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A View of Customer-Centric HR

30 Aug

Most HR professionals focus their efforts on maintaining strong relationships with employees. While helping employees succeed is important to any company, HR professionals who operate solely for their workers are missing out on an opportunity to benefit an organization in other tangible ways.

One of the best ways to improve HR practices is by understanding that a company’s clients are also an HR department’s customers. By interacting with customers and improving customer relations, an HR department can create systems that help train, retain, and reward employees. Keep reading to find out how an HR department can evolve into a customer-focused department.

Change the Approach
In order to bring an entire company’s focus onto its customers, an HR department has to change its way of thinking. Rather than focusing entirely on the inner workings of an office, HR professionals should shift focus to include outside influences, particularly the customer experience.

According to Dave Ulrich, a management professor at the University of Michigan, a company can focus on not only being an organization that top candidates flock to, but also on acting as a company that employs people who draw in clients, the Society for Human Resource Management reported.

“Almost every HR practice can be filtered through the eyes of the customer,” Ulrich told SHRM.

He went on to say an integrated relationship among employees, customers, and an HR department is gaining in popularity, making it essential for companies to get on board with the trend before they get left behind.

Implement Training Programs
If a company wants to improve its client relationships, the first place to begin is with employee management strategies, particularly training employees. With sales- or customer-based companies, it’s important for managers and supervisors to train employees how to balance customer relationships with efficiency.

These training sessions should center on developing and maintaining positive client partnerships—HR staff can develop training packets and programs that show new hires the best ways to forge these relationships, as well as effective techniques to dealing with difficult clients and ways to keep companies coming back for more.

HR professionals can enlist the talents of top salespeople or employees who best exemplify customercentric traits a company is striving for. These training sessions remind employees of the importance of clients in their business and can improve sales and communication skills across an organization.

Establish a Positive Company Culture
HR professionals understand better than most how essential a positive company culture is to overall business success. When employees feel uncomfortable contacting their supervisors or have a negative opinion about their jobs, they are far less likely to succeed.

An office or employee with low morale may also be looking out for the next job opportunity. This is a huge detriment to a company—disengaged workers generally feel unattached to their jobs, and that translates onto customers as well. Although this is not an easy fix, HR staff would be wise to focus internal efforts on opening the lines of communication with workers, invite questions or concerns from employees, and encourage camaraderie between workers.

When workers feel optimistic about their jobs and engaged with the task at hand, they are more receptive to the idea of strengthening client relationships. By helping workers focus on client relationships, an HR department can greatly benefit a company. These improvements may feel like they are happening organically, as employees gain the drive to thrive in client communications on a regular basis.

Set up Rewards Programs
There are few greater ways to increase performance than through strong incentive programs. Companies can set up plans that financially reward strong sales numbers—a common practice—but can also set up systems that recognize the hard work it takes to improve client retention and satisfaction.

One way an HR department can increase client retention and happiness is by involving customers in the process. HR professionals can reach out to clients and ask them about their interactions with staff members who handled their business. If an employee receives a certain number of positive reviews, he or she can earn financial incentives such as bonuses, days off from work, gift cards, or tickets to a popular sporting event. The specifics are up to company officials, but the general rule applies that employees who have incentives to work toward excel in the workplace—including improved client relationships.

Learn More About Clients
Improving customer relationships can come from within a corporation, but HR departments that are looking to truly transform the way a company does business may want to enlist the help of current customers. According to the SHRM, HR professionals can go to sales meetings to gather information from clients.

HR teams should be clear that this is not an assessment of what clients want out of an experience and can stress to customers that a company wants to hear their input and include them in the process of improving product delivery and company practices.

Focusing on customers rather than employees can be a big adjustment for HR professionals, but implementing effective changes can help employees succeed and keep clients happy.

Dos and Don’ts When Linking Premiums to Wellness

23 Aug

Spurred along by large-scale health care reforms, wellness incentive programs have grown significantly in popularity over the past several years. Rising premiums and mandated extension of coverage has led employers to pursue cost savings through proactive talent management with health-based incentives. According to the Society for Human Resources Management, spending on wellness incentive programs has doubled over the past four years. Corporations are expected to spend an average of $521 per employee on wellness incentive programs in 2013, up from $460 in 2011 and $260 in 2009.

With such a surge in popularity, many companies are looking to adopt their own individualized initiative that links wellness to premiums. Navigating such programs can be confusing, however, leaving many employers at a loss on where to begin. Here are a few dos and don’ts for employee wellness programs.


Begin With Screenings
The first step to any wellness plan is to assess the current health of employees. This can be achieved through an initial checkup with a general practitioner. Doctors can measure weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure during these visits, giving staff members a general overview of their health. By using these results as a benchmark, it will be much easier to track individual progress made by workers.

For example, employers can extend incentives to those with high cholesterol that focus on reducing bad cholesterol and raising good cholesterol. On the other hand, those with good cholesterol readings can be encouraged to improve their health in other ways.

Link Wellness to Incentives
Once health assessments have been completed, an employer should set up incentive-based programs that reward improvements in health. One of the most popular reward systems is to decrease premium payments when health goals have been reached. According to the National Business Group on Health and Fidelity Investments study, 61 percent of employers offered reduced premium rates to employees who improve fitness levels.

A popular way to incentivize employees is to set up group or individual weight-loss programs. When employees reduce their weight by 10 percent, for example, they can become eligible for lower premiums, cash rewards, gift cards, or other savings. These measures spark motivation and drive to become more fit in the long and short term.

Communicate With Employees
Regardless of the benefits of a wellness program; it is likely that some staff members will resist the changes. It might not sit well with some who feel their personal life and health is beyond the purview of their employer. To counter negative responses and bad publicity, it’s important that executives or supervisors provide a thorough explanation of the plan and how it can positively affect workers.

Executives should hold companywide meetings to explain the plan in full and encourage questions from attendees. It is equally important to provide written explanations of the plan for team members, whether that means handing out physical packets of information or sending electronic versions by email. Supervisors and HR professionals should welcome input from staff. Opening the lines of communication can cut down on resistance and resentment.


Focus on Penalties
It is likely that many staff members will engage in a wellness program to save them money. However, staff should always feel free to opt out of fitness programs without penalty. Yet a Georgetown study found that some companies have chosen to create plans that work much differently from others.

The “Premium Incentives to Drive Wellness in the Workplace” report revealed that some employers are instituting programs in which deductibles are initially set at high rates. For example, companies have created programs where deductibles are first raised from $500 to $2,500. Workers can then participate in the program, and when they hit certain goals, their deductibles are decreased by $500 at a time.

This may be somewhat effective, but employers should expect heavy resentment among staff over increased rates.

Limit Access to Health Care
Another outcome of poorly developed programs is limited access to health care. When individuals have high deductibles and premiums, they may be less likely to visit the doctor for routine checkups or preventative care. An employer may not be directly stopping employees from visiting a physician, but such high costs may prevent individuals from seeking medical help when they need it.

Limiting access to health care will not only affect employees, but may result in higher absenteeism and illness among staff, costing a company money.

Discriminate Against Employees With Preexisting Conditions
When developing incentive programs for wellness, employers should be careful not to discriminate against workers with preexisting conditions. The Georgetown study cited one such example—itself a warning to employers:

At an unnamed company, a woman with Type 1 diabetes was unable to reach the Body Mass Index standards set forth by her company. Although she had been exempt from the program while pregnant, after the birth of her child, her employer reenlisted her in the weight-loss program. Her doctor, however, advised her not to lose any weight because of her issues with hypoglycemia and other medical troubles related to diabetes.

Her employer refused to remove her from the program, and as a result of her inability to participate, her premiums shot up from $175 per month to $320 per month. Programs like these are not only discriminatory, but may result in legal complications for a company.

When developing a wellness program linked to premiums as part of a human resources solution, it’s important to remember that employees should come first. Reducing health care costs will undoubtedly benefit a company, but in order for such a program to succeed, staff should always feel welcomed by a program rather than penalized or excluded.

On a related note, remember that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (PPACA) individual mandate will go into effect on January 1, 2014. Prepare your business by visiting to learn how.

How to Create Employee Engagement Programs That Work

12 Aug

A recent poll from Gallup revealed only 30 percent of employees are engaged at work. Disengaged workers represent a cost to U.S. business between $450 billion and $550 billion every year, according to This represents a crisis state in human resources management. While efforts to increase employee engagement are common, too many fail. Employee engagement ideas run the gamut from perks and parties to trendy initiatives like standing desks. However, without a solid basis in analysis and research, these efforts may not work.

Understand What Employee Engagement Really Is
While having a happy workforce is an admirable goal, it’s not directly linked to engagement. An employee who is engaged is one who feels committed to his organization and its goals. According to a paper published in the Academy of Management Review, employee motivation stems largely from internal factors rather than external ones. Workers whose highest-order goals align with their positions are most likely to be engaged. These goals are of the broadest type and include status, autonomy, achievement, and interacting with others. Savvy recruiters will try to match candidates to jobs using these goals, and managers can help workers become more engaged by highlighting how their work fulfills them.

As this study shows, employee engagement is a phenomenon in the domain of organizational psychology as much as human resource solutions. Insights about what employee engagement is and how to foster it may be found in psychology publications as well as industry-specific channels for human resources professionals. For example, according to the Harvard Business Review, giving employees a measure of autonomy and self-direction can help them feel more engaged, as can an active social support system at work. Adding an academic understanding of how to engage employees may make the difference between a successful effort and one that simply takes resources and time while only producing underwhelming results.

Realize That Employee Engagement Can Be Measured
It is common in the business world to assert employee engagement is neither objective nor measurable, according to Many studies have contradicted this, including the Gallup poll that was able to gather hard data on how many American workers are engaged. Neglecting to measure engagement because of the notion that it can’t be done will hinder efforts to improve it. There are criteria for engagement that are easily measurable—increased engagement can lead to higher morale and productivity, for example. It’s also possible to get a read on engagement itself, whether through anonymous surveying or another method.

Companies should measure employee engagement periodically. Gathering data before, during, and after a particular effort to increase engagement can provide insight on what works and what realistic goals are for the future. It is also important to make all information available to many more people than just executives. Individual managers can help with on-the-ground strategies to increase engagement, but unless they have data to guide them, they may not be able to be as effective as possible.

Make Plans as an Organization
C-suite inhabitants, no matter how good their intentions, may not really know what their employees need to feel engaged at work. For this reason, plans for employee engagement programs should always originate from several points in a company’s hierarchy. Managers who work directly with employees of all kinds should be consulted regarding what they believe their teams need and value. While there is research that supports many types of engagement initiatives, it’s also important to match a program with a company’s employees in order to get the best results. What works for one organization may fall flat at another. Feedback from middle managers and other staff can refine plans and ensure that all employees feel connected with the efforts in progress at a company.

Similarly, initiatives ought to originate from many levels and departments. A top-down program may be seen as an out-of-touch imposition, while one that has a grassroots feel may be more compelling. If it is possible to leverage employees who are among the engaged minority to encourage their colleagues, human resources professionals should consider doing so. Strategic human resource management requires a certain amount of creative thinking and collaboration, both of which would not be out of place in these efforts.

Continue to Measure and Improve Employee Engagement
Fostering an engaged culture in the workplace isn’t a one-time effort. Companies whose engagement statistics improve after a particular effort aren’t done with the task. Rather, it’s important to measure engagement periodically and address the topic before it becomes an issue. Integrating engagement initiatives that have seen success into the day-to-day running of a company is a great idea, as is including ways to keep workers engaged in management training. With research and planning, any company can help its employees become truly engaged, which will benefit everyone.

Helpful Ideas to Deal With Difficult Candidate Rejection

9 Aug

As any HR professional knows, the hiring process can be stressful. However, as difficult as it may be to find the right candidate for the job, it’s important to remember that job-seekers are likely even more concerned about the application process. These individuals have spent time perfecting their resumés, researching the organization, crafting cover letters, and preparing for tough interview questions.

After an interview, or even after electronically submitting these application materials, many candidates wait with anticipation to receive word of the outcome of their applications. Although companies may receive stacks of materials from potential candidates and have to spend a considerable amount of time digging through resumés to find candidates for the interview process, they still need to dedicate the necessary time to informing applicants when a decision has been reached. As such, HR must develop an efficient and comprehensive plan for candidate rejection to protect their company reputation and maintain fair hiring policies. Keep reading to find human resources solutions for managing the rejection process:

Always Respond
No matter the outcome of an application, it’s important to deliver the news to a candidate. According to U.S. News & World Report, employer silence after an interview is one of the top five complaints of job-seekers. The source reported that this silence comes off as “callous and dismissive.”

Acknowledging a candidate post interview is important for many reasons. When a company doesn’t keep up contact with candidates, it may receive an influx of follow-up emails asking for further information. Perhaps most importantly for the company, the hiring process reflects on the company. Lack of response to clients may damage a company’s reputation—there are many online outlets where potential employees can voice their dissatisfaction with the process, and a negative review may prevent qualified individuals from applying.

Despite this general sentiment, a report by CareerXroads Sources found that 50 percent of companies never communicate with candidates again if they are not selected for a position. This is disheartening for job-seekers, as they may be waiting for days or weeks to hear word from an organization.

Draft a Standard Response
Communication with potential hires doesn’t have to be complicated, and people would rather find a standard email from a company in their inbox than hear nothing. It should only take a few minutes to come up with an appropriate statement, as an HR representative can create a neutral message that sufficiently details what the decision was, why the candidate was not selected, and offers some appreciation for his or her interest.

According to HR Magazine, a company can simply thank the applicants for their time and tell them the company has decided to continue its search with other applicants. Keep this email saved, and when a company decides to reject an application, send this off as soon as possible. If a company feels an applicant deserves a more thorough response, it can always opt to personalize an email.

Consider the Source
Not replying to a candidate is bad enough, but when an applicant has been referred to a company by a personal contact, communication is even more crucial. According to the CareerXroads survey, nearly 65 percent of openings are filled through employee or personal referrals or are internally found.

This means that when a potential hire doesn’t get a response from an organization, not only will the candidate be offended, there is a serious chance of damaging company reputation among current employees, former colleagues, or personal contacts.

In order to protect the company name, it may be wise to personalize these rejection letters. A company can let candidates know that it has decided to go with someone with more appropriate skills or encourage them to apply to future job openings at the company after they have gotten more relevant experience.

No matter the quality of an application or the number of resumés a company receives, it’s important to remember that every job-seeker deserves a response. After all, they all took the time to write a cover letter, provide references, and worried over what to say in an interview. The least a company can do is acknowledge this effort and let them know the outcome of their application.

If you’d like more resources regarding hiring and recruiting like white papers, presentations, and recordings see our best practices and tools page or our Sage HRMS Cyber Recruiter page.


Best Practices for Streamlining Hiring

7 Aug

The hiring process is often a challenge for many companies, as turnover rates can be costly, and digging through piles of applications can be time-consuming. According to a report by the Society for Human Resource Management, a company with fewer than 1,000 employees takes an average of 29 days to fill an open position. During that time, businesses may be losing money from lost sales, disorganization, and productivity lags.

In order to improve hiring practices in any sector, HR professionals may need to make some adjustments in the quest for better efficiency. Keep reading to find a few tips on how to streamline hiring:

Think Ahead
It’s not ideal to be in a rush when looking for a new hire. Creating job descriptions and poring over applications when pressed for time will likely result in stress and may affect the quality of the search. Instead, it’s important to think ahead and consider potential openings long before they need to be filled.

A new hire should always fit into a long-term company strategy. One of the most popular interview questions is where an applicant sees himself in five years—to streamline hiring, a company should ask itself the same question and plan how new employees will affect this plan.

Draw in Top Candidates
Even high-profile companies have a hard time finding the right candidate for a position, and it’s usually because of vague and lackluster job listings. Many create job descriptions that are far too general and, as a result, receive a deluge of applications from underqualified candidates.

When creating a job listing, a manager should write up a summary of the position, as well as bullet points detailing the responsibilities of the job, desired characteristics, and minimum education and experience levels. Now is the time to be specific—think about the best qualities of current employees and the traits one would need to fit into a company’s culture.

It’s tempting to think that it’s positive to have so many applicants to choose from, but soon enough, managers and HR professionals will find themselves exhausted by the process. In reality, it’s far better to look carefully through a small pool of qualified individuals. This will greatly speed up the hiring process and improve the quality of submitted applications.

Know Where to Look
It’s not enough to post a detailed job description on Craigslist and call it a day. Instead, smart hiring managers know that a speedy applicant search relies on diverse job listings. HR professionals can post jobs on their company LinkedIn page,, Indeed, and other sites specific to their industry.

An HR professional can further streamline the process by looking for desired skills or experiences on LinkedIn and actively seek qualified applicants. By narrowing your pipeline of talent, you can dedicate even more focused resources to recruiting and hiring.

Conduct Quality Interviews
Once a hiring manager has found several qualified candidates, it’s time to conduct interviews. This step is obviously crucial to the hiring process, but as some HR professionals approach the hiring finish line, it is easy to make mistakes. HR expert Roberta Matuson told Inc. that one of the biggest reasons companies have trouble hiring is that by the time they reach the interview stage, they’re eager to get it over with.

Instead, Matuson says that when conducting interviews, “Really take your time, do it right, and ask yourself the question, constantly, ‘Is this person good enough? Is this really the right person, or am I just trying to end my misery?'”

This is also an appropriate time to administer tests. Before an interview begins, one can ask candidates to complete a brief test for grammar, math skills, identifying mistakes on a budgetary spreadsheet, or other tasks relevant to the job.

At every step along the way, an HR team has to commit to streamlined hiring. That means creating a job listing as soon as a position needs to be filled, keeping up with new applications, and bringing people in for interviews in a timely fashion. With accountability and dedication, a new hire may soon be arriving on his first day on the job.

If you’d like more resources regarding hiring and recruiting like white papers, presentations, and recordings see our best practices and tools page or our Sage HRMS Cyber Recruiter page.

The 101 of Performance Rating Scales

3 Jul

Performance rating scales are beneficial to every type of business. They allow employers to gauge worker progress and help employees understand company objectives. Rating scales are often utilized because they are generally easy to administer, are low cost, and create quantitative assessments that are useful for employees, managers, HR representatives, and even executives. Here’s an outline of what must go into developing a performance rating policy:

Developing a Scale
There are a variety of scales for management officials to choose from when structuring a system—which can make the process a bit confusing. However, once a manager decides on the appropriate measurement system, performance management will become easier and offer more insight. These are a few of the most common types of rating systems:

  • Numeric: In this system, employees are rated on a numeric scale such as 1-5 or 1-10. By using numbers, employers can track performance using a scale that is easy to understand for employees and managers alike.

Be sure to include rating documents that explain why a rating of “1” is termed as poor performance and “5” is above average. If an employer is looking for a more precise assessment, he or she can use a scale of 1-10 and assign each numeric figure as a highly specific rating.

  • Alphabetic: This method employs the use of letters as markers of achievement. Managers can develop a rating system in which traditional alphabetic values are assigned to each letter.

For example, an “A” would mark an exemplary performance, while a “C” would indicate satisfactory achievement.

  • Verbal Phrases: Rather than employing a coded numeric or alphabetic system, companies can opt to utilize a method in which phrases mark performance. One can use the terms “Unacceptable,” “Basic,” “Effective,” and “Very Effective.”

Because phrasing can be interpreted in several different ways, it behooves managers to define criteria for each designation. For example, it should be made clear that rating a worker as “very effective” would mean that the individual consistently produces high-quality work, has strong ethics, and benefits the company as a whole.

Selecting a plan doesn’t have to be tricky. Consider these three basic rating systems as a starting ground to assess employee performance.

Guidelines for Assessment
Once a method of appraisal has been selected, HR representatives and managers can decide on assessment criteria. Here are a few examples of ranking programs:

  • Behavior Appraisal: Managers can assess employee efforts by focusing on their behavior. Being a star employee is about more than just showing up every day and producing results—behavior can affect office morale and client interactions.

It’s important that rating systems take into account employee performance metrics, attendance, and qualitative benchmarks such as attitude. If a supervisor wants to understand his or her company as a whole, he or she can take these rating systems and rank employees from high achieving to those who most need to improve. Being able to see a clear breakdown of employee performance is extremely valuable and can help decision makers guide their company in the right talent management direction.

  • Trait Valuation: While the behavior-appraisal method focuses on quantitative data as well as specific employee actions, trait appraisal focuses more heavily on subjective qualities. Some criteria such as willing to make the extra effort can easily be determined and feed into measuring return on employee investment.

Supervisors can create a checklist with categories like helpfulness and dependability and mark off positive qualities for each of their employees. This method is particularly popular in customer-service companies, where human interactions are the key to success.

  • Paired Comparisons: This method compares each team member against the rest of his colleagues to develop an understanding of team dynamics and areas in which to improve on in departmental collaboration, for instance. Paired comparisons also provide managers with breakdowns that are supremely resourceful in trying to decide between promotion considerations between two or more candidates.

Whichever rating system HR professionals settle upon, it is essential to effective talent management through assessments that are clearly defined. Such strategies enable companies to diagnose their workforce and gain greater insight into employee engagement, efficiency, and productivity.

To Be or Not to Be—An Alert

1 Jul

1189820-bigthumbnailToday’s guest post comes from Don Farber. Don writes frequently for the Employer Solutions blog and is a leading spokesperson on the value of business activity monitoring. Don has over 25 years’ experience in the front-office and back-office software industry and is cofounder and vice president of Vineyardsoft Corporation. Don is a frequent speaker at industry events and author of numerous white papers on such subjects as identifying support rep burnout, enabling organizations to become more “data-driven,” and cost-effective compliance.

There are a few phrases in the English language that will live forever; one of my favorites is “Red Alert!” from the original “Star Trek” television series. When Captain Kirk shouted that out, you just knew something exciting was about to happen.

But did you ever notice that every now and then a young yeoman would walk up to Kirk’s chair and hand him some kind of electronic notebook, which he’d glance at, scribble on, and then hand back? What the heck was on that . . . his lunch order?

Personally, I think it was something important, like the state of the ship’s dilithium crystals. (Non-Trekkies may wish to Google that.)

The point—and I do have one—is that “alerts” come in many shapes and sizes; and before you start debating whether an alerts system may be beneficial to your HR organization, it’s worth taking a few minutes to understand what an alert is . . . as well as what it’s not.

Some people would argue that by definition, an alert has to contain minimal information—like a stop light, whose only information is “stop,” “slow down,” and “go.” I disagree. As an example, many HR organizations choose to alert managers whenever they have an employee coming up for annual review; those “alerts” contain a raft of employee information and performance statistics so that the manager can be well informed and ask the most relevant questions.

Other people would claim that an alert is defined by virtue of the manner in which the information is delivered. Thus a text message sent to your cell phone is an “alert,” whereas an absenteeism report sent to your email account is not. Again, I respectfully disagree. Many HR organizations dynamically track employee absenteeism throughout a month so they can alert managers if and when any of their staff are out of the office more than usual.

So—what are the unique characteristics of an “alert”?

Two things: timeliness and criticality of information.

Timeliness is an interesting concept because it can mean “within minutes” if we’re talking about identifying and alerting about an erroneous pay rate. But timeliness could also mean “before the end of this month” if we’re looking at employees’ accrued sick time. So in reality, “timeliness” can’t be pinned down to any particular interval, but rather must be defined in terms of “soon enough.” (And what’s “soon enough” for one business condition is “way too late” for another.)

Even more interesting, though, is an alert’s “criticality of information.” But as to what kind of HR-specific activities should be considered “critical” and which should not . . . well, that could spring a debate that won’t be over anytime soon. One easy answer is to say that something is “critical” if—by not responding to it—something bad would happen.

Unfortunately that’s not always the case. Sometimes an alert is critical for the simple reason that it is expected by the recipient—and if that receipt doesn’t occur . . . well, that’s bad too. And so, although the receipt of an “expected alert” doesn’t prevent anything bad from occurring, the absence of that alert can fail to reassure the recipient that “all is well.”

“Expected alerts” also bring up the subject of “reports and forms as alerts.”

Let’s say your HR department wishes to monitor employee absenteeism. If an employee logs excessive sick days, you want to alert his manager—and, you’d like that alert to include a report of that employee’s recent absences. So is the delivery of this information an “alert” or is it a “report”?

In truth, it’s both. It’s an alert that includes the contents of a report as part of the alert’s notification message. The same is true for the timely delivery of relevant forms and documents. If an employee is approaching that narrow window of opportunity when he can change his elected health benefits, an alert would be the ideal way to notify him about that opportunity—as well as to deliver the appropriate forms he would need to change his enrollment.

Even today you’re probably making more use of “alerts” than you might think. Automating the processes whereby you get the right information to the right people—and when it’s needed the most—is all that it takes to be an alert. Well . . . that plus setting phasers on “stun” . . .

To learn more about business activity monitoring and how your organization can benefit from increased notifications, view the Sage HRMS Alerts and Workflow by Vineyardsoft information page. There you’ll find white papers, webcasts, and data sheets that will help you identify trends or problems across your entire business as they occur, rather than hours, days, or weeks later.

How to Find the Talent You Need and Keep It

14 Jun

Strategic human resource management is the key to finding the talent your company needs, but it’s also how you will ultimately retain that talent and improve your return on employee investment.

According to data from the ManpowerGroup’s latest Talent Shortage Survey, nearly 49 percent of the 1,000 U.S. employers participating in the survey reported that a shortage in talent has impacted their ability to do business. That being said, there has been a significant improvement in closing the talent gap.

Last year, 49 percent of employers reported difficulty sourcing appropriate talent—a figure that dropped by nearly 10 percent in 2013. A large reason that more companies are finding better talent is a result of the increasing use of human resource systems and software to manage talent management initiatives that ensures employees are aligned and developed for maximum productivity and contribution to the business.

Changing Game Plans
Positions in the skilled trades and specialty professions continue to be the hardest positions to fill. As employers face job seekers who lack the technical proficiency required in the job, many are mixing up their strategies.

Companies are revising their talent strategies. In addition to implementing HR solutions to extend into untapped talent pools, 23 percent of businesses are prioritizing development from within by training existing employees in the skills they will need. Even more promising, businesses are recognizing that, even though a candidate may lack the necessary technical skills right now, hiring managers have begun to forecast an employee’s potential to learn and prosper in the workforce in the near future.

There are companies out there that realize that just because candidates may have everything lined up on paper doesn’t necessarily make those candidates a fit for the company. Quick thinking and personality tests are just some examples of how employers are assessing a candidate’s drive, versatility, and a willingness to learn and collaborate—intangible attributes that often matter as much as technical qualifications.

Retaining Your Dream Team
A recent CareerBuilder survey got a pulse on the ways employers are seeking to reward and retain employees on their payroll. Of the respondents in the CareerBuilder 2013 Hiring Forecast, a majority cited increases in compensation were the best way to retain employees. Nearly 72 percent of participants plan to raise existing employee pay, while 47 percent intend to raise starting pay to attract new talent.

An employee’s income is only a small sliver of the bigger retention pie. The survey also revealed that 58 percent of employers valued alternative forms of compensation, perks and add-ons that they found employees valued.

Yes, competitive benefits and opportunities for growth are major players. But one less tangible, but equally important, alternative perk is a positive work culture. Derek Irvine, vice president of client strategy and consulting at Globoforce, says he encourages HR professionals to stop thinking about retention in terms of perks.

Often, employers can create a positive workplace environment by showing employees how much they are valued with specific, relevant, and frequent recognition. Sure, a stocked refrigerator or a massage chair make for good talking points, but a reinforced positive culture at work is priceless, and it will become the touchstone employees return to in order to assess future opportunities.

To locate the talent you need and keep it takes a sound human resources strategy that is, perhaps, grounded with employee engagement ideas that reward the pocketbook as much as they reward performance.

HR, Social Media Becoming Increasingly Intimate

12 Jun

Human resources departments are becoming increasingly savvy regarding their approach to information technology and social media as HR software continues to become more commonplace at organizations around the globe.

In the past few years, the value of social media and data analysis to HR processes has begun to surface, persuading HR and IT departments to join forces and collaborate in ways not seen before. Yet the increasing importance of human capital management and HR’s reliance on new technology has made such initiatives critical to an organization’s performance.

“[HR and IT collaboration] has not mattered in the past because people management has not been seen as essential to success as it is today,” John Ingham, HR technology consultant, told Computer Weekly. “What you have is a huge gap between what organizations are doing and what they could be doing, in one of the areas that is becoming the most important for business.”

The Year for Social
In order to make the most out of that partnership to benefit the company as a whole, HR has consistently upped its use of social media. Already, Forbes has heralded 2013 as the “Year of Social HR,” as organizations and individuals mine the business possibilities of social media and find innovative ways to integrate them into the fabric of their recruiting, talent management, employee engagement, and development strategies.

According to a recent study commissioned by SilkRoad, 75 percent of human resource and talent management leaders admit their organizations’ internal and external social networking technology is lagging behind.

Forming a Social Media Policy That Matters
A social media policy is a must for any organization, and there are a few major points that need to be taken into account when creating a social media policy that will be of genuine benefit to the company and the workforce.

First, social media isn’t going anywhere. Employees are already coming to the table with years of social media exposure and experience. As time passes and more people who were drilled in social media platforms at an earlier age cycle into the workforce, a common-sense social media policy is going to become more and more necessary.

Providing employees with the technological tools and know-how should enable them to better perform, collaborate, and innovate—but that’s the easy part. While it is clearly beneficial to any business to engage social media, it is important employees operate within a known and clearly communicated framework to ensure the business benefits from facilitating social media interaction. Steps to take in working toward that goal could include formulating guidelines for social media communication, maintaining a professional code of conduct, and clearly outlining disclosure allowances over social media. Another point to keep in mind is time spent on social media. For example, how much time is healthy for an employee to spend engaging in social media platforms in an average day? Any guideline should operate as a forward-thinking, empowering policy for employees, not as a mechanism of control.

Second, when creating a social media employee handbook, invite and incorporate employee input into the drafting process. Employees are more likely to enforce and adhere to a policy they helped create. Evaluate your company culture as you go along and listen to what your employees are saying. If the majority of your employees frown at just the mention of a “handbook,” look for more innovative ways to make your policy interactive.

Incorporating conversational elements into an interactive policy platform engages both employees and clients. If it’s interactive, you increase the likelihood that people are being stimulated at a level they are accustomed to and perhaps expect from any thoughtful organization as a minimum.

How to Make Social Media Work for You
The recruiting power of social media has become, in many ways, common knowledge. But its potential to improve employee engagement has yet to be fully exploited by employers.

One of the most powerful tools inherent in social media lies in one’s ability to listen and monitor. Social media allows real-time, organic conversations to take place among employees, clients, and potential clients, conversations that can be observed in public for free, conversations that employers can join and interact with to improve business practices and perceptions.

To learn more, download our white paper “Social Media and HR: Friend or Foes?” from our Human Resources Best Practices and Tools document library.

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.