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January 12, 2016

The Four Employee Engagement Languages

Filed under: Engagement,HRN News,Management Practices10:11 am


A popular relationship book first published 20 years ago is “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. In his book, Chapman describes five primary ways in which we each feel loved. Each of us feels loved and appreciated in different ways and the book tries to improve romantic relationships through learning your partner’s primary love language and demonstrating it regularly. The love languages are: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. To borrow from Chapman’s concept a bit, I’d like to introduce The Four Employee Engagement Languages.


As managers and colleagues, we know the importance of employee engagement and a primary way we can keep employees engaged is to ensure they feel valued as a member of our organization.


1) Words of Affirmation

You have probably noticed that many of your employees or coworkers often find encouragement through recognition. Whether it’s for taking on an extra project or going above and beyond for a customer, simple recognition of that effort can speak volumes to an employee who appreciates words of affirmation. As a manager, find out which of your employees or colleagues appreciates encouraging words and affirm them regularly. Be sure to find out whether that employee prefers this recognition publicly or privately as it can be damaging to provide public recognition to an employee who doesn’t like lots of attention drawn to him or her.


2) Acts of Service

Some employees feel appreciated when a coworker or manager steps in to assist with a project or takes care of a problem without being asked. When someone jumps in to help relieve your workload or volunteers to take care of an unwanted project, you’re likely to feel a sense of unity within your team. Consider which employees might most appreciate someone stepping in and sharing the load and seek to meet that need when possible.


3) Receiving Gifts

Similar to words of affirmation, some employees enjoy receiving those small notes of encouragement or a box of chocolates to show appreciation. There are many organizations and catalogs at HR’s disposal to find creative ideas for employee recognition through small gifts. Be sure to recognize small achievements as well as the big ones. Don’t just wait for an employee to earn a certification to be given an award, find ways to award employees for the small things, too. And, it’s not always a specific achievement, but sometimes just a simple reminder of how much the organization values that employee.


4) Quality Time

You might recognize the employees who need quality time as the ones who often stop to talk with their coworkers or are quick to offer to have a meeting instead of an email or phone call. Employees who most appreciate quality time enjoy the interaction with their manager or colleagues and thrive on the ability to spend time with people, even if it’s just for work. While it can sometimes be viewed as a time-waster, consider employees who seem to enjoy or find a need for that extra meeting and try to meet one-on-one with them when warranted.


Getting to know your employees and coworkers at a deeper level and finding out what makes them tick will benefit both you and employees. Find the ways they feel most appreciated and seek to ensure they feel valued and remain engaged team members.


December 3, 2015

The Seasons of Performance Management


In many regions of the country, folks are enjoying the changing of seasons. Cooler temperatures, colorful leaves (on trees or in piles on the ground), pumpkin carving, cider and donuts, early holiday music (if you’re into that), and other evidence of late autumn abound. At work, there are other markers of fall that may not be so relaxing and enjoyable, including budget planning, open enrollment and benefits review (for HR), and performance appraisals. There may not be much that can be done to make all of these things easier but at least when it comes to performance appraisals, it does not have to be a feared task at the end of the year. Just as regular maintenance to one’s yard, home, or automobile makes the change of seasons less troublesome, ongoing performance management can make the year- end appraisal both simple and more meaningful.


As performance management consultants and experts, we have been through every possible challenge associated with performance. Through decades of experience across many industries, we have learned how to coach managers to get the most out of their employees. Performance management should not be something that only occurs at year-end, as a means of planning salary/wage increases. We propose that managers and employees meet monthly or weekly to review performance informally. If such frequency is not practical in your organization, then at least consider checking on performance measurements with the change of seasons. This article provides some suggestions of some actions that can be conducted seasonally as part of a more comprehensive approach to performance management.

Performance Management in Winter

This is the season for most organizations to complete annual performance appraisals for employees. The most impactful thing that can be done during this period is for a manager and his/her employee to sit down for a discussion about performance. It is important that this discussion have a positive tone, which will help keep the employee engaged. Evaluation criteria should be applied consistently and objectively to all employees (ideally, employees with the same role/job should be evaluated on the same criteria). Such criteria should be defined and should have clear distinctions between performance levels, with specific behaviors, characteristics, and measurements in order to avoid bias. New goals should be developed with the employees’ buy-in and should be linked to organizational strategies for alignment.

Performance Management in Spring

As the ground thaws and flowers bloom, it is a good time to renew and revisit the goals that were established as the new year began. Re-calibration may be justified in light of changes to projects and priorities during the first quarter. Managers should meet with employees for a 30-minute discussion about goal progress and about action steps for focus during the coming weeks and months. Even more ideal than a quarterly meeting with the employee would be a monthly or bi-weekly check-in. This should be an informal conversation about goal progress and could focus on quick praise of the employee’s short-term successes.

Performance Management in Summer

As vacations are planned and kids get out of school, this is a good time evaluate budgets and annual initiatives. As should be done whenever the manager and employee meets, goals are reviewed and revised. There should be a plan for addressing PTO/vacation absences to ensure that goals are still

within focus. This is a great time to conduct stay interviews with employees to identify what they like about their jobs and what they need to be more engaged.

Performance Management in Autumn

This a the perfect season for infusing staff with a renewed focus, as normalcy at home is re-established with the kids back in school and eyes turning back to those goals that were aligned with strategies at the beginning of the year. Indeed, this is something that should have been occurring throughout the year. Yet, late third quarter and early fourth quarter are times when there is greater analysis of results in order to effectively plan for the upcoming fiscal year. Managers need to be careful not to give employees the impression that they are a secondary focus, behind that actual planning. As the fourth quarter progresses, plans should include ample time for meaningful discussions about the employees’ performance.

Seasonal performance management is more effective than only an annual appraisal. In fact, the most employee-centric organizations practice employee performance management as something that should occur monthly, weekly, and daily to keep employees engaged. Start where you are and let employees know what you appreciate about them.


November 5, 2015

Reinventing Performance Management to Drive Business Performance

As the end of the year approaches, HR professionals begin to feel the year end crunch: benefit open enrollment, holiday party planning, and the dreaded performance review season.

Does this sound familiar? If it does, you are not alone. In a recent Gallup survey, more than 58 percent of HR executives said their current performance management system was weak in driving high performance; 58 percent also said their current evaluation process was not an effective use of time.

These are disturbing numbers. They beg the question, “How how can we improve and innovate on our current performance systems?”

Traditionally we have evaluated staff members based on output. But as the economy is shifting and more than 70 percent of all jobs are knowledge or service based, it is no longer enough to evaluate employees strictly by their output; we must also evaluate them on non-tangibles such as adaptability and innovation.

The impact of the Idiosyncratic Rater Effect
The challenge that managers face is, “How do we measure these skills without succumbing to the Idiosyncratic Rater Effect?” That’s the idea that a manager’s rating of an employee is a better reflection of his or her own idiosyncrasies than of the employee’s actual skill set.

This means that when a manager conducts the year-end performance appraisal, the rating actually says more about the rater than about the ratee! There have been several published studies in both Personnel Psychology and the Journal of Applied Psychology documenting this effect in employee performance evaluation.

Managers are disturbingly unreliable raters of other people’s performance, says Founder and Chairman Marcus Buckingham of the Marcus Buckingham Company, a leading performance management and employee engagement consulting firm. If we can’t trust this data to help make good business decisions such as who to promote, where to put training resources and how to compensate staff, what do we use?

A new type of evaluation that works
Consulting firm Bersin by Deloitte attempts to answer the question by posing a new form of evaluation that allows the rater to provide his or her opinion on the things that will matter most in making compensation and promotion decisions.

The system requires the manager not to rate the employee’s skill set, but instead answer questions about the manager’s own future action with respect to the employee. The questions summarize the manager’s intent to provide the highest possible compensation increase, the manager’s willingness to work with the employee on another team, the manager’s perception of the employee’s risk for low performance and the manager’s perception of the employee’s potential for promotion. This type of rating system requires the rater to think through the action he or she will take with an employee, rather than giving an unsupported numerical rating.


February 16, 2015

Internal or External Hires – Which is Best?

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Hiring & Jobs,HR Consulting3:14 am




by Megan Mohr, CCP, Compensation Consultant, HR Performance Solutions

In an ideal world, HR would be able to hire the perfect mix of internal and external candidates to keep their company running smoothly and its staff happy. Unfortunately, none of us work in a perfect world! So, that leaves HR with the internal vs. external quandary for most of their hires. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for when to hire internally or externally, here are some pros and cons of both options:

Internal Hiring 


  • Increased engagement
  • Quicker onboarding
  • Less expensive
  • Better cultural fit


  • Potential for less innovation
  • Internal politics
  • Biased hiring
  • Fewer applicants
External Hiring 


  • Fresh ideas
  • Larger talent pool
  • Increased diversity
  • Avoid internal politics


  • Less cost-effective
  • Longer onboarding
  • May not fit company culture
  • Possible detriment to staff morale

These lists of pros and cons only skim the surface of the components HR considers when making the decision of internal vs. external hiring. If you look at the numbers, the majority of positions are filled with external candidates. The SHRM Human Capital Benchmarking Database shows that in 2013, 66% of positions were filled externally compared to 26% internally.

Decisions, Decisions …

Each company and each position is different and has different needs. HR will usually make its internal/external hiring decision based on whether the position requires collaboration, if the skillset is unique to the company, what the internal supply of talent actually is and any changes within the company or industry. Whichever approach your HR department decides to take, it needs to consider these factors when making a decision:

  • Thoughtful Job Descriptions
    If you find you’re using the same tired, canned job descriptions every time and getting unsatisfactory hires, it might be time to breathe new life into what’s written. Be sure the language you choose is universal and not limited to just what an internal candidate would understand. Take some time to see how the competition is handling job descriptions. Many industries are opting for more fun yet realistic job descriptions versus the old, worn out ones.
  • Beware of Biases
    No one is without bias. But in HR, you can’t let that affect any decision you make. Don’t fall for any pressure to hire from within if that’s not the best decision for the company. Take a hard look at your hiring practices to see if there’s more of an internal or external trend and then determine why it may favor one over the other.
  • Take a Good Look at What Makes You Unique
    Every company and its culture are truly unique. Take a good, objective look at what makes your organization and the positions unique. This will help the HR team better weave its new hires and the company culture into a more tightly-woven and cohesive entity.
  • Think Succession Planning
    Make sure you know the movers and shakers within your company and those that do their best to fly under the radar and take that into consideration when new positions open up. Keep upper management up-to-date on who’s moving up and who is stalled out. This lets you be proactive when it comes to succession planning.
  • Don’t Stop Onboarding

If you think that once the new hires have been shown their desk and gone through orientation that onboarding is done, think again. To the new hires, onboarding can be a long, slow process. Make sure they get to spend quality time with not only the team they’ll be working with but with upper management as well. The more employees feel like they understand and are part of the big picture, the more welcome they’ll feel and the harder they’ll work.

Let HR Performance Solutions and its HR consultants help your organization with its recruiting, hiring or onboarding process. Contact us today for more information.



January 5, 2015

Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions for HR Professionals

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


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.



October 31, 2014

6 Easy Ways to Violate the FLSA – Mistakes 4-6

Filed under: Compease,Compensation,FLSA9:44 am

In yesterday’s blog, we discussed the first three mistakes that lead to Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations.  Today, we will take a look at the last three, featured that is; there are many more!

Mistake #4:  Asking Nonexempt Employees to “Work Off the Clock”

More recently, asking an hourly employee to “work off the clock” is considered wage theft.  The FLSA requires employers to keep accurate time records.  Tight budgets often prompt managers to request that employees “work off the clock” by asking them to come in early or stay late and not compensating them.  Such a practice can create huge liabilities for an organization.

Mistake #5:  Prohibiting Employees from Discussing Compensation Issues

Although many employers prefer that compensation rates and other pay issues remain private and even write policies to that effect, forbidding such discussion by employees may be in violation of the law.  The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) prohibits employers from banning wage discussions as it is interpreted as interfering with employees’ right to engage in protected concerted activity.  The National Labor Relations Board, the government agency that enforces the NLRA, has been watching these actions closely, especially with the more prevalent use of social media.

Mistake #6:  Failing to Properly Pay Nonexempt Employees for Meetings and Training

This is a puzzling one for many employers – knowing whether or not they are required to pay for meetings and training sessions.  Attendance at meetings and training is not counted as “hours worked” if all four of the following criteria are true:

  • Attendance is outside of the employee’s regular work hours;
  • Attendance is truly voluntary;
  • The course, lecture, or meeting is not directly related to the employee’s job; and
  • The employee does not perform any productive work while attending. 

Attendance is not considered voluntary, however, if the employee believes that his working conditions or employment opportunities would be adversely affected if he did not attend.

Even the most experienced HR professionals have difficulty navigating the FLSA.  However, failure to do so can be costly in terms of dollars, time spent fixing problems, bad publicity, and lower employee morale.  Focusing on a few of the most common FLSA mistakes and steering your organization away from them is definitely time well spent.


October 30, 2014

6 Easy Ways to Violate the FLSA – Mistakes 1-3

Filed under: Compease,Compensation,FLSA4:32 pm

No doubt, most employers have a battle with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which establishes the standards for how to pay their employees.  The FLSA governs overtime pay, the minimum wage, and child labor.  Many are simply unaware of the maze of requirements, some try in good faith to act in accordance with the law but fall short, and a few simply ignore the Act, hoping that nothing comes back to bite them.  But ignorance of the law is not bliss…or an excuse.

FLSA enforcement by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division recovered just shy of $250 million in back wages for 2013, with 269,250 employees receiving back wages. Another interesting fact is that the average days to resolve a complaint is 110.  This means the Wage and Hour people are very interested in the way you pay your employees and even enjoy perusing your records.

Here are six ways (and believe me, there are many more) in which you could find the DOL knocking on your door:

Mistake #1:  Misclassifying Employees

Nearly every employer must decide which positions are considered nonexempt under the law and must be paid overtime (for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek), and which positions are exempt from overtime. The FLSA establishes overtime pay requirements by outlining a series of tests that qualify employees as exempt from overtime and minimum wage requirements in these categories:  executive, administrative, professional, outside sales, and certain high-level computer positions.

Mistake #2:  Thinking, “If I make everyone ‘Salaried,’ I won’t have to pay overtime!”

Genius, not.  Be careful.  “Salaried” is not equivalent to “exempt.”  An employer must satisfy an FLSA job duties test mentioned in number 1.  Remember too, that job positions should be reviewed regularly to ensure they still meet the requirements of nonexempt or exempt as the position requirements may change.

Mistake #3:  Failing to Pay Nonexempt Employees for Unauthorized Work

If a company “allows” employees to work, they must pay for this time and include it as “hours worked” for overtime purposes. When an employee who begins work early, stays late, takes work home, or works through the lunch break without authorization to do so, must be paid for unauthorized work (even if the company has a policy prohibiting it).  The employee, though, may be subjected to disciplinary action for violating the policy.

Watch for Mistakes 4-6 in tomorrow’s blog!



July 24, 2014

Setting Expectations for Success

Have you ever tried to put a 500-piece puzzle together using only 386 pieces?  That is what it can feel like to an employee who has not be given straightforward expectations to accomplish their goals.  An important part of performance management is to set clear expectations for employees so there is no question as to how their work should get done.

When employees feel their goals and your expectations are undefined or ambiguous, they become frustrated, productivity declines, and you risk losing them.  To keep them committed to you as their manager and to the organization, you cannot leave anything to chance.  By including employees in the goal-setting process and then developing action plans with timelines, your expectations are clear and you are setting them up to succeed; the rest is up to them.

Learn more about HR Performance Solutions Performance Pro and manage your employees performance with ease.  Start your 30 day FREE trial today!



May 30, 2014

Did You Know . . . About Our Compease Bridge?

Filed under: Compease,Compensation8:59 am

Keeping your Compease system up-to-date and aligned with your payroll system doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming!  Compease has a built-in Data Bridge Tool that makes systems’ communication a breeze.  HRN Performance Solutions offers a total of four options to help with this data upkeep:

  1. With the no cost option, the User Guide and a spreadsheet are sent to you, enabling you to configure and run the data bridge any time that is convenient for you.  
  1. HRN’s second option provides assistance with the initial setup.  HRN will configure the setup, run the initial import, and provide training to you or your staff for a fee of $150. 
  1. The third option consists of the data bridge configuration, set-up, and the updating of your Compease system.  This is performed either as a one-time service or on an annual basis, thus completing the entire process for a fee of $250. 
  1. Our last option allows you to send your file directly to us on a twice-monthly basis.  We do all the work for you!   This option requires a signed Bridge Service Agreement (BSA) and is processed for a fee of $600 annually, which is added to your regular renewal. 

If you are interested in any of these service options or would like additional information, please contact HRN Performance Solutions at (800) 897-3308.


March 28, 2014

Did You Know . . . Compease is Now in the Cloud?

HRN has released a new, completely updated, CLOUD-BASED version of our popular Compease salary administration application!  Compease, a unique and innovative compensation administration system provides customized, market-driven compensation and salary grade information for every position in an organization based on level of responsibility, job title, geographic location, company size, and industry.

Even more thrilling is, if you currently use Performance Pro and Compease the new sophisticated technology will integrate the two! This integration will reduce duplication, saves time, and makes updating reports easier than ever! Give us a call and speak with one of our experts to understand how Performance Pro and Compease integration can strengthen and support your business. You might be surprised at how seamless it is.

If you don’t currently enjoy Performance Pro and Compease, what are you waiting for?  Contact us now at (800) 897-3308 or


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