Archive | July, 2011

Six Rules For Wise Recruiting

29 Jul

Human Resources Recruiting a New Employee

I originally posted this article on and I thought I’d post it here on the Employer Solutions Blog to make sure everyone got a chance to take a look. 

Here are my six rules for wise recruiting:

1. Look Back to Go Forward –take a look at your past procedures and practices as they relate to recruiting.  Know what worked and what didn’t – understanding why.  If you can’t fix a process throw it out.  Develop a strategy based on tried and true techniques as well as using those that are new but helpful (like social networking) is the best approach.

2. Hire for attitude – train for skills – A resume will give you information on a person’s experiences and background so you can learn what skills they have.  Companies have the ability to train for certain skills and do all the time.  Software changes, protocols change but you can’t change a person’s attitude about life and approach to work.  Hire people whose attitude fits your company culture; If need be, you can train them to acquire the skills your company needs.  New hires should have the ability to learn but the willingness to do so is crucial.

3. Past Performance Does Predict Future Behavior – when interviewing and doing background checks – knowing how someone performed or behaved in the past is a strong indicator of what they are likely to do in the future so questions should be based on behaviors.  Unclear answers from former employers should not be accepted. Ask more questions until you are comfortable you know how the potential employee is likely to act in a given situation.  Develop a recruiting strategy based on finding out who people are, not just what they can do.

4. Become the employer of choice – this is the #1 recruiting strategy.  If an employer is the employer of choice, everyone wants to work for them and no one wants to leave.  You can control your recruiting budget because word of mouth is your best advertising.  Resumes come to you rather than you having to pay to get them from ads, on-line search engines, etc.

5. Put them in the book – it’s important to keep a reference guide.  A reference guide is a recruiter’s best tool.  It has information about everyone in your organization including people who work for you, people who don’t but you wish they did.  An employee’s, likes, dislikes.  What a current employee wants in their next job.  Who’s moving up, out – who is leaving and have they found a new home?  Who took a job where, why.  A good reference guide is a record of what’s happening inside your company and your competitors.  It is a little black book to give the recruiter an edge on their competitors.

6. “Hire Hard, Manage Easy” This is a quote from Alan Davis and this quote says it all.  If you spend your time and energy on recruiting, interviewing and hiring the best- then managing them is a breeze.

What are your thoughts on my six rules, did I leave any big ideas out?

Speak Your CEOs Language When Talking Staffing

27 Jul

Application for EmploymentToday’s global economy requires a new approach to business management and executive strategy. As leaders begin to incorporate other departments into their overall growth plans and projections – including finance, IT and marketing – the need to involve human resources strategy is also becoming apparent.

While executives often prefer to focus on the broad picture for affecting growth and expansion, many human resources concerns that have traditionally been perceived as minute and irrelevant to corporate strategy are being neglected at the cost of forging business advantage.

Recruiting and staffing, turnover and succession, compensation and benefits – these are all critical HR management concerns that should be weighed with equal consideration among executives, as they are the most expensive HR functions and have the greatest impact on company objectives.

With tightened budgets and an increasingly competitive global economy, businesses can no longer afford to make bad hires. Candidates need to be vetted thoroughly, as proper hires can serve as the missing link in bringing coworkers together to build ideas. On the other end of the spectrum, bad hires can devastate morale and cause organizations to miss their objectives.

Thankfully, there are a number of strategies HR professionals can adopt to plan for their current and future workforces while also helping chief executives to forge their own corporate objectives.

To begin, HR managers should cultivate relationships with job candidates and potential recruits before they are even on the market. This may mean attending job fairs or it may mean building professional relationships with hopeful recruits.

Developing a “wish list” of professionals specific positions is also critical. HR executives should target specific candidates – whether internally or externally – draft a list and rely on it when new positions open up or are created.

As far as marketing goes, word-of-mouth is perhaps the most effective and sought-after selling point. The same is true for recruiting. While such a goal is much easier said than done, spreading positive accounts of specific positions and company benefits can be instrumental in attracting top talent.

While HR executives manage a company’s overall recruiting and hiring strategies, the task should not be isolated to the HR department. Help can come from anywhere – the trick is in developing an incentive for others to do so. Accordingly, companies should implement a referral compensation program for employees who are able to attract qualified candidates on their own.

As executives manage big picture tasks, they need to be clued in on how HR managers are implementing the recruiting process. Staffing reports that outline the number of job openings, any incurred production backlogs and the cost of such positions need to be administered to executives on a frequent basis.

In developing staffing reports, HR managers should also be sure to include turnover rates and cost-per-hire, as well as strategies for filling positions that are traditionally more difficult to fill.

HR executives will also likely need to run the finances of new hires by CEOs and CFOs, underscoring the need to draft specific analysis of all relevant costs. The most effective way to calculate the cost per hire is by dividing recruiting and hiring costs by new hires:

Key Metric: Cost Per Hire

Finally, HR executives should remember to include the following: recruiting department salaries and overhead, advertising costs, hiring and referral bonuses, outside recruiting agency payments, relocation costs and bonuses and potential immigration costs.

Business Intelligence For Human Resources Explained

22 Jul

Human Resources Using Business IntelligenceWhat kind of information does an HR organization’s employees need in order to perform their jobs to the best of their ability?

Generally speaking, HR managers are looking to gather strategic information, analyze it, temper it with their own knowledge, and then make what are often wide-reaching decisions.

Non-managerial HR staff, on the other hand, most benefit from task-specific information, details that will help them perform individual business operations in the most efficient manner possible.

Two different groups; two different types of information.

Both groups in need of business intelligence.

So why is it that over 65% of all HR organizations have implemented business intelligence solutions that help only their managers, leaving everyone else out in the cold?

The answer?

“. . . because BI solutions are designed for managers . . . and not for staff.”

There’s some truth to that statement.

Different members of your HR organization use information in different ways.  Managers, tasked with analyzing big-picture HR activities, need to be presented with information in an interactive manner that allows them to drill-down into the underlying HR data and perform sophisticated analysis.

Non-managerial HR staff, however – folks whose days are fully occupied with detail-oriented tasks – need to be presented with information that relates directly to their job at hand; and that information needs to be presented in a quick and simple manner.

And so around 2008, BI solutions were divided into two groups; the traditional “strategic” BI solutions that have long been used by managers, and a new category of “operational” BI solutions that are designed to help non-managerial staff perform their duties more efficiently, more knowledgably, and more cost-effectively.

Strategic and operational BI solutions differ in a number of ways.

When managers use strategic BI, they typically know what they wish to analyze but typically don’t know what the results of their analysis will be. This is referred to as unanticipated intelligence. Non-managers who use operational BI not only know what they wish to analyze, but also often know what results to expect. They just need those results to be auto-delivered to them at the precise time they are needed. This is referred to as anticipated intelligence.

The final differentiator in strategic and operational BI solutions is the methods by which the business intelligence is delivered.

Strategic BI is delivered in an interactive manner, enabling a manager to slice and dice their views of data in a number of different ways. Additionally, strategic BI solutions usually focus their output on graphical displays, as charts and graphs typically better represent trends, opportunities, and problem areas.

Operational BI needs to make as small a demand on a staffer’s time as possible. That generally rules out an interactive solution and greatly reduces the need for charts or graphs.

Thus when it comes to operational BI, no single communications medium will do; an operational BI solution typically auto-delivers the needed information via a choice of multiple information delivery methods, including email, mobile device, instant message, and web dashboard.

The undeniable conclusion is that all parts of an HR organization can benefit from business intelligence. The type of information required by various staff members will differ. So too will the manner in which the information is conveyed. But if one of the keys to remaining successful in today’s challenging economy is to enable an HR organization to operate as efficiently as possible, everyone within that HR organization must have access to business intelligence.

Business intelligence for everyone.

Safely Using Social Media When Screening Applicants

20 Jul

Human Resources Screening Applicants Using Social MediaThe wealth of information freely offered on social media websites can seem like an attractive human resource management solution, when companies are looking to screen job applicants. Some employers are even using the sites to conduct ongoing screening of current workers.

While sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn can be invaluable when recruiting potential employees and networking with colleagues, using them to find out private details about a new hire can create legal problems.

Lester Rosen, founder of the background screening firm Employment Screening Resources, says that social media sites can provide insight on an applicant’s thought processes, hobbies and interests. However, the sites can also give information that hiring managers cannot legally use in their decision, such as race, sexual orientation, religion and more, he says.

One way to avoid stumbling across information that could inadvertently influence a hiring decision is to have someone else in the organization look at the applicant’s web page. Then that person can pass on only the details that are legally relevant to the hiring manager.  To make this process more formal you may want to record these unwritten rules and add this action to your company’s social media policy.

Do you have any tips for safely using social media in the screening process?

A Flexibility Policy May Help

18 Jul

Woman Working Using Flex HoursIt’s no secret that human resources managers are giving their employees more options on where and when they work. Flexibility in schedules and work locations may be on the rise, but without an explicit flexibility policy, productivity can decline.

At smaller companies, the quality of one employee’s performance (or lack thereof) becomes apparent pretty quickly, and the temptation to offer flex hours without a policy may be strong. But whether you’re a major corporation or a bare-bones startup, drafting a set of best practices can keep operations transparent and fair.

A formal program should lay out rules for conduct, express productivity expectations and reiterate safety guidelines.

Employees should sign an agreement promising to report work hours accurately, concentrating strictly on job responsibilities when at work, and maintaining a clean and safe work environment. It’s also important to make sure the company’s information security is still protected, and employers are allowed to inspect an employee’s off-site workspace.

What are there reasons why the flex option doesn’t work for some companies?

Walking the Tightrope of Work Life Balance

13 Jul

Woman Working From HomeCould you imagine the work that would get done if all employees were on call 24/7, compulsively checking email and never putting down their smartphones?

However, we all know that’s not realistic, fair or sustainable. Encouraging flexibility and a healthy balance between professional and personal lives can keep employees enthusiastic and prevent burnout.

To help with stress, cross train employees so they can fill in for each other if someone is out sick or on vacation. Telecommuting the correct way, flexible hours or a compressed work week can also allow your employees to pick the time and place where they’ll be most efficient.

That freedom doesn’t suit everyone, so draft policies addressing who qualifies for the flexibility options and plan out how you’ll regulate their work. (HR management software can help track employees and their productivity, along with payroll and other business statistics.)

Set realistic expectations for what your employees can accomplish in a day or week. While it’s nice to have high productivity in the office, don’t make demands that are impossible to meet or constantly require people to take work home.

Do you have any tips for balancing “real life” and work?

Keeping Cool About Hiring Extra Summer Workers

11 Jul

Student Intern Working During The SummerIf your company offers an internship program, or takes on additional workers to handle a busy summer, that means human resource managers receive waves of applications from job seekers hoping for a temporary position.

Here are a few ways you can handle the extra work of processing temporary or seasonal hires.

How your company views the internship program – whether it’s to expose less experienced workers to the industry or just serves as a way to inexpensively reduce full timers’ workload when many take vacation – will probably dictate the extent of salary and benefits you offer. Payroll software can help track hours interns or seasonal employees work, which helps maintain labor compliance, and can also be used to set up 401(k)s or a direct deposit for paychecks.

Consider giving summer workers or interns a review at the end of the season. It’s great practice for them, and if you find a particular person who has really excelled, you can save their data in a human resource management system for future internships or positions with the company.

Does your company have an internship program, or take on seasonal workers, if so how do you handle the extra talent management issues?

Keep an Eye on the Bottom Line to Deliver Strategic Value

6 Jul

Strategic Value of Human ResourcesThe recession and its aftermath left virtually no industry unscathed, as unemployment skyrocketed, credit markets tightened and consumer confidence tumbled. But as troubling as the downturn was on a market-wide scale, individual businesses were forced to confront some rather unfortunate circumstances regarding workforce management, payrolls and their overall bottom line.

While reducing staff, maintaining labor costs and boosting morale may have been the most common strategies for surviving the downturn, most employers and human resource management professionals have acknowledged that the actual implementation of these practices is easier said than done.

For instance, labor costs – including both compensation and benefits – account for roughly one-third of a business’ overall operating costs, meaning employers and HR officers need to strike a balance between profitability goals and employee motivation – a window that has become increasingly fragile and narrow through the course of the economic recovery.

Accordingly, managers may want to consider aligning their strategies with the goals of the company. This means adopting managerial techniques that adhere to revenue and growth projections, as well as expectations of overall company culture. It may also mean organizing payrolls and labor costs around work quality and productivity. Such practices can drastically improve a company’s bottom line.

However, accomplishing this requires a greater level of involvement among HR professionals and executives – an endeavor that has been challenged by the gap that has traditionally existed between corporate strategy and HR management. But many leaders are beginning to stress the need for HR executives to define their roles and responsibilities within the context of an overall growth plan, marketing strategy or profit goal. Even so, such an outlook is still somewhat bare.

Only 19 percent of senior HR leaders are part of their company’s executive team, and only 16 percent of businesses claim HR is the key to positioning their organization for growth.

To begin to align labor costs with that of corporate objectives, businesses need to evaluate precisely how much revenue is being invested in payroll, benefits and other employment-related costs.

This metric serves as a sort of return on investment for labor costs. Divide total annual labor expenses by revenue and express it as a percentage:

Labor Cost Revenue Percent

In determining the result, consider how organizations spend, on average, 22 cents on labor for every dollar of revenue earned. Of course, these figures vary from industry to industry and business to business, so HR professionals should weigh their specific findings against the norms of their market.

While it may be that the trend of HR executives and managers taking on the role of corporate strategist has been slow to develop, most analysts and industry leaders see it as likely or perhaps even inevitable.

But corporate strategy involves a greater understanding of and involvement with tasks that are unfamiliar to most HR leaders – such as relations with clients and business partners, finance and accounting, sales and marketing, operations, information technology and the employees themselves. Without understanding these issues and concerns, HR officers will be hard pressed to develop relevant corporate strategies.

Ultimately, it is a workplace’s culture that determines its productivity, and it is up to HR professionals to help forge and guide that environment. More importantly, the most effective way to accomplish such an objective is through coordinating managerial and employee engagement strategies with overall business objectives.

Interested in learning more business metrics that can help human resources provide strategic information to the C-Suite?  Download our What the CEO Needs From Human Resources white paper now.

Telecommuting Yet Still Communicating

5 Jul

Telecommuting Yet Still CommunicatingTelecommuting is becoming a common business practice, as cloud-based web services and technologies allow employees to work anywhere with internet access. In fact, regular teleworking grew by 61 percent between 2005 and 2009, according to Telework Research Network.

Understandably, many executives and HR management professionals have grown hesitant or even distrustful of running a company across so many different locations.

The reason for this fear has to do with “company culture.” While it may seem trivial, promoting an attitude that is in line with company ideals can be instrumental in retaining employees and boosting workplace morale.

If a decentralized workforce is an inevitable part of running a business, managers may want to consider adopting a few social networking strategies and sharing programs to maintain communications between workers.

For example, Skype can help employees interact with each other in a more personal way. In addition, group storage services such as Dropbox can be used as sharing tools for critical work documents and information or even merely to show an entertaining video or two.

What social networking type services does your company use to help unite remote workers?

Provide Feedback Through One On One Exchanges

1 Jul

Manager Providing Feedback to EmployeeIt’s very difficult for employees to learn from their mistakes or good deeds if they are not pointed out to them by managers and HR executives. This is especially common in complex or tech-focused positions, where the need to provide constructive criticism is paramount.

But, perhaps understandably, many managers are fearful of criticizing performance, especially among new employees. For that reason, managers should consider what it is that makes them nervous or hesitant and address the issue outright.

For example, managers sometimes do not wish to call out mistakes made out of fear of discouraging employees. But if done so in a tactful, respectful – and perhaps private – manner, the threat of disengagement is curbed.

Inc. magazine suggests managers hold one-on-one meetings to address these issues, but also be absolutely sure that input from employees is encouraged and implemented. Sitting in a room pointing out a worker’s mistakes without an actual two-way conversation is essentially a waste of time, so managers need to find ways to engage with them directly.

Emerging small businesses and young managerial professionals need to grasp the importance of such exchanges as they begin to expand their payrolls and oversee larger staffs. How else can managers offer constructive critcism?