Archive | March, 2011

Will You Be Our Next Winner?

30 Mar

Sage Summit 2011Nominations are now being accepted for the annual Sage Customer Awards Program. We want you to tell us how Sage has helped your company reach its goals and what a great job you’ve done since your Sage implementation. The Customer Awards Program at Summit 2011 in Washington DC is your chance to do just that!  The Sage Customer Awards Program gives you the opportunity to be recognized for your outstanding achievements through the use of Sage solutions. 

There are six award categories in which to nominate your organization: 

  • Best Use of Multiple Sage Solutions
  • Community Stewardship
  • Extraordinary Customer Experience
  • Healthcare Best Practices
  • Innovation
  • Lifetime Achievement

Pick the best category for your company, answer a few questions online at Sage Customer Awards Program and you’re nominated!  Easy as that!

 Winners will be chosen by three expert judges and will be honored at Summit in Washington DC.  Besides recognition, the Customer Awards Program provides tremendous benefits to your organization.  In addition to a crystal trophy recognizing your outstanding achievement, you will also receive a $1,000 contribution to a charity of your choice and free registration, airfare, and hotel accommodations for Sage Summit in July. 

Starting March 2, 2011 fill out a nomination form online at Sage Customer Awards Program!  Tell us how Sage has helped your business thrive!

Key Information

  • Sage Summit 2011 in Washington DC, Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center
  • Partners: July 10-15, 2011 | Customers: July 12-15, 2011
  • Nominate your company for a Customer Award: March 2-May 3, 2011
  • Winners announced: June 2, 2011

If you have any questions on the program or the application process, feel free to send an email to Melissa Metcalf at

The Top 10 Things To Do When an Employee Goes on FMLA

28 Mar

Empty Office When Employee Goes on FMLAWith all the lawsuits related to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, human resources managers need to make sure they do everything by the book when an employee gives notice that they’ll be out for an extended period of time.

The government mandates 12 job-protected weeks during a 12 month period for eligible employees who have recently had a child (through birth or adoption placement), need to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition, have a serious health condition themselves or have to cover for a family member serving in the military. Eligible employees can also take up to 26 weeks for military caregiver leave during a single 12 month period.

Here are a several things an HR manager can do to stay compliant, protect the company and ensure a smooth transition for employer and employee alike:

1. Recertification: Before an employee goes on intermittent leave, request FMLA recertification. The law allows employers to request medical recertification once every 30 days under certain circumstances.

2. Discuss Vacation Benefits: Either employee or employer can decide whether a worker’s accrued paid vacation or sick days will go towards the 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave.

3. Handle IT Logistics: See IT about email access to the employee’s inbox. If the worker maintains outside communications ¾such as handling client accounts¾make sure those emails are forwarded to another employee during the absence.

4. Redistribute Workload: That employee’s work still needs to get done, right? Find the most appropriate way to have others handle that employee’s workload or possibly call a temporary employment service. Temp agencies can find workers to cover a job for a single day or for an extended period.

5. Check In: Employers are allowed to request that a worker on FMLA leave call in to report his or her status. Employees are still required under the law to give adequate notice and comply with a company’s call-in policy.  

6. Stay Compliant: Keep current with the law, and make sure your managers do too. Supervisors need to know the ins and outs of the law, as they will likely be the first line of communication between workers and the executives who oversee leave under FMLA. Employers are required to have an updated FMLA poster prominently displayed somewhere in the office.

7. Protect the Employee’s Privacy: Coworkers will probably notice their cube-mate’s absence, but employers should not disclose any employee medical information.

8. Watch the Weather and Holidays:  Calculate holidays and snow days while your employee is on leave, as an office shut-down day or national holiday may count toward the worker’s FMLA balance¾depending on whether they take a full week off or only part of it. Leave under FMLA is measured in work weeks, with intermittent or shorter leaves counting as fractions of weeks. Thanksgiving week offers a good example: If an employee on FMLA leave takes off the normally scheduled Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and the office is closed Thursday and Friday, then he or she is docked a full week of his or her FMLA balance. If the employee works the Monday and Tuesday, but takes Wednesday off under FMLA, then only Wednesday is deducted. However, since Thanksgiving week has three days, the day of FMLA leave is one-third of a week, rather than the one-fifth of a normal work-week.

9. Reassess an Employee’s Role: Other workers who are covering for an employee on leave may discover a huge mess in his or her wake, or the employee might refuse to adhere to company policy while away. Either situation can be grounds for termination. Companies can’t fire an employee for taking time under FMLA, but with legitimate reason can fire a worker upon his or her return. 

10. Prepare for Employee’s Return: When it’s time for an employee to return, they are entitled to their old job or an equivalent position with similar hours, expectations and salary. If he or she can no longer perform the old job due to a medical condition, make sure a termination would not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Although this list is far from being comprehensive, it should be of help when trying to untangle some of FMLA’s provisions.  Also, remember that some states have different regulations beyond FMLA so keep current on all of these laws to remain in compliance and consult legal counsel when necessary.

Has anyone in your company requested FMLA leave? What kind of complications popped up?

The Latest HR Recruit: Mobile Phones

25 Mar

Human Resources and Mobile PhonesSome employees may curse the rise of BlackBerrys, iPhones and Androids, as being constantly connected also means you’re expected to be on call, responding to coworkers and client emails.

For HR managers, this cloud has a silicone lining: Mobile devices can improve productivity while workers are on the go or unable to get to the office. Recruiting directors can even enlist smartphones, social networks and recruiting software to connect with candidates and post jobs.

Due to economic constraints, many employers are operating with a greatly reduced workforce, and giving your employees options on where they do their work can help keep business running smoothly.

To get your current employees mobile, offers these simple tips.

1. Give them the right equipment. Passing out a few tablet computers with 3G subscriptions will guarantee employees are always connected and can put the “working” back in working from home.

2. Use payroll and HR management software that’s hosted online, so it can be accessed from anywhere.

3. Integrate in-office and telecommuting skills. Cross-train your staff so they can get right down to business, even if they can’t get into the office.

Has your company embraced smartphone technology? Do you think making employees more mobile can improve productivity?

How HR Can Improve Profits

23 Mar

How Human Resources Can Improve ProfitsHuman resource departments can sometimes be unfairly pigeonholed, destined only to hirings and firings, managing transactions, keeping employees in check – and not much else. But HR managers can also be a rich source for business solutions.

For instance, more companies are enacting workplace flexibility programs, allowing employees to set their own start-stop times or split a position with another worker. As wireless technology allows for greater connectivity, telecommuting can maintain (and sometimes improve) productivity, even when a potential roadblock, such as a sick child or inclement weather, pops up.

Adopting HR management software can also help pinpoint unnecessary expenses or underutilized resources.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management lists the characteristics of a competent HR professional, including being an agent of change, developing staff to grow and advance within a company, contributing to business strategy and being a systems innovator.

The human resources department can be a vital asset to CEOs as they work to increase revenue, drum up cashflow and reduce overhead. As the administrative overseer, HR managers know every aspect of a company and can apply that knowledge to enact positive change – especially when human resources management stays current on certain key HR metrics.

Do you have any tips for making a company more attuned to employee needs? Any great innovations for expanding your business’ reach in the market?

Measuring HR’s Direct Impact on Business Profitability

21 Mar

Human Resources Metrics Can Measure Business ProfitabilityA company is only as good as its human resources management but sometimes businesses and managers may not see it that way. Thanks to HR metrics however, human resources professionals can show their direct impact on a business and its profitability.

Having metrics in place is like finally using a scale when on a diet. Sure, it looks like you’ve lost weight and all of your efforts seem to be having an effect on your waist line, but there’s no way to be sure of the exact impact without a clear way to measure it. Hop on a scale and your weight loss goes from “I look great” to “I lost 10 pounds!”

Metrics for HR allow businesses to see tangible evidence of where staffing, compensation and benefit policies are working and where there is room for improvement. Areas that are often measured include turnover, open positions, employee engagement, cost per hire, cost per healthcare plan and customer feedback scores.

Human resource planning is essential to a business’s success, and metrics allow companies to have a more accurate way to measure HR success. Before, HR departments were mostly measured on how long it took to fill a vacant position, but today, we have so many more ways to weigh success.

Want to learn more about HR metrics?  Register for our HR R&R: Refresh and Recertify Webcast, Measuring Up – Using Metrics to Meet & Exceed Expectations. This month’s hour long live webcast focuses on providing HR professionals with the tools to effectively communicate with C-level executives.  You’ll learn how to speak the language of business through metrics for staffing, compensation, and benefits to effectively evaluate and improve performance within the HR function.

Communication is Key

18 Mar

Human Resources Management Communicating ValueNot everyone has the gift of gab. Some people would much prefer to utilize their technical skills, completing tasks on their own and functioning by themselves. But in human resources management, that system does not fly. HR professionals must see that communication is critical.

Gifted HR team members that contribute a great deal of work to an organization are still imperative, but they may lack the skills necessary to manage HR job duties. A similar comparison can be made with sports. Sometimes the best players on the field or court are unable to leverage that career into a future in managing or coaching, simply because they do not have the communication tools to be a leader. On the contrary, some of the best coaches in sports were not the top athletes on their teams during their time as players.

Communication may be one of the most important tools in an HR professional’s arsenal because the skill can translate into so many aspects of his or her job. Not only do communication skills aid in tackling leadership responsibilities, they also help in problem solving, conflict resolution, interviewing and negotiating.  In addition, when explaining essential HR metrics to management – one not only needs to be skilled in taking complex ideas and extracting the most necessary details but they must be capable of explaining what it all means as well as what the value of the information is to them.

Additionally, those who are gifted communicators will be better off not just in large presentations, but also in one-on-one conversations and small group meetings. The benefits of communication are endless.

Do you think communication is one of the top skills for an HR professional to have? What else makes human resources managers good at their jobs?

Tips For Managing Your Managers

15 Mar

Managing Your ManagersRules exist for a reason, right? So what’s an HR leader to do when his or her managers don’t follow, or even show blatant disregard for a company’s carefully crafted discipline policies?

First off, don’t get mad. As Tim Gould of HR Morning points out, managers often forget to enforce discipline policies because they’re focused on getting the job done. Be careful not to scold workers for being dedicated to their tasks; use compassion when broaching the subject of neglected rules.

Managers may – incorrectly – think that they and their employees are too busy working to discuss trifling matters such as a behavioral or performance violation.  However, not flagging small errors can cause bigger problems. Worse, a lax manager can create a culture of misbehavior and cause performance standards to lag.  

The other danger: When managers finally address a performance or behavioral problem that has dragged on too long, they have the tendency to overreact and skip over a company’s “progressive discipline structure,” Gould writes.

He suggests managers overcome the stigma of being a disciplinarian by looking at it as a chance to work closely with an employee and help that worker develop and improve.

Do you have any suggestions for how to nip discipline problems in the bud? Got any horror stories about misbehaving employees?

Bilingual HR Professionals Soar

15 Mar

Bilingual HR Professional SoarThere are 322 languages spoken in the U.S. and although over 215 million Americans speak English, there are some residents that either do not speak the language or are not native English speakers. Human resources management professionals must take these people into account because they, like all other Americans, need jobs, services and products – possibly from an HR manager’s company.

HR professionals are not expected to be experts in several languages, but it can help if a staff member is able to speak an additional language. This ability can also aid a HR manager’s job security.

Those in the country’s most diverse states may need to be even more in tune with the language needs of the community around them. The most linguistically diverse state in the U.S. is California, where 207 different languages are spoken, says the U.S. English Foundation. New York follows behind in second place, with 169 languages spoken. Rounding out the top five are Washington, Texas and Oregon.

If a company doesn’t have someone on staff that can speak additional languages, there is always the option of hiring an interpreter. These positions are booming as businesses try to fill the needs of employees and customers.

Has your company encountered any language barriers? How did you go about bridging that linguistic gap?

Traffic – Avoid It At Work

9 Mar

Human Resources Can Help With A Traffic Free WorkspaceDesigning a workspace arrangement at an office is about more than just installing some desks, ordering ergonomically-friendly chairs and plugging in phone lines. Although it differs from company to company, the way in which a workspace is arranged can have a drastic effect on how well employees work.

Momma always said, ‘Never play in traffic.’ The same can be said for office workspace arrangements. Human resources management must design a workplace that allows for adequate flow of office traffic to ensure safety and productivity for all employees.

Traffic also can be distracting if flow is not appropriately controlled around an office, says Paul H. Burton of the website Self Growth. For example, workers placed in high foot-traffic areas may have trouble holding their focus.

“The natural tendency to look up whenever someone passes by is instinctive,” he explains. “It’s probably a survival mechanism long-instilled in our psyche to observe the ‘threat’ before it consumes us.”

There are two ways to arrange workspace to better deal with traffic. The first position is an arrangement that allows employees to face those who approach the space. This way, workers won’t be distracted by movement in their peripheral vision because they can fully see their surroundings.

The second theory is that employees are better off with their backs to passing traffic. It works best to position desks against the wall as far from the door as possible. Pushing desks against the walls also frees up more space in the center of an office for meeting space and other needs.

Have you ever thought about if your office is designed to allow for productivity?

Job Descriptions and 5 Things NOT To-Do

7 Mar

HR Managment & The Perfect Job DescriptionJob descriptions are one of the most versatile tools for a human resources manager. Not only are they useful for interviewing prospective employees, but they can also be an important source when conducting evaluations, promoting within or reorganizing your workforce.

Here’s a list of the top five mistakes HR managers make, according to Business and Legal Reports:

1. Mismanaging the job description program. Assign the task of writing the description to someone in top management and decide on an approval process.

2. Basics. Don’t forget the critical elements. Make sure you have listed the job’s title, purpose, essential functions and responsibilities, accountabilities and specifications.

3. Be accurate. With a bad job description, unqualified candidates can be referred for hiring or promotion, jobs might be improperly ranked in terms of importance to the company or employees may struggle to reach unrealistic standards.

4. USE your descriptions. After putting so much time into writing them, why wouldn’t you use one of your greatest HR assets every chance you get?

5. Consistency. If a number of people are drafting descriptions, writing styles are bound to vary. Have one person edit all descriptions to make sure the organization, word choice and grammar accurately reflect your company’s goals.

Do you have any special tricks when it comes time to draft a job description? Was there a time when a really terrible description created problems for your department?