stay awake in zoom meetings


Whether working from home or back in the office, Zoom has now become normal… The two options, online or in-person, however, have one thing in common: It’s hard to keep employees engaged! 

But lucky for you and your team, there are some action steps you can take to try and stay awake in meetings (zoom or not!)

stay awake in zoom meetings

Define the Purpose

First, define the purpose of the meeting before you go into it. What do you want to share? What do you want to learn? Understand and define this before you enter the meeting, so you can listen carefully to what others are saying.

Plan the Space

It’s important to have a tidy space and a conducive set up so you can avoid unnecessary distractions. Have any materials or items that you will need during the meeting handy. Silence your devices and make sure people know you’re in “do not disturb” mode. Jump on the call early if you’re remote. Make sure your video is on point and all your systems are working properly. 

Planning your space also applies to in-person meetings. Make sure all your devices are turned off so that they won’t distract you or anyone else. If you’re in an actual office building, or zoom room it’s still beneficial to plan your space in order to support employees as HR professionals.

Stay Engaged

When you do speak, acknowledge what the person before you said. Not only does this inform the group that you are listening but also the person before you feel heard. Virtually, it can be difficult to not talk over one another, so repeating the point stated before can provide clarity.

There may be times where you get distracted and the conversation has already transitioned into a new topic. When this happens, be sure to speak up and ask. Simply state that you lost track of the conversation and need help understanding the new topic. This might help others who have lost track as well but aren’t comfortable speaking up.

Your mind will likely wander during virtual meetings—it’s almost inevitable! Don’t worry. When you notice it happening, try your best to nudge your attention back to the present conversation. One way to keep your attention on the conversation is to keep a pad of paper nearby. You can not only write down important information from the call but also if a thought outside of your meeting topics comes into mind, write it down to return to later.

Maintaining solid company culture during this time can be difficult. But fostering culture is vital to the success of your business. Contact us to see how we can help you optimize your HR department and build a successful company during this transition period.

A Letter from our CEO

­­­I started Culture Works with the intention of building people with an outcome of building a business. What better way to do that than have a focus on Culture, Talent, and HR? I believe in empowering people with information and experiences, so they can make informed decisions and drive their own purpose.

The World's Opening Up — What Are Our Employees Going to Do?

It seems that no one truly understands what the new workplace will look like in the coming months. As many large companies, like SalesForce, Google, and Spotify are opting to allow employees the choice of how they would like to proceed, it’s important to figure out what model works best for your organization and your employees.

Navigating Learning and Development Post-COVID

We are (hopefully) quickly approaching a world post-COVID. As things return to normal, employers wrestle with the question of whether or not to return their employees to the office. If this last year has taught employers anything, it’s that employees can still effectively do their jobs from home—and they want to!

COVID-19 Vaccine- What Employers Need to Know

The COVID-19 vaccine has now become widely available in the U.S. As more and more people get the vaccine, employers are asking whether or not the vaccine can or should be required to return to in-person work in the office. With the desire for life to return to normal, some employers think of the vaccine as a way to make employees feel safe as they return back to the office, however, this may bring up greater HR issues that employers may not yet have considered. 

New California HR Law Updates

New California HR Law Updates

Cal Saver Program

Cal Savers is a state run retirement savings program. Private sector employers in California with five or more employees must participate in CalSavers if they do not already have a workplace retirement plan in place.  Employees working for eligible employers will be automatically enrolled in the Cal Savers plan, but can opt out of it. 

Employers must register with the Cal Savers program by these deadlines:

  • More than 100 employees – September 30, 2020
  • More than 50 employees – June 30, 2021
  • More than 5 employees – June 30, 2022

 Once enrolled, an eligible employer’s responsibilities related to CalSavers are limited to:

  • Registering as a covered employer or certifying as to its exempt status
  • Remitting participating employee contributions
  • Updating its account by adding new employees who are eligible for enrollment and removing former employees who are no longer employed

If you are considering setting up a retirement plan for your employees and would like a referral, please reach out to our Culture Works team. 

New California Law Expands Employees Eligibility for Family and Medical Leave

Effective January 1, 2021 employers with five or more employees will be required to offer family and medical leave as a result of a new law which expands the existing California Family Rights Act (CFRA).

Currently, the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) covers employers with 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, but job protected, leave during each 12-month period for purposes of family and medical leave.  Eligible employees are able to take unpaid leave for numerous purposes, including to care for a “family member” (minor child) with a serious health condition. 

This new law effective January 1, 2021 expands the current CFRA to now apply to employers with five or more employees and eliminates the requirement that employees work within 75 miles of the worksite. There have also been modifications to the definition of “family member”, which is expanded to include siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, and domestic partners. Additionally, the definition of “child” is expanded to cover all adult children (regardless of whether they are dependent) and children of a domestic partner.

California Passes COVID-19 Presumption of Workers’ Compensation Liability 

This new legislation, SB 1159, affects employers in California. The legislation shifts the burden of proof to presume that covered employees who contracted COVID-19 did so at work, unless the employer can disprove it.  This presumption goes into effect immediately, and is retroactive to cases on or after July 6, 2020 through January 1, 2023. 

What is the immediate action employers have to take?

Covered employers who have had employees with positive COVID-19 tests must go back and report to their Workers Compensation (WC) claims administrator any positive results dating back to July 6. This must be done no later than October 17, 2020. 

Who does the presumption apply to?

  1. Worker’s who work for an employer with five or more employees, and
  2. Workers who test positive for COVID-19 test positive during an outbreak at the employee’s specific place of employment

What is considered an “outbreak”?

An “outbreak” exists if within 14 days one of the following occurs at a specific place of employment:

  1. Four employees test positive if the employer has 100 employees or fewer;
  2. Four percent (4%) of the number of employees who reported to the specific place of employment test positive if the employer has more than 100 employees; or
  3. A specific place of employment is ordered to close by a local public health department, the State Department of Public Health, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or a school superintendent due to a risk of infection of COVID-19. 

 What does an Employer have to do?

If an employer “knows or reasonably should know” that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, it shall report the following information to its workers’ compensation claims administrator within three business days:

  • Notification that an employee has tested positive.
  • The date that the employee tests positive (the date the specimen was collected for testing).
  • The specific address or addresses of the employee’s place of employment during the 14-day period preceding the positive test.
  • The highest number of employees who reported to work in the 45-day period preceding the last day the employee worked at the place of employment.
  • Reminder: if you have employees who tested positive dating back to July 6, you have until October 17, 2020 to report to your WC claims administrator.

Understanding New COVID-19 Related Requirements

Understanding New COVID-19 Related Requirements

The regulations for employers regarding COVID-19 are constantly changing. Because of this, we wanted to give you a one-stop-shop to all your COVID-19 regulation related questions. Below we highlight the various changes, as well as other resources that expand on the new regulations. Please reach out to the Culture Works team with any questions or concerns, we are happy to help you navigate the various requirements!

New California Covid-19 Related Requirements Effective Immediately

This month brought updated Covid-19 related requirements for businesses in California, including Cal OSHA Regulations, the various California Regional Stay at Home Orders, and updated County Health Orders including San Diego County. 

 Regional Stay at Home Order

The Regional Stay at Home Order went into effect on December 3, 2020.  The Orders place limitations on which businesses can remain open, and under what conditions. For detailed information on the order, including which businesses can be open, visit the About COVID-19 Restrictions webpage published by the State of California. 

Cal/OSHA Emergency Regulations to Protect Workers from COVID-19

This emergency standard went into effect on the evening of November 30, 2020, and applies to most workers in California, with the following exceptions: workplaces where there is only one employee who does not have contact with other people; employees who are working from home; and employees who are covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases regulation.

The new regulations require that employers implement a site-specific written COVID-19 Prevention Program (CPP) to address COVID-19 health hazards, correct unsafe or unhealthy conditions, and provide face coverings. When there are multiple COVID-19 infections or outbreaks at the worksite, employers must provide COVID-19 testing and notify public health departments. The regulations also require accurate recordkeeping and reporting of COVID-19 cases.  The following resources are available to employers: 

California Reopening Requirements

If your company is open for business or getting ready to reopen, make sure to become familiar with the following requirements. 

California Family Rights Act Expanded to Apply to Small Businesses

Currently, California businesses with 50 or more employees must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave to eligible workers under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). 

Effective January 1, 2021 employers with five or more employees will be required to offer  CFRA to qualifying employees. Eligible employees can take CFRA leave for multiple reasons, including but not limited to their own serious health condition; caring for a family member with a serious health condition, including grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings, in addition to parents, children, spouses, and registered domestic partners; and for the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child (baby bonding).

All eligible employers will need to ensure that their employment policies, including leave of absence policies and employee handbooks, are updated with the new CFRA eligibility and requirements.

New Notice and Reporting Obligations for COVID-19 Workplace Exposures

Effective January 1, 2020 and through January 1, 2023 under California Assembly Bill 685, when an employer receives notice of “potential exposure to COVID-19,” the employer must provide a written notice within one business day to:

  • All employees, and the employers of subcontracted employees, who were on the premises at the same worksite as the person who was infectious with COVID-19 or who was subject to a COVID-19-related quarantine order.

The notice must include information of their potential exposure, the disinfection and safety plan that the employer plans to carry out in accordance with CDC guidelines, and provide the employees (and their union, if any) information regarding the COVID-19-related benefits to which they may be entitled under applicable laws.

What triggers the notice requirement?

  • Notification from a public health official that an employee was exposed to a “qualifying individual,”
  • An employee (or their emergency contact) that they are a “qualifying individual,”
  • The result of the test required by the employer showing that the employee is a “qualifying individual,” or
  • A subcontractor that one of its employees is a “qualifying individual” and was at the employer’s worksite

Who is a “qualifying individual”?

  • Someone who has a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19,
  • One who has a positive COVID-19 diagnosis from a licensed health care provider,
  • Someone who has been ordered to isolate by a public health official due to COVID-19, or
  • One who has died due to COVID-19.

Detailed requirements, including what is considered an outbreak, need to be reported to the Local Health Department & can be accessed on the COVID-19 Infection Prevention Requirements (AB 685) site.

are you re-onboarding your staff?

Are you Re-onboarding your Staff? If so, how?

Many companies have made the decision to begin furloughing and laying off employees in the past five months. As businesses begin the process of returning to a new normal, leaders must consider the approach they are taking to bring those employees back. To maintain a positive company culture and keep your employees loyal to your company, you must go about this carefully. Are you re-onboarding your staff? If so, how?

At Culture Works, we have thought about this process extensively, so here are a few things you should begin considering if you ‘re-onboarding your staff.

Who are you bringing back?

To start, you need to decide who to bring back to the company. Initially, you may not be able to return all of your employees to work. However, there may be some legal implications associated with not returning all employees. Employees who feel their employer’s decision not to return them to work is contingent upon their membership in a protected class can bring about a disparate treatment claim. Employers may also receive disparate treatment claims if their decision-making process has a negative impact on protected class employees.

Are you re-onboarding your staff when you reopen_ (1)

So, it is extremely important that you take care as you begin to craft your plan to bring employees back. You may want to put an explanation of the business conditions, the number of employees, their skill sets, and selection criteria you use to determine who you are bringing back. Once you’ve decided who to bring back to work, run a statistical analysis to ensure members of protected groups have the same opportunity.

Do you have a return to work notice?

You may want to consider preparing a notice to send out to any employee who has been laid off or furloughed. This helps you establish a written record that you sent an offer for that employee to return to work. In this notice, you should include the date you expect them to return and return to work instructions. As well as any notifications regarding changes to wages, hours, or deductions from pay. You may also want to include the ways you are making the physical workspace safe for employees to return.

What are your safety protocols?

Businesses have had to rethink their physical workspace to accommodate health guidelines. You should consider social distancing guidelines, employee training, disinfection protocols, providing PPE. While also informing employees of the implementation of screening protocols for both employees and visitors. You should also give clarity on how to handle those who get sick, get symptoms, or are exposed to COVID-19. You must communicate these new safety protocols with your employees to ensure they understand how you are working to keep them safe, and how they can assist in this process.

Are there additional policies needed?

Consider how you may want to alter leave and attendance policies, as employees may need to stay home with their families. You may want to consider extending your work from home policies for those employees who are high risk, or need to care for their families. Lastly, you may want to alter policies surrounding travel, work meetings, and visitor screening. For more information, check out our article ‘Have you updated your Employee Practices Handbook?’ 

Do you need to re-run your background checks? 

Certain industries might be required to re-run background checks when they return their employees from a furlough or layoff. If you are one of these industries, be sure to ask your employees for their consent to perform an additional background check, even if you have their consent from their initial hiring.

Are you reinstating vacation, PTO, and sick leave benefits?

You need to decide whether or not a rehired employee receives the accrued vacation and PTO from before their furlough or layoff. As far as sick leave is concerned, there are state and local rules for you to follow. Some states have mandatory sick leave laws that require rehired employees to receive their accrued sick days if it has been less than 9 months. Consider adjusting your sick leave policies to encourage those who are sick to remain home. 

As you continue to navigate this uncertain time, we understand there may be a lot on your plate. At Culture Works, we want to help! Our team helps to operationalize your culture to ensure you have engaged employees who create success for your business. Want more information? Contact us today!

employee practices handbook

Remember your Employee Practices Handbook? Have you look at it since the start of COVID? Be honest… 

We understand that there has been quite a lot going on over the last few months. There’s a lot to think about, are customers going to come back to your business? What about employees? Where can you cut costs to stay profitable? We get it, rethinking your employee practices handbook may not be your first priority… but it should be.

Your physical workspace will not look the same, as you invite employees to come back to work. Consider this, your employees are likely confused and concerned about returning to physical workspaces, and they need guidance to feel safe and cared about within your organization. 

As you begin to consider bringing employees back into your physical office, you will need to make a few changes to your employee practices handbook. 

Here are a few things you should be updating…

Have You updated your employee Practices handbook since the start of COvid_ (1)

Attendance Policy

Consider updating your attendance policies. You should update remote work guidelines, which include guidance based on how employees should communicate with their team, track hours, and protect the company’s information. Capacity limits also might need to be updated–who will work from home? How many people can be in the office at one time? Lastly, consider refining your travel policy to limit the amount your employees must travel for work, and how employees should travel if it cannot be avoided.

Company Culture and Values

Next, you should consider the Company Culture and Values portion of your Employee Practices Handbook. Use this area of your handbook to remind your employees that their health and safety is your top priority. Communicate the steps you are taking to keep them safe, and outline the new processes and procedures in place to ensure their safety. Further outline and detail these procedures in the ‘Workplace Safety’ section of your handbook. 

Workplace Safety

The Workplace Safety portion of your handbook should be updated with everything you are putting in place to ensure your employee’s safety. Outline the ways you are implementing social distancing, how to handle in-person meetings, your limitations on communal space, facility updates, customer capacity limits, hygiene recommendations, your COVID-19 testing policy, and what to do when an employee gets sick on the job. 

Leave Policy

Aside from the physical ways you are protecting your employees, you should also update how your leave policies are updated to keep employees safe. There have been multiple federal emergency legislation to update laws and regulations surrounding employee leave. Update your policies within the workplace to ensure employees who do not feel safe returning to the workplace can find other ways to work away from the office.

Equal Opportunity Employment and Conduct-Behavior Sections

Lastly, consider updating your Equal Opportunity Employment and Conduct-Behavior sections. Your Equal Opportunity Employment Policy should include a statement providing reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals in accordance with ADA guidelines. You may want to update this statement to include policies for employees who may be part of vulnerable populations in relation to COVID-19. Your Conduct and Behavior section should be updated to include prohibiting the harassments or discrimination of employees who have been sick or are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. 

So, have you updated your Employee Practices Handbook since the start of COVID? If not, now’s the time.

We know there’s a lot to do as you continue to move forward with your business during this uncertain time. We want to help. Our experts in culture operations can help your HR department optimize company culture throughout your organization to create engaged and successful employees. Contact us today to see how we can collaborate with your company to create a brighter future!

Do I have to wear a mask all day?

Navigating mask mandates, employee concerns, and reopening protocols can be intimidating for any business owner. People have different views when it comes to how reopening should be implemented, so trying to please everyone is an uphill battle. The most important thing to keep in mind is the health and safety of your people. Addressing issues with compassion and empathy is the best way to handle concerns regarding new guidelines. 

Change can be challenging, over the last few months, we have all experienced enough change to last 10 years! So, as you begin to welcome your employees back into the office, consider where their mental health might be with the fear surrounding the virus. How can you ease their anxiety and help them through this challenging time?

Start your reopening process by asking yourself a few questions…

Who is required to wear masks? When should they be worn? Is an employee allowed to remove their mask when they are in their office, at their desk, or in a cubicle? Can employees remove their masks to speak on the phone? Be sure to make the guidelines clear so everyone understands how their contribution will slow the spread.

Will your business provide masks to all employees? Some state and local governments are requiring employers to provide masks. Even if it is not required, it is still encouraged to offer masks to those employees who may not have one or may forget their mask at home. When you provide masks, you are not only ensuring everyone has access to PPE, but you are also ensuring your message is consistent. You want to ensure the safety of your employees, and providing PPE protection aligns with that.

Do i have to wear a mask all day?

Furthermore, something to consider, are you requiring all visitors, whether they are a client, customer, or other members of the public to wear a mask when on company property? This might further support your greater message of keeping your company safe. 

Be sure to train your employees on the proper ways to wear a mask. The CDC guidelines require people to wash their hands prior to putting their mask on, place the covering over the nose and mouth and secure it under the chin.  In order to effectively limit the spread of germs, you must ensure your employees know how to wear their protection. Remember, if you require your employees to wear face masks, you must train them on how to use them.

What about those who resist wearing a mask? First, consider why they are resisting the use of a face mask. Do they have health issues that may make wearing a mask unsafe? Do they have asthma, or a trauma-related reason? Think creatively on how to support that employee through these new guidelines. Try offering a protective device that is not a mask, like a face shield. You could also give them the option to work isolated from others, or opt for an extended period of leave. 

The most important thing to consider when reopening your business is the health and safety of your employees. As we all continue to navigate these new guidelines, work to think creatively about solutions, and come at every potential issue with compassion and empathy in mind.