Blog Posts

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.

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

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.

3 Ways to Provide Actionable, Helpful Feedback That Improves Performance

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Giving helpful, constructive feedback can be surprisingly difficult. While it’s easy for most people to work out how a behavior or process doesn’t work, turning this into a piece of advice that’s actionable and helpful is rarely an easy process.

Despite this, giving feedback is one of the most important aspects of building a great team. Without feedback, it’s impossible to know where and how to improve and put the changes into place that required to develop and get better.

Luckily, it’s possible to provide actionable, helpful feedback to colleagues and team members using a few simple techniques. Apply the three tactics below to give your colleagues and employees helpful feedback that they can use to improve.

Make sure your feedback is relevant, timely and specific. 

The best feedback ticks three boxes: it’s highly relevant to the task or situation that’s at hand, it’s delivered at the right moment to help the recipient, and it’s very specific and directly applicable.

Does your feedback meet all three criteria? Many people give great advice that’s not relevant to the situation, or they deliver the right advice at the wrong moment. Lots of great advice is given that’s also too general to put into practice.

Giving relevant, timely and specific advice makes your feedback more valuable than any other messages your team members or employees receive. It gives an employee the chance to directly implement your advice and improve a specific situation.

Before you give advice, make sure that it ticks all of the three boxes above: it’s highly specific, timely and relevant. When all three conditions are met, your feedback is far more likely to have a positive effect on your employees or team members.

Be positive, and ensure your feedback has a constructive tone. 

It’s easy to sound overly negative when you give feedback. Because of tone, it’s quite common for people to interpret positive, constructive feedback as an insult or mean, negative statement about their job performance.

Because of this, it’s important to make sure that your feedback is always built to be positive and constructive. Great feedback should give people valuable help, and not feel like it detracts from their abilities or belittles them.

Before you give feedback, think about how you would react if you were the recipient instead of the giver. Would you view it as a helpful piece of actionable advice or as a personal insult or complaint?

Phrasing, tone and word choice can have a huge impact on the way your feedback is received, even if it doesn’t change its content much. Before you give any advice, use the above test to make sure the recipient isn’t likely to misinterpret your feedback.

Be consistent, or else your feedback is largely meaningless. 

One of the most common complaints of disgruntled or frustrated employees is that their bosses simply don’t listen to them. When you give inconsistent feedback, it’s extremely difficult for your employees or team members to know what to do.

As written above, great feedback is relevant, timely and specific. It’s also consistent, with great feedback maintaining the same message no matter how or when it ends up being delivered.

If you deliver inconsistent feedback to an employee, it becomes difficult for them to know how to improve. This is particularly true if several people each provide their own contradictory feedback on how a person, task or project could be made better.

When you’re part of a team, ensure you all have the same goals and can deliver the same key messages in your feedback. As an individual, make sure you stick to one message and remain consistent when you offer feedback to your team members.

How to Hire the Wrong Person Every Time

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Here are 10 Questions to Ask Yourself:

1. Do you ONLY recruit when you have an immediate need? 

If that's what you do, you probably do not have a list of pre-screened candidates to call.

2. Do your recruitment ads attract people who are looking for a job - ANY job - rather than people who really want to do the job you have to offer?

3. Have you neglected to identify the particular capacities (both mental and physical)? 

Skills, personality traits, and other core competencies that are necessary to being successful on the job is the key to hiring the right person. 

4. Do you neglect to ask your employees, vendors, business networks, family, and friends if they can refer to anyone who would be a good fit for the job?

5. Do you neglect to pre-screen applicants by phone first?

This process would help ensure that they meet your minimum hiring requirements.

6. Do you neglect to test applicants for the needed skills and other requirements someone needs to be successful in the position?

Just taking their word that they will be able to do the job or just assuming they can do it well because they did it somewhere else before is risky.

7. Do you rely on your "gut" instinct during interviews? Naturally, if you "like" an applicant, you look for reasons to hire them and, if you don't "like" them, you look for reasons not to hire them. This may lead to hiring the wrong person for the job. 

8. Do you tell applicants all about the job and what the ideal candidate looks like before you find out who they are and what they can do?

You will have given them too much information and they will gear their interview answers to what you have confided in instead of waiting until you have received information from them to compare with what the ideal candidate looks like.

9. Do you neglect to plan for the interview? 

If you do not plan, then you just "wing" it and the result is that you hire the person with the best presentation skills rather than the person who is the best fit for the job.

10. Do you neglect to check references? Don't just assume that none of the people you call will tell you anything useful.

If you are doing most of the things cited here, the formula is for frustration and failure. When the new hire doesn't work, you can go out and do it this way all over again OR you can reverse engineer the process and hire the right person!

For recruitment services, please contact HR Advisors.

What Is the Cost of Hiring Bad Employees?

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At some point most business owners realize they have made a bad hiring decision. The employee may have poor customer service skills or frequent tardiness. Bad hires tend to have a ripple effect in business.

According to CareerBuilder, on average each year, 69% of employers are negatively affected by a bad hire. The costly adverse effects may shock you. 

What is the actual cost of hiring bad employees. 

For 41% of business owners a bad hire cost them a minimum of $25,000.00, and 25% of business owners say that it cost them $50,000.00.

Bad employees hurt productivity and can cause a loss in sales and/or damage customer relationships. After firing a bad employee, recruiting, hiring and training a new employee costs the company time and money.

Why do bad hires happen?

According to a survey from CareerBuilder, the biggest reason for bad hires is the need to fill a position immediately.

Although having an open position takes a toll on the company, hiring a bad employee is actually worse. There is no financial benefit of hiring an employee just to fill a position quickly.

Other reasons for bad hires include:

·         Insufficient recruiting

·         The need to adjust sourcing techniques

·         Fewer recruiters needed to review applicants

·         Failure to conduct reference checks

·         Lack of a strong employment brand

How can you avoid hiring the wrong person?

Create a job ad that specifically states what skills are needed. Be specific in the ad so you can attract candidates that have the skills you seek and who can be immediately effective on the job.

Prepare a list of interview questions that pertain to the position. Don't ask generic questions during the interview.

Gather feedback from existing employees. Ask current employees what kind of person they would want to work with and include those qualities when searching for the right candidate.

Google the candidate and see what comes up. Check social media accounts and posts for any red flags.

Do a second interview. Although this may be time consuming, it will refresh your memory on the candidate and help reveal more of their character traits.

Conduct reference checks. Call the candidates most recent employer and ask to speak with a manager or supervisor who worked with the candidate.

Business owners want to hire the right person and a great deal of time and energy goes into this process. In the long run, taking the time to find long-term employees will help keep turnover down and save the company a great deal of money. HR Advisors offers full cycle recruitment services, please contact us for more information!

 

- Five Stars

Ten Common Mistakes In Employee Handbooks

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An employee handbook can be the foundation of employee performance and a shield against law suits OR it can be a time bomb that confuses employees and strips away your legal defenses!

It depends on how well it's written and implemented. Here is a list adapted from The HR Law Weekly of common mistakes in company handbooks:

1. Adopting a "Form" Handbook -  It many include promises you will never be able to keep.

2. Including too much detail on procedures - This is confusing to employees and provides fodder for lawyers. Stick to company policies and keep separate procedures manual for managers.

3. Mentoring a "probationary" period - To be effective, it must be called an " introductory period."

4. Being too specific in your discipline policy - This may give the idea that the policy covers every infraction.

5. Not being consistent - Make sure all policies speak in one voice.

6. Overlooking an at-will disclaimer

7. Sabotaging disclaimers by what you say- Especially by reassuring employees their jobs are safe.

8. Not adapting the handbook to accommodate each state's  laws

9. Failing to update the manual frequently for changing laws

10. Setting unrealistic policies -  If managers won't enforce it- don't put it in the handbook.

For handbook services, please contact HR Advisors. 

 

- The HR Law Weekly

The Key to Defeating a Discrimination Claim

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If an employee is able to prove that that he/she was wrongfully terminated (e.g. discrimination), does the company have any defense to such a claim?

A recent case demonstrates that California employers can avoid liability if they are able to prove that they would have made the decision to terminate regardless of the wrongful factor.

In 1977, William A. Davis worked as an insurance agent for Farmers. In 1983 he entered into an independent contractor agreement, however he was restricted from representing any other insurance companies and was required to abide by all of Farmer's regulations.

Davis filed a lawsuit against Farmers for misclassification (stating he should have been classified as an employee not an independent contractor), as well as wrongful termination claiming that he had been fired because of his age (57).

The jury decided that Davis was indeed misclassified and should have been hired as an employee. During the time that Davis' wrongful termination lawsuit was pending, the California Supreme Court held in Harris v. City of Santa Monica, that when an employee supports a Fair Employment and Housing (FEHA) discrimination claim by demonstrating that an illegal reason was a major factor of his/her termination, the employer may avoid liability by establishing that the decision would have been made regardless of the wrongful factor.

The court instructed the jury to reflect the holding in the Harris case at Davis' trial. The jury found that while Davis' age was a key motivating factor of his termination, Farmers would have made the same decision for valid reasons such as poor performance. Davis was not awarded any damages.

 

- HR Daily Advisor

Can You and Should You Keep Employee’s Salaries a Secret?

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Making salary information public shows transparency which in turn can boost employee morale; while on the other hand, keeping this information private can cause employees to feel “cheated” if they learn that someone in the same position is receiving higher pay.

Although transparency is valuable, there are some downsides to making salary information public. For one, this might cause some employees to feel that they are being paid too little in comparison to others, which may lead to a hostile or jealous work environment. This also limits the employer’s ability when it comes to negotiating salaries.

Although some companies choose to keep salaries confidential, they should be weary of discouraging employees from sharing their wage information as this may be illegal. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) prohibits employers from preventing employees from discussing pay with each other.

Furthermore, President Obama signed an Executive Order in 2014 which prohibits federal contractors from retaliating against employees who disclose their wage information. Should the Paycheck Fairness Act pass, this protection will apply to all employees.

There are positive and negative aspects to both options when it comes to disclosing salary information, but regardless of how each company chooses to handle this, it is important that they stay in compliance with the NLRA.

 

-HR Daily Advisor

Qualities to Look for When Hiring

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A bad hire is more costly than leaving a position open for a few extra weeks or even a couple extra months. When hiring, below are some key traits to look for in candidates, regardless of the position.

1. Responsibility. Someone who possesses this trait will show desire for taking ownership of assignments and projects from start to finish.

2. Resourcefulness. Things don’t always go as planned, so it is good to have someone who is resourceful, can think on his/her feet and can get the job done regardless of any “surprises.”

3. Positive Attitude. Someone who has a positive outlook is likely to take on challenges in a proactive manner and handle them more effectively and efficiently.

4. Good Listening Skills. A good listener will learn from the information they take in from training, discussions and from being aware of what is going on around them.

5. Relationship Builders. Most of the time it takes more than one person to get the job done which is why it is important to hire people who are able to work well with others.

In addition to the traits listed above, it is important to keep in mind your company’s culture and the nature of the job when searching for the candidate who will be the best fit!

 

-Compensation & Benefits Daily Advisor

Employee Morale Crushers

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Employee morale is one of the most important but difficult things to manage. It is important to maintain high morale in order to retain employees. Below are some one the most common reasons as to why employees are dissatisfied.

1. Managers that treat employees poorly. Often times moral issues are a result of poor management. An example of this is when a manager causes an employee to feel that his/work is not valued or respected and that the employee is “lucky” to have the job.

2. Unclear expectations. If employees do not have a clear goal that they are working toward, they are likely to become discouraged and frustrated. Managers should provide employees with frequent feedback so that employees understand what is expected of them.

3. Lack of communication. Communication is extremely important, especially in times of change. Employees should be able to communicate up the chain of command and feel that they are being heard and that their opinions matter.

4. Not feeling recognized for hard work. Most employees desire to have their efforts recognized in some way. Recognition gives employees confirmation that they are meeting expectations and encourages them to take pride in their work.

5. Lack of trust to complete the work. Another word for this is micromanagement. Most employees would prefer to do their job to their best of their abilities without having a manager constantly question their actions. However, it is important for employees to feel that they are able to ask questions without having to face a negative reaction.

6. An unreasonable workload. Although most employees understand that workloads may fluctuate, demanding an employee to keep up with an unreasonable amount of work for a long period of time will cause him/her to be burnt-out and resentful.

7. High turnover rates. High turnover rates puts stress on the entire company and extra pressure on the remaining employees when they have to take on the extra work. If the turnover rates are a result of employees being terminated, existing employees may lose confidence in their job security.

 

-HR Daily Advisor

What Not to Ask on a Job Application

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There are certain questions that may appear discriminatory based on specific topics that are covered by State Laws or regulations. Below are some examples of what not to ask on the job application form.

  • Marital status. Asking a question that targets gender or a person’s familial status appear discriminatory as it is not relevant to the individual’s ability to perform the necessary job duties. Avoid asking for titles such as Ms. or Mrs. or for maiden names.
  • Arrest records. Asking for arrest records can seem discriminatory as it may indirectly impact a protected class. Conviction information should only be included on an application if it is related to the job.
  • Sexual orientation. Asking about an individual’s sexual orientation should be avoided as this is considered a protected class in some states.
  • Height and weight. Unless it is directly related to the person’s ability to do the job, questions regarding height and weight should not be asked, especially if the results have an unequal impact on a specific gender or nationality group.
  • Credit history. Financial questions as well as questions regarding wage garnishments, bankruptcy and home ownership, that are not directly related to the job should not be asked.
  • Questions that directly or indirectly expose the applicant’s age. The only reason that an employer should ask a question related to age is to find out if the candidate is old enough to work. The best way to ask this is “Are you over the age of 18?” (or the minimum age requirement for that position).
  • Questions that expose medical or disability information. Only ask the applicant if they are able to perform the essential duties of the job.
  • Questions that relate to an applicant’s protected activities (Former FMLA Leave, Workers’ Compensation etc.). Asking these questions may seem discriminatory against a person who has used their protected rights.
  • Avoid asking questions about race, national origin, citizenship, creed etc.

It is best to avoid these questions mainly in order to protect the rights and privacy of employees as well as their sensitive information. For more information or guidance on whether or not your job applications are compliant, contact HR Advisors.

 

-HR Daily Advisor

Top 4 Characteristics of 21st Century Leadership

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Faster communication, shifts in demographics, globalization and numerous other changes in today’s business world means that leadership styles must also be altered to keep up with the current environment.

Although certain characteristics of leadership such as vision, intelligence, good judgment, ambition and integrity are still valuable, the “hierarchical, inward-focused” method of leadership will not fit well with the 21st century business needs.

Below are the four key characteristics that distinguish the leaders who are successful in today’s ever-changing business environment:

1. Capacity to Navigate – This skill of scanning the fast-changing business landscape allows leaders to see signals and patterns that might impact the company’s growth.

2. Capacity to Empathize – This allows leaders to reach and connect with people who are different from them.

3. Capacity to Self-Correct – Companies need leaders who are able to evaluate their own long-standing ideas and assumptions about leadership and adjust them if necessary for the benefit and success of the organization.

4. Capacity to Set Up Win-Win Propositions for Stakeholders – With the current rapid flow of information, leaders must embrace transparency and competition. Effective leaders strive to create appealing propositions for all of the various stakeholders.

These four key characteristics are a guide for successful leadership in today’s fast changing business world.

 

     – HR Daily Advisor