Archive for April, 2010

HR Success – Netflix

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Netflix has proved to be a recession-proof company, showing record growth from $19.99 a share in November 2008 to $75 a share in April 2010. Much of the credit can be pointed inwardly at their own employees who have helped drive the company’s growth through new technologies and customer satisfaction.

With more than 2,000 employees, Netflix has grown to a $1.36 billion business. Netflix’s success can be directly attributed to their solid HR department who value quality over quantity and embody the same values as they seek in their employees.

They reward responsibility with freedom and recognize what strategies keep top talent long-term. As they seek innovation from their employees, they also embrace innovative HR policies like their vacation policy and time tracking: there is none. Their philosophy is that work hours are not tracked between late nights and weekends worked or e-mails answered at odd hours, so why track vacation hours? So they eliminated vacation and tracking all together.

Contemporary ideas like that keep Netflix on the path towards major growth and success as they transition with new technologies.  As Netflix continues to grow, they continue to minimize “rules,” which allows for more flexibility, a great social responsibility and a solid loyalty factor, which in turn creates long-term, top talent retention.

Netflix’s methods seem to be working for them and could really revolutionize how growing businesses can retain top talent while maintaining their small business feel. Emerging companies should take note of this methodology and see if it works for them.

Photo Credit: Mr.Thomas

Healthcare Reform Means Major Changes For Employers

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Healthcare reform legislation, recently signed into law by President Obama, continues to be in the news.  As we learn more about the legislation, one thing is certain – it will result in significant changes to the healthcare system in the United States.  Outlined below are seven major changes affecting employers:

  • Employer Penalties. In 2014, employers with more than 50 full-time employees will be required to pay a penalty of $2,000 per employee if the employer fails to offer health coverage and has at least one employee receiving premium assistance created by the legislation. The first 30 employees will be excluded from the calculation of the penalty. For example, an employer with 65 employees that fails to offer insurance would pay a penalty of $70,000 (35 times $2,000)
  • Coverage for Dependents Up to Age 26. Beginning Sept. 23, 2010, health plans offering dependent coverage must provide it up to age 26. Legislation also prohibits excluding coverage of pre-existing conditions for children. This provision will apply to all employer-provided plans.
  • Lifetime Limits / Annual Limits. Six months after enactment, insurers will be prohibited from putting lifetime limits on benefits. Annual limits for new individual plans and all employer plans will be banned in 2014. However, prior to 2014, there will be certain restrictions on these limits put into effect.
  • Excise Tax. The legislation will create an excise tax on any benefit of employer-sponsored coverage exceeding $10,200 for individuals or $27,500 for families.  This new tax takes effect in 2018.
  • Enrollment. Employers with more than 200 employees must automatically enroll full-time employees in health coverage beginning in 2014. Employees will be allowed to opt-out of coverage after automatic enrollment.
  • Insurance Exchanges. Individual states must create insurance exchanges by 2014. These will be open to eligible individuals and some employers. Until 2017, only employers with 100 or fewer employees may use the exchange. In 2017, each state will be allowed to open the exchange up to all employers.
  • Tax Credits. Small businesses offering healthcare coverage will be entitled to a tax credit beginning in 2010, up to 35% of the premiums. Employers with 10 or fewer employees with average annual wages of $25,000 will receive full credit, while larger firms will see smaller tax credits. Beginning in 2014, the tax credit could reach 50% of premiums for the smallest employers.

For more information, and a complete listing of all provisions of the healthcare reform bill, visit

Photo Credit: Halfalah

Five Free Ways to Show Appreciation in the Workplace

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Nothing builds workplace morale like gratitude. Here are a few ways we like to show appreciation in the workplace:

  1. Offer a Helping Hand – This is especially a great way for a boss or supervisor to show appreciation for a hardworking employee. Offering to help, in any way, shows the employee that you sympathize with their workload and that you acknowledge their skill set.
  2. Send a Thank You Note – This can be a sticky note, e-mail or handwritten note (feel free to get creative) that just says “Thanks for your efforts, team!” Don’t wait until the end of the project to send this. A mid-project thanks can go a long way.
  3. Offer Training and Cross Training Opportunities – Many people are eager to learn new skills that could help them earn promotions and increase their value at the company.
  4. Event Tickets – Many companies purchase tables at philanthropic events, conferences and association meetings. Save a seat for an employee who would not traditionally attend to represent the company.
  5. Celebrate Employee Appreciation Days – Nominate one person in the office to be appreciated. Encourage the rest of the company to take a moment and reach out to this person to appreciate his or her contribution to the company’s success. This is extremely effective in creating cross-departmental conversation. We usually send out a companywide e-mail in the morning listing the nominee, his or her title, contact information and a quick summary on how they are of value to the company. Not only will your nominee, who could be an overlooked receptionist or underappreciated accountant, feel the love, but also other employees will enjoy this public display of thanks.

What are some ways you appreciate your employees?

Photo Credit: peyri

Retaining Top Talent as the Economy Improves

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Much has been written lately about the importance of an organization keeping its top talent.  As the economy improves and hiring thaws, the expectation is that many American workers will be ready to jump ship to the next opportunity that comes their way.  In fact, a Right Management survey conducted in late 2009 showed that 60% of 904 employees surveyed intend to leave their employer as the economy improves.  Another 27% are networking or have updated their resumes.

What is an employer to do?  One way to find out your best approach is to simply ask your employees.  In addition, there are four major nonmonetary themes of importance highlighted consistently in recent articles:

  1. Confidence – To stay and be productive at a company, an employee must have confidence in the leadership.  It’s a natural reaction for humans to personalize news stories.  As institutions that were believed to be infallible, like banks and automotive companies, began to crumble, individuals started to worry about the same thing happening to their employer.  Employees are not looking for promises, but they want to know that the leadership team is committed to doing what it takes to ride out economic challenges while minimizing the negative impact on the workforce.
  2. Communication – Employees would rather be continually updated on the organization’s status than be blindsided by really bad news.  That’s not to say it is expected that company leaders will be able to share everything, but it’s better to share as much as possible and err on the side of overcommunicating than to only make the information available to the executive or management team.
  3. Meaningful Work – Simply put, employees want to know that the work they do has a positive impact on the company.  When they understand how the duties and tasks they perform are tied to the overall goals of the organization, they feel much better about themselves.
  4. Flexibility – This can mean something different to every employee – schedule control, telecommuting, arriving late, leaving early, work/life balance, etc.  Each individual definition may change, but if an employee feels good about the flexibility of their workplace, then they are going to be much less likely to leave.

What do you think are the most important nonmonetary strategies for retaining top talent?

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Leveraging Social Media for New Hires

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

We have all heard stories about teachers getting fired for inappropriate Facebook pictures and employees expressing dissatisfaction through tweets.  Leaving aside these situations, social media actually can help us in the hiring process.

Most of us vet new hires through references, background checks and credit checks. But with social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, potential employees are breaking down the walls between professional persona and personal life for us.

So how much of the information on these sites should you rely on when hiring? Here are a few guiding points.

  • Be Open Minded – While potential employees are responsible for what they post online and who can see it, remember that these sites are generally used for recreational and personal uses. However, if their LinkedIn profile picture has a beer in it, go ahead and cross them off your list, unless you’re hiring for a brewery. As a business connections site, LinkedIn should be regarded as a professional social media tool and be used accordingly.
  • Consider Its Relevance to the Position – Take note of the position the candidate is applying for and base any judgments from there. A teaching candidate should not have photos from a spring break wet T-shirt contest, for example. But a candidate who collects matchbooks or reveals similarly innocuous behaviors online should not raise a red flag.
  • When in Doubt, Ask – If you are unsure about something you have come across in your employee search and the candidate seems worthwhile for consideration, then just ask him or her about it. Good employees are hard to find, so taking a moment to go an extra step could be very beneficial in the long run.

How does your company leverage social media for new hires? We would love to hear your opinions.

Photo Credit: liako

Recent Studies: Better Management Equals Better Financial Results

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Recent research studies from Cornell University and RainmakerThinking, Inc. point to direct links between how well organizations manage employees and their financial results.

The Cornell study of small businesses (average size of 53 employees) found that companies implementing effective employee management strategies experience 22.1% higher revenue growth, 23.3% higher profit growth and a 66.8% reduction in employee turnover compared to companies that don’t.  Workforce alignment practices in the areas of employee selection, people management, and motivation had the most impact on business results.

The most influential strategies include:

  1. Basing recruitment on organizational fit rather than on just job skills.
  2. Using self-management rather than a controlling management strategy, giving employees greater discretion in how they work.
  3. Creating a family-like environment/community to motivate and retain employees rather than focusing on just pay as a motivator.

The second study, by Bruce Tulgan and RainmakerThinking, Inc. , found that increased supervision and management was the number one most effective business strategy during the economic crisis of 2009.  The findings are based on a study of thousands of managers from organizations in the private, public and nonprofit sectors. You may recognize Bruce Tulgan – he was a keynote speaker at CAI’s 2008 HR Management Conference.

The research found that leaders and managers were likely to pursue at least one of three strategies to survive during 2009:

  1. Cost cutting;
  2. Innovations other than cost-cutting; and/or
  3. Increased supervision and management, including more one-on-one training, direction, and feedback from managers and/or more written tracking of individual performance.

Managers who pursued all three strategies reported having the strongest bottom line financial results in 2009.  The individual strategy that had the biggest impact on results was better management.

Photo Credit: nDevilTV

Welcome to Workplace Insights

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Welcome to the first installment of Workplace Insights!  

The blogs posted here will come from me and other leaders at CAI.  We’ll cover specific concerns regarding HR, management, hiring and firing, engagement, retention, labor issues, training, payroll and more – all the issues that have a real impact on your day-to-day work, with a focus on North Carolina.  We hope Workplace Insights will be a key resource in making your organization a great place to work in this state.

For nearly 50 years, CAI has assisted executives and managers in more than 1,000 member companies in the greater Research Triangle, Piedmont Triad and 65 central and eastern counties of North Carolina, from answering phone and e-mail inquiries to hosting informative conferences.  Workplace Insights offers us another platform to help you and your people reach your goals.

We will update this blog frequently with our own stories.  To keep up with the latest information and stay involved, we invite you to subscribe to our RSS feed so that we can notify you when new items appear.

Thank you for visiting our blog.  We would love to hear your comments and suggestions.  This is a two-way conversation we want to have with you, so let us know what you think.