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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.

What Matters Most

4 Jun

For HR professionals who are recruiting for a new position or looking to fill an existing opening, you will inevitably be confronted with the task of writing a job description—the first impression a prospective employee gets for both the position and the company.

Compliant Job Descriptions
It is important as you draft each job description that the posting is in full compliance with federal regulations such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963 or the Fair Labor Standards Act. To ensure the job description is fully compliant, employers needs to write descriptions as directed by a number of legal standards.

For example, the FLSA stipulates that employers will need to analyze the proper classification for the position they are recruiting for to determine if it is exempt from overtime pay. Compliance can sometimes be a complex issue. Descriptions with vague wording or gray areas may end up being violations of federal laws such as the Equal Pay Act or the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. A good job description may not eliminate all of these discrepancies or involuntary omissions, but the goal is to minimize them as much as possible.

As part of your human resources solution, it may be easy to get distracted by legal compliance issues and forget about the tonality of the job description. It’s important that a balance is struck so that compliance is achieved and the description also falls within the cultural life of the brand and the company. A dry, off-message job description might be fully compliant but lacks the versatility and life that inspires and attracts top talent.

The Black Hole for Job Seekers
According to a recent study conducted by TheLadders, job seekers spend less than 60 seconds reviewing a job posting before deciding to apply or move on—a figure that HR professionals ought to pay attention to when drafting job descriptions.

The online job-matching service conducted the survey in March of 2013 employing eye-tracking technology to determine not only what information job seekers prioritized as they perused potential job listings but how they read them.

“Job seekers and hiring managers alike share a problem with job listings—job seekers apply for jobs they don’t fit, leaving hiring managers with applications that don’t fit the bill,” said Alex Douzet, CEO and cofounder of TheLadders. “There is so much finger-pointing in the job search, mostly by job seekers who think that overwhelmed recruiters and faulty application software are the factors behind them never hearing back. However, our eye-tracking study shows that job seekers simply need to take a better look in the mirror—and better understand their competition—before they even think of applying to that next job.”

The survey revealed that even though job seekers self-report spending ten minutes assessing each opportunity, only 10 percent of that time is spent evaluating the job description. Of that percentage, the most time was spent focusing on the title of the position, the company name, and the details of the job, such as salary and recruiter contact information.

As an HR professional, that’s important information. Go into the job description drafting process knowing what job information is a priority for a job seeker. You have 60 seconds to make an impression. Make it count.

Writing a job description can be a tricky thing, navigating both the legal world and that of the prospective employee. The key is in striking a balance between legality and language that is as inviting as it is clear.

Stay ahead of the curve and avoid costly employment issues with HR Essentials Career Enhancement Training Library. The library includes 29 HRCI certified courses and over 70 others handpicked by Sage to support HR organizations on key topics such as interviewing, hiring, background checks, performance reviews, and termination.

HIPAA Compliance and the Value of Voluntary Benefits

29 Mar

The compliance deadline for all organizations regarding the new HIPAA Privacy, Security Breach Notification, and Enforcement Rules (the “Omnibus Rule”) is set for September 23, 2013. For certain employers, these agreements won’t need to be updated until September 22, 2014, if their policies aren’t modified or renewed prior to that date. Whether or not your business organization will be implementing the new Omnibus Rule this year or next year, human resource managers will want to take the time now to review HIPAA compliance rules and regulations in order to make the necessary updates when the time comes.

Coverage Under the Omnibus Rule
Human resource planning should concentrate on making sure that organizations are in compliance by examining the following employee benefit plan rules and regulations. A briefing document from Poyner Spruill LLP offered a few suggestions, including:

  • Ensure major medical plans, wellness programs, healthcare FSAs, employee assistance programs, and other programs where protected health plans (PHIs) are enforced.
  • Examine business associate and subcontractor relationships to determine whether or not an associate agreement should be put into place.
  • Use employee management software to review and adjust all existing healthcare plans to meet new HIPAA rules and requirements.
  • Review and revise HIPAA language for all healthcare, wrap, and cafeteria plan documents
  • Thoroughly revise employee contract notice of privacy practices (NPP) to reflect the new HIPAA rules and distribute the revised documents to employees.
  • Take the time to educate your employees about the new Omnibus Rules and regulations enforced by HIPAA. Training management software is a great HR tool to educate employees about the new rules and compliance regulations. Keeping a copy of the policies in an employee self-service system makes it easy for workers to easily access and reference information should any questions arise after the initial training.
  • Maintain personnel management software to ensure employees execute appropriate business agreements with subcontractors.
  • After training, make sure to hand out new employee contracts and have all workers sign an updated, written breach notification document.

Offering Alternative Coverage and Benefits Packages
A brief based off of the Prudential’s Seventh Annual Study of Employee Benefits: Today & Beyond, reveals that companies are experiencing a higher employee satisfaction rate when their employers offer at least one type of voluntary benefit. The source stated that employees interested in receiving voluntary benefits from their employees rose by 10 percent from last year’s report, so how can your company jump on the voluntary benefits package trend, and what exactly is making this alternative insurance option so popular?

Why Employees Like Alternative Benefits
More employers are beginning to offer employees the option to purchase insurance coverage based on their immediate needs, stated Prudential. Having the option to purchase coverage through the employer-based enrollment systems makes it easier for workers to educate themselves about different coverage options and is a great tool to assess their current and future needs. These options help employees take control of finances with a more hands-on approach. Human resource managers can monitor alternative benefit packages using software for payroll to make sure the correct tax deductions are taken to cover those enrolled in the alternative programs along with those who opt to stay within traditional medical and Medicare programs.

Types of Voluntary Benefits Coverage Options
Recent statistics from the Seventh Annual Study of Employee Benefits: Today & Beyond concluded that 44 percent of brokers expect voluntary benefits packages to increase over the next five years. Experts foresee critical illness coverage options to have the highest increase in demand among employees and employers with a predicted 41 percent increase, added the source. Other voluntary benefit packages Prudential expects employers to see an increase in demand for include:

  • 31 percent increase in accident insurance.
  • 30 percent increase for long-term disability insurance.
  • 28 percent increase in short-term disability insurance.
  • 27 percent increase for dental insurance coverage.
  • 25 percent increase in demand for life insurance.

Employees who participated in the study said having voluntary benefit package options provides a wider range of affordable options concerning insurance and benefit coverage.

Employee Management: Why Timekeeping Systems are Beneficial to HR

7 Mar

Clock and MoneyAccording to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are responsible for collecting and maintaining accurate records regarding the number of hours each employee works. Many states also require employers to document worked time, break time and leave time. Establishing a reliable timekeeping system also helps HR manage employees, track performance management, and stay on top of payroll compliance! Time management systems come in many forms including: time clocks, handwritten time cards, employee badge readers, and electronic workforce management solutions. Employers who rely on automated systems find they can save time and money while increasing processing efficiency! Some of the benefits of automation are:

Improved Accuracy: Handwritten time records are often difficult to read and include calculation mistakes. Handwritten records also pose the risk for record abuse whether from simple mistakes or actual intent to falsify hours worked as this system heavily relies on an employee honor system. Electronic records eliminate error and ensure calculation policies are applied correctly and consistently across all employees.

Increased Productivity: Businesses that use payroll tracking technology report an increase in productivity among workers. Instead of wasting time hand recording hours and payroll exemptions, data is automatically tracked and recorded. The timekeeping system then transfers this data to the HR/Payroll system electronically further reducing errors and allowing Managers to spend time working instead of chasing paper.

Greater Employee Engagement: Timekeeping systems also allow for managers, HR and business owners to track and measure employee performance. Often, automated punch systems can be programmed to alert HR if an employee clocks in early/late or if he or she clocks out before or after hours. A few minutes here or there should not affect payroll compliance but if it’s a common occurrence, HR can use the data system to pinpoint the issue, making it faster and easier to get the problem under control. Employees also have greater insight into their own performance and can better meet expectations.

Stronger Compliance: The use of an automated system is especially helpful should the company be audited by the IRS. Timekeeping systems store employee hourly data, which makes it easier to comply with labor regulations. Having this stored data makes it easy for human resources to provide documentation for attendance and to review time punches. Having these records on hand makes an audit run smoother and is considered one of the top business utilization tools. Even if the business is not under a legal audit by the FLSA, HR managers can use it to periodically audit themselves to ensure payroll is in compliance with the law and that employees are being accurately compensated for their work.

Regardless of the system used, businesses should have written policies detailing their timekeeping practices and should require all employees to sign a statement acknowledging their understanding and acceptance of these policies. The policies should include information regarding what happens when a discrepancy occurs and what disciplinary action may result from intentional violation. Payroll/HR managers should make use of occasional audits to ensure their employees remain in compliance with the organization’s policies.

For more information about automated electronic workforce management solutions, please visit the Sage Time and Attendance website.

Creating An Offer Hard To Refuse

30 Jan

job-offer-hard-to-refuseConsidering the current climate that companies and consumers are climbing out of in terms of employment continuity, many candidates have been looking for a while and may feel jaded about the process. Positions they’re applying for now that they may be extremely qualified for were unavailable or incredibly scarce over the past few years. But now that employment opportunities are increasing, once applicants are past the interview it lies in the hands of HR staff to make the call about employing them or not.

Quite literally, it needs to be a phone call.

In a modern age where people are using the internet and Facebook to communicate more than anything else, there are some forms of business etiquette that cannot be overlooked in order to make the perfect job offer. Especially with the job market turning fiercely competitive over the last six months, the best candidates may soon be hard to find once again.

One of the biggest mistakes that HR personnel make when extending a job offer is doing it via email. While it may seem more time effective to employees, a potential candidate will see it as a slight or a sign that the organization doesn’t really care about that position. It is one of the best ways of driving away top talent and creating an aversion for other similar candidates in the future.

It’s imperative that companies move fast to snatch up the strongest talent, as they won’t stay on the market long. Chances are, with the job market becoming so competitive again, the best personnel are already hired somewhere, and those that are still available will once again become scarce. With that in mind, keeping turnover short between interviews and job offers is a good way of showing potential hires that businesses really care about that person’s time and what he or she has to offer.

Making Offers Great With Perks Besides Money

Another factor to consider besides speed and personalization are the kinds of compensation that a company is willing to offer someone. The modern working world is not one solely fixated on the dollar, especially with companies trying to cut costs while still attracting and retaining the best workforce. Sometimes what a business can offer staff members in the form of perks can make one placement more appealing than another, even with lower salary.

Your company can couple stock options or 401(k) vestments early in the employment process. Full medical benefits are also desirable, but wellness initiatives are seeing a new push in the workplace. There are also many organizations looking into educational opportunities, both in sending employees to nearby colleges or providing them with online training programs to further their skills and make them more valuable as individuals, as well as to the businesses they work for. These kinds of programs show that companies are interested not just in the person right now, but what he or she will still be able to offer in a few years’ time.

With the economy rebounding and employment for the best talent becoming easier to find, such candidates are looking for more than just a business that will hire them right now. Potential hires want to know they will have a long-standing relationship with an organization, and that in turn requires seeing the company as one prepared to meet future financial and global obligations. Presenting a corporation in this light also requires that businesses stay on top of modern trends like mobile device deployments, cloud computing and basic online analytics. If a corporation isn’t up to speed with the rest of the world, that in and of itself could sabotage even the best job offers.

5 Tips to Keep Your Payroll in Compliance in 2013

28 Jan

2013-payroll-compliance-tipsWith tax season just around the corner, businesses everywhere will be checking to make sure they have reported records accurately for the past business year. Many HR departments and small business owners have struggled with processing payroll. The task can be overwhelming at times, which may result in pay mistakes. In order to avoid errors, which can cause substantial penalties and fines, the following points represent essential information that every employer should be aware of regarding compliance during payroll processing.

5 Mistakes Employers Make Concerning Payroll

1. File forms on time – In October of 1996, the federal government passed a law that requires all employers to report new hires to their individual states. From there, the states then report the starting employee to the National Directory of New Hires. Most employees are expected to be reported within 10 to 20 business days. Employers should always keep a copy of W-4 and I-9 forms on file documenting every employee. Withholding this information could lead to an audit by the IRS if a report is made.

It’s also important to send the correct forms when filing for taxes. If you are unsure whether a document is required, it’s better to send it in than be sorry that you didn’t later on. Employers who fail to send all qualified forms could be subject to penalties.

2. Not reporting a worker as an employee – Many businesses, big and small, have different relationships with their workers. Workers can be classified as an employee, an independent contractor, a statutory employee or a statutory non-employee, meaning not all workers are continuously employed with a business. If you aren’t sure how to classify a worker, there are several things you should do before hiring and independent contractor. Firstly, make sure to use the IRS Form SS-8 to determine worker status for tax purposes. This form should be submitted to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which will notify the employer as to what category the worker should be classified under. It’s important to withhold taxes and report wage and tax information during payroll periods until the IRS has contacted the business with their classification decision. Not withholding taxes or reporting wages could result in a company paying more to the government after filing taxes.

3. Tax regulation for families – Children under the age of 18 employed by a parent, whether they are the sole proprietor or a member of a 50/50 spousal partnership, do not have to file for Social Security, federal unemployment or Medicare taxes. If the child is still employed after he or she turns 18, the child must have Social Security and Medicare taxes withheld from their paychecks. They may, however, continue to be exempt from federal unemployment tax until they turn 21. It’s important to remember the U.S. and state departments of labor monitor classification of workers closely, which is why employers need to identify the family relationship with an employee. Spouses who are employed under one another through a sole proprietorship need to have Medicare and Social Security taxes withheld, but may be exempt from federal unemployment taxes.

4. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – Minimum wage, overtime, child labor, recordkeeping and equal pay are governed by federal law and they are often some of the most common mistakes regarding FLSA compliance issues. However, business owners must also comply with state regulations regarding specific standards in the workplace if they benefit the employee. Federal law sets the standards for the workplace, such as minimum wage, which is listed as $7.25 per hour and $2.13 per hour for tipped employees. When conducting payroll, it is imperative that HR managers and business owners check their state laws to ensure that they are in compliance.

5. Keep records organized – Any and every document regarding an employee should be kept on file. Paper documents, especially new hire documents, reviews, disciplinary action, and termination paperwork should be stored in a safe place, even after the employee leaves the company. The following is a list of time regulations for employee documentation from the FLSA:

• Employee payroll records need to be stored for three years after the last entry date.
• The IRS requires employee records be held on file for four years after they leave the workplace. Businesses risk fines if they fail to do so.
• Any workplace that employs 50 or more workers must keep records regarding any employee leave in compliance with the FMLA.
• Every state adheres to individual laws governed by unemployment agencies that require businesses to retain employment records. The time frame to hold onto these records can last between four to seven years.

Neglecting to maintain proper payroll paperwork for the above could lead to trouble with state and federal governments. These tips can help HR and business owners better manage employee records and payroll receipts to make sure their company is in compliance with payroll policy. For further information about payroll policy, we recommend looking at the U.S Department of Labor website.

For a more detailed overview of critical compliance issues for 2013 and beyond, as well as summary of options that will help ensure your business can meet regulatory demands register now for the live webcast Compliance in 2013: Are You Prepared? on January 29, 2013 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

The Importance of Valuing Your Existing Workforce

23 Jan

Value-happy-workforceThe unemployment sector has seen significant movement in the last few months, and some companies see this as a prime opportunity to recruit new personnel. Some companies are still in the midst of reducing overhead and cutting staff, so acquisitions like Apple scooping up Texas Instruments IT personnel after a recent mass layoff have been lucrative moves for organizations poised to make them. On the other hand, employee engagement may suffer in entities where focus is placed on bringing in new staff members rather than investing in the ones already working for a particular company.

Return on employee investment is a huge part of the planning that human resources management software is meant to assist with, as talent and performance management tools allow businesses to monitor individual and group progress. This in turn helps HR personnel pinpoint those doing the best and others slowing the company down, as well as ensuring that adequate training is being given to workers who need it most. By investing in existing personnel, businesses stand to see better engagement, productivity and customer returns.

Plans For The Future

Engagement strategies are an integral part of retaining and improving on top talent, as well as fostering an internal workforce of people specializing in that entity’s corporate culture. Building up those already familiar with how the business is run and its values will make them easier to cultivate in terms of what the business wants specifically.

A recent review of the 50 best small and medium-sized businesses in Canada showed that top companies in the nation experienced engagement scores of more than 80 percent, while less successful organizations saw less positive reviews. Much of this good feedback is tied to the level of interest businesses show in their workforce, the study revealed, as well as extending both full-time and permanent positions to their employees. By treating staff members well, they in turn will speak well of the corporation they work for and take pride in their effort, producing superior products and service in exchange for the service they feel their employers deliver to them.

Overcoming obstacles to engagement and retention are essential in order to boost morale and perform better as an organization, but finding methods to achieve that goal are more clandestine. There are a number of ways of doing that, and many of these can be accomplished without an additional expense to businesses that might already be having a hard time balancing finances.

Steps to Better Engagement

Assessing how employees are doing in their assigned positions is the first task to address with human resources management software, as this can indicate serious issues with basic functions within the corporate structure. It may be a simple matter of assigning additional training to those who exhibit the need for improvement, or it’s possible that placing them in a new capacity or different department could make for a better fit. Helping employees feel comfortable in their job functions will make them feel happier about the company they work for, and it will better serve the organization as a whole.

On top of that, supplying input and feedback as to employee performance will help workers know if they’re doing what they must and if it’s at a satisfactory level. Employee engagement requires that communication lines remain open, and offering regular performance assessments can be a critical part of this equation. Management should initiate these chats, and they must be a regular occurrence, or staff members may not feel that their employers take any general interest in them as individuals.

By encouraging more communication and an amicable environment, organizations can increase retention and employee engagement by making everyone feel like part of the equation. If people think they are essential to the everyday operations of the business, they will take more pride in the jobs they perform, knowing that their efforts are genuinely appreciated.

Despite what some may see as optimism and opportunity in the unemployment market, balancing the cost of hiring and training a new employee versus the return on investment that can be realized by focusing on the existing workforce has showed many institutions the value of the assets they already have. Expanding on internal options and building a better rapport with personnel could be the key to retention and engagement strategies.

Essential HR Compliance Tips for 2013

14 Jan

2013 HR TrendsThe beginning of the year brought a little bit of relief when the government finally managed to pass a resolution saving the country from plunging over the fiscal cliff. The problem, though, is that this solution doesn’t save businesses from the negative backlash they anticipated going into 2013. Taking steps to prepare for new taxes, protect employee retention rates, and come up with strategies to get ready for other compliance changes should start right now so firms aren’t caught off guard later in the year.

Taxes and the Fiscal Cliff

Everyone spent December on pins and needles while anxiously watching the Senate and House of Representatives debate how to best handle the future income of corporations and consumers in terms of helping pay off federal debts, or in other words, increased tax rates. While some reports were as pessimistic about the cliff as if another Mayan disaster was approaching in the world of finance, others felt that the impact would be significant but not as damaging to personal or business revenue.

What came out of Washington was a deal that shot a lot of employees in the leg, aiming just above the foot with the fiscal bullet by going for the over $200,000 income bracket more aggressively. Some private individuals could see tax rates jump as high as 40 percent, The Atlantic reported, a change that will require human resources management software to make some swift calculation alterations in order to keep up. Failure to remit correctly from here on out could result in a substantial compliance problem, and as the source reported, every employee will need to be reviewed, their filing status assessed and taxes adjusted accordingly.

Benefits on Belay

Hanging tightly to income tax rates may seem more like an employee-facing issue, but since software for payroll is responsible for managing these facets of corporate finance, it’s essential that HR personnel be in touch with what’s happening to pre-tax and tax rates in general.

Another fist to the face of employee retention rates, beyond the initial insult of reduced take-home pay for pretty much everyone in the corporation, is the rising cost of medical coverage. This is both a reaction to new federal medical guidelines and increasing general program costs. The Affordable Care Act has gone into effect finally, causing about 1 percent in increased taxes for all workers across the board. Every person who makes more than $200,000 will have to see this deduction taken from their pre-tax income as of January 1, and on top of the other increases to personal withholding, businesses need to be wary of what they can do to help reduce the impact of these changes.

While the financial repercussions on the individual level are not the fault of the company responsible for taking them out of paychecks, simply maintaining compliance could hinder workforce retention rates. Some recent surveys of employee engagement have shown that income is once again an important factor in how likely a worker is to stick with a corporation, so in addition to benefits and work environment, seeing a reduction in overall pay could make top talent reticent about maintaining their current job status.

Focus on Information

All of this input needs to be fed into human resources management systems, analyzed and monitored, correlated with individual employee files and added to personnel profiles so that ongoing maintenance of the workforce can be kept up to date. Firms are already struggling with big data deployments, social media inundation and increased threat environments from cloud and mobile offerings. Now, HR personnel also need to make sure their electronic filing solutions are up to federal compliance guidelines, because for firms in the healthcare field, this is the first year where Electronic Health Records will be a requirement. Other businesses will want to start heading this way, too; the increased usage of eDiscovery, federal audits and government reliance on digital systems means that laws could soon mandate these tools for every industry.

Compliance Week wrote that keeping track of Affordable Care Act provisions, fiscal cliff tax updates and employee retention, and benefits issues is much easier when operating on integrated databases. Where once all these elements were siloed into individual departments and maintained by independent aspects of the corporate information environment, now HRMS tools are allowing personnel to cross-reference employee files with productivity and payroll information, check past histories to see if there have been substantial fluctuations in these indicators and try to isolate the corporate occurrences that precipitate any drastic variations in workforce performance.

In short, there is a brave new world of data analytics available to businesses that make the best use of digital systems and big data infrastructure. Monitoring these tools for compliance and security will be primary areas for IT personnel to get preoccupied, but HR staff will be instrumental in the maintenance and governance of these solutions as well.

For a more detailed overview of critical compliance issues for 2013 and beyond, as well as summary of options that will help ensure your business can meet regulatory demands register now for the live webcast Compliance in 2013: Are You Prepared? on January 29, 2013 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

3 Tips For New Hire Success

7 Jan

 Fast-growing companies often overlook the importance of proper employee training and development. Last year, employers spent more than $59 billion on training programs – a 13 percent increase over the previous year. As the dynamics of the global workforce shift, employers are demanding more and more highly skilled job candidates. But the ability to rely on previous experience and education is rapidly diminishing. Increasingly, companies have to deploy in-house training and development programs to meet the skill demands of today’s business environment.

It helps to look at employee development as its own kind of investment. If you spend money to develop your workers now, not only will your organization benefit from a more competent and qualified staff but your employees will, in turn, become more engaged and appreciative of your investment in their growth. At Sage, we call this idea the return on employee investment or ROEI.

There are some basic steps HR managers and development leaders should consider before implementing an employee training program.

1. Observation and Learning

While the fundamentals of talent development vary from company to company, a keen interest in self-improvement is a prerequisite. You simply can’t develop employees who have no interest in bettering themselves. But if that interest is already there, the initial observation phase should be easy for them. It basically entails “tailing” other team members to learn the ins and outs of the job.

Managers and co-workers should also be filling in the gaps where possible, clearly explaining procedures and practices that may otherwise seem confusing or counter-intuitive. The new hire should be taught how products and services are delivered, and be challenged to come up with questions pertaining to the company and his or her role within it.

2. Practice and Initial Performance

Depending on how routine the position is, the new hire should be given a chance to perform some of the basic elements of the job. If it is a sales position, for example, he or she should answer a few stock questions or perform a role playing scenario. This is a good time to point out basic errors, mistakes and oversights.

3. Shadow

The new hire should begin work on a given project or duty while the trainer observes their performance. While it’s important to make yourself present, you don’t want to intimidate the trainee. Allow them to assimilate in their own way. As the hire gets the hang of it, managers and trainers can gradually begin to back off.

How else can managers ease the process of training new employees? Let us know on Twitter by mentioning @SageHRMS in your tweet or drop a note on our LinkedIn forum, Human Resources & Payroll Challenges for Midsized Businesses.

Looking At The Whole Picture

26 Oct

Have you ever had the experience of speaking with someone over the phone so many times that you build up an image of what that person looks like in your mind? If so – and most of us have – you probably recall the feeling of surprise when you actually first met that same person. Taller or shorter than you anticipated; younger or older; eyeglasses, hair color . . . the list goes on.

The lesson to be learned from this is that “limited information often leads to wrong conclusions” – and that lesson is nowhere more important than within your HR organization.

Your HR organization is the ultimate responsible party for assessing the value and performance of your employees. Of course there are “reviews” to help in this assessment, but employee reviews typically don’t paint a complete picture. And that’s because employee reviews evaluate a staffer’s actions only within the confines of the department they are assigned to – and not the departments that are affected by that employee’s actions.

Especially in the current economy, where organizations are being tasked to “do more with less”, many employees have gained responsibilities that span across multiple departments. And if you thought that it was challenging to get one manager to complete a review for an employee, just imagine how difficult it’s going to be to get two or three managers to work together to create a cohesive review for an employee who impacts each of their departments.

Difficult? Yes. Consider the following:

You have a salesperson who works for your organization. Their primary responsibility is to sell, so a look at their “numbers” is a good place to start when assembling a picture of their performance. These numbers are typically found in a sales or CRM software application.

But does this salesperson target a disproportionately high number of financially risky clients? It might be only be by looking at receivables data in a financial application that an organization is able to determine if this is the case.

And how about the “after sale” cost of this salesrep’s clients? Is this rep selling a sophisticated product to unsophisticated clients, resulting in a huge burden on an organization’s customer support staff? Is the after-sale support cost wiping out all of the profits from the initial sale? A peek into an organization’s customer support system would let us know.

All too often an employee’s performance is based on insufficient data because an organization just doesn’t have the time or resources to collect, compile, and reconcile all of this information.

Therefore — this process must be automated.

Now – before you get concerned that we’re advocating automating the entire employee review process – we’re not. What we are advocating, however, is automating the collection, compilation, and reconciliation of the employee data you and your managers need to perform the best reviews possible.

And although almost all sales, finance, and customer service applications contain some kind of querying, reporting, and/or business intelligence modules for retrieving data, those modules are inadequate for this task for one reason: they are unable to look at cross-departmental indicators.

Judging a salesrep by sales numbers alone is insufficient. So too, for example, would be judging their performance based on their attendance or absenteeism from the office. But – if a salesrep has experienced a decline in sales numbers (as shown in a CRM application) at the same time their absenteeism has increased (in an HRMS application) – now we have a definitive sign of decreasing performance.

This kind of cross-departmental collection, compilation, and reconciliation is available from a singular type of software application categorized as “Business Activity Monitoring” or BAM.

BAM enables an HR organization to fairly judge an employee’s performance because it compiles enterprise-wide knowledge regarding that employee’s activities within – and between – the various departments of an organization. Evaluating employee performance on anything less than that is a dis-service to both your employees and to your organization as a whole.