Archive | August, 2011

Prepare New Employees For Success

31 Aug

Help New Hires SucceedAny new employee is likely to be riddled with anxiety come their first day of work. It’s understandable – they’re in a new environment, likely with people they don’t know and are expected to perform at a high level from the start.

For that reason, managers and the human resources team need to help forge a work environment conducive for the employee’s assimilation. While you can’t force them to be comfortable with their surroundings, you can work toward a professional atmosphere that makes it easier for them.

However, this requires putting yourself in their shoes. Sometimes what seems like the most trivial obstacle to a manager is actually an insurmountable barrier to a new employee. Too often employees are hired and don’t have a place to sit, their computer isn’t ready, their phone doesn’t work or their email isn’t set up. A lot of things that come natural to managers may have to be taught to new employees. Otherwise they don’t know how to proceed with their work.

For that reason, it’s vital that managers make new employees feel welcome from the get-go. Managers and HR reps should send a letter that expresses excitement at the person’s addition to the team and outlines a basic orientation schedule or work load for the week.

In order to ensure an extraordinary experience for your new employee, make a personal telephone call at least once a week between the time they accept the offer and their actual start date, to personally welcome them.  Welcome them to the team and share your excitement to have them on board. Share a tentative agenda for the day or week, confirm their start time and who to ask for when they arrive and answer any outstanding questions. Take this time to explain what is expected of them at this early stage, but don’t set your expectations too high. In fact, you may even want to lower you expectations, so that by surpassing them the new hire feels confident in their performance and abilities. 

Involve other team members, even those from other departments, and be diligent in setting up their workstation to an ideal operating level. In fact, it’s best to make sure phones, email, computers and other devices are fully operational before the employee’s first day. If everything is up to snuff upon his or her arrival, you’ve already begun instilling a sense of trust.

While email and teleconferencing are vital components of today’s business environment, they are also somewhat impersonal and should be discouraged in the orientation period if possible. By being introduced to co-workers personally, new employees can put a name to a face and appreciate the general friendliness of the company.

The first day is difficult for all parties so plan to have lunch with your new employee or have another team member take them to lunch if you are not available. Of course, you want to get the employee to work as fast as possible. The longer you delay putting them to work on what they’re supposed to be doing, the longer it will take them to develop a knack for their position. So put expected productivity aside and trust in whatever task they’re there to do. Put a new hire on the phone with a customer, place them in a brainstorming session or give them some data. A large portion of the learning process comes from within, so trust that they will be able to develop skills on their own.

At the end of the first day, it’s probably a good idea to review the work they completed – more importantly, how they completed it. Meet with the new employee and, possibly, other team members to run through what went well and, if applicable, what didn’t.

Finally, give them some reading material to peruse on their own, as company information on products, benefits etc. will help cement the job in their minds while outside the workplace.

The orientation for new employees always varies from company to company, but employers should be able to sympathize with their situation, as a manager who understands is a manager who is respected.

Management; Emotion vs. Intellect

30 Aug

Emotion vs. IntellectThere are many different styles of leadership and management, but in essence it comes down to two basic motivations: intellect and emotion.

Serial entrepreneur and author John Warrillow argues in Inc. magazine that while neither of these attributes is preferable to the other, each has its advantage in certain circumstances. While the logical, “dissociative” leader may rely on data and facts to address a challenge and therefore produce a more accurate result, it may be frighteningly devoid of instinct – a trait that is vital in high-pace environments.

In determining the strengths and weaknesses of a given management style, it helps to analyze project results, particularly in the event of failure. What could the manager have done to better the situation? Did he or she become overly emotional? Were they focused too much on perfectly extrapolating data?

While you don’t want to point to one style as superior to the other – especially as managers have their own styles through which they work best, regardless of mistakes – you can address this emotion-intellect dichotomy and discuss how it may be affecting overall performance.

What style of management do you use?

Clear The Clutter

29 Aug

Data Overload Stifling CreativityWork tends to clutter the mind. Too much of it can bog down employees and damage morale. Accordingly, it’s important for HR managers to implement a policy that allows for periodic breaks for workers to clear their heads and return with a fresh perspective.

However, it’s not just excessive workloads that inhibit creative thought and mental sharpness. Mere stimulation and data overload can be even more draining to the psyche.

While many employees have come to rely on various technological innovations – be they table computers or smartphones, social media or email – they can have an adverse effect on mental clarity.

In fact, according to The New York Times, recent research from the University of California at San Francisco has shown that lab animals who are exposed to new experiences are better able to process and retain information once they have removed themselves from the new experience.

The same is likely true for humans, so managers may want to permit workers to take frequent breaks to collect their thoughts or perhaps even flush them altogether. Such a process can do wonders for generating creativity and innovation in the workplace.

HR Can Alleviate The Stress From The Daily Commute

26 Aug

Human Resources Can Alleviate Stress From The Daily CommuteAccording to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 86 percent of Americans over the age of 16 drive to work. While telecommuting capabilities are beginning to reduce workers’ dependence on the daily commute, the process is still a major component of the U.S. business landscape.

More importantly, commutes can take a toll on employee morale and satisfaction, as the daily grind can be stressful, especially with schedule-oriented companies.

For that reason, employers and HR management may want to consider offering greater schedule flexibility and telecommuting options. If an employee feels less stressed to arrive at a certain location at a specific time, their attitude will likely improve and the business itself may notice improved productivity levels.

It may be beneficial to implement a wider window for workers’ expected time of arrival. Not only will this serve to reduce stress in the office, it may also help to lessen reckless driving among employees rushing to get to work on time.

Additionally, working from home from time to time may give workers a much needed break from their commutes.

What are some other ways managers can lessen the impact of a stressful commute?

Streamline Your Business For Productivity Gains

25 Aug

Productive EmployeesEvery so often, company managers need to re-energize their operations by sifting through their procedures and filtering out the costly or inefficient ones. It’s natural that as a business grows, certain practices will become ingrained in employees’ heads and be performed for no other reason than “It’s what they’ve always done.”

Managers should create an environment that encourages workers to do things in different, more effective ways while also updating their own management strategies for the sake of operational efficiency.

To begin, consider the tasks that need to be completed every day and focus on what aspects of that practice can be improved or optimized. In many cases, these operations can be streamlined through teamwork or even automated by using a human resources management system (HRMS).

Also, be sure to focus on all similar tasks at once, so instead of breaking them up throughout the day, consolidate them and do them at the same time. 

What are some other ways your business has streamlined itself?

Spreadsheet Nightmare: Excel Versus An HRMS

24 Aug

Spreadsheet OutputsIn today’s business environment, human resource executives are becoming an increasingly important component of corporate strategy, they are becoming business professionals with expertise in HR. C-suite executives continue to rely on HR input, particularly regarding staffing needs and capabilities, for drafting financial prospects and growth estimates.

However, as this new landscape becomes more and more complex, HR executives need to adopt management systems that can handle a wide range of tasks through a single automated process. That is where Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS) or Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) come into play.

HR departments are increasingly relying on HRMS to automate, maintain and access company information, including: training, performance evaluation, career development, promotion, retirement, recruiting, onboarding, policy communication, compensation, health and wellness benefits, payroll and leave.

Ultimately, an HRIS helps to streamline business processes and make all matters of human resources more efficient. Executives can accomplish more in less time, since users no longer need to hunt through mountains of documents to find what they’re looking for. Money is also saved by eliminating costly errors, boosting productivity and striking out areas of overspending. Finally, an HRMS can help provide accurate workforce analytics that can be used by C-suite executives to inform growth strategies.

However, one of the greatest strengths of an HRMS system is how data is collected – or rather, how automated data management programs trump traditional spreadsheets in almost every imaginable way. Instead of mindlessly plugging away at an Excel data set for each employee benefit plan, HRMS users can set up and manage unlimited plans – including health, life, AD&D, COBRA and retirement.

An HRIS can also calculate expenses and project HR costs, as opposed to the old method of manually pouring through Excel data to establish a loose projection for future trends.

Finally, with an HRMS, executives can complete their open enrollment online, thereby expediting the process and bypassing the cost of a paper-based enrollment, including all the printing, postage and data entry burdens that go along with it.

By virtue of continuing updates, an HRMS will automatically update all administrative concerns according to new laws, regulations and legislative concerns. This is one of the strongest appeals considering the old method of sifting through new laws that are drowned in oceans of unintelligible bureaucratic jargon and then manually applying them to your Excel spreadsheets. With an HRMS, HR executives can rely on one location for all their records, including preformatted standard reports.

Payroll services can also be streamlined with the help of an HR Management System. For example, alterations made to the HRMS database can be immediately reflected in the payroll system, providing for accurate benefits calculations. This far exceeds the old method of constantly updating spreadsheets and data sets according to each new deduction, benefits change or request for time off and calculating the effects manually.

But those are not the only advantages of an HRMS over burdensome Excel spreadsheets and manual data entry. HR executives will also save time and capital through employee self-service capabilities, finance and payroll reporting, streamlined correlation with other business applications and automated notifications.

For more information about how you can eliminate spreadsheets in your human resources processes, download the planning guide HR Data Management: The Hard Way vs. The Easy Way.

Let HR Be HR

23 Aug

Empowering an Executive with HR AnalyticsSmall business owners, particularly founders, are understandably concerned about delegating responsibilities to employees or new hires. After building a company from scratch, it is difficult to trust new faces with tasks that the owner has come to perfect.

However, doing exactly that, delegating, is what it takes to grow a business. To adhere to old ways, to insist on certain methods, or generally discourage personal styles of doing business will only dampen a company’s productivity.

While micromanaging is rarely a valued management tactic, there is one area where it should be discouraged at all costs: human resource management.

Business owners want to focus on building team of people they can trust, but sometimes they let their own personal preferences get in the way of making important hiring decisions.

Chief executives and other managerial leaders need to leave compensation, benefits, healthcare and other personnel strategies – no matter how consequential – to the HR specialists. Of course, input and communication should always be stressed.

Interested in learning how human resources can provide strategic information to the C-Suite?  Download the What the CEO Needs From Human Resources white paper now.

Can Workplace Napping Boost Productivity?

22 Aug

Napping Employee

Sleeping at the workplace has progressed from a somewhat absurd notion to an accepted practice at many big-name corporations. Traditionally, managers and business owners have argued that napping during a busy workday racks productivity and signifies laziness, but the impression is beginning to change.

In fact, researchers now agree that napping can boost productivity, in that sleep can help recharge a tired mind, boost energy and increase overall productivity.

Inc. magazine reports that researchers from the University of California Berkeley have confirmed that mid-day naps can improve the brain’s ability to retain information and hasten the process of long-term memory consolidation.

The number of companies that endorse workplace sleeping run the gamut, ranging from Goldman Sachs and IBM to Google and Ben & Jerry’s.

Of course, the nature of a workplace napping policy depends on the business at hand, but HR management teams should consider how sleeping opportunities can help boost workplace productivity.

How can a company implement a napping policy that does not exclude certain employees while also ensuring peak productivity?

Employee Motivation vs. Happiness

19 Aug

Happy Motivated EmployeesEmployee motivation is the most fundamental driver of worker productivity. It’s a fact of human nature that people worker harder and more effectively when they are happy or feel an incentive to do so.

For that reason, it is a constant challenge among employers and HR management professionals to boost worker motivation and morale and ultimately create a fun workplace.

When market conditions deteriorate, managers need to develop even more creative methods for engaging employees, and one of the most common strategies is to set a good example. This means listening to and encouraging ideas from all workers and ensuring that they feel appreciated.

While motivation tends to be a result of happiness, it is rarely the other way around. In other words, employees can be motivated without being happy – whether it’s out of fear of losing their job or being pressured to complete a task. This relationship is unhealthy and only breeds resentment.

Inc. magazine recommends employers and HR managers focus on making their workers happy. This will also help retain talent – whether entry-level or top brass.

Trust, The Foundation of Any Workplace

18 Aug

Trust in the WorkplaceWhether in the retail sector, technology development or financial services, all companies share the common interest of promoting trust among co-workers. While such an objective is not easily achieved and may take years to fully mature, it is the metaphorical glue that binds ideas together and allows minds to think alike.

Of course, there is not clear-cut recipe for building trust. You’ll need a team of psychologists to explain why certain people are less trusting than others. Nonetheless, there are steps managers can take to promote a culture conducive to such an objective.

To begin, you’ll need to narrow down the different types of trust and determine how they relate to your company’s specific habits and cultural milieu. Lou Dubois suggests in Inc. magazine that there are three basic forms of trust: capability, contractual and communication.

Capability trust refers to the process of allowing workers to make their own decisions and having faith in their results. Contractual trust involves the adherence to certain agreements, contracts and expectations. Finally, communication trust refers to the sharing of information and feedback in confident and appreciative manner.

How else can managers promote an environment of trust in the workplace?