Archive for December, 2010

Tips for stellar HR presentations to top management

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Just another HR presentation? Different day same story? That’s not the case when your audience sits at the senior management level. You are the expert in your field. Your voice and knowledge should be shared. Presentations, PowerPoints and public speeches may not be the highlight of your job, but they come along with the title. The senior management team is a specific audience, and each audience needs to be catered to appropriately.

Before your next presentation to company leaders and influencers, think about the following tips for building a stellar HR presentation that your audience will not only remember, but appreciate and apply.

Express your passion

How can we possibly expect an audience to maintain attention, or care about the presentation without demonstrating our own passion for the topic? It’s important to recognize that the presentation is more than the words on a screen and the concept being delivered. You, the presenter, are the real presentation. You are what people have gathered to hear, so remember the importance of your body language, energy level and tone of voice.

Organize your content effectively

Does your presentation stand out, or does it fall into the mix?  Any successful presentation starts with a detailed preparation. By pairing the right amount of information with the appropriate layout you will develop a concept fluid enough to easily follow and understand.

Do your research

Consider how many presentations the management team has witnessed in the last year. What about in the span of their careers? Those who reach management status are where they are because of their knowledge and expertise. Comprehensive research is critical. With countless presentations under their belts, management is still expecting to learn something new from you.  Providing fresh facts and the latest information to them in your presentation is fundamental.

Cut to the chase

The length of your presentation doesn’t necessarily illustrate your intelligence or impress your audience. The most effective way to connect with your audience is to remember that time is of the essence. Privately, each person is wondering, “What’s in this for me?” Don’t add fluff to your content. Everyone in your audience is conscious of the clock, so get to the point and be straightforward and direct.

Focus on three supporting subjects

The best way to keep a tailored presentation is to break the discussion into three major components. With this concept, your audience can easily recognize your theme and purpose. Given the audience, less can often be more. If cutting the presentation down to only three supporting points takes away value, you may want to consider expanding your concepts into a second presentation.

Manage the Q&A

Your presentation does not conclude on your final slide. Remember to leave enough time for the question and answer session – it’s just as important as the information you have provided. Predict potential questions and prepare fitting responses. The discussion can spin out of control, but you can carry on your theme by only answering questions that apply directly to your topic of choice. For extraneous topics, offer to meet with the questioner after the presentation or in a different setting.

Be prepared for curve balls

As with any situation, perfection is the goal but keep in mind that perfection won’t always be attainable.  Train yourself for the unexpected moments. What content can be removed if you have to start late or end early? Rehearse your presentation in a chaotic environment. Can you maintain your concentration in the midst of interruptions?

Everything won’t always go as planned, but if you can handle the curve balls you remain in control.

For more information or to discuss related issues to HR presentations, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo source: RDECOM

Ten Things N.C. Employers Need to Know About Independent Contractors and Joint Employment

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Gretchen Ewalt from the Ogletree Deakins law firm shared her expertise on Employee Classification (Employee or Independent Contractor) and Joint Employment at CAI’s October members-only Ask the Expert. Participants left the sessions with a number of recommendations that, if implemented, will limit their organization’s exposure to costly litigation and potential penalties.

Below are some of the points covered in these sessions.

1. Independent Contractor Tests. There are a number of factors considered by the IRS and the USDOL in determining if a worker is an independent contractor or an employee.  A brief description of a true independent contractor is as follows:

  • The employer does not control the means and manner of how a project is performed, only specifying the expectations of the end result.
  • The “contractor” has a viable business concern, having the opportunity to make a profit or suffer a loss, and provides the same services to other employers.
  • The “contractor” absorbs expenses incurred during the project.

2. Penalties for Misclassification. Penalties for misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor include state and federal tax liabilities, as well as back pay for wage and hour overtime violations.

3. Conduct Internal Audits. It is recommended that periodic internal risk analysis audits be conducted to ensure that independent contractors are properly classified.

4. Draft Independent Contractor Agreements. Contracts for independent contractors should be drafted by legal counsel establishing expectations by both parties to clearly show that the independent contractor relationship exists.  Language also needs to be included stating that the contractor waives and relinquishes any rights to the client’s benefit plans and that the contractor agrees to comply with all business/industry standards.

5. Educate Managers and Supervisors. Managers and supervisors should know the difference between an employee and an independent contractor and understand the liabilities incurred due to misclassification.

6. Definition of Joint Employment. A condition where an individual is providing services that jointly benefits two or more employers.

7. Joint Liability. Employers that utilize employees from an outsourcing agency can be held liable along with the agency for complaints filed by those employees with state and federal regulatory bodies.

8. Time Credited for FMLA. The time spent by an outsourcing agency’s employee providing services to a client employer is credited toward FMLA eligibility if that employee is employed as a regular employee by the client employer.

9. Outsourcing Agreements. Agreements with outsourcing agencies should be carefully drafted by legal counsel to ensure that the agency is responsible for taxes, insurance, business licenses and all employment matters, including employee training, disciplinary actions, compensation/benefit programs and maintenance of personnel files.

10. Contract with Reputable Agencies. Make sure that your outsourcing agency complies with all applicable laws and specify such compliance in the outsourcing agreement.  Ensure that their personnel policies/procedures are sound and that their managers are well equipped to effectively deal with agency employee complaints.

If you have questions about employee classification or joint employment, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: University of Waterlo

Career Development Seen as Critical for Talent Management

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

A recent survey from Hewitt Associates produced some eye-opening results on the importance of career development in recruiting and retaining employees.

The survey, conducted in March and April 2010, includes data from HR professionals at 193 large employers.  In a result that will be surprising to most, 30 percent of survey participants said that career development is more important to their employees than pay as a reward strategy with an additional 55 percent saying it was of equal importance.

Further, 77 percent say that career development is either “much more” or “more” important to their company’s talent strategy than it was five years ago.

Mysteriously, this awareness of the importance of career development has not led to companies strengthening their employee growth initiatives.  Of those surveyed, 72 percent said they do not have a defined workforce planning process that addresses critically needed capabilities.  And only 10 percent said they were satisfied with the current career development programs at their company.

In regards to career development philosophy, 62 percent said their employees are in charge of their own development with some guidance from their manager.  Further, 85 percent described employees’ perception of career development opportunities as “some” or “limited.”

The absence of career development programs offers your company an opportunity to differentiate itself as an employer.  Make career development a key part of your recruiting and retention strategy.  Start with the basics.  Here are five things you can do to promote career development in your organization:

1.  Openly and frequently communicate that your organization believes in career development

2. Highlight the different ways you are helping employees learn new skills or develop in their craft

3. Encourage employees to seek out and find career development opportunities

4. Be sure employees are trained in the basic skills that are necessary to be successful in their position

5.  Require managers to discuss career development with their employees and to create a plan for each employee

Career development is especially important to Generation X and Millennial employees.  A good way to encourage their career development is to set up a formal mentoring program in your organization to match a younger employee up with a more experienced employee.

Clearly the data from the survey shows that career development needs to be an integral part of your talent management strategy.  If you have questions about recruiting and retaining employees or career development plans, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Simon Blackley

Transitioning Returning Military Service Members to the Civilian Workplace

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Men and women represent our country every day as they serve in the military on our behalf. They are praised for their courage, loyalty and leadership but often return home to face a new set of hurdles for which they may be ill-prepared. One hurdle involves jobs.

Finding stable, secure civilian employment has been a challenge encountered by returning veterans, military spouses and wounded warriors.

Why is it that serving our country can act as a risk for future employment? The training and discipline military service provides should make any veteran an asset to future organizations. Veterans exude responsibility and professionalism, knowing their role is vital and that they represent something much larger than themselves. The leadership and work ethic they develop through their service are essential skills not easily taught in the workplace.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, numerous companies recognize the benefit of employing veterans, but though there is an expressed interest, the process has been complex. Organizations have found difficultly both internally and externally. They are unsure where to begin their search, or how to prepare their staff to better accommodate and assimilate veterans into their ranks.

The Department of Labor has taken a proactive role in responding to this growing crisis by establishing an outlet to connect veterans with potential employers. The following six-step process acts as a reference guide for companies seeking veterans to employ and absorb into the company culture.

The Veterans Hiring Toolkit

Design a Strategy for Your Veterans Hiring Initiative – Become familiar with veteran employment by identifying the benefits procedure, the tax incentives and the recruitment and retention process.

Create a Welcoming and Educated Workplace for Veterans – Current employees can better relate to their veteran coworkers if they have a grasp of military culture, experiences and trauma through the proper training and education.

Actively Recruit Veterans, Wounded Warriors and Military Spouses – As with any employee, recognize the specific target audience you are pursuing and how best to reach them.

Hire Qualified Veterans and Learn How to Accommodate Wounded Warriors – With the appropriate orientation plan in place, plan to hire not just any veteran, but the right veteran for the position and for the company.

Promote an Inclusive Workplace to Retain Your Veteran Employees – The needs for recognition and challenge, and the desire to be successful in an organization don’t change for those returning from military service.  Therefore, it’s best to apply the company’s current retention plan across the board.

Keep Helpful Tools and Resources at Your FingertipsEffective and accessible resources can act as one of the strongest assets when hiring and retaining veterans. 

Thousands of military personnel walk away from active duty each year. After all that veterans have sacrificed for us, as a society it is our duty to incorporate them into the civilian workforce and lifestyle to the best of our ability.

For more information on veterans in the workplace, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo source: U.S. Air Force

Employers Bring Back Job Perks

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Let’s be honest – everyone appreciates the perks that certain jobs can bring. At the peak of the economy job perks were as golden as the job itself. Perks like the famous end-of-year bonuses, continued education tuition assistance, lavish off-site holiday parties or discounts on day care costs and gym memberships are some of the big incentives companies have used to win employees and stand out among competitors.

In the midst of a game-changing economic recession, however, many companies had to place job perks on hold, with the focus no longer about all the extras, but about providing a reliable paycheck.

According to the research director of Forum for People Performance Jennifer Rosenzweig, job perks are beginning to return to the table. As the recession dwindles down and companies begin to see more positive profit margins, job perks are making a comeback.

The comeback of perks means that we are slowly, but surely digging ourselves out of this recession hole. It also means that to stay competitive and continue to attract talent, companies must get back in the perk game. Obviously salaries, benefits and internal relationships weigh heavily on an employee’s choice to stay long-term with an organization, but often it’s the small things that can make the difference. Job perks help preserve top talent, attract new talent, maintain company morale and build a reputation as a company that appreciates the hard work of all its employees.

What can you give your employees this holiday season? Maybe your budget won’t let you provide anything extravagant. Consider an in-office luncheon, a small holiday dinner, or handwritten thank you notes. It’s important to realize that this year’s gifts don’t have to be something grand.

Most employees understand the financial cutbacks and sacrifices that have recently been made. It’s the simple and small gestures that remind employees they are appreciated and valued, and that their efforts have not gone unnoticed.

For more information or to discuss related issues to job perks, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo source: Kelvin Kay