Archive | November, 2010

The Benefits of Water Cooler Talk

30 Nov

Office TalkIt may feel like eavesdropping, but keeping an ear to office gossip can be an asset to HR managers and employee management.  While there is a debate about whether all office gossip is toxic, or if some of the chatter is healthy office banter, an HR manager who is “in the know” is well ahead of the game.

A common theme for most office gossip is that those talking are often seeking out trusted colleagues who share their viewpoints or frustrations – but HR professionals must become that trusted colleague for employees.

Sheri Mazurek, a blogger for Management Help states that, “doing so will help you find the cause of a problem so you can treat more than the symptom.” “As any good doctor or HR professional should know, treating just the symptom will not cure the disease.”

Gossip is a universal human behavior, but malicious or excessive gossip disrupts production and lowers morale, especially if it often targets individual employees. To help squash negative gossip, fill the void by communicating and quickly revealing company decisions.

You May Want to Record Those Unwritten Rules

23 Nov

When it comes to personnel management and hiring practices, unwritten rules can lead to avoidable mistakes and, in the worst cases, open up businesses for lawsuits. HR Morning warns that if hiring policies and practices aren’t explicitly written out, a company could be held liable in a court of law.

The website offers a hypothetical scenario for HR managers to use as a barometer for their companies’ practices. Envision a lawyer demanding to know why his or her client wasn’t hired. The company cites the applicant’s admission to a criminal conviction as the reason because they have a policy against such behavior. However, when the attorney asks to see a copy of the criminal records policy, there is no paper trail to be found. The applicant, whatever background he or she may be, then sues the company for race discrimination.

Lawsuits like this are expensive, no matter what the outcome. However, a list of hiring rules can save organizations the hassle and stress of handling costly legal action.
Business Management Daily says that companies should “adopt some basic rules for handling the selection process, and pay special attention to the all-important job description and interview.”

Human resources software could also help companies keep hiring practice policies organized by keeping a database of qualified applicants, tracking open requisitions, and managing current employee information. If a company’s actions are called into question, the software will have clear record of the past.

Employees Prefer a Fast HR Department

22 Nov

Although the matter is often debated among HR professionals, new research has found that employees prefer a fast human resources management department to an accurate one.

Recently, eePulse and the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California polled 677 people about confidence and fast HRM. When it came to payroll and employee management, respondents had the most confidence, scoring 3.81, when the firm performance was fast and accurate. However, confidence scores were higher when HR was fast and inaccurate (3.67) than when HR was slow and accurate (3.59). Confidence scores were based on a 1 to 5 scale.

“If there is a choice between speed and accuracy, fast HRM wins,” states the study.

In total, 62 percent of respondents noted that they had a slow HR department and only 33 percent reported having a fast and accurate HRM. However, according to TLNT, 60 percent of respondents said their offices had an accurate department.

In the open-ended comments portion of the survey, eePulse found that respondents asked that HR speed up hiring, performance management, HR metrics work, learning and development and employee engagement.

According to TLNT, some of the respondent comments should be eye-opening for HR professionals.

“Maybe it’s a communication issue, but it just feels like things that are worked on by HR are just slow processes,” wrote one commenter.

Ask an Expert: HRIS Selection

10 Nov

Recently, I was featured on the Daily HR Solutions blog in an Expert Q&A post. I had the opportunity to answer a few questions about HRIS tool selection and about what makes Sage Abra HRMS an effective Human Resources software tool.

Here is an excerpt from the interview:

1. What are the most important factors for HR professionals to consider when choosing an HRIS?

Depending on the company, there are many factors to consider. Ease of use has been and always will be on the forefront in the decision-making process (a comment made by more than 60% of our customer base). Other criteria include: price, windows-based, SQL, reporting capabilities, employee self-service, integrated HR and payroll, attendance tracking, training management, job and pay history, interfaces to GL.

Since technology plays a large role in the HR function, HR professionals should seek an intuitive HRIS system with the business intelligence for exceptional reporting. It also helps the strategic component of the HR role and the ability to maximize the return on employee investment (R.O.E.I.)

You can read my full Q&A session by visiting the Daily HR Solutions Blog and if you have any questions about HRIS selection, let me know by posting a comment below.

Crowdsourcing for Happier Employees

10 Nov

Crowdsourcing Employees

Employees who feel in control of their future are often happier at work -and according to HR Morning, the same is true when it comes to employee control over benefits.

HR Morning suggests using a technique called crowdsourcing to help with employee management. Crowdsourcing, typically a marketing device, involves asking online fans and followers to register likes and dislikes so companies can help form business strategies and ideas that fit those needs. The site asserts that this concept can be applied to designing benefits plans as well.

“Adding choice and personalization this way to employee plans will build trust and loyalty,” says Carol Harnett, a benefits consultant for HR Morning.

Four keys to getting the most out of crowdsourcing, according to the website, are making participation easy, giving employees a deadline, providing positive feedback and not getting in the way of the flow of ideas.

A survey may be the best place to start, as it is a non-threatening way to collect data and responses will increase if employees know they only have a limited time to be heard, says HR Morning.

Crowdsourcing has been used by everyone from talk show host Conan O’Brien and retail giant Gap to oil spill offender BP and the British government, according to BBC News.

How do you think you can apply crowdsourcing at your company? Tell me about it below!

Sage HRMS Educational Partner Program

10 Nov

Sage HRMS is proud to announce the Sage HRMS Educational Partner program, an initiative which provides U.S. educators and students with the latest version of the Sage HRMS software free of charge for learning purposes. Sage HRMS is an award-winning human resource management system (HRMS) for small and midsized companies that centralizes employee data, simplifies core human resource (HR) and payroll administration and enables better workforce-related decisions, resulting in the improvement of overall company efficiency.

“The Sage HRMS Educational Partner program allows institutions to give their students the benefit of real-world experience in HR,” said Johnny Laurent, vice president and general manager of Sage Business Solutions. “Our goal is to give students pursuing human resources degrees the tools they need to succeed in the classroom – and in the workplace.”

With the Sage HRMS Educational Partner program, registered educators receive free Sage HRMS software for their classrooms, as well as free installation support. A full edition of Sage HRMS can be installed on the institution’s lab computers as well as onto the instructor’s personal computer to facilitate course preparation. Students can install the Sage HRMS student edition on their personal computers for learning purposes.

To qualify for the Sage HRMS Educational Partner program, instructors must certify that they are affiliated with an educational or nonprofit professional or vocational training institution and that they plan to use Sage solutions only as part of their teaching, training, advising, staff development and/or research activities with that institution.

Students can obtain a student version of Sage HRMS through registered educators in the Higher Educational Industry program. Educators interested in learning more about the Sage HRMS Educational Partner program can contact Sage at

Adjusting to Expiring Bush-Era Tax Cuts

10 Nov

Tax cuts from the Bush administration are set to expire at the end of 2010. Congress could pass a partial or full extension of those cuts before year-end, but employers must adjust their payroll software for 2011 well before the end of 2010, reports the Society for Human Resource Management.

This could mean that employers may have to adjust their payroll software systems in anticipation of no extension, but then readjust them if Congress acts to extend the cuts, so SHRM advises that employers stay in the know about the newest law information.

According to the Washington Post, many analysts favor letting the tax cuts expire because they were put in place during a booming economy and the country now faces an increasing national debt. The tax cuts were signed into law on June 7, 2001, by George W. Bush. No matter what happens, it is important for employers to keep their employees informed, cites SHRM.

Personnel and Payroll Management in 2011

2 Nov

With so much economic uncertainty facing businesses today, it may be difficult to plan payroll management for the next six to 12 months.

But Hilary Johnson of Inc. magazine offers suggestions for how businesses can plan effectively for payroll and hiring.

Benchmark your personnel expenses month by month and quarter by quarter against competitors and organizations similar to yours to see how you compare, Johnson suggests. Then create “dream” and “nightmare” scenarios to determine whether your current employee count could handle the work if the dream scenario were to occur.

Johnson advises businesses to remain nimble and to make budget adjustments on the fly – then hire on a contingency basis. As the year progresses, watch revenue like a hawk and match up numbers with your best and worst-case scenarios. If your dream scenario is starting to win out, think ahead about the kind of people you would hire to avoid hiring someone out of desperation.

To retain employees and keep pace with competitors, make sure to invest in existing employees now that the economy is showing signs of recovery, Johnson says.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of unemployed persons in the country, 14.8 million, was essentially unchanged during the month of September. The unemployment rate held at 9.6 percent nationally.

Creating a Culture of Wellness

2 Nov

Launching a wellness program at your business can be a great tool in the process of employee management. You can achieve a happier, healthier workplace even when the down economy may not allow for monetary incentives for your employees. A wellness program can also save in the long run and allow you to offer better benefits when less money is going to support preventable illnesses.

Thomas B. Gilliam, co-author of Move It. Lose it. Live Healthy: Achieve a Healthier Workplace One Employee at a Time, suggests being inclusive first and foremost in a recent BusinessWeek article. Don’t single out people who are overweight.

“‘Fitness’ and ‘thinness’ are not always synonymous,” he wrote.

Gilliam also suggests offering small incentives like gift cards for employees who reach certain milestones, fostering exercise groups and offering to help employees set a healthy example for their children as motivators.

Business Management Daily offers some other helpful tips for getting a wellness program off the ground.

Buying pedometers can be an easy way to get employees moving, the website suggests. Banning smoking on the premises, holding smoke-free workshops, performing quarterly health screenings, stocking the vending machines with healthy food and rewarding employees with health insurance premium reductions are other ways to focus your business on wellness.