Archive for June, 2012

4 Ways to Increase the Effectiveness of Your Management Staff

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Your managers are one of your company’s strongest assets. They help your company run efficiently by supervising others and delegating duties, relaying information from senior leadership and making sure projects get completed. Increasing the effectiveness of your management team will benefit your organization’s productivity, revenue and morale. Giving extra attention to the growth of your managers isn’t time consuming or expensive. Try using the methods below to maximize the potential of your team leaders:

 Sharpen Their Skills

Whether you let them expense industry related literature, such as magazines and journals, to the company, or pay their way to attend a conference related to their position, helping your leaders attain new skills and knowledge will improve their job satisfaction and productivity. You’ll also see an improvement in their team’s performance.

Increase Their EI

Recent research indicates that employees with strong Emotional Intelligence (a person’s capacity for controlling his or her own emotions and recognizing and reacting to the emotions of others) can carry on and be successful through hard economic times and tough business predicaments. Not every employee comes equipped with a high EI, but taking steps to improve their EI is something all employees can do.

Strengthen Their Time Management

Managers juggle several tasks at once. They assign projects to their direct reports, implement strategies from senior management and work to complete their own projects. Learning to effectively manage time is an essential skill that managers should try to achieve. When leaders practice good time management, fewer errors occur, deadlines and results are met and last minute panicking is avoided.

Provide Feedback and Rewards

Make sure you consistently provide your managers with positive and constructive feedback on their performance. Help them succeed by encouraging them to give their best and attain their goals. Personally and publically acknowledge their accomplishments, and show your appreciation for their contributions whenever you can.

For more strategies to maximize the performance of your managers, supervisors and other company leaders, join us at CAI’s Training Showcase on July 19 in Greensboro and July 20 in Raleigh. Both programs are free and will run from 8:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. At each location you’ll experience abbreviated training sessions and participate in learning exercises to help you make the right development decisions for your staff. Come for a few hours or stay for the whole event to review CAI’s training options. Find more information and full agendas here: www.capital.org/showcase.

Photo Source: Victor1558

Introducing Social Media into Your Recruitment Process

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

The post below was contributed by Greg Moran, the CEO of Chequed.com, a Predictive Talent Selection suite used by organizations like Subway and Disney to hire better. You can keep up to date with Greg on twitter @CEOofChequed.

As the liability of a bad hire increases, recruiters around the world are embarking on the search for new, more effective means for finding the right candidates.  Yet, there’s no reason to take to the hills or sail the seven seas if the plethora of social media remains untapped by your HR department. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn aren’t just about status updates and games like Farmville anymore. They also serve as great facilitators for the candidate selection process.

However, the question isn’t only whether or not you’re using social media, but whether you’re using it effectively. You won’t be surprised to learn that by only occasionally posting available positions or haphazardly firing out job alerts on Twitter won’t win the heart of many candidates. Rather, it’s important to use social media in a way that not only scans for potential candidates, but that truly connects your HR department with quality candidates.

But before we go any further, we must first note that while social media and web research can be invaluably beneficial, it is critical that prospective employers use such tools ethically. Recruiters are responsible for investigating candidate and reference checks in a manner that is objective and in accordance with legal standards (for more information checkout the legal issues of reference checking). Information pertaining to a candidate’s health, sexual orientation or religion should be avoided at best, ignored at the least. As long as such sentiments are clear, recruiters are encouraged to jump into the world of social media with enthusiasm and high expectations!

Earlier this year, Bullhorn and CareerXroads both released reports indicating that LinkedIn was the most relied upon social media tool of all recruiters. But there’s no reason to put all of your eggs in one basket!  Get creative; branch out.  For instance, the same Bullhorn report found that a Twitter follower is nearly three times more likely to apply to a job posting than a LinkedIn connection. Pinterest, the site of virtual personalized pin boards, and Foursquare, the individualized GPS system, are both great tools for researching a candidate’s background.  Likewise, they can provide a fair amount of information regarding the candidate’s intentions and ambitions.

Similarly, wise recruiters understand that leading candidates can often be linked back to the references they provide and that these references may one day become job candidates themselves.  Be sure to call upon the social media described above to learn more about the names listed as references on a candidate’s application. Doing so may not only validate the quality of the reference, but may also allow for a quality opportunity to network with the reference.

It’s important to understand that much of social media is user generated, indicating that your candidate may have carefully censored the information he or she made available. So to supplement the smorgasbord of sometimes-bias social media, don’t forget to include basic Google searches in your candidate selection process.  Google has a tendency to turn up information that is not user generated, but that will be equally vital in your selection process, such as previous convictions.

While recruiting is an age-old field, the methods involved therein don’t need to be antiquated.  Social media, when used effectively and ethically, allows human resource representatives to increase productivity, reduce total expenditure, and subsequently improve hiring outcomes. It’s an equation that makes sense.

 

4 Tips to Beat Summeritis and Keep Your Employees Productive

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Summeritis is a common term heard among high school and college students when the warm weather season is quickly approaching. Symptoms of this seasonal disease include excessive daydreaming about trips to the beach or pool, a decreased ability in retaining information, sluggish performance and producing poor quality work. Yesterday marked the first day of summer, and you may have noticed some symptoms of summeritis floating around your workplace. While summer months tend to be slower for companies because of vacations from your staffers and clients, maintaining high productivity is still achievable. Prevent the symptoms of Summeritis in your staff by utilizing these four tips:

Plan for Vacation

With school out and an increase in nice weather, summer months are the ideal time for employees to go on vacation. Research shows that Americans are notorious for not using all of their vacation. While a strong work ethic is admirable, taking a vacation allows you to rest, recharge and come back to the office full of energy to be productive. Make sure you and your employees plan a solid vacation with family or friends.

Utilize Flexibility

Many companies are offering their workers flexibility during the hottest time of year. Some companies allow their staff to leave early on Fridays to enjoy the weather and spend quality time with people who aren’t their coworkers. Like the effects of a summer vacation, employees return to the office on Monday feeling refreshed and ready to perform again. If this set up isn’t feasible for your company, try a variation. Have employees come in earlier or work through their lunch break to leave the office sooner.

Delegate When Needed

Don’t let important tasks go unfinished because fewer people are around the office. Before an employee leaves for vacation, meet up with her to go over tasks that she is currently working on and ask her if she needs assistance while she’s away. Using strong teamwork during the summer months ensures that deliverables are met.

Have Some Fun

Keeping your workers productive during this time of year is important, but don’t ignore the fact that this is one of the most fun times of the year. Celebrate the season and all of the accomplishments your team has made throughout the first half of the year with an office party or celebratory lunch. Recognizing their efforts and letting them have some workplace fun will keep their morale high and performance stellar.

For more tips to keep you and your employees productive during the summertime, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: turbulentflow

The Calm Before the Storm: Surviving the Impending Supreme Court Decision on Healthcare Reform

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

The post below is a guest blog from Lindsey Surratt who serves as the Compliance Officer for CAI’s employee benefits partner, HCW Employee Benefit Services.

The United States Supreme Court is on the verge of issuing an opinion on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  The forecast is somewhat unpredictable, but the Court’s ruling can be narrowed down to a few possible outcomes.  The Court could take an “all-or-nothing” approach and either uphold or strike down the entire law.  Or, the Court could eliminate the Individual Mandate and allow the remainder of the law to stand.  The Court could also strike down other provisions in addition to the Individual Mandate, such as the prohibition on pre-existing conditions and community rating.

The tone of oral arguments and questions asked by the Justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy (likely the swing votes in this case), seem to indicate that the Individual Mandate will not survive.  But, predictions based on questioning in oral arguments have been an unreliable indicator of past Supreme Court decisions.

The arrival of the Court’s decision, much like a hurricane, is inevitable.  However, the preparation of carriers and employers thus far, as well as the response from carriers, employers, individual voters and State and federal governments, will shape the future of healthcare reform in the aftermath of the Court’s decision. The opinions of industry experts and legal scholars run the gamut from pandemonium to uneventful.

Dr. Bruce Vladeck, former Director of Medicare and Medicaid under President Clinton, predicts a decision overturning part or all of the law will result in “chaos” and an increase in the number of deaths among the uninsured population.  Other experts, including Gail Wilensky, Director of Medicare and Medicaid under President George H.W. Bush, predict a much more tempered result with reforms taking place at a slower pace.  Some reforms will continue regardless of the Court’s decision, with UnitedHealthcare, Aetna and Humana announcing voluntary extensions of certain insurance benefits regardless of the Court’s opinion.

Whether the Court’s decision wipes out the entire law or leaves pillars of it standing, state and federal legislators will continue to rebuild various aspects of the healthcare system in the United States.  There is no doubt that healthcare reform will emerge again as a pivotal issue in the 2012 Presidential Election.   What proactive steps can employers take to survive the upcoming Supreme Court decision outside of legislative and regulatory mandates?  Just as healthcare reform continues to evolve, so should an employer’s benefit strategies.

Implementing or expanding wellness program offerings, thoughtful evaluation of contribution strategies that incentivize employee involvement in healthcare delivery choices, consideration of alternate funding options, and increasing benefits education opportunities for employees will help employers weather the storm.  Although the regulatory landscape of healthcare reform will continue to change, the ultimate goals of increased efficiency, improved outcomes, and cost containment will remain the same.

By engaging in thoughtful benefit strategy choices, employers have the power to generate change in the healthcare market, even in the face of turbulent legal and legislative action.

3 Ways to Increase Your Staff’s Energy and Productivity Levels

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Have you noticed that some of your employees are running low on energy? Yes, employers have had a difficult time withstanding the economic climate over the past few years, but employees have also felt the pressure. Many workers have taken on more responsibility after seeing their coworkers get laid off. Some are also working longer to keep their company running like there’s a full staff. Doing more work and putting in more hours without significant increases in their pay or positive changes in their benefits can drain the energy of your employees.

The economic climate of the past few years made it necessary for many employers to get the most out of their employees, but doing so may have led to decreases in their workforce’s productivity level and job satisfaction. To keep your employees away from the brink of exhaustion, try these three methods to encourage motivation, increase morale and boost work performance:

Workplace Flexibility

If feasible for their position, allow your employees to enjoy more flexible schedules. When employees need a physical or mental break from work, flex schedules help employees maintain work/life balance, which aids them in completing quality work for your company. For additional benefits from flexible schedules for both employees and employers read our post Employers, Reap the Benefits of Telecommuting.

Employee Recognition

Taking time to recognize the contributions made by your employees will improve their work performance and attitude. Your workers want to know that their efforts are affecting your company positively, so letting them know how they specifically contribute to their organization’s success will raise their morale and company loyalty. For different ideas on how to show your employees you appreciate them, please see our blog post 17 Ways to Show Your Employees Appreciation.

Ongoing Training

Your employees are more likely to stay with your organization and produce great work if you provide them with opportunities to expand their skill sets. Most employees are eager to learn new methods to streamline their workflows and new knowledge to assist them in completing projects. There are a number of ways you can help your employees reach their full potential. Check some of them out on our blog post Continuous Education Helps You, Your Employees and Your Business Thrive.

For more tips on engaging and energizing your workforce, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Victor1558

Choose Wisely to Avoid the Cost of a Bad Hire

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

There are several costs associated with hiring a new employee. Money is spent hiring a recruiter, advertising the new position, reimbursing travel expenses and training the new staff member. Not only are financial resources used, but employers spend an ample amount of time with job candidates and new hires. Time is spent interviewing, onboarding and educating the new team member. When considering all the effort invested in one employee, uncovering that she’s a bad hire can be devastating.

CareerBuilder’s recent survey on costs related to bad hires indicates that 65 percent of the participating US hiring managers said that their bad hiring decision cost their company $25,000 to $50,000. Financial losses are easy to spot, but bad hires can also lower productivity and impact their coworkers negatively. Although you can’t prevent a bad hire 100 percent of the time, you can take several steps to ensure a candidate is a good fit for your job opening. Use the tips below to avoid a poor hiring decision:

Know the Job

Do you know why you have a vacancy at your company, and why it hasn’t been filled yet? If your opening isn’t new, take some time to thoroughly understand the requirements and skills needed to fill the position. Review what made past employees successful in the position and what made them ultimately leave. If there wasn’t much success, evaluate what you can do to help reduce turnover.

Nail the Interview

Evaluate your company’s role and responsibility during the interview process. Do you have good interviewers that are excellent time keepers and make job candidates feel welcomed? Do you utilize interview questions that will paint a picture of what the candidate did at his previous job? Do you incorporate questions that will give the candidate different scenarios of what he can expect from his new job? Planning for well-thought-out behavioral interview questions is a must.

Check and then Double Check

Before setting a start date for your new employee, make sure all of your company’s pre-requisites for new hires are completed. Perform a background check to verify his employment and criminal history, call his references to confirm his past work performance and experience, and have him complete an assessment to further demonstrate job fit.

Following the three tips above should help you identify high-performing talent and avoid making a costly hiring mistake. CAI offers services to help you increase your chances of selecting a great hire. Contact Molly Hegeman at 919-878-9222 or http://j.mp/cai-a for more information about recruiting and assessments.  Contact Kevin von der Lippe at 336-668-7746 or www.capital.org/vea for questions regarding background checking and reference services.

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The DOs and DON’Ts of Workplace Friendship

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Tomorrow best buddies around the country will celebrate National Best Friends Day. The day that occurs every June 8 encourages you to spend time with your one friend who consistently stands by your side to support you. Best friends aren’t easy to find, and keeping them can be a challenge. However, the benefits of friendship are tremendous. Good friendships (as well as bad ones) affect all aspects of your life, including the workplace. Having a few allies at your job can increase your productivity and boost your mood, but friends at work also have the potential to harm your performance.

To successfully navigate your relationships and interactions with others, follow these workplace friendship DOs and DON’Ts:

DOs

Do establish times to socialize

  • Chatting with your office friend throughout the day isn’t going to help you get your work done or put you in line for a promotion. Use your breaks and lunchtime to fraternize.

Do stay focused on your work

  • Your employer is paying you to work, so don’t let a workplace friendship make you lose sight of the projects, assignments and goals you need to complete.

Do practice respect and professionalism

  • Gossiping with your office mate about your coworkers or boss is not recommended. Maintain your reputation and a positive work environment by treating others with respect and bringing complaints to your manager.

DON’Ts

Don’t pick up the slack

  • Helping your coworker out when he needs a hand shows great teamwork, but frequently helping him finish his assignments because of his poor time management or other issues will ultimately impede your workflow, causing your productivity and effectiveness to suffer.

Don’t share everything

  • Make sure to set boundaries with your workplace pals. Decide what information is appropriate to share and what information should not enter the office. You don’t want personal information you revealed in assumed confidence to be shared or used against you.

Don’t be exclusive

  • Avoid spending all your free time with you work friend. Not going to lunch or taking breaks with your other coworkers might cause tension, jealousy or cries of favoritism.

Knowing how to appropriately handle workplace friendships will help your staff stay positive, productive and professional. For more information on friendships and relationships in the workplace, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Victor1588

Why Your Company Needs an Up-To-Date Employee Handbook

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Although there is no federal law that requires organizations to produce employee handbooks, providing them for your staff helps create positive employer-employee relationships and protects your organization from potential wrongful harassment, termination or discrimination lawsuits.

Here are two reasons why handbooks benefit employers and employees:

Promotes a Positive Workplace Atmosphere

Company handbooks provide employees with a set of clearly defined policies, rules and guidelines. Well-written handbooks also outline consequences for not following company policies, as well as where employees should turn to if they have a problem. Having this information on hand helps workers understand their employer’s expectations and what they should expect from their employer.

Because each employee receives the same handbook, they all review the same information. These documents set the precedent for fair and consistent employee treatment. To ensure effectiveness and understanding and to avoid low employee morale and job dissatisfaction, keep your handbook clear, concise, easy to follow, and up to date.

Is a Legal Document

Although you don’t want to fill your employee handbook with confusing legalese, it can serve as your biggest protection for or evidence against your company in a lawsuit. Many courts see employee handbooks as contracts between an employer and its employees. For this reason, avoid using promises, guarantees and entitlements in your handbook because if left unfulfilled, those promises could be used against you in a lawsuit.

Making sure you follow the policies and procedures outlined in your employee handbook is critical.  Routinely adhering to your handbook will be one of your best defenses. However, the opposite is also true. If you have several rules that you don’t follow, your current or former employees can use them against you. Regulations that you seldom enforce or frequently change should be omitted from your handbook to safeguard your organization.

It’s impossible to cover every workplace situation in your handbook because additional issues will always occur after you finalize it, so keep your policies appropriately flexible. Additionally, putting a statement in your handbook explaining that the document is not a complete collection of company policies and that your company reserves the right to change any policy is suggested.

If you have questions or would like your company handbook reviewed, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: West Point Public Affairs