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Reduce Stress and Boost Profits

6 Jun

Not all stress is created equal. There are healthy levels of stress that can be highly motivating and push employees to rise to workplace challenges. But too much stress produces diminishing returns in the long run. In a quickly evolving working environment, employees are confronted daily with increases to their workloads, changes to teams and promotion structures, ineffectual or unsympathetic management, and various day-to-day elements of working life—which can all lead to stress.

This is especially important for HR professionals to recognize. High stress leads to low productivity and strategic human resource management aides in alleviating some of that stress—like ensuring employees are not too pressed on deadlines—will turn out to be beneficial to the employee, the manager, and the business, which will see the financial results in the long-term.

The Economics of Stress Management
For many HR professionals, stress is recognized as a serious wellness issue. In a December 2012 survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), stress and mental illness were identified by HR professionals as their top employee health concerns.

The impacts of workplace stress are numerous. Stress has the potential to cause headaches, anxiety, substance abuse, high blood pressure, obesity, exhaustion, heart disease, and diabetes.

It is no secret that stress and depression are linked, as research suggests. Stress is both a mental and physical phenomenon. When we are overstressed, the body releases chemicals that compromise the immune system. It comes as no surprise then that stress, depression, and other mental illnesses are the primary causes of workplace absences, according to SHRM.

Factors like low job control, job insecurity, a lack of social support, work-family conflicts, and high-job demands have all been identified as potential causes of stress and depression.

According to SHRM, stress is the number-one cause of long-term absences—more than physical injuries such as neck pain, repetitive strain injuries, and acute illnesses like cancer and heart attacks.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 18.8 million American adults—9.5 percent of the adult population—will suffer from depression or a depressive illness. In any three-month time period, an employee struggling with a depressive condition will miss, on average, 4.8 workdays, resulting in 11.5 days of significantly reduced productivity on the job. It is estimated that depression will cause 200 million lost work days each year, costing employers between $17 and $44 billion in lost productivity.

There are many other impacts besides this staggering loss in productivity. High-stress levels lead to other negative, less tangible side effects, including employment disengagement, apathy, and high turnover and attrition—which all have economic consequences of their own.

When human resource planning involves employee engagement ideas that combat depression at its source, it will not only save the company money in lost work days, but also motivate employees to work more efficiently through the support and aide of colleagues and supervisors—helping the business to achieve a larger return on employee investment.

What Can Be Done About Stress
There are certain occupations that are associated with more demanding workloads and higher levels of stress. HR professionals need to prioritize stress management in those industries, especially the service industries. While reducing the workload may not be an option, there are a number of stress management options companies can pursue to improve their employees’ quality of life, reduce stress, and save money.

Many companies establish some form of wellness program. Typically, these programs include resources employees can access that promote healthy living habits such as dietary suggestions, exercise programs, and discounts or incentives at a partnering gym. Such programs enable employees to manage their own time and schedules and juggle the demands of various workload responsibilities.

One possible benefit from employing such a system is the ability to offer flexible work arrangements—by far the most significant factor in reducing stress. Some companies already offer flex time options, or “being there” time—a time management strategy that recognizes an employee’s obligations outside of work. Usually, flex time comes as a set number of hours that can be used at the discretion of an employee a few hours at a time, empowering him to attend his child’s school play or ballet recital. HR software solutions allow employees to log their own hours and track projects independently. Not only does this reduce stress, it improves productivity and employee engagement.

Time Management Leads to Stress Management
There are myriad ways a business can implement a flexible work arrangement, and the demands of a specific business will dictate the type and amount of flexibility that is available. Whether they organize a weekly lunch outing to destress employees or provide greater flex time options, effectively managing time will translate to a happier, less stressed employee—which in turn means good things for the business itself.

By changing mindsets about how a workload is distributed and tackled by employees, businesses can dramatically reduce stress by restoring control to an employee’s life—a trust that many employees will be grateful for and work hard to maintain.

Is Your Workplace Negative?

20 May

Negative WorkplaceToday’s guest post comes to us from Brandon Smith. Therapist, professor, consultant and radio host, Brandon brings an upbeat, witty approach to the challenges of workplace health and dysfunction. Brandon is the founder of – a resource dedicated to eliminating dysfunction at work, improving workplace health and restoring optimism and focus in the workplace. Brandon also currently serves as faculty at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School where he teaches and researches on topics related to leadership, communication and healthy workplace dynamics.

My Work Place is Negative

I get it. The last several years have been tough. “Do more with less… there won’t be any raises this year… you are lucky to have a job… we may have to close our doors tomorrow…” Working day-in and day-out under these conditions can get to anyone. A therapist colleague told me a story that I think captures this sentiment perfectly. Several years ago he had a client who was in a highly toxic, negative and abusive relationship. No matter what he did, he couldn’t get her to change her perspective. One day he finally came to a realization. Here’s what he told her, “I’m a very healthy person. And yet, if I were in the relationship you are in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, I would be just as broken-down, lost and as negative as you are.” Workplace negativity can get to us. To that point, here was a question I received over the past week from a reader that I think sums up many of our collective feelings of frustration at the office:

Where we work, the morale is terrible. Everyone is overworked, frustrated with our demanding customers and generally burned out. As a result, we are handling stress in negative and unhealthy ways. What specific tools can we use to change the negative and unhealthy ways we are handling stress? For example, I would like to put a punching bag in the back so we can hit it as a way to vent and then hopefully go about our business a bit happier.

To feel so stressed and frustrated that the idea of hitting something sounds like the perfect cure truly says it all. And to the reader’s question, what is the right solution? Is a punching bag in the back room the answer or is it something else? While a punching bag may sufficiently empty out the negativity from our veins, it doesn’t resolve the core issue. Negativity has infected our workplaces and unless treated, no amount of punching bags are going to fix the problem.

Stomping Out Negativity At Work

Below are a few different treatment options for eliminating negativity at work. Feel free to take them in combination. Daily doses are recommended.

  • Leadership needs to declare war. A critical starting place for eliminating negativity at work is for leadership to take a stand and declare all-out war against any forms of negativity at work. This can be the boss or a team decision. Regardless, those who lead need to announce that negativity is no longer welcome and they must be prepared to confront it at every turn. What does this mean? I’ve seen leaders who are serious about fighting negativity send an employee home when they become “infected.”
  • Make it a game. A second treatment option is to turn the negative moments at work into positive events by reframing them. In other words, make it a game. For example, I worked with an insurance company several years ago that had developed an interesting way to combat negativity at work. During the week, customer service reps would take a beating with disgruntled customers. At the end of each week, reps would meet and share their most difficult customer interactions. Whoever had the most difficult or challenging encounter won the “crazy customer” trophy. A huge oversized trophy, the “crazy customer” trophy would live at the desk of the rep who won it until the next week when more stories were shared. Games and fun competition can take a negative event and create a more playful team experience.
  • Throw out all the bad apples. Sometimes negative work environments are the product of a bad apple – an employee who is so negative he / she is poisoning everyone else. If there is a bad apple coworker in your midst, inviting them to leave is a necessary first step.

There you have it – strategies for eliminating negativity at work. Feel free to combine any of the above remedies. Take regularly and often.

Of course, if nothing else works throw up the bag in the back and wear it out. Who knows? You might find you have a future in the ring.

Why Onboarding Could Be the Most Important Process for the Success of Your Organization

6 May

Before employers can even begin to think about putting a new hire to work, it’s essential that they run an onboarding program to help newbies get acclimated to their work environment.

However, it’s crucial that businesses don’t equate onboarding with mere orientation training. While the latter provides new hires with the most basic of details on their new surroundings and job requirements, a true onboarding program accomplishes much more with an eye turned toward the long term.

An effective and refined onboarding strategy may prove to be one of the most integral factors that go into securing company success, generating a positive return on employee investment, and ensuring the workforce is knowledgeable and motivated.

The key to implementing a beneficial onboarding program lies in understanding the needs of new employees and balancing that with what the company wants to achieve through greater employee engagement and talent management. While it may seem like a banal chore to employers, with consideration of the talent gap in mind, advanced onboarding strategies have never been more important.

Components to a Successful Onboarding Program
Even though onboarding programs have evolved to become a more valuable employee engagement tool, recently, the basis for such initiatives is still drawn from fundamental introductory steps that employers have taken for ages.

These include simple actions like familiarizing new employees with coworkers and colleagues they’ll interact with on a daily basis, ensuring they have completed vital HR and employment verification documents, and raising awareness about company benefits. Creating a drop-in schedule to check in on progress during the hire’s first days, week, and month with the organization can also help.

But these are common steps to take that HR can do in its sleep; while they constitute the basic workings of an onboarding program, they do not represent the crux of a successful one. That added value lies in the strategic elements employers incorporate into their existing onboarding regimen.

For example, two guiding principles to a tactful onboarding program are folding the new employee into the corporate culture in order to foster talent development and utilizing the transition as a means to generating a return on employee investment that benefits both employee and employer in the long term.

There are several different ways in which that objective can be accomplished, like introducing the employee to the brand in an informal and educational manner. In order for employees to strengthen their brand through work, they must first know it like the back of their hand. By simply discussing brand image, integrity, profile, vision, and mission, employers can engage new hires and sufficiently immerse them in the brand and prepare them for meaningful work in the field.

New Tech Strategies Boost Onboarding Effectiveness
HR software solutions that automate payroll and other functions aren’t the only technological advancements that have spurred innovation in onboarding; increasingly, employers have turned to social media in order to welcome new hires and familiarize them with the company, its people, and its culture.

Especially considering the influx of millennial generation talent into the workforce, social media has become a primary channel for onboarding at forward-thinking organizations.

The benefits of social media-integrated onboarding structures are many. Employers and employees are afforded an interactive, personable, and casual environment in which to interact and build relationships with one another. Social media use also helps streamline processes and communications and makes new hires feel welcome and appreciated, which primes them to deliver to their fullest.

“If you want to enable those new hires to make a difference as soon as possible and fit into the culture of the company, go social: Give them the kinds of communication tools they are already using outside work,” Karie Willyerd wrote for a recent Harvard Business Review article on social and onboarding.

Onboarding Still Needs to Approach Greater Company Goals
Even though the onboarding process may be dismissed as a routine training program or taken lightly because of the honeymoonesque feel to it, in order for onboarding to be successful, it must reflect the goals and aspirations of the company.

This new and improved onboarding has become a major strength to employers, which have seen results when aligning onboarding with organizational objectives.

A recent investigation into the process of advanced onboarding published in the MIT Sloan Management Review outlined some of the ways companies can engage employees through onboarding while still focusing on the company as a whole.

For instance, connecting with employees and discussing their own identity and strengths and skills as people can benefit both employer and employee. The latter is happy because he or she feels valued as a talent asset and not a mere cog in a machine, while the former benefits from gleaning greater insight into the employee’s abilities and motivation, which can be applied in future initiatives.

Research, experience, and just about every sign there is point to a new age of onboarding wherein employers and employees are holistically more supportive and interactive. Better onboarding leads to better recruiting, retention, and return on employee investment. Advanced onboarding strategies are proven tactics, ones increasingly important to the overall success and well-being of the business and the employee.

Is Big Data the New Trend for HR?

12 Apr

Using Big Data for Human Resources RecruitmentAmid the many changes occurring in the HR industry, experts believe managers should focus on the volume of stored data to help with hiring needs and performance management.

According to Forbes contributor Josh Bersin, of Bersin by Deloitte, HR professionals should expect to see the use of big data increase over the next few years to help drive business decisions. HR software system providers are expected to start creating tools to help human resource personnel analyze and segment employee management data, added the source. So how are organizations going to use big data to measure business success rates and employee retention?

HR to Utilize Big Data to Understand Employee Performance
One of the benefits big data has to offer human resource managers is its ability to store, retain, and track employee performance within the workplace. According to Bersin, relying on a gut instinct alone is not enough to base a hiring decision on or choose whether or not an employee should receive a raise.

A statistical analysis conducted by Gartner measured the success of the company’s hiring and employee performance over the first two years for new hires. Gartner relied on educational factors, including good grades and college locations, when deciding whom to hire, reports Bersin. The group believed that these factors were key indicators on which job applicants would be successful within the workplace, but after those two years, the group was proven wrong on the demographic factors they were basing their hiring process on.

The top three things that had no influence as to whether or not a new employee was successful in the workplace included where the candidate went to school, the grades they received, and the quality of their references, Gartner research revealed, as cited by Bersin. So two of out of the three least important employee performance measurement factors Gartner was basing its hiring process on turned out to be irrelevant when it comes to the success of new hires and their company, he wrote.

Six Resume Factors That Account for Employee Success
According to the data, recruiters and human resource managers should look at factors outside of education alone to determine whether or not the candidate will be successful within an organization. Gartner was able to measure six key factors that highly correlated with the success rate of new hires and their employers.

The majority of talent success was reflective of previous employment opportunities listed on a job seeker’s resumé. With the use of big data, Gartner was able to identify these key factors that would yield a successful hire:

  • A clean, error-free resumé
  • Educational completion of some sort
  • High success rate in sales
  • Record of achievements in previous positions held
  • Ability to take initiative to get work done
  • Time management and multitasking skills

Gartner identified these key factors as big data information that can help aid HR managers and recruiters make the smart decision when hiring, reported Bersin.

Numbers Matter
Businesses are looking for HR managers to take on a stronger business role, reported Resource Nation. CEOs use numbers all the time to analyze business needs, and they expect HR managers to jump on board and communicate by using data instead of gut feelings or qualitative records, added the source.

But before HR managers take on the language barrier, they need to come up with a strategy to make big data work for them; otherwise, they will become swamped with numbers and no solution to analyze the mass amount of information. With big data, HR managers can track employee performance starting at the initial interview and throughout the course of employment, Resource Nation said.

The source recommends HR managers capitalize on the fact that they can create markers within these performance measurement systems based on time or achievements to accurately measure performance. These markers help managers see positive employee skills and identify what areas of the organization are experiencing a skills gap. Employee management software along with big data helps HR pinpoint qualified workers within the business to fill these positions and/or measure job applicants who will aid in business progression.

Company decision makers, team leaders, and business higher-ups are more likely to have a positive reaction to assessment data rather than a gut feeling, added Resource Nation. Numbers continue to help HR managers measure and analyze employee performance to help them make better, smarter hiring decisions during the recruitment process to bring in employees who will contribute to business meeting goals and objectives.

We want to know what you think about using data to analyze and strategize during the recruitment process and to manage employees. Do you believe it’s a better way to read and predict who will be successful in the workplace? Or should HR managers continue to rely on resumés and personal impressions during the interview process? Sound off on how your company is changing its human resource structure to integrate big data as a recruitment strategy in our comments section.


Creating the Opportunity to Benefit from Employee Engagement

3 Apr

Successful business organizations rely heavily on human capital to keep the business steady and strong. Two powerhouses that have equal power to positively or negatively impact the company’s success include the human resource department and the employees they manage.

Organizations need to develop strategies for a better return on employee investment instead of blaming other factors such as the business strategy or end results of company goals. Although both of these are important to have and understand, it is more important to build and maintain an employer culture that allows for open communication, no matter what level of the company an employer may find himself or herself in. The benefits of employee engagement are what keep the business moving along.

Strengthening the Role of HR
Before an organization can expect the employees to be open, give their opinions, and share new ideas, the company needs to have a good human resource management team in place. Businesses that struggle to execute a good strategy often lack strong personnel in the HR department, stated Business to Community (B2C).

Human resource managers need to have certain leadership skills and training if higher-ups expect to have good communication amidst the workplace. According to Society for Human Resource Management research cited by HR people, there are a total of eight essential ingredients needed to make a good HR leader. These eight characteristics from can be summarized in four points:

  • Knowledge: HR needs to know and have a good understanding of how the business organization operates on a day-to-day basis. It’s also important for them to know, acknowledge, and teach employees about the company’s mission and goals as well as help employees understand how their own careers and job objectives relate and contribute to an organization’s goals.
  • HR managers need to have developed critical, analytical, and strategic thinking skills. Brainstorming, the ability to assess and analyze without being biased, and being open to new ideas from others are qualities that make a good human resource leader. Performance management and human resource management software can help HR professionals keep track of skill gaps in the workplace in order to develop solutions to these problems.
  • In addition to listening, HR managers can often be the go-to leaders for the business, especially when it comes to implementing changes in the employer culture and office space. The ability to take on the leadership role at any given time is essential for HR managers, especially if all of the employees are not on board.
  • Honesty, credibility, and retention of ethical behavior in the office are the utmost responsibility of the HR manager. He or she ultimately sets the tone and governs the office rules and policies, which can drive the performance of the entire workplace. Orientations, trainings, and other meetings are HR opportunities to continue to educate and empower workers about ethical work practices and employer standards.

Once this critical role has been filled within a business, then an organization can look to reap the benefits of employee engagement.

Benefits of Employee Engagement
A recent survey from Temkin Group revealed that of the responding 2,400 workers, 57 percent reported that they were moderately or highly engaged in their current workplace. The study showed a 10 percent increase of employee engagement from 2011, added the source.

But what exactly are the benefits or employee engagement for businesses? Two stability factors were reported in the survey as benefiting both the employers and the employees.

The first stability report revealed that workers who acknowledged a relationship between performance and financial advancement were more likely to be highly engaged than those who worked for a business that offered subpar reward systems. Although the current economic state may hinder companies from shelling out big performance raises, they can still find reward systems to help motivate employee engagement. Unique forms of acknowledgement may include additional PTO or an extra few days off of work without pay—either way, employees love the ability to take time off and not get penalized for it. Career advancement, promotions, and additional training or aid to go back to school are other reward systems that businesses are using to keep workers engaged.

The second stability factor was that engaged employees were more likely to remain loyal to their employers. Retaining talent in the workplace can be extremely difficult if the employer culture is poor. According to the Temkin Group study, highly engaged, motivated workers were six times as likely to help businesses during the recruiting process, cited Now Associations. Happy employees are more likely to recommend a friend or family member to help during the job recruitment process, and businesses like internal referrals.

Employees who responded as being highly engaged also revealed that they are more inclined to work later, build their teams, and speak up about positive and negative work environment factors, added the Now Associations. As we mentioned above, good work ethics often stem from well-managed employees.

Companies that want to expand need to build a solid home base. Before an organization can successfully grow and take on more employees, new locations, and bigger projects, it has to invest the time, money, and effort to strengthen its human capital. The benefits of good employee engagement will then lead to a multitude of business opportunities.

Workplace Policies: The Good and the Bad

25 Mar

Workplace Policies: The Good and the Bad

Company policy at a California senior living community, Glenwood Gardens, prevented a nurse from giving a resident CPR, reported Bloomberg. The policy led to the death of the resident and a spate of criticism directed toward the retirement facility. This got us to thinking: What are the employee management strategies that help or hinder the workplace?

Bad Workplace Policies
According to the source, there are companies today that are discriminating against the unemployed during the hiring process. The long-term unemployed are being rejected during the recruiting process as some organizations will only hire applicants who are currently employed. Given the state of the economy, this is definitely a bad workplace policy. Washington, D.C., New Jersey, and Oregon are the only states thus far that have made discrimination against the unemployed illegal talent management policies.

Yahoo recently decided to install a new workplace policy, banning its employees from working from home. Yahoo at first declined to comment on the new workplace policy but later stated that the industry view on working from home is the right move for the business at this time. According to several business analysts quotes in the New York Times, if mobile workforces or work-from-home policies fail, it’s most likely because of poor management and not the employees. This specific employee management policy made headlines and received much criticism due to the fact that the majority of workforces are starting to move away from the traditional 9-to-5 office employer culture.

Workplace Policies That Work
Sexual harassment and employer policies regarding office romances are good employee management rules to have in place. If the workplace doesn’t necessarily address office romances, sexual harassment policies should be emphasized. Violators of codes of conduct can be fired whether or not the harassment takes place in or outside of the office, as was the case of Lucchesi v. Day & Zimmerman, No. 10-4164, ED PA, 2012, reported Business Management Daily.

This case specifically addressed a sour workplace romance in which case one of the two parties would not stop attempting to rekindle the relationship. After evaluation and the investigation by human resources, the defendant was determined to be unstable and irrational and proclaimed that he would continue to act in disturbing and disruptive manners in the office.

new workplace issue creating buzz is the stance on workplace bullying. According to the Charlotte Observer, over a dozen states have looked into antibullying laws over the past year. Given the state of the economy, many employees are staying in toxic and stress-filled work environments because the job market is so limited.

Workplace bullying is a problem that can drain employee performance, lead to a high percentage of employee turnover, and affect the business’ bottom line. Verbal abuse, threats, and incessant teasing by a coworker all fall under on-the-job bullying and may soon be classified as a legitimate reason for these abused workers to take their case to court. Human resource managers should make the most of employee management to address such behaviors, with or without a formal legislation in place.

We Want to Know

  • Have you as an employee or employer ever had to deal with a case of workplace bullying? How did your company handle the situation?
  • Does your company policy prohibit romantic relations in the workplace? If not, are there any rules or procedures employees need to follow if they engage in a romantic relationship?
  • Have you or anyone you know been subjected to unemployment discrimination?

Let us know on Twitter by mentioning @SageHRMS in your tweet or by commenting on our Facebook page.

The Importance of Valuing Your Existing Workforce

23 Jan

Value-happy-workforceThe unemployment sector has seen significant movement in the last few months, and some companies see this as a prime opportunity to recruit new personnel. Some companies are still in the midst of reducing overhead and cutting staff, so acquisitions like Apple scooping up Texas Instruments IT personnel after a recent mass layoff have been lucrative moves for organizations poised to make them. On the other hand, employee engagement may suffer in entities where focus is placed on bringing in new staff members rather than investing in the ones already working for a particular company.

Return on employee investment is a huge part of the planning that human resources management software is meant to assist with, as talent and performance management tools allow businesses to monitor individual and group progress. This in turn helps HR personnel pinpoint those doing the best and others slowing the company down, as well as ensuring that adequate training is being given to workers who need it most. By investing in existing personnel, businesses stand to see better engagement, productivity and customer returns.

Plans For The Future

Engagement strategies are an integral part of retaining and improving on top talent, as well as fostering an internal workforce of people specializing in that entity’s corporate culture. Building up those already familiar with how the business is run and its values will make them easier to cultivate in terms of what the business wants specifically.

A recent review of the 50 best small and medium-sized businesses in Canada showed that top companies in the nation experienced engagement scores of more than 80 percent, while less successful organizations saw less positive reviews. Much of this good feedback is tied to the level of interest businesses show in their workforce, the study revealed, as well as extending both full-time and permanent positions to their employees. By treating staff members well, they in turn will speak well of the corporation they work for and take pride in their effort, producing superior products and service in exchange for the service they feel their employers deliver to them.

Overcoming obstacles to engagement and retention are essential in order to boost morale and perform better as an organization, but finding methods to achieve that goal are more clandestine. There are a number of ways of doing that, and many of these can be accomplished without an additional expense to businesses that might already be having a hard time balancing finances.

Steps to Better Engagement

Assessing how employees are doing in their assigned positions is the first task to address with human resources management software, as this can indicate serious issues with basic functions within the corporate structure. It may be a simple matter of assigning additional training to those who exhibit the need for improvement, or it’s possible that placing them in a new capacity or different department could make for a better fit. Helping employees feel comfortable in their job functions will make them feel happier about the company they work for, and it will better serve the organization as a whole.

On top of that, supplying input and feedback as to employee performance will help workers know if they’re doing what they must and if it’s at a satisfactory level. Employee engagement requires that communication lines remain open, and offering regular performance assessments can be a critical part of this equation. Management should initiate these chats, and they must be a regular occurrence, or staff members may not feel that their employers take any general interest in them as individuals.

By encouraging more communication and an amicable environment, organizations can increase retention and employee engagement by making everyone feel like part of the equation. If people think they are essential to the everyday operations of the business, they will take more pride in the jobs they perform, knowing that their efforts are genuinely appreciated.

Despite what some may see as optimism and opportunity in the unemployment market, balancing the cost of hiring and training a new employee versus the return on investment that can be realized by focusing on the existing workforce has showed many institutions the value of the assets they already have. Expanding on internal options and building a better rapport with personnel could be the key to retention and engagement strategies.

3 Tips For New Hire Success

7 Jan

 Fast-growing companies often overlook the importance of proper employee training and development. Last year, employers spent more than $59 billion on training programs – a 13 percent increase over the previous year. As the dynamics of the global workforce shift, employers are demanding more and more highly skilled job candidates. But the ability to rely on previous experience and education is rapidly diminishing. Increasingly, companies have to deploy in-house training and development programs to meet the skill demands of today’s business environment.

It helps to look at employee development as its own kind of investment. If you spend money to develop your workers now, not only will your organization benefit from a more competent and qualified staff but your employees will, in turn, become more engaged and appreciative of your investment in their growth. At Sage, we call this idea the return on employee investment or ROEI.

There are some basic steps HR managers and development leaders should consider before implementing an employee training program.

1. Observation and Learning

While the fundamentals of talent development vary from company to company, a keen interest in self-improvement is a prerequisite. You simply can’t develop employees who have no interest in bettering themselves. But if that interest is already there, the initial observation phase should be easy for them. It basically entails “tailing” other team members to learn the ins and outs of the job.

Managers and co-workers should also be filling in the gaps where possible, clearly explaining procedures and practices that may otherwise seem confusing or counter-intuitive. The new hire should be taught how products and services are delivered, and be challenged to come up with questions pertaining to the company and his or her role within it.

2. Practice and Initial Performance

Depending on how routine the position is, the new hire should be given a chance to perform some of the basic elements of the job. If it is a sales position, for example, he or she should answer a few stock questions or perform a role playing scenario. This is a good time to point out basic errors, mistakes and oversights.

3. Shadow

The new hire should begin work on a given project or duty while the trainer observes their performance. While it’s important to make yourself present, you don’t want to intimidate the trainee. Allow them to assimilate in their own way. As the hire gets the hang of it, managers and trainers can gradually begin to back off.

How else can managers ease the process of training new employees? Let us know on Twitter by mentioning @SageHRMS in your tweet or drop a note on our LinkedIn forum, Human Resources & Payroll Challenges for Midsized Businesses.

Why Your Top Performers Are Jumping Ship

12 Dec

With a large number of companies starting to rebound and focus on growth, many businesses are letting career advancement fall by the wayside. Failing to give staff members incentives for promotions and career advancement opportunities could cost corporations their engagement and loyalty. As several studies have revealed, employees want to have upward mobility and benefits or payment incentives to keep them coming back. Failure to overlook these desires could cost companies their best workers.

Building Better Opportunities

As the unemployment crisis begins to wind down, some employers feel that coming up with strategies to entice new workers and entertain existing ones are not as important. On the contrary, as the financial sphere starts to get back on track, HR personnel need to work hard to ensure that their organizations are riding the crest of the wave, by monitoring employee engagement levels and making sure that workforce goals are being met. A strong emphasis on corporate leadership and culture will influence the mindset of uncertain workers, but giving them something to strive for is always a better bet.

The Society for Human Resources Management found that most HR personnel feel they’re on the cusp of losing most of their top talent thanks to lethargy in their retention plans. Knowing this is the case, it seems shocking that there isn’t more panic in the human resources department as employees scramble to create better engagement strategies, but it seems everyone involved is handling this with a level head.

The answer here could be as simple as stagnancy. In other words, while some stellar staff members may jump ship and find new employment, many will stay where they are either out of loyalty or lethargy, though one of these is far more desirable than the other. Encouraging greater understanding and adherence to corporate cultural messages can induce better retention levels among existing staff, so long as businesses find ways of helping workers overcome occupational stagnation.

Asset Management

With unemployment dropping throughout the United States, it makes sense that employers would want to ensure that they’re doing everything they can to retain the valuable assets they’ve spent time and money training and acculturating over the last few years. Allowing this process to fall by the wayside could cost them their return on employee investment as staff members dwindle and fall away to rival organizations.

Mercer reported that HR personnel are more concerned about worker engagement and career options than ever. That’s because with fewer quality candidates to choose from, businesses understand that a lost employee won’t be as easy to replace as it might have been even a year ago when unemployment was still a rampant issue.

People are staying in the office sphere longer than before, pushing the average retirement age even higher, but that doesn’t mean that these workers are available for hire. They are by and large already gainfully employed, and unless their bosses are making the mistake of failing to give them advancement options and incentives, it’s likely they won’t leave anytime soon.

“Employee loyalty has been eroding the past few years due to businesses’ responses to the economic downturn,” said Loree Griffith of Mercer in a Benefits News interview. She told the source that companies want to find ways of engaging and motivating their workers but can’t seem to realize that they need to offer them advancement opportunities and career planning in order to keep them interested.

Despite indications that the economy is turning around, businesses and HR personnel need to carefully assess their advancement programs and ensure they’re granting enough incentives to keep employees engaged. If corporations should lose the loyalty of their best workers, they could see themselves slipping despite the overall economic recovery, as their best resources will no longer be with the company.

Do you think your company is doing enough to keep employees engagement and top performers around?

Worry Less About New Hires and More About Training

5 Dec

Employee Training is Affordable Way to Improve ROEIMany businesses are now in a position where they’re worrying less about economic woes and more about how to expand their current portfolios, but to do that, a lot of them are turning to outside hiring practices to try and get fresh perspectives. The problem here is that many of the most talented employees have already been scooped up by other companies – with the unemployment rate dropping and many businesses sharing this expansionary mindset, plenty of employers have already scoured the system.

As one of the leading concerns expressed regarding IT and HR personnel, as well as a myriad of other departments, some businesses have moved away from hiring what they consider the most experienced candidates. Instead, they’re focusing on investments in workforce, creating better employees out of the personnel they already have.

The Power of People
Currently, a number of companies already have a large numbers of people ready to participate in training and other refinement practices geared toward improving productivity and overall performance. The idea here is that, instead of going out and recruiting a new set of workers, these companies are better off improving the quality of the resources they already have, since these individuals know all about the corporate culture, systems and personnel interactions. Rather than wasting time and money on bringing a new recruit up to speed on the very basics before even launching into specialized topics, HR personnel stand a better chance of seeing a return on employee investment (ROEI) versus a new job offer with internal candidates and increased training.

Focusing on ROEI can highlight a myriad of savings for corporations, making a compelling case against new hires, especially in a dried-up talent pool. The direct and indirect expenses turn in the business’ favor when balanced out, reducing turnover and boosting employee engagement. By adding to the value of existing personnel, corporations will see improvements in the overall quality of output from people who have been with the company for some time, but what’s changed is that they feel more like their bosses care, and therefore are compelled to do a better job.

Learning to Invest
Companies of all kinds can partake in these strategies. Whether it’s IT departments, financial institutions or retail stores, the ability to improve productivity and quality of work of employees can be as simple as showing an interest in those employees’ continued growth. By adding to the abilities of existing personnel, ROEI for employee training can outweigh hiring initiatives easily.

In light of this, technology retailer Best Buy recently decided to improve its existing workforce by showing more than 50,000 of its current employees more about Windows 8. As Microsoft’s newest line of software, the operating system builds on older deployments and makes these previous models obsolete, yet the programs are written for mobile devices mostly, meaning not all consumers will understand why they’re useful. There was no way Best Buy could go out and hire people with this knowledge – as a newly released item, the talent pool was barren in terms of candidates with in-depth experience of handling Microsoft Surfaces or Windows 8. Instead, the organization chose to train all its applicable workers at every location in the country. While the business could have hired fresh candidates and taught them the same information, it made more sense to boost employee engagement by adding investment strategies to current HR programs.