Archive | August, 2013

A View of Customer-Centric HR

30 Aug

Most HR professionals focus their efforts on maintaining strong relationships with employees. While helping employees succeed is important to any company, HR professionals who operate solely for their workers are missing out on an opportunity to benefit an organization in other tangible ways.

One of the best ways to improve HR practices is by understanding that a company’s clients are also an HR department’s customers. By interacting with customers and improving customer relations, an HR department can create systems that help train, retain, and reward employees. Keep reading to find out how an HR department can evolve into a customer-focused department.

Change the Approach
In order to bring an entire company’s focus onto its customers, an HR department has to change its way of thinking. Rather than focusing entirely on the inner workings of an office, HR professionals should shift focus to include outside influences, particularly the customer experience.

According to Dave Ulrich, a management professor at the University of Michigan, a company can focus on not only being an organization that top candidates flock to, but also on acting as a company that employs people who draw in clients, the Society for Human Resource Management reported.

“Almost every HR practice can be filtered through the eyes of the customer,” Ulrich told SHRM.

He went on to say an integrated relationship among employees, customers, and an HR department is gaining in popularity, making it essential for companies to get on board with the trend before they get left behind.

Implement Training Programs
If a company wants to improve its client relationships, the first place to begin is with employee management strategies, particularly training employees. With sales- or customer-based companies, it’s important for managers and supervisors to train employees how to balance customer relationships with efficiency.

These training sessions should center on developing and maintaining positive client partnerships—HR staff can develop training packets and programs that show new hires the best ways to forge these relationships, as well as effective techniques to dealing with difficult clients and ways to keep companies coming back for more.

HR professionals can enlist the talents of top salespeople or employees who best exemplify customercentric traits a company is striving for. These training sessions remind employees of the importance of clients in their business and can improve sales and communication skills across an organization.

Establish a Positive Company Culture
HR professionals understand better than most how essential a positive company culture is to overall business success. When employees feel uncomfortable contacting their supervisors or have a negative opinion about their jobs, they are far less likely to succeed.

An office or employee with low morale may also be looking out for the next job opportunity. This is a huge detriment to a company—disengaged workers generally feel unattached to their jobs, and that translates onto customers as well. Although this is not an easy fix, HR staff would be wise to focus internal efforts on opening the lines of communication with workers, invite questions or concerns from employees, and encourage camaraderie between workers.

When workers feel optimistic about their jobs and engaged with the task at hand, they are more receptive to the idea of strengthening client relationships. By helping workers focus on client relationships, an HR department can greatly benefit a company. These improvements may feel like they are happening organically, as employees gain the drive to thrive in client communications on a regular basis.

Set up Rewards Programs
There are few greater ways to increase performance than through strong incentive programs. Companies can set up plans that financially reward strong sales numbers—a common practice—but can also set up systems that recognize the hard work it takes to improve client retention and satisfaction.

One way an HR department can increase client retention and happiness is by involving customers in the process. HR professionals can reach out to clients and ask them about their interactions with staff members who handled their business. If an employee receives a certain number of positive reviews, he or she can earn financial incentives such as bonuses, days off from work, gift cards, or tickets to a popular sporting event. The specifics are up to company officials, but the general rule applies that employees who have incentives to work toward excel in the workplace—including improved client relationships.

Learn More About Clients
Improving customer relationships can come from within a corporation, but HR departments that are looking to truly transform the way a company does business may want to enlist the help of current customers. According to the SHRM, HR professionals can go to sales meetings to gather information from clients.

HR teams should be clear that this is not an assessment of what clients want out of an experience and can stress to customers that a company wants to hear their input and include them in the process of improving product delivery and company practices.

Focusing on customers rather than employees can be a big adjustment for HR professionals, but implementing effective changes can help employees succeed and keep clients happy.

Are You Setting the Right Work Goals?

28 Aug

wondering-150x150Today’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.

Setting the right work-related goals is critical for keeping you moving forward and avoiding getting “stuck” in the wrong role, company, or occupation. The challenge is that one size does not fit all. There are a myriad of combinations that may work for you. To that end, I’m going to tell you what works (and has worked) for me and for others. Consider this your menu to sample from as you move into the next year. You’ll see, I definitely have my “specials of the day.”

The Forest

As it relates to work and career goals, most of us fall short when it comes to possessing a long-term vision of where we see ourselves professionally. We get caught up in the trees and lose sight of the forest. As a result, we end up wandering in the workplace woods for a very long time. If we aren’t careful, we become pricing specialists for the tire industry. Consider the following exercise to overcome the forest dilemma:

Step 1: Gaze into my crystal ball and look five years into the future (or ten years if you are ambitious).

Step 2: My crystal ball only shows perfect. Describe what perfect looks like for you. What would your perfect life look like? Consider things like: where you would live, what your job would be, what your family situation would look like, and so on.

Step 3: Forgive yourself. Inevitably, there will be questions you don’t have answers to. Don’t beat yourself up. Work with what you know. If you know you want to live next to the ocean but you don’t know what your job would be, no sweat. That little piece of information is still extremely valuable . . . particularly if you currently live in Omaha.

Step 4: Given where you see yourself down the road (five or ten years), track back to this year and ask yourself: What do I need to get done this year to set myself up well to move toward my long-term vision?

The Trees

You’ve stuck your head above the tree line, and you’ve gazed at the big picture. Now consider the trees standing in your way. In other words, once you have your longer-term goal and a related goal for this year, you can more adequately take on a more specific work-related goal.

For a helpful framing of your work-related goal(s) for this upcoming year, consider the following three big categories. In Harvey Coleman’s book Empowering Yourself, The Organizational Game Revealed, he offers a simple yet extremely helpful acronym: P. (performance), I. (image), E. (exposure). Consider these as helpful “tree” categories to get you moving down the path you’ve set.

Performance—Goals that have to do with how you do your job. This can include doing your job better, learning new skills, or even removing tasks you are doing from your job that either you don’t do well or shouldn’t be doing at all (delegation). Naturally, while important, Coleman argues this category only makes up about 10% of one’s long-term success.

PIE-150x150Image—How others perceive you. Your brand. If you’ve had the fortune of getting 360 feedback this year, you might have noticed components in your feedback which are more about other’s perception of you than your performance (Ex: You always arrive late to meetings, people can always tell when you don’t like what they are saying by your eye-rolling, you cut others off, you don’t dress professionally, and so on). A critical category to be sure. Coleman weighs this category as contributing a meaty 30% to your long-term success.

Exposure—How much visibility you are getting with and from others. Do others talk about you in meetings when you aren’t there? Are you networking with the right people? Do the right people “know” you? Upon first glance, this category seems nonessential. Au contraire. Coleman argues exposure makes up a whopping 60% of your long-term success. Expose away . . . appropriately of course.

Your Compass

All that stands between you and that sandy white beach is you. Get moving. As a mentor of mine always says, “keep it simple.” Narrow your work-related goals down to one or two. No more. If you can do that and stay true to your compass, you’ll be working under an umbrella in no time.

Best Practices for Setting Pay Scales

26 Aug

Salary management is an essential human resources issue, and one that many HR professionals find challenging. Recruiting and retaining the best talent is essential to success, but salaries and pay scales must also stay within a company’s budget. Finding a balance can be tricky—here are a few tips on setting up a company pay scale.

Gather Information
The best way to begin building a compensation plan is to use industry salary data as a benchmark. An HR professional can do this by consulting online databases that record median wages by sector—the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides industry-specific wage information, sorted by occupation and location across the country.

Similarly, there are many websites online that provide salary information. It’s also helpful to check out a competitor’s compensation plan. If an HR representative is looking to hire a new accountant, for example, he or she can look at job descriptions and salary information at large accounting firms. This will give a hiring manager a figure to reference when creating a fair payment plan.

Establish Employee Value and Fair Compensation
Once an HR professional has a general idea of salaries in the field, it’s time to evaluate a role and how much a candidate or current employee will bring to the company. Entrepreneur recommends that HR representatives ask themselves how much value a new hire will add to the organization.

For example, at a sales-based organization, an HR representative can tally up the potential revenues a new hire would bring in. If a salesperson is projected to bring in $300,000 for the company in his first year, a salary of $70,000 per year would fall short of candidate expectations and would likely result in a job offer being rejected by a candidate.

Companies should think of good hires as an investment and establish a benchmark for the highest amount they are willing to pay. Linking fair compensation to abilities and capacity to grow makes it much easier to weed out candidates who are asking for a salary far surpassing the benchmark, while still allowing companies to offer a competitive rate.

Evaluate Candidates and Employees
A good candidate will not only bring talent to an open position, but also knowledge and experience gained from previous jobs. An applicant who will be able to fulfill the needs of the job, as well as offer leadership and training for future employees, may deserve higher pay than a candidate who is new to the industry.

Current employees should also be regularly evaluated to determine fair compensation. It is essential for companies to keep an eye on industry trends, because employees are likely doing the same. No matter the level of company loyalty, if an employee sees that a similar position at a competing company offers $10,000 more per year than his current job, that employee may leave the company. Regular raises and annual salary adjustments for inflation are both part of a smart salary management plan and help keep talented individuals around.

Consider Position and Requirements
Deciding how to pay employees may be just as important as determining a salary. There are many things to take into consideration, such as whether an employee will be paid hourly or by a fixed salary. Some companies, particularly those based in sales, offer commission rates. Yet this same plan may not be the best fit for an administrative position.

Other positions are better suited for hourly wages, such as those in retail or for temporary workers. On the other hand, this pay scale would likely not benefit a company where staff members routinely work overtime at their own discretion—under the guidelines of the Fair Labor Standards Act, employees must be paid time-and-a-half their hourly rate for any work past 40 hours per week.

In order to navigate the complications of payroll processes, many companies have begun using HR payroll software, which streamlines the payment process and keeps accurate records, making life easier for HR professionals at any company.

For more information regarding best practices for compensation, visit the Sage HRMS Payroll or the Payroll Best Practices and Tools portion of our website. 

Dos and Don’ts When Linking Premiums to Wellness

23 Aug

Spurred along by large-scale health care reforms, wellness incentive programs have grown significantly in popularity over the past several years. Rising premiums and mandated extension of coverage has led employers to pursue cost savings through proactive talent management with health-based incentives. According to the Society for Human Resources Management, spending on wellness incentive programs has doubled over the past four years. Corporations are expected to spend an average of $521 per employee on wellness incentive programs in 2013, up from $460 in 2011 and $260 in 2009.

With such a surge in popularity, many companies are looking to adopt their own individualized initiative that links wellness to premiums. Navigating such programs can be confusing, however, leaving many employers at a loss on where to begin. Here are a few dos and don’ts for employee wellness programs.


Begin With Screenings
The first step to any wellness plan is to assess the current health of employees. This can be achieved through an initial checkup with a general practitioner. Doctors can measure weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure during these visits, giving staff members a general overview of their health. By using these results as a benchmark, it will be much easier to track individual progress made by workers.

For example, employers can extend incentives to those with high cholesterol that focus on reducing bad cholesterol and raising good cholesterol. On the other hand, those with good cholesterol readings can be encouraged to improve their health in other ways.

Link Wellness to Incentives
Once health assessments have been completed, an employer should set up incentive-based programs that reward improvements in health. One of the most popular reward systems is to decrease premium payments when health goals have been reached. According to the National Business Group on Health and Fidelity Investments study, 61 percent of employers offered reduced premium rates to employees who improve fitness levels.

A popular way to incentivize employees is to set up group or individual weight-loss programs. When employees reduce their weight by 10 percent, for example, they can become eligible for lower premiums, cash rewards, gift cards, or other savings. These measures spark motivation and drive to become more fit in the long and short term.

Communicate With Employees
Regardless of the benefits of a wellness program; it is likely that some staff members will resist the changes. It might not sit well with some who feel their personal life and health is beyond the purview of their employer. To counter negative responses and bad publicity, it’s important that executives or supervisors provide a thorough explanation of the plan and how it can positively affect workers.

Executives should hold companywide meetings to explain the plan in full and encourage questions from attendees. It is equally important to provide written explanations of the plan for team members, whether that means handing out physical packets of information or sending electronic versions by email. Supervisors and HR professionals should welcome input from staff. Opening the lines of communication can cut down on resistance and resentment.


Focus on Penalties
It is likely that many staff members will engage in a wellness program to save them money. However, staff should always feel free to opt out of fitness programs without penalty. Yet a Georgetown study found that some companies have chosen to create plans that work much differently from others.

The “Premium Incentives to Drive Wellness in the Workplace” report revealed that some employers are instituting programs in which deductibles are initially set at high rates. For example, companies have created programs where deductibles are first raised from $500 to $2,500. Workers can then participate in the program, and when they hit certain goals, their deductibles are decreased by $500 at a time.

This may be somewhat effective, but employers should expect heavy resentment among staff over increased rates.

Limit Access to Health Care
Another outcome of poorly developed programs is limited access to health care. When individuals have high deductibles and premiums, they may be less likely to visit the doctor for routine checkups or preventative care. An employer may not be directly stopping employees from visiting a physician, but such high costs may prevent individuals from seeking medical help when they need it.

Limiting access to health care will not only affect employees, but may result in higher absenteeism and illness among staff, costing a company money.

Discriminate Against Employees With Preexisting Conditions
When developing incentive programs for wellness, employers should be careful not to discriminate against workers with preexisting conditions. The Georgetown study cited one such example—itself a warning to employers:

At an unnamed company, a woman with Type 1 diabetes was unable to reach the Body Mass Index standards set forth by her company. Although she had been exempt from the program while pregnant, after the birth of her child, her employer reenlisted her in the weight-loss program. Her doctor, however, advised her not to lose any weight because of her issues with hypoglycemia and other medical troubles related to diabetes.

Her employer refused to remove her from the program, and as a result of her inability to participate, her premiums shot up from $175 per month to $320 per month. Programs like these are not only discriminatory, but may result in legal complications for a company.

When developing a wellness program linked to premiums as part of a human resources solution, it’s important to remember that employees should come first. Reducing health care costs will undoubtedly benefit a company, but in order for such a program to succeed, staff should always feel welcomed by a program rather than penalized or excluded.

On a related note, remember that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (PPACA) individual mandate will go into effect on January 1, 2014. Prepare your business by visiting to learn how.

Top 5 Tips to Avoid an Employment Lawsuit

19 Aug

No one wants to be involved in a lawsuit—they can be timely and expensive and can negatively impact an organization’s reputation. Despite employers’ making efforts to avoid litigation, employment lawsuits are on the rise. According to Human Resource Executive Online, federal wage-and-hour lawsuits jumped to a record high between April 2012 and April 2013. During this 12-month period, 7,764 Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuits were filed, with no clear explanation for the spike.

With such large increases in employment lawsuits, it is important for employers to take precautions to protect a company against litigation. Keep reading to find five tips on how to avoid an employment lawsuit:

1. Mind the FLSA
In order to avoid employment lawsuits, it’s important to keep an eye on any changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, misclassifying employees as exempt or nonexempt from overtime payments, as well as violations for off-the-clock work, are common mistakes that put employers at risk.

Placing an employee in the wrong category can result in missed overtime hours, incorrect salary payments, and other FLSA violations. The fallout from these violations can greatly cost a company.

2. Hire and Let Go With Care
Firing someone is one of the easiest ways to bring about a lawsuit. Experts agree that if a company wants to fire an employee, it must be done with care. If an incident has taken place, rather than firing someone on the spot, managers should send the individual home first or place him or her on administrative leave until an investigation has been carried out. Companies should also be sure to document the decision every step of the way to reduce the chance of legal action.

3. Be Smart With Severance Policies
Severance packages can be thought of as insurance against lawsuits. In exchange for the extension of a severance payment, employees should consent to signing a release waiving any claims against the organization. Employers may not be excited to offer severance to a departing employee, but being generous with these packages can encourage employees to walk away with payment rather than raising a lawsuit against a company.

Some companies are wary of severance packages and worry that doling out severance implies some level of guilt or wrongdoing on their part. On the contrary, courts understand that severance packages are part of a responsible employee management scheme that can help a company steer clear of wrongful litigation.

4. Train and Monitor Staff 
Many workers have trouble recognizing what qualifies as inappropriate workplace behavior, which is why it’s crucial to draft airtight company policies regarding harassment and discrimination. In addition to creating solid policy, training is also essential in order to avoid harassment lawsuits. Many states require harassment training—if a company does not comply with these laws and a harassment suit is lodged against the organization, the outcome can be costly.

Even in states where antiharassment training is not required, companies would still be wise to educate staff on harassment policies. This will reduce the likelihood of a suit, which will save a company money and its reputation. Training sessions should focus on all forms of harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying, age discrimination, disability, and racial harassment.

Company management should be careful with staff, even after training. Supervisors should be present at the workplace and look for any warning signs of inappropriate behavior. If a manager witnesses harassment or other workplace transgressions, he or she should correct it immediately by addressing the situation directly with the employees.

5. Open the Lines of Communication
If a company wants to get ahead of a legal problem before it begins, supervisors should invite employees to be open and honest with them about company concerns. Workers should feel comfortable going to a supervisor when they have questions about their wages or encounter harassment or discrimination at the office.

When employees feel comfortable voicing their concerns, managers will be informed of problems before they get out of control and result in litigation.

Litigation is no joke, but employers don’t have to be in constant fear of a lawsuit either. By following these tips, a company can stay out of trouble and create a work environment where staff feels safe and comfortable.

Policy and Procedure: Navigating the NLRB

14 Aug

This guest blog post is courtesy of Mary Anne Osborne, SPHR, and principal of the Osborne Group. Mary Anne is a peoplecentric 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 Refresh and Recertify Webcast Series that are approved for 1.00 recertification credit hours toward PHR, SPHR, and GPHR recertification through the HR Certification Institute.

With the continued importance of technology, employee demands, and the ever-changing nature of the National Labor Relations Board, remaining compliant with government policies can be quite the challenge. It seems each week there are new appointments to the board, and with those appointments come Congressional disputes and a tug of war over the powerful counsel.

As confusing as it may be to navigate these government policies, it’s important that HR professionals keep their companies compliant, as violations may result in troublesome legal issues for an organization. With that in mind, keep reading to find HR solutions and tips on how to comply with government policies:

Keep Up With the Law
Even as power struggles carry on in Washington, D.C., there are some standard regulations that make up the core of the NLRB policies. The agency was formed to protect the legal rights of workers across the country, namely the right to unionize and to protest unfair labor policies in the private sector.

Under the jurisdiction of the agency, individuals can file complaints against employers or unions, and if the NLRB agrees that violations may have taken place, the charges will be processed and the case will head to court before going to the NLRB for a ruling. The NLRB decision can be appealed, but any organization should make certain that it complies with regulations to avoid legal problems that can be costly and damaging to a company’s reputation.

The best way to begin compliance efforts is to understand and keep up with the law. Here is a comprehensive guide to current NLRB rules and regulations. Every company should keep up to date on changes to the law, new appointments, and Congressional debates.

Develop Specific Technology Policies
Experienced HR professionals who are already familiar with the basics of NLRB rulings still need to work on understanding new laws that come into place, especially ones that deal with evolving technology.

Social media, for example, has recently been the subject of debate in agency regulations. Under the National Labor Relations Act, employees have the right to have an open dialogue with their employers regarding the terms and conditions of their employment, including social media practices.

Organizations should develop a comprehensive and specific social media policy. In 2012, the NLRB found ambiguous provisions to be unlawful. For example, the board said company policies that prohibit the sharing of “confidential information” are too vague, arguing that this phrasing could prevent employees from reporting poor working conditions.

Instead, companies must be specific in their social media policies. The NLRB said better phrasing could include prohibitions on employees’ sharing “secret, confidential, or attorney-client privileged information” on social media platforms, because it “clearly intended to protect the employer’s legitimate interest in safeguarding confidential, proprietary, and privileged information.”

HR professionals should develop a social media policy that is as specific as possible—this can help protect a company from litigation and make it easy for employees to avoid trouble online.

Train and Communicate With Staff
Upon hiring a new employee or when updating HR policies, it is crucial that staff understand employer rules and regulations. Without proper training, an otherwise responsible worker may post something on a social media outlet that violates company policy or make a transgression without understanding the consequences.

It is especially important that workers understand rules about unionization and their rights to start, join, or stay out of union activities. Many companies have found it useful to develop employee handbooks and procedure manuals that can be handed out to staff in addition to in-person training sessions.

Although compliance with the NLRB may be a hassle, the laws were ultimately designed to protect workers. HR professionals should recognize this fact and make government compliance a priority.

How to Create Employee Engagement Programs That Work

12 Aug

A recent poll from Gallup revealed only 30 percent of employees are engaged at work. Disengaged workers represent a cost to U.S. business between $450 billion and $550 billion every year, according to This represents a crisis state in human resources management. While efforts to increase employee engagement are common, too many fail. Employee engagement ideas run the gamut from perks and parties to trendy initiatives like standing desks. However, without a solid basis in analysis and research, these efforts may not work.

Understand What Employee Engagement Really Is
While having a happy workforce is an admirable goal, it’s not directly linked to engagement. An employee who is engaged is one who feels committed to his organization and its goals. According to a paper published in the Academy of Management Review, employee motivation stems largely from internal factors rather than external ones. Workers whose highest-order goals align with their positions are most likely to be engaged. These goals are of the broadest type and include status, autonomy, achievement, and interacting with others. Savvy recruiters will try to match candidates to jobs using these goals, and managers can help workers become more engaged by highlighting how their work fulfills them.

As this study shows, employee engagement is a phenomenon in the domain of organizational psychology as much as human resource solutions. Insights about what employee engagement is and how to foster it may be found in psychology publications as well as industry-specific channels for human resources professionals. For example, according to the Harvard Business Review, giving employees a measure of autonomy and self-direction can help them feel more engaged, as can an active social support system at work. Adding an academic understanding of how to engage employees may make the difference between a successful effort and one that simply takes resources and time while only producing underwhelming results.

Realize That Employee Engagement Can Be Measured
It is common in the business world to assert employee engagement is neither objective nor measurable, according to Many studies have contradicted this, including the Gallup poll that was able to gather hard data on how many American workers are engaged. Neglecting to measure engagement because of the notion that it can’t be done will hinder efforts to improve it. There are criteria for engagement that are easily measurable—increased engagement can lead to higher morale and productivity, for example. It’s also possible to get a read on engagement itself, whether through anonymous surveying or another method.

Companies should measure employee engagement periodically. Gathering data before, during, and after a particular effort to increase engagement can provide insight on what works and what realistic goals are for the future. It is also important to make all information available to many more people than just executives. Individual managers can help with on-the-ground strategies to increase engagement, but unless they have data to guide them, they may not be able to be as effective as possible.

Make Plans as an Organization
C-suite inhabitants, no matter how good their intentions, may not really know what their employees need to feel engaged at work. For this reason, plans for employee engagement programs should always originate from several points in a company’s hierarchy. Managers who work directly with employees of all kinds should be consulted regarding what they believe their teams need and value. While there is research that supports many types of engagement initiatives, it’s also important to match a program with a company’s employees in order to get the best results. What works for one organization may fall flat at another. Feedback from middle managers and other staff can refine plans and ensure that all employees feel connected with the efforts in progress at a company.

Similarly, initiatives ought to originate from many levels and departments. A top-down program may be seen as an out-of-touch imposition, while one that has a grassroots feel may be more compelling. If it is possible to leverage employees who are among the engaged minority to encourage their colleagues, human resources professionals should consider doing so. Strategic human resource management requires a certain amount of creative thinking and collaboration, both of which would not be out of place in these efforts.

Continue to Measure and Improve Employee Engagement
Fostering an engaged culture in the workplace isn’t a one-time effort. Companies whose engagement statistics improve after a particular effort aren’t done with the task. Rather, it’s important to measure engagement periodically and address the topic before it becomes an issue. Integrating engagement initiatives that have seen success into the day-to-day running of a company is a great idea, as is including ways to keep workers engaged in management training. With research and planning, any company can help its employees become truly engaged, which will benefit everyone.

Helpful Ideas to Deal With Difficult Candidate Rejection

9 Aug

As any HR professional knows, the hiring process can be stressful. However, as difficult as it may be to find the right candidate for the job, it’s important to remember that job-seekers are likely even more concerned about the application process. These individuals have spent time perfecting their resumés, researching the organization, crafting cover letters, and preparing for tough interview questions.

After an interview, or even after electronically submitting these application materials, many candidates wait with anticipation to receive word of the outcome of their applications. Although companies may receive stacks of materials from potential candidates and have to spend a considerable amount of time digging through resumés to find candidates for the interview process, they still need to dedicate the necessary time to informing applicants when a decision has been reached. As such, HR must develop an efficient and comprehensive plan for candidate rejection to protect their company reputation and maintain fair hiring policies. Keep reading to find human resources solutions for managing the rejection process:

Always Respond
No matter the outcome of an application, it’s important to deliver the news to a candidate. According to U.S. News & World Report, employer silence after an interview is one of the top five complaints of job-seekers. The source reported that this silence comes off as “callous and dismissive.”

Acknowledging a candidate post interview is important for many reasons. When a company doesn’t keep up contact with candidates, it may receive an influx of follow-up emails asking for further information. Perhaps most importantly for the company, the hiring process reflects on the company. Lack of response to clients may damage a company’s reputation—there are many online outlets where potential employees can voice their dissatisfaction with the process, and a negative review may prevent qualified individuals from applying.

Despite this general sentiment, a report by CareerXroads Sources found that 50 percent of companies never communicate with candidates again if they are not selected for a position. This is disheartening for job-seekers, as they may be waiting for days or weeks to hear word from an organization.

Draft a Standard Response
Communication with potential hires doesn’t have to be complicated, and people would rather find a standard email from a company in their inbox than hear nothing. It should only take a few minutes to come up with an appropriate statement, as an HR representative can create a neutral message that sufficiently details what the decision was, why the candidate was not selected, and offers some appreciation for his or her interest.

According to HR Magazine, a company can simply thank the applicants for their time and tell them the company has decided to continue its search with other applicants. Keep this email saved, and when a company decides to reject an application, send this off as soon as possible. If a company feels an applicant deserves a more thorough response, it can always opt to personalize an email.

Consider the Source
Not replying to a candidate is bad enough, but when an applicant has been referred to a company by a personal contact, communication is even more crucial. According to the CareerXroads survey, nearly 65 percent of openings are filled through employee or personal referrals or are internally found.

This means that when a potential hire doesn’t get a response from an organization, not only will the candidate be offended, there is a serious chance of damaging company reputation among current employees, former colleagues, or personal contacts.

In order to protect the company name, it may be wise to personalize these rejection letters. A company can let candidates know that it has decided to go with someone with more appropriate skills or encourage them to apply to future job openings at the company after they have gotten more relevant experience.

No matter the quality of an application or the number of resumés a company receives, it’s important to remember that every job-seeker deserves a response. After all, they all took the time to write a cover letter, provide references, and worried over what to say in an interview. The least a company can do is acknowledge this effort and let them know the outcome of their application.

If you’d like more resources regarding hiring and recruiting like white papers, presentations, and recordings see our best practices and tools page or our Sage HRMS Cyber Recruiter page.


Best Practices for Streamlining Hiring

7 Aug

The hiring process is often a challenge for many companies, as turnover rates can be costly, and digging through piles of applications can be time-consuming. According to a report by the Society for Human Resource Management, a company with fewer than 1,000 employees takes an average of 29 days to fill an open position. During that time, businesses may be losing money from lost sales, disorganization, and productivity lags.

In order to improve hiring practices in any sector, HR professionals may need to make some adjustments in the quest for better efficiency. Keep reading to find a few tips on how to streamline hiring:

Think Ahead
It’s not ideal to be in a rush when looking for a new hire. Creating job descriptions and poring over applications when pressed for time will likely result in stress and may affect the quality of the search. Instead, it’s important to think ahead and consider potential openings long before they need to be filled.

A new hire should always fit into a long-term company strategy. One of the most popular interview questions is where an applicant sees himself in five years—to streamline hiring, a company should ask itself the same question and plan how new employees will affect this plan.

Draw in Top Candidates
Even high-profile companies have a hard time finding the right candidate for a position, and it’s usually because of vague and lackluster job listings. Many create job descriptions that are far too general and, as a result, receive a deluge of applications from underqualified candidates.

When creating a job listing, a manager should write up a summary of the position, as well as bullet points detailing the responsibilities of the job, desired characteristics, and minimum education and experience levels. Now is the time to be specific—think about the best qualities of current employees and the traits one would need to fit into a company’s culture.

It’s tempting to think that it’s positive to have so many applicants to choose from, but soon enough, managers and HR professionals will find themselves exhausted by the process. In reality, it’s far better to look carefully through a small pool of qualified individuals. This will greatly speed up the hiring process and improve the quality of submitted applications.

Know Where to Look
It’s not enough to post a detailed job description on Craigslist and call it a day. Instead, smart hiring managers know that a speedy applicant search relies on diverse job listings. HR professionals can post jobs on their company LinkedIn page,, Indeed, and other sites specific to their industry.

An HR professional can further streamline the process by looking for desired skills or experiences on LinkedIn and actively seek qualified applicants. By narrowing your pipeline of talent, you can dedicate even more focused resources to recruiting and hiring.

Conduct Quality Interviews
Once a hiring manager has found several qualified candidates, it’s time to conduct interviews. This step is obviously crucial to the hiring process, but as some HR professionals approach the hiring finish line, it is easy to make mistakes. HR expert Roberta Matuson told Inc. that one of the biggest reasons companies have trouble hiring is that by the time they reach the interview stage, they’re eager to get it over with.

Instead, Matuson says that when conducting interviews, “Really take your time, do it right, and ask yourself the question, constantly, ‘Is this person good enough? Is this really the right person, or am I just trying to end my misery?'”

This is also an appropriate time to administer tests. Before an interview begins, one can ask candidates to complete a brief test for grammar, math skills, identifying mistakes on a budgetary spreadsheet, or other tasks relevant to the job.

At every step along the way, an HR team has to commit to streamlined hiring. That means creating a job listing as soon as a position needs to be filled, keeping up with new applications, and bringing people in for interviews in a timely fashion. With accountability and dedication, a new hire may soon be arriving on his first day on the job.

If you’d like more resources regarding hiring and recruiting like white papers, presentations, and recordings see our best practices and tools page or our Sage HRMS Cyber Recruiter page.

Five Tips for Safeguarding HR Data

2 Aug

Now that employees are using personal devices to work from home, accessing company information on mobile phones, and traveling around the world with valuable information stored on tablets and laptops, data security has become more critical than ever.

HR professionals know how important this data is and how easily it can be compromised. Everything from private employee history to salary information and medical forms are now stored on web-based programs. If a leak occurs or a company is hacked, private information may be made available to unauthorized sources, external and internal, an often chaotic event. In an age where technology is king, how can a business protect confidential information? Keep reading to find five tips for safeguarding HR data:

1. Get Real and Get Protected
Plenty of companies have trouble with data security, but there’s a large sense of denial floating around the business community about whom exactly it happens to. According to a study conducted by the nonprofit National Cyber Security Alliance, 77 percent of small-business owners said their company is safe from viruses and spyware, but 87 percent of respondents do not have an official Internet security plan in place.

In that same survey, 66 percent of small-business owners reported not being worried about data leaks and hacking, even though 73 percent of respondents said a secure Internet connection was critical to company success. This disconnect and resulting complacency regarding security is what ultimately leads to leaks, whether they are internal or a company is hacked from outside sources.

It’s time for businesses to take this issue seriously—companies can begin by implementing human resources solutions based on employee responsibility and should also be using software solutions to help monitor employee activity and keep hackers out.

2. Communicate With Staff
One of the most basic and important ways to improve data security is to clearly explain company policies to a staff. Inform new hires about Internet policies and employee responsibility. This can include policies regarding personal devices, too—if a staff member accesses company data on a personal device, a business may recommend downloading security software to protect it and can even require employees to disclose the devices they may be working from.

3. Tighten Password Protection
An HR team can protect data by requiring everyone at a company to use passwords when logging on to work computers. Computers should be set to require a password to gain access every time the monitor shuts down due to inactivity.

A company can also require password rotation on a regular basis and use complex, unique passwords that will be tough to crack—such as those with character minimums and case-sensitive type.

4. Educate Employees
A strong employee management program will not only teach workers what not to do, but will show staff how to recognize dangerous websites or potential security breaches. A business can stress the importance of the policies by educating a team on what a breach really means: An information leak could result in the loss of private information, which no one wants.

Also establish a plan of action for employees who may experience a data leak. Let them know whom they should tell if they think their computer has been compromised or if any other data security concerns arise.

5. Monitor Regularly
As responsible as a staff may be, it’s ultimately up to the HR team and company management to make sure information stays safe.

A business can keep data safe by equipping work computers, tablets, and other devices with technology that will monitor employee Internet use. This will make it easier to see where potential threats may be coming from and can help HR representatives safeguard company data.