Archive for February, 2012

10 Ways to Retain and Motivate Your High-Performing Employees

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Businesses that want to see success as the economy continues to improve should keep a close eye on their top talent. If your star employees don’t feel like they’re getting the most out of their jobs or feel that they’re underappreciated, you can assume that they’re looking for enticing opportunities elsewhere. High retention rates indicate that an organization is doing well in employee engagement, but a strong retention rate also means success in other business areas, such as sales and customer satisfaction.

Implementing the 10 tips below will encourage your high-performing talent to stick around and help create success for your company:

1. Conduct Stay Interviews

Instead of using exit interviews to find out why employees leave your organization, ask the employees that are still around what would make them leave your organization. Use this information to transform inefficient processes, raise morale and increase your retention rate.

2. Be Specific with Job Descriptions

People often leave a company after a short period of time because they were unaware of all the responsibilities that their new position held. To prevent short stints with new hires, spell out all of the duties—bad or good—required for your open positions.

3. Teach Managers People Management

Employees often cite their managers as the main reason they left or are planning to leave an organization. Spend adequate time training managers with direct reports proper ways to handle employee relations issues.

4. Communicate Openly

Information that is confidential or intended for a select group of people doesn’t have to be shared with the entire staff. However, frequently sharing information on company health, financials and major decisions with your workforce will keep them informed and engaged, which will help them remain loyal.

5. Promote Flexibility

Today’s employees view workplace flexibility as a necessary element in a total rewards package instead of as an added perk. If your employees can work from home a few days per week or start their days earlier or later depending on traffic, let them.  They will show you more respect if you trust them to get their work done.

6. Give Clear Expectations

Be specific when assigning your team members projects. Give them clear expectations the first time so you both are satisfied with the end product. Taking this step well lessen confusion, frustration and unsatisfactory results.

7. Help them Grow

Providing your staff members with different opportunities to increase their industry knowledge or to strengthen their technical and soft skills will show them that you are willing to invest in their future. Send them to training programs or promote them to different positions to help them grow.

8. Manage Poor Performers

Poor performers with bad attitudes are not good company for star employees to keep. Poor performers can drain energy, happiness and productivity from your top employees. Make sure you address issues caused by poor performers immediately to maintain a positive workplace for each of your employees.

9. Involve Senior Leadership

Company leaders are always busy, but they are never too busy to allot some time to their employees. Encourage your senior leaders to leave their offices and mingle with their workforce. Have them meet new hires and sit in on departmental meetings. Making them present in the office will eliminate an “us” versus “them” mentality that some staffers may have if they never see their senior leaders.

10. Show Them They’re  Valued

Employees who feel that their contributions matter to their organization are more likely to be productive and give their company a long-term commitment. Make your staff members feel appreciated by giving them constructive and positive feedback on their assignments and professional development. Often ask for their opinions on company decisions, and take time to get to know them personally.

For additional information or strategies to keep your top talent loyal to your organization, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Victor1558

4 Leadership Concepts to Bring Your Company Success

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO, writes a bimonthly newsletter that features advice for a variety of topics affecting high-level executives in the workplace.  In his latest Executive Scan, Bruce discusses leadership styles. He doesn’t believe there is one leadership style that all executives should assume because workplace conditions change and leadership styles should be adapted to an organization’s current needs.

Most business leaders can’t envision, develop and achieve a successful business initiative without help from their team. Because of this reason, Bruce asks employers to not view leadership as their personal style, but as the ability to get the most out of themselves and their workforce. Below are four leadership qualities that will guide you to success:

Big Picture

Strong leaders do not act in their own self interest. They understand that an organization is comprised of many individuals who also want to see their organization succeed. Effective leaders base major decisions on what’s best for the entire company, not what’s best for themselves and their reputation.

Clarity

Great leaders are excellent communicators. The first time they assign a project, they communicate their expectations clearly so all team members are satisfied with the end result. Additionally, strong leaders value transparency and keep their staff updated on important company news and decisions regularly.

Debate

Successful business leaders are not afraid to be challenged. When employees feel that a company process is ineffective or that they can provide a better solution to a problem, effective leaders want them to speak up.  These leaders understand that disagreement can sometimes spark innovation.

Recognition

One of the best qualities of good leaders is their desire to give credit when it’s due.  Praising employees for the hard work they contribute is an action that strong leaders execute frequently. They also know each of their staff members’ names and learn the characteristics that make each employee unique.

Employees who have effective leadership feel valued at their organization, which keeps their levels of engagement and productivity up. Include the concepts above into in your approach to leadership to create a more productive and enjoyable workplace.

For more information and practical strategies on leadership, please call a CAI Account Manager at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746, and ask about CAI’s multi-series leadership training program, The Management Advantage.

Photo Source: Victor1558

Organizational Culture: In Theory and Practice

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Articles about how your company culture and talent will be the key factors in your organization’s success, or lack thereof, seem to be everywhere.  Some of these articles highlight specific focus areas for building a culture, and others include high-level theories without application.

I recently had the opportunity to hear Diane Adams and Richard Byrd from Allscripts discuss their corporate culture at a Raleigh Chamber of Commerce program.  Diane, who is the executive vice president of culture and talent, and Richard, who is the vice president of internal communications/culture, shared both a high-level theoretical approach and more specific details about how it is applied in practice.

From 20,000 feet, the key takeaways from the presentation were:

Culture is Intentional

It’s important that you have a destination in mind and take ownership of your company culture.  Your culture should then drive measurable behaviors.

Culture First

You can’t afford to lose precious time waiting to get to your culture.  You must start now if you haven’t already.

It’s More Than Great People

You must continue to work deliberately on your culture. Hiring for cultural fit is just the start.

Inside=Outside

When your organization has a strong, positive culture with engaged employees your customers will have a great experience and your business will see the results.

Diane and Richard pointed to four key areas of focus at the application level when it comes to organizational culture:

Empowerment

Let your team members/employees own their job. When people own something, they usually treat it much differently and will go the extra mile to make it better. It’s also important to help them see how they impact the business results.

Communications

Without consistent, repetitive communication, culture is just some words put to paper.  Make sure the lines are open to two-way communication and be aware that the words you use matter.

Respect/Civility

How people treat each other is a big piece of culture.  Team members should interact in a positive manner toward each other, even when in disagreement.

Feedback/Development

Top talent wants to be in an environment where they are learning, challenged and feel like they are continuing to grow.  Recognition is also important for all employees.

Having read many of the articles and heard numerous speakers discuss culture, I think there are two clear points to be taken from the chorus:

1 – You need to focus on culture now.  If you put it off you will be looking back in six months and realize that your culture has taken on a life of its own—one that you may not like.

2 – One size does not fit all.  It’s up to you to find those things that make your organization special and to highlight them, while also determining the aspirational goals for your culture and how you are going to work toward getting there.  Sure, there may be some broad topic areas that need to be included, but the specifics are up to you.

Is your company culture what you want it to be?  What are you doing to get it there?

Photo Source: USACE- Sacremento District

Office Romance: Protect Your Company and Employees with a Strong Policy

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

With Valentine’s Day taking place earlier this week, reviewing your company’s policy on office relationships is a good idea. People spend the majority of their week working, so a workplace relationship is not an unusual phenomenon. CareerBuilder’s recent survey on love in the workplace indicates that 38 percent of employees have dated a coworker.

Realizing the potential dangers of an office relationship, such as abuse of power, favoritism and low morale, is imperative for employers that want to protect their organization and people. Banning relationships all together is not advised by many labor and employment lawyers and HR professionals.

Attorney Mark Kluger of Mandelbaum Salsburg  told Bloomberg Business Week that creating a policy that prohibits workplace romance is problematic for two reasons:

“…it sends a negative message to employees about your company’s willingness to impose itself into their personal lives. The other thing is that you don’t want to create a Romeo and Juliet situation. If there’s a policy against workplace romances, people will feel they must lie and sneak around, and that’s the last thing you want.”

Instead of forbidding workplace relationships, draft a strong policy that specifies your organization’s expectations for coworkers who date. Below are a few topics that should be addressed in your policy:

Secure the Work Environment:

Explicitly state that your company has no tolerance for and prohibits favoritism and abuse of any kind. Include information on your sexual harassment policy as well. These two details will help maintain a positive workplace environment for all employees.

Outline Consequences:

Make it clear that you take this issue seriously. Inform your workers of the consequences they’ll face if they decide to act against the established policy. Taking this step will make people less likely to break the rules. It will also show your employees that you respect their right to be safe and will punish those who don’t.

Make the Complaint Process Easy:

As an employer, you have a responsibility to your workforce to investigate each claim that implies an employee acted against policy. Develop a complaint procedure that encourages staff members to speak up if they feel like a coworker has violated their rights. Whether the claim is accurate, taking the time to investigate any suspicious activity will be advantageous if a lawsuit occurs. 

Set Ground Rules:

You can’t dictate what your employees can and can’t do outside of work, but you can make your expectations for the workplace extremely clear. You can prohibit public displays of affection, lovers’ quarrels, or anything else that can potentially make other staff members uncomfortable or distracted during workplace hours. Employees involved in a workplace relationship owe you and their coworkers professionalism while they are at work.

Your tailored policy can help you avoid a potential lawsuit if an office relationship turns for the worse, so review your policy annually to make sure it continues to fit the needs of your organization. Additionally, make sure all employees receive the policy and understand the points that are addressed.

For more information on handling office relationships or creating a workplace policy, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: epSos.de

Misclassifying Employees Can Have Unintended Consequences

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

The post below is a guest blog from Joy Binkley who serves as the Principal, Health & Welfare Consultant for CAI’s employee benefits partner, Hill, Chesson & Woody.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced a new, voluntary correction program that allows employers to reclassify employees who are currently misclassified as 1099 “independent contractors” when they should actually be reported as “W-2 paid” employees. Known as the Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP), employers who are not currently being examined by the IRS are allowed to eliminate years of past employment tax liabilities for “pennies on the dollar,” an amount equaling just greater than one percent of the wages paid to the reclassified workers for the past year.

For health and welfare benefits, employers will want to consider the compliance and contractual impacts to their plan. From a compliance perspective, it all starts with control groups and eligible employees. This impacts traditional regulatory issues such as COBRA, HIPAA, ERISA, FMLA and discrimination testing. When you add in the additional impact of healthcare reform, employers will need to consider the implications on provisions that apply to varying sizes of groups, such as “Pay or Play,” tax credits and medical loss ratios.

Of course, there is also the issue of repercussions that might be felt from employees that were previously misclassified and, as a result, were denied benefits.

From a contractual perspective, employers should be aware of the requirements the insurers or reinsurers impose. This might mean a re-rating of coverage if there are material adjustments to the covered population. With clearer definitions of employees and control groups, employers may want to tighten up their eligibility monitoring to prohibit unreported carve outs. As can be seen, all of this impacts more than just tax withholdings.

To read the expanded article, feel free to view our Eyes on Benefits monthly newsletter.

Learn HR Strategies to Retain Top Talent and Increase Business Success

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Recent research indicates that more than 70 percent of American workers are disengaged with their employers. Predictions for 2012 employee trends show signs that employees will no longer tolerate being overworked and underappreciated. Top talent will seek opportunities that match their career goals and work-life balance needs. If your organization is not taking the correct steps to engage your workforce, you may see an exodus of your high-performing employees in the next year.

Ensuring that you understand and utilize employee engagement methods will help prevent your most productive workers from leaving your company. Creating a positive workplace culture is instrumental in attracting and retaining sought-after talent. A positive company culture will also help you stay strong and maintain success in situations that are tough on businesses, such as a recession.

You should make decisions on culture with a purpose and an end in mind according to Bruce Clarke, CAI’s President and CEO. The way you plan and execute your strategy for a new or improved company culture should depend on your employees, company mission statement and values, business goals and employer brand aspirations. Copying tactics used by great companies like Southwest Airlines or Zappos.com may be advantageous, but finding ways to engage your unique workforce is a more useful approach for resolving specific issues at your organization.

Jeff Tobe, an engagement strategist and a keynote speaker for the 2012 HR Management Conference, says that an engaged employee affects business results more positively than a disengaged one. Employees value their time outside of work, so organizations that acknowledge and respect this fact will be more successful in attracting and retaining top talent.

Winning cultures create environments where employees want to go to work instead of have to go to work according to business expert and a 2012 HR Management Keynote speaker, Jack Daly. He says that four factors are mandatory to ensure a positive workplace atmosphere, and they are recognition systems, communication systems, personal and professional development systems, and empowerment processes.

CAI’s 2012 HR Management Conference will provide attendees with more information and strategies for retaining high-performing workers, as well as increasing your company’s bottom line. Join more than 300 HR professionals and company leaders at the 2012 conference scheduled for February 21 and February 22 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh.  You can register today here: www.capital.org/hrconf. Check out the HR Management Conference website for a full agenda with speaker information and presentation topics.

Photo Source: cboettig

10 Resources for Finding Top Talent for Your Company

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Multiple factors help a business reach success, but hiring high-performing individuals is a critical component. Knowing the best places to reach qualified candidates will help you secure top talent for your organization. Even when you aren’t hiring, building a pool of great applicants before your search is beneficial for your company’s time and resources. The economy is slowly changing and unemployed workers and disengaged employees with attractive soft skills and key industry knowledge will search for opportunities that fulfill their needs. Use the ten resources below to help job seekers find your organization:

Networking Events:

  • Talented job seekers use networking events to show off their best assets to potential employers. Inform attendees that you are hiring so they know to ask for more information if they are interested.

Company Events:

  • You can also invite job seekers to an open house at your office if you are hiring for more than one position. Use these events to pitch your company’s best selling points.

Your Network

  • Use the relationships that you have formed in your career to navigate you to top talent. Your friends and business colleagues can help guide you to the right candidate.

Create a Great Culture:

  • Foster a positive environment for your employees to keep them engaged and satisfied with their jobs. Happy employees will share their job experience with others, creating a buzz that your company is an employer of choice.

Social Networks:

  • Job seekers are using the internet to find positions. Make sure your company is using social media to highlight job openings and the workplace culture it provides.

Employee Referrals:

  • Inform your employees of your company’s openings, and ask them if they know of any qualified applicants. They are great sources for recommending people who share their same talents, such as their friends or college classmates.

Industry Referrals:

  • If your organization is a member of a specialty or industry group, seek help from the other company group members. Your peers could provide you with a candidate that matches your needs perfectly.

Universities:

  • Students are great prospects for new hires because they are eager to work and learn once they graduate. Participate in career fairs and share your open positions with the university’s career service department to inform students of the opportunities you offer.

Government Programs:

  • The government offers various programs for employers that are interested in individuals from specific categories, like veterans. Completing paperwork correctly and staying compliant with state and federal regulations is mandatory when using government recruiting options.

Help Them Navigate:

  • Make it easy for job seekers to learn about your organization and its open positions. Allowing candidates to call your office to learn about an opportunity or submit a resume online are two ways to help them connect with your company.

Combined, these resources should help you find plenty of suitable applicants for your company. Remember that convincing job seekers to join your organization will take effort on your part. Make sure your employer brand conveys the right message you want job seekers to receive. Provide candidates with examples of the benefits that you provide to your employees. Reach out to your staff and ask them the reasons they enjoy working at your organization to ensure you’re highlighting your company’s strongest features.

For more information and strategies for locating top talent, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: snre

Simple Steps to Raise Employee Morale at Your Workplace

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Disengaged employees are detrimental to your business, and the current state of the economy has increased the number of workers who are no longer engaged. Little to no salary increases, poor benefits options and juggling more with less can cause your high performers to become frustrated and ultimately disengaged. Today’s economic climate might make them afraid to leave your organization right now, but as conditions improve, they’ll be the first to leave you for a competitor that offers them a better work environment.

Before your best talent walks out the door, recognize the impact that high employee morale can have on your organization. Recent research shows that workplaces that boast high morale are more productive and have higher retention rates than companies that don’t. Without proper planning to increase company morale, employees will respond by producing poor quality work, being absent often, wasting time and resources, and leaving your organization. The cost of replacing and training talent is expensive but can be avoided if your organization makes an effort to improve morale.

The five tips featured below are inexpensive ways to create a positive atmosphere for your workforce. By implementing some or all of the tips, you will see the overall morale at your company increase:

1. Remember the Golden Rule

Treat others how you would like to be treated. Taking the time to show your employees respect and empathy will encourage them to reciprocate your actions.

2. Say “Please” and “Thank You”

People forget their manners when work gets busy and stressful, but these two phrases show your appreciation for the work that your employees produce. Say them often to keep your workforce happy.

3. Delegate

Employees stay at organizations that trust them to complete projects with autonomy. Empower your employees by giving them responsibility and trusting them to complete their assignments. Unless they perform poorly, do not micromanage your direct reports.

4. Recognize and Praise

Workers will show loyalty when they feel valued and are recognized for the contributions they make. So, frequently commend your workers when they produce great work or go above and beyond for your organization.

5. Incorporate Fun

Being serious all of the time drains productivity. Schedule group activities that allow your employees to loosen up and take a break from their routine assignments. Casual Friday and team-building exercises are two suggestions.

High employee morale is necessary for attracting and retaining top-tier talent. For additional employee engagement strategies, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: bobaliciouslondon