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Create an awesome culture even as you grow

27 Jul

Company culture is an important part of recruiting and retention at many companies. However, many startups begin with an awesome culture and fail to maintain it as they scale. Is there a way for human resources to help companies keep their culture even in a time of growth?

It's easy to maintain a strong culture when there are just 10 people in a small office. Once you gain new offices in more locations with workers across the country, it can be difficult.

Establish your culture
If you want to maintain your unique business culture, you will first need to define it, ERE Media pointed out. HR managers should collaborate with executives to determine what the company's core values are. After these have been established, figure out what each value actually looks like on the job. Think about specific times employees' behaviors reflected the brand's values.

Communicate with employees
Small companies have no problem staying in touch with their people because there are so few staff members. To maintain the same transparency and openness, companies need to work to establish communication systems that will keep staff in the loop. Internal social networks, weekly emails and face-to-face meetings help ensure everyone stays connected to the business and its core values.

Get the help of staff
Involve employees in creating the company's culture. Let staff participate in planning events and other activities that cultivate work culture. Allow different departments to establish their own daily or weekly rituals, Inc. magazine suggested. It could be a morning huddle or weekly fitness competitions. Whatever your staff decides they want to do, give them the power to do it.

Create engagement opportunities
HR can work with management to establish opportunities for employees to connect. You can also tailor these employee engagement ideas to your unique business identity. In an interview with Business Plans, Beck Bamberger of BAM Communications suggested sending team members on "dates." Assign different employees to go on outings together. According to Bamberger‚Äč, this encourages new personal bonds and prevents cliques from forming. 

Keep looking for fit
According to Inc. magazine, one of the best ways to maintain your culture through periods of growth is to continue to hire good cultural fits. Prioritize culture in the hiring process. Once you've established your corporate values, be sure to bring them up in the hiring process.

HR is instrumental in cultivating and maintaining office culture. Growth is positive for most companies, but it's important not to lose track of the other things that make the business great.

How HR can impact employee engagement

27 Jul

Everyone knows how important employee engagement is. However, human resources professionals often feel cut off from the day-to-day operations of their companies, making it hard for them to have an impact on engagement. Here are a few ways HR departments can have a positive impact on employee engagement:

Feedback mechanisms
Despite the fact that managers have more direct contact with employees, HR likely has more insight into engagement levels. It's generally the duty of HR to conduct surveys and ask for feedback from staff. This often means the HR department is the first to see potential problems among staff. HR staff should pass on any important information to direct managers and use their overall perspective to increase morale across the company.

Train managers
According to HRZone, most employees agree that their managers have significant influence over their engagement levels. Employees struggling with bad managers may lose some of their commitment to the business. To avoid this kind of situation, HR should work with managers to teach them some skills that will increase engagement. For instance, make sure they check in with their employees frequently so they know how staff are actually doing and make sure their concerns are heard.  

Know employee history 
Out of all departments, HR has access to the most robust information about each employee. Using employee management software, HR can quickly pull up a staff member's history and find out if his or her recent performance adequately reflects what that employee is capable of doing. If workers' performance isn't great, HR might be able to see what has changed in the meantime that may have affected their state of mind. Having a database of employee data is key in identifying potential issues.

Provide incentives
It's hard to keep up the good work when there's no reward for a job well done. HR should work with executives to establish a reward program for employees. According to Human Resources IQ, the incentives could be monetary, such as a raise. Administrators could also offer gift certificates or even paid time off. On the other hand, an incentive could be as simple as demonstrating to individuals exactly how they contribute to the overall team.

Employee engagement is an important driver of success at many companies. Engaged workers simply perform better. It's up to HR to use its unique perspective and insight to help companies support their staff and lead to happier, more productive employees.

6 mistakes that can lead to a bad hire

27 Jul

Hiring mistakes cost companies serious money. Replacing a hire is always expensive, especially when you have to do it more than once within just a few months. It's not always possible to prevent bad hiring decisions, but by performing due diligence, you significantly reduce the likelihood of them. Avoid these mistakes in the hiring process:

1. Focusing too much on culture
Company culture is often a key consideration in hiring. However, as Business Insider pointed out, looking too hard for a cultural match may cause you to overlook someone with the right skills. In addition, hiring for culture may lead to homogenous work environments where employees all share very similar backgrounds. Greater diversity among workers gives you the benefit of more points of view.

2. Having a vague job description
Too many companies fail to put together an adequate description of what they're looking for in a position. Often these descriptions are too vague or too narrow; few are just right. You need to make sure the person has experience similar to what they would do on the job, but you can't always expect one candidate to meet 100 percent of your specifications. Instead, consider making your requirements less rigid and training the right person to meet your standards if necessary. 

3. Not checking references
Every human resources manager knows the importance of checking references, but somehow, it doesn't happen. Too many employers skip this vital step and miss out on red flags that would have prevented a bad hire. Another related mistake is calling references but not digging for the answers you need. Be ready to ask follow up questions to ensure references are being entirely truthful, otherwise you can still overlook important information.

4. Failing to check credentials
So your new hire's resume claimed she increased Web traffic 40 percent over her time as marketing manager in a previous role. That sounds great, but unfortunately, you can't assume it's the truth. According to HR Morning, it's important to fact check candidate resumes in the final stages of the hiring process. Applicants sometimes lie. Also verify the degrees listed. Even the most high profile employees have lied about their education. Remember when it came out that Former Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson fibbed about his college degree? These things happen.

5. Lacking a formal process
According to Business Insider, organizations that lack a formal hiring process are more likely to make mistakes. If you rush through recruiting and hiring you are likely to pick someone who is an imperfect match. Gather stakeholders, sit down and establish hiring guidelines and you will prevent great talent from slipping through the cracks. 

6. Using the wrong recruiting and onboarding tools
Without the most up-to-date recruiting and personnel management software, you are unlikely to get in touch with candidates before competitors snatch them up. According to Society for Human Resources Management, the best applicant tracking systems provide a seamless workflow and easy customization for unique recruiting needs. Onboarding is equally as important to ensure the new hire sticks around.

Make the above mistakes and you set yourself up for trouble. Avoiding a bad hire is simply good business.

What to consider when drafting a social media policy

23 Jul

Social media is a necessary evil in the business world these days. According to the most recent data from Pew Research, 74 percent of adult Internet users are active on social networking sites. That means, chances are, a lot of your staff members have an account on at least one platform. If this is the case, it's likely they visit it at some point in the day, possibly while on the clock. Creating social media policies is an important part of human resource planning to make sure employees don't go overboard to do anything inappropriate. 

Drawing a line between business and personal
Social media is often a business asset nowadays, so your policy shouldn't be so extreme that it prevents your staff from using social platforms. In fact, businesses can benefit from empowering employees to use their personal accounts to broadcast information about the brand. Outline in your policy in what circumstances staff should be encouraged to post about their employer, for instance, to cast a wider net when the company is hiring. Also, outline what staff shouldn't reveal online. In addition, if some of your staff have business-related accounts, you might need to draft a separate policy for them.

Cover legal aspects
According to Social Media Examiner, social media use can bring up labor-related issues in workplace settings, especially as it relates to the National Labor Relations Act, which covers employees' right to organize. In the past, such organization took place offline, but now, social media can be an obvious place for staff to convene. When drafting your policy, be careful about wording. If an employee posts something negative about the working conditions of the company on a personal account, he or she is likely within his right to do so.

Have an internal social channel
Social networking can have a positive impact on work culture by increasing engagement and providing a fun outlet for your staff. However, if you want to keep the conversation insulated from your employees' extended networks, consider setting up an internal network that would be accessible through employee self service. This network would allow staff to congratulate one another on jobs well done, communicate about events, suggest new ideas and engage in general chatter. One of the benefits of this setup is that it provides a way for entry level staff to potentially interact with executives.

Train and update as you go
Your policy is useless if employees don't know it exists. Address social media use as part of training processes. Social media changes all the time, as do the laws that govern its use in the workplace. Once you have a social media policy drafted, don't let it collect dust. Return to it frequently to determine if there are areas that need to be updated to reflect the current social environment or business culture.

Social media has enormous benefits for employers, but there are also liabilities involved. Because the majority of your employees are likely to have at least one social profile, it's smart for businesses to draft a policy they can refer to when necessary.

Why you should give employees a raise

23 Jul

Many companies attempt to curb costs by saying "no" when employees ask for raises. In the short term, this can seem like a smart idea. If you can keep a great employee around for the same price year after year, why not continue to do so? However, there are a number of problems with this approach. In the long run, it can have a negative impact on business. It's time to take a look in your employee management system and reassess your team members' salaries. 

Retain the best talent
The demand for certain skills continues to grow. If you don't give employees consistent raises, especially when it's deserved, you may be surprised when your top software developer hands in her two-weeks notice. Keeping those with the most in-demand skills could rely on paying an appropriate wage and increasing it over time. 

Staff will be thankful 
If you don't reward hard work, staff has less of an incentive to continue to do their best. The worst situation is when companies continue to pile more work on staff without adequately compensating them for it. As Inc. magazine pointed out, giving employees a promotion without the corresponding raise happens to be common practice, but that doesn't mean it should be. More work for the same pay may do the opposite of what you want and cause your staff to slack off.

They may need the money
In some cases, the need for a higher salary has little to do with prestige and more to do with financial need. According to a study from the American Psychological Association, 72 percent of adults are stressed about money at least part of the time. Could a low salary be contributing to the situation? If you want to keep workers around and help them achieve their best, paying a viable salary is important.

Turnover is costly
Managers may think they are being smart when they deny a pay raise, but the decision could come back to haunt them. According to Inc., companies may spend 150 percent of the employee's salary just to replace them. When you look at potential replacement costs, a raise seems like a small price to pay to keep an employee on board.

Revenue impact
Holding out on raises because you're thinking about the bottom line may not be the right perspective. A study from the Academy of Management Perspectives compared Sam's Club and Costco, which are competing companies. Costco pays its employees a full 40 percent more than Sam's Club and still remains profitable. If you reduce turnover and increase efficiency at the same time, the impact of a few raises should be minimal.

Not every employee deserves a raise, but there's no reason to hold out on your top performers. While staff may love their positions, they are there to make a living, which often means supporting a family. You need to consider the potential costs of replacing great team members if they seek a position elsewhere. 

Improve your onboarding process for a lasting relationship

23 Jul

Onboarding new employees is crucial to establishing a relationship with them. When new team members don't start off on the right foot, they are more likely to be unhappy, disengaged and move on quickly. It's important to have an established plan for employee onboarding. Here are a few tips:

Start before the first day
Onboarding actually begins before the new hire technically starts work. Lay out expectations before the employees enter the office on their first day, otherwise they will start the day confused and anxious. You should talk to new employees about company culture before the big day. This will prevent them from wearing a suit in a casual office.

Don't just familiarize the candidate with your company; prepare the team for the new arrival. Let them know to expect a new face and prepare the employee a workspace so they have a home base when they arrive. According to Forbes, you may want to provide some branded gifts, like a t-shirt, pen, or some kind of gift basket to get them excited for their first day. suggested asking your team if there is anything they wish they'd known when they started. Be sure to address these issues upfront with the new hires before they have a chance to ask. You may want to continue this practice and compile the answers into an FAQ document you can send to new hires before they start. 

Get all the paperwork ready
No one loves filling out paperwork. Most new hires would rather be out on the ground floor getting their hands dirty than writing out their Social Security numbers over and over again. Still, paperwork must be done. Instead of prolonging the experience, get everything ready ahead of time to streamline the process. Having an effective employee management software can help you with this part and ensure you file everything away correctly afterward.

Provide meaningful work
It's important not to make new employees suffer through grunt work until they can prove themselves – let them sink their teeth into something meaningful right away. However, don't create enormous expectations immediately. Simply demonstrate that you believe in them and are excited to see what the bring to the company. You can't expect your new team members to achieve full productivity within just a few days. Asking them to do so will cause serious stress. 

Have some face time together
According to, the onboarding process should last about 90 days. So don't assume you've done your job after a week has passed. Within the first week, sit down with new employees and come up with a few goals for the first 90 days. Also, talk about where the staff members see themselves in the next few years. Record all of this information in your employee management system.

Many companies don't realize how important onboarding is. New hires aren't established in the company yet - they could easily accept another offer and move on. Build a relationship early to prevent this from happening.

How to make your workplace more millennial friendly

23 Jul

Say what you want about millennials, but they continue to enter the workforce. Chances are, you are working aside a few of them right now. In fact, there are now more millennials than Gen X-ers in the workforce, according to Pew Research.

With so many young folks flooding into jobs across the country, it may seem unnecessary to accommodate them. However, fail to engage this age group now, and you may find it hard to obtain great talent in the future. Moreover, if you need help forging your way in the digital landscape, millennials are the ideal group to help out. Here are a few ways to open your doors to millennials:

Assess your business
The first step is to determine how millennials perceive your business. Also, be on the lookout for biases in your hiring process. Do you tend to favor a long resume over a fresh perspective? According to Society for Human Resources Management, hiring only people with certain experiences ensures your company is set up to prevent hiring young people. Do you require knowledge of platforms that could potentially be updated to 21st century standards? If there's one thing that irks millennials, it's outmoded technology, especially learning to use tools that will be irrelevant in a year. Examine your environment and see what will need to change. Perhaps new employee management software?

Get a new look
Cubicles are a relic of the past to this bunch, and an office where staff are isolated from one another may be a turnoff. Millennials are collaborators, and as their tendency to work together has lead to growth in the open office format. If your older employees would be unhappy with such a drastic change, consider setting up an open area for just younger staff. According to PSFK, Grey advertising agency set up a wing just for millennials in its New York City building, known as Base Camp.

Make work meaningful
Millennials want more out of work than previous generations. They aren't just in it for the money – they want to really care about what they do. This could mean offering volunteer opportunities or providing professional development programs that help them feel like they are growing. One thing is for sure: They don't want to just punch the clock. They want work to be a form of personal growth. As Mashable noted, this drive also makes company transparency important to them. They will want to know the how and the why of their position in the company.

Be flexible
Millennials crave a work-life balance. Despite their interest in meaningful work, millennials don't want to work all the time. Having a life outside of the office is also very important to this group. Flexible hours or the ability to work from home will be attractive incentives for these younger workers.

Like it or not, millennials are the future of the workforce. If you haven't started planning for this inevitability, it's time to start.

How to get honest feedback from employees

17 Jul

Feedback is a key part of employee management. Companies need feedback from all of their employees, not just entry-level staff members and new hires. Getting insight from your whole team is key to ensuring that everyone is happy and that all managers are also doing their jobs appropriately.

However, it's hard to obtain this feedback. Fearing retribution or stressful situations, employees may find it difficult to criticize their managers, even when the criticism is constructive and warranted. When companies fail to get the information they need, they lose their best people, often without warning. So how do you get the feedback you need while making sure everyone is comfortable?

Keep asking
As Entrepreneur pointed out, you need to be consistent in your requests for feedback. Asking just once rarely does the trick – employees need to know you're serious about it and actually care what they think. Make sure your team knows that meeting with the HR department or their direct manager is their right, not something that needs to be earned with superior performance.

Ask better questions
If your current methods aren't working, ask more probing questions. A simple "how is everything going" may not be direct enough to get the response you want. On the other hand, a question like, "How do you think your manager is doing," might be too direct. According to HR Morning, you should ask about how they would organize or manage a project. This can help you sniff out disagreements with management and help you identify staff with leadership potential.

Provide options
Your team members may approach feedback in different ways. Harvard Business Review suggested providing multiple methods for offering up their opinions. While one employee might prefer one-to-one conversation, another could be more inclined to be honest if given an anonymous survey to fill out. Managers might think their open-door policies are generous, but not everyone is comfortable voicing their ideas this way. Encourage managers to try out alternatives like taking someone out to lunch in an informal environment.

Develop a candid culture
If employees feel like speaking their mind is an acceptable thing to do, they will be more likely to do it. On the other hand, if your office lacks transparency, staff will feel like honesty is discouraged. You don't need to throw managers under the bus to create open dialogue. Simply allow staff at every level to discuss what is and isn't working about an approach or idea. In addition, know your team will stop offering feedback if they discover nothing changes when they do. Make sure managers take staff ideas and criticisms up the food chain so employees know they are being heard and continue to offer their ideas.

It might never be easy to gain direct feedback from employees, but continue to try new things, and you will soon gain the candid information you need to continue to improve the office environment. The right employee management software can make help you document any issues staff have and keep them on record for future reference.

Wellness program ideas

17 Jul

Wellness programs can be a great workplace benefit. Not only are these programs a great incentive to work for a company, but also they can help keep your workers healthier, happier and more productive as a result. All is all, a wellness program is also one of the greatest employee engagement ideas for your staff. A survey from Society of Human Resources Managers found 76 percent of organizations have some sort of wellness program. Moreover, participation between 2012 to 2014 increased year over year. Clearly wellness is more popular than ever! That being said, there are many different types of wellness programs you can implement. How do you start? Here are some ideas:

Provide healthy food
One of the easiest health programs is to make sure there are nutritious snacks on hand. This could mean fruit and vegetables or even nutrition bars and yogurt. While employees frequently bring in sugary treats to share, staff have to rely on themselves to pack healthy lunches, and with an on-the-go lifestyle, it's not always easy to do. Provide easy access to healthy food, and employees will thank you.

Promote gym memberships
Even if you don't have a gym on premises, you can work out a deal with a local fitness center or reimburse employees for a portion of the membership cost, BenefitsPro pointed out. Picking a gym and sticking with a workout regimen can be difficult for many people. However, if co-workers make a plan to hit the gym after work, even the most reluctant athlete will be more likely to attend.

Encourage exercise in other ways
Invite staff to participate in regular physical activity, like biking or even running to work. To make it easier on those who choose to participate, install some showers in the office, U.S. News and World Report suggested. This way, staff could also use their lunch breaks to make a quick trip to the gym. You might be surprised how many people would start biking to work once they can clean up afterward.

Have work from home options
When sick employees come into work, the illness spreads to their colleagues. While one person may feel comfortable powering through a bad cold with the help of pseudoephedrine, the same bug might put co-workers down for the count. If ill staff members want to pass on sick day coverage, encourage them to work from home so their co-workers aren't faced with the same issue.

Employees increasingly look for a balance between work and life. Making it easier to fit in a workout can also ease this burden.

Tips for an employee rewards program

17 Jul

Retention and turnover are some of the biggest issues human resources managers deal with on a day-to-day basis. Consequently, HR departments are constantly looking for good employee engagement ideas. These problems are not easy to solve, but providing employee recognition programs is one way to help employees realize their work is valued. What makes a good employee recognition program?

Give staff rewards they want
You may think a gift card to an area restaurant is an appropriate gift, but do your employees agree? Maybe they would rather have an appreciation event with catered food or even extra time off. Rewards programs work best when the incentives are actually desirable. Consider polling your employees to find out what kinds of rewards would inspire them to participate in the program.

Provide up-front rewards
It's a good idea to reward employees immediately for a job well done, according to Incentive Magazine. It may be tempting to wait until the end of the quarter or year for a big ceremony, but it's better to reward employees along the way. This helps to motivate them consistently and keeps morale high. It's OK to have a final reward dinner, but provide smaller incentives at intervals along the way.

Make sure the rules are fair
There are a number of things to consider when setting up a rewards program. You want to make sure employees can actually obtain rewards while still having to work hard to achieve their goals. In addition, make sure every department is able to obtain rewards. Frequently review the past winners to be sure that you are equally representing all departments and not focusing on a small few.

Tie rewards to business values
Make sure your reasoning for giving out awards is strategic, as these programs tend to be more successful. A study from Society of Human Resources Management found that companies who tied their recognition programs to the values of their organizations were more likely to perceive their programs as successful. However, only slightly more than one-half of organizations connected their programs with the company's values. Use your company's values as a basis for rewards. For instance, if you value teamwork, reward staff who demonstrate a willingness and ability to collaborate with others.

Rewards programs are effective ways to show employees you care. Feeling valued leads to personal growth and greater retention rates.

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