4 Ways to Take the Bias Out of Performance Reviews

 
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Researchers at Stanford University have recently found that despite a lack of gender differences in objective performance metrics (e.g., grades, fitness scores, or class standing) and decades of equal opportunity efforts, the language used to describe women hurts their advancement opportunities.

It’s not just that women are more often ascribed negative attributes—it’s the words themselves that are also unsettling. The most occurring positive characteristic applied to women is “compassionate.” But it’s followed by a long list of negatives: “inept,” “selfish,” “frivolous,” “passive,” “gossipy,” “vain,” and “temperamental,” to name a few.

The most common attribute for men—“analytical”—reflects a sharp mind and the potential to intelligently lead an organization in the most effective direction. There were only two negatives most commonly attributed to men: “arrogant” and “irresponsible.” The researchers concluded that when people are asked to envision leaders, they still picture men.

Language Is Not Neutral

The words in performance reviews hold power in concrete results, influencing both promotions and layoffs when performance numbers are comparable. Even an “arrogant” leader can still be effective, but an “inept” person is unlikely to be promoted.

Assertiveness is an especially tricky area for women to navigate. The same behaviors tend to be perceived differently depending on whom they come from. Research from Stanford University revealed that aggressive communication styles led to more than twice the amount of negative feedback for women than men. Women were told, “your speaking style is off-putting,” while men received compliments like “tackle” or “drive.” What is positively seen as “assertive” or “confident” in men is perceived as “abrasive” or “aggressive” in women.

Women are often described as “supportive” and “collaborative,” but these gendered skills are less valued in a leader. A collaborative success, even a major one, can still make a woman seem incompetent and can undermine her chances of promotion. While women are also known to show biases in performance evaluation language, the shortage of women in executive positions certainly doesn’t help. Consider that men with the name John alone outnumber all women in the top levels of Fortune 500 companies.


How to Reduce Bias in Your Company

To expand their views of leadership, men and women both need more personal experiences with women as peers and bosses. Begin with these four action steps to reduce gender bias in your company:

Train and educate HR.

According to McKinsey & Co.’s 2015 Women in the Workplace study, 70% of men view gender diversity as important, but only 12% believe women have fewer opportunities for advancement. And 13% believe their own chances are hindered when these programs are in place.

It takes more than a PowerPoint® presentation to unpack these biases because managers will assume that they aren’t guilty of them. They have to consciously learn how to correct these unconscious biases. Ongoing training ensures that new hires don’t fall through the gaps and that established employees continue to build understanding.

Pay close attention to what training strategies are most effective with your teams, and make adjustments depending on your people’s awareness and willingness to change viewpoints. Even when biases are deliberate, training can still work to adjust behavior, which can lead to changing attitudes.

Use concrete, consistent performance metrics.

Review your performance evaluation metrics to make sure they exclude personality judgments that don’t directly correlate with a job. Someone’s “approachability” or “humor” is difficult to tie to job performance. Focus on verbs instead of adjectives. If you can’t provide concrete examples of how a trait affected someone’s work, it doesn’t belong on a performance review.

Shifting away from subjective review methods to fact-based feedback can reduce opportunities for negative perceptions. If someone in HR conducts the review, make sure he or she understands which skills are most important for the job and that all criteria are tied to concrete performance metrics.

Adopt 360-degree reviews.

Even in a perfect world, a single manager can’t be expected to provide a complete picture of an employee’s performance. Getting feedback from more than one source helps identify biases by including more objective data in the review process. A diversity of opinions minimizes the power of an individual’s comments and elicits the most relevant information.

These 360-degree reviews may also give women the opportunity to get feedback from other women, which can be vital to their ability to thrive in a given role and improve their skills and work habits in order to move up in a company.

These reviews should include chances for anonymous feedback. With the opportunity to submit feedback anonymously, women—and other protected groups—can point out inequalities so managers can identify them (if they are unintentional) and correct them. Keeping feedback anonymous makes sure every voice is equally heard without the fear of repercussions.

Track and share feedback or data.

Employees should be able to access their performance data. When workers know how they’re perceived, they can identify and report their concerns to management. Transparency combined with data builds trust that managers will be held accountable for feedback—and that any who block women (or any other demographic) from advancing will be identified so the behavior can be stopped.

The catch-22 that women experience is troublesome not only for them but also for companies; holding women back in their careers holds companies back, too, because they miss out on half the population’s potential. Correcting this bias requires awareness and action at all levels.

-HRDA


Creating a Bereavement Leave Policy for Your Company

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What type of bereavement leave should you offer and how much? Who will be eligible for leave? How should employees notify you of their need for leave? Answering those types of questions in a comprehensive bereavement leave policy helps you manage employees’ expectations and respond to leave requests when the time arises. So, what should you include in your bereavement leave policy?

Define the Relationship Necessary to be Eligible for Leave

Bereavement leave policies should explain which relatives the leave covers. You might limit bereavement leave to immediate family members (e.g., parents, siblings, spouses, and children). Or the leave could be expanded to include extended family (e.g., aunts, uncles, and grandparents).

Designate the amount of Available Leave

The amount of time off you offer for bereavement leave can be the same for all employees regardless of the circumstances, or your policy can provide varying amounts of time off depending on the employee’s relationship to the deceased family member. You may allow more time off when an immediate family dies (e.g., three days) while providing for a shorter period of leave for the death of an extended family member (e.g., one day to attend the funeral). You also may want to address whether more leave is offered based on out-of-state travel being involved (e.g., five days).

The trend is to move toward offering longer leave periods, but of course, employees don’t have to take all of the available leave. If your policy is to offer different amounts of leave under different circumstances, you should document the amount of leave employees are granted and the reason behind your decision to approve the length of their leave.

Will the Leave Be Paid?

Your policy also should address whether bereavement leave will be paid or unpaid. If it’s unpaid, you should state whether employees can elect to use their available paid leave (e.g., vacation time) in lieu of unpaid leave.

In our February article, we reported that 94% of U.S. employers offer paid bereavement leave. Of those, approximately 83% offer a separate plan for paid leave (i.e., bereavement leave isn’t part of employees’ paid vacation or sick time). The trend is moving toward offering paid bereavement leave, with the most recent statistics showing an 11 percent increase in paid leave policies over the past year. Employers that want to offer longer leave but can’t afford extended paid leave may choose to offer paid leave for a few days, followed by extended unpaid leave.

Miscellaneous Policy Considerations

You should outline your expectations for how employees will notify you that they want to use bereavement leave. It can be as simple as following your other leave or attendance policy procedures. If you require proof of the need for leave, your policy should spell out the acceptable forms of proof (e.g., an obituary or a funeral program). Or, instead of requiring documentary proof, you may ask the employee for details (e.g., the relative’s name, the date of death, where it occurred, and the employee’s relationship to the decedent) and verify the information.

If your company is willing to grant special leave requests depending on the circumstances, your policy should explain how an employee can go about making a special request. If you decide bereavement leave isn’t flexible, your policy should be clear that the company will not make exceptions for special or unique circumstances. Having a clear policy will help you manage employee expectations and avoid requests that will inevitably be denied.

Get Drafting

We hope this column has motivated you to take the next steps toward drafting or revising your bereavement leave policy so that it fits your company’s needs. Remember, people grieve differently, so a flexible policy may be the way to go to address your employees’ various coping needs. Employees should be allowed to choose whether to take extended bereavement leave to mourn the loss of a loved one or return to work quickly and get back to their routine.


Women Excelling in the Workplace

 
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We are living in an era where women’s workplace concerns can no longer be ignored. While many companies have diversity and inclusion initiatives in place to help address some of the issues their workers may face, women still confront a number of hurdles that affect their career trajectory. HR departments able to create strategies to help address these issues will undoubtedly make an impact on the future of work for all women.

Where Are All the Leaders?

First, businesses must immediately address the lack of women in top leadership positions, especially women who have proven their abilities throughout their career. Unfortunately, the C-suite in the majority of companies still lacks female leaders. In the U.S., women hold only 10% of top leadership positions, and only 5.1% of CEO positions are women. This is unnatural, as women are, indeed, capable of successfully leading companies.

Addressing this issue will create a major positive shift for the business world and for future generations. Just imagine how a young girl’s mind is opened to a whole new world of possibilities simply by seeing what other women have achieved!

Societal Constraints Can Hold Women Back

Both men and women deal with societal constraints, but women tend to face those that prevent them from succeeding in their careers. Women may feel that owning their successes is equivalent to bragging and fear this may cause unnecessary tension with others on their team. Unfortunately, by not owning their wins, others may never know what they’ve accomplished.

Imposter syndrome can also be problematic for women. Imposter syndrome is the phenomenon in which people do not believe their accomplishments are due to talent or skills. Many women may feel that they aren’t qualified or knowledgeable enough to hold their current positions. A study by Hewlett-Packard found that women only applied to positions if they fulfilled 100% of the qualifications. Men felt they only needed 60% to feel confident enough to apply. This self-doubt and lack of confidence may prevent women from applying to positions they may be perfect for. It can also damper their ability to shine in their current positions or hold them back from advancing to managerial or leadership roles.

In addition to these internalized issues, women also face larger societal issues that force them to choose between excelling in their career and focusing on their family/home life. Career interruptions such as a birth, adoption, or the need to take care of an aging parent affect women more often than men. In a survey conducted by Pew Research, 4 out of 10 women had taken significant time off to attend to these roles. While these issues can also affect men, women tend to be impacted by them more often. According to a recent UN Women report on gender equality, women still carry three times the amount of unpaid housework and child care than their male counterparts. This household labor can divert their energy and focus away from work, preventing them from taking on larger tasks or more responsibilities at their jobs.

Women and girls may not feel they can achieve their dreams because of the glass ceiling. This can cause them to aim low. When my daughter was young, I noticed that most of the girls in her class, when asked what they wanted to be, tended to choose support positions, such as dental assistant instead of dentist. While support positions are important and valuable, these roles are more often filled by women. The Department of Labor shows that the most common occupations for women are secretaries/administrative assistants, nurses, and teachers. This is a historical trend that has not been challenged enough. Whether this has to do with a lack of female leadership role models or unconscious bias that hinders girls and women from sensing that they should aim high, it must be addressed. Women should not feel they cannot hold professional positions, and society should not assume support positions are naturally women’s work.

Shifting the Culture

What can HR do to help shift the workplace culture?

  • Acknowledge that women still struggle with a lack of role models in leadership positions. If your workplace does not have women in roles at all levels, then there is a problem. There are qualified women out there who are capable of leading their divisions and their companies.

  • Mentor others. Mentorship is crucial for women, especially in historically male-dominated industries. Women benefit from building supportive networks that allow them to offer either formal or informal mentoring. HR can help cultivate a work culture that supports women helping one another succeed in the workplace. Building a culture of mentorship, whether formal or informal, should be a priority.

  • HR departments must encourage leaders and managers to empower women to take the ball and run with it. Some women enjoy a challenge that proves their capabilities to you, but some will not. Those who aim high will excel. Give them the chance to do so!

  • Acknowledge that “having it all” is very difficult for both women and men to achieve but even more so for women. This is a much larger societal issue, but women should be allowed to feel that focusing on their career is not detrimental to their families. According to Pew Research, 95% of married men with children under 5 are currently in the workforce, while only 62% of married women with children under 5 are. I predict this pain point to be a major factor that changes the way businesses address policies related to child care, parental leave, flexibility, and work/life harmony.

  • Treat women and men equally in the hiring process and in the workplace. This should go without saying, but we need to acknowledge that this is still an issue.

Human Resources has the ability to create the culture of your workplace. By focusing on and addressing these issues, both your business and society in general will benefit from the positive changes they bring. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “the future depends on what you do today.” If we want to build a better future, one that is more gender balanced, we need to start now.


The Misplaced Fear of Training a Replacement

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In organizations in any country across all industries, there has been a fear of teaching a subordinate or a junior staff member the ins and outs of one’s job. This apprehension is based predominantly on a fear that the person being trained will take the job of the person doing the training.

“Why should I train my replacement?” the logic goes. It’s an understandable concern, especially when the dynamic involves a senior staff member training someone younger and who is paid less. But it is logic that is often flawed. Here we take a look at why this may be.

The Threat Is Overblown

Even if you train someone new on how to do your job, it’s not likely that he or she would be able to replace you after a short onboarding period. One reason is that this new hire would simply lack your hands-on experience. And if you truly believe that your company’s motivation is to continually cycle out existing staff in favor of younger, cheaper replacements, that might not be the best company to work for anyway.

The Downside of Being Irreplaceable

Being “irreplaceable” gives employees a feeling of intense job security, and that’s comforting. But what many people in this position fail to realize is that being irreplaceable can act as a huge anchor on one’s career. If your boss thinks that there is nobody who can step into your shoes and do what you’re doing today, how can he or she promote you to a new position?

Help Your Manager Promote You

“Too many leaders don’t get it, but their own growth depends on helping others grow,” says Executive Coach and Consultant Michael Pollock. “Just as you have your own personal strategy for career advancement, you should be training your successors so that your move upwards can be supported by a loyal and well-trained replacement, fully equipped to step into your shoes.”

Rather than seeing someone training to do one’s job as a potential threat, employees should consider this a possible opportunity. A big challenge for many managers when making staffing and promotion decisions is how to fill the role and responsibilities of the person being promoted. Moreover, successfully training someone to be competent to take on your job is a sign to managers that you have management potential.

Many employees are overly protective of their knowledge and are resistant to training new employees they may perceive as potential threats. This not only harms the organization but can hinder an employee’s own chances for career advancement.


How to Offer Child Care as a Workplace Perk

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According to research, 85% of parents say they wish their employer offered childcare benefits; almost two-thirds of parents—and 83% of Millennials—say they’d leave one job for another if it offered better family-care benefits; and two-thirds of parents said childcare costs have influenced their overall career decisions.

What’s more, the lack of access to affordable child care and paid leave costs the United States at least $28.9 billion in wages, and American businesses lose tens of billions of dollars annually in care-related costs—costs associated with loss of productivity, absenteeism, presenteeism, and turnover.

If you’re interested in offering or enhancing your childcare benefits for your employees, you should consider taking the actions listed below.

Provide Flexible Paid Time Off

Parents often need to take unexpected time off to care for a sick child or make last-minute arrangements to pick up a child from day care or school when emergencies arise. Sometimes, a child’s usual after-school arrangements suddenly change because of a bus or car malfunction, and new parents need time off to care for a newborn until the child is old enough for day care. So, be sure to offer parents plenty of paid time off to handle these situations and more if and when they occur.

Work with and Around School and Daycare Schedules

When blizzards hit and school is suddenly canceled or classes are dismissed early, parents need to be able to adapt to these schedules. By aligning work and meeting schedules with those of school and daycare and allowing parents to have schedules that coincide with their children’s, parents wouldn’t have to call out or leave work early.

Offer Flexible Spending Accounts

If you provide flexible spending accounts for medical reasons, offer them for childcare reasons, too, and contribute a small portion of funds to these accounts.

Make Backup and Summer Child Care Available

Provide employees with reliable emergency child care, such as in-home nanny services, if they need to travel last minute for work. During summer vacations, offer employees summertime child care and discounts or prepaid vouchers for summer camps while children are out of school.

Extend Discount Programs

If you can’t offer your employees on-site child care or day care, provide discounts or prepaid vouchers to local daycare providers. Also offer discounts or vouchers for things like maternity apparel, diapers, bottles, clothes, toys, etc.

Give Childcare Benefits to All

Mothers, fathers, and adoptive parents should all be extended the same childcare benefits. As you work on offering child care as a workplace perk, consider doing one or more of the things listed above if you want your efforts to be effective.


How to Stimulate Ethical Behavior in the Workplace

 
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Unethical behavior in the workplace costs businesses a lot of money, integrity, and marketable clout.

According to research, unethical business practices were on the rise a few years ago and might have gotten worse, but 56% of Americans will stop buying goods and services from brands they think are unethical, and many will actively support brands they view as ethical. Additionally, 48% of consumers consider employee treatment when determining whether a company is ethical.

So, if you want to stimulate ethical behavior in your workplace, you should consider doing the following.

Develop and Document Standards and Policies

Put clear, ethical standards and policies employees and leaders should abide by in writing, and have the employees and leaders sign the guideline documents to ensure they read and understand the information. Also, include how violations of the guidelines will be handled, including repercussions, and how employees can report them.

Foster and Enforce Standards and Policies

Continue to enforce your ethical standards and policies once they are documented and implemented to ensure they are followed and taken seriously, and be clear and specific about how these policies will be enforced and what may happen if an employee violates one of the standards, such as being handed a written warning or getting suspended.

Start at the Top

Begin with your leaders and executives to stimulate ethical behavior across the workplace, and make sure they are on board with developing, implementing, and enforcing your ethical standards and policies. These same leaders should also be held accountable for their ethical behavior, just as their subordinates are. Leaders and managers need to lead by example in following ethical practices if the policies are to be fully effective.

Provide Ethics Training

Because some common business practices are technically unethical, all employees should receive ethics training so they know how to confidently identify and avoid unethical behavior, as well as are empowered with knowledge on how to handle inappropriate interactions.

Support and Protect Employees

Make sure that you provide an anonymous means of reporting unethical behaviors and that those who do report such actions will be protected from retaliation that would prevent them from speaking up.

Consider taking the steps above to stimulate a more ethical and profitable workplace.


Helping Employees Deal with Toxic Customers

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Anyone who has worked in customer service knows that some customers can be extremely difficult, demanding, and even toxic. These customers can be abusive to customer service staff.

They aren’t necessarily bad people, but such customers may take advantage of their relative power over your employees to bully or vent frustration where it isn’t necessarily deserved. Or they may simply be unaware that their behavior toward your staff is inappropriate.

Whatever the reason, these interactions can wear down your customer service staff, whether it’s a one-off situation or a consistent experience. It’s important as a manager to help your employees cope with toxic customers to avoid burnout, high turnover, and poor morale.


Make Sure They Don’t Take It Personally

First and foremost, it’s crucial to help your staff separate the professional from the personal. Customers may complain about your company’s product or service, but employees need to know that this feedback isn’t a reflection on them personally.Even if customers do make personal attacks, employees need to know how to transition from personal to professional and shrug off attempts by customers to make the issue all about them.

Let Them Vent

In an article for Inc. on toxic cultures generally, Shane Atchison offers some advice applicable to dealing with toxic customers: “Managers have to make a safe zone where people can speak their minds,” Atchison writes. “Above all, don’t fake it and pretend the situation is normal. That’s the surest road to allowing a bad culture to erode yours.”Sometimes simply talking about problems with customers can be extremely therapeutic.

Empathize

Beyond simply letting employees vent, take the time to really hear and understand their concerns. That’s important not only to ensure that employees feel their concerns have been heard but also to the organization—there are valuable lessons to be gleaned from any feedback received, however negative or misplaced.

Have Their Back

The adage that “the customer is always right” only holds true to a point. If a customer is being truly abusive and unreasonable, having your employees’ back is essential. Make it clear to employees and customers that a certain level of respect is expected when dealing with your customer service staff.

Customer service positions can be extremely stressful, and they are often filled by relatively low-paid staff in entry-level positions. These employees are particularly susceptible to turnover.

Even if they don’t leave the company, employees dealing with toxic customers can bring down morale—their own and that of their coworkers—and start to burn out, leading to lower productivity. A good manager should take steps to alleviate this stress as much as possible.


Should You Implement a 4-Day Workweek?

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Modern-day employees claim they want a better work/life balance and more flexible work schedules; one such flexible schedule is a 4-day workweek, during which employees work 35 to 40 hours in 4 days instead of the traditional 5 day workweek. Recently, 66% of workers polled stated that they want a compressed 4-day workweek to fulfill this work/life balance, but only 17% of their employers offered one. Why aren’t employers offering a 4-day workweek, and should they?

You’ll want to consider the following pros and cons in determining whether to offer a 4-day workweek to your employees.

Pros

Improves employee productivity. Sometimes, employees hang around at work simply because they have a certain schedule, though they may not necessarily be productive or accomplishing much, which costs organizations money. However, when employees work a compressed schedule, they learn to effectively manage their time and get more done in a shorter time frame.

Increases employee satisfaction. Employees who have compressed schedules are more satisfied with their jobs and employers because they are more capable of achieving work/life balance and, therefore, are less stressed, tired, and preoccupied when they come to work.

Lessens environmental impacts. If employers didn’t have to stay open 5 days a week, they could save on costs related to their buildings’ electricity, occupancy, maintenance, heating and cooling, office supplies, etc.

Cons

Employers might lose overtime hours. Most employees are already putting in well over 40 hours a week and want to put in extra hours to remain competitive in their fields. With a compressed workweek, employers might miss out on hours that salaried employees are already currently putting in or hours that they want to put in in the future.

Not all industries can participate. Not all employers would be able to implement a 4-day workweek without hiring more employees, as some industries must be open 24/7 for emergencies or around-the- clock business (i.e., emergency rooms, hotels, etc.).

There are costly risks. Employers might end up having to spend money on a new schedule implementation that doesn’t work and is more expensive, and they won’t know if their employees will be able to handle current workloads in fewer days or if they’ll need to hire additional staff until they actually begin the new 4-day workweek.

The Wild-Card Factor: Customer Satisfaction

In some cases, a compressed workweek could offer a business’s customers extended contact hours 4 days a week, but some customers might not like being able to contact a company only 4 days a week. So, an organization must evaluate its industry and whether it has enough staff to ensure customer- related concerns are always covered to determine whether a 4-day work schedule is the right fit. In summary, if you’re considering implementing a 4-day workweek, weigh the pros and cons listed above, as well as your organization’s staffing requirements and industry.

What Your Millennial Managers Need to Know to Be Successful

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According to a recent survey, 83% of respondents claimed to have seen Millennials inside their workplaces managing other generations. And while 44% of Millennial respondents of this survey viewed themselves as being the most capable generation to lead in the workplace, only 14% of all survey respondents agreed with this sentiment.

Why?

Mainly because Millennials still need more adequate leadership development opportunities, training, and experience. So, if you’re going to invest more in your current and future Millennial managers, as research continues to suggest you should, here’s what they need to know how to do.

Cope with Stress and Anxiety

According to research conducted by the American Psychological Association, Millennials are the most stressed-out generation right now and are also less able to manage their stress when compared to other generations.

Additional research shows that 30% of working Millennials have anxiety that often affects their work performance. Sources of anxiety for Millennials include but are not necessarily limited to a tough job market, student debt, being passed over for promotions, having no clear career trajectories, ambition, addiction, career crises, choice overload, and more.

If you want your Millennial managers to be more successful, consider offering them:

  • Financial health incentives and training

  • Mental health benefits and training

  • Servant leadership training

  • Career maps and clearly laid-out career trajectories

  • Emotional intelligence training

  • Comprehensive leadership training for long-term development

  • Mentors or coaches who are successful leaders

Select and Assemble the Appropriate Teams and Team Dynamics

Millennials tend to value collaborative environments and work projects more than any other generation in the current workforce. And studies show that they prefer to work in groups. Some experts have stated that Millennials tend to form teams with individuals they like working with rather than those employees who have the ideal skill sets and experience they need on those teams. Yet many generations, including the new Generation Z, don’t prefer working in groups as much and value autonomy and individual recognition for work completed inside the workplace.

So, as Millennials manage their workforces and teams, they’ll have to be coached in how to select more dynamic and diverse teams that work a little more independently.

Engage in Strong and Constructive Communications

According to a Deloitte survey, Millennials feel they need to learn stronger interpersonal skills to be more successful in the current workforce. But research also indicates that they tend to be less confrontational than other generations, that they don’t feel very confident, and that they aren’t always very communicative.

So, your Millennial managers will need to be trained in a variety of soft skills and communication-based skills and will need to have guidance in how to offer constructive feedback to their employees, as well as how to resolve conflicts that arise, etc. If you want your Millennial managers to be more successful, focus your leadership initiatives and programs for them on the things that they need to know, as outlined above.

The Role of the Manager - Avoiding Litigation Landmines

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Employment law litigation has exploded over the last five years: one in five managers will find themselves in litigation at some time in their lifetimes. Avoiding Litigation Landmines teaches your managers how to keep from becoming one of them. The best way to diffuse a lawsuit is not to get involved in one. 

Managers not only learn how to avoid these litigation landmines, but how to turn them into positive tools for unlocking the potential of the individuals within their work force. 

As many companies know all too well, addressing disputes with current and former employees means diverting time and money from more important endeavors, such as customer service, product development and strategic planning, not to mention day-to-day operations.

Addressing employment issues proactively (instead of re-actively) allows employers to maintain peace in the workplace and focus on running their business, without the distraction of litigation.

 Who should attend this session?

  • Team members on succession planning to become leaders

  • Managers or group leaders looking to expand their skills beyond the technical

  • Managers who have not been through any formal leadership education

  • Experienced supervisors who are seeking a leadership boost

We offer BOTH On-Site and Off-Site Options. 

 We can come to your business location and conduct training for any size group. 

 For smaller groups, HR Advisors offers once a month classroom style training for individuals or newly hired employees who need training.

 

Upcoming Classes at HR Advisors Location:

March 22nd, 2019 at 1:00 p.m.

 Cost: $75.00 per person

 Approximately 1 1/2 hour interactive presentation.

 Limited Seating Available, Call To Reserve Your Seat Now!

For more complete information  on any of the services offered above please contact us ana@hradvisors.com or call us 949.497.7329

15 Easy Ways To Recognize & Reward Your Employees

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Now more than ever, employers are seeing how important it is to keep their staff happy and motivated at work. It just makes good business sense – satisfied, engaged employees work harder, produce better work and stick around longer. 

Not to mention, in this tight labor market, companies are having to go the extra mile to hang on to their best employees. With unemployment at a near record low and more open positions than candidates to fill them, replacing departing employees can be an overwhelming challenge.

Getting them to stay

Instead of taking their chances in the war for talent, many companies are opting to focus on ways to convince their best employees to stay put. And the keys to that endeavor? Rewards and recognition.

Now, we’re not talking about the occasional “good job” or free donuts in the breakroom – workers today want much more than that. To really feel connected to their companies, employees need constant feedback and specific recognition for their hard work. They want enjoyable, well thought out rewards programs that show they’re valued – anything less could push them right out the door.

Survey after survey has shown that while raises and bonuses are good motivators, recognition and rewards are even more powerful. Money only goes so far if employees are miserable at work every day. It’s a revamp of company culture that’ll really make employees feel appreciated and get them to stay.

Recognition the right way

The great thing about recognition is it costs nothing and takes very little time to let employees know they’re doing excellent work. When used appropriately, praise allows staff to know what exactly they’re doing right – so they can keep doing it — and that management has noticed and appreciated all their effort.

But believe it or not, there are some common mistakes that can make recognition ineffective. Praising employees too much or being nonspecific won’t be helpful.

Here are some key strategies for managers who want to boost their recognition efforts.

  1. Thank employees after completing a particularly difficult or tedious assignment. It may seem insignificant, but a “thank you” can really go a long way. Employees aren’t often thanked in the workplace, because the effort they put in can just seem like part of their job. Turn this around and show your appreciation when you notice someone working longer days to finish a tough project or going out of their way to help a team member.

  2. Be specific in your praise. While the sentiment behind “good job” is nice, it won’t be that useful to your employees. It’s important to let them know specifically what they did that made you happy with their work, so they can do it again. For example, if they always turn in quality work on time, praise them for being reliable and always hitting deadlines.

  3. Recognize your people in the moment. Praise loses some of its meaning if you wait a while to let an employee know they performed well. Immediate feedback is always the most effective. When you see workers going above and beyond, let them know right then and there you appreciate what they’re doing. This way, they’re more likely to remember exactly what they did and repeat the performance.

  4. Don’t use praise too frequently. The effect of recognition will wear off quickly if you start complimenting employees on everything they do. To avoid this, it’s a good idea to save your praise for truly excellent work. This could also inspire good employees to become even better.

  5. Use trust to recognize employees. Nothing tells employees you’re pleased with their performance like trusting them with more responsibility. This is a very tangible way to show your employees they’ve done excellent work and they’re valued members of the team.

  6. Encourage employees to recognize each other. Praise from managers isn’t the only thing employees crave. Compliments from co-workers can also go a long way. By encouraging your staff to recognize each other, camaraderie and trust will naturally start to form.

  7. Host an awards ceremony. Here’s a more fun spin on employee recognition: make it into an event. Giving out personalized awards will highlight everyone’s strengths and let employees know what their colleagues have accomplished.

  8. Recognize accomplishments outside of work. A great touch to any recognition program is celebrating employees’ achievements outside of the workplace. By congratulating your people on milestones like birthdays, getting married or having a baby, you’ll create a caring and supportive work environment.


Rewards people want

While employee recognition is a big part of boosting engagement and motivation, rewards are just as important. Encouraging and organizing fun activities for your employees can drastically reduce burnout and boredom at work.

Better yet, rewards programs don’t have to be expensive or flashy to be effective. Little perks or quick activities can be enough to give employees some much needed time to relax and recharge.

Here are some simple, effective rewards any employer can implement:

  1. Flex time. This is one of the hottest perks right now and can cost employers little to no money to implement. If your employees’ jobs can be done remotely, letting them work from home occasionally will be much appreciated. If workers have to be in the office to do their jobs, consider allowing flexible hours. Letting people have control over their work schedules will make things like personal appointments and childcare a lot easier.

  2. Added vacation time. Another much appreciated reward is more PTO. If a flex time benefit isn’t an option, giving employees an extra vacation day or two can help when they need to take time off for errands and appointments, allowing more time for an actual vacation. It’s important that with added PTO comes encouragement from management to use it, as many employees are reluctant to actually take time off.
    Some companies get creative with vacation time, too. Jade Palmieri, HR generalist at Millington Bank, started a program which gives employees extra PTO specifically to use for volunteering. This allows employees to be excused from work in order to help a cause they feel passionate about.

  3. Organized social events. What employee wouldn’t love to take a break for an hour or so and chit chat with co-workers? Putting together a party, lunch or happy hour is a great, simple way to get people out of the office and socializing with each other. Events like these will give employees some time to recharge and strengthen relationships between team members.

  4. On-site relaxation. Getting employees out of the office for a break isn’t something you can do every day, so it’s a good idea to have a designated space for unwinding. It can be as simple as a room with some couches and snacks, as long as it’s a place employees can go when they need to get away from their desks for a few minutes.
    Employers willing to spend more might consider bringing yoga instructors or masseuses into the office to really help employees relax.

  5. Bring your dog to work day. Another popular, low-cost perk right now is pet-friendly workplaces. Allowing employees to bring their furry friends into the office can help everyone de-stress. This can also be helpful to workers who can’t find a pet sitter.

  6. Wellness activities. Physically active, healthy employees are usually happier ones. While there are a lot of fancy, costly wellness programs out there, it doesn’t take much to get people moving. Doing quick exercises every day or encouraging walks around the building can be enough to get your employees feeling better, both mentally and physically.

  7. Fun and games. Another go-to stress reliever is in-office games. It can be something simple like busting out Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit on a Friday afternoon, or something more complex, like a company field day.

Three Golden Rules for Millennials in the Workplace

 
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Leadership

I have never seen leaders struggle more than they do with Millennials. The Millennial generation, with its oldest members now well into their thirties, is still seen as entitled, fickle, and hard to retain. That perception is wrong, and I encourage leaders and senior staff to adopt a different view.

To start, here are three rules to live by:

  • Manage People, Not Positions

Baby Boomers grew up learning that “children should be seen and not heard.” To compensate for their own silence, they urged their Millennial offspring to speak up. From their first words, Millennials have learned that their voice matters. If they see a problem, they roll up their sleeves and solve it. They want a job that comes with purpose, not just a paycheck.

One study found that 76% of Millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work, and 88% say their job is more fulfilling when there are opportunities to make a difference. Millennials want to raise their voice (and they want to use it for good)!

Many organizations say they like when Millennials speak up, but I’ve rarely found an organization built to the strengths of this generation. I’m here to tell you that any organization that embraces this approach will see its staff rise and grow to meet the challenge.

  • Innovate to Retain Top Talent

A company’s tax status is no excuse for poor innovation. Failure to innovate makes it hard to recruit and retain employees.

Millennials have a strong tendency to job hop, averaging nearly 3 jobs in their first 5 years after graduation. By comparison, Millennials’ predecessors, Generation X, averaged 2 jobs in their first 10 years after college.

Where innovation thrives, so do Millennials. These employees are “entrepreneurial,” which means they are attracted to fast-paced, changing cultures that take risks. But they are also immersed in lifestyle culture and aim to build their own personal brands.

Millennials want more than just “tech frills,” like catered snacks and an in-house barista. They prioritize authenticity, flexibility, and opportunities to travel.

I learned that it offers employees the opportunity to travel to Kenya, India, or Ecuador on group staff trips to see firsthand the organization’s work in communities around the world. Not every employer can offer this, but connecting Millennials to your work’s global impact can be essential.

And, it’s important to recognize how connecting your employees to their work in a meaningful way can help lend itself to the success of your business.

  • Millennials Are Leaders, Too

Success begins with leadership. Millennial CEOs encourage their employees to go beyond earning a living and live their personal purpose through their work. We all need workplaces to embrace Millennials for who they are and for what they bring to the organization.

Too many leaders are throwing in the towel and doing as little as possible when it comes to managing Millennials. Leaders need to fundamentally alter this mind-set and see Millennials as an asset.

Why is this so important? Believe it or not, there is a generation after the Millennials: Gen Z. These are the interns at your office right now. Typically, the ones on the front lines of managing a new generation are members of the generation right above them. For Gen Z, that will be Mil

EEO-1 DEADLINE UPDATE

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If you’re required to file an EEO-1 each year, the deadline to submit this year has been extended until May 31, 2019. The EEO-1 is an annual survey that requires all private employers with 100 or more employees, and federal government contractors or first-tier subcontractors with 50 or more employees and a federal contract, subcontract or purchase order amounting to $50,000 or more to file the EEO-1 report. The filing of the EEO-1 report, is required by federal law per Section 709(c), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.

New Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training Required

 
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California recently passed a law that all employers with 5+ or more employees must provide sexual harassment to all supervisory and nonsupervisory employees alike.

This training must be completed no later than January 1, 2020, and the California DFEH has recently ruled that any employees who were trained in 2018 or before, must be retrained again in 2019. This includes supervisory employees.

Here are the programs we offer:

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training (Supervisory Level):

The training session fulfills the mandatory two hour “interactive” session for the State of California. Recognizing Sexual Harassment and Causes, Addresses all key areas of Harassment, Sexual Harassment; Discrimination; Retaliation; Hostile Work Environment and Bullying, Elements of an Effective Harassment Prevention Program/Policy.

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training (Staff Level):

Recognizing Sexual Harassment and Causes, Addresses all key areas of Harassment, Sexual Harassment; Discrimination; Retaliation; Hostile Work Environment and Bullying, Reporting processes and procedures for the staff level.

We offer BOTH On-Site and Off-Site Options. We can come to your business location and conduct training for any size group. All attendees will receive a certificate of completion.

For smaller groups, HR Advisors offers once a month classroom style training for individuals or newly hired employees who need training.

1st Quarter-Supervisory Level training available on Friday, February 8th and Friday, March 8th, 2019.

1st Quarter- Staff Level training available on Friday, February 22 and Friday, March 22, 2019.

(Seating is limited, so call now to reserve your seat)

2019 Law Updates

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California’s minimum wage: As of January 1, 2019, the minimum wage in California increased. With the increase in the state minimum wage, there is a corresponding raise in the minimum salary required to qualify as exempt under the “white collar” exemptions.

Employers with 25 or fewer employees:

  • New Employee Hourly Wage: $11.00 per hour

  • Minimum Salary for Exempt Employees: $45,769

Employees with 26 or more employees:

  • New Employee Hourly Wage: $12.00 per hour

  • New Minimum Salary for Exempt Employees: $49,920

SB 1343 (Sexual Harassment Training):  Existing law requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide supervisors with sexual harassment training.  This new law expands the training requirement to employers with 5 or more employees and requires that employers provide at least 2 hours of training to supervisory employees and at least one hour of training to non-supervisory employees by January 1, 2020 and once every two years thereafter.  It also requires the DFEH to develop and post training materials for employers to use for these purposes.

SB 1300 (FEHA Amendments):  This bill amends FEHA in a number of respects, including (1) to add a provision making it an unlawful practice for an employer to require an employee to release a FEHA claim in exchange for a bonus, raise, or continued employment; (2) to make employers liable for any kind of unlawful harassment by non-employees (not just for sexual harassment as under existing law) where the employer knew or should have known of the harassment and failed to take appropriate remedial action; and (3) to add certain statements of legislative intent to make it harder for employers to prevail on harassment claims (e.g. a legislative declaration that harassment cases are rarely appropriate for resolution on summary judgment, and a declaration that a single act of harassment may suffice to support a finding of a hostile work environment).

SB 1976 (Lactation Accommodation):  This new law makes changes to existing lactation accommodation law.  The existing law requires employers to make reasonable efforts to provide a location other than a toilet stall to be used for lactation.  The new law specifies that the location should be something other than a bathroom and further specifies that it generally should be a permanent location but that it can be a temporary location if (1) the employer is unable to provide a permanent location due to operational, financial, or space limitations; (2) the temporary location is private and free from intrusion while being used for lactation purposes; and (3) the temporary location is not used for other purposes while being used for lactation.  The new law also provides that an agricultural employer may comply by allowing an employee to use the air-conditioned cab of a tractor or truck.  If an employer can prove that it is an undue hardship to comply with these requirements, the employer may be able to provide a location (including a bathroom) other than a toilet stall for the employee to use for lactation purposes.

Mileage Reimbursements- The Internal Revenue Service issued the 2019 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2019, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

  • 58 cents per mile driven for business use, up 3.5 cents from the rate for 2018,

  • 20 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, up 2 cents from the rate for 2018, and

  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

SB 1412 (Criminal History Inquiries):  This bill amends Labor Code section 432.7, which limits employers’ ability to conduct criminal history inquiries and to use criminal history information in employment decisions.  Existing law makes an exception for employers who are required by federal or state law to inquire into an applicant’s or employee’s criminal history.  The amendment is intended to tighten the exception to apply only where an employer is required by law to inquire into a “particular conviction” or where an employer cannot by law hire someone with a “particular conviction.”  to make clear that employers may only consider “particular convictions” when assessing criminal history.  “Particular conviction” is defined only to mean “a conviction for specific criminal conduct or a category of criminal offenses prescribed by any federal law, federal regulation or state law that contains requirements, exclusions, or both, expressly based on that specific criminal conduct or category of criminal offenses.” 

SB 1252 (Copy of Payroll Records):  Existing law already requires that employees have a right to inspect or copy their payroll records and that they must be allowed to do so within 21 days of such a request.  This new law clarifies that if an employee requests a copy of the records, the employer must provide the copies (as opposed to requiring employees to copy the records themselves).

AB 1565 (Contractor Liability):  This new law took effect immediately as urgency legislation. It clarifies a new law enacted last year making certain direct contractors performing work in the state liable for unpaid wages by subcontractors.  The amendments to the law provide requirements that must be met in order for a direct contractor to withhold payments to a subcontractor for “disputed sums.”  In order to withhold payment, the contractor must specify in its contract with a subcontractor all items of information that will be requested of the subcontractor, such as payroll records and other information related to hours worked, etc.

AB 3109 (Disclosure of Sexual Harassment):  This bill makes void and unenforceable any provision in a contract or settlement agreement that prevents a party to the contract from testifying about criminal conduct or sexual harassment in an administrative, legislative, or judicial proceeding. 

SB 224 (Sexual Harassment):  This bill amends section 51.9 of the Civil Code to expand the types of relationships that can be subject to a claim for sexual harassment to include lobbyists, elected officials, directors, producers, and investors.  This statute generally applies to work relationships where one person holds himself out as being able to help someone establish a business or professional relationship directly or with a third party.  

SB 820 (Settlement of Sexual Harassment Claims):  This new law prohibits provisions in settlement agreements entered into after January 1, 2019 that prevent disclosure of factual information pertaining to claims of sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender discrimination or related retaliation that have been filed in court or before an administrative agency.  The new law does not prohibit a provision that prevents the parties to the agreement from disclosing the amount of the settlement.  Additionally, at the claimant’ request, the settlement agreement may include a provision that limits the disclosure of the claimant’s identity or of facts that would lead to the discovery of the claimant’s identity.

SB 1123 (Paid Family Leave Uses):  California has a paid family leave program that provides partial wage replacement to employees who take leaves of absence for specified purposes.  This new law expands the program to provide paid family leave benefits beginning January 1, 2021 to employees who take time off for reasons associated with being called to active duty or a spouse, domestic partner, parent, or child being called to active duty.

AB 2034 (Human Trafficking):  This new law requires employers who operate an intercity passenger rail, light rail, or bus station to provide by January 1, 2021 at least 20 minutes of training on human trafficking awareness to employees who are likely to come into contact with human trafficking victims.

SB 970 (Human Trafficking):  This new law amends FEHA to require hotel and motel employers, by January 1, 2020, to provide at least 20 minutes of training on human trafficking awareness to employees who are likely to come into contact with victims of human trafficking.  These employees include reception employees, housekeeping employees, bell desk employees, and other employees who regularly interact with customers.  The new law requires covered employers to provide such training to covered employees within 6 months of hire and once every two years thereafter.

AB 1654 (PAGA Relief for Unionized Construction Employers):  This new law provides that unionized workers in the construction industry are not covered by PAGA (i.e. they cannot bring PAGA claims), provided that the CBA (1) is entered into prior to January 1, 2025; (2) provides for the wages, hours of work, and working conditions of employees, premium wage rates for all overtime hours worked, and for the employee to receive a regular hourly pay rate of not less than 30 percent more than the state minimum wage rate; (3) prohibits all of the violations of the Labor Code that normally would be addressable under PAGA; (4) provides for a grievance and binding arbitration procedure to redress those violations and authorizes the arbitrator to award any and all remedies otherwise available under the Labor Code (except PAGA remedies); and (5) expressly waives PAGA rights. 

SB 826 (Gender Composition of Boards of Directors):  This new law provides for mandatory inclusion of women on corporate boards of directors.  Specifically, by the end of 2019, publicly held domestic or foreign corporations with principal executive offices in California must have a minimum of one female director on its board, and by the end of 2021, these corporations must comply with the following: (1) If its number of directors is six or more, the corporation shall have a minimum of three female directors; (2) If its number of directors is five, the corporation shall have a minimum of two female directors; (3) If its number of directors is four or fewer, the corporation shall have a minimum of one female director. 

Salary Increases Required for Exempt Employees in 2019

 
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To qualify as an exempt employee, California requires that an employee must be “primarily engaged in the duties that meet the test of the exemption” and “earns a monthly salary equivalent to no less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment.” Labor Code section 515. This forms the two-part test the employees must meet to be exempt: (1) the salary basis test and (2) the duties test.

Here are five general issues employers should know about the salary basis test going into 2019:

 

1. Salary required to meet “white collar” exemption increases on January 1, 2019.

To be exempt from the requirement of having to pay overtime to the employee, the employee must perform specified duties in a particular manner and be paid “a monthly salary equivalent to no less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment.” As of January 1, 2019, the minimum wage in California increased from $11.00 to $12.00 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees (the increase is from $10.50 per hour to $11.00 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees on January 1, 2019).  With the increase in the state minimum wage, there is a corresponding raise in the minimum salary required to qualify as exempt under the “white collar” exemptions.  Therefore, on January 1, 2019, in order to qualify for a white collar exemption, the employee must receive an annual salary of at least $49,920 for large employers and $45,760 for small employers.

 

2. Salary must be predetermined and guaranteed.

The courts set forth that in order to qualify as a “salary” the pay “must still be a predetermined amount that is not subject to reduction based upon the quantity or quality of work.”  Therefore, bonuses, commissions, and other payments made to the employee during the course of the year are usually not considered part of the employee’s salary to qualify as exempt. 

 

3. The employee’s salary cannot be reduced for quality or quantity of work.

An employee is paid on a “salary basis” if the employee “regularly receives each pay period on a weekly, or less frequent basis, a predetermined amount constituting all or part of the employee’s compensation, which amount is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of the work performed. An exempt employee must receive the full salary for any week in which the employee performs any work without regard to the number of days or hours worked. Exempt employees need not be paid for any workweek in which they perform no work. An employee is not paid on a salary basis if deductions from the employee’s predetermined compensation are made for absences occasioned by the employer or by the operating requirements of the business. If the employee is ready, willing and able to work, deductions may not be made for time when work is not available.

 

4. If misclassified, the employee is entitled to unpaid overtime.

For all non-exempt employees, overtime is owed at a rate of one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of eight hours up to and including 12 hours in any workday, and for the first eight hours worked on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek.  Double the employee’s regular rate of pay is owed for all hours worked in excess of 12 hours in any workday and for all hours worked in excess of eight on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek. In addition to the unpaid overtime that is owed to misclassified employees, employers also face substantial penalties that accrue as a result of the employee not being paid all wages when earned.

 

5. Employers bear the burden of proof in establishing the exemption.

California courts have made clear that the employer bears the burden of proof when asserting that an employee is an exempt employee.The assertion of an exemption from the overtime laws is considered to be an affirmative defense, and therefore the employer bears the burden of proving the employee’s exemption. 

Five Things You Should Know About Holidays and Holiday Pay In California

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1. California employers are not required to provide employees time off for holidays.

 There is no requirement that California employers provide time off (except for religious accommodations, - see below) for holidays. California's DLSE's website states the following: Hours worked on holidays, Saturdays, and Sundays are treated like hours worked on any other day of the week. California law does not require that an employer provide its employees with paid holidays, that it close its business on any holiday, or that employees be given the day off for any particular holiday. 

2. California employers are not required to pay for time off for holidays, nor are they required to pay additional wages if employees work on holidays.

Likewise, there is no requirement that employers pay employees extra pay or "holiday pay" for work performed on holidays. Employers can voluntarily agree to pay employees extra pay for work that is required during holidays, but these terms would be governed by policy set forth by the employer. Therefore, employers are urged to make sure their holiday pay policies are clearly set forth. California's legislature has proposed bills that would require certain employers to pay employees double time for work done on Thanksgiving, but none of these bills have become law. For example, the "Double Pay on the Holiday Act of 2016" proposed to require an employer to pay at least 2 times the regular rate of pay to employees at retail and grocery store establishments on Thanksgiving. None of these attempts by the legislature have been successful yet in requiring California employers to pay any extra "holiday pay."

3. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for employees who cannot work on certain holidays due to religious observances.

Employers need to be aware of any religious observances of their employees since employers need to provide reasonable accommodations for employees due to religious reasons. The analysis of reasonable accommodation is required is a case by case analysis based on the company's type of business and the accommodation requested by the employee. If the employer's operations require employees to work during normally recognized holidays, such as a restaurant, then this should be communicated to employees in the handbook or other policies and set the expectation that an essential function of the job requires work during normal holidays.

4. If an employer does pay for time off during holidays, the employer does not have to allow employees to accrue holiday paid time off.

If an employee leaves employment before the holiday arrives, the employer is not required to pay the employee for the day off. However, the employer's policy regarding holiday pay must clearly set out that this benefit does not accrue to employees and that they must be employed during the specific holidays to receive the holiday pay. Often the employer will also require that the employee works the days leading up to and following the holiday in order be eligible for the holiday pay.

5. If a pay day falls on certain holidays, and the employer is closed, the employer may process payroll on the next business day.

If an employer is closed on holidays listed in the California Government Code, then the employer may pay wages on the next business days. The DLSE's website explains this, and other considerations, for the timing requirements for payroll. 

The holidays listed in the Government Code are as follows:

 

January 1 - New Year's Day

Third Monday in January - Martin Luther King Jr. Day

February 12 - Lincoln's Birthday

Third Monday in February - Washington's Birthday

Last Monday in May - Memorial Day

July 4 - Independence Day

First Monday in September - Labor Day

Second Monday in October - Columbus Day

November 11 - Veterans Day

Fourth Thursday in November - Thanksgiving Day

Day after Thanksgiving

December 25 - Christmas

Managing Different Generations in the Workplace

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As the economy continues to grow and the job market becomes increasingly robust, many employers around the country are probably starting to get antsy, wondering how they can entice their best employees to stick around instead of looking for a bump in pay or responsibilities elsewhere. Building employee loyalty can be a tough task for managers, but it’s something they can’t afford to ignore, as competition for skilled talent grows fiercer every day.

Today’s changing work environment is only making things more complicated, particularly when it comes to trying to satisfy and meet the expectations of employees across several generations. In 2016, Millennials became the largest generation in the labor force, and as of 2017, there were more than 56 million Millennials either working or looking for work. Following close behind are the nation’s 53 million Gen X’s and 41 million Baby Boomers. All this makes for a crowded workplace where managers need to keep things running smoothly while also exploring new ways to make their employees feel fulfilled and ensure they have a clear vision of their future with the firm.

What are some of the best strategies for pursuing this goal?

 First of all, make everyone feel appreciated. It might seem like the easy answer here is more compensation but cash bonuses aren’t the only way to say “thank you” anymore. As the survey reveals, for Millennials, loyalty is closely tied to a sense of opportunities for career growth. Eighty-six percent of Millennials surveyed said that their company providing career training and development would keep them from leaving their current position. But if that position is lacking in growth opportunities and the potential for leadership development, 67% of Millennials said they would be more likely to leave instead.

Next, employers need to prioritize flexibility when it comes to learning and advancement. This can go a long way toward creating a culture of continuous, lifelong learning, which is only going to become more essential in the workplace as key skills and competencies change and evolve faster every year. Giving employees the freedom to pursue professional development in whatever format and on whatever schedule is most convenient to them is a great approach.

 It’s also in tune with Millennial expectations, given that they consistently rank training and development even higher than cash bonuses on their list of priorities in the workplace. It’s a great way to keep Gen X employees—many of whom are a few decades into their career and likely in management roles at this point from feeling like they’re hitting mid-career plateaus or stagnation.

 Last but certainly not least, encouraging better communication is key. Employees across generations want feedback, but they differ in how they want to receive it. Millennials prefer to get feedback almost constantly while 60% of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers want a less frequent approach and prefer annual or biannual, formalized performance reviews.

Employers also need to make sure that feedback itself is constructive and helpful. With 78% of Gen Xers responding that performance reviews do not yield meaningful growth opportunities and 42% of all employees saying they would grade their employers at a C or below, it’s clear that many managers have work to do to make the review process productive for employees and not just an exercise.

It’s helpful to study this and other data to gain insight into what each specific generation values most so that needs and expectations can be balanced effectively across the workplace. In the end, however, there’s more that unites us than separates us, and every manager would do well to remember that all generations want:

To be treated fairly

Work that provides personal satisfaction

Employers that understand personal lives are important

Work that is valued by employers and customers

A clear sense of purpose from employers

Keep these tenets—and that focus on employee growth and professional development—in mind and employee loyalty is likely to disappear from your list of management concerns.

 

-MB

Is the Annual Company Holiday Party Still a Thing?

 
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In recent years, many companies have downsized their holiday parties to less lavish affairs or hosted other types of events that replaced the traditional after-hours holiday soiree. The decision whether to host a holiday party may come down to cost or employee interest.

 Moving away from the traditional party "seemed to come along with businesses becoming more budget-conscious in the aftermath of the recession, but it is also consistent with the business trend of focusing on company culture," said Catherine Wragg, senior vice president for human resources at TriNet, headquartered in Dublin, California. "Using that holiday budget to have more meaningful team-building activities throughout the year helps employees engage with the company on a more consistent basis and contribute their time and skills in a way that is focused on building community."

 

Could a Holiday Party Become a Liability?

One reason companies may choose events other than the traditional party to celebrate the holidays could be the desire to avoid potential liability. An employer could be held responsible for any activities that happen during the party, and some companies have decided the risk may not be worth it.

Employment attorneys agree that holiday parties can be risky for employers. "More bad behavior occurs at company holiday parties than at any other time of year," said Mark F. Kluger, attorney and partner at Kluger Healey LLC in Fairfield, N.J. "The combination of the holiday season, pent-up feelings about co-workers and, most importantly, alcohol often lead to uninhibited behavior ranging from sexual harassment to expressions of intolerance." 

Community Service Projects, Team-Building Trips Might Be Preferable

One way to celebrate the holiday season is to have employees participate in a service project together.

One idea is to distribute toys to underprivileged and needy children in the community. Choosing a local organization to collaborate with to have an impact where employees live and work. When employees end their workday at noon and spend the rest of the day together having a light lunch and wrapping presents for others, it becomes a team-building activity while increasing the holiday spirit. Other community service projects, such as collecting items for a local food pantry or running a mitten and hat drive for a homeless shelter, can also be strong team-building activities during the holiday season.

 Another idea would be to do a "mystery trip" as an alternative to the standard holiday party. Doing a mystery trip opens the door to encourage team building and building relationships among people in the different teams of the company; doing this leads to experiences and memories that will last longer than a cocktail party will.

Employers might want to consider not doing an event at all. According to a TriNet survey, 73 percent of employees would prefer a cash bonus during holiday time, while 51 percent favor having extra paid time off between Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Because December can be a busy time for many people, a traditional holiday party could feel like an obligation to employees.

Politics & The Workplace

 
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While the midterm elections have passed, there are still a wide number of people strongly debating what current policy and events will mean to people’s futures. Passions are running high, and not every discussion ends up being civil. Managers must make sure that the discussion doesn’t divide staff members into angry, tribal camps, while at the same time make sure not to simply silence everyone’s views or attempt to force employees to take on management’s views. Employees need to be able to discuss how to handle the issues the best possible way.

1. Hold Transparent Discussions Between Staff and Management

Company leaders should allow employees the freedom to have discussions; banning all political conversations just causes further divide. Cultivate a culture where everyone feels welcome whether they are liberal, conservative or anywhere in-between. Don't force the political view of the executive team on the rest of the organization either.

2. Tell People to Keep It Lighthearted

Management should communicate to all employees that it is perfectly OK to engage in political discussion, as long as they keep it as lighthearted as possible. Encourage non-confrontational questions, rather than discussions about hot-button issues where there is little to no middle ground. Develop a culture that is respectful to others’ views and fosters an open mindedness.

3. Encourage A Culture of Respect

Whether the topic is politics or pay, employers should focus on promoting the organizational expectation of a respectful workplace. It is important that company leaders model this expectation in how they communicate and interact with employees. It's also important that the leadership team is trained on key actions and talk points when those discussions pop up in the workplace.

4. Redirect Conversations About Non-Work-Related Topics

Political opinions about non-work-related topics should not be discussed at work for the same reason personal matters should be left at the door: they have the potential to create a hostile work environment. However, a healthy dialogue about political matters that impact the business is important. Train managers to redirect to the issues that impact work life, not personal life.

5. Help People Gain Perspective

Reasonable people can disagree on movies, child rearing, sports, personal financial management strategies, educational institutions and so much more. When a disagreement becomes emotional, managers should help employees step back and try to recognize and appreciate diversity, the commonality of good intentions, and the work that diverse individuals can accomplish together.

6. Foster an Inclusive Environment

Educate your employees on the value and importance of having a diverse and inclusive environment. Let them know that dialogue is encouraged, but the office is not the environment for debates. If employees aren't open to hearing different points of view, they should refrain from starting and/or joining the conversation.