Archive | May, 2012

The Case For Training Is Not To Be Ignored

31 May

Human Resources Training and EducationAs the world around us changes, human resources professionals need to adapt in order to keep up with new demands on the workforce. Continuing education and training of HR managers are essential to keeping a company competitive.

New laws are constantly being created and old ones revamped. An HR professional must be aware of labor laws, tax laws, employment laws and OSHA standards. These can sometimes vary by number or type of employees, and whether they’re full-time, part-time or contract workers. HR will be held accountable for staying up-to-date on all the nuances. FLSA guidelines will require equal opportunity employment and monitoring of fairness in the workplace, and training for regular employees in sensitivity or gender relations may be necessary. Knowing when and how to administer this information is a main human resource responsibility.

Technology today is much different than even 10 years ago. Human resources professionals need to know how to use software, mobile computers and smartphones, and a variety of cutting edge payroll and self-service programs. Many of these will provide learning tutorials with their licenses, but it’s important to make sure that human resources professionals have a working grasp of how these programs work so that they can not only utilize fully utilize the tools but can teach others how to use them as well.

Continuing education opportunities help human resources professionals master new skills and gain a level of confidence required to be effective leaders. Many times businesses prefers not to send team members to a conventional classroom, but use software and online courses that provide cost-saving and convenient human resources training.

Human resources professionals should be interested on learning what’s happening in their career field, as its an industry forecasted to be one of the most substantial areas for job growth in the next 10 years. Human resources professionals should be encouraged to sign up for training seminars and seek additional information to help them better perform their jobs. Online tools are key in keeping up-to-date with recent trends and events, finding new ideas and sharing with others.

In order to keep a business competitive when it comes to hiring new talent, as well as compliant with current laws and standards, employers will need to seriously consider some form of continuing education for their human resources staff.

If you’d like to learn more about human resources training, visit our human resources essentials library.  We’ve taken the guesswork out of picking classes and training providers and used our HR expertise to make available essential human resources topics and high quality courses.


The Last Mile in Employee Services for the Automated HR Department

25 May

HR Employee Not Utilizing Carrier ConnectionsIn the last ten years most employers have invested quite a bit of capital on HRMS infrastructure such as online employee self service and benefits enrollment software.

Most of the investments have been focused on improving the administration, the efficiency, and productivity of the HR organization and making it easier for employees to communicate with HR and to make the HR information more accurate –  an inward focus.  But now, especially with health care reform legislation, there are new challenges in the areas of benefits administration that are coming about for employers and for insurance carriers, particularly in the areas of eligibility management and enrollment reporting.

So if you take these new challenges with where employers are today with their HR automation investments, it’s more important than ever to automate “The Last Mile” of the benefits admin process, and that’s the enrollment communication with the carriers on the back end.

Several Important Points HRMS Execs Are Realizing About the Last Mile

Carrier connections defined:

It is the process of automating the benefit enrollment data management through pre-built secure and fully-managed data integrations between HR system of record and all benefit insurance carriers and providers.  It’s an end-to-end communication process from your system to each of your carriers.

Automating carrier connections:

  • Improves the employee benefit experience at the point of service.
  • Offers opportunities to reduce HR Department overhead burden associated with benefits admin.
  • Elimination or reduced cost “leakages” – caused by inaccurate or inefficient reporting with the insurance carriers.
  • Better positions HR department to comply with current and evolving legislative and regulatory requirements.

Key Capabilities Needed

For an answer to enrollment communication with the carriers (carrier connections) the vehicle used must:

  • Be simple and reliable.
  • Be secure and private.
  • Support all benefit carriers.
  • Handle special enrollment reporting procedures.
  • Catch “missed enrollments”.

The Big Pay Off

All of this reduces HR administration burden.  A look at how many HR depts report enrollment changes to your carriers today will be a first clue to the increased efficiency a well designed connection carrier brings to the table. Enrollment without connection carrier process in place includes most of the following:

  • A carrier required custom report.
  • A multiplicity of benefit forms, paperwork.
  • Visiting a carrier web portal.
  • Signing on through a secure log-in.
  • Entering data manually. 

After all that there is no assurance that the carrier enrollment records are correct unless an enrollment audit or a data reconciliation is regularly completed.

Reduce Costs

Let’s frame this as enrollment cost “leaks”.  An enrollment cost leak is where, for instance, the employer is overpaying premiums for employees or dependents that should have been terminated off of coverage.

Then there is the opposite scenario or dependents that should be covered – you think they are covered, they assume they are covered but they haven’t been picked up on the premiums, and they might even actually be denied service. So in either case, you’re either underpaying now and overpaying later.

With new legislation it’s going to be harder to reconcile these past premium overpayments and get refunds for them. 

A well designed connection carrier system through its regular and automatic updating capabilities, tends to plug up these cost leaks so they don’t occur.

Are you doing all you can to ensure that cost leaks aren’t occuring or that your HR staff isn’t overburdened with administration work regarding benefits enrollment?


Have You Lost Your Rock Star Status At Work?

23 May

Brandon Smith - The Workplace TherapistToday’s guest post comes to us from Brandon Smith. Therapist, professor, consultant and radio host, Brandon brings an upbeat, witty approach to the challenges of workplace health and dysfunction. Brandon is the founder of – a resource dedicated to eliminating dysfunction at work, improving workplace health and restoring optimism and focus in the workplace. Brandon also currently serves as faculty at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School where he teaches and researches on topics related to leadership, communication and healthy workplace dynamics.

In most cases, the warning signs that you are losing your rock star status at work are the same whether you are an up-and-coming high performer or a senior leader who has been “on top of the charts” for decades.  Here are some of the more common that apply regardless of your role: 

  • No more applause – You used to get frequent kudos from your boss, but now – nothing. Nada. Just silence. Be very concerned with prolonged periods of silence. In the best cases, the boss may just be overwhelmed and can’t think of anything other than his or her own workload. However, in the worst cases it can be much worse. It could mean her or she is intentionally distancing him or herself from you in preparation for laying you off. This is a common self-protective practice with any boss prior to a lay-off in order to make the conversation less painful for him or her… but not necessarily lest painful for you.
  • No more gigs – You begin to notice that you are not getting asked to take on the big projects like you once were. At first, you are relieved because you were getting burnt out with the pace you were keeping at work (touring is tough, huh?). But, be wary. If being overlooked for projects becomes a trend, you could be in trouble – regardless of the reason you are given by your boss. Worse yet, if you begin to have work taken away and eventually find yourself with less work than your co-workers, you are losing relevance. Losing relevance means losing a job. Soon you’ll be playing in dive bars if you don’t watch out. Keep pace with everyone else’s workloads at a minimum.
  • You are no longer cool – There was a time when the organization couldn’t get enough of you and people like you. Be careful. In business, just like in music, there are trends, fashions and tastes that come in and out of favor. For example, there was a time in the mid-to-late 1990’s that if you had any knowledge of a computer and networking, you could name your price. Companies were throwing money and perks (even cars in some cases) to lure folks to their emerging I.T. departments. Today, the supply meets the demand. Graduates with degrees in information systems and computer engineering are running the show. Salaries are stable and being up to speed on the latest technology is no longer a differentiator – it is a requirement. Are you up to speed on the latest in your industry? Is your role and function still “cool?” Or are you suffering the fate of big hair bands of the ‘80’s? You may need to change your image before you are thrown out with last year’s fashions. Relevance is more important today than ever.

But there are some warning signs for the senior leader that are slightly different. A good friend of mine, Randy Hain, Managing Partner of Bell Oaks Executive Search and I came up with following list specifically related to “senior leader rock stars”:

  • You are no longer being included in strategy decisions – Have you noticed that you have much more time on your hands? That you are no longer “required” to be present at some of the strategy meetings that you once dreaded? Be careful. While you think this means they value your time, this may really mean that they no longer value your opinion.
  • Head hunters aren’t calling – The “real” rock stars are known inside and outside of their industry and they are wooed regularly. Even in this economy, there are plenty of jobs available to the rock star. So, when was the last time your phone rang?
  • You are not included in informal social gatherings – Do members of the senior leadership team invite you over to their homes? Do you and your spouse go out with other team members and their spouses? Do your peers make an effort to get to know you? If not, you need to ask yourself “why not?”
  • No one listens anymore – I recently attended a company-wide social event. The senior leader stood up to speak to kick off festivities and set the tone for the evening. The members of the organization looked up for a moment, saw who was speaking and then continued their conversations with each other. Are you getting ignored when you speak?

Any of these warning signs could mean danger so be on the lookout. On the flip side, what does it look like when you are on the rise in your organization? The opposite of all the warning signs above: you are regularly given kudos by your boss, you are given big problems to tackle in recognition of your superstar status and you have a unique skill set that is coveted by others inside and outside of your organization. If all of those positive aspects describe work for you today, your job is simple. Work your tail off to stay there. Being a rock star over time is no easy task. It involves hard work and constant vigilance for the warning signs of eventual decline, a responsibility that is solely yours. Don’t expect your manager to tell you, because they likely won’t.  Focus on keeping your fans happy, keeping yourself relevant and constantly monitoring your status in the organization and there is no reason you can’t stay “on top of the charts” for decades.


Training vs. Learning: The Difference is Important

21 May

Training vs LearningWhen taking on new employees, a business must create a robust and comprehensive strategy to foster a comfortable assimilation into the company. A strong starting point is differentiating the advantages of learning modules from those of training methods. Creating a synergy between these two structures is paramount to improving employee retention, as first impressions always count.

The effects of training and methods of delivery

Training strategies should focus on the development of position-specific skill sets and be done in an actionable manner that pertains to the group. Through training, new workers will get a perspective of the needs of their host organization, making the message the training staff conveys an important greeting that should be taken seriously.

Additionally, training often impacts the immediate needs of a company and gives entering employees a solid idea of what to expect from the outset of their employment. These sessions should be bound to a central concept, while being prescriptive enough to ensure a highly structured setting.

Essentially, the most successful training modules keep a goal that is central to the company in mind every step of the way, while the alignment of training processes with everyday operations will create a consistent trickle-down of key company information and values.

Examples of effective training delivery methods include eLearning, multimedia tutorials – such as webcasts and webinars – and even blogs created by respected, tenured members of the organization.

The important values of learning modules

Learning modules should be more focused on the long-term goals of the new employee, establishing a gradual comfortability and confidence that will improve employee loyalty and set employers up for more success in the future.

Management should establish an organic strategy to help assimilate the trainee into the common mode of behavior and action found in the organization. These should focus on individuals, honing their internal capabilities and aligning them with the best practices accepted in the business.

Employee engagement is key to adequate and successful learning. Presentations, exercises and general research of any kind should be managed and delivered in a way that piques the employee’s interest. Mundane, lackluster and uninspired prose could lead to a waste of time, both for the trainer and trainee, so focus on making things interesting when it comes to conveying the strategy.

Consider involving ground-level employees as much as possible in this process, as this will often serve as the most organic means of getting the new member of staff on the same page as his or her team.

Proper orchestration of learning and training

In the end, there always needs to be a big picture. Irreverent combinations of training and learning practices will likely dishearten new staff, and could have a negative impact on employee investments. Always centralize the scope and delivery of these strategies. This can be done by establishing either one member or a council of members within the organization who will serve as the overseers of the on-boarding process.

Why is Employee Engagement So Important?

18 May

Mollie Lombardi

In this fourth installment of a five part series, Mollie Lombardi, a research director for Aberdeen Group’s human capital management practice, shares her thoughts on the importance of employee engagement. Mollie has surveyed and interviewed thousands of end-users to gain a better grasp of the key challenges facing human resources and talent management leaders. Mollie has an extensive background in writing and speaking about topics such as strategic talent management and employee engagement. If you’d like to learn more about Mollie you may read our first installment, Meet Mollie Lombardi.

Employee engagement drives performance and helps organizations hire, develop and retain top workers. It’s no wonder engagement is a hot topic.

But what is employee engagement? We at the Aberdeen Group define it as aligning the efforts and goals of an individual with the company goals to drive business results. So, it’s not just about employee satisfaction. For example, I could be satisfied with a job that lets me leave early and doesn’t require me to work very hard. But a job with true engagement would enhance my ability to succeed and also would boost performance of my organization.

Managers are vital to building or eroding employee engagement. Our recent report “The Engagement/Performance Equation” found that managers who take the time to set clear performance goals and development plans can greatly improve employee engagement. What makes a manager great? It’s simple: support from the organization. Organizations must support their managers with:

  • Tools that give them the capabilities to coach
  • Processes that allow them to build development plans
  • Instructive performance feedback

Best-in-class organizations are 81 percent more likely than other organizations to train managers with tools and strategies to improve employee engagement, our study shows.

Also crucial to building employee engagement is creating a culture in which performance management is an ongoing conversation, not just an annual event. A formal performance review process is useful, and 84 percent of best-in-class organizations we surveyed said they conducted performance reviews on an annual or semiannual basis. But it is the frequency of formal and informal feedback that is one of the most important elements of any engagement strategy.

Employee engagement isn’t a “nice to have” — it is a must-have. Engaged employees help deliver engaged customers and help solve problems related to employee retention, customer retention and the talent pipeline.

Top-performing organizations are solving “The Engagement/Performance Equation” by supporting managers so they can create an ongoing performance culture and holding them accountable for the engagement and performance of their team members.

Are you doing enough to keep your employee’s engaged? 

Payroll Cards: What Are They and Why Are They Important?

16 May

Sage Payroll PaycardIn response to the tens of millions of “unbanked” workers in the U.S., many employers have begun issuing payroll cards to their employees. These items work just like debit cards from banks but allow workers to dip directly into their company payrolls, as opposed to the more resource-intensive process of cutting checks.

Most payroll debit cards allow all employees within an organization to be enrolled in direct deposit, regardless of existing banking relationships. There are a number of benefits for both employers and workers. For example, companies are able to reduce the cost of issuing paper paychecks. Such devices are also more secure, as they minimize the risk of check fraud, offering an additional employee benefit as a result.

Workers benefit most directly from their convenience and security, as their wages are immediately available on payday. Furthermore, individuals without checking accounts or established bank relations do not need to establish one, and families can even receive multiple payroll cards for use.

Businesses of all sizes are looking for ways to improve payroll efficiency and employee satisfaction while also maintaining adequate security standards. Complete electronic payroll systems allow employers to meet these goals.

With the growing popularity of payroll cards, especially amid rising discontent with banks, a number of HR management and payroll associations – including the Association for Financial Professionals, Electronic Payroll Coalition, Electronic Payments Association and the American Payroll Association – have collaborated to develop a series of core principles for payroll debit cards. Employers and payroll managers considering electronic payroll systems should consider some of these standards:

  • Employee should have access to full wages at least once each pay period without cost.
  • Terms and conditions should be disclosed in a clear manner before the employee is enrolled in the payroll card program.
  • Employees should be allowed to check account balances via telephone or electronic platforms, such as online networks, and these services should be offered without cost to the employee.
  • The funds in a payroll card account shall not expire.
  • If the card has an expiration date, the employee should be provided with a free replacement card prior to that deadline.

Have you considered offering your employees access to a payroll card?  Learn more by visting the Sage Payroll Paycard website.

Why Integrate?

11 May

Fully Integrated Software ManagementFully integrated software management solutions offer a variety of benefits to the average business or professional organization. They can help reduce inefficiencies and improve productivity across all departments and business processes, among a number of other perks.

In a nutshell, these services involve the standardization of one application in managing an entire organization. When implemented effectively, this leads to the elimination of narrow solutions that usually strain IT resources and stall overall business performance.

Here are some additional ways that comprehensive business management software can help an organization achieve growth.

1.) Generate the highest return on employee investment for your IT budget.
2.) Achieve greater insight into your customer base while ensuring that your expenditures are targeting the most loyal/valuable prospects.
3.) Drive quality improvement by reducing process inefficiencies through accurate and fully integrated payment processing solutions.
4.) Automate human resources and compliance processes while tracking payroll and providing improved care to employees.
5.) Gain control over your entire fixed asset lifecycle.

Cost reduction

In order to fully benefit from an integrated software management solution, companies need to take their accounting processes very seriously. If inadequate attention is given to payroll services, bookkeeping and financial processes, then the advantages are likely to be minimal. This underscores the importance of initial software integration as well.


Integration may be the greatest benefit of any software management solution. If a company establishes the elimination of redundant data as a chief goal for its software and IT solutions, then the process of implementation is likely to be successful. It’s important to note, however, that these solutions do not improve the relative efficiency and performance of individuals, so any integrated solution needs to be balanced with a comprehensive workforce management strategy.


As mentioned, software management solutions tend to focus on integration at the organizational level, so it’s important that companies weigh the benefits of their solutions against the individual habits and characteristics of employees. Ask yourself: How much will a solution reduce or address inefficiencies at the individual level?

Overall, more consistent data that offers a global view of an organization can help drive growth and process improvement efforts. As markets continue to grow more complex, the need to adopt such quality improvement measures is seen as imperative, and software management solutions can be the foundation for these objectives.

If you’d like more information about comprehensive business management software register to view the recorded webcast 5 Tips to Extend the Value of ERP and Meet the Needs of Your Business.


Are People Your Biggest Asset?

9 May

Why are some companies thriving while others struggle to stay in business? What is the distinctive difference between a good company and a truly great company? The answers to these questions can only be found when looking at what defines the company: its people. The people that make up a company are that organization’s unique and biggest asset. For most businesses, the workforce is also its largest expense, or better put, its largest investment.

At Sage HRMS, we believe that employees are the most important component in the quest to improve business results. It makes sense to treat employee related expenses, like HR technology, as an investment in the workforce. Like any other investment, this critical company investment must yield a healthy return. We call that the Return on Employee Investment™ or ROEI™.

Sage Summit 2012 Explained

7 May

This year’s annual Sage Summit will be held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tennessee, from August 12 to 17. Sage Summit will provide a unique networking setting while offering a variety of fun events, informative seminars, and hands-on training.

The event focuses on bringing together Sage users from the top down, from business owners and managers to analysts, consultants, and network members. Registration began on April 19 and is open to partners and customers alike. You can register for the entire week or just a portion. Partner days are designated for August 12-14 and customer days are August 14-17.

The annual meet-and-greet on Sunday afternoon will kick off the conference by introducing members with the same performance interests and goals. These first three days will be geared toward helping partners connect with colleagues to gather ideas on strategy, implementation, and problem-solving. You can learn more about how Sage products work and what you can do to use them more effectively at deep-dive workshops, or you can attend “super sessions” to help understand how to increase the scope of your management resources. 

Customers will be welcomed on August 14 in a special networking day aimed at bringing them together with partners in the new Sage City. Composed of nine smaller “villages” focused on particular interests important to the Sage community, these tents bring together partners and customers looking to meet the same kinds of challenges and help them connect on a face-to-face level for brainstorming and networking. Sage City will also have access to chat walls where people can write notes and ideas for other attendees, or they can use Facewall to interact online with others during the event.

A variety of entertainment will be available throughout the week, and meals will be provided, as well. Partners will be invited for drinks and appetizers at the kickoff of the trade show on Sunday, and Monday night will feature a block party with bands composed entirely of their colleagues. On Wednesday morning everyone will be invited to take part in the 5K Run for Youth walk/run to benefit the Student Youth Travel Association’s Youth Foundation. Wednesday night will be a special concert event at the Grand Ole Opry featuring Trace Adkins, Montgomery Gentry, and Diamond Rio.

If you want to master a certain training aspect, Sage Summit features different learning tracks that will help carry you through the basics and give you in-depth knowledge of product integration, IT systems environments, leadership, or customer service techniques. If you’re interested in learning about a specific program within the Sage family, there will be business- or customer-only workshops to attend. Customers can get up to 17 CPE credits and partners a max of 32 for attending this one-week event. Workshops will allow you to log hours right when you attend them, and you can even print out certification of time earned before you leave.

This year’s trade show will host nearly 200 software and technology companies such as Edisoft, Citrix, Fujitsu, and JobOps. Attendees can try out new applications or talk with other companies about software that might work for them. Developers can meet directly with their clients to brainstorm new solutions for specific problems. There will also be opportunities to win gifts and prizes throughout the week, and both partners and customers are encouraged to stop by the various booths and speak with vendors.

Don’t miss out on this exciting opportunity for Sage customers and partners; register for Sage Summit today!


Is There a Better, Faster Way For Background Checks?

2 May

Mollie LombardiIn this third installment of a five part series, Mollie Lombardi, a research director for Aberdeen Group’s human capital management practice, shares her thoughts on background checks. Mollie has surveyed and interviewed thousands of end-users to gain a better grasp of the key challenges facing human resources and talent management leaders. Mollie has an extensive background in writing and speaking about topics such as strategic talent management and employee engagement. If you’d like to learn more about Mollie you may read our first installment, Meet Mollie Lombardi.

In this age of social sourcing and viral job marketing campaigns, screening potential employees and checking their backgrounds might not seem like the most glamorous elements of the recruiting process. But they are extremely vital because they can greatly reduce risk for your organization.

Pre-employment screening can include many different things. Aberdeen Group research has found that the most common elements of employee screening are: employment and education verification, criminal background checks, reference checks, employment eligibility verification (I-9 in the U.S.), and drug screening. It’s interesting that employment and education verification is the most common screening element cited — 87 percent of organizations Aberdeen surveyed did so — but it’s understandable given our current economic situation. As people are out of work for long periods of time, there might be temptation to embellish work history or educational accomplishments, which could unnecessarily expose the organization.

It also is worth noting that many organizations are screening not just before hiring, but also after prospects become employees. Often, drug tests are performed after on-the-job accidents or other incidents. Continued checks for criminal violations and verification of licenses can be critical as well. Court records often move slowly, so issues that were not identified in the hiring process can show up later, and critical certifications might expire. Risk does not stop once a hire is made, so ongoing screening can help mitigate it.

Executing and managing employment screening can be challenging, which is why 62 percent of organizations that screen use an applicant tracking system, or ATS. However, just over half of these organizations actually integrate screening in to the applicant workflow. Much of the value of an ATS is in automating the hiring workflow, so integrating employment screening into this workflow makes the process easier for recruiters, hiring managers and the candidates themselves. According to Aberdeen Group research, organizations with full or partial integration between employment screening and an ATS see greater reductions in cost and time to hire, as well as greater improvement in hiring manager satisfaction.

Employment screening is essential, but busy hiring managers don’t want to wait for paperwork, and neither do top-tier candidates. The key is finding the solution that turns around accurate, timely results in a way that can be integrated with the overall hiring experience — keeping managers and candidates happy.