California Regulatory Updates for 2018 – Don’t get caught unaware!!

Governor Brown recently signed into law six new statutory obligations that take effect on January 1, 2018. Several new regulations require action in updating your job application, new hire materials, leave of absence policies and your Employee Handbook. Contact us – BlueFire HR is here to help you check this off your Holiday To-Do List today!

Ban on Salary Inquiries

Employers can no longer ask job applicants about their current or prior earnings. Employers must also provide the pay scale for a position upon an applicant’s request.

Parental Leave for Small Employers  The California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”)  provides 12 weeks of child bonding parental leave to employees at companies with 50 or more employees. However, California Senate Bill 63 (, the “New Parent Leave Act,” extends CFRA rights to employees at small businesses working at locations with at least 20 employees within a 75 mile radius within the first year following a child’s birth, adoption or placement into foster care.

“Ban The Box”-Conviction History of Applicants

Employers with at least five employees won’t be allowed to consider a job applicant’s criminal history until a conditional employment offer is made. If an employer denies employment based on an applicant’s criminal history, the employer must follow certain steps before making a final decision.

Harassment Training on Gender Identity, Expression & Sexual Orientation

This regulation requires gender identity and sexual orientation harassment training. Sexual harassment training is already required for employers with 50 or more employees. That must soon include training on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation harassment. Employers will also need to post a transgender rights notice in the workplace.

Immigration Worker Protection Act (AB 450)

Employers will be required to demand warrants and subpoenas from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents before any enforcement activities and will need to provide certain notices to employees and their union representatives.

Expansion of the Labor Commissioner’s Authority For Retaliation Claims

The new regulation will provide the California Labor Commissioner greater authority to investigate and assure compliance with anti-retaliation laws.

For assistance on all these matters and to ensure your training and employee handbooks meet standards contact BlueFire HR today at


Aisling Byrne

Senior HR Consultant

BlueFire HR

Harassment Investigations and Training – Are they a priority?

Clearly Workplace Harassment and Bullying is a hot topic right now, but are you doing everything you can to aid your employees to creating a respectful workplace? Do you have investigation protocol or simply a third party investigator to call to assist you? Do your employees know who to turn to when they are put in an uncomfortable situation? Do they trust leadership or HR?

BlueFire HR can help from investigations, trainings, and/or employee engagement assessments. We want to make sure you are doing everything you can to create a respectful workplace.

For more information, please contact us at hr@bluefirehr.com773-793-1362 or at 888-892-9597.

Stay Ahead of the Curve: 8 Questions to Ask Employees to Keep Them Engaged

Soliciting feedback from your workforce will keep you in touch with the feelings and perceptions that affect the people who keep your business on track. Just by asking the right feedback questions you’ll be ahead of the curve and able to spot challenges and opportunities for your business more quickly. You’ll also have the foresight needed to adeptly address them.

The quality of your questions is just as important as asking for feedback in the first place. To assist you, we have compiled the best ten employee feedback questions for keeping businesses on track to tackle present and future challenges:

  1. What are your top three goals for the week ahead?

Goals provide a purpose to our daily tasks. This straight-forward question opens the floor to finding out if supervisors and managers are effectively communicating team priorities and organizational purpose. It also provides an opportunity to get employees back on track if an unexpected answer is received, or discover a problem you may have been unaware of.

  1. How do you impact the people around you?

This question invites people to strengthen their self-awareness. By being aware of their impact on colleagues and the reactions they elicit from co-workers they will be more able to improve their behavior. Change begins with awareness.

  1. Which work-related issue keeps you up at night?

This can be a difficult question to ask and answer, but it will help you keep in touch with your employee’s feelings of job security and working relationships. If employees are worried to the extent of losing sleep over feelings of job insecurity, poor working relationships, or difficult processes, you need to know about it so that these can be resolved. Sometimes, the health of your business and employees rests on the solution.

  1. How can we make your meetings more productive?

Efficiency of time and actions, or a lack of, impacts your bottom line. Meetings can be a drain on employee productivity and drive. Meetings without structure, too many agenda items, or little relevance for attendees served to diminish motivation rather than build engagement. Asking how to make meetings more efficient will help you unlock better employee engagement and performance.

  1. Are you valued for your efforts? How?

Only 21% of employees feel strongly valued at work. To perform at our best we need to feel recognized and valued for the job we do. By asking this question about employee recognition, staff members are able to share their wins and let you know the ways of being recognized that matter to them most. While a shout-out at a team meeting may work for one employee, another may prefer a personal email from their supervisor.

  1. How can we support your personal goals?

Not all of our goals are work-related. Offering support for employee’s goals outside of the office shows that you are aware there is more to their life than working for your company, and that you care about them. They will in turn repay you with additional effort at work and increased loyalty.

  1. Do you believe you can reach your full potential here? Why?

We all desire to grow and develop our skills to reach our full potential. This question helps you to explore how your workforce feels about their opportunities for career progression and personal development. It will also help you to spot areas for expansion that employees may wish to move into.

   8. On a scale of 1 – 5, where are your personal energy levels and what would it take to push them up a notch?

Healthy and energetic people get more done in less time. Plus, they are happier and nicer to be around. Asking this increases awareness of energy levels, how they impact work, and what needs to be done to increase them.

With all of these questions, it is wise to follow up in a couple of weeks to let your teams know that they weren’t asked or answered in vain. While not every suggestion and comment needs to be acted upon, it is important to show that each answer is valued. Questions help you stay ahead of the leadership curve. They keep morale high and allow you to provide the necessary support to keep everyone motivated and engaged.
Rae Steinbach, freelance editor at 15Five , is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course.

Effective Onboarding – Focus on the Experience

What makes for effective employee onboarding? Onboarding is a prime opportunity for employers to win over new employees yet many employers overwhelm new hires with a bundle of forms and policies to sign instead of using this time to create a strong bond. It’s about the experience not the paperwork!

Effective onboarding practices are critical to setting up new employees for success and are an extension of the recruitment and selection process. Most companies spend significant resources on recruiting that perfect candidate and minimal time on how to convert that perfect candidate into a successful and engaged employee.

Onboarding is the bridge between finding exceptional talent and keeping it. Designing an onboarding process or program that drives retention and performance is the first step in a journey that can take weeks and sometimes even months. Focus on the experience.

A successful onboarding program consists of several steps:

Pre- Arrival – ensuring the new hire has all the basics to get started – computer, phone, office supplies or a welcome gift such as a company t-shirt or branded products.

First Two Weeks – get the new hire acclimated to the organization, explain the main responsibilities, the performance expectations and how their role fits in within the company. Coordinate a lunch with other team members so the new hire can see how their career goals fit in with the company’s vision.

First 45 Days – training; ensure your new hire is empowered with the training and tools they need to be successful. While it’s important to get your new hire ramped up quickly, it can be a lot to take in so make sure it’s in easy to manage chunks. Assigning a mentor can make it easier!

First 6 Months to 1 Year– focus on culture and connection; goal-setting; invest in career development. Recognition and rewards show employees that their work is valued; employee recognition is one of the biggest factors in motivating and retaining people.

BlueFire HR can develop custom Onboarding programs designed to meet your business needs. Reach out today and see how we can help!