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Many of my clients are surprised when I share that a proper job title and well-written job description are two fundamental building blocks in a successful search for the right employee. Both a job title and the description are the first impressions an applicant has of your company, and it is essential that they are accurate while defining the job.

If the job title does not accurately reflect the role or if the job description is not well written, it can become a barrier to your company successfully hiring the right candidate. It is important to understand the major impacts the two can have on your business. Let’s take a look at what the impact can be…

Losing Out on Key Talent

Pretend you are the candidate searching for a new job. What is the first thing you type in the search bar? Probably the job title. And if you see a job title you like, what is the second thing you do? You read the job description.

Candidates search for jobs based on their past job experiences and their knowledge of what each job entails. When they see a title or description that doesn’t quite fit their profile or what they are looking for, they usually pass on it as it makes them feel the role and/or your company is not aligned with their background. Or even worse, it could put a bad taste in the candidate’s mouth about your company. And because of that, you could lose out on a great candidate for a different role in the future, due to mislabeling your jobs or not describing them properly.

When done correctly, a job description emphasizes your employer brand. It helps create a solid foundation for a culture your candidates will want to be a part of. Doing so will allow your brand to grow and give your company the boost it needs to continually bring in key talent.

Misalignment on Expectations & Lowered Engagement

When job descriptions and job titles aren’t given correct attention, it can cause a domino effect and a breakdown in communication in the workplace. If both are clear and concise, your chances of having gaps in communication are smaller. Job descriptions give the employer and the employee a solid foundation for performance and establish the employer’s expectations of the role. If the description is not clearly aligned it can cause poor performance, eventually lower engagement and may cause the employee to leave the organization.

Job titles can also cause an employee’s performance and engagement to diminish. The Spherion survey, conducted online with market research data collection organization Research Now, found that nearly half the workforce (42%) are dissatisfied with their job title. People take pride in their job titles and if an employee doesn’t feel proud in their position, it can cause lower satisfaction. Causing lower engagement, breakdowns in communication, and a strain on the business. Taking the time to align the title to the description helps the employee better understand their role in the organization.

Financial Implications

When you sit down to determine a job title and write a job description, consider the financial impact it can have on your business.  Choosing the right title and writing out a well thought out job description can actually save your company money. The average cost per hire in 2017 is $4,129.00 and the average time to fill a given position is 42 days according to a survey conducted by SHRM (dependent on geographical location).  If your job title and description are inaccurate, these numbers can escalate and create a strain on the business.

Additionally, when an employee starts their new job, very few times is an employee put right to work. They are acclimated to the job, which means; attending training, learning the business, onboarding, sit-downs with managers, taking time away from other employees. All of these things can continue to cost the business money due to lack of production and efficiency. If a new employee chooses to leave the organization because the work is different from what they were seeking, your company has incurred onboarding costs and you will not see a return for your initial investment.

Legal Risks

Job descriptions are not required by law, nor are they legally binding. They should be an accurate portrayal of the job’s functions to help minimize legal implications. When writing out job descriptions, consider some of the major impacts they can have on business:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – Job descriptions provide a strong base for the essential functions of the job. Once employed, an employee must be able to perform the job functions listed in the description with or without accommodations. If the job description properly outlines the duties, it will show the candidate/employee what is expected to perform the job. If the employee does not have a clear picture of the job, they may request accommodations that can potentially create an undue hardship on the business.
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – Ensuring job responsibilities are outlined clearly, is key for the FLSA. Job descriptions determine if the role is an exempt or non-exempt employee. Each position must be classified correctly because it can have other implications in areas such as overtime and benefits.
  • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – When an employee is returning from leave, the job description helps determine when the employee can come back to work, and whether accommodations may need to be considered. An accurate list of the essential job functions can help the employer best support the individual returning from leave and minimize risk.

Determining the right job title for your company and making sure its accompanied by a well thought out job description isn’t always easy. Here are some tips that may help make this process easier for you.

Top 5 Tips to Even Better Job Titles and Job Descriptions
  1. Benchmarking
    1. Start by identifying roles in your organization that are easy and clear to define and use those to define the rest of your jobs and levels throughout the company.
  2. Try not to complicate the job title
    1. Take a look at the market and see what other companies are using to attract talent. Educate yourself on other jobs and their role and responsibilities. Measure your titles and descriptions based on that.
  3. Focus on the knowledge, skills, and abilities, that are needed to complete the job.
    1. This will allow you to focus on the right title and better define what the job entails.
  4. Get input from your recruiters
    1. Recruiters talk to candidates every day and know what they are looking for. Their input could be helpful when choosing the job title or when you’re writing your descriptions.
  5. Pinpoint challenging roles
    1. Determine the jobs you are having a hard time filling. Take a second or third look at the descriptions and titles and see and see what can be adjusted to attract the right talent to the position.

There are always going to be instances when you will lose a candidate, such as salary, location of the job, and/or competition, but you never want to lose a candidate because the title or the descriptions aren’t a reflection of the job or your culture. Focusing on the impacts above and using the tips provided can help you to better achieve your goals of bringing in top talent.

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Are leaders born or made?

This is an interesting question that comes up often in client discussions around developing future leaders. For decades in our society, this has been a lifelong debate of nature versus nurture. It’s as if we think that once we can answer this question, we can unlock the mystery/challenge of identifying and leveraging effective leadership.

If you look hard enough, you can find examples of leaders that support both perspectives. There are clearly people who inherit qualities and traits that make them better suited to be a leader. While on the other hand, there are people who can emerge into leadership roles or become leaders through learning, teaching, experiences, and observation.

Is there a way that leaders can be both born and made?

Certainly, and I will explain why.

It is true, some people are just born leaders based on inherited qualities and traits, including coming from a history of leaders in the family. Research shows that some inherited traits such as extraversion, intelligence, risk-taking, being bold, and being assertive are linked to effective leaders. The concept of innate traits that lead to successful outcomes can also be seen in people who are natural born artists, musicians, and athletes.

However, if all leaders were born into leadership, then that would likely rule many of us out as potential effective leaders. The good news is that there is significant research that shows that effective leaders can be made.

As I have already briefly explained, leaders can emerge through learning, experiences, and teachings. Through life and work experiences it is very easy to see that someone can learn from their mistakes and successes and use those experiences as a growth tool toward becoming an effective leader.

It is up to each person to learn from their experiences as to which management practices they want to adopt in order to become the type of leader that they aspire to be. While we offer leadership training, leadership behavioral assessments like DiSC and Myers-Briggs, and even coaching, we both know effective leadership won’t happen overnight.

Rather, leadership is a process of lifelong endeavors, learning from experiences and observing successful leaders around you. Sure, you can learn leadership qualities and study leadership, but leadership requires action and integrity.

What leadership opportunities are you providing for individuals on your team to step up?

When developing your future successors, I encourage you to ask them (and even yourself) regularly:

  • “Who do you want to be as a leader?”
  • “How do you show up to work every day?”
  • “How do you have a positive impact on those around you and especially those who work for you?”

The need for leadership is going to differ based on the culture or environment. The recognition of situational leadership needs can heavily influence how an effective leader may react or go about making decisions. A leader might not always lead through words/vocalization, but rather through actions.

“Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and action.” – Harold Geneen, former President of ITT

I know for myself that I was not born a leader, yet I have a distinct way of being able to read someone and the situation. Now, you are probably thinking what does reading people have to do with becoming a leader, right? It turns out that over the course of my life the ability to read someone has affected how I communicate with others and lead them to a positive outcome. While I haven’t been known to be a strong vocal leader, I have lead through deliberate actions in all aspects of life, while making good choices and not being afraid to make decisions. I have always tried to set the right example by working hard, being a team player, and going the extra step by taking initiative to get things done. Early in my career, I observed that leadership and learning go hand in hand in order to achieve results.

Leadership is a gift and a choice wrapped into one. There will be born leaders and those leaders who will be made, but it’s what those individuals do to influence, impact and inspire those around them that matters most.

Born leaders should leverage the traits that they were fortunate to be born with and use them to lead toward their articulated vision. Made leaders should stay curious and learn through experiences, teachings, and observations in order to bring those around them along with them on their journey.

The advice I give to my clients is the best leaders will be those that are born with leadership traits, but recognize that they are on a lifelong journey of learning to become the best leaders they can be. And, our job is to help guide the path…

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Technology is always innovating, and employees rely on business leaders to keep-up with the changes in today’s modern workplace. One trend that is continuously gaining popularity is wearables, specifically smartwatches like the Apple Watch or Wear OS, which allows users to stay connected to their smartphones from afar.

While these wearables may seem like a distraction in the workplace, employers are finding that the promotion of smartwatches can enhance the employee experience and business productivity. What are the possible pros and cons of this technology in your workplace?

Pros Vs. Cons: Smartwatches at Work

Pro: Allows employees to stay on top of notifications- personal and professional

Promoting wearables can assist employees with staying on schedule, both professionally and personally, which enhances productivity as well as work/life balance. An employee with a smartwatch can receive email notifications, calendar alerts, calls, texts, news alerts, and other programmed notifications. Receiving and previewing these messages on a smartwatch allows the employee to determine if the notification is something that needs to be addressed immediately, as soon as possible, or eventually, and gives the employee quick control over their daily notifications and responsibilities.

Pro: Promotes a healthy lifestyle

Many health apps are available on smartwatches and they can be used to promote healthier, happier, and more productive employees. Health apps can allow employees to track their nutrition, track their activity, take a movement break, and even take a quick mindfulness break. These features promote quick physical and mental breaks throughout the workday which can keep your employees’ stamina strong. They also promote overall health which is good for your employee and your benefits premiums. Additionally, activity apps can be used in culture initiatives, such as a monthly step challenge, to promote healthy employees and engage them in company activities.

Pro: Workplace apps are available

As technology continues to advance, so do the apps on wearable watches. Overtime, businesses may be able to utilize wearables to sign-in to meetings, project a financials presentation, or even have a holographic call. We anticipate e-learning to become even more accessible with wearables. For now, certain apps can be used to assist business functions. Smartwatches allow employees to take notes, create to-do lists, preview important emails, be on-time for meetings, and much more. There are also certain softwares that are smartwatch accessible. For example, mobile security platform Usher replaces traditional forms of enterprise security such as ID cards, passwords, and physical keys with a mobile badge on a user’s smartphone or smartwatch. ZOHO Books also has a smartwatch application that allows users to check balances, submit invoices, track time, and more.

Pro: Enhances everyday tasks

Smartwatches enable employees to do quick math, set timers and alarms, monitor parking meters, review traffic patterns, make payments, receive travel notifications, check the weather, order lunch, and more. While these functions may seem basic, it’s often the simple innovations that can save us time and make our daily tasks easier.

Con: Your phone has to be somewhat close-by

Like much of the wireless technology today, smartwatches are connected through Bluetooth. One limitation of Bluetooth is that the primary device (i.e., smartphone or laptop) has to be within 300 ft. of the secondary device. So, while your employee can put their phone away during a meeting and still receive a notification when the next meeting begins, their phone has to be in the room, on a nearby desk, or in their nearby bag.

Solution: Promote smartwatches, but don’t live by them. Ensure employees know that they can be unplugged after hours or during meetings, but that smartwatches may be able to assist them in their productivity and time management.

Con: Wearables may be distracting during no-phone meetings, seminars, etc.

Wearing smartwatches keeps users consistently connected to their virtual responsibilities. While this can be a good thing, wearables can also be distracting if a user has multiple calls, messages, and notifications coming in. Additionally, social media, sports, and gaming apps can be used on smartwatches which can also cause more distraction from work.

Solution: Remind employees of company technology and personal time management policies, and ensure work responsibilities are completed. If possible, a company can provide smartwatch to employees for little to no cost. This can be seen as an enticing benefit and it also allows the employer to designate the watch as company property and monitor how it is used.

Promoting wearables in the workplace can be gradual or swift depending on your company’s culture and goals. Start small by taking a poll of the wearables in your office and the interest in smartwatches. By testing out wearables in your workplace, you continue down the path of innovation and show your employees that you value progress, productivity, and professional/personal time management.

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The employee experience, otherwise known as EX, is a hot topic right now in the corporate world, but what is it?

The employee experience is the summation of the events an employee experiences throughout his or her career lifecycle with an organization. From the very first phone screen to the exit interviews and every interaction in between across departments. This is the employee’s experience.

Why is the Employee Experience Important?

The competition for top talent is a battle every employer wants to win.  Platforms like Glassdoor and LinkedIn give potential employees a glimpse into the work lives of current employees, providing employees a place to voice their feelings and rate their experience with the organization.  The image portrayed on these platforms are part of the company’s employer brand and can convince or deter a potential employee. Additionally, if an employee has a great experience at your organization, they will likely tell their friends and serve as an excellent referral source for additional talent.

It doesn’t stop there…

When employers are intentional about the employee journey and every interaction they have with the company is thought out, it is highly likely that same intention and care is felt by your clients. Ultimately, your clients will receive better service and care, which often times will lead to higher profits overall. As a leader of your organization, you have the keys to make the client and employee experience a win/win.

10 Ways to Enhance the Employee Experience:
  1. Communicate with employees. Treat your employees as customers, give updates – good and bad, and ensure they are timely.
  2. Take a good look at your employment brand and evaluate how candidates and employees see you. Use this information to improve the work environment and culture.  This is valuable information when used strategically.
  3. Cultivate an environment that is constantly learning and developing. Employees want to grow and learn.  Make sure your LMS is up to date with many options including work improvement and life balance tips.  If you do not have an LMS, invest in one or create ways for your employees to take advantage of learning and training opportunities. The key is to find a way to incorporate learning during a normal workday without interruption.
  4. Stay informed of the ebb and flow of recruiting and talent needs. As the CEO or Senior Leaders, you want to know your company’s retention rate, what skills need developing and where more talent is needed.  Being aware of these issues and addresses them is what keeps a company ahead of their competition.
  5. Keep salary and benefits current and competitive. A lot of compensation information is public these days, so employees can gain access easily.  Get ahead of this by keeping everything current and refreshing rewards often.
  6. Imagine the current journey of an employee. Look at each stage and find ways to improve upon what currently exists.  As an example, make the onboarding process a little easier by digitizing any documents where possible.  The idea is to create an environment where your employees can thrive.
  7. Empathize with your employees. Ask them about their typical workday and the challenges they face.  Finding ways to understand them will allows opportunities to engage with them.  Pinpoints the moments that matter most and find solutions to those challenges.
  8. Shift the way you think. Stop looking at everything as a process or procedure and realign your thinking to everything being an experience.  This will change your perspective on how you engage with your team. What kind of experience would you like to create?
  9. Ask your employees what they want. Your employees are the key to the future success of the company.  Use Focus Group to connect with them and understand the highs and the lows or conduct employee surveys.  Follow through with change and allow them to help co-design the journey they envision.
  10. Identify the outcomes that you envision and prioritize it. Employee experience is quickly being identified by other companies as the way to keep a competitive edge.  Taking the time to improve and invest in this will benefit other aspects of the business as well.

There are so many ways for you to improve your employees’ journey with your organization that will add value to their work life and improve your brand.  Many organizations have adopted strategies to get onboard with this trend as it will only continue to become more prominent.  Remember, your employees are an investment in the future of your organization.  Making timely and well thought out investments will benefit everyone in the long run.

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In today’s global and highly competitive market, business leaders are constantly challenged by inventing creative solutions to improve their services and products. Only highly-skilled, motivated and engaged top talent can successfully navigate in a fast-paced, demanding and constantly evolving work environment.

It is becoming increasingly clear that, in order to attract and retain said talent, organizations have to invest in the continuous professional training and development of their employees. This component has become an integral part of a robust Total Rewards Package employers can offer to position themselves in today’s market. Strong leaders need to be able to continually refine and improve their skill set to effectively manage focused and goal-oriented teams.

As an HR Consultant who works with all levels of the organization, I’ve made the following observations around training and development strategies:

It Creates a Competitive Advantage.

When competing for top talent, business leaders are forced to rethink their Total Rewards Strategy. By offering a comprehensive benefits package that places emphasis on a well-rounded employee development program, candidates may be attracted to your organization rather than your competitor’s. Well-trained employees allow for a more agile and flexible response to changes in the marketplace. It will further help identify aspiring and driven employees as ambitious talent will seek out advancement opportunities and will be fueled by the opportunity to challenge themselves.

Upskilling Adds Value.

Investing in a comprehensive training for the existing human capital empowers higher performance with decreased error margin and higher productivity. It further allows for diversification of job roles by cross-training employees and increasing their proficiency in cross-functional areas to assume different roles within the organization and therefore decreasing the need for additional hires and being able to significantly mitigate costs.

Additionally, this would have a positive effect on the employee’s morale, as self-esteem and the ability “to make an impact” is important to make employees feel valued and they will, in turn, care about the organization’s success.

Allowing Employees to Grow Professionally Increases Engagement.

Employees with access to training and development programs have the advantage over employees in other companies who are left to seek out training opportunities on their own. The training creates a supportive workplace. Employees may gain access to training they wouldn’t have otherwise known about or sought out themselves. Employees who feel appreciated and challenged through training opportunities may feel more satisfaction toward their jobs. This engagement expands past the retention; it builds commitment to the organization’s sustainability and long-term success and provides an invaluable Return-On-Investment.

Investing in Training & Development provides an invaluable long-term ROI to support the organizational growth. Well-trained employees are an asset to the business due to their increased motivation, loyalty and productivity. Longevity not only reduces recruitment cost but can result in cost savings across the board due to the establishment of a solid talent pipeline that will meet and exceed organizational goals.

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