Archive for the ‘Human Resources’ Category

What is Your View of HR?

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Close your eyes and picture the human resources function at work.  It could be a deep department or it might be led by an office manager.  Either way, I bet your picture is incomplete.

Key roles of good HR will help you during your career.  Plug into them.  Ask the right questions.  Expect good service.  Be patient when things seem too slow.

  1. Timely Trains

HR makes the trains run on time in most businesses.  Incredible complexity, regulation, and risk are behind every paycheck, every 401(k) deduction or match, every group health claim dispute, every payroll deduction form, every voluntary benefit, every stock or bonus plan and every performance review.  We take them for granted.  Stop and thank HR.  It is really impressive that these things work almost all the time.  It is equally impressive HR gets anything else done.

  1. Truth Teller

Effective HR tells employees and leaders the truth.  If you want to hear the truth and are ready to act on it, ask HR how you can grow.  Ask HR strategies to work with your manager (they already know you have an inexperienced manager and how that feels).  Allow HR to help you understand the negative comments on your performance review and how easily most things can improve.  Ask HR how you can change career paths at your organization.  They have heard it all before and usually have good advice to give.

The CEO and a senior team really need someone with the information, credibility, and neutrality to tell them the cold, hard truth when that truth is needed.  Great HR does this well.

  1. Ombudsman

The toughest role for HR is finding the right balance between an advocate for management (and its business goals) and the employees.  Good HR finds a way to do both.  Know that human resource professionals struggle with this balance and usually do see your side of things.  Talk to them about this balance, about management’s position on an issue and whether employee needs were considered.  Most of the time, you will come away with a clearer view.

  1. Gatekeeper of Talent

The biggest impact from really good HR is who gets hired and who gets fired.  The “who” affects everything that follows.  The who makes strategy work (or fail).  The who makes it a nice place to work (or awful).  The who supports company values and engagement (or destroys them)

  1. Guardian of the Culture

HR has to make all this happen in a way that improves company culture:  how people behave when no one is looking.  If the trains run on time, truth telling is valued, employee needs are balanced with business goals, we hire (and keep) the right people, then a good culture will usually follow.

At CAI we build engaged, well-managed, low-risk workplaces. If your company could use an HR partner, please contact us at 919-878-9222 or learn more at CAI.

Bruce Clarke serves as CAI’s President and CEO, and has been with CAI since 2001. Bruce practiced labor and employment law with the national labor law firm of Ogletree Deakins for 18 years. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and was selected as one of North Carolina’s Legal Elite by Business North Carolina Magazine. Bruce is 100% committed to helping companies maximize employee engagement and minimize workplace liabilities.

Why Human Capital Isn’t Enough

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

It’s pretty common today to hear leaders and organizations talk about “human capital.”

I can still remember when that term started frequenting our vocabulary a few years ago. As an HR leader, it felt like we’d stumbled onto something that might finally help us earn our legitimate seat at the executive table.

After all, most executives worship capital. Possessing financial capital usually means we are flourishing and able to seize opportunities. Capital is power.

So, finding a way to talk about employees and talent as a form of capital was brilliant. Even the CFO seemed to be on board with acknowledging that there was a real value in the collective knowledge, skills, and abilities of our employees. And, like any asset, if you make continued investment in it over time, the value steadily increases.

As a result of human capital being more widely used and understood, our talent management practices became intensely focused on developing employees’ individual competencies. The more each individual acquired skills and abilities, the more our human capital grew.

This model was highly effective when executed well. Jack Welch became a legend in part because of the training and development efforts he funded at GE. Human capital was seen as a competitive advantage by many.

But, then the game changed. The internet and social technology emerged to connect the world together in a way that had been unthinkable in the past. The days of doing work independently faded rapidly, and it became imperative to work together in collaboration.

Evidence of this shift can be seen everywhere. An online encyclopedia populated exclusively with user-contributed content nearly put traditional encyclopedias out of business. And, the most powerful operating system in the world was created by a community or programmers with no formal organization to manage their work.

The very nature of how we work and create value shifted.

The human capital model of human resources is incomplete, because it doesn’t account for the importance and value that exists through relationships. In today’s world, work is done together. And because of this, a new and highly valuable kind of capital has emerged: social capital

In order to compete effectively today and in the future, human resources professionals must not only work to build human capital, but also social capital. This will requires taking on new roles and skill sets for our organizations.

If you are are an HR professional or manage HR for your company, please join me on March 9 at the HR Management Conference to explore how HR must embrace our new role as Social Architect.

 

This is a guest post from Jason Lauritsen who will be speaking at CAI’s upcoming HR Management Conference on March 8 & 9th in Raleigh. Jason has been described as “a corporate executive gone rogue.” For nearly a decade, he spent his days as a corporate HR leader where he developed a reputation for driving results through talent. As Director of Client Success for Quantum Workplace, he leads a team dedicated to helping organizations make work better for employees every day.

Don’t Overlook the True Value of Your Employee Handbook

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Employee handbooks are a vital part of outlining and communicating your company policies while creating a “picture” of your company culture and mission.  All companies–regardless of their size, industry, or number of employees should have an employee handbook in place, be it hard copy, e-version, or on-line. A company handbook can be as robust and detailed or as simple and short as needed depending on your business and culture. Let’s review several of the major purposes and benefits of having a company handbook.

Legal Protection: A handbook should outline the company’s position on important legal or regulatory issues such as At-Will Employment, anti-harassment or discrimination policies, wage and hour compliance or drug testing policies. Should one of these situations become a workplace issue, an employer can support their actions based on what is outlined in their handbook. Handbooks are a great tool in helping set employee expectations.

Company Culture/Mission: A handbook provides employees with an understanding of the company’s mission and culture. By placing an emphasis on aspects of employment that the company values (volunteerism or code of conduct) the employees will have a better idea of the culture that is desired and supported by senior management. Understanding the company’s culture will allow employees to have clear and consistent expectations of conduct and performance.  The handbook is also a great place for the CEO to “tell the story” of the company to help employees understand why the company exists.

Guide for Employees: An employee handbook should be written with the employee in mind. The handbook should outline policies, practices and other key information that is pertinent to the employee.  Providing relevant and pertinent information to employees allows employees to understand and manage that what is important to them (such as benefits, pay cycle information, vacation schedules, etc.) as well as develop an understanding of the expectations and consequences of their actions.  An employee handbook can also serve as a source for creating positive employee relations such as internal dispute resolution rather than through an external source such as government agency.

Guide for Supervisors/Managers: Managers and supervisors need reference materials in order to help them lead their teams. Having an understanding of policies such as PTO (how to earn it, when to use it, what happens if it isn’t used at the end of the year) is just as important as reviewing the company’s discipline policy or time management policies. A handbook is a great starting place for supervisors and managers but they should refer to specific company policies and or consult with their HR team.

CAI members have access to handbook guides to help you get started. Our Advice & Resolution team also provides complimentary handbook reviews and our HR On Demand team can work with you to create a custom handbook for your organization.

Emily’s primary area of focus is providing expert advice and support in the areas of employee relations and federal and state employment law compliance as a member of the Advice & Resolution team for CAI. Additionally, Emily advises business and HR leaders in operational and strategic human resources areas such as talent and performance management, employee engagement, and M&A’s. Emily has 10+ years of broad-based HR business partnering experience centering around employee relations, compliance & regulatory employment issues, strategic and tactical human resources, and strong process improvement skills.

How HR Can Balance Compliance and Engagement

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Whether you are an official HR professional or the person tasked with HR duties at your organization, your organization needs two primary things from you: Compliance and Engagement.  Call these terms what you want, but both are important to company health, growth, and survival.  Compliance is a straightforward term I think.  I’m using “engagement” to refer to all the things you do to attract, retain, reward, motivate, and develop employees and leaders. We should strive for a good balance.  Focusing too much on compliance creates a workplace no reasonable person would want to work at.  Total compliance isn’t achievable anyway.  Focusing too much on “engagement” without much regard to compliance could create unwelcome charges / litigation that can also damage your brand.  Whether you’re a generalist or a specialist, this balance is important.

We often see companies out of balance.  This imbalance is painful for employees, HR and Management and leads to many unwanted outcomes.  Turnover, low morale, poor communication, inability to find people, etc.  These things have many causes, but often at the root is the imbalance.  For example, many times when I talk to a company that “can’t find good people” I find their recruiting processes feel more like a compliance exercise than one aimed at attracting good people.  Only 3% of EEOC charges relate to “hiring,” yet many companies focus more on screening people out to avoid liability than screening good people in.  I had one client tell me they couldn’t change anything in their recruiting process without first getting it approved by their legal counsel.  Anything!  Again, imbalance.

How can you achieve balance?  Acknowledging your imbalance is the first step.  It may be that you’re the one out of balance, too focused on one these worlds at the expense of the other.  Or it may be you’re pretty balanced but your management team is out of balance.  I recently had an HR person tell me his management team didn’t care anything about compliance.  Either way, fixing the imbalance should be near the top of your list.

CAI can help you achieve balance.  We have the people, tools, and resources you need to balance things out.

  • Our Advice & Resolution team is authoring over a hundred practical guides on most every HR related compliance issue. You’ll find thoughtful insights from our senior Advice & Resolution advisers based on their subject matter expertise, years of experience, relationships with regulators, and daily interactions with our valued members.
  • Strategic HR services.  As a CAI Member, you have unlimited access to senior HR executives who can help you assess, plan and solve operational and strategic organizational issues. Beyond assessments and advice, they also offer a series of 1:1 virtual coaching sessions to help you implement new initiatives.  They bring expertise in areas such as: Realigning HR to better support the business; Aligning people to business goals; Succession planning; Developing robust leadership pipelines; Creating a results based and high performing workforce; Attracting, developing, and retaining top talent; and Improving organizational capability.  

A membership in CAI can help get your company balanced…find out how we can help you and your organization today!

Doug Blizzard brings a wealth of knowledge to CAI, serving as Vice President of Membership. During his first 15 years at CAI, he led the firm’s consulting and training divisions and counseled hundreds of clients on HR and Employee Relations issues. If he isn’t speaking at North Carolina conferences, teaching classes on Human Resources or consulting clients on EEO and Affirmative Action, Doug is leading the company’s membership services.

HR’s Role in Helping Employees with Financial Literacy

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Remember this movie from 2006? Looks like the “failure to launch” group is coming back around. According to recent data from Trulia*, nearly 40% of young adults lived with their parents, grandparents, step-parents and other relatives last year. This is the highest point in 75 years.

As Human Resource professionals, can we help reverse this trend? I believe we can, as many of us are starting to recognize the importance of financial literacy in the workplace. When employees manage their money well, everyone wins.

Financial literacy is the ability to use knowledge and skills to manage financial resources effectively for a lifetime of financial well-being. For many young professionals, they are not receiving a financial education. According to the National Council on Economic Education, only a handful of states requires students to complete a personal finance course in school.

That’s why work is becoming a place to provide education as employees experience life events: home purchases, retirement planning, family changes, and health changes. Using the workplace as a financial education classroom is a tremendous opportunity to increase productivity, engagement, and loyalty.

A report by the Personal Finance Employee Education Foundation clearly provides a business case for financial literacy programs in the workplace:

  • 30 million workers — one in four are suffering serious financial distress.
  • Nearly half of those who are financially distressed report that their health is negatively impacted by their financial worries.
  • 30% to 80% of financially distressed workers spend time at their place of employment worrying about personal finances and dealing with financial issues instead of working.

Employers have an opportunity and a responsibility to educate workers at all levels about financial literacy. The sooner an employee understands and applies the basic principles of financial literacy, the easier it is to achieve financial security.

There are several steps you can take to help employees become more financially literate. The first step is to put the right programs and systems in place. Becoming financially literate means understanding how to manage your income and expenses, handle debt responsibly, save and invest, and prepare for the unexpected. The more prepared employees are to adapt to changes in their financial lives, the more financially fit they will become.

Companies that implement financial literacy programs realize a return on their investment. While on the surface, this appears daunting to implement, employers have a strong incentive because of the strong correlation between financial stress and an employee’s productivity. Remember, most plan providers offer this service for free.

Financial literacy isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes time and effort. Making sure your employees get good information is the first step.

Tom Sheehan brings 20+ years of extensive, broad-based strategic, tactical and practical HR experience to CAI’s Advice & Resolution team.  He advises HR and other business leaders on talent management, organizational effectiveness, employee engagement, M&A’s, and employee relations.

 

PHR®/SPHR® Certification – Are You Ready?

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Did you know North Carolina HR partner, CAI, offers a PHR®/SPHR® Certification Study Course Program that far exceeds the pass rate of the national average of 50%? Program participants who study with us achieve an impressive 90% pass rate PHR®/SPHR® exam! An HR certification will distinguish you from your peers, build your self-confidence, and earn you greater respect from your organization. According to a Payscale Survey, this certification typically translates into the ability to advance more quickly and earn significantly more money.

CAI’s PHR®/SPHR® Certification Study Course will have you prepared to the best of your ability to pass the exam. You’ll receive a complete study manual, online videos, practice test questions, online chat and discussion boards, and testing games. An audio flash drive is included too so you can listen on your commute. New this year, “online office hours,” will be available to maximize communications between you and your instructor.

“I couldn’t imagine taking the exam without the help of your prep class. The materials and experiences, combined with genuine teacher interest and support, really helped me focus my energies and determination,” states Terry L. Taylor, SPHR, HR Manager for Penske Racing Team.

This course is offered days, evenings, and weekends as both in-class sessions here in North Carolina or via live webinar. That means no matter where you reside, or how busy your schedule, you can study with the best and be on your way to the coveted HR certification!

David Siler, SPHR, GPHR, HRBP, HRMP, Managing Partner of Distinctive HR, Inc. has taught the PHR®/SPHR® study course for over 20 years. David teaches all of our classes and his engaging, motivational method of teaching will set you up for success!

Still not sure how it will help you? Sign up for the FREE 60-minute LIVE webinar (offered in January, March, June and August of 2017) to learn more about the benefits of achieving your HR certification, eligibility requirements to sit for the exam, and why this study course is the best one to register for. Worried you won’t pass? Just in case, we allow free retakes of this course within one year of your paid registration.

 

Click on the “start” button and take the next step toward your PHR®/SPHR® certification!

 

 

 

New to HR? Like our PHR® and SPHR® Certification Study Course, the new aPHR™ study course content will be focused on covering the general HR knowledge, principles and practices that make up the aPHR™ exam: HR Operations, Recruitment and Selection, Compensation and Benefits, Human Resource Development and Retention, Employee Relations and Health/Safety/Security.

The aPHR™ certification study course, also led by David Siler,  is perfect for people who have just graduated from high school, are new to HR or interested in pursuing HR as a career. Find out more about jumpstarting your HR career with the aPHR™ Study Course beginning in February 2017.

Two Basic Things Employees Need From Their Boss

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

1. RELIABLE AND MEANINGFUL COMMUNICATION communication1

Communication is a hallmark of any healthy relationship. A recent study from Gallup, ‘State of the American Manager,’ found that consistent communication is strongly connected to higher engagement.  Employees whose managers hold regular meetings with them are almost three times as likely to be engaged as employees whose managers do not hold regular meetings with them.

The frequency of meetings is less important to employees than the fact that they happen at all. The Gallup study also found that engagement is highest among employees who have some form (face-to-face, phone or electronic) of daily communication with their manager. And while all forms of communication are effective, managers who use a combination of face-to-face, phone and electronic communication are the most successful at engaging employees.

Employees value communication from their manager not just about their role and responsibilities, but also about what happens in their life outside of work. The Gallup study revealed that employees who feel as though their manager is invested in them as people are more likely to be engaged.

Approachability is a key attribute of a good manager. Employees who feel that they can talk with their manager about non-work-related issues are much more likely to be engaged.

2. PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT BEYOND ANNUAL REVIEWS

Performance management is often a source of great frustration for employees and managers alike. Employees often do not clearly understand their goals or what is expected of them at work. They feel uncertainty about their duties and disconnected from the bigger picture. For these employees, annual reviews and developmental conversations frequently feel forced and superficial.  It is difficult for them to think about next year’s goals when they are not even sure what tomorrow will throw at them.

Yet, when performance management is done well, employees become more productive, profitable and creative contributors. The same Gallup study found that employees whose managers excel at performance management activities are more engaged than employees whose managers struggle with these same tasks. Finally, when managers help their employees set work priorities and performance goals they are much more likely to be engaged.

Not sure where to start with performance management or have a specific question? Contact our Advice & Resolution team today!

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Tom Sheehan brings 20+ years of extensive, broad based strategic, tactical and practical HR experience to CAI’s Advice & Resolution team.  He advises HR and other business leaders on talent management, organizational effectiveness, employee engagement, M&A’s, and employee relations.

Making It A Great Day Every Day

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

What does it take to have a GREAT day?  Here are a few simple things you can do to begin your day, practice throughout your day and end your day to make each day a GREAT day:large_give-thanks-title2

Begin Each Day with Positive Thoughts

Start the day by reading or listening to an inspirational story or even a single thought.  Some desk calendars have a positive “thought of the day” which are very helpful.

Complement Work Goals with Life Goals

Almost always, work is tied to something personal in an employee’s life. It may be compensation or benefits, or it could be just personal satisfaction.  Work success affects life success and the reverse is also very true.

Mental Preparation

Most employees have a commute of some kind to work each day.  Instead of using that time to accomplish work-related tasks, use that time to prepare for the workday ahead.  Likewise, use the commute home to decompress so work does not interfere with personal time once you arrive.

Smile

A smile can be contagious.  If there is genuine happiness behind the smile, that is great.  If not, force a smile and spread some happiness anyway.  Spreading happiness contributes to being happy.

Be Positive

Keep a positive attitude around others.  Similar to a smile, a positive attitude will spread and affect the entire group.

Prioritize

Everyone has too much to do, so it is important to prioritize.  Twenty percent (20%) of all activity contributes to 80% of results.  So, hit that 20%  hard to maximize productivity and ensure a successful day.

Ignore Negativity

There is always someone around with a negative attitude who wants to get everyone else feeling negative as well.  Misery loves company!  Do not let them ruin a positive day or take away from significant accomplishments.  Avoid them and focus on the tasks at hand.

Avoid Long Workdays

Extra hours do not always equate to additional productivity. Chances are, most of the productivity will happen early in the day during the completion of those 20% of higher priority tasks. Adding more hours will not increase overall productivity.

Take Time to Relax

After work, take time to enjoy a relaxing activity and use that time to re-charge for the next day. Put the previous workday aside and leave it for tomorrow. This is part of the overall work-life balance.

End The Day With a Grateful Thought

Before turning in for a night’s rest, give some thought to events of the day for which to be grateful.  In other words, any day “could have been worse.”  Be grateful it was not worse, and attribute that to a positive attitude. Your grateful thought could be either professional or personal.

People like being appreciated. Simple efforts of recognition, particularly when made public to their managers and/or co-workers, encourage a supportive and productive working relationship.

Happy Thanksgiving from CAI and remember sometimes, the simplest gestures are the ones that mean the most.

The Labor Market Squeeze

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

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

Many employers are expressing concerns that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find qualified applicants.  A couple of recent surveys outline the problem facing employers: labormarketsqueeze

  • Graham Personnel found that 59% of employers are having difficulty hiring qualified applicants.  They also report the top three employer concerns are:
    • Retention and employee relation issues (28%)
    • Recruiting (27%)
    • Other factors in their organization including sales and marketing (10%)
  • A 2016 SHRM survey found similar results. In their survey, SHRM reports that 68% of employers had difficulty filling full-time jobs in the past 12 months.  In 2013, only 50% of employers reported hiring difficulty.

These elevated numbers are concerning.  Employers understand the importance of recruiting the right talent, and the impact it has on their growth and productivity.  Recruiting and retaining talented individuals with the needed skill set has always been the lifeblood to organizations.

With the tightening labor market, employers are assessing what they need to do to either become, or remain, competitive.  Health benefits are an area of focus that employers are using to differentiate themselves.  In fact, 38% of SHRM respondents stated they leveraged their health and welfare benefits to gain a competitive advantage in recruiting.

What is your strategy towards offering health and welfare benefits to your employees?   How do you want your benefits to compare to the competition?  What benefits do you need to offer to recruit, retain and reward your employees?  What are other organizations doing to control cost and to also remain competitive?  These are all questions you should be asking yourselves.

If you are curious how your medical benefits “stack up,” we can assist you.  For the past 11 years, we have partnered with Capital Associated Industries (CAI) to produce a North Carolina state wide survey with nearly 650 respondents.  This survey allows you to compare your medical benefits and cost to other organizations of similar size, industry type and in your area. Having this type of information can be valuable, especially as you recruit in this tight labor market.  If you are interested in learning more about benchmarking your health plan, contact us!

Are You a Micromanager or Macromanager?

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Are you a Micromanager?  Do others consider you to be?  Hopefully, the answer to both of these questions is “No.”  The term Micromanager is widely thought to be one of the most unflattering labels you can have if you manage people.  Micromanagers typically involve themselves so deeply into the smallest details of every project they manage it actually inhibits productivity and creates a very unpleasant workplace for the team as a whole.

Granted, not being a Micromanager is better than being a Micromanager. But is there something even better? Yes! A Macromanager.

Macromanagers deal with employees more efficiently, taking advantage of their individuality and contributing strengths to the overall team.  Macromanagers provide a work environment which allows a team to work together and empowers them to not only make decisions, but to also make mistakes and to learn from both.  This creates a bi-directional feeling of trust, while maintaining a sense of employee engagement and generating results.

Julie Giulioni, author of “Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want”, explains some of the differences between Micromanagers and Macromanagers:

micromgr.jpg

How can you become a Macromanager?  How can you make the transition all the way from Micromanager to Macromanager?  Try implementing these four traits of a Macromanager:

Focus on The Big Picture – Micromanagers get too deep in the weeds of a project rather than looking at things from a 10,000-foot viewpoint.  To be a good Macromanager, focus more of your energy and attention on the organization’s direction and strategy for the future.  In doing so, you can develop creative ideas on how to get there and trust your team to use their collective strengths to work out the details for success.

Understand Your Audience – Micromanagers tend to micromanage everyone, even those who do not need it. Macromanagers may occasionally need to provide more detailed guidance to a team member who is less experienced. When you see that team member begin to “get it,” step back before entering “Micromanager Mode.”  Have a stronger member of your team work with and mentor the less experienced employees.

Observe – Watch the progress of your team, keeping your distance.  As an experienced manager, you will recognize the cues that tell you when to engage and when to hold back.  Your responsibility is the successful completion of the project overall, so you should always be involved as a manager, mentor, advisor and member of the team.  Successful people surround themselves with successful people.  Give your team room to succeed and let them know you are there if they need you.

Welcome Feedback – Find a way to ask questions regarding progress without coming across as “interfering.”  As the manager responsible for overall success, you have the right and the responsibility to know what is going on.  Make sure your team understands you are not there to judge or to criticize, but to offer help and observations if and when needed. Open communication should be encouraged.

As a manager, you have larger responsibilities to the organization.  If you ever find yourself getting too deep into the weeds of any one project, you should ask yourself, “What should I be doing in my job that I am not doing?”  Chances are there is something else you should be focusing more time on. Your employees will thrive and progress more quickly with your guidance rather than your direct involvement.

renee

 

CAI Advice & Resolution team member Renee Watkins is a seasoned HR professional with a diverse background in Human Resource. Renee provides CAI members with practical advice in a wide-range of human resource functions including conflict resolution, compliance and regulatory issues, and employee relations.