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Five Creative Tips for Effective Benefits Management

17 Jul

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.

Benefits take up a large portion of an HR budget, which is why it’s important for a company to develop a management strategy that will increase employee return on investment, engagement, and staff performance.

Implementing an effective benefits management plan can be difficult, however, as there are many things to take into consideration. Keep reading to find five tips on putting in place a great benefits management plan:

1. Be Innovative, Flexible
When thinking about employee benefits, oftentimes, most minds will go straight to fiscal-related benefits like retirement. Yet one of the easiest and least expensive employee benefits is a flexible work schedule. Flexible work schedules are gaining in popularity across all sectors, and for good reason. A recent Gallup poll found employee engagement was significantly higher at companies where workers enjoy a reasonable amount of flex-time.

Gallup’s State of the American Workplace found that flex-time had the strongest correlation to employee well-being, happiness, and engagement. Gallup reported that engaged employees with flexible schedules had 44 percent higher wellbeing than disengaged employees with strict schedules.

One of the greatest aspects of a flexible schedule is that it is cost effective. If employees are allowed to work from home on a regular basis and still produce quality work, there’s no reason for managers to discourage this practice. Instead, managers can score points with a staff by offering this highly desirable benefit to a workforce.

2. Offer Well-Rounded Health Plans
Effective benefits plans include more than basic compensation and health care plans. If a company can afford it, it’s worth it to invest in a robust health program. This doesn’t have to be hugely expensive, however.

Building a fitness facility onsite is a great idea, but if a company can’t afford such a major investment, a health plan that comes with discounted gym memberships is an effective way to improve employee health and happiness.

Another plus? Regular physical activity cuts down on illness, meaning lower absenteeism and lower insurance costs. In addition to offering sound HMO or PPO health insurance plans, companies can kick off health programs with weight loss or fitness competitions, which will bring some extra life to an office and improve morale.

3. Balance Work and Life
Remember above all else that employees exist outside of the office. This may sound basic, but many members of a company would argue that being overworked by managers makes them feel like they are valued only as workers and not as people.

This is an easy fix. Employers can offer more time off, either through a revised benefits package or through incentive programs like sales competitions. Set up a monthly sales competition, and instead of (or in addition to) monetary rewards, award the winners with an extra day off that they can take whenever they’d like. This will allow for greater balance between work and life, and will improve worker happiness.

4. Focus on Communication
If an HR professional or manager finds himself stuck deciding between benefits management plans, it’s a good idea to consult the staff. After all, they’re the ones who will be subject to any plan.

Asking employees what kind of benefits they’d like to see, or what changes are necessary to improve productivity, will increase communication and the important relationships between a staff and their supervisors. Many companies are choosing to use office management software, which facilitates easy and effective communication.

5. Stay Open to Possibilities
There’s no rule that a benefits management plan has to stay the same for years at a time. In fact, keeping up with industry trends can help companies stay ahead of the competition.

If a company wants to keep star employees around, they would be wise to update a benefits plan, incorporating flexibility with traditional perks. This is a winning combination that will improve employee retention, engagement, and productivity.

Creating a motivational and cost-effective benefits management program can be tough, but with a little creativity and dedication to talent management, a company can improve practices across the board.

Building a Recruiting Process: A Perfect Blend of Old and New

17 Apr

This guest blog post is courtesy of Mary Anne Osborne, SPHR, and principal of the Osborne Group. Mary Anne is a people-centric 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.

One of the top concerns among human resources and businesses across the nation is talent management—or lack thereof—within an organization. If your company is struggling to attract and retain talent in the workplace, it may be time to reevaluate the way your human resource team is going about the recruiting process.

The Cost of a Bad Hire
A strong recruiting process is essential to help foster growth and sustainability within a business. Without a strong recruitment process in place, organizations face the consequences of a bad hire. According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, more than 40 percent of employers in the United States have made bad hiring decisions. These bad hires not only waste precious company time, but they can also cause a huge financial loss within the business. In fact, respondents to the CareerBuilder survey reported that they lost an average of $25,000 in 2012 because they selected the wrong candidate for the job.

Too often, organizations pressure the human resource team and hiring managers to find a candidate and get them into the workplace “ASAP!” Instead of trying to fill a vacancy as soon as possible, step back and take a look at the organization’s current recruitment practices.

Twenty-two percent of hiring managers from the survey said they hired a new employee even though they didn’t really get to know them well enough during the interview process. Meanwhile, 9 percent of respondents admitted that they didn’t even check a candidate’s references. Stop the cycle of a bad hire and save your company the trouble of losing time and money by reevaluating your organization’s current recruitment strategy. Here are a few ideas that bring tried-and-true recruiting practices and blend them with new, effective talent management methods to build a soundproof recruitment process that is the perfect combination of old and new methods.

Best of the Oldies
The most successful, business-savvy HR managers know that you don’t fix something that isn’t broken. In that case, these tried and true talent management practices have continued to help companies across the globe recruit the best of the best.

Start from the bottom line: In order to attract the right talent, you need to address what divisions are lacking within the company. What departments are falling behind? Are any of your employees staying late on a continuous basis because they are swamped with a work overload? These are the questions you need to ask yourself if you want to help your business grow. Aimlessly hiring employees won’t help the organization meet or exceed business goals.

Have a succession plan in mind: One of the most common mistakes companies make is that they overlook talent within the workplace. Before you start recruiting to fill a vacant midlevel or high-profile position, scan the office and asses the current workforce. This is an HR solution that can save time and money that is often wasted on trying to recruit outside of the company. Why extend your efforts if you already have the talent right under your nose?

Foster an employer culture that encourages employee engagement: During the interview process, it is likely that you’ll show a few of the final candidates around the workplace to help them gauge whether or not it’s a good fit.

New Recruiting Tactics
As organizations bring in new talent, human resource managers recognize that a return on employee investment has become increasingly difficult to maintain thanks to multiple generations working in one office. As baby boomers retire and Generation Y workers apply for their first jobs, human resources needs to assess what it is that job candidates are looking for in a place to work, what sort of benefits they value, and a way to blend these new ideas with older workplace traditions. Here are a few new practices business organizations are using to help meet the expectations of younger employees while maintaining the peace with loyal, long-term employees who are a few years from retirement.

Office Design: Cubicles and individual office spaces are becoming more obsolete in the workplace but are not completely extinct. Older generations, like the baby boomers, relate a personal office space as a means of recognition and reward for their hard work within a company, while Generation Y workers want an open-concept workspace where they can communicate openly with other coworkers. Consider combining an open floor concept in the middle of the office space to entice new employees and line the perimeter of the workplace with closed office spaces for mid- to senior-level executives and employees who have been with the company for a long period of time.

Make use of technology: Graduates entering the workforce are more technologically savvy than any generation before them. If you want to recruit top talent, your company needs to be stay on top of the latest technology trends and developments. This also means providing tools such as the latest payroll software solutions and employee self-service software. These tools help managers stay on top of employee management so they can better assess what areas of the company need to be improved.

GenX, GenY, Gen? … The Risks of Age Profiling in The Workplace

15 Feb

Mary Anne Osborne, SPHRThis guest blog post is courtesy of Mary Anne Osborne, SPHR, and principal of the Osborne Group. Mary Anne is a people-centric 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 HR R&R: Refresh and Recertify Webcast Series.

Recent trends in technology appear to have widened the generation gap as never before. The newest entrants to the workforce – Generation Y – have grown up in a world that is inundated with mobile devices, internet breakthroughs, tablet computers and social media.

As they have been predisposed to this technology from an early age, they appear to be especially adept at all things technical. In the context of the work environment, this creates a skill divide.

But how much is this trend unique to today’s business landscape? Could it be that generational tension has existed to varying degrees throughout time, and that HR managers merely need to adapt to these fluctuations and assess their employees according to individual merit?

To create a cohesive multi-generational workforce, industry experts say human resource teams need to create well-defined plans for managing and recruiting employees of different age groups. But of key concern here is not letting externally perceived notions of generational tendencies cloud judgment of character. This is perhaps most important in regards to hiring and recruiting.

Take Generation Y, for example. Many analysts have type-casted this so-called “millennial” generation as being needy, disloyal or even self-entitled. But is this really true? Of course not. These same young professionals are at the helm of many tech industry sensations, including Groupon, Facebook, Tumblr and foursquare. Furthermore, the recent economic downturn has dramatically altered their impressions of the world, particularly in regards to what they are or are not entitled to. 

The issue is that HR managers and recruiters would be ill-advised to leverage generational labeling in vetting job candidates or in engaging existing employees. Especially in North America, where the culture favors individualism over collectivism, employers need to interact with their colleagues and staff members on a personal basis.

The categorization of age groups tends to relate to economic, social and cultural differences, as well as how they have been affected by technology, education and the economy. But if these are the criteria for judging members of a specific cohort, then where does one draw the line? After all, a generation is merely a kind of demographic, so it’s worth it to ask oneself: What other demographics can be labeled and assessed with the same sort of sweeping generalizations?

To learn more from Mary Anne about The Risks of Age Profiling in the Workplace, listen to her recorded webcast now. 


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