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HRIS Data Integrity

9 Oct

Recruiting in Today's Job Market

This guest blog post is courtesy of Robin Rothman, Sage Product Marketing Manager.  She has over 25 years in Human Resources Management and Director roles.  She is an expert in the areas of: Associate Relations, Compensation, Affirmative Action, Recruitment, Legal Compliance, Training and Development, HRIS and Employee Benefits. 

Data integrity refers to maintaining and assuring the accuracy and consistency of data and is a critical aspect to the design, implementation and usage of any system which stores, processes or retrieves data. The term data integrity may have widely different meanings depending on the specific context but for our purpose, we’ll discuss how it pertains to the implications of your HR and Payroll data.

The overall intent of data integrity is to ensure data is recorded exactly as intended to your HRIS system or database. When you are ready to retrieve the data at some later point in time, maintaining an accurate internal record of your data ensures that the intended data is the same as it was when it was originally provided to you and recorded to your database.

For the HR and Payroll professional, producing reports is one of the essential functions of the job. Inputs can (and probably are) received from various sources. You probably produce a lot of reports for various areas within your business. Different departments within your organization may also have access to your central repository. The individual responsible for data reporting should feel some level of comfort knowing that the reports they eventually produce, contain the intended data.

For example, there are times when pieces of data are input incorrectly. Fields such as first name, last name and social security number are one of those easily overlooked items. At the onset, it may seem insignificant and/or have an easy fix. However, if not corrected timely could have far stretching implications aside from just having the wrong name appear on a report. No big deal, right? Well, not so much…

For example, here’s what can happen…”last name” field is input into a database incorrectly. Someone generates a report that retrieves that particular field from your database. That piece of data may be used for presentation at a meeting where that particular employee may be in attendance. For example, some staff or other Execute level meeting where new employees may be introduced. So, someone who is not familiar with that person introduces them at the meeting. But…their name is spelled incorrectly (or confused with another name). Here’s how it goes…Good afternoon everyone, I’d like to introduce you to our new employee Tim Jones. Tim Jones will be working with our Merchandising Department. Ok, but, Tim Jones’ name is really Jim Jones. Better yet, he uses the name James. Where did Tim come from? Is he Jim or James? Confusing, isn’t it? Think for a minute how that person being introduced may feel. They may have felt the company doesn’t even care enough about their employees to get their name correct. They may also have felt that the company they just accepted employment with isn’t professional enough to get their employee’s name correct. What about his email address? Has it been set up in the system as Tim.Jones @ wherever.com? There are so many areas that need to be corrected. It’s like branches of a tree that grew out everywhere, but even quicker. I’m sure you see the point by now.

This just talks to the employee relations side of the error. Wrong names input into a database cross referenced with incorrect social security numbers yields errors for both Social Security Administrative reporting for the employee as well as incorrectly stated year end W-2 reporting for both the employee and your Payroll department. Information input into E-Verify is inaccurate causing unnecessary time for the HR or Payroll Professional as well as an inconvenience to the employee in trying to resolve the discrepancy. Hmmm, what a mess!!!
Does this happen? You bet!

Here’s another example. Salary information is provided to you from one source or external process. Data input then occurs through another source. Failure to verify/cross reference the data could result in inaccurate reporting, cause major financial implication and simply put, cause the department providing the data to lose credibility within their role and/or functional area of responsibility. This is one of the easiest, most controllable but overlooked area from an administrative perspective. So what can you do if you don’t have the time to check your data? Enlist the assistance of another area within your organization to help. Taking the time to ensure that your data is correct could save you many hours of lost productivity at a future point in time.

Carefully, taking the time to check the work entered/input into any system ensures that when you produce a report for yourself (or another entity), credible information is produced. Maintaining your credibility; it’s impossible to put a price on that!

How High Efficiency Creates High Performance for HR and Improved Business Results

22 Jul

Efficiency impacts HR professionals in every aspect of their work. Whether they’re working on payroll management, employee engagement, recruitment, or compliance, efficiency is not only directly connected to HR productivity and effectiveness – but overall company performance. When HR practices are efficient, a company thrives. Yet efficiency goes much deeper than just getting more accomplished in a shorter time frame.

Although the relationship between efficiency and heightened performance has been thoroughly recorded, many companies have been hesitant to adopt new practices, instead relying on outdated methods. There are companies out there that still abide by the old guard, championing their antiquated personnel management and administration strategies; this despite others who more fully recognize the connection between talent and results when HR is integrated with business decision-making and strategy to promote greater efficiency.

HR departments are increasingly relying on talent management software to conserve resources. These talent management systems keep HR professionals organized, efficient, and allow employees to grow professionally by accurately tracking and assessing data, benchmarks, and projects; in the process, providing invaluable data and insight into operations and strengths and weaknesses.

Organizational Support and Employee Engagement
Taking into account the extent of information HR professionals need to keep track of, organization is of the utmost importance. In my experience, the most efficient and effective HR departments make use of self-service payroll administration, employee training, and staffing procedures. Often times, these simplifications are achieved through technology such as human resource management software.

Through the use and integration of HR software, employers can train new employees with web-based technology, giving access to information and virtual scenarios from remote locations, eliminating the need for additional staffing to implement in-person training. An HR professional can also access compliance or benefits paperwork at any time, print them out as needed, or even invite an employee to complete necessary paperwork online.

When addressing staffing needs, recruiting software has opened up opportunities to HR as well.  Now, when an employer posts an open position, potential candidates worldwide can see it, cutting down on the number of hours dedicated to combing through resumes. This improved efficiency means that when a company manager needs a new hire, not only will the recruitment process be streamlined, but also enhanced through the use of software that enables the businesses to move with greater insight into hiring initiatives and qualified candidates.

Many concerns that fall under “operational success” include the day-to-day activities of an HR department.  While these tasks go unnoticed when done right – people notice right away when they are not. A highly effective HR department needs to go beyond improving the efficiency of the daily tasks.

Integrated Talent Management Strategy
There is one area in which world-class companies spend more than average companies: the development and management of their employees. The practice of investing in employees is yet another way to improve efficiency, as workforce talent cultivated in an atmosphere of enhanced productivity can bring major benefits to organization.

The more an organization invests in its human capital, the better a position it puts itself in to benefit from employing individuals drilled in company culture and best practices - leading to greater efficiency and less wasting of time and resources. For instance, when recruiting, instead of dedicating efforts to vetting outside applicants, firms with integrated talent management strategies can turn inwards for internal replacements.

Human Resources departments and team members should wear two hats: one that services that business in a strategic mannerand another that serves as an advocate and champion for employees.

Technology also plays a significant role in driving businessperformance. HR professionals are able, through software applications, to assess employee performance, as well as encourage employee feedback on processes or products.  HR professionals can then quickly convert that data into results, such as return on employee investment or improvements in infrastructure. When an HR representative is able to delve through this information without trouble, their productivity increases, and when an HR department functions at a high level, so does the rest of the company.

For example, when HR professionals become more productive, analytics and reports are created in greater depth, providing heightened value to those that use such information. VPs of sales, managers, or supervisors can then implement talent management strategies such as motivational compensation plans using the information delivered by HR. As a result, employee engagement will rise, leading to higher revenues and better business overall.

Utilizing Talent Analytics
Highly efficient human resources departments are more likely to pay attention to, and use, analytics and metrics.  The implementation of HR software solutions, which improve a business’ understanding of such data by allowing for greater efficiency, can help an organization achieve their analytics-based goals, which include:

  • Identifying talent and effectively managing employees.
  • Developing competitive business strategies.
  • Making company-wide decisions on human capital management.
  • Weighing costs and benefits of new business tactics.

An HR department’s job is one that is required to juggle perspectives and balance constantly changing priorities. It can be a daunting task. But when businesses fully understand the farther-reaching impact of an effective HR strategy and trust their HR professionals with adequate resources, HR departments become an asset for employees as well as the board room.

Prepare Your Business for Efficiency: Going Paperless

10 Jun

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.

While there are numerous benefits to going paperless, there are a lot of questions to answer before you take the plunge and commit yourself and your business to a paperless software solution.

Businesses are increasingly being forced to address these questions because of a complete shift in how HR operates on a basic level. Using electronic records is efficient and cost-effective and quickly becoming a standard function. According to statistics cited by marketing provider iPost, an eight-employee company, is estimated to achieve annual savings of $10,000 after going paperless. For a 370-employee company, the savings are more significant—a whopping $1 million annually. The U.S. government predicts an approximate savings of $1 billion over the next ten years as a cumulative result of going paperless.

Yet before the larger issues are faced, simple questions about going paperless can be answered. Like: “Does it streamline workflow and cut costs in the long run?” The answer is a resounding yes.

An average four-drawer file cabinet holds about 16,000 sheets of paper, and approximate costs can total $25,000 to fill and $2,000 to maintain every year. It’s estimated that the average office worker uses 10,000 pieces of paper a year. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, organizations spend $20 on average to file a document, $120 to find a misfiled document, and $220 to reproduce a lost document. Of all documents, 7.5 percent get lost; 3 percent of the remainder get misfiled. You get the idea.

The weight, scope, and expense of using paper is staggering; understandably, businesses want to avoid those costs by implementing paperless solutions. Yet before rushing into a decision, there are several factors that merit consideration, and firms need to come in with an idea of what solutions will do for them and what the process will entail.

Know What You Want and What You Need to Do
Whether you are considering changing your existing software or are preparing for your first paperless venture, you’ll want to first ask yourself: What do I want to accomplish by going paperless? Yes, efficiency and cutting costs are great reasons. But there could be more, and, depending on the software vendor, you don’t want to miss out. Will your software allow you to create recruiting strategies more easily? Improve internal or organization communication? Build an integrated compliance strategy? In what ways can your employee evaluation process take advantage of technology to be more effective? Think about the critical components for your business.

What does your business or industry require regarding HR compliance? Document security? How and where are you going to store the electronic files? Is the archive searchable? Intuitive?

The questions don’t have to be heady, either. What’s your budget? What’s the timeframe? Who’s going to manage the system? Will you need professional assistance to implement and install the system? Will you need help converting old paper files to electronic ones? What hardware will such a system need to operate reliably? Is your corporate culture ready for the shift?

Converting Paper Files
This is probably the most challenging period during a company’s paperless transition. The conversion of old files is a task that requires a heroic amount of work, and most companies make the mistake of misjudging how much time and labor it will actually take to complete. It’s important to understand the benefits your business will experience during this stage of the process. Once digitized and archived, your files will be searchable, electronically shareable, and modifiable—all within seconds.

Once a document is scanned, it needs to be labeled, indexed, and placed in an appropriate database. If done right, this will consistently save time and money and significantly reduce misplaced or lost files.

It is generally recommended to take baby steps, converting one department or section of the office at a time. Some companies perform a pilot test first on a small scale to work out any bugs and equipment needs as well as gauge employee reactions.

Once You Are Paperless
After your old files are converted, you’ll need to answer a new set of questions concerning your business. Clients, vendors, and customers will continue sending paper documents—and some tax documents cannot be converted electronically—so you’ll need to decide how you are going to assimilate these hard-copy documents into your paperless system. How and when will employees be trained using the new system?

You’ll also need to evaluate how your system will be backed up. Do you have an emergency power supply or plan of action? In regards to document security, will you need user authentication? Digital signatures? Data encryption? Are your servers robust enough to support your business activity?

The transition to a paperless work environment isn’t as easy as it sounds, but once you make the choice to change and select a software vendor, your business will begin to save time and money, and before you know it, you won’t be able to imagine how you did business without a paperless solution.

Get Informed Before You Switch Payroll Processing

17 May

For businesses in today’s economy, there are more payroll processing options than ever before, and deciding what method will work best for your company can be daunting. If you’re thinking about switching how your payroll is processed or are curious about what is currently available, taking action on the following steps is a good place to start.

Making the First Step
If you are a seasoned business and are considering a change to your payroll processing system, before you make any decisions or put a plan in motion, you must first begin the evaluation process. At this stage in the game, the more questions you ask, the better. What compensation structure works best for your employees? Monthly? Bimonthly? How do you track employee hours? What about overtime? Paid time off? Health plans? Income taxes? Payroll taxes?

You’ll want to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your current workforce and identify the best person or team most capable of facilitating the switch. If you cannot identify a suitable person, consider hiring an experienced payroll processing professional as an independent contractor to help you make the transition. Payroll administration requires a high commitment to detail and accuracy and regardless of which route you take; any efforts must be comprehensive and dedicated.

It’s also in the best interest of the company to assess the timing of your payroll change, paying close attention to current economic conditions and growth trajectory of the firm. For example, a recent and robust expansion in business may make it a good time to reconsider your payroll processing—especially if there are plans to boost hiring significantly to maintain your growth.

What may have worked for you with just 50 employees begins to be strained by the demands of 200+ employees. In addition to this consideration, many common mistakes and errors in payroll processing become more visible and potentially dangerous to operations when you increase the number of employees.

Functionality a Determining Factor
Upon sketching a rough outline of what business factors will influence what payroll processing options to pursue, it’s then time to transition to the subject of functionality. After all, payroll processing doesn’t just need to work for the company, it needs to work—period.

Many companies that choose payroll processing software often do so without accounting for the range of capabilities and features a solution must possess in order to improve the business and save it time and money. Before you approach a vendor, determine what functions you’ll need or desire to be included in the processing software.

Again, asking yourself questions on what is needed from a solution is the best path to reaching an optimal selection: How frequent are tax updates sent through? What security checks are in place? Can we integrate existing data into the new platform? What payment options exist? How does it prevent fraud?

Besides ensuring a solution effectively addresses and takes care of standard compliance issues, it’s good practice to investigate what other added value such a service can provide. For example, many payroll processing software vendors offer deduction and earning codes, shortcuts that enable automatic and accurate deductions from employee paychecks regarding health insurance or child care. If your company’s pay structure is more complex, you’ll want to pursue vendors that can allow you to customize your own codes. Other features to look for include direct deposit, employee garnishments, and piecework pay codes that assign and track employee pay based on work completed.

It’s also worth examining the basic features of payroll processing, like electronic tax filing, which is paramount in any payroll software. This feature allows you to fill out and submit tax forms electronically and eliminates the need for printing out forms, organizing them, and mailing them out to the appropriate office—which can result in huge time savings!

It’s also crucial that employees have sufficient access and interaction with the system. Opting for a solution that can seamlessly allow for employees to view documents and pay stubs is important both to HR compliance and employee engagement.

Making a Choice and Implementing the System
After pegging down what payroll processing solution your business needs and what features and accommodations it should have, it’s time to research the market. Spend time closely evaluating all vendors, and consider their reputations and relationships with past clients. Pay close attention to how vendors service clients, price their solutions, and ensure their networks are secure.

Finally, once all has been said and done and a solution has been decided upon for implementation, you’ll need to ready your operations for the change. The most important function when readying the business is making sure you have the hardware needed for installation. It may also behoove the organization to solicit the services of an implementation team. But that’s only the half of it. Once in place, businesses must still conduct routine check-ups into how the solution has performed and what benefits it has provided or how it has streamlined operations.

After determining who can help facilitate the change, when the ideal time is to switch, and what functions your business needs out of payroll processing software. Evaluate which vendors most closely align with your values, budget, and business needs. Then it’s easy. Make the switch and reap the rewards!

Need more information about changing payroll processing? Visit our library of Human Resources Best Practices and Tools to download white papers like “The 15 Factors to Consider When Changing How You Process Payroll” or “Stay In Control: The Benefits of In-House Payroll Software.”

3 Tips for Recruiting in the Job Market of Today

29 Apr

Today’s job market is almost unrecognizable compared to what it was just a few years ago. The Great Recession came and went and took with it millions of jobs and left the labor market in dire straits.

Fast forward to 2013. On the back of a sustained economic recovery and steady job creation, businesses are engaging in more recruiting and hiring initiatives to spur growth and shore up human capital lost in the throes of the economic collapse.

However, despite the much improved business conditions and labor market, firms are still often perplexed and frustrated when recruiting for jobs. The number-one gripe many have with the current state of recruiting? Talent scarcity.

In a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, 66 percent of HR respondents said recruiting was challenging for them, up from the 52 percent who said the same in 2011. The talent gap was the prime culprit behind the difficulty: 48 percent said recruiting was hard because applicants did not have the right skills, while 40 percent cited a lack of job experience.

However, in trying recruiting times, the answer to the vexing talent management question is not simply throwing money at the problem, a tactic some companies might resort to.

A study conducted by consulting firm Mercer found 60 percent of organizations polled in the report said they have increased their investments in talent, yet only 24 percent believe their plans are effective and helping the company meet long-term human capital needs.

Suffice it to say, businesses in the United States have the positions that need filling but cannot find qualified enough applicants to hire. Yet that doesn’t mean such employees aren’t out there somewhere. Recruiting is not only more challenging for firms at present, but also competitive; considering the essentiality of workforce talent management, firms need to develop a solid recruiting strategy. Now that might be easier said than done, but here are three tips to help you on your way to solidifying a superior recruiting program in today’s job market:

Leave No Stone Unturned
Recruiting isn’t so much a science as it is an experience. There’s no one measure or equation that indicates this candidate is the best for the job or this other one shouldn’t be considered.

That’s why it’s important that recruiters don’t get lazy when vetting and analyzing job applicants. Shutting the book on an applicant based on a resumé or job history before he or she even gets a chance to interview—and perhaps demonstrate personality characteristics the business values or make a particular skill known that was not documented on his CV—is a losing strategy for everyone.

Salary history won’t convey what intangibles a candidate possesses, nor will a lousy attitude make up for exemplary resumé credentials. Talent in today’s job market is diverse, spread out, and often hiding in the places recruiters would least expect it.

Use Social Media
Social media isn’t solely used for posting cat pictures and live-tweeting a high school prom. As social media matures, so too does its application to business processes, especially recruiting. The research done on candidates has transitioned into the socialsphere, and platforms like Facebook and Twitter have proved to be valuable tools for recruiters.

It’s not just the big two in the social arena that recruiters are using. Increasingly, professional social networking sites like LinkedIn have become a recruiter’s best friend.

Indeed, LinkedIn recently relaunched an offering that caters to social media-savvy recruiters, reinforcing the sentiment that technology—like HR software—is providing recruiters with modern solutions for modern recruiting problems.

Clearly Communicate With a Target
Recruiting is a two-way street, and the interactions between the recruiter and the recruited are crucial elements of the entire process. The object of recruiting people is persuading them, and without an incentive or sufficient information, those being recruited are unlikely to derive much value from the situation.

That’s why it’s important for recruiters to communicate what they are looking for in an individual, what skills they prize, what the job will require—not just in terms of duties and obligations, but time commitment and other personal considerations—and what a candidate can expect if he is hired.

It’s also becoming increasingly more important in today’s world of recruiting that the process isn’t so cut and dry, rigid, and uberprofessional with little room for maneuvering or honest communication. The recruiting itself needs to be done in an environment that encourages gainful interaction and conversation that helps each side understand the other better.

Words to Live By

15 Apr

“I don’t know what I need to know.”

It’s a funny little sentence, but it’s amazing how often I hear it. Especially with the proliferation of business intelligence (BI) software solutions, today’s workers have greater and greater abilities to analyze their data – if only they knew what they were looking for.

Being in the BI business myself, I am often asked questions such as “what are some of the key things that people want to monitor in their HRMS systems?”. Having some standard answers such as “employee absenteeism”, “certifications that are about to expire”, and “changes to an employee’s benefits” are helpful – but only to a certain degree. What an HRMS staffer really wants to ask me is “what are the key things within our particular HR organization that we should be monitoring for?”.

But of course since I don’t know the detailed workings of their HR organization and its underlying processes, that’s a question that never gets asked of me.

But it should.

Because I can answer it.

Despite the fact that I may never have stepped foot (or even a “virtual foot”) into any one specific HR organization, I can help any HR organization’s staff identify what kinds of critical activities they need to monitor for and respond to. And that’s because I’m able to identify the key words and phrases that get used by an organization’s HR staffers when they’re looking for “what they need to know.”

There are, in fact, eight “types” of critically important HR-related business conditions that reveal themselves in the everyday conversations that you hear around your office. These eight “types” of HR-related business conditions have very specific words that accompany them, and if you train yourself to listen for these words, you’ll have an immediate jump on identifying what it is “you need to know.”

The eight conditions – and the corresponding words you need to listen for – are:

Date-Sensitive Conditions.  You’ll hear words such as “upcoming”, “today”, “tomorrow”, “next week”, “ends”, “expiring”, and “missed”. (E.g., benefit enrollment period ends this Friday)

Approaching Thresholds.  Typically expressed using “nearing”, “more than”, “less than”, “above”, “below”, “close to”, and “over”. (E.g., an employee who is nearing 24 hours of absenteeism this month)

Inactivity.  Almost always is heard using the phrase “has not” or “is not” and indicates something that should have happened but hasn’t. (E.g., a staffer who has not taken any training in the last 12 months)

Exceptions to Normal Business.  You’ll hear the words “over” or “under” as well as the word “too” as in “too many”, “too few”, “too much”, or “too little”. (E.g., an employee who has failed too many drug tests)

“Bad Data” Conditions.  Most commonly identified by the words “missing”, “erroneous”, “invalid”, “duplicate”, or “incomplete”. (E.g., an employee record which is missing their home phone number)

Trend Analysis.  Usually this occurs in phrases such as “compared with”, “is increasing”, “is decreasing”, or “has stopped”. (E.g., monthly overtime hours is increasing)

Inconsistent Data.  Often heard in phrases such as “doesn’t make sense” or “doesn’t go together”, and in the statement “that’s not right”. (E.g., an employee signed-up for two training classes at the same time)

Changes to Sensitive Data.  This condition is often identified by the initial words “We need to know when  someone changes . . . “. (E.g., a change made to an employee’s 401k contributions)

So . . . before you decide to evaluate any reporting, business intelligence, or data monitoring & response solutions, take a few minutes to think back on your daily HR business activities and to the conversations that you’ve had with your HR colleagues and management. Or – just start listening to those conversations a little more carefully and take note of when the above words and phrases appear.

After all, once you identify what HR conditions and activities you need to know about, you can better identify the prospective software solutions that will keep you “in the know”.

If you’re interested in learning about how you can more effectively monitor your HR data, visit the Sage HRMS Alerts and Workflow by Vineyardsoft webpage. While you’re there don’t forget to register for the webcast The Data Driven HR Organization: How to Achieve It and How to Benefit From It.

Twitter is More Beneficial to HR Than You May Think

5 Apr

Social media platforms have become increasingly popular among businesses for hiring purposes. Widely used social networks have also contributed to companies’ revising their privacy policies to include guidelines for professional use of these networking sites in employee handbooks and company rules and guidelines. As human resource managers, businesses, and recruiters continue to utilize virtual recruitment strategies to find talent and maintain a presence online, it may be a good idea to add a Twitter account to the list of sites organizations use to attract new talent and engage employees.

Establishing Twitter as a Business Tool
Businesses are more open to using Facebook and LinkedIn to promote themselves and network with other industry professionals. Meanwhile, most organizations view Twitter as a personal social media platform rather than a professional one. However, Twitter is a great way to find potential job candidates, and company accounts can easily gain followers from employees, who may already be using this site, to help build a strong Twitter presence right away. Twitter helps companies connect with other industry leaders to promote and educate followers about hot topics and news updates and to spread the word about what your particular business or company mission is.

Creating a Twitter Account
It’s actually very simple to create and maintain a Twitter account—first things first, you have to remember that Twitter only allows users to “tweet” messages up to 140 characters in length. Secondly, building a presence on Twitter requires a daily commitment to post, search, and respond to followers. To create your business Twitter account, follow these steps:

1. Go to www.twitter.com
2. Create a username and password
3. Upload a photo that best represents your brand or business
4. Connect!

Yep, four easy steps will get you going on Twitter. At the initial sign up, Twitter allows the creator to import established email and other social contacts directly from your computer. This is a great way to build an immediate contact list with business partners, employees, industry leaders, and company clients.

After the initial account setup, it’s also imperative to create a biography for the organization. The biography should include, but is not limited to, what your business does, what your company wants to talk about, and searchable keywords you want your account to be associated with, advised the source.

What Do @ and # Mean?

To build a following you’ll need to understand what all of the symbols on Twitter mean.

Account names are preceded by the @ sign. Whenever this symbol is used on Twitter followed by a username it’s called a ‘mention’ and the user that is mentioned will be notified. This symbol is used to communicate with other users. A common misunderstanding on Twitter is using the @ sign to begin a tweet. If that happens, the only people that will see that mention are those that are following the sender and the user mentioned. This is why users send tweets that start with ‘.@’, so everyone following the sender will see it.  

The other frequently used symbol users will run into on Twitter is the # sign, also known as a hashtag symbol. Twitter users incorporate the # sign and words, phrases, topics of interests, and so on to discuss their interests, news, and ideas. This is a great search tool for companies to utilize in order to start conversations on Twitter with users who share the same interests as their organization. Tweeting #hashtags also allows others to see what your company is interested in. If they like the same things you do, you can potentially gain a lot of followers.

How Can Twitter Benefit Companies
Aside from marketing your business or brand name, Twitter has many benefits for HR professionals and recruiters. Establishing a company Twitter account is a great way to promote employee engagement. Companies can assign one or two workers to completely manage the account, making them responsible for starting discussions and finding business contacts and potential job candidates. If the account is better managed by HR or another manager, employees can still contribute to business conversations on Twitter to help bring in third-party contacts for the organization.

Finally, the benefits of having a Twitter account can help recruiters search and connect with high-caliber candidates for job vacancies. These connections may occur by following other industry contacts, employees, and business leaders. Social Hire blogger Marcie Taylor suggests the following recruitment strategies for leveraging twitter as a recruitment tool:

1. Use #hashtags that include keywords associated with job openings
2. Maintain industry connections by actively participating in chat sessions
3. Search for topics you know potential candidates are interested in

It’s also a good idea to tweet pictures of the office, employees (with their permission), and business events to attract job prospects. Most candidates will appreciate and respond to positive employer cultures. Twitter is a marketing opportunity to showcase why your company is a great place to work.

You won’t truly know how beneficial Twitter can be as a social networking and marketing tool until your organization gets plugged in. If your company is seriously thinking about creating and maintaining a Twitter account for business purposes such as engagement and virtual recruitment, it’s best to take the time to explore all of the site’s features.

For more HR and social media news, join the conversation by following @SageHRMS or me, @JoeyBaird, on Twitter!

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.

The Race to Dashboards

19 Dec

Dashboards are to software applications what Starbucks™ is to coffee – omnipresent. In the same way it’s hard to drive into any North American town and not see one or two Starbucks (and usually across the street from one another!), it’s hard to purchase any business software application – including HR applications – and not be told about, showed about, and confused about the plethora of “dashboards” that come with it.

But – to continue the Starbucks analogy – sometimes you’re just not in the mood for coffee. Maybe what you need is a nice cold beer. Or maybe just plain water. The fact is that application dashboards have been (and continue to be) so popular that we get sold on the concept of dashboards without taking the time to identify how we want to use them – not to mention when we want to use them, and who should be using them. There’s no denying that dashboards are useful; but like a cup of hot coffee on a hot day in the summer, there are times when a traditional dashboard isn’t the best solution.

And that’s what we’re here to discuss.

Your typical dashboard is a graphic display of business information. Perhaps the most common image of a dashboard is one that shows sales trends; a line chart that goes up and down over a period of time showing the overall growth or decrease in an organization’s business. Valuable? Absolutely.

Bar and pie chart dashboards are also eagerly advertised in software applications. Sales by product, region, or salesperson are good examples of where these kinds of dashboards shine.

The preceding examples have one obvious thing in common: sales. The sales department is by far the part of an organization that most benefits from dashboards that show trends and KPIs (key performance indicators). Human resources, on the other hand, doesn’t deal with the same kind of business information as sales, and thus the need for graphically-illustrated data is substantially less.

But just because there’s not the need for graphically-illustrated data in HR, that doesn’t mean there’s not the same need for dashboards. There is. It’s just that HR typically needs a different kind of dashboard – a non-graphic one.

Think about it – a dashboard is a dynamically-updated display of critical business data; how that data is displayed is up to you. So – whereas a graphic display showing how many hours of vacation time each employee has accrued might not be all that useful, a textual display of which employees are scheduled to be out of the office this week definitely has value. Similarly, whereas a line chart that shows how many employee certifications are due to expire over the next three months has dubious benefits, a dynamic listing of those certifications – along with their expire date, cost, and employee name – would be more than a little useful.

Generally speaking, graphic dashboards are more heavily used by executives who need to be kept aware of trends and who need to look at the “big-picture” of business activities. It’s the folks beneath the executives – departmental managers and their individual employees – who are tasked with keeping on top of the day-to-day business activities. And there’s no better way to empower these people than to provide them with “in-your-face”, dynamically-updated lists of critical business activities and tasks.

So – don’t let yourself get swept away by the “eye-candy” that is all-too-often presented to you as graphic application dashboards. They do look cool, and they do have their use. But in the HR world, it’s more often the details that spell the difference between success and failure. Make sure that you can get those details to the staff who need them – and do so in a dynamic dashboard format.

After all, the right information presented in the wrong format is about as useful as a cup of iced coffee in the middle of the winter . . .

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