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January 26, 2015

Save Time, Save Money – Improve Meetings

Filed under: General HR Buzz6:30 am

office meeting

by Gene Mandarino, Manager, HR Consulting

Times are tight – and so is time. But if everyone could improve meetings, we’d all be able to save time, money and aggravation.

We all live our lives attending meetings: staff meetings, management meetings, board meetings, project meetings, etc. Then we go home, gobble our dinner and run to a PTA meeting, school meeting, scout meeting or church meeting.

When was the last time someone told you they were actually looking forward to attending one of these meetings? Probably never, right? Well it’s no wonder, most people running these meetings haven’t been trained on how to conduct a good meeting. And if they have been trained, they often forget. This leads to meetings that are inefficient, too long and boring – wasting time and money.

Here are some helpful reminders when preparing for and running your next meeting:

  • Identify meeting objectives (what you want to accomplish) before the meeting.
  • Plan your agenda. A good agenda outlines the steps you will take to accomplish the objectives.
  • Communicate meeting objectives and agenda to participants in advance of the meeting.
  • Ask participants to prepare in advance by reading reports, minutes, etc. before the meeting.
  • Start the meeting on time, stay on time and stop on time.
  • Encourage open communication. Ask what people think and really listen to what they say.
  • Respect participants’ time and ideas. 
  • Summarize action steps at the close of the meeting.
  • Ask participants how the meeting could be improved for next time.
  • Act on the actions after the meeting.

I know these may be painfully obvious to some of you, but so is eating right and exercising. We know we are supposed to do it, but we often forget. So, the next time you plan a meeting, think about these tips.

 

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January 19, 2015

Pay Equity Roadblocks

Filed under: General HR Buzz2:18 pm

pay and compensation equity

 

by Megan Mohr, CCP | Compensation Consultant

Does your organization have an unusually high turnover rate? Or maybe it’s getting one too many employee complaints when it comes to salaries and raises? You might be facing pay equity roadblocks.

As many compensation experts know, the risk of pay inequity has never been this high. Pay equity not only promotes good pay practices, it can help your organization address the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ (OFCCP) concern with systematic risk. The agency is on the lookout for instances of supposed broad discrimination by race, ethnicity and gender.

The OFCCP now mandates that companies submit an annual “Equal Pay Report” to show compensation data by race, ethnicity and gender. This quest for additional company reporting is not just happening locally but on a global level as well. Recent research from Mercer and the World Economic Forum uncovered that women are underutilized in the workplace. Labor force participation for women aged 25 to 54 in the United States was 74.5% in 2012, a full 14.2% lower than men in the same age group. Employer risk liability with equitable pay was also increased when President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 into law.

Does Your Company Have Pay Inequity?

If your organization is unsure if it’s facing pay inequity, look for these indicators:

  • Negative feedback from employees on salaries and promotions
  • Discrepancies among demographics like race or gender
  • Your company lacks a formal system for evaluating and setting salaries or forecasting promotional ranges

Moving Forward

The key to moving forward on pay equity is to remember that your approach to it is as important as the actual compensation plan it implements. Pay inequity can affect both your staff’s behavior and performance and your organization’s ability to attract and keep quality employees. These are two potential roadblocks in its road to success. Be sure your pay is equal, internally and externally, and those roadblocks will soon disappear.

 

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January 12, 2015

The New FLSA Rule is Coming. Are you Ready?

Filed under: FLSA,General HR Buzz,Salaries & Pay3:22 am

125186377

By Joyce Marsh, SPHR, Senior HR Consultant

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) proposed rule should hit somewhere in the first quarter of 2015. This release is somewhat later than the original forecast of November 2014 for the final rule.

The final rule shouldn’t differ too much from the proposed one, so now is the time to start looking at classifications. While no one knows for sure what the changes will be to the white-collar exemptions, here are some educated guesses from some employment law experts:

  • An increase in the minimum salary threshold
    There’s speculation that the current threshold of $455 per week/$23,660 per year could more than double to $970 per week/$50,440 per year.
  • Exempt duty standards will change
    Following California’s current requirements, standards could change to employees needing to engage in exempt duties at least 50 percent of the time.
  • Executive exemption standards will change
    In an effort by the DOL to change or eliminate the primary duty standard, executive exemption could be lessened.

As we said, these are just highly educated guesses. So whatever happens with the FLSA proposed rule, the main lesson here is to be prepared.

 

 

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January 5, 2015

Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions for HR Professionals

Filed under: General HR Buzz,HR Consulting2:26 pm

2015

by Emily Sternberg, HR Consultant

As we look at the calendar and realize that another year has started, we may have made a New Year’s resolution or two, maybe to lose those extra few pounds or to try to get more organized.    Professionally, it’s time to turn over a new leaf as well. Companies are starting to execute new strategic plans and employees are excited to see what the New Year will bring.  With this, let’s review the top 5 New Year’s resolutions for HR professionals:

  1. Create True Succession Plans
    Over the next 5-10 years, businesses nationwide will experience record retirements as the baby boomers begin to retire at greater numbers. Now is the time to prepare your younger staff members to take on these leadership positions. Provide management as well as tactical training and support to these staff members who will be the future leaders of your company. Ask yourself what skills will be required and if your current staff currently possess those skills.
  2. Be Transparent
    This is a buzzword in the HR field, so use 2015 to create more than a buzz around transparency by creating a culture that embraces honest and open communication to staff members. In a world where information is never more than a click away, it will be imperative for business leaders in 2015 to share information in a format that impacts and engages staff members.
  3. Create a Positive Working Environment
    For millennials and the incoming Generation Z, fostering positive relationships at work will be a method for retaining top talent. Studies show less turnover among employees who have a “best friend” at work.
  4. Provide an App for That
    In our technology-driven world, employees strive for convenience in conducting their day-to-day business. We have mobile banking, online tech support, etc.    Employees are looking for convenience in conducting daily transactions such as requests for time off, benefit reviews, changing personal information and receiving pay stubs. Try to make these available via a mobile device.
  5. Be a Storyteller
    In an age of video technology and interactive presentations applications, it’s imperative for HR professionals to consider trading in lengthy PowerPoint presentations and delivering training in a more engaging way to participants. Become a storyteller and create relatable stories that convey a concept to training participants.

If your organization needs help bringing these resolutions to life, HR Performance Solutions can help. Our HR consultants can guide you through a successful New Year. Click here to contact us for more information.

 

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December 29, 2014

Don’t Forget the Basics When Managing Change

Filed under: General HR Buzz6:26 am

solution-sm

by Gene Mandarino, Manager, HR Consulting

Whether you’re implementing new technology, building a sales culture, initiating a new strategy or changing hours, it requires managers who can influence others to change the way they think and act.

Initiating and managing change can be the most challenging, yet rewarding, responsibilities of being a leader.  Leaders understand the rationale for change and have a clear picture of what they want the future to look like. More often than not, however, leaders have a hard time getting buy-in from the troops because they forget the basic principles of change. Somehow, during the stress of change, the basics get lost and leaders can revert to an authoritarian model of change which culminates in cliché phrases like “either get on the bus or get out” or  “you can either embrace the change or embrace a job change.”

If you are leading a change in your organization it may be time to review the basics of leading change and then, more importantly, discuss how to remember the basics when stress sets in.

Present the reasons for the change in terms people understand.  Change does not happen without some discomfort, especially if it is mandated. Leaders must take the time to articulate the rationale for the change and the benefits of complying with the change in a way that followers understand. If a leader cannot communicate the fundamental points, the change will be viewed (and rightly so) as a change for “change sake”, not a valid, new way to do business. Open, clear explanations compel followers to embrace the change rather than just complying with the change.

Invite followers to be a part of creating solutions.  Leaders have the experience, knowledge, and big-picture view to create solutions. However, their solution may not always be the best and often will be resisted if followers feel the solution has been imposed upon them. Leaders must present solutions as possible solutions, not the only solution. They must ask what others think, and then listen and let the right solution evolve. Followers gain a sense of control, and are more likely to support the solution. This collaborative approach may also lead to a better solution.

Implement, reinforce, and celebrate success.  Implement the change, reinforce it, and celebrate your progress. Leaders must:  (1) continue to market the need for change through constant communication; (2) revise the performance management system to be sure it rewards desired behaviors; (3) give people the training they need to successfully implement the change; and (4) take the time to celebrate every success!

Sticking to the basics when stress sets in.  How can you ensure you stick to the basics when the day-to-day stress of running the operation consumes you? Here are some tips:

  • Get organized and delegate day-to-day duties. Leading change takes time and energy to do it correctly. A leader must carve out time to manage the change. If you are planning a change, free yourself to lead the change and be available.
  • Embrace doubters—appropriate efforts to challenge or question change is a healthy. It shows people trust their leaders will listen to their concerns. Rarely is there a negative consequence. Allowing people to vent their concerns helps them overcome their fears about the change and come to support it. Beware of the silence when you implement change. In this case, silence it is not golden.

The message is clear, when managing change; remember the basics, free yourself to manage the change; get someone who is not afraid to tell you when you go off course; and embrace the doubters, sometimes they can be your best supporters.

 

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December 22, 2014

Seeing Both Sides of the Compensation Story

win win sm

by Megan Mohr, CCP

As they say, there’s two sides to every coin – especially when it comes to compensation and pay perception. Employees usually feel underpaid and undervalued while the organization as a whole is trying its best to be fair and equitable. How can these two sides meet in the middle? By improving pay perception.

Improving pay perception may seem like an insurmountable task, but it’s not if your organization focuses on three things: communication, resources and management.

  • Communication
    Instead of sending out various emails or intranet articles about compensation, build a comprehensive plan with consistent and strategic messaging for your staff. Make a connection on how their individual performance affects the overall success of your organization. Plus, use instructive communications that inform staff how to think about the information they read.
  • Resources
    Instead of overloading your employees with compensation information and resources, remember that each employee probably needs different information – and delivered in different ways. Give them a library of information to choose from in different formats such as articles, videos, podcasts, charts, etc.
  • Management
    The majority of pay messages employees receive is through their managers. Take an active part in directing what that information is and how it should be delivered. The Pay Communication Benchmarking Study from the member-based advisory company CEB shows that less than a quarter of employees feel their manager is effective at communicating pay. More telling, only 41% of the managers surveyed say they’re effective at these communications.

The Whole Story

Research from the Kenexa High Performance Institute shows that employees who believe their pay is fair are more engaged, are less likely to quit, are less stressed at work, feel more physically and mentally fit, and are more satisfied with their personal life. CEB’s study also discovered that improving employees’ pay perception translates into a revenue gain of $27 million and $5 million in profit gains for the average Fortune 500 company.

So, obviously it pays to improve pay perceptions in more ways than one. The messaging needed to accomplish this is fairly straightforward. Your staff needs to understand three basic factors to believe they’re being paid fairly:

  • How pay is determined
  • How to maximize pay
  • The correlation between performance and pay

Just keep in mind that even if your organization’s pay is fair and equitable, what really matters is if your staff sees it that way. Focusing on pay perception not only leads to happier employees, it can add to your company’s bottom line. It pays to see both sides of the compensation coin.

If your organization needs a little help with compensation, contact HR Performance Solutions. Compease, our dynamic compensation administration and salary planning program, is a powerful tool. Plus, our HR Consultants are always here to lend a hand. 

 

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December 15, 2014

Front-line Staff Key to Driving Positive Credit Union Member Experience

Filed under: General HR Buzz1:24 pm

frontline credit union staff training

by Chris Steffes, Remote Services Consultant, CU Solutions Group

The experience you offer members – within branch, online, and mobile – can either build loyalty or shatter it. For credit unions, high quality member experiences start with your front-line staff. But according to Gallup’s 2013 study, “State of the American Workplace,” 70% of employees are not engaged at work. So the question is, if employees aren’t engaged at the teller line, call center or the chat room, how can you expect to achieve high member satisfaction?

Successful credit unions understand that when employees feel valued for their knowledge and experience, members benefit. The fastest path to providing a great member experience starts with developing and rewarding your front-line team. Here’s three easy steps to get started:

  • Create. First, enlist your front-line staff to design a member experience program by asking, “How do we want our members to feel when they interact with us?” Encourage your team’s creative side to shape their ideal vision of an extraordinary member experience, from conversations to follow up actions, taking cues from the hospitality industry. Ideas can be as simple as sending an alternative “thank you” to a heavy mobile user after account opening, such as a quick video using your smartphone. Or, promote a quality lending experience by offering a phone charging station at the loan officer’s desk for members to use while discussing loan options. Your plans don’t have to be costly to make a difference, but they should be original. Be ready to try something new and different to please members.
  • Practice. Got an extra 15 minutes before you open the doors? Plan weekly practice sessions for staff to hone their communication skills with one another. Weekly role play of member greetings, rapport-building, listening and showing empathy will reinforce your plan to achieve high quality interactions and grow staff confidence. Also, you can quality control staff performance and provide quick, positive coaching.
  • Reward. Your member experience program is not a one-time event, but requires ongoing coaching and staff development. Reinforce individual success with rewards and opportunities, like representing the credit union at a community event.

Every worker wants to be part of something great. By creating an environment where your team members feel valued and empowered, your staff will project their energy and enthusiasm within their work, and outwardly reflect your credit union’s values, brand, and success to your member community.

If your credit union needs a hand with staff or management training, HR Performance Solutions can help. 

 

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December 8, 2014

The Cost of Free Speech on Social Media

Filed under: General HR Buzz9:55 am

social media free speech

by Joyce Marsh, SPHR

When is social media free speech not free speech? That’s just the question the Supreme Court has been wrangling with this month. Due to a Pennsylvania man’s 2011 conviction from comments he made against his wife, law enforcement and local elementary schools on Facebook, the Court is now debating the question of when a social media comment can be considered a criminal threat.

The reason the case went to our nation’s highest court is to decide what prosecutors must prove so they can win a conviction if someone is charged with making criminal threats on social media. Each side of the debate have plenty of precedents and gray areas they’re presenting, and Facebook is not a party in the case.

What does all of this have to do with your organization? If you don’t have a staff social media policy in place – now is the time to get one. And if you have one, it might be time to refresh your memory on what it covers and see if it needs to be updated given the current social climate. In the meantime, think twice about what you post or tweet, your right to free speech may not be free after all.

 

 

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December 2, 2014

Employee Bullies, Are They Protected Under the ADA?

Filed under: ADA & Disability,General HR Buzz10:56 am

human resources bully free zone

by Emily Sternberg, HR Consultant

Employers and HR Professionals face “difficult” employees all the time.   We know who they are, they are those employees who are considered intimidating, demeaning, or even threatening to co-workers.    The question is, can these employees, with an ADHD diagnosis, be considered disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act?   The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals says no, overturning a jury verdict that awarded a former police officer more than $750,000 in damages, back pay, front pay, and attorney’s fees.   The court stated that although the ADA forbids discrimination against “a qualified individual on the basis of disability”, the evidence presented in the case showed that the plaintiff’s interpersonal problems with co-workers did not amount to a substantial impairment of his ability to interact with others within the meaning of the ADAA.   The court ruled that a cantankerous person who merely has trouble getting along with others is not disabled under the ADA.  The court’s opinion also stated that one who is able to communicate with others, though his communications may at times be offensive, is not substantially limited in his ablity to interact with others within the meaning of the ADA.

The lesson in this case is that all employers must take all requests for disability seriously before making the determination that the employee or candidate is no longer “qualified” to perform the essential functions of the job.   Simply arguing that an employee has no disability may no longer be applicable under the ADAAA interpretation.   As always, be sure to consult with a labor law attorney before taking adverse actions against an employee who has requested accommodation under the ADAAA.

Source:  Weaving v. City of Hillsboro, No 12-35726 (9th Circuit Court of Appeals 8/15/2014)

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November 21, 2014

Top Fourteen Ways to Make a Plaintiff’s Lawyer Happy

Filed under: General HR Buzz1:30 pm

An employment lawyer who typically represents employees against employers recently published this list (on HR Daily Advisor) of the top fourteen things employers do that make it easier for a plaintiff’s lawyer to sue them and win. Here is the list:

1)     the employer gives no reason for termination or relies on at-will employment;
2)     the employee is fired for performance but recently got a good evaluation;
3)     the timing of the termination is bad, (e.g. an internal protected complaint is followed closely in time by termination);
4)     the employer ignored prior notice of a legal issue;
5)     the company had prior complaints about the same issue or person;
6)     the employer did an internal investigation that was superficial;
7)     the employer believed the employee was just trying to get in the retaliation protection bubble, (e.g. “She’s only bringing up her complaint because she just got written up.”);
8)     the employer submits an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge response that is not well written;
9)     the employer does not follow its own policies;
10)  the company issues a gag order once a charge is filed;
11)  the company ignores a pre-lawsuit letter from a lawyer, thus missing a chance to make a lawsuit go away;
12)  company witnesses seem ill-prepared, too clever, or even clueless while testifying about what happened;
13)  the employer humiliates or dehumanizes the plaintiff; and
14)  the employer documents are missing or inadequately prepared.

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