Are you subtly but certainly killing your credibility?

29 Jan

Recruiting and retaining millennials can be difficult for many companies.Want to know how to build and sustain credibility as an HR professional? Practice your communication so that it delivers the desired results that will allow you to be viewed as a credible resource. Does credibility of your function really even matter? It most certainly does. As a matter of fact, it matters for every function within an organization, regardless of the role you have within it. Here are just a couple of tips for you to establish, maintain, and become the trusted resource for providing credible information.

When someone asks for your assistance, listen to their request. Ascertain if it’s reasonable, and if the request isn’t “up your alley,” then redirect the person making the request accordingly to the accurate person or area. Don’t waste his or her time by providing vague answers or answers that you think are correct. However, if you choose to redirect the request, take that extra step to ensure the requestor has been given a response by doing a quick follow-up with the requestor. Keep in mind that any lack of further response from where the requestor was re-directed may provide the requestor with a negative perception of you. Do this a few times and your credibility perception will quickly, but subtly spread. Take the time to follow up. Appropriate follow-up builds credibility.

Don’t make promises you can’t deliver on. This sounds like a no-brainer but really, think before you speak. Don’t say anything affirmatively to anyone without having all of your facts straight then think you can simply retract it later on because you didn’t do the appropriate fact-finding. Don’t kid yourself. This erodes credibility in a big way as well.

If someone knows more about a certain topic than you do, don’t try to “one up” him with your knowledge. People are looking for you to deliver specialized expertise and advice to your organization for the information that you are most familiar with. If there’s even a hint or illusion that you don’t know what you are talking about, people will stop seeking guidance from you within your specialized area of knowledge or expertise. In some cases, they may even find a way to work around you. Allow others who are viewed as the experts in their field to apply their expertise. This is one of the hardest habits to break.

So what do you do about it? Well, we’ve all heard about 360-degree reviews, right? You’ll need to do this assessment on yourself. Start right away. Don’t ask your friend or your best colleague. They may not give you the honest, open feedback you need in an attempt to spare your feelings. Don’t ask your direct reports either. After all, you sign off on their reviews and hold a key to their future. Do you really think they will tell you what you don’t want to hear when it comes to this? You have a couple of choices here. You can seek the input of someone who others view as credible, not who you view as being credible and ask them for an honest assessment of what their honest perception is of your credibility and hope they give you the honest feedback. It’s advisable to tell them first that in order to become a better leader, there are always ways where one can improve upon themselves. So, since this is one area that you want to improve upon for yourself, you are soliciting their feedback and honest input.  Or, you can just reflect upon yourself, admit you do these things and begin to change your behavior now.

 

 

 

 

 

“Ambush” election rule sees controversy

27 Jan

Unions may become more common because of the ambush election rule.

The National Labor Relations Board was notified on Jan. 6, 2015 that it was being sued because of its new streamlined union election rule, according to the Daily Caller. The new rule is called the "ambush election rule" by those who oppose it. It was intended to make it easier and faster for employees to unionize. Critics argue that the rule accelerates union elections so much that employers aren't able to explain to employees what would happen if they chose to unionize.

"Furthermore, we question the need for the regulation given that 95 percent of all elections are now conducted within two months and that unions win more than two-thirds of them," said Randy Johnson, member of the Chamber of Commerce, in a statement.

What this means for managers
The law goes into effect April 14, 2015, JD Supra stated. Provided the legislation passes, its rules will make it harder for employers to explain to employees who want to unionize the significance of their actions. Employers must therefore take caution and make sure they stay on top of what employees want. At the first sign that people begin talking about unions, it would be a good idea to make sure employees understand the full repercussions of such a choice. Employers won't have as much time as they had before to argue in favor of a non-union resolution, which makes it that much more critical to use every moment to explain why unions aren't necessary. It also serves to put much more control in the hands of employees, who could unionize quickly if they aren't reaching a satisfactory resolution from discussing things with management.

Additional employee rights
JD Supra reported that under the NLRB, employees with work email can use this to communicate their ideas for unionizing freely. Employers thus have a difficult time now when it comes to preventing unions from occurring as part of an employee management system. The best likely solution is to talk to workers about their thoughts and feelings regarding unionization and whether it is in their best interest to form unions. Remember that relying on lagging indicators, such as an email advocating for a union, isn't as useful as paying attention to leading indicators like a feeling of overall dissatisfaction in the office. When workers aren't happy, they may not immediately think of unions, but the concept is on the horizon and should be addressed quickly before it becomes a major issue.

The Affordable Care Act: One year later

16 Jan

It will soon be very important that companies comply with the ACA.

It's been about a year since the Affordable Care Act came into effect. The so-called employer mandate was originally to begin impacting companies in 2014, but was delayed until 2015, according to CNN Money. Now, companies are beginning to become more affected by the ACA than previously. Businesses will face fines if they don't offer coverage that isn't affordable or comprehensive.

Fortunately, there is an easy way to determine if a company will have to pay those fines or not. The first is very simple: If no employee chooses subsidized insurance from the ACA individual exchange and opts instead for either no insurance or a company policy, then the business will not incur the penalty.

After that, if someone chooses an individual plan versus the plan set up by his or her employers, then the company faces two more tests. The first is whether the insurance is affordable. If workers have to spend more than 9.5 percent of their income on insurance, it's not considered affordable.

The second test is comprehensibility. If the policy pays for at least 60 percent of the staff's entire medical expensive, plus offers other health benefits like prescriptions, then the plan is considered comprehensive.

What this comes down to for companies
Ultimately, what this means is that large businesses have all begun to make changes to their existing policies in order to guarantee compliance.

"Almost all large employers are having to tweak their benefits somewhat," said Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Remember that the obligation to provide health care doesn't apply if a company has fewer than 50 people. Businesses with 50 to 99 people will have to start providing health care in 2016.

Some companies are struggling to meet compliance
One business in Tennessee has been having trouble making its way toward complying with the ACA, according to NBC-affiliate WBIR.

"The main way it's affected us is we've seen our rates skyrocket. Over the last three years they've probably gone up 15 percent to 18 percent," said Terry Turner, owner and president of All Occasions Party Rentals in West Knoxville.

One of the issues with the new rule is that more employees are choosing their company's policy than before. Because of the influx of workers in various states of health, different businesses have been experiencing different levels of change in their rules.

Companies that will be affected in 2016 may wish to begin making changes to bring about compliance sooner rather than later. Those in charge of human resources planning have a responsibility to comply with the ACA.

Engaging workers with the job

16 Jan

Keeping workers engaged means focussing on human connections.

Engaging workers and keeping them happy is a full-time job. For human resources management professionals, employee engagement is part of the daily grind. According a study by Gallup cited by the Chicago Tribune, there are costs when employees aren't connected to their work. Only 30 percent of Americans describe their relationship to their jobs as "engaged," and this lack of engagement is costing the U.S. between $450 to $550 billion per year in lost productivity.

The Tribune recommended employers who want to encourage their employees to work hard try to rediscover their purpose as companies. One such business, Medix, faced a great deal of turnover from millennials until its managers put together the slogan "Positively Impacting Lives," and transformed it into a company that helps people find employment.  The important aspect here is finding a way for employees to feel like they are doing something major and purposeful with their lives. Even people who work in administrative support positions need to believe the work they are doing is meaningful to the people they are assisting. Millennials in particular want to be leading lives of meaning through their work. Separate studies cited by the Tribune show that millennials will do jobs for less money if the business they do is perceived as valuable.

Remember to treat employees as human beings
A Forbes article explained that people generally don't respond to a more relaxed work environment by instantly becoming engaged and working harder. Typically, the engagement must come from an interior place created when managers sit down and really communicate with their employees. Employees don't necessarily care if the human resources team installs a foosball or a soda fountain in the employee lounge. What matters is connections between the staff and managers. If people don't feel like their employers care about them, then it won't matter how much focus is placed on engagement because workers will feel that they are not being respected.

Emotional connections
According to Gallup, the emotional connections people have at their jobs are what keep them returning. This doesn't mean having friends at the office, but that people treat each other well and that the job is something treated as important by other people. People have the same needs from their work as they do from every other part of their lives. Although people expect to work, they also want to be treated fairly instead of replaceable staff members.

Ultimately, treating people with the respect they deserve will be better in the long term than making work fun. Doing a survey to see how happy employees are isn't as important as connecting with workers on a deeper level.

"Surveys are fine, but simply having actual conversations and asking employees 'What can we do better?' is much more valuable," said Neil Morrison, group human resources director for Penguin Random House U.K., according to an interview with the Chicago Tribune. "If employees can't sit down with their boss and talk about things, it doesn't matter how many anonymous surveys you run; you have a problem."

In the end, human resources is about connecting people with others in ways that are appropriate, respectful and real. This is what keeps people coming back to work day after day.

Using culture to strengthen HR

16 Jan

HR is in a strong position to positively impact culture.

People often think of human resources as simply a payroll- and compliance-based part of the organization, but it can be much more than that if managers give the department the right tools. HR ideally should drive culture and create an environment where employees can feel confident coming into the office that they will have a great day. According to Forbes, this means treating culture as a "strategic advantage and competitive weapon." The theory is that when the culture is very good, then people who visit the office will feel the energy and want to be part of it by buying the product or service the company sells.

Part of the means for bringing this about is hiring someone or training people for the skills behind a great culture, which are essentially based on emotional intelligence. They have less to do with knowing compliance rules than with understanding when the vibe at the office is negative and figuring out how to quickly turn that around. To do this, management should have the right tools for changing the cultural barometer. This could range from having parties to discussing recent business proceedings with employees to make sure everyone is on board with various transitions happening in the workplace.

Convincing HR to get on board with culture
It may be difficult to convince those involved in human resources planning of their own importance. Perhaps it would help to remind them that as the new year begins, human resources could take on the additional responsibility of ensuring a quality work environment. Business 2 Community cited that last year was called "the year of the employee" by Deloitte. Even so, managing people so they stay in the workplace and function at a high level is something that still challenges HR, B2C reported, primarily because HR doesn't have control of every step in place.

One way to convince human resources to go along with a plan for expanding the scope of the section's operations is to give it more power to hire and fire employees. On one hand, this could be seen by people in different operational groups as infringing on their own rights to hire whoever they want. At the same time, giving HR a little more power isn't the same as ceding responsibilities for the entire company to human resources. It would really come down to having someone sit in on meetings with potential recruits and give feedback about how they might fit into the current culture. This could be a good way to give HR the tools it needs.

The changing world of retirement

13 Jan

Many people are working longer.

Retirement is changing, and it's an essential part of good human resource planning to get ready for it by explaining the available options to those approaching the age when they can stop working full time. For many people, the idea of retirement doesn't come up until middle age when it may be too late to invest properly and have enough money for the future. Getting even the youngest members of the staff involved with planning for their retirement is a good idea.

Begin investing early
The best way to have a good retirement fund is to get started early in someone's career and continue to receive deposits. Many companies will match some of the money going into a retirement fund. HR Morning reported that businesses have begun to change their matching strategies so that employees have to save more money to earn the full benefits. The example cited was companies beginning to match 25 percent of employee contributions up to 12, versus matching 50 percent of contributions up to 6 percent of pay.

The U.S. government is also making it easier to create Roth 401(k)s, which means that employers have begun offering more of these.

Consider a period of semi-retirement
Many workers who don't have enough in savings to retire fully from work have begun working part time on top of living off of their saved earnings. According to a study by the University of Michigan cited by U.S. News and World Report, about 20 percent of 65 to 67 year olds have extra jobs they use to earn money for paying bills. People who leave work early also have a greater incentive to continue working somewhere else because they often earned less money compared with people who retire later. People who work longer tend to earn higher wages. If someone is already earning a high salary, they will likely keep working past the usual retirement age, while people who earn less cash will work in part-time jobs sometimes through the age of 70 in order to earn enough to live.

Educating workers
It is important to make use of early investments, and many who don't do this need to take part-time jobs when they retire. As such, workers ought to receive advice and explanations from people who have experience when it comes to explaining the different retirement options available to those who have worked sufficient hours. Even people just beginning their career often have possibilities they don't know about, and HR needs to inform employees about available investments.

The history of perks and what to do about them

12 Jan

Perks can help foster community.

Perks are becoming a major part of business for some industries. For example, The tech sector, has created a new job category called workplace coordinator that focuses entirely on managing and delivering new job perks, Human Resource Executive Online reported. People in the technology industry who work at places like Google and Microsoft have become used to having all kinds of things that other businesses couldn't likely afford, such as sleeping pods and a $2,000 espresso machine in the break room.

It wasn't always this way
It hadn't been the case at the beginning that perks would become major parts of business. Twenty years ago, working in the Silicon Valley wasn't too different from other parts of California, but according to historian Michael S. Malone, it changed when Hewlett-Packard began offering donuts in the morning, plus beer on Friday and a large parcel of land for people to enjoy on the weekends. The company added stock options and other benefits as well, Malone added in an interview with HRE Online.

During the dot-com bubble, the perks became more extreme because it was so necessary to get the programing done for much of the business. Companies offered activities such as laser tag, which gave the offices a college-like feel to make the young men at the firms feel comfortable working the long hours.

Things are beginning to change again as those same young people have grown up to be in their thirties and now want more family-oriented perks.

What companies can do to offer perks in their own offices
Although most businesses won't be able to lavish their employees with filet mignon every Friday, there are still some things that they can do to keep people happy with their jobs and retain employees longer.

Forbes reminded its readers that the real value of perks is that they make people feel loyal and boost morale. For companies on a budget, simply letting the office become more relaxed might be enough of an incentive for people to begin to form a community that inspires people to stay longer than they otherwise would. The idea is to make people feel welcome and connected. When people have emotional connections to their job, they are going to stay longer and take the business more personally.

One example Forbes cited was giving a $25 bottle of Whiskey versus a $50 gift card. Gift cards are nice, but they don't reflect the same spirit of knowing someone and what he or she likes that a particular bottle of whiskey does.

In the end, it's really about providing an employee management system that generates a good community that will grow and prosper.

Happy New Year 2015 and beyond for HR

12 Jan

Formal Audit PeopleRobin Rothman, Product Marketing Manager answers an inquiry from Steve Browne’s call to HR Professionals asking for posts around the theme “I’d make HR better by…”. Steve also wanted to know how we could improve HR in 2015 and beyond.

One of the scariest things HR professionals face in their career is when any outside entity challenges the employment practices they’ve either enacted at their company or have inherited as being the new HR people there. Either way, not a good time. This challenge takes on many forms, but let’s just stick with the scariest of them all—compliance issues.

No one likes an audit, and of course . . . NO ONE likes to receive formal notice he will be undergoing an audit, let alone to receive notice of a lawsuit because of some “triggering event” that occurred which prompted one. This is scary stuff for everyone involved! Believe me, I’ve been there, and I’m sure a lot of you have been there too. Again, not a good time.

HR compliance is becoming more of a formal process that affects the management and use of HR resources and assists the business in identifying information about current and potential risks. HR is also becoming more of a strategic partner to the business in identifying risks and/or threats to the organization. They are often being called upon to assist the business with its SWOT analysis.

A SWOT analysis (or sometimes referred to as the SWOT matrix) is a structured planning method used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats involved in a business. You’ll need to become more familiar with this term. The role of HR is evolving to become more strategic in nature. This is due to the evolving field of the HR/payroll profession. As external threats to the business continue to increase and more audits are being facilitated, HR is being called upon more to assist the business with their expertise to directly deal with these processes.

For HR 2015 and beyond, I would like to see all HR professionals learn to be more strategic by utilizing their HR systems to the fullest extent to facilitate audits appropriately and by carefully inserting themselves into those areas of the business where they will gain the most leverage. This will enable their function to be more proactive. The HR professionals should drive the SWOT analysis using their expertise. Net effect, overall business processes will meet all compliance mandates, litigation will decrease, auditors and employees will be happy, and the HR department will be viewed as a critical, proactive, strategic resource.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discouraging absenteeism

12 Jan

Absenteeism can impact the bottom line.

Absenteeism is a major problem among businesses, according to HR Morning. It has a moderate to large effect on about 75 percent of companies responding to a recent study by the Society of Human Resource Management. The amount of money a company loses could total something like 22.1 percent of payroll. The biggest drain on cash comes from unplanned absences, according to the study, and much of the work that has to be done for absences involves finding someone else to do the work for the person who left the company temporarily. Generally, the people who cover for someone who is gone for a day are less productive than they would be if they'd just been doing their own work.

Encouraging workers
All it really takes to get workers in the office is to keep them healthy and motivated, but this isn't always easy if the work is hard and it's the flu season. According to Forbes, there are still some ways to encourage employees to show up every day, ready to work hard and give their all to the company. 

One method that people in charge of human resource planning could include in a program is showing workers the way they impact the bottom line. In other words, get them feeling like what they do matters to the team and to the company. People want to have responsibilities, and if they feel that people are counting on them, then they will work harder.

Salary and perks are also important, Forbes wrote, but not as much as giving people challenging but doable work and having them complete assignments that build skills they can carry with them into the next job. People are generally willing to negotiate their salary, but it would be a bad idea to negotiate too hard for a low one. Give someone a reasonable amount of money, and don't let a desire to be thrifty get in the way of giving workers enough monetary encouragement to stay at a job.

Perks matter if they go along with challenging, interesting work that people would enjoy doing. One way to foster this is to give people work that is different from what they usually do. When they are performing something new, it feels like a change of pace, and this will help them grow more adept in their roles as employees. It will also feel refreshing since they won't be coming into work and doing the same thing every day.

What does SHRM’s new competency test mean for HR professionals?

7 Jan

The new certification by SHRM is still a relative unknown.

The Society for Human Resource Management announced in May that it was introducing its human resources certification. The program will launch on Jan. 5, 2015 with the first testing window opening between May 1 to July 15. The new credential has met controversy because there is already a Human Resource Certification Institute, which establishes the credibility of those in the field of HR. Because the HRCI was already partnered with SHRM, some people are wondering whether the HRCI's program will continue or not, according to Human Resources Executive Online.

In a conversation with HRE Online, Jon Decoteau, the SHRM divisional director of the West region, said that the difference between the new test and previous certification programs is that this one "is about how you practice the craft," while the others only cover what someone might know about the subject.

The difference between the certifications is still considered somewhat tenuous, according to HRE Online, in part because people are not fully aware of how the testing will differ from HRCI's existing program. Melissa Fleischer, founder and president of HR Learning Center, a consulting firm, said more research will likely need to be made before people come to a decision. At any rate, it may be a good idea for those who deal with human resources planning to sign up for the second program.

"It appears that, at least for now, the best course of action for HR professionals is to have both certifications, at least until the dust settles and we figure out whether the HRCI certification will continue to be used by employers to evaluate HR professionals," Fleischer said.

More changes coming to SHRM
According to a blog post on HRE Online, SHRM will be moving away from being the National Standards Institute administrator for the HR standards called ISO/TC 260. It is doing this because it wants to focus more on its new competency tests. SHRM will also leave the American National Standards Institute, where it had been an accredited standards developer.

"We've been actively reaching out to already-accredited standards-developing organizations and we've had some inquiries from folks interested in becoming accredited standards-developing organizations," Deb Cohen, SHRM's senior vice president for knowledge development, said, according to HRE Online. "We're very hopeful we'll find one soon and, frankly, if it takes a little while we're prepared to help in any way."

This is a major change for those in the industry, as SHRM has been the major standards group for HR for a long time.

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