying in a hospital bed. He’s not sick; he’s researching ideas for a health care client. As president at Continuum, Zaccai knows that he and his staff find the best ideas when they’re observing clients or putting them­­selves in clients’ shoes. He insists that staffers “go to where the lion is hunting, not the zoo.”

The IRS still needs to improve the quality of its customer service, according to a report issued by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The report cited lengthy wait times and scheduling deficiencies as two key problem areas. But the news isn’t all bad.
When it comes to bringing legal claims, employees feel emboldened when they can paint you into a “my word against yours” corner. But they don’t feel as comfortable—and likely won’t sue—when they’re facing a case of their word against two representatives from management.
When cash for pay raises is tight, it’s hard to use that as a carrot to attract and retain em­­ployees. But the uncertain economy has many workers increasingly focused on long-term financial security. That makes retirement benefits all the more attractive. If you don’t currently offer a retirement plan, it might be time to consider establishing a 401(k) plan.

It’s a golden rule in most businesses: Salaries must be kept secret. It's almost universally accepted that mayhem would ensue in the workplace if people knew what their co-workers, their managers or—gasp—the CEO was making. Three major reasons why secret salaries are silly, according to consultant Alexander Kjerulf:

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