Archive | May, 2011

Fighting Chronic Absenteeism Using an HRMS

25 May

Fighting Chronic Absenteeism - Are People Really Sick? Here is another installment of our series centered on the Return on Employee Investment (ROEI).  Throughout the series I’ll speak directly to what ROEI is, how organizations can maximize it and how they can calculate it. 

To fight against a pattern of sick leave abuse, you’ll need the right information, supplied to both managers and employees. To start off, employers need to have clear absence policy that readily accessible to all employees, along with the employee handbook. Going through absence rules and processes should be part of the on-boarding process.

Technology can be very helpful in this area:

  •  Business process automation tools can dramatically increase the quality of the on-boarding process for all new employees. These tools ensure employees and managers follow time-off procedures, consistent with corporate policies.
  • Employee self-service portals or the company intranet are good places to store the company handbook.

In order to confidently talk with or discipline employees who have attendance problems, it is not enough to have a clearly written policy. Managers also need information that proves possible abuse or above normal patterns of sick leave. Sick leave statistics are needed at the individual employee level and the departmental or company level. Here again, an HRMS solution can identify patterns of abuse and also help report absenteeism results to employees and their managers: 

  • An HRMS system including time-off management and manager self-service functionality keeps management informed. Employees can also see their accurate and up-to-date allowance for sick days.
  • The usage of data-monitoring software can automatically generate alerts to managers that signal the breach of any given pre-defined threshold. That way a manager will be notified if and when their attention is required.
  • Dashboards and graphical representation can show management in one glance how well the company, department or team is doing in terms of sick leave.

 Have you used an HRMS to help defended against employees who took advantage of your sick leave policy?  If so, tell us how it worked out?

Automation and HRMS: The HR Key to Success

23 May

Automate HR to Increase Productivity and ProfitsAn increasing number of companies have begun implementing human resources management software to help HR provide administrative relief and employee-related responsibilities.

A strong human resources department has the potential to increase a company’s productivity and profitability, HR management has become a colossal task through the recession and beyond.

So much of an HR manager’s time is spent focusing on legal and regulatory compliance rather than investing in solutions to help employees provide a return.  This happens because so many companies are understaffed these days and utilize outdated systems and procedures.  But there is an alternative. If a human resources office is struggling with too much work, implementing an HRMS system can help a business grow.

Implementing an HRMS correctly and successfully all depends upon the selection process. Business owners should identify the functions that the HR team requires before purchasing any technology.

There is also a need for training once the HRMS is installed, as it will help merge new systems with existing ones.  This piece is often overlooked and probably is the key contributor to long term success. 

Do you think automating business processes and implementing an HRMS can help increase your Human Resources department?

Avoiding Summertime Brain Drain

20 May

Avoid Summertime Brain DrainMany employees may choose the summer months to take their vacations, and mentally clock-out in the days leading up to and following their holiday. For workers who take time off in the middle of a project, it can be difficult for him or her to catch up with team members once they return.

Though it may require a little bit of effort for employees who stayed behind, make it a policy that teammates take notes on project progress to help returning workers catch up. Eventually, everyone will have had to make the outline, but will also have gotten a chance to benefit from the policy.

Track productivity in your human resource management system. If you notice a significant change in employee output at certain times of the year, try to analyze what factors contribute to the variance.

The reality is that even employees who do not plan a vacation during the summer may zone out a little bit. Consider some seasonal incentives, such as an informal company cookout in the parking lot every week or month, this will allow employees maintain or improve output levels.

Do you notice a change in the office mood in the summer months? What are some ways you are able to keep productivity humming along year-round?

Invest In Your Employees and Better Your Business

18 May

Minimize Your Turnover Rate With These TipsI’m back with our regular feature about the Return on Employee Investment (ROEI).  Throughout the series I’ll speak directly to what ROEI is, how organizations can maximize it and how they can calculate it. 

While some turn-over is unavoidable and to some extent even desirable, turnover among your top performers is largely avoidable. And it is certainly worth the investment. People don’t necessarily tell the whole truth in exit interviews about why they are leaving. Managers should, of course, know in advance who is leaving and why.

A high turnover rate is likely due to a combination of reasons. Thus, increasing employee retention also requires a combination of measures. An employee will be motivated to stay at a company when they feel comfortable, well respected, fairly compensated, and (dependent on position and character) see possibilities for growth and personal development. Here are some of the areas an employer can invest in to lower the employee turnover rate:


It is clear that no manager can make informed decisions without proper information. HR or employee analytics can help management y decide where to invest, identify the top performers, determine what employees need to best perform and what they value. Analytics also give provide a consistent way to monitor the results of any measure taken, HR analytics really are the ace up your sleeve.

Modern human resource management systems contain a wealth of information that can give managers and executives the insight needed to make the best possible decisions about the workforce.


A lack of (or poor) communication, both top-down and between teams or peers, causes frustration and misdirected energy. For HR departments, communcation is key and company communication can be greatly enhanced by publishing the company’s values, vision and mission. Provide easy access to the company handbook. Make use of the technology for employee self-service portals and performance appraisal systems and encourage employees to use these available resources. 

Work environment

BusinessWeek cites that a “San Francisco design firm Gensler found that of more than 2,000 workers around the U.S., two-thirds believe they are more efficient when they work closely with their colleagues. But 30% said that their workplace doesn’t promote spontaneous interaction and collaboration—a sentiment that’s leading many companies to rethink the office environment.”

Widespread usage of social media and web 2.0 technologies has proven that these spontaneous interactions and collaboration are no longer limited by physical borders. Employee collaboration and business social networking have already demonstrated value in terms of improved employee performance, creativity, communication and informal learning.

Employee Recognition

Most companies reward employees and recognize a job well done with a combination of compensation and benefits. But there are many more tools in the employee reward arsenal. To compete in the global workforce environment, an effective employee recognition program is a necessity.

Successful recognition programs motivate workers in ways that increase their level of engagement. According to the Human Capital Institute (HCI), “best practices” for applying recognition programs include:

  • Creating a culture of recognition in the workplace that includes both formal and informal methods of recognition.
  • Making sure that employees get rewarded in a way that is valuable to them by providing a wide variety of recognition rewards. Emphasizing higher quality performance, rather than just increased amount of effort.
  • Recognizing employees frequently to maintain consistent engagement.
  • Ensuring that rewards are linked solidly to business objectives and/or desired business cultural values.


Effective training and development programs are excellent instruments to reduce employee turn-over. When employees feel like their careers can develop no further at an organization, it is often time to leave. Good training programs can help your employees learn the skills needed for new projects and challenges, or even a higher position within the company.

Compensation and Benefits

Without an adequate and competitive package of compensation and benefits, it is difficult for any company to hire or retain top talent. The challenge for small-business owners is figuring out how much their competitors pay, and what package of benefits deliver the best retention results. If the main goal is to motivate talent to stay with the company, in other words to create ‘stickiness’, it is important to choose a balanced package of benefits from many available programs:

  • Work/Life balance: Holidays, paid time off, flexible work arrangements
  • Financial security: Retirement plans, pensions, disability insurance, life insurance
  • Health and medical insurances: health insurance, dental, vision flexible spending or health savings accounts, gym memberships
  • Career development/Personal growth: Tuition reimbursement, onsite lectures, computer based training subscriptions
  • Other: Discounted auto, home, or pet insurance, savings clubs for shopping, employee loan programs to purchase computers.

What do you think?  Does that list do a good job summarizing it?  Has your company offered any other benefits to help increase employee retention?

Beyond the Bin

16 May

Human Resources and SustainabilitySaving one paper cup may not seem to make much of a difference, but it could if an entire company began to think differently.

An effective sustainability program requires more than lecturing employees about conserving water and turning off their computers on weekends. Companies need to involve both the leadership and workers without getting preachy. Here’s how human resource managers can lead the charge.

Engage younger workers. It’s not ageism, it’s just that Generation Y-ers are typically more aware of sustainability efforts. Conduct brainstorming sessions to figure out the best ways to go green.

It may seem obvious, but placing recycling bins in places where people generate the most trash – next to the printer, in the kitchen area and near garbage cans – boosts the likelihood that they’ll use them.

If the company stocks the kitchenette with plastic utensils, consider petitioning to get real silverware, plates, glasses and mugs. Instead of t-shirts, pass out travel mugs at the next company event.

Start a biking club or a corporate garden. Offer educational programs on composting or gardening. Or create incentives for your employees by linking bonuses to environmental metrics.

And don’t forget to look inward. Are you still using paper forms? Try going electronic and use software that can easily make it possible to submit web-based forms for any HR transaction, including performance appraisals.

What are some other ways to make a sustainability program effective? What challenges have you faced when getting employees on board with a recycling program?

HR Analytics, The Ace Up Your Sleeve

12 May

Decision Support Software Turns HR Analytics Into Useful InformationComputers can do wonderful things. They bring nearly the entire world to our fingertips and they can certainly help people in business.  Human resources management can benefit from the advancements in technology by leveraging their data, this is called HR analytics.

HR analytics give professionals the ability to make strategic contributions by basing their actions on discernible fact rather than just an idea or a feeling, this is true decision support. These programs help HR staff members understand current workforce trends, plan for future needs, benchmark workforce standards and measure payroll, administration, benefits and time management.

Analytics are also nice because they do a lot of the work for you. Data can be digitized and analyzed in mere seconds.

“By going beyond simple HR statistics to include robust corporate information such as financial indicators and survey data, managers can gain deeper insight into how the organization is doing as a whole,” writes Success Factors.

For decades, HR departments largely shunned analytics. But today, these systems are becoming synonymous with the department and decision support software is helping HR become a strategic partner.

Breaking Up Will Cost You

11 May

Replacing a Departing Employee Impacts ROEII’m back again with our series centered on the Return on Employee Investment (ROEI).  Throughout the series I’ll speak directly to what ROEI is, how organizations can maximize it and how they can calculate it. 

The investment in an employee starts even before the actual hiring of the employee and the recruitment and on-boarding costs involved go way beyond ‘just’ posting a job opening or hiring a recruitment agency. Costs associated with replacing a departing employee include:

  • Recruiting
  • Interviewing
  • Hiring
  • Orientation
  • Training
  • Compensation and benefits while training
  • Lost productivity
  • Administrative costs

Employee turnover is a very large and often underestimated cost for employers. This cost does not simply represent wages and materials, but also includes recruitment costs, loss of productivity, impacts on team morale and other more subtle expenses. 

In 2006, Ross Blake of Retention Associates summarized several studies that estimated the cost of replacing an employee:

  • The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates that it costs $3,500 to replace a $8.00 per hour employee. SHRM was the lowest of 17 nationally respected companies who calculated the cost.
  • Other sources provide these estimates: It costs you between 30% and 50% of the annual salary of entry-level employees, 150% of middle-level employees and up to 400% for specialized, high level employees!

These numbers represent averages. The replacement of the highest performing employees could cost significantly more, for the loss of productivity is much greater.

What do you think your company’s employee turnover cost is?

5 Ways Decision Support Software Helps HR

10 May

Decision support software can be human resources management’s best friend. The technology will never replace the function of HR, as some people have feared, but it can aid human resources in their day-to-day business.

When HR professionals are are able to make strategic decisions based of data and not just anecdotal or subjective information, the entire company wins.

Here are five ways decision support software can help HR:

1. Productivity. This is a big one in today’s economic climate. As businesses try to do more with less, every second of lost productivity is detrimental.

2. Better information, faster. The software’s goal is to support decisions, and what better way can this be accomplished than by streamlining data? Before HR support software, staff members had to manually sort through piles of information that could be located in any number of places. Instead of mining for data, software brings just what HR needs right to the surface in an instant.

3. Hiring. Decision support software greatly aids HR professionals when making employee management choices. Is the company in a position to hire? Do we need to cut back positions? Support software has data to help answer these questions.

4. Salary management. Software can help determine salary action by analyzing turnover, training, compensation, location and other factors. Deciding on an appropriate salary for an employee is now an exact science.

5. Streamlining employee benefits. Thanks to HR software, all of this information is centralized, making administering benefits a breeze.

Are you currently using HR decision support software? How does it help you?

Payroll Software As A Retirement Advisor?

9 May

Payroll Software Displaying Information About RetirementWe’ve lectured you before on how it’s the human resource department’s responsibility to coach employees on planning for retirement, to use business payroll software to set up their 401(k) plans and track benefits. Hopefully our latest advice won’t fall on deaf ears.

Consider the kind of information that’s typically included on employees’ pay stubs. Address, taxes and how much they’re getting paid, right? If your company’s paycheck does not also have a space for the 401(k) contribution for the pay period, along with the total accrued balance, think about adding it.

It’s easy for cash-strapped employees to view a 401(k) contribution as just money that they can’t use to cut down credit card balances or apply toward a utility bill. But showing how the payments are adding up may make employees more likely to continue saving, rather than cashing out their plan the next time a financial emergency pops up.

What are some other ways payroll software functions can help your employees? Do you regularly talk to workers about how they’re preparing for retirement?

P.S. The federal government recently tweaked the rules regarding how companies can change corporate health plan providers without affecting grandfathered status. Check the Department of Labor’s website for more details.

Get Engaged Already – You Will Save Tons of Money!

4 May

ROEI In Action - Engaged Employees Benefit Your Organization

Here is another installment of our series centered on the Return on Employee Investment (ROEI).  Throughout the series I’ll speak directly to what ROEI is, how organizations can maximize it and how they can calculate it.

Employee engagement is the measurement of how dedicated an employee is toward the organization he/she works for and that organization’s values. Organizations that can establish trust between the workforce and management and between co-workers create an engaged workforce and enjoy the benefits that go along with it.

For organizations, the difference between engaged and disengaged workers can equate to success or failure. According to Alan Schweyer in The Economics of Engagement, disengaged employees are estimated to cost the U.S. economy as much as $350 billion per year in lost productivity, accidents, theft and turnover.

A major opportunity for corporate performance improvement and employee retention lies in engaging the workforce to drive better customer engagement, better revenue and higher profits. Schweyer points out that:

Most leaders and organizations know the difference between a fully engaged worker and one that is marginally engaged or disengaged. The former brim with enthusiasm, they contribute ideas, are optimistic about the company and its future, are seldom absent from work, they typically stay with the organization longer and are among the organization’s most valuable ambassadors.”

Investing in employee engagement increases workforce retention and thus decreases employee turnover costs. But the advantages of engaged employees goes for beyond the reduction of the turnover rate. Increasing employee engagement correlates directly with a positive impact on key business metrics.

According to Schweyer, engaged employees:

  • work more effectively, instead of just working more
  • find ways to improve
  • share information with colleagues
  • develop creative solutions
  • provide suggestions
  • speak up for the organization
  • try harder to meet customers’ needs, leading to repeat business

Numerous studies show a direct correlation between employee engagement and business results:

  • A 2008 BlessingWhite study demonstrated a correlation between engagement and retention– 85% of engaged employees planned to remain with their employer for ten or more months.
  • Towers Perrin discovered that high-engagement firms grow their earnings-per-share (EPS) at a faster rate (28%) while low-engagement firms experienced an average EPS growth rate decline of 11.2%.
  • The Center for Human Resource Strategy at Rutgers University found that highly engaged business units were on average 3.4 times more effective financially than units who were less engaged. This paper also found that when disengaged, workers can cost the company in lost productivity and negatively affect customer relationships.
  • A report by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates that by strengthening engagement, MolsonCoors saved more than $1.7 million in one year – citing one example where the average cost of a “safety incident” for an engaged employee was $63, compared with the average of $392 for a disengaged employee.
  • Hewitt Associates found that highly engaged firms had a total shareholder return that was 19% higher than average in 2009. In low-engagement organizations, total shareholder return was actually 44% below average.

ROEI is grounded in fact – we aren’t making this stuff up.  How much do you think disengaged employees are costing your organization?