Archive | September, 2012

How to Solve Absenteeism and Engagement Problems

28 Sep

 The workplace is a stressful environment inherently filled with daily challenges, both in the tasks and the social environment surrounding it. These conditions can be hard for certain employees to deal with on a regular basis, and especially with the rise of remote working and cloud computing, businesses may have noticed that some staffers stay home more often than others.

There is a possibility that these people have underlying medical issues which HR personnel are not allowed to pry about, or there might be other factors outside the workplace that are making it difficult to get to the office reliably. For businesses that constantly deal with attendance and work quota problems, there may come a time when the cost of replacing an employee becomes a more frequently-asked question about problem people instead of talk about how to fix problems.

Working on the Workplace

There are some elements of the office that are harder to deal with than others, and these can vary from one person to the next. The first line of defense in absentee issues is the person’s direct supervisor. Human resources management should focus on training these frontline contacts to identify and address absenteeism issues appropriately, as a unified response to tardiness as well as not showing up at all needs to be dealt with strongly. If a manager gives the impression that an absence has no negative impact, an employee may perpetuate the behavior.

Providing an employee self-service portal is one of the best ways of reducing absenteeism from a knowledge standpoint, as these tools allow every person to review corporate policy on time and attendance, as well as review calendars, timesheets and available days off remaining for their use. These tools are great for HR personnel too, since they provide a way of tracking problems and creating attendance metrics.

Most importantly, companies need to make sure they have a policy in place regarding what is and is not acceptable for attendance standards. It may seem odd, but not every business does this; especially with small entities, owners assume that a person with a job will know that it is his or her responsibility to show up and be on time for every shift, but without a written policy, this can result in HR compliance fines should a person be let go for tardiness or absenteeism. What’s more, it is hard to enforce a rule when there are none in place. If there is a guideline in place, also be sure to review it regularly to avoid mistakes and maintain its relevance.

Monitor Problems

There are some times of the year that are more likely than others to incur high absentee rates across the board, but looking for trends on the individual basis will probably reveal more disturbing patterns. Leaving early and arriving late consistently, as well as calling out throughout the week, indicates an engagement problem that must be addressed.

Open Communication

If there is a clear problem with a worker, the worst thing that can be done is ignoring it or keeping the conversation away from that individual. Let a problem employee know that something must be done, set clear expectations and remind him or her of what is required for working at that business. Providing a singular message and never straying from that guideline will create an environment of integrity. This in turn could help boost employee loyalty among workers, as well as impress the need to be consistent and improve oneself for those who are below expectations.

Writing down issues is one of the best ways to track the patterns of behavior. This is much easier with integrated HRMS, since such a program can be accessed by privileged employees from any computer and can be monitored remotely as well. These tools allow for a higher level of analysis, management and feedback, using advanced computer programming to ensure that no detail is missed.

Office Impact

The bottom line of employee absenteeism is that one individual is not pulling his or her weight as part of the team, and this can create a ripple effect of deteriorating employee engagement. That one individual’s work will still need to be done, if the office is not equipped for or the work that must be done is not conducive to remote completion, and this will breed resentment and negative morale among the rest of the office staff.

Make consistent attendance a clear advantage for employees through praise and public acclimation. By putting those who regularly come to the office and do good work on a pedestal, it will enhance the image of what an exemplary employee should look like, discouraging negative tendencies among other workers.

When Technology Meets Employee Training

26 Sep

 The economic situation in the U.S. is still difficult for a lot of businesses to get a handle on, and cutting costs remains a centerpiece of corporate strategy. Despite that, it is still essential that companies make every effort to raise the value of its workforce, as poorly-trained staff and uneducated workers will never be able to help a company progress to the next level of the corporate ladder.

Training software can be used by any institution, regardless of size or industry. These tools make learning opportunities available to everyone in the organization while increasing their value to the company, as a well-trained workforce will execute with more accuracy and precision. On top of that, offering these opportunities makes employees feel genuinely valued by their organization.

New Teaching Strategies

Traditional education tactics have always relied on face-to-face teaching in a classroom setting, with a dedicated space and tutor, learning materials and time away from the office to train. These elements represent a massive financial outlay that companies must maintain to exert a return on investment, but finding ways to lower initial cost and boost the value of the final product can make training more appealing for hesitant companies.

Online and eLearning options are constantly evolving, as mobile devices now optimize the experience. Making use of tools employees already own, they can now access training from anywhere and anytime they choose, catch up on training modules, review materials already covered and reference these throughout the workday should further questions arise. These tools also offer hr analytics greater insight into which workers are doing well, who needs help, and whether these tools need to be modified to better suit employee needs.

It’s been said that people learn best from observing others who carry out the specific tasks. Simply reading something out of a book or watching a presentation isn’t the same as performing tasks or watching them be carried out. Finding alternative teaching methods that make use of this information and put people in the driver’s seat will help them absorb more and boost return on employee investment for training programs.

Transformative Growth
Turning someone into a motivated, productive team member should be the goal of every HR professional in charge of structuring educational experiences, and as the range of tools available for these initiatives increases, so do old methods become obsolete. One of the best advantages to training software is that it saves money for businesses when new modes and information replace outdated ones.

This is particularly pertinent for human resources employee training, as compliance and payroll guidelines are subject to change on a mercurial basis. Every time a law becomes outdated, training materials run the risk of becoming inaccurate while online training programs can always remain relevant when updated accordingly.

Pursuing adaptive, intuitive strategies for training can make better workers. The return on investment is remarkable when considering the cost of education for new modes of learning versus obsolete tools, especially considering the benefits and diversity of new utilities for employees. People work better when they have reliable, accurate resources and knowledge to fall back on, and educational opportunities can help them reach those expectations.

Focus on the Basics of Goal Attainment For Success

17 Sep

It’s one thing to talk about the objectives of your company, it’s something else to actually achieve them. Many managers overlook the mechanics of goal attainment, opting instead to focus on their targets. While it’s important to dream and have a “vision,” you need to ground yourself in reality.

For that reason you need to approach your team members with a few things in mind. For example, every employee needs to be given a set of tasks and responsibilities, but they should also be afforded a certain degree of autonomy and independence that allows them to work according to their own style.

The group as a whole should be clear on how to handle certain processes, whether they’re menial or integral to overall performance. If not explained outright, set standards of communication and decision-making by example.

You also need to foster a strong team culture that is respectful and constructive. What values do you and your employees share? How can you leverage those standards for achieving success?

Finally, measure the progress of your team’s performance through precise metrics. Ultimately, this will help provide a road-map for the attainment of a specific goal.

Let us know how you manage your team to attain goals by mentioning @SageHRMS on Twitter with your response.

The Key to Overcoming Workplace Negativity

14 Sep

There is no guarantee that just because two people work together they are going to get along. Conflict in the office, though, can result in increased disengagement and a depletion of productivity, as this negativity will impact everyone working with those involved in conflict. Just like being around someone with a chip on his shoulder all the time will make you feel less optimistic, so too does working in an office rife with conflict make the workplace harder to survive in. Brokering peace is crucial in such environments.

The Impact of Negativity

Putting strain on employee engagement can be a massive problem for managers dealing with worker unrest. Such conflict is the root of many voluntary dismissals, weighing heavily on HR professionals, as workers choose to leave rather than tough it out in a hostile environment.

A number of employees today would consider quitting outright from a position tainted by stressful disputes between themselves and other workers, or even in scenarios where they are simply impartial observers to the issue. Simply being present for disputes can wear down workers, elevating stress levels for everyone in the office.

What complicates conversations between employees?

Businesses usually have guidelines concerning topics of conversation that are to be barred from the workplace. They also disallow certain kinds of visual content, limiting the amount of sloganeering any individual can encounter during the workday, be it on a shirt or cap, a lunchbox or some other highly noticeable article. There are also employee management tools dictating what kinds of speech are considered offensive, but sometimes these things slip through the cracks during casual conversation.

So what creates conflict in the workplace? A number of factors can add up to an issue. These include poor communication, differing interests and a disconnect in general personal traits and preferences. These are things inherent to an individual’s personality and sometimes cannot be avoided, though mitigation is possible.

Avoiding difficult or contentious subjects is a good business practice both internally as well as with customers. HR personnel should encourage the avoidance of charged conversations regarding race, religion and other demographics that can ruin relationships at many different levels. It is important to encourage employees to keep verbal conversations, internal messages and notes sent using employee self-service portals to a professional tone and subject matter, according to the source.

How can you make it easy and comfortable for employees to provide feedback?

Resolving outstanding conflicts is essential to encourage a work environment conducive to productivity and well-being for all employees. It may be difficult to get people to come forward with problems before they become crises, however, as workplace culture generally frowns on individuals taking an issue to a manager without inducing negative feelings on the employee’s part.

Encouraging workers to come forward with problems is one solution, but making it a point to talk to people on a one-to-one basis in a private setting like a closed office can make workers feel more secure when discussing human resources issues. When these issues come up, managers need to address the problem immediately, reassure those involved that the matter will be handled, and that the only concern is making everyone more comfortable in the workplace. Taking even minor steps to alleviate tension will help ease the minds of those in the direct vicinity of the problem, opening the door for more progress and communication.

Getting to the bottom of a problem is the first step in finding a way to disperse tension. Asking questions is one of the best ways to do this, and being sure that no inquiry is accusatory or closed-ended. Asking for suggestions is also a good tactic, as this allows workers to be directly involved in the resolution process and give their insight as to how best help them re-acclimate to a positive office experience.

Why is formal mentoring for employees sometimes not enough? 

Unfortunately, sometimes there is nothing that can be done to keep a conflict completely out of the workplace. Individuals must be able to let go of their differences, put aside grudges and get back to work. Not every person is going to be capable of this, and sometimes moving a worker or reassigning them is the only way to save office chemistry. Before taking more escalated measures, the return on employee investment should always be considered.

Managing Office Stress For Office Success

12 Sep

When you think about return on employee investment, what comes to mind? Productivity scales, training schedules, benefit plans or quarterly reviews? It’s surprising how little of the human picture actually makes it into HR projections.

If you’ve noticed all your numbers are in order but your employees still aren’t happy, it might really be because they aren’t happy with their job environment. Employee engagement and job satisfaction aside, there are reasons why some workers come to resent going to work, even if they have the best retirement plans and wellness programs of any of your competitors. 

To get people tuned in at work, make sure they’re not missing out on important things outside the office. Most people have regular social routines once they go home for the night, and extra overtime or bringing their work home can easily get in the way of those activities. Rocking the boat, so to speak, in the outside-life sphere will have negative implications on the work that kept them from having fun.

Don’t put people on display all the time. Offices should have open-door policies and airy floor plans, but employees will still want “alone time;” somewhere closed off from the workspace of the office, like a break room or outside area, so that they can take time during the day to separate themselves and recharge for the rest of the day. To give them a sense of separation, you could try letting people listen to music during the day if their jobs permit.

Be sure to keep an eye out for conflicts in the workplace as well. Workforce management can sometimes put you in the position of mediator if tensions get too high between employees, but in order for an office to run smoothly and with as little stress as possible, people need to get along. It may be that somebody has an annoying tick, leaves a mess in the microwave or never refills the printer paper, but no matter how trivial the issue may seem it’s still an issue for those involved and needs to be resolved.

Unlike computers, you can’t just reboot or get a new one if one or more of your workers goes on the fritz. To get the best return on investment, be involved in employees’ lives.

The Fail Whale of Many Companies

10 Sep

Human resource professionals less frequently view their role in social media as a policing function and more as a means of helping their organizations leverage the channel for employee engagement. However, that does not underscore the importance of implementing a social media policy.

A survey published earlier this year by the Society for Human Resource Management - titled An Examination of How Social Media Is Embedded in Business Strategy and Operations – found 40 percent of surveyed employers currently have a formal social media policy in place. More than half of respondents - 55 percent – plan to increase their social media efforts over the next year.

But with increased social media use – both by employees and their respective organizations – the need to manage such activity grows. The same SHRM survey found 56 percent of companies with a social media policy have included provisions regarding the organization’s right to monitor use of social networks.

Mark Schmit, vice president of research at SHRM, points out that as social media takes on a larger role within the workplace – beyond mere marketing efforts – the role of human resources will grow and evolve as well. In fact, 43 percent of organizations depend on HR teams to create their social media policy, and 44 percent rely on them to enforce those rules.

Unfortunately, HR professionals can no longer rely on the common sense of their employees to protect their reputation from online outbursts. For that reason, they need to make clear their policies from the moment of hire and to frequently refresh workers on how these standards work.

This is perhaps more important for small businesses. The SHRM survey found larger companies and those with multinational locations are much more likely to have a social media strategy than small organizations based solely in the U.S.

At the same time, HR teams need to make sure that their policies do not overreach. As important as it is to sustain their company’s reputation within the social web, human resource leaders need to be wary of dwindling employee engagement. That means striking a balance, where the policy stays clear of employees’ personal lives but also upholds the integrity of the organization.

Compassion in the Workplace

7 Sep

It’s generally the case that people want to associate themselves with benevolent causes and organizations. Why should it be any different in the workplace?

Of course, companies do not need to be selfless philanthropic nonprofits to garner employee confidence and pride, but by implementing a charity drive or an infrequent cause of some sort can go a long way in boosting motivation – not to mention deliver the satisfaction of helping those who are less fortunate. Companies can help people represented by a charity, anonymous foreigners or even employees themselves.

Offering support or help to workers going through difficult times – be it through time off or simple condolences – can boost that employee’s faith in the company while providing other workers with similar confidence. These considerations only build up over time and lead to greater productivity, happiness and retention.

However, such human resource management policies should not be viewed as mere motivational strategies. Instead, business owners should extend their concern to workers as human beings and worry about productivity later.

Battling the Workplace Bully

5 Sep

With the variety of personalities on display in the workplace, the office can sometimes seem more like the playgrounds of your childhood. Unfortunately, just like in the schoolyard, there’s the occasional bully, and it’s up to the human resource department to make sure a mean coworker doesn’t terrorize the rest of the staff.

Most workplaces already have policies against sexual harassment and discrimination, why not bullying? Consider a drafting a social contract, of sorts, that encourages respectful interactions among colleagues.

The challenge in combating bullying is detecting it. Try to create an open-door environment where workers can report behavior they feel is intimidating. Keep a record of all complaints in your human resource management system, and if a particular employee seems to be cause a lot of trouble, pull him or her in for a chat to get their side.

Ask whether they notice the same tension that others have flagged as problematic. Some bullying behavior is easy to catch, including verbal abuse or threats of physical harm. Occasionally, bullying can be a miscommunication between individuals or a case of one worker being more sensitive than another.

What are the best ways to handle a co-worker with a domineering personality?

Let us know on Twitter by mentioning us in your tweet, @SageHRMS.


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