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December 22, 2014

Seeing Both Sides of the Compensation Story

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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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November 13, 2014

News Reports Say Positive Employee Drug Tests On the Rise

Filed under: Drugs,Hiring & Jobs2:26 pm

A national employment law firm news site is reporting that the rate of employee positive drug tests has increased for the first time in about a decade. The entity making the study handles drug testing from employers all across the country. The study indicated that use of marijuana and amphetamines have fueled the increase, notably in the states of Colorado and Washington where recreational marijuana use is now legal under state law.  You can read the news report here.

With the voters in two more states, Alaska and Oregon, along with Washington D.C. recently passing recreational use of marijuana, we aren’t likely to hear the end of this topic any time soon.  Keep your eye on this subject, as other states have pending legislation.

 

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October 23, 2014

Employee Handbook – A Tool You Shouldn’t Be Without

Employee handbooks serve many purposes in an organization.  They can be considered tools for risk management, communication of expectations, and a guidebook of general rules for the workplace.  Employees are not the only ones to benefit from handbooks, but managers and employers also gain an advantage from a well-written and professional-looking handbook.  Here is how:

  • Employees – The handbook should outline how employees are to behave and what the consequences are if they don’t.  It will teach them what needs to be done in their job to be successful in the company.  The handbook should serve as a protection to employees by outlining a process for complaining about possible harassment, reporting an on-the-job injury, and promoting awareness of workplace violence.  Other areas that should be covered are the absence reporting process, how to request time off from work, what dress is appropriate, and how the company feels about complying with all employment laws.
  • Managers – Consistency is key for managers.  They must have a set of standards for how to handle organizational issues.  This should not be step-by-step instructions they must follow, but should consist of principles they can apply consistently in employee relations, performance management, and other areas within their scope of responsibility.
  • Employers – The handbook is a mouthpiece for employers to openly communicate their behavioral expectations for employees and managers alike.  It gives clearly defined parameters for personal conduct, acceptable behaviors, and company expectations.  It is also an effective tool for communicating a summary of the benefits of employment with their organization, (e.g. paid time off, medical and other insurance coverages offered, tuition reimbursement, retirement planning, etc.).  

Ensuring employees have easy access to the employee handbook and have acknowledged its receipt can go a long way to protect an employer in a lawsuit.  Sometimes copies of the policy violated and the acknowledgement of the handbook receipt are all that is needed to dispute an unemployment claim.  Now is the time to minimize your risk by having an up-to-date, legally compliant, and tailored to your company handbook.  It conveys to your employees you care about them and their success!

 

Source:  Brannen, D. Albert.  “Why Your Company Needs a Handbook.” Fisher & Phillips Attorneys at Law.  Available here.

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October 17, 2014

What You Post May Be Held Against You!

Filed under: Hiring & Jobs — Tags: 8:15 am

A recent CareerBuilder.com survey reported that employers are turning more often to social networking sites to screen potential candidates.  In fact, 51 percent of employers said they did not hire a candidate because of the content they found on the candidate’s social media.  If social media wasn’t enough to get the scoop on an applicant, 45 percent of employers responding use Google search engine to dig up whatever shows up on candidates.

Three areas of researching social media were examined closely:

Most common reasons not to hire a candidate:

  • Inappropriate photographs – 46 percent
  • Discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion, etc. – 28 percent
  • Unprofessional screen name – 21 percent

Content that made the candidate look more appealing:

  • Good feel for candidate’s personality; good fit for culture – 46 percent
  • Social media site conveyed professionalism – 43 percent
  • Other people posted positive references about the candidate – 30 percent 

What the candidate posted about themselves and what others posted about them:

  • Profile included links to an escort service
  • Posted a photo of a warrant for his arrest
  • Featured a pig as his closest friend 

Job candidates need to promote themselves on social media, but posts need to be professional and in good taste.  And, don’t forget to Google yourself.  You may be surprised that the angry complaint you posted about a local liquor store three years ago still shows up!  Be careful, because what you post may cost you a job!

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October 9, 2014

“I Trust You”

Filed under: Communication,Management Practices4:08 pm

I was part of an HR department of four.  Our HR Manager had just been asked to resign.  So, without a leader in the department, our executive vice president quickly organized the remaining three of us to run the department and perform “management tasks” for the next few weeks ahead.  It was a great learning experience, and we kept everything going very smoothly right up to when we recruited, hired, and onboarded our new boss, Mary.

I learned more about myself in the time I worked with Mary than I ever knew before.  I learned the difference between a leader and a manager.  In the first week of her arrival, she wasn’t barking orders, changing processes, or micromanaging anything.  Rather, she calmly acknowledged the situation that we had thrust upon us and commended us for carrying the load absent a department manager.  She didn’t know us yet as individuals, she didn’t know how we worked, our personal moral codes, or our competencies, but she encouraged us to continue doing what we had been doing.  Then, she said three words that still ring in my ears today, “I trust you.”

That was a leap of faith on her part to trust three people she didn’t yet know.  Those three words were the biggest motivator I have ever experienced in the workplace.  By her saying, “I trust you,” it was like her reaffirming to us that we were professionals, adults, and we were experts in our area of human resources and capable of anything that we wanted to do.  It was powerful!  As time went by, she continued to demonstrate her trust, not just saying it, but in the way she led us as a team and as individuals.  She was a great coach and always asked the right questions, to move us to reach the proper conclusions.  She fostered autonomy by letting us do the jobs we had been hired to do, only she made us better!  Have you told your employees lately, “I trust you”?

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October 1, 2014

Unlimited Vacation – Is it Really that Easy?

Filed under: Engagement,General HR Buzz,Work/Life Balance6:54 am

In the last decade traditional leave programs have been replaced with Paid Time Off (PTO) programs.  PTO is believed to reduce unexcused absences, since employees may use their time off for vacation, sick, or personal reasons.  Employees have welcomed the added flexibility of using PTO as they want to or need to in their quest for work-life balance.

A new trend, though, is taking hold for a few companies.  Some may explain it as an experimental leave program that employees would take advantage of, but those who have adopted it report increased productivity.  It is called Unlimited Vacation time.  Most recent to join the ranks of those not tracking vacation and time off is Virgin.  Founder, Richard Branson, announced that his company would be offering unlimited vacation following suit with Netflix and a handful of others.

An unlimited vacation program is designed to give employees the ability to decide when they will be gone as they need to recharge and avoid burnout.  However, they are held accountable for completing their work, meeting deadlines, not leaving their team in a bind, and coordinating with other employees to cover for them.  The program encourages autonomy, which boosts morale and creativity, fostering satisfied employees.  And, we all know that happy employees are productive employees!

Is unlimited vacation time for your company?  We’d like to hear your comments.

Read more about this unique time off initiative here.

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September 4, 2014

Interesting News Briefs from the World of HR Law

Filed under: FLSA,Hiring & Jobs,Legal Issues4:36 pm

In an interesting test of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exemption regulations, a well-known national retailer has been sued in California by employees alleging that the company improperly classified its store assistant managers as exempt employees.  This lawsuit is a good reminder of how important it is to have updated job descriptions to determine the exempt or nonexempt status of all positions within an organization.  The Department of Labor website provides general information to determine exempt status.  Click here.

A national retail provider of rent-to-own merchandise (appliances, furniture, etc.) has been sued under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act with the plaintiffs in the case alleging that the company used a third party to run background checks but did not provide copies of the same before taking adverse action against applicants and employees (e.g. denying or terminating employment) based on the background check results. The lawsuit is pending in Georgia.  This is a great example of the importance of knowing the law!  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides excellent guidance to employers and employees on background checks from each perspective.  You can check those out for employers here, and for employees here.

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August 28, 2014

ADA After FMLA – What Does Your Leave Policy Say?

A New Jersey healthcare provider will pay over $1 million to resolve claims before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that it committed disability discrimination. According to the EEOC, since the employer’s leave policy merely tracked the requirements of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employee leaves were limited to a maximum of 12 weeks.

The employer’s policy meant that employees who were not eligible for FMLA leave were fired after being absent for a short time, and many more were fired once they were out more than 12 weeks, all without additional consideration of whether the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) required some additional accommodation, including additional leave.

Managing both FMLA and the ADA can be quite tricky at times.  Additional leave after FMLA is exhausted is considered a reasonable accommodation under the ADA guidelines and must be factored in to an employee’s recovery or health management resolutions.  Whether an employer extends leave or not could be a million dollar question!

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August 21, 2014

Recruiting Top Talent – Is the Recession the Only Blame?

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Hiring & Jobs9:59 am

The national average of time to fill an open position in June reached 24.9 working days, including the time to post, source, and hire.  Compared to the recessionary period in the summer of 2009, the time to fill has increased by nearly ten days, when the average was 15.3.

During the recession the talent pool was overflowing with applicants.  Hundreds of r­ésumés flooded recruiters in response to a single job posting.  The response left recruiters thinking they could be choosy and wait for the top talent to show, which generally during the recession worked.  Now, other problems are factoring in to the long time-to-fill open positions, such as:

  • Waiting too long to make an offer risks the loss of the top candidate.
  • Unable to find skilled workers in the talent pool.
  • Expecting no learning curve, thus fostering an unwillingness to accept candidates that may need only minimal training.
  • There is simply more job openings, 4.7 million at the end of June, compared to 4 million in June, 2013. 

Employers should examine recruitment and hiring processes to ensure they are streamlined and efficient and make changes wherever they find obstacles.  Performing this self-audit will clearly define the company’s acceptable standards for recruitment and hiring and will help find and hire a solid, talented workforce quickly.

 

Source:  Zappe, John. “Employers Find That Time-to-Fill Job Rates Are Growing, Hit 13 Year High.”  Available here.

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July 31, 2014

HR Neutrality – Does One-Size-Fit-All?

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Performance Management1:12 pm

As HR professionals, we are always trying to make sure everyone is treated the same – that no one feels slighted or left out; that everyone is treated equally.  In certain instances that is a really good idea, especially if it keeps you out of legal trouble, (e.g. male/female, old/young, black/white).  But, are our HR practices becoming a one-size-fits-all?

Let’s take a step back.  Examining our motive for treating all employees the same should give us some insight as to whether this is a constructive practice.  Ask yourself these questions and answer honestly:

  • Am I afraid of a claim of discrimination or retaliation?
  • Am I trying to avoid conflict by applying policies the same way to all employees?
  • Am I ignoring an underlying employee performance issue that needs to be addressed?
  • Is treating all employees the same taking the easy way out? 

If you answered, “Yes” to any of these questions, you may be practicing HR neutrality.  Obviously, some policies must be applied the same way to all employees, like no smoking in the office.  But, must our top performers be treated the same as our mediocre or low performers?  No, but we must treat them fairly.  In fact, our treating employees fairly sometimes mean we treat them differently.  How?  A high performing employee doesn’t want to be treated the same as one they view as a slacker.  They want to be treated differently, because they deserve it.  There is nothing illegal about treating a high performer better than you treat your employee that is not meeting your expectations.  So next time you encounter a situation that previously the one-size-fits-all HR neutrality has been applied to, examine your motive for doing so, use empathy by putting yourself in your employee’s shoes, and always keep the human in Human Resources.  Oh yes, and you must deal head-on with the perceived slacker; they may just need clearer expectations, but you won’t know if you don’t ask!

 

Source:  Sackett, Tim.  “HR Neutrality:  Everybody Seems to Hate It – Except, of Course, HR.”  Available here.

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