We believe that educated and informed HR professionals positively impact the HR profession and the organizations we serve. To that end, we are proud to provide HR blog posts that keep you both educated and entertained.
“A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.”
We’ve all heard this anonymous quote, but really paying attention to the nuances of it may just help your business. Recognition can help your employees to feel appreciated, which may in turn improve your business in several ways. Employees that feel appreciated are less likely to leave and, in keeping with the quote, are more likely to go above and beyond expectations.
There are many ways that you can make recognition a part of your company culture.
Thanking and recognizing employees immediately for staying late, completing a task ahead of time, or otherwise exceeding expectations lets employees know that you are paying attention and noticing their efforts. This immediate praise is at least as important as any other type of recognition, as belated praise can feel fake or perfunctory.
Immediate praise can be given in person, via messaging, or over an internal social network depending on how your workplace operates. The method of providing praise doesn’t diminish the message, but the way the message is delivered can. To preserve authenticity of praise, make sure the message feels personal, recognizes specific actions, and genuinely conveys thanks.
Bonuses, Perks, and Raises
For an employee to feel truly appreciated, they must feel that they are being adequately compensated for the work that they’re putting in. Bonuses and perks that are offered as a reward for above average performance can help an employee to feel that the work is worth the extra effort. If an employee consistently performs above average, however, a raise is the only way to sufficiently express appreciation.
Awards and Announcements
Company meetings are a great place to distribute awards and make announcements that recognize employees in a public way. Awards certificates and plaques may not seem like much, but can go a long way in making an employee feel valued. Awards should be given for only large achievements and should be based on measurable results so that they don’t feel arbitrary.
Recognition doesn’t have to come strictly from managers and employers, it can be just as valuable when given by peers. Creating a program in which employees are encouraged to praise one another and are provided with tools and guidelines for presenting that recognition can help to foster a culture in which employees recognize and appreciate one another’s efforts.
Entwining Results with Progress
Letting employees know specifically how their efforts and performance have contributed to company progress can take recognition to another level. Showing employees how their efforts add value to the company really lets the employee know how he or she is having an impact on the big picture. This can be more motivating than simple praise that’s disconnected from progress.
Recognition is tricky, as an employee that is recognized doesn’t automatically translate to an employee that feels appreciated. By following these guidelines and being careful to avoid letting rewards turn into entitlements or expectations, you may establish a company culture in which recognition and appreciation are integral.
HR software can assist you in setting up a system for recognizing employees. If you are looking to replace your existing HR software or implement HR software for the first time, visit our vendor match page so we can help you get started.
Blockchain was originally created as a way to digitally manage Bitcoin. While this may seem like it has nothing at all to do with HR, the secure and yet transparent ledger may have farther reaching applications than its inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, intended.
Blockchain is a continuous ledger that stores bits of information, called blocks, after verifying them. Any transaction that moves through blockchain is recorded and is available for viewing to anyone in the particular blockchain network that has been established. This may become useful for medical establishments, financial institutions, and human resources, and those are just some of the obvious beneficiaries.
Blockchain Employment Verification
Employment verification is by and large a jaunty process at this point. While many aspects of recruitment and HR management have been transformed by technology, employment verification is still mainly done by calling references provided by the applicant. Even if hiring managers do find the truth regarding an applicant’s previous employment, they may never find out about performance at that job or about jobs that have been left off the resume.
Blockchain can be used to create a continuous record of a person’s employment. Instead of spending time calling references, hiring managers will be able to simply access candidates’ employment blockchains. While there won’t likely be any notes about employment, performance indicators like promotions and certifications are sure to be visible.
Payroll through Blockchain
Blockchain allows companies (or individuals) to send and receive money instantly. The system doesn’t rely on banks to act as middlemen, so it cuts out fees and waiting periods. Using this type of peer-to-peer system can make payroll much easier and faster.
Contracts in business today can be problematic, as they require honesty and effort from all parties. Smart contracts can take some of the risk out of contracts by automatically acting on agreed upon terms. This could make it easier to pay vendors, get paid by clients, and pay contractors, as the money will change hands as soon as the project or time period is completed.
Instead of using clunky annual performance appraisals, blockchain could streamline performance management. Employers, managers, and peers could all continuously provide input regarding performance, creating a more complete and accurate picture of overall performance for each employee. Instead of trying to find old notes about performance, HR managers could simply tap into a blockchain that contains a wealth of performance information.
While the applications for blockchain in the HR world are still under construction, the technology stands at an exciting precipice. This technology is more secure than most of the software in use today, yet allows many users to simultaneously view and alter information. Blockchain may be poised to change the way HR is managed in a big way.
The technology will likely work best and require less transitioning for companies that have already taken steps to digitize the way that human resources is managed. If you’re not using the most up-to-date HR software, visit our vendor match page so that we can help you get ready for these exciting changes.
If your drug testing policy has been in place for a decade or even just a few years, it may be time to re-evaluate. With the changes in marijuana laws, the changes to DOT workplace drug testing rules, and the opioid crisis all having an impact, many companies have radically rewritten their policies on drug use. Whether you decide that your policy is too strict, too lax, or just right, it’s a good time to clarify your stance on substance use.
Changes to DOT Drug Testing Rules
On January 1st, 2018, a new rule went into effect regarding details of the United States Department of Transportation’s drug testing program. The new rule adds four opioids to the drug testing panel: hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone. The rule also changed testing from MDEA to MDA.
The DOT’s five panel drug test screens employees for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opioids, and PCP. All federal DOT employees must pass an initial screening for these substances and may be subject to future tests as a condition of employment, either on a random basis or in the event of an accident.
The changes to the DOT drug testing policy are farther-reaching than they may seem at first glance. Many employers across the United States refer to the DOT guidelines for their drug testing policies. The new changes will affect any employer that currently uses the DOT standards as the basis for their drug policy.
Maine Marijuana Laws
While the DOT is making their policy stricter, Maine has taken the opposite approach and is now prohibiting employers from testing for marijuana in pre-employment screenings and as a condition of employment. Since the state has legalized marijuana for recreational purposes, lawmakers feel that employees shouldn’t be punished for off-premise marijuana use.
There are limits to this change in state law, however. If employees work for the federal government, they will still be bound by federal laws regarding drug testing. Employers may also test for marijuana if there is probable cause or suspicion that the employee used marijuana on company time, such as if an accident or injury occurs.
Since THC can stay in the body for up to several weeks, it is currently difficult to distinguish whether an employee was under the influence of marijuana while at work or if their use occurred on personal time. At least one company is working on developing tests that would be able to detect whether an employee has used marijuana within a few hours of taking the test.
Tightening Labor Market and Drug Policies
Some employers have decided to relax drug policies for a different reason than changing laws: a tightening labor market. According to Quest diagnostics, failed drug tests reached a 12-year high in 2017, meanwhile the unemployment rate is steadily decreasing and fewer new employees are entering the job market. With fewer candidates to select from, some employers are now failing to see the merit in placing another hurdle in the way of employing qualified applicants.
If you decide to make changes to your drug testing policy, your HRIS may be helpful in analyzing the impact of those changes. Use reporting functionality to gauge whether your new policies result in lower new employee turnover, fewer vacancies, or an increase in incidents.
If your current HR software isn’t capable of providing you with analytics, we can help you find a new and improved product. Visit our vendor match page to get started.
Employee development programs are extremely important in this modern culture of frequent change. Unfortunately, a recent Deloitte study revealed that roughly 60 percent of organizations feel that their learning programs fall short in actually supporting employee development. Answering the following questions may help you to ascertain how effective your employee development program is.
Are Your Training Tools Up to Par?
Employee training videos and quizzes used to be effective for several years, but now they often need to be updated more frequently to keep up with changing trends. Go through your training tools, actually watching videos and taking quizzes to evaluate how effective the learning program is at keeping employees up to snuff with current skills needs.
Additionally, review your training materials to assess how effective they are for preparing employees for real-life on the job situations. Do you feel that an employee would be adequately informed and educated in order to perform the next job that they would be promoted to after receiving the training? If not, consider revamping your training tools and making updates.
Does Your Culture Encourage Development?
If your culture doesn’t support continuous development, it can be difficult to get employees to buy-in. Employees should see other employees participating in training regularly and reaping rewards in their current positions and possibly moving up to higher positions. Managers should offer training support and be available – whether in person or through messaging – to answer questions and provide assistance.
Do Your Managers Lead by Example?
In addition to being there for employees through their training programs, managers should also be engaging in their own continuous development. If they are and they’re not talking about it, employees may be discouraged and think that managers are exempt from training. Make sure that managers are leading by example and using their training experiences to guide employees.
Can Your Employees Easily Engage?
Engagement with training is not a simple fix. While making training modules available online may accommodate digital-savvy employees, employees with less computer savvy may be reluctant to participate or may be more confused about accessing training than the training itself. Be sure to consider different employee needs when designing training programs.
Speaking with a sampling of employees from different departments may help to give you more perspective on the matter. Ask how current training programs are working for them and make changes according to given feedback.
Is Development Incentivized?
Incentives don’t have to be bonuses or raises for completing training. Having a highly visible succession plan in place in which training needs are clearly outlined as they relate to promotional opportunities can be an incentive to participate. Make sure that there is proper motivation for taking part in training, whether that’s as simple as a clear benefit from training or a consequence of not participating.
Making sure that an employee development program is effective isn’t clear-cut, but can be tremendously rewarding. Taking the time to craft a training plan that engages and prepares employees can give your company an advantage while equipping your employees to perform to the highest standards.
HR software can be extremely helpful in developing an effective employee development program and in making it accessible. If you don’t currently use HR software or if your current software could use an overhaul, we can help match you with your perfect solution.
Spring is the perfect time to clean up, get organized, and let some fresh air into your HR department. The hectic end/beginning of a new year is in the rear view and most companies have a little bit of downtime that can be used to make sure that everything is ship-shape. If you’re not sure where to start, the following HR spring cleaning tips might help you straighten up.
Switch to Paperless
Pretty much all HR data can now be collected and stored electronically. Storing information this way can help to literally clean up your office space, while also cleaning up your processes by making it much easier to organize and retrieve data. If you haven’t already started to convert your paper files to digital ones, make this a priority on your spring cleaning checklist.
Clean Out Old Files
Companies are required to keep employee files and candidate applications on hand for certain lengths of time (typically three years after termination for employee files, one year for applications). While these laws can protect employers in the event of a lawsuit, they can also lead to a back log of old employee files. Spring is the perfect time to check the dates and purge the system of all the old files.
If you store your files electronically, purging old files can be a simple process that takes just a few clicks. If you haven’t converted your paper files to digital ones, but are considering doing so, going through your files and scrapping the old and unnecessary ones is a great first step to take. Whether the files you are purging are paper or digital, be sure to take security precautions and dispose of the information in appropriate ways.
Update Your Employee Handbook
Employee handbooks should be updated at least once per year so that they stay relevant. All company policies and procedures should be detailed in the handbook, as well as the company mission and vision. When reviewing this information, make sure that the company policies are in agreement with any laws that have changed in the past year.
Evaluate HR Compliance
Depending on the country in which you operate and the locality, there are likely some posters, forms, and reports that should be managed in a certain way to ensure compliance.
In the U.S., posters with detailed information regarding workers’ compensation, child labor laws, and FMLA laws should be posted in conspicuous places to be compliant with Department of Labor laws. Forms and documents required for HIPAA authorizations, COBRA notices, and legal employment should also be well organized and accessible.
Prepare for Time off Requests
Many employees take vacations throughout the spring and summer months, so spring is a good time to make sure that you’re prepared. Having a good system in place for requesting and approving time off can ease the strain on your employees and HR professionals. If you don’t have enough staff to cover vacations, now is also a good time to review your recruitment practices and staff your organization.
Having great HR software in place can make spring cleaning easy for your organization. If you need help selecting your perfect HR software, visit our vendor match page to get started.
Most everyone has heard that women make about 76 to 80 cents for every dollar made by a man in the workforce. This statistic has been the subject of much debate and is often misunderstood. Knowing more about the gender pay gap, why it exists, and how to mitigate it can be helpful for any business.
It’s Not a Myth
A gender pay gap does exist, but the 76 to 80 cent statistic doesn’t tell the whole story. This statistic is based on an entire workforce and workers are classified only by gender. Factors such as experience, education, and job title have not been taken into consideration.
A larger percentage of women tend to work in lower wage jobs, whereas a larger percentage of men tend to work in higher wage jobs. Women tend to be more likely to leave the workforce to fill family care giving roles, which can broaden the pay gap by creating gaps in experience and employment that lead to lower wages. These issues can be difficult for companies to address immediately.
Even when adjusted for external, less controllable factors, however, a pay gap exists. Women with similar education levels, experience, and positions make approximately 97 to 98 percent of what their male peers make.
Race Also Affects the Pay Gap
Women aren’t equally impacted by the pay gap, race seems to also play a part. Hispanic women only make about 45 cents for every dollar made by a white man and African American women make about 63 cents per dollar. Asian women make about 85 cents per dollar.
Education Can Be a Problem
While it may seem that education could help to narrow the pay gap, there is more to this issue. Women, particularly black and Hispanic women, tend to have a more difficult time paying off student loan debt than men. Since women take longer to pay off student debts on average, this means more interest paid by women, leaving women at an economic disadvantage that can affect opportunity.
Additionally, the gender pay gap remains relatively consistent between women and men at each education level.
Progress Is Happening, but Slowly
Through the 80s and 90s, the gender pay gap narrowed significantly. Since that time, progress has slowed. While the last few years have shown some progress towards narrowing the gender pay gap, women and men aren’t expected to reach pay equality until about 2119 based on the rate at which the gap narrowed between 2001 and 2016.
There Are Things That Companies Can Do
The first step to correcting a problem is realizing that there is a problem, so conducting pay audits or increasing salary transparency throughout a company can help to highlight gender-based discrepancies.
Offering training and advancement opportunities internally can help to offset external influences that may be contributing to a gender pay gap within a company. Refraining from asking for previous salary information can help to prevent a company from perpetuating pay inequities that were begun at earlier stages in an employee’s career.
Communicating with employees regarding steps being taken to narrow the gender pay may also encourage women to apply for promotions. By working to minimize the pay gap within a company, employers may help to lessen pay inequality across the board and bring us closer to a day when there is no gender pay gap.
Being an HR professional isn’t always easy. Many of the most anxiety-inducing and uncomfortable tasks involving employee management get passed to HR. While you may not ever see these workplace tasks featured on “Dirty Jobs” style shows, they are enough to make most people cringe.
Providing Negative Performance Feedback
It’s never easy to tell someone that they aren’t doing a good job, so employers and managers often pass this task to HR professionals. The prospect of relaying negative feedback is enough to keep many people awake at night. It can become even more difficult when HR managers don’t work directly with the employee often and have no solid answers to questions the employee may have about their performance.
Addressing Hygiene Issues
Bringing up hygiene issues can be extremely embarrassing for all parties involved. No one wants to be told that they have bad breath or that their underarm sweat is noticeable, but these are conversations that can help to keep a workplace consistent and professional. It’s important that these conversations stay courteous and to the point, as there may be legalities involved if the problem is caused by a medical condition.
Terminating an Employee
Whether an employee is being let go because of downsizing, performance, or behavior, it’s never an easy conversation to have. Losing a job is one of the most stressful things that a person can go through and most HR professionals are extremely sensitive to that fact. Employees may also have diverse and unpredictable reactions to termination, which can add to the stress.
Additionally, an HR professional’s task doesn’t end when the employee understands that they no longer have a job. The employee must be informed of benefits and resources that are available and an exit interview may be required. After receiving such life altering news, most employees just want to get away, so the conversation may seem to drag for both parties.
Communicating Bad News
When a phone call comes in that an employee’s family member has been injured or even killed, it may fall to the HR professional on duty to relay the news to the employee. It’s tough to watch someone go through the stress of realizing that a loved one is hurt. Again, employees may act unpredictably when given bad news, making the situation even more volatile and difficult.
Recruiting New Employees
While hiring new employees can be rewarding when a candidate is excited about the position, a lot is at stake when it comes to recruitment. A bad hire can cost the company in many ways, so HR professionals often feel the pressure to make the right decision about a candidate.
Unethical or illegal behavior must be uncovered and responded to, but internal investigations to do so can be nerve wracking. It may be necessary to obtain legal counsel and document all conversations regarding the issue. Internal investigations may become tedious and overwhelming for everyone in a workplace, especially the HR professionals that are in charge of spearheading them.
Distractions are something that nearly everyone struggles with. There is a shift that occurs in our minds when we switch from passively engaging in reflections to actively focusing on a task at hand and it can be tough to keep ourselves from slipping back into that passive default mode when working on a task. Unfortunately, losing focus can hamper productivity and even stress us as it takes longer to complete tasks.
If you find yourself struggling to ignore distractions and focus while at work, the follow tips may be helpful.
Acknowledge Your Distraction
Noticing when you are distracted and taking a few seconds or minutes to address the distraction can keep it from dragging your focus away repeatedly throughout the day. It may help to keep a notepad nearby so that you can write down items that are stealing your attention away from your work. In some cases, this can provide a bit of reassurance that the distracting items will be given attention later.
Compartmentalize Your Day and Tasks
Breaking down tasks or planning work hours may help to overcome feelings of overwhelm that could be causing you to turn to distractions for relief. Seeing a reasonable checklist of tasks or a schedule for your work day may assist you in visualizing how your work will be completed. With a roadmap of your day in front of you, it may be easier to stay on track.
Minimize Coworker Distractions
Coworkers popping in at the wrong time or messaging you in the middle of tasks can become a frustrating distraction. Establishing boundaries, such as certain hours that you shouldn’t be contacted, may help to minimize this distraction. This technique may also work with friends and relatives if you work remotely or are contacted frequently while at work.
Control Distracting Sites
It is very common for us to drift into social media or to begin looking at distracting websites when doing work on the computer. In some cases, it may be helpful to limit yourself to looking at these sites only once every few hours or only after a certain number of tasks have been completed. If you still have trouble avoiding distracting websites, you may wish to limit your access to certain sites during work hours.
Get the Energy Out
Excess energy can make us fidgety and more easily distracted. Exercising before work or during your lunch break may help you to expend some of that energy. If you realize that you’re fidgeting and are still hours away from break time, simply walking around the office or standing up from your desk and doing a few stretches could refocus your mind.
Give Yourself a Break
Distractions that come up while in the middle of a task can be annoying and harmful to productivity, but distractions aren’t inherently bad. Allowing your mind to wander at certain times of day may actually restore your motivation and creativity. The trick is to allow yourself to focus on the distractions only at appropriate times so that your work hours are being used to their greatest potential.
Hearts are up in store windows and the flower advertisements are flying. While new lovers may be aflutter with anticipation of what the holiday will bring, many HR managers are slightly less enthusiastic about the day of love. We’re here with some advice about how to keep the day sweet and avoid common HR headaches that accompany Valentine’s Day.
1. Acknowledge the Day
Some of your employees are bound to celebrate Valentine’s Day, whether with each other or with spouses and outside acquaintances. Ignoring the day altogether certainly won’t improve your company culture or garner you any points for fun. Worse, ignoring the holiday leaves the door open for employees to take matters into their own hands when it comes to celebrating the holiday at work.
2. Review and Communicate Fraternization Policies
Workplace romances happen, so it’s important that everyone be in the know about the rules that are in place. Reviewing the fraternization policies to make sure that they’re up to date and in line with what’s actually going on in the workplace a little ahead of Valentine’s Day is a good idea. Sending a copy of the policy to department managers or posting it in a prominent place for all to see may help prevent issues.
3. Encourage Inclusive Celebrations
Bringing sweets to work or planning a big office lunch for Valentine’s Day can make everyone feel appreciated and can make the holiday a bit more joyful. Encourage employees to wear themed clothes and have fun with the day, but underline inclusiveness. Preferential treatment of some employees by peers or superiors can make other employees feel excluded.
4. Keep an Eye Out for Depression
Valentine’s Day can be a painful day for those that have recently divorced or separated and can make some singles feel very lonely. Unfortunately, the sad feelings can lead to depression for some. Keep an eye out for workers that seem to be avoiding interaction or whose productivity fluctuates around this time and be sure to let everyone know that there’s an open-door policy for anyone that wants to talk.
Making emotional counseling available is a good way to assist employees with any feelings of depression or loneliness that may set in at this time of year (or any time of year). There are many options for counseling, including text counseling and video conferencing, that could be included as part of a wellness plan. Some employees may be more comfortable handling personal matters in this way.
5. Share the Love
Small acts of kindness can show employees that you care on Valentine’s Day. Bringing in coffees for everyone or offering a few words of praise for each employee can go a long way in making people feel appreciated. Nice gestures can be contagious and may make the day a little brighter for everyone.
With some forethought, Valentine’s Day can be a wonderful day in the workplace. Keep it lighthearted, but be sure to manage some of the common HR pitfalls that come with the holiday. When done right, it’s a holiday that can strengthen bonds within the workplace.
HR is one of the most often overlooked areas of a business. While everyone has heard that employees are a business’ most valuable asset, it is rarely discussed that HR is imperative to keeping employees compensated, safe, trained, organized, recruited, and ultimately employed.
A well managed HR department can make all the difference in employee satisfaction and company productivity. It can be hard to keep track of all the moving pieces, however. An HR checklist may be able to help your business in the following ways.
Gives You a 360 Degree View of Your HR Systems
It’s hard to figure out exactly what to look for when reviewing your HR systems. An HR checklist assists you with diving deep into your HR systems in order to figure out how different areas are managed. You may discover insights that you would have never found without the direction provided by a well thought out checklist.
Allows You to Identify Housekeeping Needs
Needs transform into simple unchecked boxes when you use a checklist to evaluate your HR processes. While you may feel that recruitment and hiring are well managed within your company, you may discover that your applications ask irrelevant questions or that your company fails to track cost per hire. Identifying small areas that need improvement can also make it seem that much easier to get your systems in order.
Can Uncover Patterns
Using an HR checklist to sort through your HR processes may help you to uncover patterns that provide actionable insights. For example, if you notice that departing employees regularly cite a lack of development opportunity as a reason for leaving and this complaint is confirmed by your evaluation of training systems, you may be able to reduce turnover by improving the way that training is executed.
Takes the Stress Out of Analysis
Trying to figure out where your HR department is going wrong and separate that from what it’s doing right can be stressful. An HR checklist simplifies your analysis by breaking it down into manageable chunks and taking the guesswork out of it. Since all you have to do is check the box or leave it blank at this stage of the game, you can save your brainpower for later.
Provides a Set of Expectations for HR Professionals
The great thing about an HR checklist is that it’s reusable. Not only can an employer or manager use it to evaluate HR systems, HR professionals can use it to regularly check in and ensure that expectations are being met. HR professionals can also use it to set deadlines for improvements in applicable areas and work steadily towards checking all of the boxes.
Assists with Compliance
An HR checklist can be constantly revised and made more specific to ensure continuous compliance with all applicable laws. This can help to keep all managers and HR professionals up to date with compliance needs, bolstering communication in these areas.
An HR checklist is easy to use and can make a big difference in the way that your HR department functions. Consider using one to optimize your HR processes.