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Creativity in the HR sector

16 Dec

Human resources is a complex field that encompasses many areas of expertise, including legal issues, human interactions and organization. One part of the job that many people don't acknowledge is the sheer necessity for creative solutions to difficult problems. Some of the places where creative thinking can help HR professionals include planning ahead for future trends in technology and management techniques, along with thinking of new ways to divide work fairly among different divisions. The ultimate goal of HR staff is to improve the workflow of the company. By coming up with creative solutions, businesses can work more intelligently, with elegant solutions that don't waste energy.

The way things look in human resources will be very different 10 years from today, Blogging 4 Jobs, reported. Not only will technology grow and develop, which will require new methods for adapting to the way people will work, but the employees themselves will be different. There will be far more representatives of Gen Y and Gen Z taking on management roles, and preparing will take a certain amount of creative thinking. Many people in a company won't be around 10 years from today, and much of the staff that joins a business will have been unexpected, with different talents and areas for improvement. Planning for these contingencies takes creativity.

Another place where creative thinking can help an HR manager is in the realm of organization, according to Psychology Today. For example, companies are always trying to find new ways to get work done faster, and sometimes streamlining things is as simple as giving the right assignments to the right people. Having the ability to guess which teams would work best together takes creativity. It requires a kind of lateral thinking to create flowcharts to accurately model new ways of finishing assignments such that redundancies are eliminated and everyone has something productive to do.

Planning a project in general, whether for a new wellness program, implementing new hr manager software, or preparing for an office move, takes creativity as well. If one defines creativity as the ability to create an idea of how something new would work, and to take this idea and look for any gaps or possible oversights, and then to implement the idea as a plan, then HR is a very creative job. People in human resources are always thinking of new ways to do work faster and more efficiently, and they are also on the move planning ahead and thinking of possible dangers that a business could run into.

In the end, actually taking the time to work on one's creative talents may help someone's management skills. A good way to practice creativity in the workplace is to reward it. When employers see that people in human resources are coming up with novel solutions to problems as they arise, then it would be a good idea to reward those employees with additional work that is equally engaging. In essence, by advocating for creative solutions, one is training employees to think differently and preparing them for the next stage of their careers.

How to keep employees with good on-boarding

18 Nov

Employees have been switching jobs more quickly now than ever before. Forbes cited a statistic by the Department of Labor that said the average tenure of an employee in the U.S. is only 1.5 years. The story noted that many of the reasons employees quit are lack of intrinsic motivation. Employees should connect with each other and with the work they're doing. They should have an idea that they are benefiting the world with what they do. Forbes referenced Walt Disney, who came up with Disneyworld and sold his employees on the vision of how it would change the face of amusement parks.

Employees want to feel a personal satisfaction in what they do. For example, workers for theater companies often don't get paid, but they love the work. The job such people do for money tends to be low paying and not intrinsically rewarding. In theater, someone can be happy they did a good job, but for waiting tables, the only thing that matters is the tips. Try to find ways to get your employees interested in their performance. Make them feel like what they're doing is important.

Successful on-boarding can lead to longevity
Sometimes employees quit because they haven't been educated enough about the work they'll be doing, according to HR Morning. Of the five major reasons for why people quit, the biggest ones involve the work being different from what was expected, the work being boring or the wrong fit and a lack of training.

Those charged with human resource planning should pay attention to on-boarding. Successfully explaining the job so employees have a reasonable idea of the work they'll be doing is a great way to keep out people who wouldn't be interested in the job and to encourage interested people to continue the application process. Lying about what a job entails will only make workers feel confused about assignments and dissatisfied with work they hadn't planned on doing.

HR Morning recommended that on the job training and being assigned a mentor are two things that employees really want in order to feel acclimated to a new job. Additionally, for the training, they would prefer a manager to help them with work, while others wanted someone from the HR department.

Proper training can ensure that people who want to work at a job will know exactly what that job is, and they will also learn from someone about the right way of doing it. As such, the quality of the on-boarding process is crucial to employee longevity.

Keeping employees working for the long haul

10 Nov

Employee retention has less to do with a simple campaign and more to do with a broad, inclusive employee resource planning, according to the Chicago Post-Tribune. The basic facets to keep in mind include rewards, structure, keeping bureaucracy to a minimum and hiring the right people. When people are happy in their jobs and corporate culture is sound, they won't want to leave their positions for another place to work. Additionally, employees want to be able to grow in a company for a long time. Businesses with a lot of turnover often can make people feel like they are never going to make it into the upper echelons of a company, which can make it challenging for people to stay motivated.

Culture is another major incentive for people who want to stay in a company. People who enjoy a family atmosphere and a culture that emphasizes working hard may stay longer because they admire the spirit of their fellow workers and want to stay where they have friends.

Keeping veterans happy
Business 2 Community explained that one major place where companies need to focus their attention is veterans. The number of people who stay with a company for between one and two years is always going to be a much larger percentage than the people who stay somewhere for five or more years, but getting those veteran workers to stick around can help retain a strong culture. It also helps to have people with experience. In the field of tech support, Business 2 Community points out that most people leave work after staying for less than a year, which means they never have enough experience in comparison with people who stay for longer.

By keeping people for more than a year, the overall quality of the company's product may improve. Generally it takes a long time for people to be good at their job, and if someone leaves before he or she becomes a major expert, then the business as a whole will not be working at peak performance.

The needed skills of the future will be technological

27 Oct

The major skills people will need in the future – whether for a job in human resources management or not – will likely pertain to computers. According to the Daily News Journal, anyone with the ability to code and engineer computer programs will be in a good place to find work. What this means for HR professionals is that most hires will likely have some computer experience on their resumes. Those in a position to hire someone will need to know what the certifications are and if they are relevant to a particular job. It may also come to pass that managers directly responsible for programming computers or running databases will choose their employees themselves. Additionally, employee management software will likely grow in importance as technology becomes a major part of the workplace.

Other jobs that are growing involve the so-called STEM core, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. These jobs will be highly paid and are currently expanding – 38 percent of the "high skill" jobs that will exist in the future are predicted to be STEM jobs, the Daily News Journal reported.

Technology will drive changes in the workplace
Most people have computer skills that prior generations wouldn't have needed because of the large volume of work done on machines today. For example, a generation ago, Microsoft Excel didn't exist, and so nobody needed to know how to code macros or do any of the things that even non-programming or engineering jobs now require. Most people in human resources know how to work with complex programs and to design spreadsheets that will automatically populate after someone enters the relevant information into a formula. The basic pool of required computer knowledge will likely grow further, although computers will probably become even more user-friendly. Time Magazine predicted that jobs at superstructured organizations will grow. Large-scale organizations - i.e. companies with many different departments and divisions around the world - will use complex social tools, such as automated scheduling systems and human resources portals, to boost the economies of scale for a company. This allows a business to grow without losing its ability to regulate and keep order among its employees.

There will also be a need for people who can work with what Time calls the "new media," which is the growing number of social media platforms people use to gather information. Employees will also need the ability to work in different cultures and surrounded with multiple languages because of the necessity for a growing workforce that will increasingly telecommute to work.

As the world becomes more wired, the skills that are already important for HR managers will become more necessary. The the newer talents that will soon be a requirement for a proper human resources development will grow directly from advances in technology that bring people together.

Been there, done that!

22 Oct

Woman Working From HomeI’ll never forget the day I started with my new company (several years ago). My first project was to canvass for new external talent, track candidate skills, coordinate interviews and then onboard the new hires. Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? It was for a while. Until my job role quickly expanded into other areas of HR, we started hiring like crazy and as we grew in size, I now needed to formulate processes to support the varying federal and state legislation (based on our new company size). Time out! I knew using a spreadsheet to keep track of everything wasn’t going to cut it any longer. Instead of waiting, I decided to dive right into looking for a HR and recruiting solution that would support the company’s growth, fulfill legislative obligations and keep my sanity in check! I knew I needed to do it quickly but at the same time, didn’t want to act hastily. Since I’ve had the opportunity to use many solutions prior to this role, I knew where I needed to look. Hence, my reason for writing this blog piece.Let me save those of you who either are new to the role or the HR/payroll profession or have not had the opportunity to use any automated HR/payroll systems in your past. There are a couple of products that I can specifically recommend to you to help automate your processes. If you are looking to wean yourself off of using spreadsheets to keep track of candidates and/or processes and you use multiple formulas to calculate and report on things, look into Sage HRMS and Sage HRMS Cyber Recruiter. Right away, these products will help you solve these issues (as well as a myriad of others).

Oh, yeah, getting back to my story. Remember, I was telling you about that first project I was tasked with doing in my new job several years ago? The one where I was canvassing for new external talent, tracking their skills, coordinating all interviews, and then onboarding them as they were hired using a spreadsheet: that story. Well, unfortunately, my computer crashed, and I lost everything I had worked on that first month into my new job. Words can’t accurately describe how I felt at that exact point in time. Let’s just say, it wasn’t a pleasant experience at all!

Don’t wait for something like that to happen to you; visit www.sagehrms.com or call 866-271-6050 and have them show you how they can make your life easier, automate your processes, and keep everything centralized so you can create reports without using formulas and linking spreadsheets.

Complications with ACA

9 Oct

The Affordable Care Act will become more important to companies with over 100 employees because January 1, 2015 is the deadline for those businesses to begin offering health insurance to its workers. According to MSN News, the exact requirement is that at least 70 percent of full-time staffers must be offered health insurance by 2015. Additionally, the insurance plan must not exceed over 9.5 percent of employees' annual salaries.

According to Andy Birol, a small-business consultant, companies shouldn't overthink their policies to the extent it inhibits them from making other business decisions. He terms his strategy for ACA as "fish or cut bait," meaning to either get into the game or get out of it – to make a decision quickly and stick to it.

Some companies are actually reducing their headcount of full-time employees to avoid paying the for insurance coverage.

More complications to complying with ACA
There are some additional challenges to the ACA that many people in the human resource planning field are not aware of, but a recent article by HR Morning pinpoints some of the most salient points to be concerned about when it comes to this important matter.

For one thing, adding a wellness program is a great way to get employees healthy and focused on getting into good shape. However, giving incentives to those who sign up for it can be a problem, along with adding penalties for people who smoke or are overweight. For example, the ACA maximum reduction or penalty is 30 percent, according to HR Morning. For smokers, it rises to 50 percent. Anything more than that is a violation.

Another problem is with "grandfathered" programs, which are old enough to become exempt from major health care rules. However, if a grandfathered program changes enough than it will no longer be protected under the same status.

The government has put out a list of information about this on a special ACA website.

Waiting periods are another complex issue. Health care plans cannot make employees wait more than 90 days for coverage to begin, but many covered employees are facing longer waiting periods, putting their employers in jeopardy of facing ACA penalties.

How affordable is the insurance?
Some employees are turning down ACA insurance because they can't afford it. According to Tara Wicker, the HR director for a chain of grocery stores, many of her employees choosing against insurance because they can't pay the premiums. People who want to keep their workers insured and healthy may want to look carefully for an affordable plan that compromises between what employees and employers can both afford.

Other people believe that employees should be allowed to have no insurance if that's what they want.

"The employer is responsible for offering the insurance, not responsible for ensuring that employees actually enroll," said Tony Novak, a benefits consultant.

The official rules are that if the employer offers minimal coverage, there is no penalty if employees don't take it. Jon Robitaille, who works for a grocery store, says that he signed up for the insurance plan because he felt it was mandated, but said he would have preferred to spend the money on vacations instead.

Other complications include the fact that workers must work for 30 hours a week in order to be eligible for a plan, and maybe people who work more than one job have trouble meeting the requirements even if they work more than 30 hours when both jobs are combined.

Smaller businesses won't have to worry about the ACA rules until 2016. That's when companies with between 50 and 99 employees must begin providing health insurance. Those with less than 50 don't have to comply with the rules.

Is telemedicine beneficial in the long run?

8 Oct

Telemedicine is a new trend that many companies are taking advantage of. Because it is such a recent innovation, many business professionals are still unsure of whether it will benefit their company in terms of human capital management or not. Early adopters have so far had mixed experiences with the product.

According to the American Telemedicine Association, telemedicine is the exchange of medical information between different sites to benefit a patient's medical health status. This includes referral services, remote monitoring and medical education services. the most common practice is using telemedicine to see a doctor who lives far away remotely. The service is considered part of a company's overall health plan.

Healthcare Dive reported that employer support of telemedicine is relatively new, and the service has also been adopted at a faster pace – over half of employers plan to cover telemedicine consultations in 2015. Many are going this route because the Affordable Care Act is making it more expensive for companies to give their employees healthcare.

Schools are also becoming interested in telemedicine, the Baltimore Sun wrote. Schools in Maryland are linking with local hospital pediatricians to provide an instant examination of sore throats, skin rashes and ear infections. Parents can also sit in on the examination using a special app. The idea is that students won't have to miss school for basic doctor visits.

Pros and cons
The service may not be right for everyone, however. According to Fortune Magazine, the people employees would see won't be their own doctor, but rather a physician who has just gotten off work and wants to make some extra money by performing examinations. Doctors log into the service and then select patients from a screen. They are actually not allowed to see the patients in real life once they begin seeing them through a telemedicine service. Doctors can prescribe medication, although nurses are available to review the charts produced from a telemedicine visit to ensure an accurate diagnoses.

In a price comparison, Bloomberg Businessweek found that a regular doctor's visit would cost $100, but a visit to an online doctor costs only $40.

Some people are wary of the practice, however.

"I don't think we know how it works, the risks and benefits at the moment," says James Perrin, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. "The only way to diagnose strep is with a test. Best practices say you can't just throw an antibiotic at somebody [without a test first]."

Is it beneficial?
Ultimately, the major problem with telemedicine is that it is arguably not the same as seeing a doctor in real life, according to U.S. News and World Report. For one thing, computer cameras are for the most part still not at a high enough definition to be the same even as a photograph in a textbook, let alone seeing someone's throat in real life. For treating serious ailments, it may be better also to talk with someone who knows a patient's medical history thoroughly, versus someone new every time. U.S. News cited that a major problem with telemedicine is that it can lead to inadequate assessments because many non-verbal cues can "slip through the cracks," and doctors cannot feel a person's arm to see if it is stiff in a certain way.

Whether it leads to less expenses for a company in the long run, versus problems with misdiagnoses leading to further time off and insurance payments is still not clear. Many doctors appear ambivalent about the practice, although they say that it is still helpful in certain instances.

"I think there a lot of good uses for it," said rural family doctor Raymond Christensen. "I don't think you can start an IV with it. There are places where we still have to have people touching people. But it brings a higher level of care … than we've been able to provide before."

How should employers handle harassment investigations in the workplace?

3 Oct

Employers have a high degree of responsibility to both prevent and respond to harassment investigations. If it's not already, it should be high on the list of priorities for employee management.

There are guidelines the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has established, and employers are expected to follow them. In reality, a harassment investigation should be addressed proactively by providing all personnel with clear indication of what is and isn't appropriate behavior at the workplace.

However, employees don't always follow the rules as intended, or there may be misinterpretations that ultimately lead to a complaint. In this case, employers should have an effective strategy in place to ensure investigations run as smoothly as possible.

Begin immediately
There's no reason to wait before conducting a harassment investigation. Supervisors, provided they're not the subject of the complaint, should notify the human resources manager as soon as possible. Since HR is usually the intermediary in these cases, the department should identify an internal investigator who can act impartially on behalf of both the claimant and the individual charged with the indiscretion, according to the American Bar Association. This person should also have a clean record and full knowledge of the company's harassment policies, as well as EEOC guidelines.

Get written documentation
According to HR Hero, it's important to ensure the investigator keeps track of all statements and reports and maintains them in case the situation escalates and moves to trial. All documentation should be verified and signed by the witnesses in the investigation. This will lend credibility to the investigation and better protect against subjectivity. At the same time, clearly document that the claimant, the individual charged with harassment and witnesses won't face any kind of retaliation.

Interview both parties
The American Bar Association suggested the investigator begins by speaking with the alleged victim. Establish a clear background by asking the five primary questions: who, what, when, where and how. It's also a good idea to maintain anonymity of both parties. The alleged harasser should be given the chance to explain the circumstance from his or her perspective as well. In the case that an employee brings a charge against a superior, it's advisable to send him or her home until the investigation culminates.

React quickly
Once the investigation concludes, make an expeditious, but accurate judgment based on the events, witness testimonies and interviews. Don't belabor the process because it may end up damaging relationships to a greater degree.

An effective anti-harassment policy should be the first step in eliminating this issue in the workplace. However, employers need to take the proper steps to enable both fair and decisive investigations.

Does anyone really care about performance evaluations?

30 Sep

Avoid a Dysfunctional Performance ReviewWhy do manager’s consistently tell human resources that they dread writing and delivering performance evaluations? This is a question that human resource professionals struggle with every time they hear it. Most studies conducted by professional human resource organizations have proven that companies that provide regular feedback to their employees have higher retention rates and see greater improvement in overall performance than those that rely on annual evaluations. So, why do human resource professionals consistently need to prove this fact to their management teams? Why  are managers so fearful?

Perhaps it’s what occurs during the annual performance evaluation meeting with the employee? Let’s look at a typical scenario. The manager delivers the annual feedback; the employee is “surprised” because he or she hasn’t heard any of that feedback all year long and now the employee “challenges” their manager on the evaluation claiming his or her evaluation isn’t “fair.” Aha, there’s the dreaded confrontation associated with the review. Here it is. Face-to-face confrontation. Why would the manager fear this confrontation? Perhaps, it’s the fact that manager is suddenly put into a defensive position? Could it be that the manager failed to provide regular feedback to the employee throughout the year and has no choice but to deal with it now? Is that fair? How would that manager feel if this was done to her? Maybe this has happened to the manager before, and now the manager believes it’s perfectly acceptable to do the same thing to her direct reports? Maybe it’s a new manager who believes he knows what he is doing, but really doesn’t have a clue? Did ego come into play at all? There could be a lot of reasons.

In any case, employees need guidance. They need regular feedback. Whether that feedback is positive or negative, employees need and want to hear it. The manager needs to “manage” and learn to deal with it. How do managers expect to receive positive behavior from their employees without any reinforcement from the manager on the feedback of their behavior? How does an employee know what is expected of him or whether or not he needs to improve upon a certain behavior if he has not been given any direction throughout the year? You can clearly see how these disconnects occur.

Aside from the myriad of legal issues that often arise from continued performance feedback “avoidance,” its helpful (and necessary) for managers to educate themselves on how to deliver feedback. A lot of this is common sense. So, why do many managers feel it’s the responsibility of human resources to educate them on why employee performance feedback is so important? Why do managers tell human resource professionals, “I haven’t received any training on it so I didn’t know I should be doing it”? Why do managers feel they do not have accountability for this aspect of their management function? Like any other skill, performance feedback training needs to be cultivated. Since each and every person and situation is different, it’s impossible for the human resource professional to facilitate definitive training needed to cover every situation. It’s up to human resources to guide and counsel their management teams. What that means is that human resources should be relied upon to guide and counsel management on decisions that affect their people and the overall business. Unless it is a first-time manager, human resources can help to provide the education needed to get the manager up to speed and on the right path. There must be accountability on management’s part to take ownership of their direct reports by providing regular feedback to them, then seek human resource guidance and counsel on issues where the desired outcome of an employee’s performance has not or cannot be achieved through the development plans that the manager has set forth for the employee to follow to get that performance back on track.

Visit www.sagehrms.com to see all of the available solutions to help you manage the total employment lifecycle process.

What does workplace diversity look like?

10 Sep

Human resources professionals are at the forefront of employee management, acting as the gatekeepers in creating a high-impact and effective workforce. However, many organizations are still grappling with the role diversity plays in developing the strongest talent pool possible. One of the main issues facing HR is specifically defining diversity and accurately measuring it. At the same time, companies still struggle with implementing policies that allow for a wider range of ethnicities, races and gender distribution in the workplace.

What does diversity mean?
Traditionally, diversity has been recognized as the way a firm includes and engages workers from various cultural and ethnic backgrounds, as well as maintaining a fairly even balance of male and female employees. However, in a recent post for the SAP blog, contributor Susan Galer cited research from The Economist Intelligence Unit that may expand the very idea of diversity.

According to the report, a greater number of companies look at the role employee values play in changing the workplace dynamic. Much of the focus is on the idea of a multigenerational workforce in which it's difficult to discern whether younger employees feel they're part of the organization. In effect, HR professionals and management now have the task of evaluating workers based on their level of assimilation into a company's culture and understanding motivated them to join an enterprise in the first place.

Some of the biggest challenges lying in wait for HR managers stem from this idea. According to the EIU study, 60 percent of human resources executives highlight a demonstrable lack of interest in adhering to organizational values as a major characteristic in today's workplace. At the same time, more than 50 percent of these respondents said value-based conflicts among employees from different generations is a hurdle that needs to be overcome.

Exigent challenges
Meanwhile, there are residual issues resulting from traditional diversity initiatives that human resources professionals need to address to ensure stronger employee engagement. Fortune Magazine recently wrote that workers who were perceived to be hired specifically for diversity purposes are seen as less qualified for their positions.

"The Academy of Management Journal" recently released research which found this stigma to be present in more companies than many would assume. David Mayer, who teaches management at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business and is one of the authors of the study, explained this issue has a fairly easy solution. One idea involves being overt in explaining to coworkers that a minority employee was hired in purview of his or her qualifications, experiences and education. Mayer explained this information can be delivered in the form of an internal email sent out to various departments. If a company has an enterprise social network, it can easily and quickly introduce new hires – regardless of their age, gender and race – so that existing members of the organization know who's coming on board.

Harvard Business Review echoed this sentiment, explaining that diversity initiatives don't always go far enough. Human resources managers should work to foster inclusion among workers from different backgrounds. A few strategies to reach this goal is to make sure minority employees are part of discussions related to their duties and roles within the organization. Also, ensure everyone has equal access to training and development opportunities so that all employees can expand their skill sets, and workers have more chances to interact with each other.

Globalization has made it possible for businesses to attract and recruit workers from a diverse array of cultures and backgrounds, but it requires significant effort to make certain all employees function as team members.

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