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November 7, 2013

The Millennials Are Coming – Are You Ready?

Filed under: Performance Management9:11 am

According to last month’s HR Magazine, Millennials will make up 75% of the US labor force by the year 2025.  With that in mind, it is crucial that HR has an understanding of what drives this generation.

To understand motivation, it is important to know where this generation is coming from.  First and foremost, this is the generation raised with personal computers.  Technology has always been the preferred way to get work done, solve life’s problems, and connect with people.  This group of workers favors collaboration in teams and is the most connected virtually. However, they have also been the most overprotected – growing up in an “over-adult-supervised” environment.  Parents effectively convinced this generation that they were the center of the universe.  In addition, they received trophies just for showing up.

The Millennials are coming to a cubicle near you and there is little to be done to stem the tide.  How can your organization be prepared for and even embrace this growing population in your workforce?  Ideally, you want to be proactive in adjusting your “policies, practices and procedures to leverage this generations strengths and minimize its weaknesses.”

The article focuses on 3 key areas:

FLEXIBILITY:  Millennials want flexibility in everything: schedules, locations, and assignments.  They place less importance on where the work is done and what time the work occurs.  They also like variety in their assignments.  The desire for diverse work experiences can be perceived as wanting to move up, when it is often simply a need to do something different.

TRANSPARENCY:  This group wants to know the why behind the decisions.  They will ask more direct questions and will require greater transparency from the organization.  When transparency makes sense, do it.  When it doesn’t, be prepared to explain why.

COMMUNITY:  Millennials expect work to be social and fun.  They like to collaborate and they do their best work in teams. Examine not only your business processes, but your space.  Look for ways to encourage employees to gather and collaborate.  The article suggests gathering spaces in your work area as well as group onboarding to create camaraderie and loyalty among the new hires.

Examine your business practices and determine how these changes fit into your business model and align with your strategic plan.  The point is not to cater to one particular generation, but to recognize and find ways all may benefit by these updated policies.  As the article says, “Focus less on the characteristics society has ascribed to the emerging Millennial generation and more on policies and practices that support the changing demands being placed on our workforce.”

SOURCE: HR Magazine, October 2013 Issue, “New Kids on the Block,” article by Kathryn Tyler.

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August 28, 2013

A Good Reason to Document!

The law firm Ogletree Deakins recently reported on a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals case that illustrates just how important it is to have good documentation.  The case, Mercer v. The Arc of Prince Georges County, Inc., sheds new light on performance reviews, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and termination of employment.

According to the records, Mercer worked for “The Arc,” a nonprofit organization, in a position that required her to process applications, renewals, and redeterminations for benefits under the Food Stamp Program and Social Security.  Early in 2009, Mercer took medical leave, which put co-workers in a position to perform her duties, where they discovered that some individuals that were food stamp eligible were not receiving benefits.  When Mercer returned, she was instructed to take care of those clients.

Several months later, she was given her annual performance appraisal, in which she rated ‘satisfactory’ marks in all categories, but one, which was rated ‘above average.’  A couple months after that, the problem of individuals still not receiving their benefits came to light, yet again.  She was directed to take care of those clients.

Early in January, 2011, she suffered injuries in a motor vehicle accident and utilized FMLA.  Again, co-workers found that her job was not being done properly and that many individuals were still not receiving their benefits.  After her return, an investigation ensued and she was subsequently terminated.

Mercer alleged that The Arc interfered with her right to use FMLA and that her termination was a pretext for retaliation based upon her use of FMLA.  She was unable to prove either claim.  Of interest to employers is that the Court’s findings demonstrated that even though she had positive performance reviews, this “did not negate The Arc’s ability to terminate her employment upon the discovery of previously unknown poor performance, even though that evidence came to light during Mercer’s FMLA leave.”  Helpful, too, was The Arc had detailed documentation that specifically noted the errors of Mercer.  Another fact of note is that the co-workers who discovered the unpaid clients, were not the decision-makers in regard to her termination.

The importance of concise documentation can never be minimized.  Employers do well to document dates, times, specific information of the indiscretion/errors, all parties responsible, and persons making the discovery.  Arming themselves with proper documentation has saved many employers a lot of time, money, and unfavorable publicity.

 

Source:  Danaher, Maria, Ogletree Deakins – Pittsburgh Office. “Positive performance reviews do not negate employer’s ability to fire employee upon discovery of previously unknown poor performance.”  August 19, 2013.

http://www.employmentlawmatters.net/2013/08/articles/fmla/positive-performance-reviews-do-not-negate-employers-ability-to-fire-employee-upon-discovery-of-previously-unknown-poor-performance/

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July 29, 2013

“Take Me Out to the Ball Game!”

Filed under: Performance Management,Performance Pro1:22 pm

It’s opening night and you take three friends to a baseball game!  As you and your friends weave your way through the crowds to your front row seats on the third base line, your anticipation and excitement increases.

It is now the bottom of the 9th and bases are loaded.  The opposition is up to bat and your team is ahead by one point.  The pitcher sends through a perfect ball and the batter swings, connects, and sends the ball flying towards right field.  The right fielder starts running for the ball.  It’s going to be a close one!  At the last moment he flies up against the wall, reaches out, and catches the ball with the tip of his mitt! The crowd goes wild!  Your team has just won the game!

One of your friends turns to the group and says, “Man, that was the most amazing feat of athleticism I have ever seen in my life!”

Another friend says, “Well, yeah, that was pretty great, but it’s opening day; the crowd is full of energy – that catch was pure adrenaline.”

Your third friend says, “No, that was complete luck.  The sun was in his eyes. I bet he couldn’t do that again if his life depended on it.”

And you finally say, “Are you kidding, this is the Major League.  If he can’t repeat that play again he has no business playing ball.”

You have four people, all having witnessed the exact same situation and each person has an entirely different perspective on what happened.  Does this ever happen in the workforce?

The only way to get your friends on the same page is to define the criteria for success before you go to the game.  Before you even set foot in the stadium, you need to define what makes a good play.  What actions are going to constitute this player being the MVP verses someone who needs more practice?

That is what factors or competencies on an evaluation can do for performance within your organization. By clearly defining the core competencies or skills required for success, you are setting the bar for behaviors that equate to a Valued Performer verses someone who Needs Improvement.  By agreeing to these expectations before the situation occurs, you are able set the standard for excellence verses unacceptable behaviors, before you get to the game.

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June 5, 2013

How Do You Measure Productivity?

Filed under: Performance Management — Tags: 6:00 am

Productivity is one of the most important aspects to the life of any organization.  Without productive employees an organization will eventually cease to be.  How do you know if your employees are productive?  How is their productivity measured?

In the manufacturing industry, productivity is directly linked to the number of parts produced in a predetermined amount of time.  Anything above or below the number of parts or the amount of time is the measurement for the employee’s performance.  Pretty simple theory, but since we are not all manufacturers of thingamajigs or widgets, we have to be a little more creative.

For service and knowledge jobs, the metrics are more subjective.  There is not a golden number of customers served in a day that makes a customer service representative a great ambassador for the organization, nor, does the number of lines of code make one a great software developer.  This illustrates that it is not always quantity that tells the story of productivity, but quality is a vital part of measuring service and knowledge jobs.

When serving customers, we want employees to give the customer not only quick and efficient service, but we want to create a superb experience that communicates to them who we are and allows us to build further on our relationship with them.  A software developer may be able to write a shorter code that yields a program far superior to the program using longer code.

Effectiveness, reliability, and impact of the employee’s work, may be additional factors an employer wishes to measure for these types of jobs.  To begin to do this and do it well, executives must define their strategy, develop action plans, and communicate to all employees the desired outcomes.   Since many jobs are unique to certain industries, make sure you dwell on your vision carefully, then skillfully target the metrics you wish to capture so you can see productivity at work.

Source:  Knowledge@Wharton, “Productivity in the Modern Office:  A Matter of Impact”

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May 9, 2013

Upcoming Webinar Announcement – Free HRCI Certification Credit

Filed under: Performance Management3:07 pm
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Webinar Title: Aligning Performance Management and Compensation Practices

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 1pm Eastern Time

Register Here.

Session overview

Practically every HR administrator has experienced the difficulty of determining and allocating appropriate employee pay adjustments at annual performance review time. There are so many factors to consider; budget, performance rating, current compensation, peer compensation, current market, survey data, etc. How do you eliminate unproductive guesswork and ensure fair and equitable performance and compensation programs are in place at all levels?

Please join Gene Mandarino, SPHR and Senior HR Consultant to present an informative 60 minute webinar titled “Aligning Performance Management and Compensation Practices.

Please note: This session has been submitted for HRCI credit approval.

During this free, no obligation webinar, designed for all interested HR and compensation leaders/administrators and staff we will address and answer the following learning objectives:

  • List strategies organizations can use to ensure their payroll dollars get funneled to the right people in a fair and equitable way.
  • Gain a better understanding of pay for performance systems.
  • Discuss method for aligning pay to performance.
  • How to ensure performance evaluation systems and pay  should be aligned to maximize productivity.

We hope you will be able to attend this free and informative presentation.

About the Presenter: Gene Mandarino, MAOD, SPHR, Sr. HR Consultant

Gene has over ten years experience in organizational development, compensation and performance improvement consulting. His experience also includes designing and conducting programs on supervisory skills, customer relations, leadership and team problem solving for businesses, municipalities and colleges. Gene holds a master’s degree in organizational development.

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April 3, 2013

One Stop Shop for the Recruiting Process

Filed under: Performance Management6:00 am

One of the most important, yet most difficult, activities for a business is finding and keeping the best employees to make their business grow and prosper.  The prospect of finding the right person for the job can be overwhelming.  The US Department of Labor (DOL) has recognized the need for helping employers with this process of recruiting, training, and then retaining a skilled workforce.

The DOL has expanded the CareerOneStop website to include a Business Center page with a suite of online resources to assist employers with this seemingly daunting task.  The site includes tips about how to recruit qualified candidates through local American Job Centers and provides employment projections.  Additionally, the site offers access to local training and educational institutions, a catalog of occupational certifications, and a tool to help employers translate the military training and skills of returning service members into specific civilian occupations.  The CareerOneStop Business Center is available online at:  http://www.careeronestop.org/business.  The website also provides information for job seekers to find education and training providers and to conduct a comprehensive job search.

When recruiting for your organization, it is important to have a solid, non-discriminatory process to funnel out the most qualified applicants.  From job descriptions to interview questions we can help you.

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March 27, 2013

Mob Action in Your Workplace?

Filed under: Performance Management — Tags: , 6:00 am

We have been focusing on Workplace Bullying this month.  It has been a recurring topic of media reports and lawsuits of late.  In researching the topic, a type of bullying piqued my interest:  mobbing.  This is a practice that is equivalent to group bullying.  It usually occurs when an employee inadvertently annoys a manager and finds himself the target of mob action.  The manager, in a provoked state, then determines the employee must go.   With ease the manager is able to convince a portion of the workforce to turn on the worker.  Indirectly the manager makes it known the worker must go because of their own deeds and that the worker would be more contented elsewhere.  And, the mobbing begins.

It all seems so subtle, but to the target these are direct hits!  First, coworkers may distance themselves from the target, excluding him from certain office activities.  The harmful gossiping begins, which quickly turns to destructive rumors.  Hearsay and speculation about the target become rampant.  Coworkers refuse to work with or cooperate with him and sabotage projects for which he was responsible.    Negative performance evaluations, clandestine inquiries, and false accusations of misconduct torment the target as the angered manager tries to make a contrived case for dismissal.

Understanding workplace bullying in all its forms will aid in tailoring workplace policies to meet your organization’s needs and hold the appropriate people accountable for keeping your workplace civil and respectful.

To learn more about Workplace Bullying, see HRN Performance Solutions March, 2013, People Pay Performance.

Source:  Janice Harper, “What the Stanford Prison Experiment Can Teach Us About the Workplace.”  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/janice-harper/stanford-prison-experiment_b_2805497.html

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February 13, 2013

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses!

Filed under: Performance Management6:00 am

Even the most punctual employee has been late sometimes.  They overslept, their dogs got out, car wouldn’t start, forgot to set the alarm, didn’t hear the alarm, etc.  You get the picture!  The excuses could just go on and on, which is why CareerBuilder collected in their annual survey some of the most memorable excuses for employee tardiness that employers willingly shared.

The survey noted that 31% said traffic is the most common culprit.  I can accept that, it’s believable!  However, what follows are what CareerBuilder reported as some of the excuses actually offered up for being late to work:

  • Employee dropped her purse into a coin-operated newspaper box and couldn’t retrieve it without change (which was in the purse)
  • Employee accidentally left the apartment with his roommate’s girlfriend’s shoes on and had to go back to change
  • Employee’s angry wife had frozen his truck keys in a glass of water in the freezer
  • Employee’s car wouldn’t start because the breathalyzer showed he was intoxicated
  • Employee drove to her previous employer by mistake

Click here to read the rest!

The point is employers have to weigh each of these excuses/reasons, whatever you wish to call them, and make some sense of its truthfulness.  Things happen that we could never imagine, so when you hear a story like one of these, it’s difficult to process.  However, an employer needs to be cautious and make sure the reason for the tardiness isn’t a legally protected reason, such as protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Family and Medical Leave Act.  It would be unlawful to take a corrective action or give a negative mark on a performance appraisal for an employee with an absence or tardiness that may be legally protected.  Make sure your policies and practices are thorough and up-to-date.  We can help you!  Check out our website www.hrnonline.com  – A Complete Human Resources Compliance Solution!

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January 15, 2013

The Million Dollar Question

Filed under: Performance Management10:54 am

Last week we published a whitepaper written by our VP, Michele Lindsay.  If you haven”t read it, you are in for some great thought leadership surrounding the topic of strategic planning.  Michele poses the million dollar question (you will have to read the whitepaper to find out what it is!) and also provides some simple steps on how to tie organizational strategy to individual performance planning.  Something that sounds very basic, but clearly many organizations miss the mark in accomplishing this important objective.

Attention managers!  We”d also like to hear from you about your thoughts on sharing strategic plans with employees – what works and what doesn”t work.  So first, read Michele”s whitepaper (it”s a great tool to start the year off right!) and then take part in our short survey – both links are below.

Whitepaper:  www.hrnonline.com

Survey:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HRNManagerStrategicObjectives

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December 21, 2012

HR Fact Friday: Retaliation or Poor Performance

Filed under: Performance Management10:28 am

A director for student financial aid at a Texas university complained to an outside auditor about nonexempt workers being deprived of their comp time and/or vacation time and offered a range of other concerns. She was fired after making these complaints, which she believed was retaliation. However as you will read, a well documented performance review was a key piece of evidence in the ensuing litigation which; in part ended up carrying the day for the employer.

What happened. “Samantha” spent 17 years in financial aid at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi before heading up the office of financial aid and scholarships at Texas A&M University–Commerce, or TAMUC, in March of 2006. When an outside auditor visited for an annual review in November 2008, she asked whether Samantha had any concerns, which opened the floodgates.

In part, Samantha had a problem with TAMUC’s policy of awarding comp time rather than overtime to nonexempt employees (a practice that’s permitted to public employers) but requiring them to use it all before using their paid vacation, which expired at the end of every year. Other concerns included an alleged failure to “draw down” allotted federal funds and prepare monthly reconciliations for them.

The auditor duly reported all issues up the chain of command, including TAMUC’s president. At no time, however, did either Samantha or the auditor state that the comp time issue violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a claim Samantha later made in court.

She received a positive evaluation and a raise in May 2009. But in September, she was counseled to create a training manual and to spend more time with other subordinates rather than only with her favorite one. In early December, one of the subordinates who complained she’d been shunned also charged that department members were still not being trained and that Samantha tended to “lash out” at people. Management decided to fire her, and she sued.

She charged violation of FLSA and of the Texas Whistleblower Act, claiming that managers had treated her very coldly after her complaints to the outside auditor. A judge in federal district court ruled entirely in TAMUC’s favor, and Samantha appealed to the 5th Circuit, which covers Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.

What the court said. Because Samantha was simply doing her job by reporting her concerns to the auditor, appellate judges agreed that she had not blown any whistles and that the university had not retaliated against her. Lasater v. TAMUC, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, No. 11-11068 (2012).

Point to remember: To judges, Samantha’s positive evaluation and raise didn’t look at all like retaliation.

Source www.hr.blr.com

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