The NLRA and non-union workplaces

12 May

Non-union employers must take employee rights into account, even though they aren't unionized.

Unions are still important aspects of the U.S. work force. Even though the Bureau of Labor Statistics claims the percentage of the private sector workforce organized into unions has declined from 35 percent to 6.5 percent over the past 50 years, these groups remain an integral part of the daily grind for many employees.

In fact, as discussed on The Conversation, without unions, the fights to raise minimum wage and provide employees with paid sick leave wouldn't have succeeded or begun in the first place. Unions fundamentally help decrease inequality among workers around the nation.

After unionizing reached its high point in the 1950s, when one third of all non-farm workers were part of a union of some kind, unionization took a dramatic turn in the 1980s and 1990s. 

The NLRA and the NLRB
Today, non-union and union workers alike operate under the National Labor Relation Board and the National Labor Relations Act, both of which were created in 1935 to give more rights to workers. The NLRA is a federal mandate allowing employees to form unions, join unions, participate in "protected, concerted activities to address or improve working conditions" or decide against getting involved with unions at all. Section 7 of the NLRA deals directly with these rights, outlining all stipulations for employees and their employers.

Even though the number of private sector employees involved in unions has dramatically diminished over the years, the NLRA is still relevant to non-union workers. The NLRB is currently working hard to ensure that all workers, regardless of union affiliation or lack thereof, are able to get involved with the protected, concerted activities should they choose to do so.

As outlined by Lexis Nexis, protected, concerted activities are defined as actions taken by a group of two or more employees, or by one employee acting on behalf of an entire group, in response to any term or condition of employment. Terms and conditions of employment include, but are not limited to, salaries, hourly wages, working hours and benefits.

When employees participate in protected, concerted activity, it often involves protesting, formally complaining, striking, picketing or simply publicly calling attention to an issue the group takes with an employer.

What does this mean for non-union employees?
While both union and non-union employees are technically entitled to the same rights under Section 7, non-union parties may experience some differences. Non-union employees must be informed about their rights, as there are many situations in which an employer may try to control employee rights where it is not allowed to do so.

For instance, social media posting falls under the protected activity category. Employees are allowed to speak their minds on sites like Facebook and Twitter. In fact, in addition to being able to post complaints about working conditions such as wages, benefits, morale, office atmosphere, break times, overtime and more on public forums, employees are also allowed to talk about supervisors in a derogatory manner without fearing repercussions. 

However, any remarks critical of the employer's products and services are off limits. Section 7 prohibits employees, unionized or not, to defame their employer's reputation if the critique has nothing to do with working conditions. In addition, workplace and client confidentiality must not be breached. 

What does this mean for non-union employers?
When it comes to the employer side of the coin, the NLRB often favors unions, as it views an employee union enough of a security blanket to protect worker's rights. This means non-union employers may have a slightly more difficult time should its non-union employees decide to take action to change policies. The NLRB would have to be more involved.

Lexis Nexis recommended employers do anything they can to decrease the likelihood they'll have to become involved with the NLRB. It's wise for employers to review their current employee guidelines and policies, especially as they apply to common issues in the workplace. These guidelines must be just strict enough to comply with the NLRA's Section 7 stipulations while still offering employees enough freedom to discuss working terms as they see fit and organize as necessary. 

For non-union employers, obtaining a human resources management solution is a good step in the direction of compliance. The right platform can help companies better serve their employees and eliminate the chance the organization will violate Section 7 rules. 

Effectively administering and interpreting employee surveys

12 May

Administering employee surveys is one way to increase worker engagement.

Human resources professionals are constantly on the lookout for employee engagement ideas. Many companies use employee surveys to increase engagement, boost morale and find out what makes their workers tick. However, these metrics and statistics can be misleading and may even have the opposite effect if not administered properly. 

Do employee surveys work?
The question of whether employee surveys actually work is dependent upon the information a business hopes to glean and what actions are taken after results come in.

HR Zone noted that surveys are likely to be inconclusive or detrimental to employee engagement if no productive action is taken after responses are collected. This demonstrates a lack of genuine concern for employee thoughts and opinions. Even more detrimental is if a survey questions employees about pain points or areas in which workers need to improve and the employer takes no action. A survey implies a company wants to know how to increase productivity and happiness at work; when answers are blatantly ignored, workers feel as though they were led astray and lose trust in their organizations.

One way of measuring the success of a survey is response rate. As On The Same Page discussed in its Factors Influencing Employee Survey Response Rates report, the more employees who fill out the survey, the more accurate results will be. Again, this metric is largely dependent upon actions taken in the past after surveys. The report noted when a company with 800 employees administered a survey three separate times, response rates decreased dramatically due to lack of action on the part of the employer after obtaining results. The first survey returned responses from 87 percent of the company. The second, only 76 percent. By the third try, only 67 percent of employees replied. This shift occurs when businesses can't effectively interpret data or strategize effective responses.

To garner the most cohesive data and largest number of responses, businesses should consider the following tactics:

Timing
A larger number of employees will reply to a survey with a lengthy response period. However, it should be noted that the first three days will typically see the highest level of responses before dropping off dramatically. On the Same Page suggested leaving participation open for up to three weeks and sending out periodical reminders for stragglers in that time frame. 

Method
The most valuable method for administering surveys is in a large group setting. Getting workers together and handing out a survey to be completed in a specific time frame can yield a response rate between 80 percent and 90 percent. The next most effective method is email, which gives employees more flexibility and privacy.

Types of questions
HR Zone stated that to get the most productive responses from people, questions must center around the following areas:

  • Autonomy and personal development
  • Rewards and recognition
  • Motivation
  • Performance management
  • Trust and relationships
  • Well-being and involvement 

These are the only topics that will give solid insight into how workers are genuinely feeling about their positions at a company. 

Interaction
Businesses cannot expect employees to happily engage with a survey if team members don't know why it's being sent out, where the information will go or how it will affect their position. HR professionals must clearly communicate the reason for the survey and what the company hopes to do with the information. HR also should let employees know when to expect the questionnaire and follow up throughout the administration process to ensure people are responding accordingly. 

Action on all levels
The impact of taking action after administering a survey cannot be understated. Employees need to know supervisors and HR personnel on all levels are concerned with the thoughts contributed through the questionnaire. Even if there are only small changes that need to be made, upper- and mid-level management alike need to work together to make necessary changes. 

Avoiding class action lawsuits due to FCRA violations

8 May

Employers need to ensure they comply with FCRA guidelines when hiring new employees.

Employers must be certain their hiring and recruiting practices are compliant with state and federal regulations. Failure to provide the correct documentation or paperwork to new employees could result in fines or worse - a lawsuit. Personnel management software can help companies avoid landing themselves in hot water during hiring. 

Recently, there has been a wave of class action lawsuits against large companies for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The Federal Trade Commission outlined the FCRA, which states any business planning to conduct a background check on prospective employees must notify the applicant that such action will be taken through a written document. Most businesses obtain consumer reports on prospective employees; consumer reports are part of the background check process. A consumer report delivers information on an applicant's criminal history, contact information and education. This information is often used to corroborate the items on the applicant's resume and identify any potential red flags that would affect the applicant's ability to perform his or her duties well.

If an applicant does not land a position due to some piece of information gleaned from the consumer report, these details must also be shared with the applicant in a standalone document.
In the past few months, there have been large class action lawsuits brought against employers by applicants claiming to have never received standalone disclosure authorization forms. Many have stated these authorization forms were embedded into other paperwork the applicant signed during the hiring process.

Recent court cases
Michaels Stores Inc., Paramount Pictures Corporation, Express Services, Inc. and Whole Foods are just a handful of the employers under fire these days, according to Employee Screen. The site also stated that businesses like K-Mart, Dollar General and Domino's Pizza have paid millions of dollars in settlements for violating these regulations. Law 360 stated violations could result in a business paying an applicant no less than $100 and no more than $1,000 for each violation depending on the severity and complexity of each individual case.

It's unclear - and varies on a case-by-case basis - exactly whether businesses are aware of their violations ahead of time or make the mistakes that land them in court on accident. In looking over the cases presently in court or recently ruled, its clear companies need to revamp their background check processes to guarantee they are compliant with state and federal regulations.

Here are several things employers can do to ensure they avoid falling into the class action lawsuit trend and paying millions in fines:

  • Talk to a legal expert: No matter what research has been done, it's worth consulting with a legal expert on the language used on disclosure forms. 
  • Review disclosure forms: As the FCRA requires both a disclosure and an authorization form, it's a good idea to taking another look at the businesses's current practices. Make sure the documents or terminology aren't outdated or no longer relevant. 
  • Triple check signatures: Without a signature on both forms, a background check cannot be administered. In an ideal world, the applicant would also add the date next to the signature. 

Personnel management software can help businesses maintain compliance for background checks, applicant interviews and much more. It's the perfect compliment to an already stellar human resources team.  

The positive influence of rounding on employee morale

27 Apr

Rounding is a powerful tool that HR professionals can use to better understand employee needs.

Human resources professionals can improve employee management and engagement by using a tactic called rounding.

What is rounding?
Rounding is defined by Capstone Leadership Solutions as the act of meeting with employees, either in small groups or one-on-one, to discuss thoughts, concerns and praise about current business practices. It is proactive leadership aimed at improving employee-employer relationships. Often used in health care facilities to ensure patient safety, rounding is an excellent tool management and HR can use to improve performance and build trust among workers.

Why is rounding important?
Rounding is important because it establishes loyalty among employees and their team members, supervisors and corporations as a whole. It's also a good way to boost morale. Workers want to know they are valued and contribute meaningful work to an organization. When a senior member of the company engages employees in honest conversation, that effort demonstrates a genuine interest in the work being done.

In addition, personal conversations increase leader visibility and thus, transparency. No one likes being left in the dark when it comes to changes or updates at a company. Leadership engaging with entry- and mid-level employees boosts trust throughout a business.

This type of interaction also improves employee value proposition, which is the views current and prospective employees hold of a particular employer. If workers feel mistreated, deprived of fulfilling work or like there is no room for growth at an organization, they'll be disgruntled and pass that information on to others. However, if HR engages in rounding, it can more easily spot these trouble areas and work with employees to fix them.

Without rounding, key issues with client relationships or talent development may go unnoticed. Employees could feel uncomfortable bringing up specific client issues with supervisors in front of others; instead, a private meeting may be the best setting to openly discuss problems and then work toward positive solutions. 

How to perform rounding in the workplace
Southern Ohio Medical Center stated there are strategies businesses can implement to get the most out of rounding efforts. The following are several tips for HR professionals looking to either establish a rounding practice or enhance the one currently in place:

  • Schedule: It's important to set a time and place for rounding meetings, as this solidifies investment in the process. Make sure this time works for all parties involved. The Medical University of South Carolina recommended allotting 10- 15 minutes for a rounding session, though depending on the employee or topics at hand, rounding could extend well beyond this timeframe. 
  • Follow through: Be on time to a scheduled rounding meeting. This shows respect and instills confidence in employees that their opinions matter to leaders. 
  • Ask open-ended questions: Initiate the conversation with a question designed to bring about deeper conversation. Yes or no questions defeat the purpose of successful rounding. 
  • Don't ignore equipment: While pertinent to the medical industry for sure, its worth inquiring if employees in any industry have all the tools they need to effectively do their jobs. 
  • Follow up: Check back in with team members after rounding. Follow up on key discussion points or plans of action. 

Rounding is a powerful tool HR departments can use to better engage and connect with employees. 

Understanding and implementing employee value propositions

27 Apr

Employee value propositions help candidates decide where they want to work and why.

Human resources professionals must develop strong employee value propositions to attract and retain the best candidates. This employee-centric theory influences where people desire to work most, how badly they want to be part of a particular company and why.

According to a white paper by Recruiting.com, EVP is the collection of all appealing features that make candidates want to work for a business. These include, but aren't limited to:

  • Benefits: Healthcare, vision, dental, life insurance, 401​(k)
  • Rewards: Public recognition, internal contests, challenging assignments
  • Salary: Starting salary, growth potential, bonuses
  • Culture: Engaging teams, company outings, growth potential
  • Programs: Wellness, vacation time, training, development   

The key to understanding EVP is recognizing it comes from the perspective of the employees and potential recruits. It has little to do with the way HR values the offers available to workers. Even if HR finds programs suitable, it's the employees who are involved in and directly affected by these programs. When in doubt, define EVP by listing all the characteristics an employee would brag about to his or her friends when asked, "Where do you work?"

Why should employers care about EVP?
Without a compelling and positive EVP, it's incredibly difficult to recruit and retain employees.

When it comes to recruitment, finding the best talent means offering the top industry performers job positions they cannot refuse. A company that appeals to candidates on multiple levels will fare better in their job searches than one meeting only a few criteria.

In terms of retention, the Corporate Leadership Council found new hire commitment increased up to 29 percent for those companies with strong EVPs. A positive EVP also saved corporations money by cutting newly hired employees' compensation premiums in half. Plus, a positive impression of benefits and company culture may reduce the number of candidates who lose interest in an organization based solely on the salary offered. 

Examining EVP helps HR professionals revamp their recruitment and retention practices. It's often difficult to know why certain tactics work for recruitment and others fall short. By developing a strong EVP and analyzing employee feedback on the company culture and benefits, HR professionals can better manage their departments and hire top talent.

A good EVP standing can also reinvigorate current employees. If cohesive and in-depth training and development programs exist, employees are much more inclined to not only enjoy their work but also enhance their performances and grow confident in their roles at a company. This concept builds trust among employees and helps facilitate a healthy work culture. 

How to improve EVP?
Any HR professional looking for a way to enhance the EVP of an organization needs only to begin with current data. Edelman, a public relations firm, encouraged businesses to survey employees to find out what drew them to the business and why they've stayed. Ask them where the company can improve and what benefits may be lacking. It's crucial to involve everyone from senior management down through entry-level positions, as all input is incredibly valuable. After dissecting this data, identify the key areas in need of improvement and implement programs to boost those departments. 

Investing in employee management systems can help HR professionals track their progress working with EVP and improving the employee experience for current and prospective workers. 

The pros and cons of offering employees unlimited PTO

27 Apr

Giving employees unlimited PTO could be a strong strategy to improve morale and productivity.

Many businesses these days are considering offering employees unlimited vacation days. Several prominent companies like Netflix and Groupon already give workers as much paid time off as they need. If a corporation is up in the air over whether to take a plunge into the world of unlimited PTO, it's time to weigh the pros and cons of such a decision and learn from others' experiences.

Who is currently offering unlimited PTO?
According to a study conducted by The Society for Human Resource Management, only about 1 percent of companies give their employees unlimited PTO. While some of these are large corporations, others are start-ups or companies experiencing exponential growth that wish to take a more innovative approach to company culture.

It should be noted too that 40 percent of Americans working at businesses with strict or limited vacation policies are still leaving days available at the end of the year. This may be due to the fact that employees aren't sure how employers feel about their taking time off. SHRM noted that two-thirds of U.S. workers experience misleading or negative messages about taking time off.

Inc. magazine also reported that most American workers do not aspire to leadership roles with more responsibilities than their current positions because they strongly value personal time. This is the age of perfecting the work-life balance, and employers must respond accordingly.

What are the pros?
The rationale behind implementing a policy that entitles employees to as many vacation days as needed is simple: Decrease stress, increase productivity. Inc. emphasized the fact that the number of days off each person needs over the course of a year changes depending on health, personal and familial issues. Rather than grow anxious about taking vacation time to have surgery or help out a family member, businesses want their employees to feel comfortable leaving and coming back to work as needed.

Plus, an organization that trusts its workers to take responsibility for assignments increases loyalty. When employees feel more responsible to their team members, rather than just the corporation as a whole, they make the effort to ensure all bases are covered before taking off for a day or two.

Unlimited PTO can also save businesses money and human resources professionals' precious time. Ask.com, another company implementing this type of vacation policy, told SHRM over the course of a single year it saves 52 hours of administrative HR time. A recent Gallup study predicted businesses lose between $450 billion and $550 billion every year due to disengaged employees' behavior. One solution to this lack of enthusiasm is time away from work, which can feel like hitting the refresh button upon returning to the office.

Finally, there's the case of the millennial applicant. The younger generations are keen on maintaining healthy work-life balances and are also not used to the corporate work week schedule. In fact, in an Ask.com survey of 2,024 people, 69 percent claimed they would be more likely to take a job if it offered unlimited PTO. While millennials certainly want freedom, they enjoy working for businesses that support their lifestyle and personal values. Companies that offer uncapped or flexible PTO options may be more appealing to this emerging workforce. 

What are the cons?
Unlimited PTO is certainly not the right move for every business. There are drawbacks to this set-up that companies should be aware of, including backlash from employees.

SHRM reported that when the Los Angeles Times attempted an unlimited PTO policy, many staffers who had been at the company a long time expressed anger and hurt, as they had saved up many vacation days over the years to cash in on just before leaving the company for good. The situation could have potentially caused a rift between new and existing employees. The same could happen between departments at the same company. Depending on the nature of the corporation, some workers may just have to be present more often than others. If one department can more easily take advantage of unlimited PTO, it poses the potential for tension between teams. 

In addition, if a business is only comprised of a small group of employees or all workers are paid an hourly wage, unlimited PTO may not be the best solution. 

Companies can better manage their employees' PTO schedules, communicate changes to PTO policies and support workers at all stages of the employee life cycle with employee management software

Retooling and improving performance reviews at the end of 1Q

21 Apr

At the close of Q1, it's time for businesses to rethink the way they handle performance reviews.

Performance reviews in some capacity are necessary for business growth and talent development. Traditionally, performance evaluations have been completed annually, though many companies are opting to revamp their tactics and review employees more regularly throughout the year. As the first quarter winds down, businesses should be asking themselves whether evaluations are necessary at this juncture.

Performance tracking is still relevant 
While performance reviews tend to elicit feelings of anxiety in both reviewers and their workers, they are still relevant and important in the workplace. CPS Recruiter stated these discussions improve career-planning decisions for both the business and its employees.

Many corporations have goals that need to be met by the conclusion of each quarter. Some businesses or departments rely more heavily on this schedule than others. Sales teams, for example, must have a successful first quarter to get off to a running start for the rest of the year. Sales Training Connection stated sales managers must take time at the end of each quarter, and the first quarter most importantly, to assess the progress and performance of the team as a whole and individuals involved.

Other teams can take a page from the sales manager's book and administer reviews when the first quarter has finished to ensure employees are not establishing bad habits early on. Every team member likely has a routine that he or she follows when approaching a project. If this system is producing less-than-stellar results, it needs to be addressed before it becomes engrained and habitual.

Revamping the evaluation process
It's becoming more evident each year that the current performance evaluation system isn't working for many employers. An annual, all-encompassing discussion is at once not enough and too much. It causes a great deal of stress on human resources and wastes millions of hours, according to a Deloitte survey. Fifty-eight percent of respondents considered their current approach lackluster when it came to increasing employee engagement or improving performance. A system taking up too many resources while providing ineffective results needs to change. 

One alternative to the annual review is an ongoing, project-based approach to offering feedback. Rather than summing up an employee's entire year, managers can take a moment each quarter or at the conclusion of a major project to identify what the employee has done well and where he or she can improve. The research group came up with four key questions managers should be asking themselves in preparation for the review to best assess performance:

  1. Given what I know about this employee's performance, and if it were my money, would I pay this person the highest salary possible and include a bonus?
  2. Given what I know about this employee's performance, would I always choose him or her to be on my team?
  3. Do I think this person is at risk for low performance?
  4. Do I think this person is ready for promotion today?

These inquiries set up management and human resources professionals for more productive feedback to offer team members. Employee management software can help businesses formulate more meaningful performance review processes and policies, ensuring workers remain engaged, challenged and contributing members of the organization. 

Revamping performance reviews to increase employee engagement

20 Apr

HR professionals need to review their own processes throughout the year to ensure employee engagement.

Employee reviews are critical to career development and business growth. Human resources professionals must examine the review process closely, as many companies tend to use the same methods for performance evaluations year in and year out. Revamping reviews can enhance employee engagement

The power of inclusion
Feedback is certainly a powerful tool in that it clarifies exactly what tactics are working for an employee and which ones need improvement to keep up with performance standards. However, Inc. magazine noted that simply administering feedback to employees isn't always enough to convey their importance in relation to the entire company. In fact, workers who are given an equal combination of autonomy and responsibility to make decisions feel more valued in their roles.

Fast Company reported that when employees are asked to make decisions that directly influence their work and that of their peers, a greater sense of community and well-being begins to build. Happy employees are more productive and contribute stronger work to their organizations because they see the results of their efforts. 

Rather than reviewing an employee from only one side of the table, HR should consider turning the process into a conversation. Offering the employee a chance to evaluate his or her performance before listening to outside input can establish a stronger relationship between worker and employer. This action demonstrates trust and interest in fostering that employee's success. Whether beginning the review by asking employees to discuss their work or sending out planned review questions ahead of time, this approach gives workers a greater sense of control over their positions and their ability to improve.

Once may not be enough
Business Insider encouraged companies to think outside of the box and review employees more frequently so that any negative observations are addressed sooner rather than later. Surprising employees with the news that their performances have been less than acceptable for a long period of time will immediately question their future with the company and how highly they are valued by supervisors.

The negative effects of comparing and contrasting
It's hard not to measure oneself against peers; bosses and HR professionals must be sensitive to the fact that team members may already be in silent competition with one another. It doesn't help to compare any employee to another, particularly during a performance review. Instead, it's a good idea to narrow the focus to the employee under review and his or her strengths. What does this person bring to the table that no one else does? How are contributions made in meetings conducive to growing the business? 

In the same vein, if it seems a team member is not fitting in with others, avoid discussing the situation in a negative light. Explore how this person's unique perspective can contribute to the team's assignments. 

A robust human resources management software platform provides HR professionals with the tools they need to develop the most productive method of conducting performance reviews possible.

Monitoring employee stress and physical activity

20 Apr

Taking phone calls standing up is a great way to decrease the amount of time spent sitting every day.

When people think about stress, they often picture a frantic emotional or physical state that increases heart rates, causes perspiration and makes focusing on a single task difficult. However, in today's workplaces, physical stress looks very different than it used to. Multiple studies have emerged in recent years indicating that sitting at a desk all day is almost as bad – if not worse – for the body as smoking. The stress placed on the body by being sedentary all day can dramatically decrease employee health and productivity.

How much time is spent sitting?
The Annals of Internal Medicine published findings from a study on the effects of a sedentary lifestyle on health completed earlier this year. Sedentary is an adjective used to describe an inactive person or way of life. As many office workers know all too well, a large portion of the day is spent sitting at a desk. Unfortunately, the study, "Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality and Hospitalization in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis," found that despite efforts to exercise before or after the workday, sporadic activity does little to undo the damage that sitting for 8 to 12 hours every day does to the human body.

Pain Management and Injury Relief noted that on average, adult workers spend 9.3 hours per day sitting down. This number has steadily increased over the past 150 years; in the past, our ancestors spent 90 percent of their daylight hours moving or walking. Today that number is as low as 40 percent. In fact, 50-70 percent of people spend at least six hours sitting down every day, whether at a desk, in front of the TV or participating in other leisure activities.

The impact of sitting still 
The sedentary time study noted this passive stress increases the likelihood people will develop a variety of diseases in their lifetimes. High cholesterol, slowed blood circulation, cardiovascular disease, obesity and colon cancer are more likely to emerge in people who sit for 8 to 12 hours every day. In fact, one's risk for developing Type 2 diabetes increases by an alarming 90 percent with that type of sedentary lifestyle.

Fixing stress with active company culture 
Since the workplace often enables sedentary lifestyles, it's important that businesses provide employee engagement ideas pertaining to health and wellness programs to decrease physical stress. A corporation that weaves physical activity into its culture elicits greater achievement from individuals and develops more productive teams. Businesses should consider offering discounts on local gym memberships or paying a portion of an employee's enrollment in a marathon or charity run. Establishing a company sports league or playing recreational sports each season is another way to not only boost activity but camaraderie as well.

Companies that may not have the funding or resources to provide extensive training or health programs to employees can still encourage a more active lifestyle. Standing desks are becoming more popular among offices around the world, as it provides a convenient and healthy alternative to sitting down all day. Workers who have invested in a standing desk actually found they were less stressed, according to Pain Management and Injury Relief. Aside from burning more calories, standing up at work made 87 percent of workers more energized and 71 percent more focused.

Employees can also find moments throughout the day where standing could take the place of sitting. Phone calls can be taken standing up and meetings with a few colleagues could take place on a walk as opposed to a conference room.

Any method used by a business to get employees up and active is worth the effort. Those workers are the future of the company and managers should be investing in their health every day. 

Nurturing future leaders through succession development

20 Apr

A succession development plan gives businesses more control over their futures.

Businesses today must have formidable succession plans for leadership roles. Without cohesive strategies in place, a corporation could lose its industry stature or reputation when current leaders resign or move on.

According to a 2014 study completed by the Institute of Executive Development in conjunction with Stanford University, corporate leaders see succession plans as a vital aspect of their businesses​' futures, yet 46 percent stated they had no specific candidate in mind to succeed the current CEO. Should a CEO leave tomorrow, it would take those companies a median of 90 days to fill the position. 

Fast Company stated that most corporations either have no plans for succession or a strategy with too many complicated rules, stages and candidates. This simply isn't conducive to a healthy business.

Why build a succession plan?
A succession plan helps businesses maintain continuity in leadership and operations. It also helps human resources professionals identify potential candidates early on and work with these employees' strengths for a long period of time rather than tossing new CEOs into the hot seat at a crucial moment and expecting a faultless performance.

From an employee's perspective, working for a company with a succession strategy makes committing to professional development a more meaningful endeavor. From management's point of view, the process allows current leaders an opportunity to demonstrate power, which in turn actively earns employee trust. Being able to delegate duties and motivate top talent is at once a strong display of power and care. Plus, implementing a succession program will motivate senior leadership to remain accountable and on top of their businesses' performance until the day they leave.

One common motivator for establishing a succession plan among the executives in the survey was risk reduction. While this is certainly important, it doesn't focus on the professional development necessary to properly groom someone for as significant a role as CEO. Harvard Business Review encouraged companies to focus on succession development rather than succession planning as they develop their unique programs. This is because while a plan helps an organization understand the process, when it comes time for a successor to fill a leadership role, he or she will need to have had significant experience with those responsibilities already to make the transition smoothly.

How can a company initiate succession development?
The two words human resources professionals need to remember when designing a succession development plan are honesty and practice.

  1. Honesty: It's irresponsible to promise a position to someone or begin nurturing candidates who will never be considered for a CEO position. Any professional or succession development program must be straightforward with participants - and applicants, if applicable - about their chances of obtaining that top spot and what is expected of them along the way.
  2. Practice: Without actively practicing making tough decisions, performing routine tasks or interacting with clients, no prospective successor is going to be ready to take over a CEO's position. It's necessary that HR departments and senior leaders alike facilitate opportunities for those top candidates to try their hand at the work. 

Human resource information systems can improve the design and execution of a promising succession development strategy - something every business needs to secure its future. 

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