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Shaw Industries named to Training magazine’s Top 125 list for 13th consecutive year

shaw_corporate_logo_2015_highresDalton–As a result of the company’s stellar training and workforce development programs, Shaw Industries Group, Inc. (Shaw) has been recognized by Training magazine as a “Training Top 125” company for 2017. This recognition marks Shaw’s 13th consecutive year on the list.

“We are extremely proud of our strong heritage of offering education and training to help associates and customers unleash greatness and reach their full potential,” stated Danny Crutchfield, Shaw’s director of corporate training and organizational development. “We’re committed to continued innovation in the topics we address as well as how we offer our ongoing learning opportunities to meet the needs of today’s workforce. It’s a critical component of how Shaw is able to attract and retain the best talent and how we continue to propel our company forward in a rapidly changing industry.”

The Shaw talent model defines the leadership behaviors required to achieve the desired business results and to drive Shaw’s training and development priorities. The Shaw Learning Academy’s leadership team and staff are focused on helping others align their skills and interests with business needs for greater personal and professional accomplishment as defined by the talent model.

Training Top 125 ranks companies’ excellence and commitment to employer-sponsored training and development programs. The Top 125 ranking is determined by assessing a range of qualitative and quantitative factors, including financial investment in employee development, the scope of development programs, and how closely development efforts are linked to business goals and objectives.

Consistently recognized for its high-quality education and training efforts, Shaw has garnered a range of recognitions in addition to Training 125, including:

  • Being named to the Forbes’ list of America’s Best Employers 2016 for the second year since the distinction’s inception in 2015.
  • Ranking No. 11 in the most recent Elearning! magazine’s Learning! 100 list. Honored for the sixth consecutive year, Shaw was among top private sector companies cited for high performance, organizational culture, innovation and collaboration.
  • Rated among the Best Places to Work for New Graduates by Symplicity in 2016.

Shaw’s education and training efforts extend beyond its more than 20,000 associates to customers, the community, and the future workforce.

Additionally, Shaw recognizes that its retailers’ success are inextricably linked. The company has designed comprehensive and customized educational programs offer to help retailers meet their business objectives. More than 15,000 customers engage with the Shaw Learning Academy each year through regional training, online sessions, markets, the Shaw Flooring Network Convention, and other offerings.

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Best practices put retailers in position to win

January 2/9, 2017: Volume 31, Number 15

By Carena Tachtchouk

There are many components that go into a successful retail floor covering business. First and foremost, you need the right combination of in-demand products and a skilled workforce to sell, install and service those products. However, there are countless other aspects that go into maintaining a successful retail operation.

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 11.09.17 AMFor owners like Barbara Clements of Al’s Carpet, Flooring & Design Service, Machesney Park, Ill., the key to consistency lies in making the shopping experience as seamless and smooth as possible, from the product selection process all the way through to measuring and installation. One way she achieves this is through technology. “We want to bring the shopping experience to their homes,” she explained.

A strong focus on customer service is also paying dividends for retailers like Ryan Fairchild, owner of House of Floors, Albuquerque, N.M. “Our customer service is what differentiates us from the big box stores,” he said. “We like to handle everything personally, including going to the customers’ homes and doing the estimates and measuring ourselves. We provide a certain level of expertise that sets us above the rest.”

The same principle applies to Jason Fromm, owner of Carpet Spectrum, Lomita, Calif. The company recently began providing a shop-at-home service, which has produced positive results. “Many of our customers are on tight time constraints and we wanted to provide a convenient in-home service for them.”

Achieving success on a regular basis hinges on effective training, many retailers say. Paul Johnson, owner of Carpet One Floor & Home, Tulsa, Okla., is a case in point. “I often hear retailers bemoaning the fact they have to spend so much time on training their employees. ‘What happens if I train them and then they leave?’ they say. I tell them, ‘What happens if I don’t train them and they stay?’ The importance of having a well-trained staff cannot be overstated.”

Building a connection
Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 11.08.17 AMFor other dealers, the emphasis is on connecting with customers online. “We’ve been focusing a lot on using social media to our advantage,” said Nancy Haley, CEO, Haley’s Flooring & Interiors, Huntsville, Ala. “We’re very consumer concerned, especially with the millennial who are connecting with us on social media. The feedback we have received on our Facebook page and blog is going to be applied to our retail market and will hopefully lead to new clients and overall success when working with these new clients.”

That’s not the only ingredient in Haley’s recipe for success. She also places a heavy emphasis on training and teamwork. “We are a family here and emphasize teamwork heavily at our meetings. This approach encourages our salespeople to address and recognize the needs of the customer.”

In that same vein, other successful dealers strive to raise the bar in terms of conduct and how they engage the consumer. Pam Kulick, owner of JK Carpets, Locust Grove, Pa., has this advice: “Build your business on integrity, honesty and superior customer service. Always be sure to follow through on promises. And learn how to say no to those problematic jobs that you’re not comfortable with.”

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Investigation: The perils of misclassifying employees as ICs

January 2/9, 2017: Volume 31, Number 15
By Ken Ryan

employee-vs-independent-contractorIn August 2016, an Overland Park, Kan., flooring retailer was found guilty of misclassifying its installers as independent contractors (ICS) and was forced to pay 22 workers a total of $159,144—$79,572 in back wages plus an equal amount in liquidated damages—following a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division investigation.

The division ruled Uni Floor violated overtime and recordkeeping requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) when it failed to pay installers overtime after treating them as ICs instead of employees. The DOL determined the flooring installers met the definition of employees, triggering overtime protections under the FLSA. Uni Floor violated the FLSA’s recordkeeping requirements when it failed to maintain time records for these employees. In this case, Uni Floor provided the equipment used by the workers, controlled their day-to-day schedules and paid them flat salaries. The employer also bid for all work and supervised jobsites daily.

Uni Floor is a recent example of a flooring dealer that ran afoul of the DOL’s crackdown on misclassification of subcontractors. The agency’s directive is not a new law, rather a new interpretation of an existing statute.

The cost of non-compliance can be staggering. Fines levied by the Department of Labor, IRS and state agencies for worker misclassification can exceed millions depending on the severity of the infractions. The threat of class-action lawsuits should also serve as a further deterrent for companies straddling the boundaries of improper classification, experts say.

According to the ADP Research Institute, more than one-third of midsize businesses have been fined or penalized for not complying with laws pertaining to how they manage their workforces.

Jeff King, counsel for the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) and an expert on this issue, said some flooring dealers will have to make adjustments, either by bringing installers in house as employees or outsourcing its installation services to a third party. “It would be extremely dangerous to have in-house and outside installers under this new interpretation,” King said. “The IC issue can be costly, it is spreading rapidly and it is not going away.”

However, scores of independent flooring dealers routinely use both subs and employee installers. Robert Varden, vice president of the CFI division of the WFCA, noted that if a government agency (DOL, IRS, etc.) showed up at the workplace of a typical flooring dealer, it would likely find some red flags.

In recent years he has started “smelling fear” in independent retailers. “I never fail to run into a dealer who wants to know what it is going to cost. You can just see the fear in their faces. I see it at the [buying group] events. They say, ‘We don’t know what to do.’ A lot of them don’t have the option [to hire installers].”

Dealers prefer to use subs because contractors aren’t eligible for overtime pay, unemployment insurance or workers’ compensation, and they pay all Social Security taxes compared with employees, who split that cost with employers. In addition, many subs want to remain independent and are not interested in becoming a full-time employee for a dealer.

ic-employeeAccording to King, the DOL suspects there are those businesses in the construction trade—and many other industries—that are cheating the system. “Far too often, employers misclassify workers as independent contractors when the law defines them as employees,” said Brad Bobowski, acting district director for the Wage and Hour Division in Kansas City, who investigated the Uni Floor case. “We are committed to rooting out misclassification and, as this case shows, will take enforcement actions needed to achieve that goal.”

Varden believes over the next 10 years there will be more installation companies emerging to replace “the guy and his brother and a van” that still exists today. Acknowledging that the flooring industry is often slow to change, he noted, “If I was a betting man I see the retail industry not necessarily converting to employees but I do see growth in large subcontractor [businesses].”

In recent years Home Depot has made the switch from employee installers (it has about a dozen left, Varden estimates) to outsourcing most of its installation work to Romanoff Renovations, one of the nation’s highest-volume flooring installation companies, with 48 U.S. locations.

Varden, who believes it would take more Uni Floor type stories to spur dealers to act, said there is plenty of blame to go around. “Very seldom does the retailer truly appreciate his labor force, whether they are subs or not. In many cases the retail owner doesn’t even know their names. We are a prideful bunch.” Varden added that the majority of crews are not happy, either. “They think the retail owners are making money off their backs.”

As for subcontractors, Varden said many of them do not understand business principles. “Most subs don’t truly know how much money they are making. You have to educate them on what they are really taking home—it’s business 101.” Most subs prefer a 1099 but don’t put money aside to pay the taxes.

The misclassification issue does not belong to the constructions/flooring trade. Among the corporations that have settled lawsuits over misclassifying its independent contractors are Lowe’s, Google, FedEx and Uber.

The Lowe’s complaint, originally filed in state court by home improvement contractors, alleged that Lowe’s controlled all aspects of installation jobs by, among other things, requiring that installers: identify themselves as “installers for Lowe’s” or say, “I work for Lowe’s,” or wear Lowe’s hats and shirts at work sites.

One of the more common misconceptions held by today’s businesses is that working with an LLC removes the risk associated with misclassification. In the case of Lowe’s, the original complaint filed did include installation contractors that operated in the form of a business entity.

In view of all that has happened—and more importantly, what could happen—retailers should be concerned. “The desire to reclassify subcontractor installers as employees should be the biggest concern to every flooring retailer,” said Casey Dillabaugh, owner of Dillabaugh’s Flooring America. “Overtime proposals, minimum wage hikes and affordable health care, to name a few, all get compounded if we’re forced to add subcontractors and their helpers as employees. The impact this has on any small or medium-sized business is enough to put even the most astute floor covering retailer out of business entirely.”

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Dear David: Weeding out the rotten apples in the workplace

October 10/17, 2016: Volume 31, Number 9

By David Romano

Dear David:

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 3.53.12 PMThe very first week I hired my “rotten apple” I knew it wasn’t going to work out. I was so enamored with what she could do for me that I lost sight of what she could do to me. After nearly 13 months of declining performance and increased negativity, I finally decided to let her go. On her way out she told the other employees the company was going down and to look for a new job because I had no money to pay them. Of course, all of this was a lie. How do I protect myself from this disaster occurring again in the future?

Dear Frustrated Owner,

Every workplace has negative people who erode morale. They’re not always easy to pick out of a crowd, but they can do tremendous damage over time. Most of the time these folks don’t make the big mistakes that call attention to themselves. They’re frequently pretty good at their jobs, so they’re not called on the carpet too often. But like a computer virus, their acidic personalities eat away at the goals—and ultimately the bottom line—of the company.

So who are these people? They’re generally the employees who:

  • Continually find things to complain about.
  • Back stab, spread gossip and start rumors that pit employees against each other and even the boss.
  • Undermine your authority with a barrage of criticism.

Allowing employees with bad attitudes to continue their behavior without consequence can have multiple effects. Co-workers who experience the employee’s bad attitude firsthand may suffer low morale or a negative attitude. There’s also the risk of lowered productivity among employees, which affects the bottom line. Even worse, customers can be offended when exposed to an employee with a bad attitude.

As the owner of a small business, it’s critical that you take a proactive approach and find out how to stop the employee from wreaking havoc on your organization, employees and customers.

Step 1. Observe and document instances of each employee’s bad attitude so you can refer to it later. Don’t wait too long; do it immediately. Speak to the employee in private. Tell her you have noticed her negative attitude and provide examples if necessary.

Step 2. Ask the employee to explain her reasons for the bad attitude and listen carefully for the reasons. If she’s upset over a situation at work, try to help her solve it. If she can’t tell you why her attitude is negative, explain that her behavior is unacceptable and that you expect her to change it. Advise her of the consequences—verbal warning, written warning, suspension or separation—if she continues to exhibit a bad attitude.

Step 3. Ask an employee who refuses to acknowledge that her attitude is a problem to participate in a role play with you. Tell her to act as the supervisor while you pretend to be her. Use material from your notes to illustrate her negative attitude. This may help her realize the impact of her behavior upon others.

Step 4. Implement disciplinary action or provide support to the employee as needed. Praise her if she’s able to successfully change her attitude; if not, then make a move quickly to turn her loose if you couldn’t turn her around.

Every owner needs an effective strategy to deal with bad employee attitudes. The stakes are too high to just let things slide.