The positive influence of rounding on employee morale

27 Apr

Rounding is a powerful tool that HR professionals can use to better understand employee needs.

Human resources professionals can improve employee management and engagement by using a tactic called rounding.

What is rounding?
Rounding is defined by Capstone Leadership Solutions as the act of meeting with employees, either in small groups or one-on-one, to discuss thoughts, concerns and praise about current business practices. It is proactive leadership aimed at improving employee-employer relationships. Often used in health care facilities to ensure patient safety, rounding is an excellent tool management and HR can use to improve performance and build trust among workers.

Why is rounding important?
Rounding is important because it establishes loyalty among employees and their team members, supervisors and corporations as a whole. It's also a good way to boost morale. Workers want to know they are valued and contribute meaningful work to an organization. When a senior member of the company engages employees in honest conversation, that effort demonstrates a genuine interest in the work being done.

In addition, personal conversations increase leader visibility and thus, transparency. No one likes being left in the dark when it comes to changes or updates at a company. Leadership engaging with entry- and mid-level employees boosts trust throughout a business.

This type of interaction also improves employee value proposition, which is the views current and prospective employees hold of a particular employer. If workers feel mistreated, deprived of fulfilling work or like there is no room for growth at an organization, they'll be disgruntled and pass that information on to others. However, if HR engages in rounding, it can more easily spot these trouble areas and work with employees to fix them.

Without rounding, key issues with client relationships or talent development may go unnoticed. Employees could feel uncomfortable bringing up specific client issues with supervisors in front of others; instead, a private meeting may be the best setting to openly discuss problems and then work toward positive solutions. 

How to perform rounding in the workplace
Southern Ohio Medical Center stated there are strategies businesses can implement to get the most out of rounding efforts. The following are several tips for HR professionals looking to either establish a rounding practice or enhance the one currently in place:

  • Schedule: It's important to set a time and place for rounding meetings, as this solidifies investment in the process. Make sure this time works for all parties involved. The Medical University of South Carolina recommended allotting 10- 15 minutes for a rounding session, though depending on the employee or topics at hand, rounding could extend well beyond this timeframe. 
  • Follow through: Be on time to a scheduled rounding meeting. This shows respect and instills confidence in employees that their opinions matter to leaders. 
  • Ask open-ended questions: Initiate the conversation with a question designed to bring about deeper conversation. Yes or no questions defeat the purpose of successful rounding. 
  • Don't ignore equipment: While pertinent to the medical industry for sure, its worth inquiring if employees in any industry have all the tools they need to effectively do their jobs. 
  • Follow up: Check back in with team members after rounding. Follow up on key discussion points or plans of action. 

Rounding is a powerful tool HR departments can use to better engage and connect with employees. 

Understanding and implementing employee value propositions

27 Apr

Employee value propositions help candidates decide where they want to work and why.

Human resources professionals must develop strong employee value propositions to attract and retain the best candidates. This employee-centric theory influences where people desire to work most, how badly they want to be part of a particular company and why.

According to a white paper by Recruiting.com, EVP is the collection of all appealing features that make candidates want to work for a business. These include, but aren't limited to:

  • Benefits: Healthcare, vision, dental, life insurance, 401​(k)
  • Rewards: Public recognition, internal contests, challenging assignments
  • Salary: Starting salary, growth potential, bonuses
  • Culture: Engaging teams, company outings, growth potential
  • Programs: Wellness, vacation time, training, development   

The key to understanding EVP is recognizing it comes from the perspective of the employees and potential recruits. It has little to do with the way HR values the offers available to workers. Even if HR finds programs suitable, it's the employees who are involved in and directly affected by these programs. When in doubt, define EVP by listing all the characteristics an employee would brag about to his or her friends when asked, "Where do you work?"

Why should employers care about EVP?
Without a compelling and positive EVP, it's incredibly difficult to recruit and retain employees.

When it comes to recruitment, finding the best talent means offering the top industry performers job positions they cannot refuse. A company that appeals to candidates on multiple levels will fare better in their job searches than one meeting only a few criteria.

In terms of retention, the Corporate Leadership Council found new hire commitment increased up to 29 percent for those companies with strong EVPs. A positive EVP also saved corporations money by cutting newly hired employees' compensation premiums in half. Plus, a positive impression of benefits and company culture may reduce the number of candidates who lose interest in an organization based solely on the salary offered. 

Examining EVP helps HR professionals revamp their recruitment and retention practices. It's often difficult to know why certain tactics work for recruitment and others fall short. By developing a strong EVP and analyzing employee feedback on the company culture and benefits, HR professionals can better manage their departments and hire top talent.

A good EVP standing can also reinvigorate current employees. If cohesive and in-depth training and development programs exist, employees are much more inclined to not only enjoy their work but also enhance their performances and grow confident in their roles at a company. This concept builds trust among employees and helps facilitate a healthy work culture. 

How to improve EVP?
Any HR professional looking for a way to enhance the EVP of an organization needs only to begin with current data. Edelman, a public relations firm, encouraged businesses to survey employees to find out what drew them to the business and why they've stayed. Ask them where the company can improve and what benefits may be lacking. It's crucial to involve everyone from senior management down through entry-level positions, as all input is incredibly valuable. After dissecting this data, identify the key areas in need of improvement and implement programs to boost those departments. 

Investing in employee management systems can help HR professionals track their progress working with EVP and improving the employee experience for current and prospective workers. 

The pros and cons of offering employees unlimited PTO

27 Apr

Giving employees unlimited PTO could be a strong strategy to improve morale and productivity.

Many businesses these days are considering offering employees unlimited vacation days. Several prominent companies like Netflix and Groupon already give workers as much paid time off as they need. If a corporation is up in the air over whether to take a plunge into the world of unlimited PTO, it's time to weigh the pros and cons of such a decision and learn from others' experiences.

Who is currently offering unlimited PTO?
According to a study conducted by The Society for Human Resource Management, only about 1 percent of companies give their employees unlimited PTO. While some of these are large corporations, others are start-ups or companies experiencing exponential growth that wish to take a more innovative approach to company culture.

It should be noted too that 40 percent of Americans working at businesses with strict or limited vacation policies are still leaving days available at the end of the year. This may be due to the fact that employees aren't sure how employers feel about their taking time off. SHRM noted that two-thirds of U.S. workers experience misleading or negative messages about taking time off.

Inc. magazine also reported that most American workers do not aspire to leadership roles with more responsibilities than their current positions because they strongly value personal time. This is the age of perfecting the work-life balance, and employers must respond accordingly.

What are the pros?
The rationale behind implementing a policy that entitles employees to as many vacation days as needed is simple: Decrease stress, increase productivity. Inc. emphasized the fact that the number of days off each person needs over the course of a year changes depending on health, personal and familial issues. Rather than grow anxious about taking vacation time to have surgery or help out a family member, businesses want their employees to feel comfortable leaving and coming back to work as needed.

Plus, an organization that trusts its workers to take responsibility for assignments increases loyalty. When employees feel more responsible to their team members, rather than just the corporation as a whole, they make the effort to ensure all bases are covered before taking off for a day or two.

Unlimited PTO can also save businesses money and human resources professionals' precious time. Ask.com, another company implementing this type of vacation policy, told SHRM over the course of a single year it saves 52 hours of administrative HR time. A recent Gallup study predicted businesses lose between $450 billion and $550 billion every year due to disengaged employees' behavior. One solution to this lack of enthusiasm is time away from work, which can feel like hitting the refresh button upon returning to the office.

Finally, there's the case of the millennial applicant. The younger generations are keen on maintaining healthy work-life balances and are also not used to the corporate work week schedule. In fact, in an Ask.com survey of 2,024 people, 69 percent claimed they would be more likely to take a job if it offered unlimited PTO. While millennials certainly want freedom, they enjoy working for businesses that support their lifestyle and personal values. Companies that offer uncapped or flexible PTO options may be more appealing to this emerging workforce. 

What are the cons?
Unlimited PTO is certainly not the right move for every business. There are drawbacks to this set-up that companies should be aware of, including backlash from employees.

SHRM reported that when the Los Angeles Times attempted an unlimited PTO policy, many staffers who had been at the company a long time expressed anger and hurt, as they had saved up many vacation days over the years to cash in on just before leaving the company for good. The situation could have potentially caused a rift between new and existing employees. The same could happen between departments at the same company. Depending on the nature of the corporation, some workers may just have to be present more often than others. If one department can more easily take advantage of unlimited PTO, it poses the potential for tension between teams. 

In addition, if a business is only comprised of a small group of employees or all workers are paid an hourly wage, unlimited PTO may not be the best solution. 

Companies can better manage their employees' PTO schedules, communicate changes to PTO policies and support workers at all stages of the employee life cycle with employee management software

Retooling and improving performance reviews at the end of 1Q

21 Apr

At the close of Q1, it's time for businesses to rethink the way they handle performance reviews.

Performance reviews in some capacity are necessary for business growth and talent development. Traditionally, performance evaluations have been completed annually, though many companies are opting to revamp their tactics and review employees more regularly throughout the year. As the first quarter winds down, businesses should be asking themselves whether evaluations are necessary at this juncture.

Performance tracking is still relevant 
While performance reviews tend to elicit feelings of anxiety in both reviewers and their workers, they are still relevant and important in the workplace. CPS Recruiter stated these discussions improve career-planning decisions for both the business and its employees.

Many corporations have goals that need to be met by the conclusion of each quarter. Some businesses or departments rely more heavily on this schedule than others. Sales teams, for example, must have a successful first quarter to get off to a running start for the rest of the year. Sales Training Connection stated sales managers must take time at the end of each quarter, and the first quarter most importantly, to assess the progress and performance of the team as a whole and individuals involved.

Other teams can take a page from the sales manager's book and administer reviews when the first quarter has finished to ensure employees are not establishing bad habits early on. Every team member likely has a routine that he or she follows when approaching a project. If this system is producing less-than-stellar results, it needs to be addressed before it becomes engrained and habitual.

Revamping the evaluation process
It's becoming more evident each year that the current performance evaluation system isn't working for many employers. An annual, all-encompassing discussion is at once not enough and too much. It causes a great deal of stress on human resources and wastes millions of hours, according to a Deloitte survey. Fifty-eight percent of respondents considered their current approach lackluster when it came to increasing employee engagement or improving performance. A system taking up too many resources while providing ineffective results needs to change. 

One alternative to the annual review is an ongoing, project-based approach to offering feedback. Rather than summing up an employee's entire year, managers can take a moment each quarter or at the conclusion of a major project to identify what the employee has done well and where he or she can improve. The research group came up with four key questions managers should be asking themselves in preparation for the review to best assess performance:

  1. Given what I know about this employee's performance, and if it were my money, would I pay this person the highest salary possible and include a bonus?
  2. Given what I know about this employee's performance, would I always choose him or her to be on my team?
  3. Do I think this person is at risk for low performance?
  4. Do I think this person is ready for promotion today?

These inquiries set up management and human resources professionals for more productive feedback to offer team members. Employee management software can help businesses formulate more meaningful performance review processes and policies, ensuring workers remain engaged, challenged and contributing members of the organization. 

Revamping performance reviews to increase employee engagement

20 Apr

HR professionals need to review their own processes throughout the year to ensure employee engagement.

Employee reviews are critical to career development and business growth. Human resources professionals must examine the review process closely, as many companies tend to use the same methods for performance evaluations year in and year out. Revamping reviews can enhance employee engagement

The power of inclusion
Feedback is certainly a powerful tool in that it clarifies exactly what tactics are working for an employee and which ones need improvement to keep up with performance standards. However, Inc. magazine noted that simply administering feedback to employees isn't always enough to convey their importance in relation to the entire company. In fact, workers who are given an equal combination of autonomy and responsibility to make decisions feel more valued in their roles.

Fast Company reported that when employees are asked to make decisions that directly influence their work and that of their peers, a greater sense of community and well-being begins to build. Happy employees are more productive and contribute stronger work to their organizations because they see the results of their efforts. 

Rather than reviewing an employee from only one side of the table, HR should consider turning the process into a conversation. Offering the employee a chance to evaluate his or her performance before listening to outside input can establish a stronger relationship between worker and employer. This action demonstrates trust and interest in fostering that employee's success. Whether beginning the review by asking employees to discuss their work or sending out planned review questions ahead of time, this approach gives workers a greater sense of control over their positions and their ability to improve.

Once may not be enough
Business Insider encouraged companies to think outside of the box and review employees more frequently so that any negative observations are addressed sooner rather than later. Surprising employees with the news that their performances have been less than acceptable for a long period of time will immediately question their future with the company and how highly they are valued by supervisors.

The negative effects of comparing and contrasting
It's hard not to measure oneself against peers; bosses and HR professionals must be sensitive to the fact that team members may already be in silent competition with one another. It doesn't help to compare any employee to another, particularly during a performance review. Instead, it's a good idea to narrow the focus to the employee under review and his or her strengths. What does this person bring to the table that no one else does? How are contributions made in meetings conducive to growing the business? 

In the same vein, if it seems a team member is not fitting in with others, avoid discussing the situation in a negative light. Explore how this person's unique perspective can contribute to the team's assignments. 

A robust human resources management software platform provides HR professionals with the tools they need to develop the most productive method of conducting performance reviews possible.

Monitoring employee stress and physical activity

20 Apr

Taking phone calls standing up is a great way to decrease the amount of time spent sitting every day.

When people think about stress, they often picture a frantic emotional or physical state that increases heart rates, causes perspiration and makes focusing on a single task difficult. However, in today's workplaces, physical stress looks very different than it used to. Multiple studies have emerged in recent years indicating that sitting at a desk all day is almost as bad – if not worse – for the body as smoking. The stress placed on the body by being sedentary all day can dramatically decrease employee health and productivity.

How much time is spent sitting?
The Annals of Internal Medicine published findings from a study on the effects of a sedentary lifestyle on health completed earlier this year. Sedentary is an adjective used to describe an inactive person or way of life. As many office workers know all too well, a large portion of the day is spent sitting at a desk. Unfortunately, the study, "Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality and Hospitalization in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis," found that despite efforts to exercise before or after the workday, sporadic activity does little to undo the damage that sitting for 8 to 12 hours every day does to the human body.

Pain Management and Injury Relief noted that on average, adult workers spend 9.3 hours per day sitting down. This number has steadily increased over the past 150 years; in the past, our ancestors spent 90 percent of their daylight hours moving or walking. Today that number is as low as 40 percent. In fact, 50-70 percent of people spend at least six hours sitting down every day, whether at a desk, in front of the TV or participating in other leisure activities.

The impact of sitting still 
The sedentary time study noted this passive stress increases the likelihood people will develop a variety of diseases in their lifetimes. High cholesterol, slowed blood circulation, cardiovascular disease, obesity and colon cancer are more likely to emerge in people who sit for 8 to 12 hours every day. In fact, one's risk for developing Type 2 diabetes increases by an alarming 90 percent with that type of sedentary lifestyle.

Fixing stress with active company culture 
Since the workplace often enables sedentary lifestyles, it's important that businesses provide employee engagement ideas pertaining to health and wellness programs to decrease physical stress. A corporation that weaves physical activity into its culture elicits greater achievement from individuals and develops more productive teams. Businesses should consider offering discounts on local gym memberships or paying a portion of an employee's enrollment in a marathon or charity run. Establishing a company sports league or playing recreational sports each season is another way to not only boost activity but camaraderie as well.

Companies that may not have the funding or resources to provide extensive training or health programs to employees can still encourage a more active lifestyle. Standing desks are becoming more popular among offices around the world, as it provides a convenient and healthy alternative to sitting down all day. Workers who have invested in a standing desk actually found they were less stressed, according to Pain Management and Injury Relief. Aside from burning more calories, standing up at work made 87 percent of workers more energized and 71 percent more focused.

Employees can also find moments throughout the day where standing could take the place of sitting. Phone calls can be taken standing up and meetings with a few colleagues could take place on a walk as opposed to a conference room.

Any method used by a business to get employees up and active is worth the effort. Those workers are the future of the company and managers should be investing in their health every day. 

Nurturing future leaders through succession development

20 Apr

A succession development plan gives businesses more control over their futures.

Businesses today must have formidable succession plans for leadership roles. Without cohesive strategies in place, a corporation could lose its industry stature or reputation when current leaders resign or move on.

According to a 2014 study completed by the Institute of Executive Development in conjunction with Stanford University, corporate leaders see succession plans as a vital aspect of their businesses​' futures, yet 46 percent stated they had no specific candidate in mind to succeed the current CEO. Should a CEO leave tomorrow, it would take those companies a median of 90 days to fill the position. 

Fast Company stated that most corporations either have no plans for succession or a strategy with too many complicated rules, stages and candidates. This simply isn't conducive to a healthy business.

Why build a succession plan?
A succession plan helps businesses maintain continuity in leadership and operations. It also helps human resources professionals identify potential candidates early on and work with these employees' strengths for a long period of time rather than tossing new CEOs into the hot seat at a crucial moment and expecting a faultless performance.

From an employee's perspective, working for a company with a succession strategy makes committing to professional development a more meaningful endeavor. From management's point of view, the process allows current leaders an opportunity to demonstrate power, which in turn actively earns employee trust. Being able to delegate duties and motivate top talent is at once a strong display of power and care. Plus, implementing a succession program will motivate senior leadership to remain accountable and on top of their businesses' performance until the day they leave.

One common motivator for establishing a succession plan among the executives in the survey was risk reduction. While this is certainly important, it doesn't focus on the professional development necessary to properly groom someone for as significant a role as CEO. Harvard Business Review encouraged companies to focus on succession development rather than succession planning as they develop their unique programs. This is because while a plan helps an organization understand the process, when it comes time for a successor to fill a leadership role, he or she will need to have had significant experience with those responsibilities already to make the transition smoothly.

How can a company initiate succession development?
The two words human resources professionals need to remember when designing a succession development plan are honesty and practice.

  1. Honesty: It's irresponsible to promise a position to someone or begin nurturing candidates who will never be considered for a CEO position. Any professional or succession development program must be straightforward with participants - and applicants, if applicable - about their chances of obtaining that top spot and what is expected of them along the way.
  2. Practice: Without actively practicing making tough decisions, performing routine tasks or interacting with clients, no prospective successor is going to be ready to take over a CEO's position. It's necessary that HR departments and senior leaders alike facilitate opportunities for those top candidates to try their hand at the work. 

Human resource information systems can improve the design and execution of a promising succession development strategy - something every business needs to secure its future. 

BYOD: How can employers and employees protect themselves?

20 Apr

Using one device for both work and personal communication is becoming more common.

Bring Your Own Device has been one of the biggest trends in the workplace for years. As more employees rely on smartphones and tablets to review data on the go, stay in touch and work remotely, the concept of using a personal device for work purposes is certainly here to stay. In 2013, Gartner predicted that half of employers would require employees to use their personal devices for work by 2017. A recent report from Tech Pro Research revealed 74 percent of respondents are already utilizing BYOD or plan to do so in the future. Only 62 percent said the same when identical research was conducted two years ago, indicating BYOD continues to gain ground. 

As BYOD becomes a more critical part of business operations and keeps contributing to employee engagement, it's essential both employers and staff members know what rights each party has and how to protect themselves.

What can an employer really see on an employee's device?
There's often confusion about what the management team can do with a worker's smartphone or tablet – the staff member does own the device, after all. Plenty of controversy surrounds this issue, as employees may have photos, records or other data of a personal nature on their devices that they don't want their employer rifling through.

According to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, it is possible, but not necessarily likely, for an employer to access the following depending on an individual company's BYOD policy:

  • Phone records and contact information
  • Internet browsing history
  • Location information
  • Social media accounts
  • Messaging histories

In an interview with CIO magazine, MobileIron's president of strategy, Ojas Rege, largely corroborated this information. Rege said that a company can't see personal videos, photos, email or texts that aren't sent over a company messaging app. However, employers do have access to information about an employee's location, data storage use, battery level, corporate email and corporate data.

In the unlikely event of business litigation, an individual's device could be subject to search and review as evidence. 

One of the things employees are most concerned about is their device being wiped if they leave the company or lose their smartphone. Seventy-one percent of respondents to a Zix Corp poll said they wouldn't use a personal gadget for work if they knew their employer could wipe it remotely. 

How can employers protect themselves?
Your employees may have extremely sensitive business data on their devices, meaning the last thing your company wants is to lose track of that information. Unfortunately, smartphones and tablets do get misplaced, and when they do, your organization needs to know it's protected from data loss. Human resource solutions that help mitigate data theft with employee concerns are critical.

Any company considering allowing employees to bring their own devices needs to first create an airtight BYOD policy that workers who want to use their personal devices must sign off on. The American Bar Association's "BYOD Policies: A Litigation Perspective" report notes that a strong BYOD policy must consider the following elements to effectively mitigate risk:

  • Training and employee buy-in
  • Ownership and cost of the device
  • Striking a balance between employee privacy and employer data security
  • Maintaining confidentiality of trade secrets or other confidential information
  • Policy synergy

One of the more important elements will include gaining consent to wipe a device that is lost or stolen. As this is a major concern for employees who bring their own smartphones or tablets to work, it needs to be addressed clearly and both parties need to understand exactly what will happen if the device goes missing – and in what timeframe. If policy calls for devices to be wiped immediately when reported lost or stolen, regularly encourage employees to back up any contacts, photos or other personal data they wouldn't want to lose and could not recover.

Governing BYOD within the company
For nearly as long as employees have been using personal devices on the job, there's been a dispute over which department is in charge of the BYOD policy – HR or IT? 

This uncertainty continues today, and this is a significant business risk. A policy that's ineffectively governed can create confusion or lead employees to take unnecessary risks with corporate information stored on their devices. What elements does each department need to consider to create a cohesive strategy that both sides have a role in creating, implementing and carrying out?

First and foremost, the IT department needs to have security in mind. IT professionals need to detail exactly what antivirus protection devices must have and which applications are risky and should be banned. Similarly, they need to have any other relevant elements of data protection considered. For example, requiring passwords, explaining what happens in the event a device is lost or ensuring all employees are up to date on which devices are permitted all fall within the IT spectrum.

HR will have other considerations in mind. One major task is balancing an employee's privacy concerns and legal issues with the company's needs and ensuring everyone knows what's in the BYOD policy. Similarly, it may be HR's responsibility to make sure everyone knows who pays for new devices or upgrades when they're necessary. 

BYOD litigation
The risks of BYOD are numerous – and they're not all security related. Lawsuits are another drawback of BYOD, though not a very large one.

However, as of early March 2015, California employers are gearing up for class action lawsuits over BYOD expense reimbursement policies. This was expected, as last year a state court decided that companies had to reimburse employees for calls they took on their mobile phones that were work related. This will present new challenges for the BYOD realm and could change how many employers allow workers to use their personal phones for work.

If this class action suit does move forward, it will doubtless change the world of BYOD and policies companies put together for their employees. This will require both HR and IT departments to stay up to date on the latest developments in BYOD and ensure their policies are not only sound from a security standpoint, but also not in violation of any local legislation. 

What drives good employees to leave

17 Apr

Why do good employees quit and more importantly, how can you stop them?

No matter what company they work for, HR managers and supervisors will always have to deal with good employees leaving the business. People move on, whether it's for a career change, a higher salary, a promotion or personal reasons. 

Finding a proper replacement can be challenging, and no company wants to lose a valuable team player. Are there actions that hint someone is about to turn in his or her notice? And what can managers offer resigning employees to convince them to stay?

Certain behaviors signal a resignation is coming
There are certain actions that clearly indicate someone has either lost interest in his or her work or they're about to quit. Coming in late and leaving early, disappearing for lengthy periods in the middle of the day and barely getting any work done are obvious signs you'll soon need to replace someone, but what about less obvious signs?

Research from Utah State University indicated that certain behaviors, when performed consistently, reveal a worker is probably about to leave in one or two months. These activities all had one common thread – they helped an employee start disengaging him or herself from the workplace. Tim Gardner, an associate professor at the university, said that if an employee is engaging in at least six of the following behaviors, the model he created predicted with 80 percent accuracy that the individual was about to resign. These tendencies included:

  • Becoming more quiet
  • Avoiding social gatherings at which upper management would attend
  • Becoming less interested in promotion opportunities
  • Reluctance to commit to long-term projects
  • Speaking up less frequently in meetings
  • Not going above and beyond
  • Minimal interest in developing new skills and participating in training initiatives
  • Reduced productivity
  • Failing to offer up new ideas for improvement

HR managers can train supervisors within their companies to keep an eye out for such behaviors. While they aren't necessarily always associated with an impending resignation, they are certainly a warning sign.

"It appears that a person's attitude can create behaviors that are hard to disguise," said Gardner. "As the grass starts to look greener on the other side of the fence to you, chances are that others will soon notice that you've lost your focus."

What will convince them to stay?
Employee turnover is costly, with regard to dollars, recruiting costs and employee morale overall. Therefore, after receiving a letter of resignation a manager's first line of defense should be to save the job and convince the employee to stay.

This may be easier said than done. A whitepaper from the Society of Human Resource Management showed that in initial exit interviews, 38 percent of employees said they were leaving because of salary, while only 4 percent cited poor supervisors. When these same employees were surveyed again year-and-a-half later these numbers changed drastically – 12 percent said salary was their reason for departing while 24 percent said it was poor management. If fewer than 15 percent of people are really quitting because of salary, HR managers shouldn't necessarily offer a raise to retain someone. Seeing if they're interested in moving to another department or working with another team could be more beneficial, though if the worker's problem is with management as a whole, this strategy may not prove effective. 

Work-related stress was a significant reason why employees quit, according to Towers Watson data, but this same study showed that concern didn't resonate with managers, who didn't think it belonged in the top seven reasons why workers will leave. Supervisors need to rectify this, and soon, especially as constant access to technology may make some workers feel they're on call 24/7. Trying to determine the underlying cause of staff stress and offering to work with someone who's quitting on this factor may convince them the job is worth staying in after all.

What do HR managers need to know about the EEOC’s initiative to eliminate workplace harassment?

16 Apr

Putting a stop to workplace harassment is a priority for the EEOC, and should be for employers as well.

HR manager software can help a human resource professional better manage payroll, training and time off. As anyone in the field knows, these systems are critical given the number of other tasks on HR's plate. From new workplace rules to government initiatives, there's a lot for human resource professionals to stay up to date on.

One of these government initiatives includes ending workplace harassment. So what exactly do internal teams need to know about it, and how will it impact them, if at all?

What constitutes as harassment and what role does the EEOC play?
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has long aimed to ensure all workers, regardless of sex, race, disability or other defining characteristics, have the same opportunities in the workplace. The government body has also made a move to eliminate harassment many people face on the job. Harassment of this nature is illegal, but some employers may be unclear on the specifics. 

According to the EEOC, conduct becomes unlawful when it creates an environment that is hostile, offensive or intimidating to a reasonable person. This can include physical assaults, threats, offensive jokes or insults, intimidation, ridicule or a range of other activities. Minor isolated incidents and irritations do not fall under this umbrella and would thus not be considered illegal, unwelcome as they may be. 

Harassment doesn't have to come from a higher-up. While an offender may sometimes be a worker's manager, it's just as likely the harasser could be a coworker, contractor or even a non-employee. 

It's critical HR acts on harassment complaints, or better yet, tries to nip this problem in the bud. Employers are responsible for harassment from a manager that leads to an employee's termination, failure to get a promotion or pay cut, and are also liable for harassment from other individuals if they knew or should have known about the activity and didn't put a stop to it.

EEOC finds harassment still a significant issue
While employers are certainly aware of the detrimental impacts harassment brings to the workplace and most employees sign some sort of policy stating they understand their company's harassment policy, this is still a surprisingly large issue.

A January EECO meeting found that of all the complaints filed with the organization, about 30 percent allege workplace harassment. This indicates employers aren't doing enough to keep harassment out of the workplace, or employees find the any training sessions they currently undergo ineffective. 

Due to the high rate of alleged harassment, EEOC Chair Jenny Yang announced she would establish a task force aimed at determining what strategies would best help eliminate this common workplace problem.

"The EEOC is working to leverage our resources to have a greater impact on the persistent problem of workplace harassment," said Yang. "By identifying underlying problems in workplaces and industries where we see recurring patterns of harassment, we are developing strategies that focus on targeted outreach and education as well as systemic enforcement to promote broader voluntary compliance."

Data from the EEOC shows that the fiscal year ranging from Oct. 1, 2013 to Sept. 20, 2014 saw nearly 31,100 individuals claim they'd been harassed because of their race, while more than 26,000 said their sex was the reason behind the harassment. More than 25,300 and 20,000 said the same about their disability and age, respectively.

Perhaps most surprisingly, the rate of individuals alleging retaliation for reporting harassment hit a new high of nearly 43 percent during this period. 

How employers can stop harassment
Harassment is costly, with regard to time spent trying to settle the case, low employee morale, damages that may need to be paid and a damaged brand reputation. Rather than dealing with these problems as they arise, HR departments need to determine what they can do to stop this serious issue before it even starts. 

One of these things will include revisiting current harassment training programs, namely: Do any exist? If employees are simply signing off on a sheet saying they understand and will comply with company harassment policies, they may not understand the seriousness of the issue and that something they consider a joke could actually have significant repercussions in the long run. 

Creating stronger and more informative preventative training sessions is one area in which the EEOC's Yang thinks employers could focus on. 

"Preventing harassment from occurring in the first place is far preferable to remedying its consequences," she said in a press release. 

To do this, HR managers will need to determine what needs to be discussed at the sessions, potentially including:

  • What actions constitute harassment
  • Examples of harassment and why these are considered such
  • Which groups are protected from workplace harassment by law
  • Who can be accused of harassment
  • The legal repercussions if someone goes to the EEOC with a harassment complaint
  • What will happen to an individual accused of harassment

By getting ahead of this troubling trend, employers can protect themselves and their employees from harassment and the potential litigation that may fo​llow.

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