Gen Z Tech Habits: Different from Millennials, Gen Z’s Habits May Surprise HR

2 May

Business manI admit it; I’m getting old.

But I didn’t realize just how old until a recent software conference where I had a speaking session on the subject of intra-company communications. Among my topics of conversation were:

            • What information needs to be communicated
            • Whom it needs to be communicated to
            • How it needs to be communicated

It was during my introduction – as I mentioned the third item in this list and gave the briefest of teasers – that I let following words escape:

“ …and although email is the most common corporate communications method, we’ll discuss how other methods need to be a part of your communications initiatives…”

And from the back of the room, barely discernable, came a brief snort, followed by this from a twenty-something:

email… c’mon out of the 90′s, guy…”

And I realized he was right.

That’s not to say that email has no place in communicating with millennials today, but whereas I still think of email as my primary means of receiving corporate communications, email might rank third or even fourth on many millennials’ list of “preferred communications methods”.

And so, when it comes to delivering critical HR information to today’s employees – whether it’s about changing benefits, drug test results, expiring certifications, or renewing visas, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that text message is now how millennials typically prefer to receive this information. Email might be their second choice for delivery method – but corporate communications via social network or even via personalized webpage are both growing realities today.

But it’s more than just the devices that millennials are using. It’s also their whole approach to what information they want sent their way.

You see, older folks like me are still enamored with the reality that we can get so much information, so easily, and so quickly. Unlike us, millennials grew up with this reality; “getting everything” – such as daily absenteeism reports, training course news, or COBRA updates – is their norm. And they’re rebelling against it. “I already get way too much email” is a commonly-heard complaint and today’s HR organizations need to focus less on providing content and more on personalizing content and on exception content. “Tell me only what I need to know” is the millennials’ refrain.

Lastly, millennials are forcing HR departments to recognize a greater sense of self-empowerment among their employees. Historically, HR has focused on “top-down communications” – that is, communicating with managers so they can then communicate with their employees.

Although some HR issues have to be channeled through managers, many don’t. Communicating directly with employees shortens the process, speeds the result, and empowers staff. So take a look at your HR communications and do your organization a favor – deliver only what’s needed, send it in the form most likely to be read, and don’t interject a layer of management just because it’s always been done that way. As millennials have shown us, habits are made to be broken.

Don Farber is a guest blogger for the Employer Solutions Blog and the Vice President of Sales (and co-founder) of Vineyardsoft Corporation. Visit his website at  www.alertsandworkflow.com.

Social Media Recruiting: Use of social media for talent acquisition, recruitment and screening

1 Apr

Social media can be used by hiring managers and specialists to find eligible job candidates.

Social media is growing as a recruiting platform for hiring managers and recruiters. It helps recruiters and human resource specialists determine who has a large professional network using websites such as LinkedIn, Google Plus or Twitter. It also helps human resource professionals by gauging  if the individual is a fit for the company. For example, if a potential job candidate posts photos on social media that can be deemed irresponsible or does not uphold an active account, these factors may reduce the candidate's chances of being hired. On a positive note, a candidate that features friendly photos and active social media accounts will be received more positively by a recruiter.

How can human resource specialists use social media to acquire talent and make the recruitment process simpler? Social websites can be used in the following ways for HR professionals:

1. General recruiting
Websites such as LinkedIn and Twitter are growing more popular as job-posting mediums among recruiters and HR specialists. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 77 percent of respondent companies use social networking websites to recruit for specific career opportunities. In part with using websites such as Indeed, Monster or the company website, head hunters must post the jobs on social media using equal employment opportunity legalities or an affirmative action tagline. Furthermore, the postings must be retained like any other hiring description as required by law.

2. Talent acquisition
Social media is not only beneficial for recruiting, it is also useful for tapping into large communities of talented individuals. For example, many artists use websites such as Facebook and Tumblr to post their creative works for talent specialists to find. According to Time magazine, Facebook has seen the greatest gain in overall recruiter usage over the past five years. Thanks to Tumblr and Facebook algorithms, it is easy to like a page and find similar pages. Since many artists and creative individuals follow each other on social media, this opens up new pools of talent to recruiters looking for creative individuals.

3. Screening
Because of the recent rise in social media recruiting, working professionals today are asked to keep clean websites. Viewing a candidate's social media profile is one of the first steps a recruiter will take when interviewing candidates. For example, a candidate may have a well-produced LinkedIn profile, yet inappropriate photos on their Facebook account. As such, recruiters should use social media to gauge the responsibility and cultural fit of a candidate and human resource management software to ease general processes.

What are the most and least stressful jobs available?

28 Mar

What jobs are most stressful and which are the least demanding?

While everyone can claim they experience stress in their careers, some face it more than others due to strenuous work conditions or mentally challenging clients. For example, teachers in elementary school classrooms may face higher levels of stress than someone working a reception desk at a doctor's office. Individuals in labor-intensive positions such as construction, contracting and mechanics may face physical wear and tear, yet team dynamics and satisfying end product results increase their satisfaction levels.

For hiring managers and human resource specialists, it is best to know what jobs are the most stressful physically and mentally for employees. There is no clear-cut answer, but the resulting industries may surprise you:

Most mentally stressful jobs
Surprisingly, some of the most mentally stressful careers include TV news broadcasting hosts, actors, event coordinators, photojournalists and reporters, according to Forbes. The high stress of these positions comes from their need for accuracy, a strong professional look and the pressure of a perfect end product. In the general workplace, CEOs and brand ambassadors face more stress than interns or regular salaried workers.

Least mentally stressful jobs
As said by Business News Daily, the least stressful professions on the market include hairstylist, medical records technician, jeweler, librarian, laboratory technician and information security analyst. These positions are stress-free due to their flexible hours and low-risk industries. Non-seasonal retail positions are also listed as a low-stress industry for many employees.

Most physically stressful jobs
List Surge's top physically stressful jobs include military personnel, construction workers, cocoa farmers, general farmers, fishermen, miners, astronauts, oil rig workers and firefighters. These jobs top the list due to their high physical needs and their long, strenuous hours. Other physically stressful jobs include restaurant busboys, woodcutters, butchers and bodyguards or security services. These jobs are physically demanding due to their need for brute strength to accomplish the task. They also involve technical skills such as proper catch-and-release techniques for fishermen and proper drilling for miners.

Least physically stressful
According to Career Cast, office-based positions and physical therapy are considered the least physically stressful because they involve large amounts of sitting and constant human interaction. Of these, audiologists, dietitians, software engineers, programmers, dental assistants and speech pathologists experience less stress because the work is done primarily in one room and in a quiet setting. However, some careers such as animation, yoga and graphic design can lead to carpal tunnel if the employee does not take frequent breaks to stretch their hands.

Human resources and the year ahead

23 Mar

What's new for 2016 in human resources?

Human resources is a constantly evolving field. On one hand, new technologies will dramatically affect how employees get hired or dismissed, the efficiency of payroll and other components of HR. On the other, regular changes of regulations mean businesses and HR professionals must remain fully aware of what's happening to labor laws and guidelines. The year 2015 brought some major advances, often coming from issues as widely variable as predictive analytics and the Affordable Care Act. With 2016 fully under way, more advances in technology mean human resource planning should benefit while keeping apace with the times.

2015: The ACA and overtime dominates
If there is one issue that was and will remain a challenge to HR experts and officials, it's the Affordable Care Act. With the full law not taking effect until 2020, there are still some hurdles for employers to consider. In 2015, some of the top stories by HR Benefits Alert talked about the ACA to some degree. For one example, the IRS announced guidelines that would identify who qualifies as a full-time employee and therefore qualify for health insurance provided by the employer. The 30-hour threshold is different from the standard 40 hours used by most companies, which presents potential hazards.

An equally important change was new rules regarding the Fair Labor Standards Act, particularly concerning overtime. In early July, the Department of Labor announced the overtime exemption threshold would go up from $25,660 to $50,400 in annual salary, starting in 2015. Employees receiving a salary below the threshold must be allowed overtime, with some exceptions to specific tasks such as administrative duties.

2016: More agile, personal HR
While the regulations above will cause a stir in 2016, technologies will also play an important role. For example, the HR Trend Institute noted Agile HR practices, which include cutting down on meetings, keeping teams small and using collaboration as the focal point of all functions, will be an important part of changes in 2016 as more companies embrace them.

Another major development will be artificial intelligence. While predictive analytics enabled some understanding of a potential recruit and whether they will last at a company, AI platforms such as IBM's Watson are now creating opportunities to assess people before you even meet them.

On a less technological level, a big trend is taking better care of the employee by using a more personal approach to his or her productivity. For example, there is a greater emphasis on individualization, which intends to treat workers more like clients. In addition, there's a major push away from work-from-home practices in order to make employees more personable and build a stronger work culture.

ACA Reporting: Preparing for ACA reporting requirements

18 Mar

Reporting for the ACA is simple with this how-to guide.

The Affordable Care Act, formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is a health care statute launched by President Barack Obama in March 2010. In 2016, employers and insurance companies are required by government law to file to the IRS and provide forms and copies to recipients. These forms include 1095-B and 1095-C that must be sent to the IRS after being filled out by employees. There are many preparations human resource specialists should take when researching ACA requirements and 1095-B and 1095-C forms. Here are the three steps all businesses should take when getting ready for ACA reporting.

1. Learn your compliance basics
The most important thing a HR specialist can do is learn the basics of ACA compliance. According to the Obamacare Facts, the ACA is a health care initiative that requires all Americans have health care coverage, or they must pay a penalty charge. A company can purchase large or small-scale plans depending on the size of their organization. For companies with under 50 employees, the company can purchase insurance through the Small Business Health Options Program. If your business does not not allow for employers to file for health insurance under your chosen plan, whether it be private or public, your company will face serious fines. For more about compliance, visit the IRS website for Employer Shared Responsibility Provision information.

2. Reporting
Your business must withhold an additional .9 percent on employee wages per month in order to file for ACA reporting. As well, your business may be required to report the value of health insurance coverage the organization currently has. Effective in 2015, your business must file an annual return for 2016 reporting what types of health insurance you offered staff members. Lastly, if your company provides self-insured coverage to employees, you must file an annual return in 2016 reporting what information you actually cover for employees.

3. Getting forms to employees
Companies can receive copies of the 1095-B form if their health care coverage meets the minimum requirements of "minimum essential coverage" under the ACA. Your company's personal health care provider should send out 1095-B forms at the beginning of the calendar tax year.  Some employees may receive a copy of the 1095-C form. The only difference between the two forms is that the 1095-B is typically used for large-scale employers while the 1905-C is used for smaller companies. If your company has not received these forms, contact your health care provider immediately. 

The 2016 FICA: What’s changed?

14 Mar

Medicare and Social Security tax rates remain mostly unchanged for 2016.

The Federal Insurance Contributions Act changes on a yearly basis. The amounts employees and other individuals must pay  into programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Supplemental Security Income can vary, based on each agency's funding needs. There were a lot of adjustments made in  2015 to take into account the enactment of particular provisions of the Affordable Care Act. With this in mind, what changes were in store for FICA in 2016? As it turns out, very few adjustments happened. For the vast majority of businesses in the United States, the situation is unchanged. This means a payroll manager has little to worry about.

The more things change
There were only two adjustments for FICA rates and thresholds for 2016, according to the IRS. These changes relate to election workers and domestic household workers such as nannies, cleaners and other similar employees. The former is important, since 2016 is a presidential election year.

For election workers, the threshold to pay for Social Security and Medicare increased. Now, they must earn at least $1,700 before they pay taxes for these two benefits, up from $1,600. Domestic household workers also received an increase in their threshold, from $1,900 to $2,000.

The more they stay the same
Otherwise, practically everything else in the FICA rates and thresholds remains unchanged, for there were no cost of living adjustments. Employers and employees should expect to pay 6.2 percent of their compensation to Social Security. This contribution has a taxable earning limit of $118,500 dollars.

For Medicare, employees and employers will pay 1.45 percent of their compensation in taxes. There is no limit on maximum taxable earnings. For those employees exceeding $200,000 in compensation, there is an additional 0.9 percent tax on Medicare. This brings the total rate to 2.35 percent.

Self-employed persons keep their total taxable pay rate of 15.3 percent, with 12.4 percent for Social Security and 2.9 percent for Medicare. The maximum amount a self-employed worker would pay into Social Security is $14,694.

For those around retirement age, the means test remains the same. The maximum earnings exempt limit while under retirement age – which is still 66 – is $15,720. In the year a person reaches the age of retirement, the exempt limit is $41,880 in the months before that birthday and no limit after. The maximum monthly benefit for workers at full retirement age is $2,639.

Supplemental Security Income remains the same as well. The payment standard is $733 for individuals and $1,100 for couples. Resource limits are $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples.

3 common mistakes made in interviews

10 Mar

Job interviews can go wrong because of how a candidate answers his or her question.

There are a lot of reasons professionals can lose job opportunities. Maybe the resume didn't match up to the company's needs. Perhaps the work culture didn't quite work with the candidate's expectations. However, the most common reason potential recruits fail to get an offer is because something went wrong with the interview. The mistakes that a person can make when talking to interviewers can vary, but these errors, when committed often, leave them little room for recovery. Here are some critical errors that cost applicants the job that managers should consider in human resource planning:

Talking negatively about the previous employer
A common reason people switch jobs is that they don't like the company they work for. There can be various reasons for that: There's a mismatch in culture, or some grievances developed. It could also just be that the company is a terrible place to work. However, interviewers don't know or care about the company applicant worked for. They only concern themselves with the applicant. If that person starts speaking ill off his or her current employer, it will make the HR team wonder when he or she will do the same for their company.

Failing to do research on the company or job
Some people will apply for any job because they feel a desperate. That's understandable to some degree, due to whatever issues they may have where they currently work. However, that doesn't excuse applicants from at least researching the company and position before the interview, according to RH Accountemps. Practically every company has a website , so candidates should at the bare minimum look through the website and find out more about what they're dealing with. To interviewers, an uninformed recruit is someone who isn't interested in the position and is just looking for work.

Talking too much or too little
Applicants should understand they are at the whims of the interviewer. At the same time, they shouldn't feel like they're under somebody's thumb. This extends to how they converse with the HR team during the interview the process. If candidates talk over the interviewer overall, there's a great risk they'll sound arrogant in comparison to the people that would become their bosses. They should avoid interrupting the person asking questions, as suggested by The Sedona Group Austin. On the other hand, they shouldn't be afraid to speak at length about certain subjects. By limiting their answers to brief sentences, it may indicate to the interviewers that they know little of the subjects on which they're supposed to be experts.

Measuring quality of hire

2 Mar

Quantifying the quality of a new hire is simple using these metrics.

Every HR manager understands the importance of hiring great employees. For many businesses, it means a higher rate of turnover if employees are unsatisfactory. There are ways for human resource managers to find the best hires and prevent turnover by using quality-of-hire metrics. These metrics are variables that set one employee apart from another. While no single metric can be applied across all industries, different metrics can be applied for various stages of employment. Here are the different ways human resource managers can use quality-of-hire metrics at their companies today.

What to measure
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, hiring for high-quality candidates is fundamentally different than hiring candidates for the lowest cost. However, metrics such as company enthusiasm often cannot be quantified. According to Inc. magazine, many recruiters complain that they can only measure a quality of hire after seeing their work performance for three to six months. This simply isn't the case. Human resource managers and human resource generalists can measure the quality of their hires using six to eight performance objectives. Skills, behaviors and competencies can be measured in these quantifiable forms as well as team spirit and go-getter attitudes.

How to measure it
When measuring these six to eight performance objectives or skills, behaviors and competencies, use a scale of one through five with one being unsatisfactory and five being the most impressive. These six to eight KPIs can be anything from volume of work produced to satisfaction by managers and teammates. Require each employee to score at least a 20 out of 25 to keep employment after checking in during the first month. Over the course of that month, track their trend of growth or work volume by requiring employees to fill volume logs and meet quotas by the end of a week or month. If a customer has not completed their quotas by the end of the month, they could face termination.

Other options
Many other factors can be taken into account when rating the quality-of-hire for a candidate. If scales are an unsatisfactory form of quantifying data at a company, use an equation in a spreadsheet to measure their productivity. It is also possible to use human resources management software to track the quality of your hires. With these tools, every human resource manager will be able to easily measure and keep the most effective talent for an organization.

Tips for the HR department of one

22 Feb

An HR department of one is possible with the right planning.

Human resource management system software can give small-business owners the assistance they need to make important decisions, but what do you do when you're a HR department of one? You might have just a small pool of employees to look after, however, how can one individual tackle all of the administrative work along with face-to-face interactions with employees all at the same time? The workload might send many people running for the exits.

Being the sole HR representative for your business means it's up to you to explain yearly benefits packages, file important documents and handle any personnel issues that might arise. While the work might seem overwhelming, it's still doable. With that said, let's take a look at a few tips and tricks to help you get started: 

1. Let your company know the power you hold
There's a lot of administrative work that goes into HR, but that's not all. Let the rest of your business know you also play a strategic and vital role in decision making. As an HR department of one, you can always outsource the more paper-pushing tasks to enterprises that offer payroll software programs. However, you know your business best and you can provide the strategic human resource management it needs. 

2. Make a schedule
It's easier said than done for an HR professional to make a schedule and stick to it. Being the lone HR representative means you have to perform triage most of the time. However, prioritize your time wisely. Set aside an hour or two during the week to work on specific tasks so you're not scrambling to get crucial paperwork completed at the last minute. 

3. Always stay up to date
Since HR includes many legal matters, you must stay current with labor laws. With that said, look for a few good resources you can turn to if you need help in this area. There are a number of resource books, websites and blogs you can use including "The Complete Guide to Human Resources and the Law."

4. Use technology to your advantage
Besides using a third-party service to handle payroll, you can also look for other services or download programs to search and organize job applicants. Also, put social media platforms such as LinkedIn to use to find potential candidates. 

An HR department of one is possible if you prioritize your time and think strategically

2016 Contribution Limits: What businesses need to know

17 Feb

The IRS has released the contribution limits for 2016.

Every company offers its employees different benefits and perks. For those business providing workers with 401(k) or other savings plans, it's important to know how much the government allows in terms of contributions. The IRS released these breakdowns toward the end of 2015. Let's take a closer look:

Caps in 2016: Most will stay the same
Information from the IRS focused on four programs, in particular: 401(k), 403(b), 457 and Thrift Savings. In 2015, the limit for employees utilizing these initiatives raised $500 – from $17,500 to $18,000. This cap will remain the same for 2016, as will the 401(k) catch up amount which is set at $6,000 for employees aged 50 and older.

The total contribution limit – for both workers and their employers – will hold steady at $53,000. The IRS also announced that individual contributions to Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs) will remain at $5,500 for the upcoming year.

This information wasn't the only news the IRS released that related to business benefits. The agency also issued updates on Medicare and Social Security.

Medicare and Social Security witness no changes
Both employees and their companies pay a portion of the Medicare Tax Rate which will remain at 1.45 percent for 2016. People whose annual salaries exceed a particular threshold will likely trigger the Additional Medicare Tax. Yearly compensation that is more than the following amounts will provoke the extra tax:

  • $125,000 for married taxpayers who file separately.
  • $200,000 for single and all other taxpayers.
  • $$250,000 for married taxpayers who file together.

Social Security will also experience no increase in 2016. Employees and employers will still be subject to the 12.4 percent tax rate – split in two, which results in a 6.2 percent tax rate for each party. The maximum amount of wages subject to the Social Security Tax will remain at $118,500. As a result, anyone making or exceeding this amount will be able to make a $7347 contribution at most.

Companies that offer employees competitive savings, as well as Social Security and Medicare contributions should be aware of the changes to these programs as the years pass. The government keeps businesses well-informed of these updates, but it is the role of employers to remain compliant with these limits and the responsibility of human resources teams to ensure workers are cognizant of individual contributions and tax laws.

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