Dealing with toxic employees

8 Sep

Deal with toxic employees before they infect the rest of your staff.

Everyone knows the toxic colleague. These individuals bring the whole team down through being lazy, gossipy, vindictive, negative or some combination of these traits. Toxic co-workers influence the rest of the office in negative ways. When such people are in management positions, they can increase turnover if someone higher up in the chain of command fails to deal with the issue. It's important to have a plan for approaching toxic employees so they don't poison the rest of your staff. Here are a few strategies to take on the toxic team member:

Make sure everyone knows the policy
Human resources won't be aware of toxic employees until someone, usually a supervisor, brings the issue to their attention. According to The Business Journals, managers often wait too long to come forward about a team member who is toxic simply because the situation is awkward. It's important for all staff members to know that if another colleague's behavior is making them uncomfortable, they should talk to their managers about it. If that manager is unresponsive, staff should continue up the chain of command. The manager should consult with HR to determine what to do next.

Assess the issue
Before taking action, take a moment to consider the impact of the employee's behavior, HR Morning suggested. How has this person influenced close co-workers? Has productivity suffered? Do the person's actions differ drastically from office standards? Finally, consider whether altering this person's behavior would have a positive impact on the office environment. Is it possible whoever made the complaint was overreacting or is actually a toxic presence?

Document the behavior
HR should encourage supervisors to take notes on a toxic employees' behavior and record it in employee management software. This information can help managers have specific examples when confronting the employee. Write down the staff member's behaviors and discuss why these are inappropriate for the office and how exactly they violate company standards.

Talk one on one
Once you've determined that you are indeed dealing with a toxic employee, you need to confront this person. According to HR Morning, it's important to keep the conversation results oriented. Set an improvement plan and be specific about what you expect from the employee in question. Don't just say, "you need to improve your attitude." Reference specific instances where the person has acted inappropriately and talk about why this behavior cannot be tolerated. 

Get rid of them
If the behavior doesn't change, there's really only one thing to do: Let the employee go. Firing a toxic employee may not be easy. It's important to think ahead before taking this step. As HR Examiner pointed out, managers sense toxic workers will be the most likely to sue, which can make them hesitant. Make sure you have proper documentation and do everything you can to make the termination go smoothly, for instance, putting together a severance package. 

Hire effectively
The best way to avoid toxic workers is to not hire them in the first place. Everyone puts his or her best face forward in an interview, so you have to be strategic while vetting candidates. Make sure potential hires talk to more than one person at your company so there are greater opportunities to spot potential issues. Be sure to check references and look out for red flags in their responses.

Sooner or later, almost every company faces an issue with an employee who poisons morale and productivity. Toxic employees affect companies everywhere, but it doesn't have to be this way. It's up to HR to set policies and procedures to deal with these employees before they really impact the rest of the team.

How to improve the exit interview

8 Sep

Exit interviews serve a useful purpose.

Exit interviews are a crucial part of human resources' job. This process help determine an employee's reasons for leaving – knowledge that can be used to increase retention and improve the workplace for remaining staff. One problem is that not enough employees receive an exit interview, which leads to incomplete data for HR. Often, those who take the time to complete or participate in an exit interview or survey are those who were either exceptionally happy or unhappy at the company. Here are some tips to increase the number of interviews and get better information:

Better structure
Don't just shove the employee out the door on his or her last day; have a structured exit process that includes an interview. According to ERE Media, more people are likely to participate in an exit interview if HR takes time to explain the exit process. Communicate the reasons for the process as well as what the employee can expect prior to departure. Tell employees that their feedback is vital in making the organization a better place for its staff. Knowing exactly why responses are important could increase staff participation.

Give them a choice
Having more than one option in the exit process could make employees more likely to give you feedback. While a one-on-one interview intimidates some staff members, a paper-based survey may seem like a more attractive option. It is hard to voice harsh criticism. Some employees find it easier to share this information in writing. Conversely, if the written survey appears time consuming, some staff members may opt for an interview instead.

Ask the right questions
It's true in any interview, and it's especially true in an exit interview: Thoughtful questions yield better answers. Employees on their way out the door are in a delicate situation. They don't want to burn bridges with their previous employers, which means they may not be inclined to be brutally honest. Rather than asking the employees why they are leaving, Monster suggested you inquire about why they began looking for new employment in the first place.

Don't wait until they leave
Too often, employers don't have these types of in-depth conversations with staff members until their notice has been given. Why not turn the exit interview on its head and create a "stay interview?" as Entrepreneur magazine suggested. Rather than wait until your best performers have one foot out the door, talk them about their feelings – what works and what the company could do better.

Follow up with the right tools
Gathering data about employee departures is useful only with the right software. No matter how you choose to go about the exit interview process, it's important to have employee management software to document the conversations you have with staff. Save the information from exit interviews so you can use it to improve the workplace and document various staff issues over time.

The exit interview serves a necessary purpose in the business environment, but the process has yet to be perfected. Improve your exit interview strategies to get more out of these conversations and put the insight to good use.

Quality of hire metrics improve recruiting

8 Sep

Recruit more effective candidates with quality of hire metrics.

As a human resources manager, you need to consistently optimize your hiring processes. Otherwise, you could end up hiring the wrong people. While you may not make any disastrous hires, you might not hire the best possible person for the job – the person who will bring the most positive change. Quality of hire guidelines ensures that you leave no stone unturned in the search for the right fit in your company.

What is quality of hire?
Quality of hire is a calculation based on a number of data points regarding a candidate's performance. It is also a process that attempts to align predicted and actual quality measures, according to LinkedIn. When companies get the formula right, they can replicate the results more effectively in their hiring processes. For instance, when they start to notice most of their best applicants come from a specific source, they could put more effort into recruiting from there. If the company hires people with certain experiences who perform well, they should seek similar attributes in their next candidate. Overall, quality of hire looks at performance over all other attributes. While writing skills, for example, are valuable, they can be hard to quantify. On the other hand, hard experience on a corporate communications team demonstrates a candidate has equivalent experience for the role. 

Here are some tips to put together a quality of hire process:

Define key performance indicators
Many companies measure only tenure for quality of hire without regard to performance. Tenure will likely be a part of the criteria, but companies should also measure performance-based metrics, such as revenue generated, independently of tenure. It's important that hiring managers, HR and other stakeholders sit down to establish KPIs across the business. These need to be written down and used to influence the entire hiring process. 

Have quantifiable performance metrics
As ERE Media pointed out, performance metrics need to be objective rather than subjective, which means they need to be based in numbers. Using data makes the results easier to replicate. In addition, less concrete metrics, such as leadership skills, may not be applied fairly throughout the organization and may negatively impact certain groups. HR should be present when establishing KPIs to make sure nothing slips in that could be considered discriminatory.

Define these metrics for each job
The company-wide hiring KPIs need to be specific to unique positions. Companies have a range of job roles, and hiring managers can't have the same expectations for all of them. Talk to current staff members in various roles to develop a sense of what accomplishment looks like for specific positions.

Change job posts to reflect performance goals
To fully integrate quality of hire procedures into the hiring process, you need to update job posts to reflect performance rather than specific skills or attributes, LinkedIn wrote. Instead, use job posts to include the projects you expect the new hire to accomplish. Companies can determine a good hire based on which candidates have done something similar in the past.

Continue to evolve
Like any process involving data, determining the best metrics to define quality of hire is an ongoing process. According to Recruiting Trends, organizations should continuously revise and improve how quality of hire is measured. The KPIs that determined success in the past may not always be the same in the future.

Get employee management software
It is difficult to maintain all the information about employees you will need to successfully implement quality of hire procedures. Without the right software tools, it may be impossible to collect and maintain the appropriate candidate data required.

Quality of hire will always be vital for companies. Do you have the right processes in place to make it work?

How to keep your staff engaged on a budget

8 Sep

It's possible to make office life more fun for your staff.

As a human resources practitioner, a central part of your job is devising methods to increase engagement throughout the office and stimulate productivity. Some companies construct office spaces designed to maximize employee potential. However, most businesses don't have the resources to create an office like Google's or Facebook's.

Here are some employee engagement ideas that are easy and cost-effective to implement:

Set up break-away spaces
No one likes being cooped up in a cubicle or office all day. Why not make a space where your team can congregate, as The Guardian suggested? It can be in the kitchen or an unused part of the office floor. Even in a small office space, there is probably room for a couch or comfy chair where members of your team can relocate if they need a change of scenery. Encourage your team to move around when they want so they don't feel confined.

Summer hours
Many offices implement summer hours during the warmer months. Since staff are already daydreaming about the bike ride, jog or gardening session they are planning after work, why not let them take off early? You may be surprised at the impact this has on staff. According to U.S. News & World Report, most companies find their employees are more energized and productive and don't abuse the privilege of leaving early.

Get everyone out of the office
You want work to be as enjoyable of a place as possible for staff, but that won't happen in an all-work-no-play environment. Regularly hold small parties, team lunches and other gatherings that encourage employees to head out of the office for some bonding time. Whether it's an after-hours event at a bar or a long lunch, spending some time in a new environment is an effective engagement tactic.

Let in the light
Natural light is good for us. A study from Northwestern University found office workers who worked in natural light experienced higher sleep quality and greater physical activity. As a plus, if your office has abundant natural light, you may be able to save money on electrical bills. Not all offices are built for optimal light exposure, but do what you can to increase light. Open up the blinds or shades. Reorganize seating so staff members are closer to windows.

Provide snacks
When workers face a mid-afternoon slump, hunger could be to blame, and if staff members didn't pack enough food, they might be out of luck. Depending on where your office is located, running out for quick bite may not be an option. Consider keeping a few healthy snacks on hand to help fuel your team through the final hours of the workday.

Put together a social committee
No one knows what will get the office excited better than staff themselves. Help employees get started with a social planning committee to come up with ideas for fun staff events. Another bonus is that participating on a committee can be seen as a professional development activity.

The moral of the story is: You don't need to be Google to have engaged employees who enjoy coming to work each day. All it takes is a little creativity and planning.

The benefits of a mentorship program

8 Sep

Mentorship programs increase knowledge and engagement.

Most staff see the benefits of finding a mentor to teach them the ins and outs of a new business. This type of informal educational relationship is common in the corporate landscape. Few workplaces actually formalize the mentoring process, but there are great benefits when they do. Here are some positive outcomes of workplace mentoring:

Professional development
The No.1 reason to implement a mentoring program is to help employees grow. A well-executed mentorship program can pair newer employees with seasoned staff members based on both individuals' interests and experience. This situation can help companies invest in employees' career paths. The mentorship role also provides new leadership opportunities for the senior employee, which may increase confidence and engagement. In addition, it's always possible for older staff to learn some new things from newcomers, such as digital skills. Insurance company The Hartford created a reverse mentoring program, where young people passed on their knowledge of social media, according to a paper from Boston College Sloan Center on Aging and Work.

Identifying leaders
Mentorship programs also help organizations find potential leaders and cultivate necessary skills for future management. For example, Deloitte has a number of professional growth programs, one of which is the Emerging Leaders Development Program. ELDP is a structured mentorship program that sets up one-on-one coaching to develop leadership skills. Programs like these also help young employees understand their own leadership potential. Reverse mentoring also instills leadership skills in young people. At The Hartford, 11 of 12 mentors were promoted within a year of the program's start, the Boston College report said.

Transfer of knowledge
Structured training takes staff members only so far. The most experienced employees have learned a lot of their insight from years on the job and direct experience. To ensure this knowledge doesn't go out the door when older employees retire, it's important to have a way to maintain all of that acumen within the company. Mentoring is a good way to ensure that promising newcomers learn from those who have been there before them.

Retention and engagement
Mentoring also has a great impact on engagement, as ERE Media pointed out. Companies that facilitate one-on-one coaching invest more in their staff. Young employees will feel like the company makes time for their professional development, which increases their engagement and makes them more invested in their work. In addition, mentors are a great resource for hires who feel stressed or anxious about their new responsibilities. Mentees are often more comfortable discussing work problems with a mentor rather than a supervisor. A mentor can help a new staff member work through these issues so the employee doesn't leave the organization.

Structured mentoring programs have great benefits in the workplace, increasing professional development opportunities, identifying future leaders, increasing knowledge and keeping employees engaged. HR managers can jumpstart the process by suggesting the benefits of mentoring to executives. Employee management software can be used to help HR keep track of staff professional growth and training.

Is your office ready for a casual dress code?

19 Aug

Many offices now allow staff to wear jeans.

Office attire has become increasingly casual over the years, but many companies are still unsure whether allowing jeans is the right step for them. While casual Fridays have been a norm for decades, many offices extend casual wear to the entire workweek. Of course, many human resources managers wonder, does the casual approach work for my office?

Casual attire continues to be a contentious issue in offices. Just as companies roll out casual dress codes, others go in the opposite direction. Financial services firm Barclays recently made the news when Executive Chairman John McFarlane sent out a memo banning jeans and flip flops at work, The Independent reported. Meanwhile, Adweek noted how the attire landscape at many prestigious digital firms leans toward casual.

Millennials drive the trend
Millennials, who continue to enter the workforce, could be part of the reason behind fewer suits and ties in the office. A 2012 study from MTV found that millennials prefer a casual dress code throughout the day. According to an article in MediaPost written by Nick Shore, former senior vice president of strategic insights and research at MTV, the researchers had baby boomers and millennials draw a picture of their dress codes at work and what they wear during leisure time. For millennials, the pictures were almost identical, while baby boomers showed a significant shift in their after-work attire.

Overall, the study found millennials were interested in a casual workplace. Almost 90 percent wanted their workplaces to be social and fun, while 93 percent desired a job where they can be themselves.

Benefits of casual dress
Since younger workers tend to be drawn to workplaces where they can act like themselves, it might be wise for companies to revisit old fashioned dress codes. To gain the most competitive talent in this group, workplaces may need to consider office culture, which is directly tied to dress.

However, even for older workers, casual attire can be seen as a great benefit. It demonstrates to staff that managers care about their morale, as well as implying an innovative and forward-thinking approach.

It's also important to consider what employees do with their time. If their role primarily involves interacting with internal staff rather than clients, there's little reason to require business attire.

The role of HR
Regardless of the dress code at individual workplaces, it's up to HR practitioners to draft the policy and communicate it to employees. Writing a policy can be tricky. HR needs to make sure the policy doesn't affect certain groups more than others, for instance, by race, gender or religion, according to HR Hero. In addition, when discrimination claims do arise, it is usually because the employer doesn't apply the rules consistently, making certain individuals feel singled out. Whenever HR institutes a new dress code policy, it's important to effectively communicate about what the change will mean. Then, be consistent when asking staff to adhere to it.

In cases like this, employee management software can help HR keep tabs on how staff feel about the new dress code and help HR managers deal with any issues that might arise.

Build a leadership succession plan

19 Aug

Is your company prepared for the future?

Will your company survive into the future? Without proper succession planning, the future of your business may be uncertain. Whether it's a question of who will fill the C-Suite when the current executives retire, or simply who will manage the sales department, it's crucial to have a plan in place for when your current team moves on. The right employee management software tools are essential to identify professional growth opportunities for current staff and keep an eye on your talent pipeline.

According to recent research from the Human Capital Media Advisory Group, the research organization connected with Talent Management magazine, 76 percent of human resources staff indicate their organizations hire externally to fill gaps. More than half of organizations said a major reason for external hiring is that no internal candidates have been prepared for leadership positions. Overall, 61 percent of human resources practitioners said their succession pipelines contain too few candidates to meet the future needs of the organization. Here are some tips for ensuring a talent pipeline for the future: 

Start early
While your staff may seem secure right now, work environments change quickly. You can't assume your top employees will stay with your company until retirement age. The marketing manager that has been with your firm for a decade may suddenly be recruited to a competitor, leaving you with no one to take the reins. To avoid this type of situation, start thinking about succession planning now, Investors in People suggested.

Use the right tools
Without HR manager software, it's hard to keep track of all the employees in your organization. The right software enables you to quickly get access to quarterly reviews and other information that can help you and managers determine which internal candidates may be suited for management positions in the future. Employee management software also helps you stay on top of frequent reviews so that everyone is getting the feedback he or she needs to develop.

Communicate with staff
It's important for HR employees and managers to communicate with employees that have potential for growth. These staff members may not be able to think of themselves as leaders without the influence of someone they respect. Give candidates time to let the idea sink in and help them develop specific areas of expertise, OPEN Forum wrote.

Come up with a plan
Developing a talent pipeline should be part of the organization's overall plan. According to HCM​ Advisory Group's survey, leadership training is the most popular program for growing its succession pipeline, followed by mentoring. Your organization could also consider job rotations or team-based projects to help staff gain new skills. As Ivy Exec pointed out, it's important to integrate your succession plan with your overall talent management strategy, including recruiting. Succession planning starts as early as recruitment. Let potential candidates know about the room for professional growth at your business.

External hiring will always be necessary sometimes, but having a thriving internal leadership pipeline can make the transition between new managers more seamless and keep staff engaged over the long haul.

Is it time to reduce office hours?

14 Aug

Long hours harm productivity.

Employees work more hours than ever, and it's starting to have an impact on their well-being. It's up to human resources managers to work with companies to curb this trend, especially given impending changes to overtime pay laws. Consider using a survey or reviewing data in your employee management software to gauge how your staff feel about their current hours and workload.

Working more hours
A new survey from CareerBuilder found the 9-to-5 workday is becoming a thing of the past. With 24-7 access to email and work communications, working hours rarely conform to the traditional office hours.

More than 60 percent of all employees in information technology, financial services, sales, and professional and business services think working nine to five is an outdated concept, the survey found.

What are staff doing outside of typical office hours? Half answer emails, while almost 40 percent continue to focus on their typical day-to-day tasks.

While the majority of workers (62 percent) feel operating outside of normal working hours is a choice rather than a requirement, HR teams may want to consider whether they want to encourage this behavior to continue.

Worker morale
Because staff are chained to their desks, either mentally or physically, they lose out on time to pursue personal interests and spend time with their families. The survey found many employees think about work before going to bed or right when they wake up. Others have trouble keeping their mind off of work during leisure activities.

On top of making employees unhappy, working excessive hours makes staff less productive overall. Once employees begin to work more than 50 hours, for instance, output begins to fall, according to research from John Pencavel of Stanford University. There is a limit to how productive workers can be with their time. After the 50 hour mark, adding more hours to the work day does not result in more productivity.

There's good evidence to demonstrate reducing working hours increases happiness without productivity decreasing. However, with President Obama's proposed change to overtime law, employers may have another reason to limit working hours.

Legal issues on the horizon
President Obama announced a potential extension of overtime pay to those making $47,892 or less annually, according to a statement from the Department of Labor. This would mean roughly 5 million workers would soon be eligible for overtime pay. If employers want to avoid the high costs of overtime pay, they will need to either reconfigure job descriptions or put preventative measures in place to keep staff from exceeding 40 hours per workweek.

With these impending changes to labor laws, HR managers should consider the potential benefits of reducing staff hours before it becomes a necessity.

While cloud-based software and digital devices cause employees to work longer hours, these tools also have the benefit of enabling flexible schedules. Allowing some employees to create their own schedules could make it easier to keep them within a specific timeframe and prevent feeling exhausted and overworked.

Commute time affects employee performance

14 Aug

Long commutes have an impact on employees.

Human resources departments face a lot of questions in the hiring and onboarding process. Strategic human resources management requires that you pay attention to any factors that may have a negative impact on productivity. For instance, one element many companies don't consider is the effects of a long commute on employee retention. Should businesses take commute time into account during hiring decisions?

Drawbacks of long commutes
Many companies have noted a long commute leads to increased turnover. There are a number of potential reasons for this. For instance, travel to and from work considerably cuts into an employee's free time. Gas and other transit costs also diminish an employee's income. According to Safe Workers, there are other ways a long commute can damage an employee's well-being. Workers may become stressed about balancing their time between the office and their families. This anxiety may take its toll on their health and performance levels.

Naturally, employers experience drawbacks when employees face long commutes. According to ERE Media, extensive travel time may lead to more frequent absences and lateness, poor performance and increased turnover.

Identifying turnover problems
Analytics can help companies identify where turnover issues are coming from. Undercover Recruiter highlighted the story of Gate Gourmet, a catering company operating out of Chicago's O'Hare Airport. The company experienced extremely high turnover and wondered whether commute times had to do with it. After looking over data in its employee management system and other information, it determined that retention was directly tied to employees' distance from the airport and how easy it was to reach public transit from their residences. The business was able to adjust its recruiting and hiring strategies accordingly and reduced turnover to just 27 percent, down from the initial 50 percent. Other companies can take similar measures to determine whether commutes are having an impact on retention. If so, there are a number of approaches businesses can take to approach this problem.

Dealing with the commute issue
HR managers may choose to simply limit hires to those who live relatively close by. However, before immediately ceasing to hire anyone who doesn't live within a certain radius of the business, do some more background work. ERE Media found that the impact of a commute may differ based on specific positions.

There are other ways to approach the problem as well. For instance, you can provide incentives for staff to live nearby. Some companies give out yearly bonuses for employees who live within a set number of miles from the office. Another incentive that is easy to implement is giving staff the opportunity to work remotely. This solves many of the issues associated with a long commute. Another option, as Safe Workers pointed out, is to offer flexible scheduling. For instance, if the employees are allowed to make their own schedules, they may be able to adjust their time to avoid rush hour traffic, which may add time onto an already lengthy commute.

HR managers can suggest strategies to deal with worker commutes and help increase worker morale and efficiency.

Why you should consider promoting internally instead of hiring

14 Aug

Do you promote from within?

When a new position opens up, does your company promote from within or bring in a new person from the outside? As it turns out, there are numerous benefits to investing in your people rather than onboarding a new hire. Here's a hint: It may impact payroll management

First of all, hiring from the outside takes time and money. Hiring anyone is a time consuming process, but the more experience you're looking for, the longer it takes. As CareerBuilder pointed out, even after you find the perfect fit, there's always a chance the candidate will find a better option, and you will need to start the search over again. After you do fill the role, it will take longer to bring the new person up to speed than it would if you hired internally, and the work of the whole team is likely to suffer for a while.

According to research from The University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business, external hires are generally paid 18-20 percent more than internal hires and perform worse on performance evaluations than their peers for the first two years on the job. During this time, they are also far more likely to move on to a different company.

It seems clear that promoting from within is often a better approach than heading to the job board and bringing in someone new. However, taking this approach requires investment early on. Staff need to be aware of potential for promotion down the line. When hiring managers see leadership potential in employees, it's important to let them know. To prepare a leadership pipeline, organizations may need to invest in better training and professional development programs. The bonus is that this approach is likely to increase retention overall.

Hiring internally isn't always an option, but it should always be a consideration. In the end, businesses that invest in their people are more successful.

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