Archive for January, 2011

Telecommuting – How Will It Impact Your Company From an HR Standpoint?

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Early morning wake-up calls, clocking in, clocking out and office cubicles have been the norm for working Americans, but as technology continues to grow, so do the number of Americans who no longer make the morning commute. Recently even President Obama expressed his support for telecommuting programs.  Although the idea of working from home may sound like an employee’s dream, it’s vital to fully assess the pros and cons before incorporating such a program into your company policy.

Since a comfortable, flexible working environment is recognized by potential employees as one of the most important aspects of job choice, telecommuting applied appropriately can be used advantageously by Human Resources professionals. By providing the option to telecommute, companies offer employees a career that fits their lifestyles and can stand out among the competition.

How can your company achieve the best of both worlds and allow employees a flexible schedule with the option to work from home, while still producing the same results as if they were operating in-house? Consider the following, and make sure the benefits are equal for both your employees and your company.

Employee availability – Consider parents who start with an early morning and shut down their computers when their children return home from school. Guidelines allowing such flexibility need to be clear – the hours of availability should be concrete and unchanging  for reasons of dependability and accountability.

Virtual communication –Company meetings can still run cohesively without constant face-to-face communication through the comparable use of video conferencing, Skype and other advanced technology.

Distractions – While the office is used for the sole purpose of accomplishing company work,  those working in an environment used for sleeping, eating and relaxation must have a higher level of discipline. Character evaluation is imperative before considering telecommuting. Employees who are trustworthy, time-oriented, focused and who work without constant monitoring prove to be strong candidates.

Maintaining office relationships – Creative, original and innovative ideas are often developed through  collaboration, so the last thing any company wants is for its employees to operate as noncommunicative islands. With staff not interacting on a day-to-day basis, it’s critical to coordinate events, gatherings or lunches, to maintain a team mentality.

Maintaining company security – When employees have the opportunity to access company content from home, you must  provide additional IT protection to staff computers and servers to assure private information is monitored and inaccessible to outsiders.

With the proper protection, procedures and policies in place, many companies see a significant drop in overhead expenses and increased employee satisfaction from incorporating telecommuting. As with any change, it’s important to recognize that telecommuting can only be as successful as the individuals who execute the process. If your company chooses to establish a telecommuting program, plan efficiently, monitor productivity and avoid miscommunication issues.

For additional information, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo source: richardmasoner

Performance Appraisals – Eight Steps to a Better Process

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Performance appraisals have been in use for more than 50 years as a standardized method for evaluating an employee’s job performance.  Most performance appraisals are conducted annually, but if job performance isn’t evaluated throughout the year as it happens, employers miss the opportunity to get the most productivity and best quality efforts from their employees.

Avoid common errors during employee performance appraisals.Below are eight steps to a better performance appraisal process.

#1 – Make Performance Appraisals an Ongoing Process

Employee management is an everyday process.  Rather than wait for an annual performance review, managers should provide both constructive criticism and praise to their employees throughout the year and use the annual performance appraisal to summarize the prior year’s performance.

#2 – Be Prepared

Forms and paperwork should be completed on time, and any solicited feedback from management and peers should be compiled and entered. Take the time to review the employee’s self-assessment prior to the appraisal meeting and be prepared to offer feedback.

#3 – Focus on the Entire Year

In summarizing the employee’s accomplishments throughout the prior year, try not to focus too much on only one or two events, or recent projects. Offer criticisms and praise that are general and that span the entire evaluation period.

#4 – Be Interactive

The performance appraisal must be interactive in order for the employee and the manager to arrive at the same conclusions at the end of the review. Employees may be nervous or apprehensive when entering a meeting about their performance, and the manager should strive to put them at ease.

#5 – Employees are Individuals

Employees should not be compared to other employees in their performance appraisal. Each employee must be evaluated according to his/her job description and performance in his/her job.

#6 – Solicit Feedback from Others

As a manager, you will want to request input from other managers, team members, and stakeholders with whom your employee interacts. The more information you have regarding how others in the organization view an employee, the better your position will be to help him/her be successful.

#7 – Performance Levels Dictate Merit Increase Levels

Giving two different employees very different performance appraisals and awarding them identical increases sends a message that performance does not matter.

#8 – Listen to Your Employees

The performance appraisal is an opportunity to provide feedback to an employee and also to gain valuable insight from the employee’s perspective. It is an important time to listen to your employees – one on one – and get their viewpoints on their performance and the organization as a whole.

For additional information on the performance appraisal process, contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Geograph

Get Back to Basics – Eight Keys to Being a Great Manager

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

In the third and final video from our three video series on under management and the importance of strong leadership, Bruce Tulgan of Rainmaker Thinking, Inc. discusses eight fundamental things managers need to do to be successful.  Bruce will be one of the keynote presenters at CAI’s 2011 HR Management Conference on Feb. 23-24.  His topic is It’s Okay to Be the Boss™: Developing the Managers that Your Employees Need.

New Hire Surveys: First Identify Your Goal

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

The common thread of motivation behind any employee survey is to gain effective feedback for recruitment and retention. With the proper analysis and actions taken as a result of what is learned, companies inevitably experience an increase in overall retention rates, benefiting employee morale and organizational expansion.

When it comes to new hire surveys, you want to be sure to identify your main goal before planning and developing the survey.  Here are some target goals and recommendations.

Target Goal – Evaluating the Hiring Process

If you want to evaluate the hiring process, you will want to survey your new hires relatively soon after they come on board, ideally within the first two weeks in most cases.  You will want to ask your new hires about the accuracy of information received while they were being recruited, how the organization was presented, their impression of the interview process and whether their direct supervisor met with them to discuss their career goals. Also, new hires are often asked for suggestions on improving the hiring process.

Target Goal – Evaluating the Onboarding Process

Proper onboarding is critical to the success of new employees, especially if you expect them to be productive relatively quickly.  These surveys should be most effective when conducted 30-45 days after an employee’s start date.  Topics discussed should include: did they receive the knowledge, resources and training needed to be productive in their job in a timely manner; whether their responsibilities and expectations were spelled out clearly; and whether they felt they were able to spend the time with their manager necessary to help them succeed.

Target Goal – Evaluating the Satisfaction of New Hires

If the goal is to analyze the growth and satisfaction of new hires, then employee evaluations should be administered 90 days after employment. Waiting approximately three months allows new staff members to become settled and confident in their position, fluid in their work process and comfortable with the day-to-day operations of the organization. At this point, the employee should be able to deliver healthy feedback regarding the challenges and strengths within company culture and management, as well as employee training, mentoring, and socialization.

All surveys should be conducted by either Human Resources or an independent third party rather than by direct supervisors to encourage honest feedback from employees. A “rated answer” response will allow the employer to aggregate the data and spot issues, while “open-ended” questions typically provide more details.  Supervisors should also be asked to complete a survey with respect to new hires. This survey will provide feedback on the quality of the recruiting and hiring process overall.

Where applicable, request that new hires note their department, division, gender and race on the survey. This will serve to uncover potential issues within a department and identify any discriminatory treatment during the onboarding process.

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

Photo Source: Elvert Barnes

The Under Management Epidemic

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

In the second video of a three video series on corporate under management and the importance of strong leadership, Bruce Tulgan discusses how under management leads to poor services and products and what it means to be an effective boss.  Bruce heads up Rainmaker Thinking, Inc. and will be a keynote speaker at CAI’s 2011 HR Management Conference, scheduled for February 23-24

Banning the Box – Is North Carolina Next?

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Initial stigmas, concerns and stereotypes – they always seem to be the preliminary reaction when potential employees check “yes” as a convicted felon. Opinions are formed and conversations may end before they even begin.

When we blogged back in November about the criminal history questions, Massachusetts was the center of conversation as it implemented the Ban the Box law, which prohibits the asking of criminal history questions during an initial application for employment. Now a hot topic debate, the law has made its way to North Carolina. The Raleigh Second Chance Alliance, the Community Success Initiative and other advocacy groups have pushed to incorporate the same law with a Ban the Box rally on the steps of Durham City Hall.

With any drastic change, apprehension and colliding opinions should be expected. For transformations to occur, all viewpoints must be heard. Evaluate both outlooks and let us know what you think is best for the convicted felon, the employer and North Carolina overall.

Ban the Box Benefits:

An estimated 1.6 million people reside in North Carolina with criminal records attached to their names. Whether their record is long or short, misdemeanor or felony, these individuals live in neighborhoods, attend local churches and are active in the community. Most can assimilate back into a normal lifestyle free of judgment – until it comes to pursuing stable employment. Convicted felons may no longer reside behind the county penitentiary, but many feel they find themselves still behind bars because of employment limitations.

At the heart of this law, the goal is to allow convicted felons an opportunity to be equal and on the same playing field as their competition. Removing criminal history questioning from the initial application process doesn’t assure employment, but allows individuals a platform to provide a detailed explanation, more than a simple box could offer. Providing applicants the opportunity to explain the severity of their crime, the number of years since the offense took place, and the recovery and rehabilitation process will open doors and allow employers to see the individual as more than the label he or she may carry.

Ban the Box Drawbacks:

The reality is that people just want to know the truth, and they want to hear it up front. There will obviously be resistance to banning the box, because many employers don’t want to waste time screening and interviewing applicants if they aren’t a true potential candidate.

With this law solely focused on the public sector, North Carolina employers and officials have real concerns. Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen believes “the fact of the matter is that employees in the public realm get very close to people’s homes and children.” Unlike being confined to a cubicle 40 hours a week, the majority of public sector job opportunities carry high levels of people interaction; therefore, a person’s background needs to be fully disclosed.

What are your thoughts? How do you think North Carolina and its employees will be impacted if the box is banned?

Three Keys to Employee Engagement

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Whether or not to be engaged with work is a decision made by each employee every day he or she works. In order to facilitate and encourage engagement, employers must create work environments in which employees will want to engage.

There are many ways to create such an environment for your employees.  Here are three of the best:

1. Match Job Function to Personal Abilities: All employees have things they like about their job and things they do not.  Find out what those things are. For example, sales people generally are sales people because they like selling. They will not be happy if they spend much of their time preparing reports, spreadsheets and charts.  Look for ways to automate or reduce the administrative part of their job.  This will allow your salespeople to concentrate on what they do best – selling and bringing new business to the organization.

2. Say “Thank You” to Your Employees: Employees like to know if they are doing what you want them to do and if they are doing a good job for you. But be sure to acknowledge progress and not just results. If you only give negative feedback, they will associate doing a good job with you leaving them alone and will begin to feel disconnected from the company.

3. Share “The Big Picture” with Your Employees: Make sure you show your employees how their individual contributions fit into the overall objectives of the company as a whole. Let them see how their work is essential to the success of the business. In a large company an individual’s contribution may seem somewhat small. If this is the case, discuss with the employee the negative impact on the company if no one was performing their duties, or worse, if someone were performing them poorly. Then, remember to thank them (see #2 above).

What steps are you taking to help your employees engage?

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

Top Seven Management Myths

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Bruce Tulgan of Rainmaker Thinking, Inc. will be delivering one of the keynote presentations at CAI’s 2011 HR Management Conference. Bruce is a well-respected expert on leadership and management and is also internationally recognized as a thought leader on young people in the workplace.

Bruce’s presentation for the HR Management Conference is entitled It’s Okay to Be the BossTM: Developing the Managers that Your Employees Need. He will focus on what he calls the biggest problem in corporate America – an under management epidemic affecting managers at all levels.  Participants will be challenged and given tools to help their managers spell out expectations, monitor and measure performance constantly, correct failure quickly and reward success even more quickly.

As a preview to Bruce’s presentation we will be posting a series of three videos here on the Workplace Insights blog.  In the first video Bruce highlights the top seven management myths.