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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‚Äčeficial. 
  • 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. 

The Best Strategies to Gain Honest Employee Feedback

14 Jul

Employee feedback is important for HR professionals to understand how well teams are running and how managers are leading their teams. Yet sometimes workers choose to only say what their HR departments and managers want to hear, instead of communicating about what they are truly feeling and seeing in the workplace. This honesty is crucial, because without the truth, HR professionals are unable to have effective human capital management. This lack of sincere communication can also negatively impact talent management and retention at the company because HR professionals may not be able to accurately identify the state of the workforce's morale.

Here are four ways HR professionals can encourage honest employee feedback:

1. Advise Managers to Be Truthful with Workers
Employees often follow their leaders' actions, and one of the best things HR professionals can do is to encourage managers to be honest when workers ask them hard questions. According to Inc. magazine, leaders who provide useful feedback can motivate workers to do the same.

2. Have Open Door Policies
HR professionals need to be open to receiving feedback, and having an open door policy is a great way to do this. According to Entrepreneur magazine, an open door policy means more than just leaving the office door part-way open – it means being approachable. Workers aren't going to take up offers to talk whenever needed if their HR professionals aren't accessible and receptive to the information they are being presented.

Entrepreneur also noted HR professionals need to reiterate that they have open door policies in place. Leaders must ensure workers feel as if they aren't necessarily winning time with their HR professionals, but rather believe it is a right they have within the workplace.

3. Listen and Acknowledge During One-on-One Meetings
Workers may feel as if they aren't allowed to say what they need to if their concerns aren't taken seriously on a regular basis. According to TLNT, HR professionals need to allow workers to talk during individual discussions and show them their opinions and feelings are valued and acknowledged. Employees may be more apt to provide honest feedback when they feel it will be heard. Every time HR professionals are presented with information – even if it is negative – they need to respond without becoming defensive and show workers what they are saying is important. TLNT noted it can be easy for HR professionals to discourage all employees from giving truthful feedback if they shut workers down when they give it. 

4. Develop Mechanisms that Allow Workers to Express Their Opinions
Town hall meetings and one-on-one discussions can give employees spaces in which to communicate their true feelings, but these ways to gaining feedback can backfire for HR professionals. Workers may feel as if they are setting themselves up as targets when they are giving feedback face to face. While these methods are beneficial, HR professionals should also adopt anonymous methods of communication that allow workers to think about what they want to say and for them to do so without fearing for their jobs.

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.

Rescinding Job Offers: When Is It Legal? And What Does HR Need to Know?

9 Jul

The hiring process doesn't stop when a company asks a job seeker to be on the payroll. Sometimes, there are issues that pop up after an offer is extended and recruiting for the job needs to start once more. Even the most experienced HR professionals have had to null and void a job offer to a candidate. There are many reasons why job offers have to be rescinded – here are just a few:

  • The company's corporate health is poor and cannot take on another employee
  • The business must reorganize its employment structures
  • The department's budget is cut 
  • The candidate acts inappropriately after the company has already extended an offer of employment
  • The job seeker doesn't pass the background test 

According to CIO, rescinding job offers increased in commonality during the recession, but it can still come as a surprise to many job seekers. HR professionals must be careful with how they handle taking back an offer of employment.

Employee management is as important at the end of the talent acquisition process as when new hires officially become part of the organization. HR professionals need to ensure they are following the proper procedures – both the company's own policies and the state's – to act appropriately during these situations. 

What are the Legalities Involved? 
HR professionals know they have to walk a fine line when it comes to rescinding job offers, but taking back an offer of employment is considered acceptable in certain circumstances. An article in Media Bistro noted that offers are simply offers and are considered to be an offer of employment "at will" in most circumstances. Because of this, it is legal to rescind most job offers.

The Ohio State Bar Association defines "employment at will" to mean "that, unless you agree otherwise with your employer, either you or your employer may terminate the employment relationship at any time for any reason that does not contradict the law." The Center for Career and Professional Development at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, an institute of higher education in New York, noted each state has its own laws regarding the legality of rescinding job offers when they have been accepted, but most courts have accepted the concept of employment at will.

However, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, an offer of employment is often seen to be an official promise of a job, and this has been used in court by candidates with rescinded job offers to win their cases. Cases have been found in favor of job candidates under the legal doctrine of promissory estoppel, which "supports a harmed party in enforcing such promises made." A court can also side with the plaintiff if it finds there was a breach of contract because the employment contract was signed by the involved parties.

According to HR news site HC Online, discrimination and misrepresentation of the company and/or position can also be brought up in court by candidates. SHRM recommended HR professionals only rescind an offer of employment after legal counsel has looked over the matter.

When Is Rescinding Job Offers Acceptable?
It is sometimes acceptable for HR professionals and their employers to rescind job offers. Internal issues like company reorganization and budget cuts can factor into whether the offered job is even available anymore, but HC Online noted external elements, such as if the candidate lied on his or her application, can come into play as well. Even the candidate's behavior and etiquette can end up impacting whether her or she will still have an offer of employment.

For example, Inc. magazine reported that a journalist wrote on his blog that he received an offer of employment at a newspaper. Although his editor assured him the post was acceptable, he had used the business's logo without permission and quoted the offer letter, both of which the newspaper said was not allowed. An HR expert noted that the company may be partly at fault in this situation, because it may not have communicated that the newspaper wanted to announce the job offer or that the candidate would be on probation.

What Happens When the Worker Already Left His or Her Job?
Yet one of the biggest issues with rescinding job offers is the problem of whether the candidate offered his or her previous employer with a notice of intent to leave his or her job because the job seeker accepted the new job in good faith. There have been court cases regarding this. SHRM noted some have been won on the grounds of promissory estoppel, and HC Online noted a large banking organization was found liable for a worker quitting his or her former job to work at the company and then having to rescind the offer of employment.

HR professionals must consider the potential of having to take back the employment offer. U.S. News suggested candidates provide a written acceptance letter and don't give notice of intent to leave to their current employers until there is confirmation of employment. HR professionals may want to ask candidates for a written acceptance letter, communicate about acceptable behavior during the probation period and recommend they don't leave their jobs or make any sudden life changes until they have confirmation they are officially starting on the job.

How to Build Strong Relationships with Employees

8 Jul

Human resources doesn't actively manage workers day to day, but the department is crucial to the retention of top performers and key talent at the organization. Without HR professionals' involvement in human capital management, the entire company can see high turnover, lost productivity and unmanaged benefits.

Yet HR departments need to be careful with employee management, as HR professionals who are unable to effectively manage workers' payroll and benefits or who don't speak with employees about their professional development can also be the reason for high turnover and costs. According to Time magazine, many workers don't talk to HR unless they have issues in the workplace. While the article focused on what employees should do to build relationships, HR professionals can make it easy for workers to approach them and build connections early on in the hiring process. From staying informed about a top worker's career expectations to ensuring all employees understand their benefits, HR professionals need to reach out to workers and construct lasting relationships.

Start with Effective Onboarding
If workers don't feel as if they are supported by HR from day one, HR professionals can have a harder time creating relationships with employees. HR representatives need to be involved in the onboarding of new workers to ensure they are gaining the information they require to perform their jobs correctly and be effective members of the workforce. Transitioning into the company needs to be easy as possible for employees, and HR professionals need to be one of new hires' go-to resources, which lays the foundation for a great, rewarding relationship between HR and employees.  

Check in with Workers Frequently
Many HR departments have few representatives available to work with their large workforce, but HR professionals shouldn't be afraid to reach out and speak with workers frequently about their progress at the company, any goals they may have for professional development and how they are feeling about their employment. According to an article in, HR professionals need to invest time in creating relationships with existing workers rather than simply looking to bring in the next big talent. Each HR representative can be in charge of following up with certain workers throughout their first year of employment, and then a couple of times a year afterward.

Ask the Right Questions
When speaking with employees, HR professionals should ask about certain aspects in the workplace to gauge employee engagement. From how workers are feeling about their careers to issues they see at the company, inquiring about specific parts of their work experiences can help HR professionals show they want to improve workers' satisfaction at the company and value employees' opinions. An article in Inc. magazine provided a list of 25 questions managers and company leaders should ask their workers, and HR professionals should take note. Asking about satisfaction with benefits, need for professional development and even qualities others may not know a worker may have can help HR professionals build a strong relationship with each employee.

Provide Professional Development Opportunities
Even though workers were hired for specific skill sets, that doesn't mean they are happy with their abilities or are fine with not advancing within the company. HR professionals know they need to stay informed about workers' career expectations, but they should also offer the right development opportunities and give workers information about upcoming promotional opportunities to help employees achieve their goals. 

Connect Workers with Mentors
HR professionals can put their networking skills to use by matching employees to people they can learn from. According to the article, introducing workers to company leaders and encouraging mentorships can help workers feel supported by their HR departments and valued by their businesses. 

Communicate Changes to Benefits
Perhaps one of the easiest and yet often overlooked relationship builders is reaching out about adjustments to benefits and compensation. HR professionals can't construct relationships with employees if they aren't effective at employee benefits management. Communicating about bonuses, new health care plans and the like should be a primary focus of every HR department, and HR professionals should ensure they encourage workers to inquire about any changes if they have questions.

Offer Training on Self-Service Software
Self-service payroll and benefits solutions are made to be user-friendly, yet HR professionals shouldn't leave workers on their own to learn these critical systems. These tools are made to make it easy for employees to take control of their information and benefits, and HR professionals need to provide basic training and resources on this software to ensure workers are using solutions effectively. 

Employee Retention Starts During Recruitment

2 Jul

Recruiting and retention shouldn't be separate – they are two sides of the same human capital management coin, and HR professionals need to ensure they are working to retain the workers they are bringing in to the business right from the beginning. According to an article in Business and Legal Resources by Max Lytvyn, co-founder of proofreading platform Grammarly, effective retention starts before people are even hired at an organization.

Yet this isn't always easy. Turnover often comes down to a number of factors, from inefficient managers to low salaries, so it's easy for HR departments to overlook retention strategies that don't take a specific approach to this issue. However, if HR professionals aren't able to find the right workers from the get-go, they face a bigger risk of losing key performers down the line. HR professionals must think about retention when they are recruiting by looking for talented candidates who have the potential to fit in at the organization and by offering salaries that are competitive. Setting the stage for high retention starts with an effective recruitment process.

This may sound like it is too generic of a strategy to be applicable in the business environment, so here are four steps that HR professionals can follow to ensure they adopt the right techniques to make this strategy work:

1. Begin with Big Goals
According to Lytvyn, HR professionals need to remember the big picture during recruitment. Lytvyn recommended HR departments have a clear understanding of the company's long-term objectives and vision to ensure they are looking for new hires who fit these goals. The direction of the business is important to know which types of talent to bring in to interview, and HR professionals need to also recognize which skills are needed for employees to move the company toward its goal. Lytvyn noted that as recruiters, HR professionals must keep their eyes peeled for workers who are engaged in the company's mission and overall vision as well as who have the abilities that will drive the company's growth. Finding these workers and bringing them in ensures that the company is staffed with employees who are more likely to stick around in the long run.

2. Gain a Strong Understanding of Pay and Career Expectations
Certain candidates may have assumptions about salary and benefits, and HR professionals need to know these preferences. During the talent acquisition process, HR professionals should talk to job seekers about their career goals and their salary expectations to understand right from the beginning candidates' professional goals. HR professionals know that bringing in a talented worker to an entry-level job but not providing him or her with professional developmental opportunities may cause the employee to start looking for jobs that do provide training and education and offer a salary increase.

Yet HR professionals shouldn't assume anything about workers' career goals. Dennis Hoffman, CEO of Engage Direct Mail, told Inc. magazine that he's learned that everyone is motivated to stay at their jobs for different reasons, and HR professionals need to understand these needs.

"I never know what's inside people's heads," Hoffman said. "I used to assume everybody's ambitious because I'm ambitious and that everybody's motivated by money because I'm motivated by money, and I've learned through painful experience that that's not the case."

HR professionals who don't know which workers want to advance and have higher salaries may not have the opportunities to keep these employees around. Recruiting is the perfect time for HR professionals to start understanding what will encourage staff members to remain at the company. 

3. Make the Transition as Easy as Possible
An inefficient onboarding process benefits no one, and HR professionals need to have a grasp on what new hires will need to get started at the organization. Many require training and need to have one-on-one meetings with managers to gain a good handle on their jobs' responsibilities and what is expected from them. If workers have a bad experience their first few days or weeks on the job, they may develop a negative attitude or start to look at their other career options. HR professionals can't forget how important onboarding is to retention. 

4. Anticipate the New Hire's Stressors
According to Forbes, one of the best ways to retain workers is to understand what may cause them stress when they are on the job. HR professionals can get a sense of what could drive new hires to experience job strain during the recruitment process by asking them questions about how they handle difficult situations and deadlines. The more knowledge HR professionals have about workers' needs, the better prepared they will be to keep those employees around. HR departments can establish wellness programs and other initiatives to ensure these staff members stay productive and at the organization. 

ACA-Related Updates HR Departments Need to Know

30 Jun

The Affordable Care Act continues to change and evolve, and HR professionals need to continuously update their knowledge of the ACA for employee benefits management. Here are three of the latest ACA developments that HR departments must understand:

Penalties for Moving Sickest Workers to Exchanges
Many employers have chosen to ask their heaviest healthcare coverage users to go on the health insurance exchanges next year to find coverage. According to Kaiser Health News, employers have been asking benefits consulting firms about this strategy for some time, as it can mean lower healthcare costs for employers and can often benefit the workers who purchase their own plans through the marketplace. Many employers have even looked into health savings accounts (HSA) or health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) to help workers purchase plans and pay their premiums.

This was a gray issue for some time, and the Internal Revenue Service has ruled that this strategy is not in compliance with the ACA's mandates. According to the IRS, employers can't dump workers on the exchanges and then provide them with tax-free cash to fund their healthcare coverage because these employer payment plans are considered group health plans, which need to comply with healthcare reforms. In short, the funds need to be taxable. Employers that don't comply with this ruling could receive a $100 a day penalty for each employee. Companies that still want to ask workers to go on the exchanges can instead up employees' pay, which is taxable, according to The New York Times. 

Developments in Reporting Requirements
There are also updates on the reporting requirements for employers. The IRS and the U.S. Treasury Department issued two reporting documents in particular that provide employers guidelines on the minimum essential healthcare coverage that need to be reported. The Information Reporting of Minimum Essential Coverage rule offers information on this for those companies covered under section 6055 of the Internal Revenue Code. The second rule, Information Reporting by Applicable Large Employers on Health Insurance Coverage Offered Under Employer-Sponsored Plans, is for those covered under section 6056 and 4980H of the same code.

New COBRA Notification Requirements
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) remains in effect, and employers need to comply with both COBRA and the ACA. Employers need to provide workers who lose their health coverage through the company with new COBRA general and election notices so they know they have the ability to go on the marketplace to receive health coverage, according to an article in Lexology.

Study: More HR Departments Offering Sign-On, Retention Bonuses

27 Jun

Many human resources departments are boosting their payroll management by hooking and keeping workers at the company through sign-on and retention bonuses, according to a new study by nonprofit HR organization WorldatWork.

WorldatWork's "Bonus Programs and Practices" survey found more HR departments are using these two types of programs than in the past. There's also been an increase in the use of referral bonus programs and spot bonus programs. Seventy-four percent of 713 surveyed participants have a sign-on bonus program compared to only 54 percent in 2010. Fifty-one percent use a retention bonus program, which is more than double the amount that did in 2010. Likewise, 63 percent now have a referral bonus program compared to 60 percent in 2010, and 60 percent have a spot bonus program compared to 43 percent in 2010.

According to the survey, these programs are strategic approaches to payroll management and talent acquisition. 

Rose Stanley, total rewards practice leader at WorldatWork, said recruiting and keeping talent has become a greater focus for employers, especially now that the recession is over and there may be additional financial resources available.

"The uptick in sign-on and retention bonus programs may indicate that the war for key talent could be heating up as the economy improves, leading to an increased focus on attracting and retaining employees," Stanley said.

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