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Gen Z Tech Habits: Different from Millennials, Gen Z’s Habits May Surprise HR

2 May

Business manI admit it; I’m getting old.

But I didn’t realize just how old until a recent software conference where I had a speaking session on the subject of intra-company communications. Among my topics of conversation were:

            • What information needs to be communicated
            • Whom it needs to be communicated to
            • How it needs to be communicated

It was during my introduction – as I mentioned the third item in this list and gave the briefest of teasers – that I let following words escape:

“ …and although email is the most common corporate communications method, we’ll discuss how other methods need to be a part of your communications initiatives…”

And from the back of the room, barely discernable, came a brief snort, followed by this from a twenty-something:

email… c’mon out of the 90′s, guy…”

And I realized he was right.

That’s not to say that email has no place in communicating with millennials today, but whereas I still think of email as my primary means of receiving corporate communications, email might rank third or even fourth on many millennials’ list of “preferred communications methods”.

And so, when it comes to delivering critical HR information to today’s employees – whether it’s about changing benefits, drug test results, expiring certifications, or renewing visas, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that text message is now how millennials typically prefer to receive this information. Email might be their second choice for delivery method – but corporate communications via social network or even via personalized webpage are both growing realities today.

But it’s more than just the devices that millennials are using. It’s also their whole approach to what information they want sent their way.

You see, older folks like me are still enamored with the reality that we can get so much information, so easily, and so quickly. Unlike us, millennials grew up with this reality; “getting everything” – such as daily absenteeism reports, training course news, or COBRA updates – is their norm. And they’re rebelling against it. “I already get way too much email” is a commonly-heard complaint and today’s HR organizations need to focus less on providing content and more on personalizing content and on exception content. “Tell me only what I need to know” is the millennials’ refrain.

Lastly, millennials are forcing HR departments to recognize a greater sense of self-empowerment among their employees. Historically, HR has focused on “top-down communications” – that is, communicating with managers so they can then communicate with their employees.

Although some HR issues have to be channeled through managers, many don’t. Communicating directly with employees shortens the process, speeds the result, and empowers staff. So take a look at your HR communications and do your organization a favor – deliver only what’s needed, send it in the form most likely to be read, and don’t interject a layer of management just because it’s always been done that way. As millennials have shown us, habits are made to be broken.

Don Farber is a guest blogger for the Employer Solutions Blog and the Vice President of Sales (and co-founder) of Vineyardsoft Corporation. Visit his website at

Social Media Recruiting: Use of social media for talent acquisition, recruitment and screening

1 Apr

Social media is growing as a recruiting platform for hiring managers and recruiters. It helps recruiters and human resource specialists determine who has a large professional network using websites such as LinkedIn, Google Plus or Twitter. It also helps human resource professionals by gauging  if the individual is a fit for the company. For example, if a potential job candidate posts photos on social media that can be deemed irresponsible or does not uphold an active account, these factors may reduce the candidate's chances of being hired. On a positive note, a candidate that features friendly photos and active social media accounts will be received more positively by a recruiter.

How can human resource specialists use social media to acquire talent and make the recruitment process simpler? Social websites can be used in the following ways for HR professionals:

1. General recruiting
Websites such as LinkedIn and Twitter are growing more popular as job-posting mediums among recruiters and HR specialists. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 77 percent of respondent companies use social networking websites to recruit for specific career opportunities. In part with using websites such as Indeed, Monster or the company website, head hunters must post the jobs on social media using equal employment opportunity legalities or an affirmative action tagline. Furthermore, the postings must be retained like any other hiring description as required by law.

2. Talent acquisition
Social media is not only beneficial for recruiting, it is also useful for tapping into large communities of talented individuals. For example, many artists use websites such as Facebook and Tumblr to post their creative works for talent specialists to find. According to Time magazine, Facebook has seen the greatest gain in overall recruiter usage over the past five years. Thanks to Tumblr and Facebook algorithms, it is easy to like a page and find similar pages. Since many artists and creative individuals follow each other on social media, this opens up new pools of talent to recruiters looking for creative individuals.

3. Screening
Because of the recent rise in social media recruiting, working professionals today are asked to keep clean websites. Viewing a candidate's social media profile is one of the first steps a recruiter will take when interviewing candidates. For example, a candidate may have a well-produced LinkedIn profile, yet inappropriate photos on their Facebook account. As such, recruiters should use social media to gauge the responsibility and cultural fit of a candidate and human resource management software to ease general processes.

3 common mistakes made in interviews

10 Mar

There are a lot of reasons professionals can lose job opportunities. Maybe the resume didn't match up to the company's needs. Perhaps the work culture didn't quite work with the candidate's expectations. However, the most common reason potential recruits fail to get an offer is because something went wrong with the interview. The mistakes that a person can make when talking to interviewers can vary, but these errors, when committed often, leave them little room for recovery. Here are some critical errors that cost applicants the job that managers should consider in human resource planning:

Talking negatively about the previous employer
A common reason people switch jobs is that they don't like the company they work for. There can be various reasons for that: There's a mismatch in culture, or some grievances developed. It could also just be that the company is a terrible place to work. However, interviewers don't know or care about the company applicant worked for. They only concern themselves with the applicant. If that person starts speaking ill off his or her current employer, it will make the HR team wonder when he or she will do the same for their company.

Failing to do research on the company or job
Some people will apply for any job because they feel a desperate. That's understandable to some degree, due to whatever issues they may have where they currently work. However, that doesn't excuse applicants from at least researching the company and position before the interview, according to RH Accountemps. Practically every company has a website , so candidates should at the bare minimum look through the website and find out more about what they're dealing with. To interviewers, an uninformed recruit is someone who isn't interested in the position and is just looking for work.

Talking too much or too little
Applicants should understand they are at the whims of the interviewer. At the same time, they shouldn't feel like they're under somebody's thumb. This extends to how they converse with the HR team during the interview the process. If candidates talk over the interviewer overall, there's a great risk they'll sound arrogant in comparison to the people that would become their bosses. They should avoid interrupting the person asking questions, as suggested by The Sedona Group Austin. On the other hand, they shouldn't be afraid to speak at length about certain subjects. By limiting their answers to brief sentences, it may indicate to the interviewers that they know little of the subjects on which they're supposed to be experts.

Measuring quality of hire

2 Mar

Every HR manager understands the importance of hiring great employees. For many businesses, it means a higher rate of turnover if employees are unsatisfactory. There are ways for human resource managers to find the best hires and prevent turnover by using quality-of-hire metrics. These metrics are variables that set one employee apart from another. While no single metric can be applied across all industries, different metrics can be applied for various stages of employment. Here are the different ways human resource managers can use quality-of-hire metrics at their companies today.

What to measure
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, hiring for high-quality candidates is fundamentally different than hiring candidates for the lowest cost. However, metrics such as company enthusiasm often cannot be quantified. According to Inc. magazine, many recruiters complain that they can only measure a quality of hire after seeing their work performance for three to six months. This simply isn't the case. Human resource managers and human resource generalists can measure the quality of their hires using six to eight performance objectives. Skills, behaviors and competencies can be measured in these quantifiable forms as well as team spirit and go-getter attitudes.

How to measure it
When measuring these six to eight performance objectives or skills, behaviors and competencies, use a scale of one through five with one being unsatisfactory and five being the most impressive. These six to eight KPIs can be anything from volume of work produced to satisfaction by managers and teammates. Require each employee to score at least a 20 out of 25 to keep employment after checking in during the first month. Over the course of that month, track their trend of growth or work volume by requiring employees to fill volume logs and meet quotas by the end of a week or month. If a customer has not completed their quotas by the end of the month, they could face termination.

Other options
Many other factors can be taken into account when rating the quality-of-hire for a candidate. If scales are an unsatisfactory form of quantifying data at a company, use an equation in a spreadsheet to measure their productivity. It is also possible to use human resources management software to track the quality of your hires. With these tools, every human resource manager will be able to easily measure and keep the most effective talent for an organization.

Tips for the HR department of one

22 Feb

Human resource management system software can give small-business owners the assistance they need to make important decisions, but what do you do when you're a HR department of one? You might have just a small pool of employees to look after, however, how can one individual tackle all of the administrative work along with face-to-face interactions with employees all at the same time? The workload might send many people running for the exits.

Being the sole HR representative for your business means it's up to you to explain yearly benefits packages, file important documents and handle any personnel issues that might arise. While the work might seem overwhelming, it's still doable. With that said, let's take a look at a few tips and tricks to help you get started: 

1. Let your company know the power you hold
There's a lot of administrative work that goes into HR, but that's not all. Let the rest of your business know you also play a strategic and vital role in decision making. As an HR department of one, you can always outsource the more paper-pushing tasks to enterprises that offer payroll software programs. However, you know your business best and you can provide the strategic human resource management it needs. 

2. Make a schedule
It's easier said than done for an HR professional to make a schedule and stick to it. Being the lone HR representative means you have to perform triage most of the time. However, prioritize your time wisely. Set aside an hour or two during the week to work on specific tasks so you're not scrambling to get crucial paperwork completed at the last minute. 

3. Always stay up to date
Since HR includes many legal matters, you must stay current with labor laws. With that said, look for a few good resources you can turn to if you need help in this area. There are a number of resource books, websites and blogs you can use including "The Complete Guide to Human Resources and the Law."

4. Use technology to your advantage
Besides using a third-party service to handle payroll, you can also look for other services or download programs to search and organize job applicants. Also, put social media platforms such as LinkedIn to use to find potential candidates. 

An HR department of one is possible if you prioritize your time and think strategically

How HR can fill the toughest jobs of 2016

2 Feb

In any human resource professional's career, there will be roles that are challenging to supply employees for. However, since recruitment is HR staff's responsibility, these workers need to develop effective strategies to fill these positions. Let's look at some of the most difficult jobs to find people for and how to overcome that struggle:

Marketing managers
Digital advertising is growing in today's business world, and companies need proper leaders to run their campaigns. However, marketing managers can be in short supply since they usually average a six-figure salary from the get-go. Communications-based candidates have highly transferable skills sets though and could be trained, over time, to take on a larger management role. By finding applicants with similar skill sets and providing on-the-job preparation, organizations can educate workers to retain knowledge most pertinent to the job.

Trade workers
Industries like manufacturing are having a tough time locating skilled employees who can fill the number of open positions they have. Instead, they're left to bring uneducated workers on board. While these candidates are paid less money, they may also have less of a work ethic as they're not professionals within the trade. It's crucial for businesses in this industry to make sure their future employees are receiving adequate training in both high school and postsecondary school. Collaborating with these institutions on curriculum and preparatory methods will assist trade organizations locate capable workers.

This role has been a tough position to fill for years. As engineers retire, there aren't enough additional employees to take their jobs or workloads. Past workers had a variety of skills at their discretion, which the new set struggle to obtain, making the role even more difficult for them. In order to hire efficient people for these positions, HR teams should look at candidates who are a few years from entering the job market. While recent college graduates may not be able to fill these roles right away, given two years or so, they could be perfect for the careers and all its necessary skills and responsibilities.

Just like any other year, 2016 will have jobs that are challenging to fill. It's important for HR leaders to think ahead and develop recruitment strategies that will find the best candidates for specific roles. While these tactics may be unorthodox, they can have astounding results.

How to prepare for proposed overtime rules

15 Oct

If enacted as it currently is the new proposed changes to overtime pay by the U.S. Department of Labor will give nearly 5 million Americans extra pay, according to the Pew Research Center. Those millions of employees that could be eligible for overtime pay are working in salaried white-collar jobs where payment for working over eight hours a day isn't an option.

The new regulation could have a great affect on human resource planning and payroll management if it becomes law. Human resources will need to process more paperwork. Also, if a company wants to cut costs, it'll mean human resources and supervisors will need to keep track of how long employees work to ensure staff members don't go over eight hours a day or 40 hours a week. 

A new motion
As it is, the proposal raises the threshold for workers currently exempt from overtime pay. The current baseline, set in 2004, is $455 per week or $23,660 per year for employees who work over 40 hours a week. The new recommendation would allow staff members making $970 per week or $50,440 a year to be eligible for overtime compensation, too.  

According to the Pew Research Center, the threshold would rise each year if the government ties it to the Consumer Price Index or wage percentiles so it can keep up with inflation.

Remaining compliant
Companies and their human resource departments should draw up a plan of how to deal with any changes the motion could bring if it becomes law. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, business can prepare now while the Department of Labor reviews the public commentary about the proposed regulations. The department allowed anyone to comment on the proposal via a government website until Sept. 4, 2015, and so far it received nearly 200,000 responses, the SHRM reported.

"For critical positions that often result in overtime pay, employers should consider hiring more full-time, part-time or seasonal employees, or restructuring their workforce to offset a potential expansion of overtime pay," Phyllis Cheng, an attorney with DLA Piper, told the SHRM.

The proposed regulation could cause logistical problems for companies, leading some businesses to slash employee hours or cut back on benefits in order to pay out more in overtime salary. 

To curb this potential problem, employers should pinpoint which employees still fall under the overtime threshold and which ones are closing in on it, Paul DeCamp, an attorney, told the SHRM. A company could raise the salary of a staff member who's current salary is already near the overtime brink. Bumping up the employee's salary would keep him or her above the threshold and ineligible for overtime pay.  

Businesses might need to move workloads around, splitting them up among multiple employees to ensure none work overtime.

The proposal could also have a chilling effect on work-life balances. Employees who take work home with them or on the road could see their hours cut or monitored more closely. 

Noncompete clauses pose issues for human resources

7 Oct

Human resources should be aware and wary of job candidates still under noncompete clauses. According to, hiring someone still under one or not asking during the interview process could cost a company millions. A business could have the best employee management system to aid human resources in their work, but recruiters and HR need to be vigilant when asking job candidates necessary questions.

Costly mistakes
BioSense Webster, a cardiac medical device manufacturer owned by Johnson and Johnson, had to pay $1.2 million after knowingly hiring someone who worked for competitor St. Jude Medical, reported.

When BioSense Webster hired Jose de Castro he was still under a three-year noncompete agreement with St. Jude Medical and he performed similar job duties with his new company. While the judge in the case subsequently threw out St. Jude's lawsuit, the judge ordered BioSense to pay attorney's fees, the cost St. Jude incurred from losing de Castro as well as lost profits.

Noncompetes becoming more commonplace
According the The Washington Post, noncompete agreements are becoming more prevalent in many different work sectors. They're no longer just used to keep executives and developers from jumping ship to another firm and potentially passing on proprietary information, The New York Times reported. Even fast-food chain Jimmy John's made news when it came to light that the company had employees sign two-year noncompete clauses, CNN Money reported. Employees agreed that they would not work at another sandwich store within three miles of one of the chain's restaurants.

"There has been a definite, significant rise in the use of noncompetes, and not only for high tech, not only for high-skilled knowledge positions," Orly Lobel, a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law, told The Times. "They've become pervasive and standard in many service industries."

More noncompete agreements means more lawsuits, The Washington Post noted. And this is why it's important for hiring managers and HR to ask potential employees about any clauses they signed with their former employers, advised.

A company can be sued if they knew their employee was under a noncompete agreement with his or her old employer. Businesses can also be taken to court if their was a reasonable expectation that the person they hired was under an agreement but they failed to ask before hiring him or her, stated.

Lawsuits on the rise
The number of court cases regarding noncompetes are on the rise, The Wall Street Journal reported. The percentage of lawsuits involving the breach rose by 61 percent from 2002 to 2012, according to research law firm Beck Reed Riden LLP did for the newspaper. Most noncompete clause suits are settled out of court, The Journal noted.

Some companies already decline to hiring candidates who are still locked in a clause from their former employers due to possible ligation and court costs. Many just don't want the headaches or worry and because of that it can keep some businesses from growing.

"We're around $8 million in revenue," James Keating, CEO for commercial insurance broker, Keating Group. "I'm confident we would be double our size if we didn't have that to deal with."

With noncompetes and lawsuits both on the rise, it pays for human resources and hiring managers to ask the right questions of candidates in job interviews. It can save a business both time and money by avoiding court or paying someone until the clause the ends. 

Even if human resources doesn't suspect a job candidate is under a noncompete agreement, they should ask anyway to keep their company safe.

Get your office active with moving desks

5 Oct

 The eight-hour work day didn't always exist. Before the Industrial Revolution, people rose with the sun and concluded their work by sunset. The eight-hour work day only came into existence in the the U.S. 99 years ago, once the Adamson Act, regulating railroad workers' shift hours was made law, PBS reported. And just as the 40-hour work week and eight-hour day are relatively new inventions, so is sitting down to work. 

According to Fast Company, sitting down at work only became commonplace when other inventions such as the telephone and typewriter entered the office environment necessitating chairs. However, standing while you work is making a comeback and is even becoming a trend at many offices across the U.S. Even The New York Times recently published a style guide of what to wear when using a standing desk that includes recommendations on pencil skirts and jumpsuits.

Taking a stand at work
So, what are the benefits of a non-sedentary office, and what can human resources departments do to encourage healthier workplaces? Employee engagement ideas such as asking staff members what they think of standing desks and if they'd test them out for a period of time may help. Introducing standing options for employees is a great way to test the waters at first instead of making a complete change to non-sedentary desks, according to Human Resource Executive Online. 

"I think the biggest and clearest takeaway for HR is to explore the idea of using non-sedentary workspaces beyond just standing desk stations, which are starting to become more prevalent in organizations, but to also explore their use during meetings, especially those that last less than an hour," Andrew Knight, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at Washington University, told Human Resource Executive Online. "Those standing-oriented workspaces not only might be more efficient, as prior research suggests, they might lead to actual enhancement of creative thinking and problem solving."

Knight recently studied the effects of standing at desks or in meetings can have on employee behavior and found people are more receptive to collaborating and working as a team when they stand.

Out of 214 students who participated in his study, those that stood saw an increase in their physiological arousal, Knight told Human Resource Executive Online, which makes them more adept at working toward a shared goal.

Health and productivity
Being continually sedentary can be just as unhealthy as smoking, according to the American Heart Association, and if a company's human resource department wants to encourage healthier lifestyle habits along with better employee productivity it could introduce standing or treadmill desks. Standing and walking gets the blood pumping and enables staff to be more alert. Less sitting down may also minimize the number of sick or absent days employees take, Human Resource Executive Online noted.

"The trouble is, it's hard to measure the effect on productivity, unless you are making a widget," Rose Stanley, a WorldatWork practice leader. "If you look at it in terms of how much more alert a person is standing or being active, it makes sense. Also, think of an employee who is suffering from obesity, high cholesterol or diabetes –  those take away from productivity, too. It's a good idea to step out of the box to help employees create behavior modification. Not sitting as much is one more tool in your arsenal."

Many staff members might think eight hours of standing is too long, but Fast Company advises employees and supervisors to slowly integrate the practice into their workday routines. Those new to placing their feet on a cushioned mat should start off by getting up for two hours and then gradually work their way up to eight hours. Desks with adjustable heights can also help employees get acquainted with a more active workday as they allow you to raise it when you want to stand and lower it when you need to sit.

Motivation versus experience: Which is better for employees?

2 Oct

Your company uses the latest in training management software for new hires and regularly works with staff on employee engagement ideas, but what do you do with staff members that aren't motivated to learn? Employees with veritable skill sets can be a boon to businesses. However, if they only want to remain in one position in the company they might not be as useful as you think.

In today's job market and workplace, self-motivators are increasingly attractive to businesses looking to fill positions. According to Inc. Magazine, the world is shifting in favor of candidates and employees who demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit during the interview or while on the job. 

Potential versus performance
Applicants who show potential and mesh with a company's culture are more likely to be hired than people who demonstrate their experience and qualifications. A joint study from Harvard Business School and Standford University showed candidates who displayed potential received more job offers and money than those who had a proven track record of high performance.

While highly motivated job applicants might not have all the qualifications for a position, they will be of considerable use if they are willing to learn new skills to meet company expectations. A candidate who's assertive gives managers a better picture of whether or not he or she will fit in with the company, according to The Society of Human Resource Management.

"When we are sourcing for candidates, there are two important factors: Can they do the job and do they want to do the job?," Steven Raz, co-founder and managing partner of Cornerstone Search Group, an executive search firm, told the SHRM. "The first level is a technical assessment, meaning, do they meet the qualifications? Once you have determined that they have met the requirements, then during the interview you can assess if there is a cultural fit."

Can do spirit
A recent survey by Futurestep, a candidate recruiting firm, showed that out of 500 company executives surveyed a third said an applicant's motivation was one of the compelling factors that got them the job. Meanwhile, 68 percent of respondents said most of their good applicants are active job seekers instead of passive candidates.

"What executives tell us when they say a candidate's motivations are most important is that the person they hire must be a good fit for the company's culture," Vic Khan, managing director of global operations for Futurestep, said in a press release. "For example, one very potent driver is power – the motivation to attain work-related status, visibility, responsibility and influence. Those who work in a competitive environment and have this driver would likely be highly engaged and successful."

High-performing job candidates are easy to spot since human resources can verify the qualifications listed on their resumes. However, applicants with potential and great motivation are harder since their track record isn't so easily quantifiable, The New Talent Times reported.

Changing work trends
Applicants that show a level of potential along with entrepreneurial traits are at a greater advantage in succeeding in the job market today since many trends in the working world are changing, Inc. noted.

Employees are judged more on results and the amount of work they can finish rather than the hours worked that week. Punching in at 9 a.m. and leaving by 5 p.m. is no longer the standard as people take work home with them or use cloud-based software, smartphones and laptops to stay connected to the office 24/7.

Staff members who value their work and output and how it can advance their company are employees who are truly passionate and motivated.

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