Archive | May, 2014

Top do’s and don’ts of video interviewing

30 May

Overcoming Workplace NegativityFor HR professionals to nail virtual interviewing, they need to be just as careful as job seekers.

Many HR professionals can’t do without their human resource information systems these days, preferring their software solutions to more traditional ways of keeping track of the recruiting process and employee data. One of the biggest types of technologies that is making an impact on HR is video interviewing. While not everyone is on board with the technology-Kevin Ryan, founder and CEO of Gilt Groupe, told Inc. magazine he doesn’t think CEOs should waste their time with the software-video conferencing with candidates can actually make it easier for HR professionals to get in touch with a wider range of candidates.

Prevalence of virtual meetings
There are dozens of web conferencing companies and programs on the market today. PC World even made a list of some of the best video interviewing platforms in 2013. The software has become so popular that, according to an infographic by web meeting tech firm PGi, six in ten hiring managers now turn to video interviewing to conduct face-to-face meetings with job candidates during the hiring process.

With web meeting platforms being cost-effective and easy to use for both hiring managers and job seekers, video interviewing has taken off among human resources professionals in recent years. In fact, the PGi infographic noted 74 percent of recruiters and 60 percent of hiring managers feel video interviews make it easier for them to do their jobs, and 90 percent of recruiters and 88 percent of hiring managers believe it speeds up the recruitment process.

HR professionals and hiring managers can get a better picture of who the candidate is during video conferencing because they can see the person’s body language. In a blog, VidCruiter, a video recruiting software company, advised job seekers to wear the same professional attire to a virtual conference as they would for an in-person interview, and also to ensure all of their surroundings are free of clutter and remain mindful about their facial expressions.

For HR professionals to nail virtual interviewing, they need to be just as careful as job seekers. While challenges can happen no matter how ready you are, HR professionals still should prepare as much for a video interview as for an in-person or phone meeting.

Here are some do’s and don’ts recruiters need to follow when conducting video interviews:

Do: Check first to see if the candidate has access to web conferencing technology
Don’t: Assume all candidates have webcams or video communication
Even though many people use the Internet and various types of web-enabled devices, not everyone may have a webcam on their computer or have access to video conferencing technology. If you wish to conduct web meetings with candidates, speak to them beforehand to ensure they have an Internet connection and have technology compatible with your video conferencing software. Also, ensure there are no issues with your company’s Internet connection and your web meeting software to avoid confusion and issues arising during the interview, according to Accountemps.

Do: Use a private space
Don’t: Conduct the interview in public company areas

Just as how job seekers need to be aware of their surroundings, so too should recruiters. Don’t conduct a video interview in an open part of the office or in a public space. Reduce the level of distractions in the area by holding the interview in a private conference room or walled-in workspace. This way, you and your interviewee aren’t disturbed, and the job seeker feels respected.

Do: Ask questions that showcase the person’s actual experience
Don’t: Quiz about information that can be easily faked with a google search
Be careful of the types of questions you ask candidates during video interviews. According to a Q&A on online recruiter resource, the site recommended HR professionals and hiring managers not to change their questions too much, but to be careful about questions that have answers that can be searched online. Textbook questions can be easily aced during a video interview, so ask open-ended questions about the person’s professional experience or problem-solving ability to prevent candidates from looking up notes online.

Do: Ensure the camera is centered and quality is good
Don’t: Adjust the webcam or screen during the interview
Nothing may be more distracting or irritating than having to stop a video meeting or postponing one because the other person didn’t check his or her equipment beforehand. It can be a red flag to recruiters for job seekers to disturb their webcam because it isn’t positioned properly, and it can throw the interviewee off if the HR professional or hiring manager does the same. Technical issues can happen, but if you adjusted your equipment and something still seems off when you start speaking to the interviewee, try not to let it distract you. suggested not focusing on the quality of the video, camera framing, or lighting, but on the person you are talking to.

Video conferencing may continue to take off, and recruiters need to ensure they follow some best practices to ensure they are using the technology correctly.

The Importance of Developing Talent

30 May

Holding onto talented workers keeps top performers at the company, resulting in long-term benefits for the business. But preventing key workers from leaving the company can be easier said than done in many respects. Top talent may be recruited by another business and provided with higher compensation than their current employers can offer, or may feel unengaged with their jobs and search for other opportunities. According to Fast Company, retaining top employees is now one of the hardest challenges of HR departments and businesses. Companies can come up against many problems when they try to keep their best workers around, but there is one strategy that can be a great solution for many employers: talent management.

HR professionals know this strategy all too well, but it's an important one for human resources departments and their companies to remember. If top workers feel like they can't develop their skill sets or aren't provided with the opportunities to challenge themselves, they may look for new positions. Talent management has started to become a major focus for many companies, with a recent survey from Towers Watson finding that financial service businesses in particular have begun looking at employee management strategies to keep top talent.

Managing Talent a Key Focus of Financial Firms
Towers Watson surveyed 60 senior HR executives of financial services firms at its recent conference, and found 44 percent are specially focusing on identifying and training their companies' talented workers. To do this, one-quarter are turning to updating their human resource systems within the next 12 months, as having the best technology helps HR professionals improve their workforce planning. 

Chris Farbo, global leader of the company's talent and rewards financial services practice, said that holding onto talent is more of a challenge for companies now than in the past due to many companies trying to regain their footing after the recession. To successfully tackle these talent challenges, the HR professionals said they are evaluating the effectiveness of the company's managers and are developing better performance and talent management programs.

Yet, knowing what the company deems talent is important for HR professionals to effectively create and develop solutions to the talent issue – and determining what talent is may be just as difficult as managing it.

Know What Talent Means to Your Company
Many HR professionals overlook the importance of defining what talent is to the company, as it is a term that can be used in many ways. Some HR representatives may consider talented workers those with the potential to lead the business, yet those employees who don't want to actually move up in the company but simply sharpen their skill sets can still be considered to be "talent." According to an article in TLNT by Anne Fulton, director of the Career Engagement Group, many companies limit their talent – and so lose that talent – by only thinking of talent as workers who are engaged in vertical movement at the company.

Instead, Fulton noted the best talent management strategies are those that allow productive workers with strong performance metrics to develop according to their individual needs.

"The most innovative career management approaches now focus on enabling individuals to navigate their own unique career paths, in accordance with their individual preferences," Fulton wrote.

For HR professionals to truly have a grip on their talent management, they need to ensure they understand what talent means for their organizations. Engaging talented employees in their own career progression, even if that means they won't become candidates for the company's C-suite, can keep the best workers at the company, benefiting the business for years to come.

IRS May Penalize Employers That Move Workers to Health Insurance Exchanges

29 May

As healthcare costs increase and provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are rolled out, many employers are looking to ask employees to find health insurance on the federal or state health insurance marketplaces – a benefits and payroll management strategy that can save employers money. Some choose to offset the move by providing workers with funds to help workers pay for their premiums and various healthcare costs, but The New York Times recently reported the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has ruled against the approach.

A tweak of Notice 2013-54 bars employers from dumping their workers onto the exchanges just to save the company in healthcare costs. According to the IRS, employer payment plans, or arrangements where employers don't provide health insurance to their workers but instead reimburses employees for their healthcare costs, are subject to healthcare market reforms. The IRS said it will penalize employers if these plans don't comply with market reforms, and the fine is a $100 per day per applicable employee excise tax. This adds up to $36,500 annual for each worker.

Christopher Condeluci, a former counsel to the Senate Finance Committee, told The New York Times employers should instead provide workers with higher pay, which is taxable, if the company wants to move employees to the exchanges.

Rethink How to Construct Job Descriptions

27 May

The importance of job descriptions in recruiting can't be understated. Simply put, without job descriptions, HR professionals wouldn't be able to showcase to candidates what a position entails and won't be able to receive resumes from the best applicants as a result. But job descriptions can be ineffective at conveying the true needs of a position, and can even discourage great candidates from applying, therefore stopping HR professionals from hiring top talent.

Job descriptions should convey all necessary information clearly, and HR departments need to focus on listing the types of skills and the experience levels of those who have succeeded in the position in the past before drafting job descriptions. HR professionals should actually collaborate with managers and key players on teams to truly understand what a certain position does. For instance, HR professionals may think a bachelor's degree is essential for the job, when managers actually have found those with associate's degrees and more years of experience are better equipped to handle the job.

Work with Managers to Determine Key Aspects of the Job
HR professionals can no longer draft job descriptions without the help of managers and top performers. Collaborating with the position's supervisors and colleagues can help HR professionals start fresh with creating job descriptions, according to Human Resources Executive (HRE) Online. HR professionals don't want to find a great candidate they think would be a top performer only to discover the person can't actually perform the job or work with the team. Having management involved in creating the job description is essential.

Begin from Scratch When Drafting Job Descriptions
An article in TLNT suggested HR professionals and managers start afresh when they formulate job descriptions. While old descriptions are helpful, they don't always necessarily showcase the job as it is today. HR professionals should do away with old job descriptions that may have been applicable a few years ago, but don't depict the true nature of the job in the present. TLNT recommended starting the process of developing the new job description by making a checklist of what is essential. From education to technical abilities to soft skills, HR professionals need to develop a list of the most important attributes of the job. 

Recruiting top talent relies on HR professionals attracting the right workers in the first place. This is best done through the job description, and HR professionals shouldn't forget to work with managers and draft new descriptions every time.

Is Paying Disengaged Workers to Quit Worth It?

27 May

Paying workers who aren't interested in staying with the company to quit their jobs can sound like the opposite of good payroll management, but in reality it may save employers money down the line. Paying certain employees to leave is a strategy that has gotten some media attention recently after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a letter to shareholders that the company would implement the practice.

It's an approach that The Washington Post noted is still rare, but isn't entirely new. Zappos has had this HR payroll strategy, which it calls "The Offer," for some years. The notion that giving certain workers money to walk away from the company isn't widespread, but for some businesses it might make sense. For instance, recruiting tends to be expensive for companies, so retention is often a key focus of HR departments. However, retaining workers who aren't productive, strong performers or engaged can end up financially hurting the company. The idea behind offering these employees to leave is that it saves employers in the long run, as the costs of inefficient workers adds up for companies.

The Specifics of Amazon's Unique Strategy
In Bezos' letter, he highlighted that the Pay to Quit program gives fulfillment-center workers the option once every year to leave the company, with the monetary offer increasing by $1,000 annually until it reaches the maximum of $5,000. Bezos' letter noted the first year workers would be offered $2,000 to quit. However, the goal Bezos wrote isn't to encourage employees to actually quit, but to think about how engaged they are in their jobs. Amazon wants its staff members to work for the company only if they want to, as it isn't healthy for the company to retain those workers who aren't happy, engaged or productive at their jobs. Many of the employees who will be given the offer are front-line workers who may not have the most fulfilling jobs. The offer workers will be provided is titled "Please Don't Take This Offer."

According to a Harvard Business Review blog, the notion that it isn't good for companies to keep workers that don't make the business better may be advantageous in certain instances. Giving employees an out of a job that they don't like or can't handle means the business culls those workers from the labor force. It also reaffirms to those employees who stay that they are happy in their jobs.

Rita McGrath, associate professor of management at Columbia Business School, told Human Resources Executive (HRE) Online that more large corporations may follow Zappos and Amazon's leads, but it can end up sending a mixed message to those workers who feel good about their employment at the company.

"On the one hand, [such programs say] 'We want to keep and develop you as part of our talent pool,'" said McGrath. "On the other hand, [the policy says] 'We're happy to pay to see you go.'"

With employee engagement receiving much of the spotlight in HR right now, thinking about this payroll management strategy may help human resources departments focus on the financial benefits of having engaged members of the workforce.

Help Employees Ask for Raises Properly

22 May

Payroll management is a critical aspect of human resources departments, and it's important that HR professionals understand the salary needs of the workforce. Now that the recession has officially been over for some time, many workers may come forward asking for raises if they haven't already received pay increases.

However, asking for salary boosts can be intimidating to many, and it can be hard for even the best performers to request pay raises effectively. Employees can inadvertently harm their own career or end up throwing co-workers under the bus if staff members don't go into salary negotiations prepared, according to

HR professionals don't have to sit back when workers want to approach their managers and the HR department to negotiate a raise. HR professionals can give employees tips about when it is appropriate to come forward to ask for a bump in pay and the best ways to do so. This can help retain the company's top performers because it ensures the best talent knows how to ask for raises, and also ensures workers understand their true value at the business.

Give Workers' Feedback on Their Performance
First, employees should understand their worth at the company and compile evidence of their accomplishments before they ask for a pay increase, according to Phil Blair, a career expert and former co-owner of Manpower San Diego. Workers need to have the evidence in front of them about how well they have done their jobs, including positive emails from clients or managers.

Anita Attridge, an executive coach, told Forbes workers need to show why they deserve a raise – especially if the company isn't handing them out.

"Make the case of why you should be an exception to this policy," Attridge suggested. "This will need to focus on the results you have achieved for the company."

HR professionals are often in a great position to help employees truly assess what they have done at the company and their strengths and weaknesses. The more facts workers have when they enter salary negotiation meetings, the better off the meeting will go for both employees and their employers.

Provide Employees with an Accurate Picture of Reasonable Pay Increases
Some workers may think they deserve a 5 percent raise, but many times the company's payroll management doesn't allow for such an increase. There are websites that compares the salaries of various positions, and workers often use these sites to understand their market worth and determine how much of a raise they should ask for. It can be easy for an employee to go on such a site and see that a person in his or her position at a large company makes more than they do currently. However, the employer may not be able to offer such a high salary to the worker. HR professionals need to make sure workers are being realistic with how much they are asking for. HR departments enter into salary negotiations with new hires all the time and are perfectly outfitted to speak with employees about the salary ranges that are available. 

Practice Workers' Plans and Speeches with Them
It's important for employees to practice what they are going to say during salary negotiations before then enter into the meetings. There are certain phrases that can work against them, however, and HR professionals need to ensure their best talent don't ask for pay boosts in the wrong way. According to Blair, phrases like "I need a raise because my rent is going up" often doesn't encourage managers to give workers a pay boost. HR professionals need to coach the workplace's top performers about these elements of salary negotiations and work with them to ensure their speeches illustrate their true value to the company.

Training and Education is Essential to Entry-Level Workers’ Success

22 May

It's always beneficial for a company's employees – especially if they are recent graduates in entry-level positions – to receive formal on-the-job training to help them advance their careers and skill sets. A recent survey by management consulting firm Accenture found that employers often don't provide training and education opportunities to college graduates in entry-level jobs, despite these workers needing to enhance their abilities and to receive support from their employers to succeed.

While developing or implementing training programs can be expensive for some companies, HR professionals should be behind giving workers the education they need to do their jobs properly and to stay at the company a long time. In fact, most young employees expect their employers to provide them with formal training. When it comes to training talent, HR professionals shouldn't discount the long-term monetary benefits of having satisfied, educated workers at the company. 

Disparity Between Recent Grads' Training Expectations and Reality
According to Accenture's "2014 College Graduate Employment Survey," there are significant contrasts between what the graduate class of 2014 anticipates about the workplace and what the classes of 2012 and 2013 have experienced. Of the 1,010 participants from the class of 2014, 80 percent anticipate receiving training from their first employers. However, of the 1,005 survey respondents from the two previous graduate classes, only 48 percent actually underwent formal training at their first jobs.

Employers May Need to Rethink Their Lack of Employee Training
A Harvard Business Review blog noted that there may be numerous reasons behind an employer's decision not to provide training and education to their entry-level workers or those who recently graduated from college or university. Since training can be costly for employers and there continues to be many experienced employees looking for jobs, some companies may not think it is worth it to provide workers without the necessary skills training to bring them up to the needed skill level. Instead, some may consider weeding out these employees to be less costly. However, employers may be missing out on taking advantage of top performers with a talent for leadership by taking this type of approach to young employees' training and education.

An article on TLNT by Eric Chester, a workforce expert, and Mark Sanborn, president of leadership development company Sanborn and Associates, suggested employers start looking for leadership qualities in workers right when they enter the workforce. Training young employees – or "firsters" as the article calls them – can seem as if it is unneeded, that these workers should learn on their own like their older counterparts, but Chester and Sanborn noted mentorships and other types of skill development opportunities can lead to higher profits for the business and highlight which workers have the potential to be leaders at the organization.

When HR professionals bring in recent college graduates, they need to be prepared to be expected to provide formal career and skill development to these workers. The training and education of talented employees is a critical part of HR departments, and human resources professionals can't forget that entry-level workers may require development opportunities more than other other demographic in the workplace.

Study: Healthcare Costs to Rise for Employers

21 May

Providing workers with employer-sponsored healthcare coverage remains a key aspect of employee benefits management, and a new survey of 126 insurers and administrators found these costs are going to keep increasing this year – albeit at a slower pace than in the past.

The "28th National Health Care Trend Survey" by consulting firm Buck Consultants found the annual projected growth for group health plans will increase by less than 9 percent this year. However, these increases aren't as high as in the last two surveys. Point-of-service (POS) plans will rise 8.5 percent this year, compared to increasing 8.8 percent during the 27th survey and 9 percent during the 26th one. Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) will also see slower growth, rising only 8.6 percent compared to 8.7 percent and 8.8 percent during the 27th and 26th surveys respectively. According to the survey, one of the reasons for this slowdown may be due to reduced utilization of benefits by workers and their dependents. 

Yet the Los Angeles Times reported some government officials and health experts consider the deceleration of costs to be from the Affordable Care Act and alterations to the healthcare industry. Either way, the newspaper noted healthcare costs continue to increase.

Consider Workers’ Financial Education as Part of Your Employee Benefits Management

21 May

Providing workers with financial literacy education is becoming more popular among employers across the nation. A new survey by the nonprofit organization International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found 68 percent of the 397 U.S. and Canadian organizations polled said they are now offering employees education on their finances, such as retirement planning and investing. Educating workers about their benefits and giving them tips for how to invest and save their money can be part of effective employee benefits management, as personal problems with finances can affect workers' stress levels, causing them to feel less focused at work. Yet many workers may not realize they need education, according to a study by the nonprofit National Association of Retirement Plan Participants (NARPP), which found many workers don't feel knowledgeable about how to manage their personal finances.

HR professionals should consider offering employees financial literacy education, which can be a productive part of human resource planning to help right any misconceptions among workers about finances.

Workers Need Financial Education
According to the International Foundation study "Financial Education for Today's Workforce: 2014 Survey Results," many employees have trouble managing their debt, expenses and investments. The biggest challenges employers said their workers experience is saving for retirement, with 68 percent of participated companies saying this was a significant issue among their workforce. But just managing debt and living from day to day are also challenges employers said their workers have. Exactly half of employers said their employees had issues with covering their basic living expenses, and 45 percent even said medical expenses were a big problem for many employees as well. In fact, 60 percent said debt, such as credit cards, has affected their workforce.

HR professionals may think their workers are properly trained on retirement planning, saving plans and investment opportunities, but this can be an employee management mistake. The NARPP survey asked 5,000 employees eight financial literacy questions. Only 49 percent gave correct answers to the basic questions. For employers, this means that workers lack even some of the most simple aspects of financial literacy. However, most workers know they may not be using their earnings effectively, as 4 in 5 said they aren't knowledgeable about finances.

According to a 2012 study on financial literacy in the workplace by The Principal Financial Group, offering staff members financial education as part of the company's employee benefits management is a win-win for workers and the business. 

The Best Ways to Inform Employees
HR professionals need to be careful with how they do educate workers. Barrie Christman, vice president of independent investor services at The Principal, suggested HR professionals adopt finance education sessions in the workplace. These seminars or workshops can help employees better understand how to properly save for retirement and allocate their money, as just providing workers with educational documents may not help them.

"We know from face-to-face educational meetings that retirement savers benefit from hearing a person explain how the retirement plan works rather than having to shuffle through documents by themselves," Christman said.

Many employers have already caught on to this employee management strategy. The International Foundation survey found 58 percent offer workers online resources and courses to educate workers, while 55 percent said they give personal consultation services. Most (76 percent) provide classes and workshops to workers. Being as personal as possible can ensure all of workers' inquiries are answered and HR professionals understand exactly how staff are feeling about their financial literacy.

HR departments should consider making financial education part of their employee benefits management strategy. Even those workers with years of experience at the company may be in need of additional training. 

Recruiting: HR Tolerates Few Resume Mistakes

20 May

Making mistakes is part of human nature, but when it comes to recruiting and hiring, HR professionals know they need to scrutinize the resumes of job applicants. According to a new study by staffing service Accountemps, many recruiters eliminate job seekers from the candidate pool if applicants make one or two mistakes on their resumes. However, the number of HR professionals who discard the applications of candidates with error-ridden resumes has dropped in recent years. When it comes to hiring top talent, HR professionals and managers know even the best performers can miss spell-checking their resumes, but only a few errors are acceptable.

The study received responses from more than 300 senior managers. Of those surveyed this year, 17 percent they would reject a resume if there was one mistake on it. Forty percent and 47 percent said the same in 2009 and 2006 respectively. More would discard resumes with two mistakes than in the past, with 46 percent saying this year they would eliminate a resume after finding two errors while 36 percent felt the same way in 2009. 

Spell checking resumes has long been considered critical for resumes, as candidates need to be careful to use the proper grammar and spelling on these important documents. According to Business Insider, not using a spell-checker to look over the resume is seen as lazy by many HR professionals and senior managers. 

Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps, said attention to detail still remains important for applicants to stand out of the pack, and while many recruiters aren't as strict as in the past, this quality continues to be critical for job seekers to use proper business communication.

"The quick and casual nature of communication today shouldn't extend to the job application process," Messmer said. "Job seekers should take great care in crafting, proofreading and submitting their resumes."