Archive | February, 2012

Introducing Sage Source

20 Feb

Sage Source - Improve Your Work Life SuccessFor almost a year now I have been talking about Return on Employee Investment because I believe every organization should look at their decisions with this idea in mind. Employees are the single most important asset of a company and numerous studies have shown that customer satisfaction is directly related to employee satisfaction. 

For small businesses, hiring and retaining the best employees are some of the most difficult tasks because of competition for the best talent. Larger organizations have an advantage because they can use their size to offer employees a plethora of benefits and access to technology at a reduced cost.

Today, I am extremely excited because a new idea is being introduced into the market to help solve this problem and aid in the competition for the best talent. I’m proud to announce that we’re launching a forward-thinking new cloud services platform named Sage Source

Sage Source is an easy to use employer and employee portal that allows employers to offer services to their employees that they only dreamed of and all with minimal administration.  It also provides value in savings to small and mid-sized companies by giving them access to business related services at enterprise savings levels. The initial release provides immediate value to companies in several areas and the savings and value will continue to grow as we continue to add more business and employee services to the platform. 

I can honestly say that this is the most exciting thing I have seen to help small businesses engage their employees in a long time. Sage HRMS customers on a current Sage Business Care plan will have immediate access to the new offering and I invite you to learn more now by visiting the Sage Source website.


The Perks of Perfectionism

17 Feb

Perfectionism PerksIs perfectionism a bad thing? It depends who you ask. On the one hand, the unrelenting devotion to mastering a craft translates into quality goods and services. But there also comes a point at which quality can no longer significantly improve, and time begins to be wasted.

The Harvard Business Review points out that perfectionists tend to get a bad rap for being time-wasters who aggravate those around them. However, being a stickler can have some valuable attributes.

Every organization has these people, and they can be both a blessing and a curse – the trick is in drawing out their strengths and stemming their weaknesses. Executives should channel their immeasurable focus and attention to detail toward specific tasks, while holding off their involvement in project management positions.

Isolate healthy perfectionist behaviors from the damaging ones, such as feeling that every mistake is the end of the world. Focus on the benefits of perfectionism while keeping your thumb on its harmful tendencies.

Perfectionism cannot be suppressed, nor should it be.

What are some other ways managers can uproot the perks of their nit-picking employees?


GenX, GenY, Gen? … The Risks of Age Profiling in The Workplace

15 Feb

Mary Anne Osborne, SPHRThis guest blog post is courtesy of Mary Anne Osborne, SPHR, and principal of the Osborne Group. Mary Anne is a people-centric HR professional and consultant with over 25 years of HR experience in telecom, finance, manufacturing, healthcare and higher education.  Mary Anne presents monthly on our complimentary Sage HR R&R: Refresh and Recertify Webcast Series.

Recent trends in technology appear to have widened the generation gap as never before. The newest entrants to the workforce – Generation Y – have grown up in a world that is inundated with mobile devices, internet breakthroughs, tablet computers and social media.

As they have been predisposed to this technology from an early age, they appear to be especially adept at all things technical. In the context of the work environment, this creates a skill divide.

But how much is this trend unique to today’s business landscape? Could it be that generational tension has existed to varying degrees throughout time, and that HR managers merely need to adapt to these fluctuations and assess their employees according to individual merit?

To create a cohesive multi-generational workforce, industry experts say human resource teams need to create well-defined plans for managing and recruiting employees of different age groups. But of key concern here is not letting externally perceived notions of generational tendencies cloud judgment of character. This is perhaps most important in regards to hiring and recruiting.

Take Generation Y, for example. Many analysts have type-casted this so-called “millennial” generation as being needy, disloyal or even self-entitled. But is this really true? Of course not. These same young professionals are at the helm of many tech industry sensations, including Groupon, Facebook, Tumblr and foursquare. Furthermore, the recent economic downturn has dramatically altered their impressions of the world, particularly in regards to what they are or are not entitled to. 

The issue is that HR managers and recruiters would be ill-advised to leverage generational labeling in vetting job candidates or in engaging existing employees. Especially in North America, where the culture favors individualism over collectivism, employers need to interact with their colleagues and staff members on a personal basis.

The categorization of age groups tends to relate to economic, social and cultural differences, as well as how they have been affected by technology, education and the economy. But if these are the criteria for judging members of a specific cohort, then where does one draw the line? After all, a generation is merely a kind of demographic, so it’s worth it to ask oneself: What other demographics can be labeled and assessed with the same sort of sweeping generalizations?

To learn more from Mary Anne about The Risks of Age Profiling in the Workplace, listen to her recorded webcast now. 

TGIM: Help Employees By Making Better Decisions

13 Feb

Decision Making Can Help EmployeesIt’s Monday and we’re back with another installment of our TGIM series, or Thank Goodness It’s Monday!  Each Monday our posts will focus on employee engagement and we hope to hear your thoughts on Twitter using the #TGIM hashtag or with a reply to us @SageHRMS.

Monday mornings can be a difficult time for intensive decision-making. Some managers have a hard enough time culling a decent splinter of energy, let alone applying their full mental capacity toward executive strategy and decision-making. As a manager, you’re not expected to be at 100 percent 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but you need to be able to make sound and informed decisions.

If you find yourself increasingly bogged down by your job – whether because of rapid growth, the end of the quarter or some other project – it may help to take a step back and review the process by which you make both your personal and professional decisions.

“To avoid pining over what to do and what to skip, it can help to learn how to make better decisions,” explains Entrepreneur magazine. “You’ll be viewed as a better leader and get better results overall.”

Here are a few suggestions to better prepare yourself for the demand of managerial decision-making:

1.) Turn your brain off and remove yourself from the task at hand. Great ideas tend to emerge from nowhere. Thinking heavily about something is important, but it tends to clutter the mind. By removing yourself from the task at hand you’re able to store all that information in your subconscious mind, thereby prepping you for inspiration at any given moment. This will also help you make more clear-headed decisions.

2.) Forget about perfection. Don’t even bother with it – it’s just not going to happen. Most leaders would prefer a project be delivered 80 percent complete a few hours early than 100 percent complete five minutes late.

“Moral of the story: Don’t wait for everything to be perfect,” cites Entrepreneur. “Instead of seeking the impossible, efficient decision makers tend to leap without all the answers and trust that they’ll be able to build their wings on the way down.”

3.) Focus on the decision, not problem-solving. Leave the analysis to the analysts. It’s your job to decide according to the information you’ve been given. This may mean relying on intuition more than raw data – a daunting prospect for many – but such is the nature of the business leader and entrepreneur. The better one understands this, the closer one comes to making better decisions.

What are some other ways managers can make better decisions?

Let us know what you think on Twitter by tweeting with the hashtag #TGIM, or reply to us @SageHRMS.


A New Approach to Weeding Out Inefficiencies

10 Feb

Weed Out InefficienciesEvery organization – no matter how “cool” – has some dull, inefficient process that need to be done. Of course, nobody wants to do these tasks, so they are often given to new hires or lowly workers.

However, while it may be counter-intuitive, having some of your top performers handle these tasks may be a smart idea. Your best employees are likely to have a mind that’s able to recognize inefficient or costly procedures. By directing these workers to take on some of your boring processes you are effectively applying an efficient mind to an inefficient task. Hopefully they’ll be able to identify these kinks and weed them out.

Your top employees may not want to work on these issues, but as a manager you need to get them excited about transforming a dull, boring-yet-essential process into something that is, at least, less burdensome.

It may be helpful to entice your top workers with some sort of reward for taking on these processes. Also, make sure that it does not become a permanent part of their job. However adept they may be at nixing operational inefficiencies, you still want to devote them to core processes that require minds as adroit as theirs.

How does your organization weed out inefficiencies?

New Hire Training 101: Tips for HR

8 Feb

HR Training a New HireToday’s post is a guest post from Erin Palmer – a writer and educator for Bisk Education. Erin works with University Alliance and the online education programs at Villanova University which offers an HR certification program which will help with the SPHR exam.

Well-trained employees are not only paramount for the success of a business, but for the development of the individual as well. Employees who feel confident in their new endeavors will likely deliver better results. A well-developed training program can help to create successful and productive employees.

Finding an employee that already has the exact skill set that your company needs is easier said than done. As a result, it is of the utmost importance that HR delivers a comprehensive training procedure that makes new employees feel comfortable and capable in their new environment.

 Provide New Hires with Everything They Need to Get the Job Done

Having the best teachers and materials available will certainly make a difference in the way your new employees learn. Providing new hires with a quality instructor makes it easier for new employees to connect. A trainer can answer questions and help ease any worries.

Likewise, providing the right materials can serve as resources long after the training is completed. Make sure that any tools or programs that the employee will need are already installed before the person’s hire date. This will allow the trainer to explain how the tools are used and give the employee time to learn them. 

Take Time to Integrate New Employees

A new job can be overwhelming. Systems and protocol vary among companies and can lead to some confusion in the beginning. Rather than just telling your new hires how things work, show them. Provide them with hands on training where they go through the motions themselves.

Also remember to make connections between what they are learning and what they will be doing. New hires may not get as much out of their training if they don’t see the immediate connection. By pointing out specifically how the employee will utilize something, you can keep them engaged and focused.

Personalize the Orientation Process

Everyone has different learning styles. Some may be more visual, while others require more human interaction. Ask your new hire how they feel most comfortable when learning new material, and then incorporate their learning style into the training. For instance, perhaps you notice that your new hire is a very social and outgoing person. If this is the case you can try incorporating group activities where they interact and work with other employees.

Try to fit the employee’s training with the position that he or she was hired for. If you train every employee the same way regardless of position, you aren’t making the most out of the training process. Tailoring the training process to reflect the most relevant, job-specific information can make the transition easier for the new hire.

Continue To Develop the Employee

Companies should always create an environment of learning. By nature, people are curious and want to grow. They want to learn new techniques, be more productive and implement new systems that will make them more successful in their endeavors. It is important to promote learning even after an employee is settled in a position.

Rather than just limiting training to new employees, consider creating ongoing training programs. Find opportunities to teach your employees about the latest news and technology in their field. You can use these opportunities to create an environment where more experienced employees can mentor the newer hires.  Also, web-based educational tools are becoming more flexible and cost effective for businesses, consider looking into online training programs. 

Follow Up With the New Hire

 The best way to make future training effective is by seeing the results of previous trainings. Follow up with your new hires to see how they are doing once they are settled into the job. Ask them what the best parts of the training were and where they think improvements can be made. This will provide feedback to ensure that future training sessions are as effective as possible. It also gives the new employee the chance to ask questions or address issues. 

When done properly, training new hires can create productive employees that will contribute to the success of a business. Take the time and make an investment in your company’s training program. Your employees will appreciate it!

 What do you think, are there any new hire steps that I missed?

Can You Create Collaborative Individuality?

6 Feb

Collaborative IndividualityToday we’re back with our TGIM series, or Thank Goodness It’s Monday.  Each Monday our posts will focus on employee engagement and we hope to hear your thoughts on Twitter using the #TGIM hashtag or with a reply to us @SageHRMS.

Much has been said about the burgeoning “knowledge economy.” As markets continue to demand highly skilled workers with extensive training and education, employers will come to value creativity, experience and know-how over anything else.

Especially among companies focused on technology and innovation, creativity is the new golden asset. Of course, ingenuity is notoriously difficult to gauge in a job candidate – let alone foster. The demand for creative minds has also sparked a debate about where workplace innovation comes from. Does is sprout from group brainstorming and collaboration, or is it more of a solitary, introverted endeavor?

Much has been written that suggests people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption. The most creative minds, are only extroverted enough to exchange and advance their ideas, but they see themselves as independent and individualistic.

Clearly, this is at odds with the imperatives of an innovation economy, where the internet, social media and mobile technology encourage collaboration and advanced communication to solve problems and address new ones. This also applies to the workplace, which often relies on group directives to tackle projects or develop new ideas.

The challenge for managers is to balance individual habits with team directives, cites Inc. magazine. This means avoiding the collectivist mentality and encouraging cooperation. Collectivists, unite around a single purpose but ignore alternate paths to achieve that purpose. Collaborators, on the other hand, are focused on purpose but they arrive at their goals by including a variety of individual opinions and viewpoints.

In that sense, managers should encourage individuality within the team-based framework. Make each member of a creative project feel as though they have a unique mind that contributes a valued role to the overall venture. Inc. recommends a few ways to facilitate collaborative individuality.

1.) Encourage personal identity – Members of a team should build upon the contributions of others to achieve collective goals. This means embracing and even urging alternative perceptions and personal differences.

2.) Affirm purpose – Managers need to let their team members know why they are valued and how their input leads to organizational success.

3.) Reflect, as a group – Managers should stir the brainstorming process by posing challenging questions to reflect upon silently and then discuss as a group. Open-ended conversations should focus on “how” and “why” rather than established processes.

How else can managers encourage collaborative individuality?

Let us know what you think on Twitter by tweeting with the hashtag #TGIM, or reply to us @SageHRMS.


Avoid The HR Kiss of Death

3 Feb

Departed Employee RecommendationsIt’s always sad when an exemplary employee gives his or her notice that they’re leaving the company. You hate to lose such a productive team member, but after years of dedicated service, you owe it to great workers to write an equally great letter of recommendation.

However, the road to human resource hell is paved with good intentions, and even the best referrals can actually hurt employees if worded poorly.

A report on the effects of gender in letters of recommendation in academia found that while men are identified as being more assertive and proactive, women are typically described as having communal traits, qualities that are less valued in the hiring process and can negatively affect an employer’s decision.

To avoid giving your dearly departed workers the HR kiss of death, write the kind of letter you would want to read when making a hiring decision. Scroll through records stored in your human resource management system to draft letters about the employee’s skills that speak to the specific job for which he or she is applying. Keep copies of recommendations that you receive when building a new hire’s file, as they can also serve as a point of reference when conducting reviews.

What are the features of a particularly strong or weak recommendation?


3 Tips For Recruiting in the Job Market of Today

1 Feb

Recruiting in Today's Job MarketRecent governmental reports show a general improvement in hiring and job creation, yet with still large numbers of Americans unemployed many think that the problem is more complicated than it seems.

For example, according to government statistics, there are currently more than 3.2 million open positions – the largest figure in roughly three years. Combined with the number of jobless professionals, the figures allude more so to a nationwide talent shortage than stagnant job creation.

Another recent survey by Towers Watson seconds this argument. The 2011 WorldatWork report found 59 percent of employers in North America faced challenges attracting critical-skill employees last year, up from 52 percent in 2010 and 28 percent in 2009. Difficulties in employee retention also worsened in recent years.

The trend points to a new imperative for executives, small business owners and human resource management. As the economy continues to rebound, HR leaders will need to employ competitive recruiting efforts and novel hiring strategies to attract key talent.

Best practices are subjective

Be sure to align practices with unique organizational considerations. Said another way, managers need to weigh their specific circumstances against industry standards. Often times, what works for one organization may be toxic to another, even among businesses in the same industry. Companies that leverage ability tests, structured interviews and monitored recruitment sources, for example, are statistically shown to be as effective in attracting talent than firms that don’t.

This means the imperative is in evaluating proven techniques with an understanding of local context. It may be frustrating to learn one must rely on independent research and strategy development instead of external input, but that’s the nature of the 21st century job market.

In-house training and development may render recruiting unnecessary. A lot of employers may prefer to recruit their talent, but many skills can be found among existing staff members. The key is merely in training them. Instead of complaining about a dearth of skilled workers and waiting for the country’s education system to catch up, employers may need to invest in their employees themselves.

Testing job candidates can be very informative

This especially true for highly skilled positions such as IT, finance, design and product development. Research suggests that well-designed automated assessments can be as effective in measuring criteria as face-to-face interviews and exams. Of course, the extent of this trend varies from industry to industry.

The internet is a vital resource

Every serious job candidate has an online presence these days, whether it’s a strong Google ranking, a few social media listings or a job search profile. However, employers and recruiters need to be careful about how they research candidates.

It may be tempting to Google applicants or research them through social networks, but there are questions about its fairness. For one, there is the risk of appearing invasive. There is also the possibility of basing decisions on unethically obtained information.

Of course, one’s web presence is by and large their responsibility and companies cannot be expected to ignore such data. In fact, such activity already occurs throughout the business community. That being said, it’s important to establish some sort of framework for researching and utilizing personal information found via the web.

What methods do you use for recruiting in today’s job market?