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June 29, 2015

Employee Engagement – How Do You Measure Up?

Filed under: General HR Buzz5:10 am

bored employee

Okay, I have three numbers for you – or percentages I should say – 30, 13 and 70. According to a recent study conducted by Gallup, 30 percent of U.S. employees are actively engaged in their job. Mull that over for a moment. That means seven out of ten folks around you will probably do enough to earn their paycheck, and nothing more. Sure, they’ll get the job done, but are by no means driven to go above and beyond in their work.

Sounds pretty bad, right? Well that’s actually quite better than employee engagement worldwide, which sits at a dismal 13 percent. Thirty is starting to sound good … Don’t fret though, there’s still one more number: 70. Management is shown to account for 70 percent of variance in employee engagement.

The tone set by leadership is shown to systematically carry throughout the company and directly influences engagement. If you can manage to get the right person in the role, that 30 percent engagement can be driven considerably higher. Management is the key.

Focus and approach

I’ve witnessed the effect that management has on engagement firsthand. In a former life (or so it feels), I was a sales manager for a big box electronics retailer. The biggest driver of profitability, by and large, was television sales. The TV by itself has a high profit margin, but when you add accessories, cables, surge protectors, Blu-ray players and audio, profits can soar. These stores live and die by the success of their TV department.

As you can probably guess, sales managers place a great deal of focus and investment on their salespeople – developing their talents, honing their skills and teaching them how to educate and connect with customers. While the underlying focus is often the same from manager to manager, approach can vary wildly.

Inaction in action

I recall one manager in particular and his method of “talent development.” Employees would regularly approach him after a sale, proud of their accomplishment, and looking for a little approval and encouragement. His response was typically a back-handed compliment: “Nice, I see that you sold an HDMI cable, you should have sold the surge protector too,” or, “Great, they purchased home theater surround-sound with the TV, why didn’t you sell professional installation?” No praise went without criticism; no good deed went unpunished.

In his mind, he was placing the bar higher and higher – helping his salespeople strive to be the best and reach a standard of excellence. It worked in a few cases. More often than not however, employees disengaged, confident that they could never do enough to satisfy. They could never reach their goals, because they were always reestablished right before they were met.

It’s all relative

I always did my best to encourage performance through individual achievement rather than a single standard of excellence. The biggest difference between these two methods is the approach towards goal setting. The first method establishes a measure for greatness, and produces an all or nothing mentality. In the words of Jedi Master Yoda, “Do, or do not. There is no try.” Maybe this works in the Marine Corps boot camp, professional sports and the Jedi Academy, but it’s not a prudent approach for an every-day Middle America workforce.

The other method takes a little longer, but is much more productive. We have to first take stock of an employee’s skill set and potential, and then work with them to establish a “next level.” Something that they can own; something on their terms. If we view performance as falling somewhere on a continuum, focus moves to direction and momentum. Not just good or bad, but getting better or getting worse. As long as we can keep consistently ticking along upwards, slow and steady will often win the race.

In part two of this post, we’ll look at some tangible methods of engaging employees. In the meantime, if your organization would benefit from more streamlined and simplified performance management, click here to learn more about Performance Pro!

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June 22, 2015

Creating the Right Employee Rewards Program

Filed under: General HR Buzz12:36 pm

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by Megan Mohr, CCP, Compensation Consultant

Does your organization have an employee rewards program? If so, how long has it been since it’s been reviewed and/or revised? Or, if you haven’t implemented one yet, it may be time to do so. Having a solid, flexible and forward-thinking employee rewards program not only helps you retain your top performers, it can also attract top new talent.

The Right Approach

A major mistake that many businesses make when developing a rewards program is establishing it based on what they think their staff wants. A better, more productive approach is to find out what your employees’ rewards preferences are and then work the plan from there.

Employers need to start from a place of data and knowledge. However, while 83% of executives agree that employee preference data is valuable, only 43% actually have to this information. Corporate Executive Board, a leading member-based advisory company, recently gathered rewards preference data from nearly 9,000 employees. Study results show that: employee preferences have changed during the past three years; employees are thinking shorter term; and more personalized rewards are seen as more valuable.

The biggest change the study uncovered was an increased preference for a better work-life balance. Benefits in this area have moved up in rank in the past few years while advancement, raises, pay equity, medical benefits and retirement benefits have all moved down. While your employee preferences may vary, the important this is to find out what those preferences are before crafting your rewards program.

Other Variables

While employee preference should be a major consideration in a rewards program, it’s not the only variable to consider. Organizations should also factor in performance, alignment, strategy and costs when piecing together the rewards puzzle. But you don’t want to waste time, energy and money focusing on ineffective rewards. Unfortunately, only 24% of employees said their company’s current rewards package matched their needs.

Meeting your employees’ rewards needs, especially on a personalized level, can have a major impact on your organization’s bottom line. Truly and accurately meeting your employees’ needs in this area can significantly increase employee retention and employee performance. And face it, the happier the employees the happier the company.

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June 15, 2015

New and Improved Data and Statistics

Filed under: General HR Buzz — Tags: , , , 5:52 am

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The Department of Labor has enhanced its Data & Stats portion of its website by adding a new “Earnings” section. This section features a series of charts and graphs showing the most recent annual earnings averages by selected topics and demographic characteristics. Covered areas include Educational Attainment, Age and Occupations.

Highlights include:

  • Women with an advanced degree earn less than men with bachelor’s degrees.
  • Women with an associate’s degree or some college earn less than male high school graduates.
  • The gender wage gap is greatest between men and women with advanced degrees.
  • Men’s earnings increase with age until 55-64 years of age, while women’s earnings reach their peak at 35-44, and then remain stagnant until dropping for those age 65 and older.
  • Almost 4 in 5 occupations had a wage gap of at least 10%.

They have also updated their “Latest Annual Data” section with the 2014 numbers released by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. This data includes labor force participation rates, unemployment rates, employment by industry, and educational attainment.

Check it out and let us know what you think!

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June 9, 2015

Going to Bat for Your Employees

Filed under: General HR Buzz — Tags: 9:41 am

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by Emily Sternberg, HR Consultant

Both of my sons are Little League baseball players. This year, they are on different teams, which got me thinking about the two teams and how differently they are coached. At the start of every inning, one coach yells “what is this inning good for… hits and runs!” Or, as the players take their places on the field the coach encourages them to play good “D.” The other coach starts each inning with a simple announcement of who is playing what position or the batting lineup for the inning. When a player gets a hit, one coach is jumping up and down on the sideline cheering the kids on, while the other is stoically tracking statistics.

From an outsider looking in, it may appear that the one shouting about hits and runs is the better coach, while the other cares only about winning and losing. The reality is both are great coaches, leading the teams to victories – but they have very different styles of managing their team. One leads through overt excitement for the team, while the other tracks each individual player and works on the areas that require improvement. Is one style better than the other? The answer is it depends on the player.

Coaching Skills at Work

This got me thinking about what makes a great manager. This is a question that I often pose to new managers in training. I get answers like walk the walk, lead by example or be good communicator. Once in a while an attendee will tell a story about a manager who truly made a difference in the person’s career. In interviews I’ve always asked “Under what kind of management style do you work best?” The typical answer is one that is a good communicator or sets clear expectations.

What makes a great manager? There are many factors, but most importantly it’s the ability to coach the team. It’s the manager who knows how to correct a mistake without being discouraging. It’s also a manager who encourages team members to take risks and stretch themselves, but also allows the employee to practice before putting them in the game. Great managers identify areas for improvement and give them opportunities to improve on these deficiencies. Most importantly, a great manager doesn’t just say “go,” but instead says “let’s go!”

So, although outward management styles may be very different, the underlying skill set for successful managers is the ability to coach, show how to succeed and generate a love for the game.

 

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June 4, 2015

Emotional Intelligence and Company Culture

Filed under: General HR Buzz9:29 am

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by Megan Mohr, CCP and Compensation Consultant

Emotional intelligence – the term alone sounds a little “touchy feely,” but anyone who’s worked in HR can attest to onslaught of issues that arise from hurt feelings and bruised egos. A little understanding and objectivity can go a long way, and social psychologist Daniel Goleman contributed a considerable amount towards developing a way of quantifying these qualities.

A person’s emotional intelligence (EI) is defined by his or her ability to recognize and understand his or her own emotions, as well as the emotions displayed by others. Furthermore, it is the ability to use this knowledge to guide his or her approach to social interactions.

Nature and Nurture

Individuals with a higher emotional intelligence function better in social situations, perform more proficiently in leadership roles and have improved overall mental health. Golesman’s model approaches EI as a mixture of a person’s abilities and traits; in other words, a combination of both nature and nurture. He outlines five main components:

  1. Self-awareness – the ability to know one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values and goals and recognize their impact on others while using gut feelings to guide decisions
  2. Self-regulation – involves controlling or redirecting one’s disruptive emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances
  3. Social skill – managing relationships to move people in the desired direction
  4. Empathy – considering other people’s feelings especially when making decision
  5. Motivation – being driven to achieve for the sake of achievement

In the world of human resources, we can use this knowledge to help raise awareness, guide behavior and establish a culture of understanding and cooperation. Realistically, employees don’t expect their executives to always agree with proposed strategies or tactics. Teammates don’t always expect things to be split-down-the-middle fair and balanced. What they do expect is that others will act in a sensible and respectful manner, and have a little self-awareness and decency.

Common Ground

Things are always easier when we can find a common ground. While we have many differences, many of our motivations are the same: financial well-being, a sense of belonging and professional competence. Where we tend to differ, and where conflict can arise, is in our differing ways of achieving these goals. This is where a culture of reason and understanding can guide collaboration and performance.

While it’s unrealistic to expect that we’ll always agree and approve of each other’s actions or behaviors, working towards raising emotional intelligence can help create a path for understanding and cooperation.

 

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May 28, 2015

Coming Together

Filed under: General HR Buzz — Tags: , , 2:45 pm

come together

by Nancy Norman, HR Product Manager

I recently moved. In the process, a few new items were needed as the old items were too big for the new space. As was the case with my office space. In looking for the right fit, we found something at IKEA. I liked it and it was the right size. We promptly purchased the desk and file storage unit and returned home eager to see it all come together.

“Coming together” turned out to be pivotal. Have you ever put IKEA furniture together? Well, I had before, but never something this complex with drawers that pull in and out and hinges that open and shut. Needless to say, it was quite a project. But, it reminded me of important principles when working on projects anywhere – home or work.

  • The End Goal: In any project, it is critical that individuals know what the expected result or needed outcome is. When working on the project, many decisions will be made along the way. If the end goal is not understood, costly and time consuming mistakes may be made. With my desk, we were able to see the final project finished before we started providing us with clear direction.
  • Clear Instructions: When opening our packages from IKEA, we discovered hundreds of pieces including the units frames, all the hardware and the tools to put it all together. Fortunately, amidst all of the pieces, an instruction booklet was also included. The instructions outlined all of the resources we would need to complete the project, step-by-step instructions and pictures showing us how to do it all along the way. In any successful project, it is important to make sure instructions are clear and individuals and teams have a good understanding of how they are to proceed and what they have to work with.
  • Tools & Resources: No project can be successful, without the right tools and resources. I could not have put my desk together without the provided Allen wrench or if any of the pieces had been missing. Even with an Allen wrench, if it was not the exact size needed, it would have been ineffective. With any project, make sure to provide the rights tools and resources. Often those resources are people. Be sure to assign the right fit and don’t leave out any needed pieces.
  • Executive Sponsorship: Many projects fail because they do not have leadership backing it up. This is key. All projects need time, money and resources to be successful. If there is a conflict preventing you from getting the necessary support, leadership can step in with their influence and allocate what is needed to be successful. I can assure you, if both of the executives of our household (me and my husband) had not equally signed up for this project, it would have been doomed.

If your organization needs some help putting things today, HR Performance Solutions’ HR consultants can help you assemble something worthwhile.  

 

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May 21, 2015

Inspiring a Civil Workplace

Filed under: General HR Buzz9:30 am

civil workplace

by Joyce Marsh, SPHR, Sr. HR Consultant

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone said and did the right thing all the time and no one’s feelings ever got hurt? That would be a perfect world – which, of course, we know we don’t live in. But we can wish, can’t we?!

Ensuring that employees practice civility in the workplace is a progressive activity. Civility being courteous and polite. It doesn’t sound that difficult to be nice, but because of various negative factors, we sometimes digress. Following are some tips for resisting bad manners and encouraging civility in the workplace. Remember, it starts with you:

  • Personality conflicts – Empathetically putting oneself in the other person’s “shoes” can help you see the conflict in a completely different light.
  • Holding your tongue – Think before speaking. Look for the good in others and focus on their strengths.
  • Lead by example – Random acts of kindness and sincere compliments of a “job well done” are always encouraging. And they’re much better than speeches that tear someone down.

The Cost of Incivility

Incivility is degrading to all who are affected by it, regardless of whether it is directed at them or if they’re a witness to its hurtfulness. When incivility reigns, it can quickly turn into a claim of harassment or a hostile work environment.

Train your employees to be respectful of others, and to look for positive qualities in them too.

Someday, they themselves, could be the victim, and what a lonely place that would be! Teaching employees to be aware of, and think about, the effects of what they say or do can help them be more thoughtful and considerate workmates. Civility leads to less turnover, better productivity and a happier staff.

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May 11, 2015

Is Lack of Employee Engagement Costing You?

Filed under: General HR Buzz — Tags: , 9:24 am

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by Emily Sternberg, HR Consultant

At a recent conference, the keynote speaker stated that employees are NOT an employer’s greatest asset. Imagine, a room full of human resources professionals who suddenly set down their iPhones, sit up a little straighter and pay attention to this statement! Imagine, a conference for HR professionals by HR professionals, and the keynote speaker states that employees are not a company’s greatest asset! This is HR interrupted!

A recent Gallup surveys show that employee engagement hovers at around 30%. With this staggering statistic, it begs the question: What’s happening with the other 70% of the workforce? According to the study, 20% are actively disengaged and the other 50% are indifferent or simply unengaged toward their work. This means that they are present, but not making innovative contributions and may not be working to their full potential. The Gallup study also shows that engaged employees are the ones that are most likely to drive innovation, growth and revenue for their companies, so it is in the best interest of companies to increase the level of employee engagement in their organization.

Where to Start?

Employee engagement is the topic at the forefront of many organizational leaders and HR professionals. What can HR do to impact employee engagement? It starts with the talent acquisition process and continues through the employee lifecycle. In the talent acquisition process, it is critical to hire not only for skill set, but also for good cultural fit. This doesn’t mean that a hiring manager should hire someone just like them, but they should consciously vet the candidate for competencies like teamwork and communication and other core values that are critical for organizational success.

The next step is the onboarding and orientation process. How is the employee introduced to the organization? Are they shown to their desk and provided a pile of paperwork to complete or is the first day engaging where the new employee is introduced to her team and maybe even taken to lunch? Ensure that the new employee has all the resources available to him or her to get the job done. Is there anything that will create a negative first impression other than being the new guy who can’t find a stapler or is seated at a desk full of their predecessor’s 5-year-old take out menus? HR and the management team have no better opportunity to create engagement than in the first year of an employee’s tenure with an organization.

What Next?

The next phase, career development or career planning, is the most critical time to ensure that employees remain engaged. During this phase of the employee life cycle, it’s easy to get sidetracked by routine and fail to recognize that employees are slowly becoming disengaged. During this time, management must consciously engage employees by soliciting new ideas, providing meaningful work and above all, continuing to coach and mentor their staff. Ensure that employees are appropriately rewarded for a job well done. Managers must work hard to seek to understand how their employees are best rewarded and ensure communication in a way that is meaningful to the employee.

By creating an engaged staff, managers will find that employees are their greatest asset. Without engagement, companies simply have a team of apathetic workers and, at worst, a team of people who may be costing the organization money.

 

 

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May 4, 2015

Is Lack of Appreciation Costing You?

Filed under: General HR Buzz11:26 am

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by Megan Mohr, CCP, Compensation Consultant

What causes you stress at work? Crazy workload? Long hours? If you’re like the employees questioned in a work-life balance survey from InLoox, the major stress factors at work are people-based. InLoox, a project management software company, surveyed 200 employees and discovered that lack of appreciation ranks high as a stressor for those at the entry- or mid-level at work.

There a lesson here for business owners and upper management – you need to help make your staff feel valued if you want to retain great employees. On the flip side, employees should be more willing to seek out acknowledgement for their work-related accomplishments.

Survey Results

The study uncovered other information that could help keep your staff feeling less stress and more fulfilled:

  • 80% of those surveyed felt their not feeling valued at work had a negative impact on their personal lives.
  • When it comes to multitasking: only 5% worked on a single project at a time, 21% worked on five projects and 73% juggled 10 projects at a time.
  • 36% of those surveyed said they need up to two hours a day to manage email.
  • Nearly 70% of supervisors stated they’ve reached strong professional goals while only 45% of employees could say the same.
  • 20% of employees felt exhausted by the end of the work day, but only 3% of supervisors said they were.

In summation, feeling appreciated pays. You’ll have harder working, happier employees with a better work-life balance. Working hard to recognize employees for the work they do and providing development and promotional opportunities as often as possible are essential. So, find those employees that work hard and produce great results. Make extra efforts to ensure they’re appreciated and have a manageable work-life balance. You’ll be more successful at retaining that valuable talent. And those are the employees you want to keep.

 

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April 13, 2015

Spring Flowers Lead to Summer Dress Codes

Filed under: Discrimination,General HR Buzz8:25 am

dress code

by Joyce Marsh, SPHR, Senior HR Consultant

If yours is like many companies, these two items may be part of your current discussion regarding summer dress code. Yes, it’s rapidly approaching, and it seems the discussion erupts after the first warm, unexpected day when an employee shows up to work in something that is, perhaps, questionable. Then the whole can of worms opens up. Is it appropriate to wear sleeveless tops? What about collarless shirts?

Many of these answers depend on your business, your customers and the overall philosophy of appropriate “dress” within your culture. Whatever the point of view, an understanding of the issues and legal concerns surrounding dress and appearance standards is necessary to ensure that you can implement an effective code that meets the needs for professionalism and safety in your organization. Our next two blogs will explore some items for consideration when drafting your dress code policy.

  1. How much freedom does an employer have in setting appearance standards for its employees?
    Typically, a lot. Organizations may generally impose standards based on “social norms.” Appearance and dress requirements that are based on legitimate business needs (e.g., safety needs, industry norms, management philosophy, types of jobs involved and common business standards) are more likely to be upheld should a discrimination charge be filed. Workplace rules based on “personal taste” are typically difficult to defend.
  2. What are the discrimination issues?
    Dress and appearance standards may violate federal or state anti-discrimination statutes if they are applied inconsistently or create a disparate impact on a protected group. Sex and religious discrimination are most commonly alleged.
  3. Sex Discrimination

a) Dress and Appearance
Dress code differences for men and women do not inherently create sex bias. Different dress standards for men and women that reflect common social norms have generally been upheld. Therefore, employers do not have to apply identical dress standards for men and women. However, dress codes not based on societal norms that impose a greater impact or burden on one sex, that are antiquated or based on sex stereotypes, or that are significantly different for men and women typically cannot be upheld.

Examples:

The following practices have generally been upheld:

  • Requiring men, but not women, to wear ties.
  • Allowing women, but not men, to wear earrings.
  • Terminating a female juvenile center employee for wearing too much makeup (after repeated warnings).
  • Prohibiting men from wearing long hair.
  • Because of safety reasons, requiring employees to wear hair a certain way or to use a hair net.
  • Requiring facial hair to be neatly groomed; however, completely prohibiting facial hair may be discriminatory on the basis of religion, disability or race.

Discrimination has been found where:

  • Female employees, but not males, were required to wear uniforms.
  • Female employees, but not males, were forced to wear smocks.
  • A manager required a female employee to wear makeup within days of being notified that the employee was pregnant. The manager had also asserted that pregnant women were less attractive.
  • Maximum weight requirements were established for female airline employees where none were established for males.
  • Only women were required to wear contact lenses.
  • A convenience store fired a black employee who had a skin disease aggravated by shaving and who refused to shave. (Black males are most likely to have this condition, known as PFB.) Company concerns regarding “image” generally don’t justify a “no beard rule.” PFB may also be a disability under the ADA.
  • Male employees were required to wear jackets and ties, but females could wear jeans, sweaters, and other informal apparel.

b) Harassment
Employers have been held liable for sexual harassment because they had required female employees to wear provocative clothing.

Discrimination has been found where:

  • A female lobby attendant was required to wear sexually revealing and provocative clothing that subjected her to derogatory comments and harassment from the public.
  • A female cocktail waitress was required to wear a revealing costume while male servers wore tuxedos.

Part two of this blog will focus on avoiding potential discrimination issues when concerning disabilities, religion and racial items. So, don’t miss next week’s blog!

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