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Employee Retention Remains a Top HR Concern

21 Jul

HR professionals know that recruiting talented workers is just the beginning of their employee management duties, with retention being one of the core workforce elements every HR department needs to focus on. According to a recent poll by Human Resource Executive (HRE) Online, HR professionals continue to see numerous challenges, with employee retention being one of them. 

HRE Online's "What's Keeping HR Up at Night?" poll received more than 400 responses from HR professionals, and found retaining workers came in at No. 3 on the list. Employee engagement and productivity earned the top spot with 36 percent of responses, while development leadership talent secured No. 2 with 28 percent. But retaining key talent was considered by 24 percent to be a key challenge. In fact, 37 percent of respondents said they gave their concern about losing top performers a 4 out of 5, showing many are very concerned about their retention of crucial workers.

Rebecca Ray, executive vice president of human capital management practice The Conference Board, told HRE Online that keeping workers at the organization is important for every business, large or small.

"There is no greater challenge than the need to have high-performing, engaged employees and effective leaders to deliver on a business strategy," Ray said. "This is the same in every region, in every market, in every industry."

According to an article in TLNT, HR professionals don't have to let their worry about employee management stop them from getting their needed eight hours of shuteye. There are numerous strategies to increase retention, and many have a talent management element to them. Recruiting the right workers in the first place is one of the easiest ways to improve retention, but providing workers professional development opportunities, rewarding and recognizing strong performance and promoting strong leaders can also make a difference to retention. 

Tapping into the Talented Millennial Generation

21 Jul

Millennials, also called Generation Y, is the latest generation in the workplace, and many recruiters and HR professionals have been looking for ways to recruit the most talented from this generation and what works best to keep them at the organization. Many companies have tried different tactics to drive recruiting and engagement from this age group - from offering fun competitions to giving them flexible work hours, employers are taking a lot of approaches to ensure their human capital is strong. Before HR professionals start implementing new ideas and strategies to recruit, engage and retain workers of this generation, they need to first understand what has already worked.

Determining What Resonates with Millennials
To some, millennials act entitled and jump from job to job, but Brent Grinsteiner – a recruiter at Manpower who also happens to be part of this generation – thinks negative perceptions about these workers overshadow their true benefits. Grinsteiner wrote millennials have experiences that are unique from other generations, and they are often driven to succeed and welcome professional development. They do best when they are given clear but concise information and are able to communicate through digital channels, such as email. LinkedIn's Lydia Abbot noted in an article that millennials are also strong multitaskers and collaborators who desire career advancement and a work-life balance. Grinsteiner wrote HR professionals need to understand that to reach out to millennials – whether they are employed at the company or are currently involved in the recruitment process – is that they want communication with their managers and to feel a sense of accomplishment from their tasks.

Therefore, best practices for acquiring and keeping top millennial talent often revolve around taking advantage of these attributes and leveraging their existing experience and abilities. Here are just a few best practices:

  • Recruit where millennials are: Many millennial workers use social media and online job boards to look for jobs, but they also often try to network both online and through their mentors. 
  • Make professional development fun: Gamification is one way to train and educate millennials, but collaborative training sessions can encourage teamwork and also be ben​eficial. 
  • Offer them opportunities to challenge themselves: Most millennials want to advance in their careers and develop new skills, so assigning them projects that can help improve their abilities and experience can be a great way to encourage loyalty.

One company that has been innovative with millennial employee engagement is Marina Maher Communications (MMC), which ended up creating a competition among the members of its workforce. According to an article in Forbes, MMC asked all of its employees to compete but collaborate with one another to raise money for the nonprofit She's the First. What resulted was a more creative and social company culture. The millennials in the workforce used their existing abilities, passion and resources to start fundraising, despite having no previous experience doing so. They were able to succeed at their goals because the company found something their millennial workers were passionate about. The Forbes article noted the company took away from this experience that millennials are resourceful and innovative, and the company culture has changed for the better because of it.

Key Insights Into Offering Tuition Reimbursement Programs

16 Jul

Developing workers' skill sets and knowledge can help their employers become more successful and have greater shares in the market. HR professionals are key when it comes to the talent management of the workforce because they are integral in providing training and education to workers. However, many workers often need to go back to school, or have gone to college and are in high demand among employers. Offering tuition reimbursement can encourage employees to gain the knowledge they need to help the business and also lead to acquiring more talent within the company. Even though these programs aren't new, they are seeing a revival, and employers and their HR professionals need to establish whether it is in the best interest of the company to invest in a tuition reimbursement program.

The Benefits of Offering These Programs
Tuition reimbursement initiatives are becoming more popular. One of the most cited models for this type of program is the one used by Starbucks. The Hill noted Starbucks offers full tuition for workers who choose to study at Arizona State University, and there are 40 programs Starbucks allows them to decide from. The program specifically aims to get those workers who are partially done with their degrees to finish their education.

According to an article in Forbes by finance expert Luke Landes, employers can gain much from providing workers with this type of benefit. Landes said he took advantage of this employer's tuition reimbursement program specifically to help him with his day-to-day tasks. Yet just better performance isn't the only gain – these programs can help with employee retention and loyalty, and can even encourage stronger talent acquisition and management. This is because higher-quality workers tend to be attracted to companies that value these initiatives.

Tuition Reimbursement Initiatives Should Be Part of Company Culture
These programs shouldn't just be an add-on to the company's current talent management and professional development initiatives – they should be an integral part of the entire company culture. Because worker quality is critical to employers' success, their training and development should be as well. The company culture should drive workers to improve and be better, but only making tuition reimbursement programs open to certain employees or not giving workers information on these initiatives can cause talent management to stagnate at the organization. HR professionals should look to ensure all workers understand the benefits of taking advantage of the company's tuition reimbursement perk. 

Wearable devices could boost employee engagement

14 Jul

Human resources departments are beginning to use more technology to boost employee engagement and motivation. A new report from the International Data Corporation explained by the year 2018, there were will be nearly 112 million wearable computer devices purchased by not only consumers, but employers and businesses as well. In 2014, the report expects 19 million wearable devices to be sold, which would be a nearly 79 percent growth from 2018 figures.

What devices are being used?
Businesses have found wearable devices can work effectively as a healthcare or medical device. Human resources are able to keep productivity levels up with wellness programs, which wearable devices would benefit workers. Wearable technology is used to measure or track height, weight, blood pressure, pulse, sleep patterns, cholesterol and glucose, the Media Post reported.

Wearable devices can include bands, watches or even eyewear that could record or track personal information. According to the source, wearable devices make it easier for doctors to access more information about a person's medical history or what prescriptions they are using.

Wearable devices could also remind workers when to take certain medication, track calorie levels and send alerts when to exercise or when blood sugar levels get dangerously high, the source reported.

"These devices can tell you under which conditions your workforce is most productive, under which conditions your workforce is most alert and what makes them happier and more satisfied in their jobs," said Dr. Chris Brauer, a professor with the Institute of Management Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, according to Bloomberg BNA.

Legal debate over wearable devices
Employers looking to provide wearable devices for workers are causing a lot of debate. Businesses sometimes offer rewards and incentives to lose weight or to eat healthier so their workers live longer and medical costs for controllable diseases are lower.

However, businesses have to make sure their employees acknowledge wearable devices are fully optional and will not affect their job whatsoever if they decline to participate in any sort of wellness program, Bloomberg BNA reported. Personal health information should remain disclosed for workers if they choose so.

"Organizations are going to be in extremely difficult positions in choosing between being able to harness the power of data that could give them a competitive advantage and the implications of requesting or requiring from their employees that they reveal behavioral data that extends well beyond the scope of traditional workplace studies," said Brauer, according to Bloomberg BNA.

Employers benefiting from additional information
Some businesses are seeing benefits to giving their workers wearable devices. The wearable devices are providing businesses with additional health information that might not have been accessible before, Bloomberg BNA reported.

"The real problem is employers often don't know what people are doing at work, and that's the core of business so we need to measure that," said Ben Waber, the co-founder, president and CEO of Sociometric Solutions, a company that makes devices to measure movements in tone of voice, according to the source. "It will enable subtle changes in the work environment. It will help organizations identify what shapes interactions and then change the environment to support those interactions."

The devices are also proving to be of value in terms of saving companies money on healthcare costs. According to the Vitality Group, through a five-year study, hospital costs fell by 6 percent for those who were using wearable devices to track health-related issues that were once inactive. For those who were active the entire time through the entire five-year research, those participants were able drop their hospital costs by 16 percent.

Data could be used to figure out what improves productivity 
Employers will also be able to store information in the cloud to help get a better understanding of which health conditions need the most improvement. It could also increase job satisfaction when companies can clearly understand what health-related issues boost or hurt work productivity.

However, Brauer said the accuracy of the information collected all depends on the duration of time in which workers wear the devices and how much employee information is recorded, BNA Bloomberg reported.

When companies are able to keep their employees more involved with their health, workers begin to feel more appreciated by their employer. Retention rates and employee engagement will increase with more focused workers who are eating healthier and paying more attention to their well-being.

Dangers Office Politics Have on Talent Management

14 Jul

In almost every workplace at every organization there are politics. According to Talent Management magazine, office politics are common, and it can harm worker productivity and performance. Many HR professionals and managers discount just how political their workplaces truly are. A poll by email content provider SmartBrief on Workforce found the vast majority of workers consider interdepartmental or office politics to be significant at their organizations. In fact, 9 in 10 respondents said being part of the office-politics game helps them get ahead professionally.

While Talent Management notes it may be difficult to get rid of office politics altogether, HR professionals need to have a strong handle on their employee management if they want to be able to bring in and retain talented workers at the company. According to a blog in Harvard Business Review, HR professionals who ignore the impact office politics have on the workforce can be setting themselves and their workers up to experience high stress levels and dissatisfaction on the job. Talented new hires may feel uncomfortable entering into a workplace environment that thrives on internal politics, and there's always the possibility they will be the subject of envy by their co-workers. HR professionals need to ensure they unite the office and have a strong handle on the power struggles of their workplaces to prevent high turnover of key performers and top talent.

Productivity and Performance Risks
According to HBR, there are many important reasons HR professionals should understand the problem intense office politics play on talent management. The perception of workers advancing in the organization through illegitimate means and of employees undermining others' ideas and ambitions due to feeling threatened by them can be harmful to the entire organization. HR professionals can see their management of talent disrupted by company leadership wanting to promote workers who may not be qualified for jobs.

An article in TLNT noted office politics can impact the entire company's culture, allowing workers to move up due to favoritism rather than merit. The most talented workers in the business may then feel like their hard work isn't being rewarded and so they don't have to produce high-quality work because it doesn't matter to their development or advancement at the company anyway. HR professionals can then see productivity and performance slip, harming the entire organization, and also experience high turnover of strong workers.

What HR Can Do
According to Inc. magazine, HR professionals need to ensure all reward systems are fair and the company is focused on being unified rather than divided. It's all too easy for reward systems to be convoluted and secretive, Inc. noted, and this can cause resentment among workers and lead to office gossip. Giving solid reasons for raises and promotions is important to ensuring employees feel they are being rewarded for their merit and performance rather than because they are friends with management. 

Talent Management also suggested HR professionals be involved in employee management, because it is all too easy for human resources to simply learn information through the grapevine instead of seeing issues and solutions first hand. According to the magazine, HR professionals need to meet with workers on a regular basis to stay informed on what is happening in the workplace. The magazine gave the example of a project not being finished by the established deadline. HR professionals can determine if interpersonal issues between employees is to blame for the problem or if the involved workers are unable to finish the project because they don't have the skills to do so. This is an important distinction, and can make a big difference to how talent management is handled at the company.

HR professionals can't ignore how much office politics impact the talent management of the workforce. HR reps need to stay in the loop and be aware of how rewards are being handled to prevent low morale and high turnover.

Confidentiality: Keep Sensitive Data Safe with the Best Human Resource Information System

11 Jul

HR professionals may think it's the job of the IT department to ensure confidential files and information remain secure, but the HR department is just as important – if not more so – to the proper handling of these documents. If HR professionals are still using paper documents that are stored in filing cabinets instead of electronic files within human resources management software, they could be putting the security of the information contained in the materials at risk of exposure.

According to TLNT, it's hard to monitor access to paper documents, even if they are stored in a locked cabinet or folder. Someone can gain access to keys to these cases, and there is always the potential that documents that are taken out of these secure locations, get lost or are looked at by an unauthorized person. For instance, HR professionals can copy materials and unintentionally lose one of them, or documents can be circulated for approval among management and copied without authorization. When HR professionals hold on to paper documents, they put their organization at risk for a data breach. 

There are government regulations regarding the confidentiality of sensitive employee data, and these extend to electronic HR solutions. However, while most of these systems can reduce the risk of information getting into the hands of unauthorized individuals, HR professionals can't slack on their management of worker data and the security of multiple electronic locations.

Think Like IT
While keeping employee information secure resides with HR departments, these professionals need to understand the correct ways to manage this data. According to Computerworld, HR departments would do well to learn some information security tips from IT professionals. Joshua Mauk, information security officer at the University of Nebraska, told Computerworld HR representatives should be selective about the types of information they collect from workers and need to monitor all stored employee data.

Consider these examples: Mauk said the university had once kept the Social Security numbers of its workers​ to identify them, but this information is especially sensitive, and, if lost, could have drastic consequences for those employees. The university realized this risk, and reduced the amount of information it gathered from workers to prevent a breach. It also gave each worker his or her own employee identification number. In addition, Mauk told Computerworld he found sensitive information in unmanaged areas of the university's server. He advised that HR professionals be careful with how they protect information.

Choose the Right Software
It might be a great idea for HR departments to partner with their companies' IT departments to develop policies that ensure information is kept safe. But one of the things HR professionals can do to maintain confidentiality is to find the right electronic HR solution in which to store and manage their employee data. According to the TLNT article, employee management software is able to ensure only certain users gain access to information and are able to change that information, which is important to prevent lost files and compromised information. 

Employee wellness programs growing as part of benefits programs

9 Jul

When it comes to employee benefits management, businesses are continually rearranging their spending to reduce healthcare costs. According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), a recent report discovered that with increasing benefit costs in the workplace, work-flex benefits could become a low-cost method for companies to stand out among other businesses.

More funding is going toward keeping workers healthy and the new report suggests many organizations are open to the idea of giving up other benefits in the process. Flex benefits could include relaxed dress codes, flex work times and work from home privileges. Flex-work benefits are also cheaper and more attractive to workers.

"Flexible working benefits are a cost-effective way to help employees balance their work and personal lives," said SHRM in its report. "These benefits help organizations attract and retain high-quality talent and are a key factor in employee job satisfaction."

Health and wellness programs taking priority
The SHRM report added that wellness programs help keep employees healthier so their workers compensation costs are lower or injuries and illnesses in the workplace might decrease. Most organizations are focused on dental insurance and prescription drug programs with 95 percent of businesses participating. However, contraceptives and vision coverage are only supported by less than 85 percent of companies respectively.

"Offering health benefits is critical to employee recruitment and retention," said Bruce Elliott, the manager of compensation and benefits at SHRM. "However, the rising cost of health benefits, especially health insurance, has made it challenging for some employers to continue offering it. Because of that, employers are evaluating all their benefits and making adjustments."

The expansion of medical coverage and wellness programs is growing from the need to limit medical costs with healthier employees, the Associated Press reported. One of the major reasons why companies are expanding their wellness programs is due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Helen Darling, the chief executive officer for the National Business Group on Health, a nonprofit organization that backs businesses on healthcare issues, explained that as companies look to lower costs and avoid taxes from the ACA, more attention toward wellness programs is indicating a "visible wake-up call to all employers," the AP reported.

"The workforce is constantly evolving, and these shifts influence how employees perceive their benefits plans," said SHRM in the report. "The marketplace is also constantly undergoing change, so benefits programs must be regularly assessed to make sure that employees understand the value of their benefits packages and that the organization is remaining competitive in the marketplace."

Other health-related benefits on the decline
The amount of flu vaccine clinics, CPR and first-aid training and stress reduction programs offered on-site have seen a rapid drop in the last five years, SHRM reported. On the other hand, healthy living and lifestyle coaching has seen a 41 percent growth, while preventive treatments geared toward chronic diseases have seen an increase by 21 percent in 2014.

More companies view adding health and wellness programs as a win-win situation between their employees and employee benefits management spending.

5 HR solutions that attract workers from day one

8 Jul

Human resources are constantly striving to increase retention rates and to keep their best workers in the organization, but with a younger generation of employees entering the workforce, it's getting more difficult to hold on to the good ones. While some employers try to work on retention rates long after they hire people, businesses should consider addressing the issue from day one.

Here are five HR solutions that attract workers from day one:

1. Make sure supervisors are welcoming
More often than not, managers simply try to increase retention rates by offering better benefits along with more incentives and rewards. However, according to Grammarly, the most strategic way to improve retention rates is to start improving employer-worker relationships at the hiring process and not when they are already comfortable in their position.

If companies focus on keeping their workers for the long haul from day one, it could show employees the company truly values them in the workplace. According to Forbes, managers have to be welcoming and inviting to their new employees so they do not begin on the wrong foot.

First impressions can last a long time in the workplace, and if managers aren't respectful to new employees, it could automatically hurt retention rates.

2. Understand the company culture through employees
Getting employee feedback can be difficult for companies wanting to know how to improve general operations to keep their top staff longer. According to Grammarly, businesses should ask employees questions that will reveal what employees think about their company culture. Asking questions like why employees like their work environment, what does it mean to work for this company and why aren't they looking for another job, could uncover serious answers  from employees instead of the typical "where do you want to be in five years?"

3. Add flexibility to work environment
Young workers are constantly looking ahead, and the new generation of workers will take any bumps in the road as a sign for a career change. If companies want to keep workers longer, they need to introduce flexibility from the beginning, Forbes reported.

Having too many work rules can damper spirits and drive some of the best workers away. When employees can see the flexibility of a workplace in an interview or their first week, workers will automatically have a much better appreciation for the company.

4. Get new-hires involved immediately
When workers feel closer to the organization they work for, the more thought and care they will put into their work. According to Grammarly, employees that believe in the company brand and the direction it's going, workers will invest their time into making the business unique.

Managers should get new-hires involved in decision-making processes immediately so they quickly feel they are a necessary part of the team. While major promotions and other pay bumps can make employees feel more appreciated, businesses can also ask new employees for their input right away so workers feel welcomed and needed.

5. Clearly explain the company brand
Employees want to work for a business that has a clear company mission and when businesses share their goals with their staff – workers will feel more connected to the firm. According to Grammarly, the company brand is what drives great workers to an organization and when employees understand the brand, they will more likely to explain it to their friends and family, which spreads a positive word about the business and it could attract new workers as well.

If companies can clearly explain their vision, culture and values to new hires, employee retention rates will likely increase since workers will feel more involved.

Survey: Workers believe employers care about health, but could do more

7 Jul

A survey from Provant, a population health management company, recently polled more than 2,130 adults in the U.S. who were 18 or older. There was a total of 923 employees surveyed working part-time or full-time jobs which asked if the respondents believe their employer cared about worker health and the research found 2 to 3 believed in worker wellness. Employees were asked to rate how much they agreed or disagreed with the statement, "I feel like my employer cares about my health," which 66 percent answered "somewhat agree" or "strongly agree."

However, at the same time, only 25 percent of respondents said their employer provides any sort of wellness program, 21 percent said there are health food options in the kitchen or cafeteria and only 20 percent had on-site fitness equipment available for its employees.

Employees were asked to rate how much they agreed or disagreed with the statement, "I feel like my employer cares about my health," which 66 percent answered "somewhat agree" or "strongly agree."

More attention to human resources
Adding wellness programs to the workplace is something more human resources departments are considering when thinking about employee benefits management. Employers can save money on reduced healthcare costs in the long run by investing in wellness programs. Buck Consultants ran a survey of more than 628 employer groups and found the No. 1 motivator for companies to invest in wellness programs is to lower healthcare costs, Inc. Magazine reported.

Not only will wellness programs create healthier employees, but the employee benefits will attract talent and help retain workers since young workers want healthier options to improve their health along with their benefits, Business Legal Resources reported.

"Harder to quantify, but just as impactful, is the fact that your investment in your employees' well-being will jump-start their morale, loyalty and engagement – all of which is good news for their productivity and your bottom line," said Dr. Carmella Sebastian, a certified expert with the Wellness Council of America, the source reported. "And since the millennials who are driving the wellness movement will be in the workforce for quite some time, think of proactively engaging with them as a smart long-term investment."

Small gestures can improve wellness attention
Many companies that cannot afford to give gym memberships or have professional health coaches can still show employees that they are dedicated to their health and well-being. According to Inc. Magazine, companies should bring in fruit for workers at least once a week or make different activities such as runs, softball recreational leagues and outdoor activities to keep workers exercising.

In the winter months, employers should promote preventative care with vaccinations such as free flu shots for workers, the source said. Companies can also offer free bike storage or secure parking near or inside their building to get more employees riding into the office.

Workplaces should increase their involvement with their workers health to keep employees from missing additional days of work and having more health risks from unhealthy eating.

"We're committed to making the workplace a setting where tangibly improving one's well-being is realistic," said Candice Fioravanti, a health coach for Provant. "Removing barriers to health and wellness creates a dual bottom line for employees and employers. Together, they enjoy lower costs, enhanced productivity, higher morale, more effective talent recruitment and a strong corporate brand."

Micromanagers could hurt work productivity and morale

3 Jul

When a manager is over-controlling, employees could start looking for a way out of the business. Human resources have a responsibility to make sure employees have a welcoming and productive work environment. When it comes to micromanaging, higher-ups have to realize it could affect business overall.

A new survey was released by human resources consultant firm Accountemps, which surveyed more than 450 U.S. employees who were at least 18 years of age or older and worked in an office environment. According to the survey, 59 percent of the respondents admitted to having worked for or work with a micromanager in the duration of their career.

Not only that, but the survey discovered that continual nit-picking from higher-ups has a negative effect on the majority of workers. The study showed that 55 percent of workers who dealt with a micromanager believe the constant scrutiny reduced their overall work productivity and 68 percent admitted it hurt their morale.

"Bosses micromanage for many different reasons, but no matter how good their intentions, taking a heavy-handed approach typically hurts employee output, job satisfaction and, as a result, retention efforts," said Max Messmer, the chairman at Accountemps, in the press release. "Personally making sure every 't' is crossed might help avoid some mistakes, but the costs associated with failing to trust your team can have a longer-term impact."

Micromanaging and overall business production
While it's known that micromanaging can certainly have a negative impact on retention rates in the office, overbearing bosses can also create problems in the office workflow. According to LinkedIn, micromanaging can cause a higher-up's department to bottleneck when employees' work are too closely examined.

When workers begin spending too much time on their work to appease their bosses, other departments in the company suffer, which hurts the overall business production. Micromanaging can also make workers believe that managers do not trust them, which could lead to a lack of confidence in employees.

Managers need diverse mindset
Workers come in all different forms with diverse backgrounds, experience, education, creativity and performance outputs. According to LinkedIn, managers have to realize all employees cannot be managed the same way.

Many micromanagers have the mindset of "if you want something done, do it yourself," which can lead to over-controlling and demanding requests, the source reported. Instead of relying on their own ideas, managers should try to include their workers in more of the decision-making process.

According to Inc. Magazine, higher-ups who tend to micromanage should have their workers give their ideas if they have a better one than their boss. Encouraging workers to voice their opinion will help keep managers from making their own decisions all the time.

Another great practice for managers who could be overbearing is to make sure check-ins are continually set up with their workers, Accountemp reported in their press release. Employees should be regularly able to speak about their relationship with their manager and the best HR solution is to make sure manager evaluations are maintained.

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