Employee Performance

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.

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.

5 Ways to Improve Performance for Small Teams

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There’s no substitute for great performance. In all industries, from manufacturing to professional services, that businesses that lead ahead of the pack tend to be the ones that emphasize and aim for great performance.

There are several aspects of achieving great performance. Great performance can be achieved on an individual level by one person, by a team of talented people, or by an entire business made up of many small and large teams.

Today, we’ll focus on the second type of performance: team performance. Read on to discover five ways that you can improve the performance of your small team using a selection of human resources management tactics.

1. Make integrating into the team part of your performance appraisals. 

Many people thrive independently but struggle to work as part of a team. This can result in great performance on individual projects but slow, inconsistent results in an environment where communication and teamwork is important.

Instead of focusing solely on individual productivity, make integrating into the team a major priority of your management. It’s not just skills that matter, but also being a good team player and someone that others can depend on.

2. Don’t just focus on team members – focus on the team’s leadership. 

Even a team of top-performers will struggle to achieve its goals without an excellent leader. Does your team have a leader that sets the right goals and keeps members of the team motivated?

Effective leadership means understanding each team member’s role and priorities, then ensuring all team members can work effectively together. It’s important to be just as attentive about leadership as the individual performance of each person.

3. Set goals that can be achieved on an individual and team level. 

Does your team have goals that can be achieved both individually and collectively as a team? The best goals are ones that can be achieved as a team, as well as being able to be broken down into small goals that can be achieved by individuals.

Create major goals, then break them down into sub-goals for individuals or smaller groups to focus on. This gives your team a major goal to work towards, but one that isn’t so large it seems impossible to achieve.

4. Make sure communication between team members is a priority. 

Communication is the key to effective teamwork. When people with different skills can communicate with each other clearly and openly, problems that can otherwise hold progress back are quickly avoided or overcome.

Is your team designed for open, simple communication? Create an environment in which communication is encouraged and you’ll make your entire team much more focused, effective and productive.

5. Keep morale as high as possible by celebrating every achievement. 

It’s important to stay focused on achieving your team’s goals. It’s also important to occasionally step back and view the progress you’ve made in order to keep morale high and team members energized.

When your team achieves a major goal, take a moment to celebrate. Achieving large goals not only helps your team move towards its objective – it also strengthens the ability of each team member to work effectively with their peers.

How to Accurately Appraise Employee Performance in Your Business

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Are you preparing to carry out an employee performance appraisal? Ensuring that all of your company’s employees are performing effectively is one of the most vital aspects of managing a business.

It’s also something that many businesses – particularly small companies without a dedicated HR team – can struggle with. How can you accurately, consistently and fairly appraise and track the performance of your team?

Below, we’ve listed four tips and techniques that you can use to carry out accurate, useful performance appraisals of your business’s employees to ensure your office remains productive, focused and dedicated towards achieving your goals.

Create a standard performance appraisal criteria. 

Many small businesses make the mistake of assessing employees using unique and different criteria. The end result is a performance appraisal that doesn’t provide an actionable, constructive form of advice for employees or managers.

Does your business have a standard performance appraisal criteria? Performance appraisals need to be standardized for all employees, meaning that all people are assessed and appraised using the same criteria.

Standardization prevents employees from feeling that they haven’t been treated fairly in their appraisal. It also makes it easier for your HR team to track employee performance over the long term and view improvement as it occurs.

Understand the goals of a performance appraisal. 

What is the goal of your performance appraisal? Performance appraisals need to do two things: they need to provide a record of performance for managers, and also to provide actionable, helpful information to employees.

Can an employee receive their appraisal and understand which areas they excel in, which require improvement and which key skills make them an important part of the business?

If your performance appraisal system is used to support promotions and salaries, for example, does it accurately assess the criteria required to work out what each employee deserves and is entitled to?

Focus on useful feedback, not surprises.

Many employees fear performance appraisals, with worries of surprising problems and complaints that they may not be aware of. Good performance appraisals should be free of surprises, with employees largely aware of issues before being appraised.

In the most effective workplaces, managers make employees aware of performance issues as soon as possible. This creates immediate change, rather than delaying any progress until the point at which performance appraisals are carried out.

Do your team members understand their performance issues and areas in which an improvement may be required? It’s important to address performance issues if and when they occur and not to leave any long-term issues until appraisal time.

Carry out appraisals frequently and consistently. 

The key to gradual improvement is great tracking. By keeping detailed, consistent records of each of your employees’ performance, you can track improvement over the long term and watch as your business becomes more effective.

Create consistency by carrying out performance appraisals on a regular basis. It’s best to assess performance every six months, although some businesses might be best suited to annual performance reviews and appraisals.

The more consistent your business can be in tracking and appraising its employee performance, the easier you’ll find it to measure long-term performance trends and stay aware of progress.

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.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.