Posts Tagged ‘culture’

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.

Do Your Job Candidates Fit the Job and Your Workplace Culture?

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

new talentIf you want a new employee to be a great addition to your team and not jump ship after a year or sooner, you should assess whether or not they fit your company culture. Don’t just pick a candidate because they nailed the interview or their last job title matches the name of your open position. Choosing a candidate with the right experience and the required jobs skills is extremely important when narrowing the pool of job seekers. Incorporating company fit will help you winnow down the list of candidates to those who can add the most value to your organization.

Here are three reasons why recruiting for company fit is advantageous to your organization:

Avoid the Cost of a Bad Hire

Hiring a dud of an employee can be costly. You’ve spent money recruiting the candidate, advertising the position, reimbursing travel and training the new member. If the new employee doesn’t work out, you’ve lost money and time that you can’t recoup. Choosing a candidate who has values similar to your company’s, as well as a work ethic similar to several members of your team, will likely result in a better hire than those who don’t.

The Job Will Get Done

Employees who like their workplace culture and the people they work with are more likely to be engaged with their assignments. Better engagement means increased productivity and higher morale, which are two metrics you want to achieve. When employees have high morale and are satisfied with their positions, their work becomes less of a chore and more of a task they want to complete.

Your Team Will Be Welcoming

Remember how a bad hire can be dreadful to your company finances? Well, bad hires can also be dreadful to your other team members. They had the skills, but not the values, so your other employees are dealing with your hiring decision. Staffers who don’t fit your culture and are difficult to work with can have negative effects on your other employees, such as lower productivity and increased stressed.

Choose wisely for your next open position. Emphasize your culture to candidates during the hiring process, so they know that’s an important aspect of your workplace.

For more information on the importance of cultural fit when looking for a new hire, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Picture: Victor1558


A Tale of Two Cultures

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

The post below is a guest post from Buzz Rooney, a practicing HR professional with more than 10 years of experience in the production, manufacturing and retail industries. She currently works for a large retail franchise handling employee relations, health benefits, compliance and more. Read more of her writings, connect and contact her through her website, The Buzz on HR.

Company A had a very strong culture. When you entered their offices, you could feel the positivity exuding from every cubicle. It was clear that people loved working there and that the company worked hard to make the employees feel valued. The office was brightly decorated, the equipment was state-of-the-art, and the break area was stocked with yummy snacks and fun games. The employees always spoke of the company as “us” and “we.” They could recite the history of the organization. They knew how their work connected to the work of others and how it impacted the bottom line of the organization.

Their pride in their practices made them cocky. Over time, the organization began to think their way was the only way to do business. They criticized and ridiculed organizations that weren’t like them – including clients and vendors.

Company B also had a very strong culture. When you entered their offices, you could feel the negativity exuding from every cubicle. It was clear that people resented working there and didn’t feel valued. The office walls were dingy white and undecorated, the equipment was older, and the break area was tiny and full of not-so-gentle reminders (don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink; don’t take people’s stuff out the fridge, etc).  The employees spoke of the company as “they” and “them.” No one knew the history of the organization. They didn’t know how their work connected to the work of others or impacted the bottom line organization.

Their acrimonious attitude made them tense and guarded. Employees were constantly fearful of losing favor with decision-makers. Bullying and passive-aggressive behavior abounded. Every change was met with resistance, reluctance and reticence. When asked to define the culture of their organization, everyone from the owner to the receptionist said “We don’t really have one.”

Wrong! Every organization has culture. It might be a cult or it might be a crock – but it exists and is always there.

Culture is what your employee’s think, feel and express about working there. Most companies actively work to define their culture. Others let it develop organically.

How can you figure out and fix the culture of your organization?

Ask. Employees generally want to give feedback. They want to tell management how they are feeling. Give them the opportunity to do it without fear of retaliation. Also ask your customers and vendors about their experiences working with the employees of your organization and their perceptions of your culture.

Assess. Once you have the feedback from your customers, employees and vendors, examine it against the mission, vision, values, goals, policies and procedures against the organization. See if the feedback matches. Where it doesn’t match up, determine the cause. Watch for patterns and common threads, such as employees from one area being more or less happy than others. Stay open and willing to embrace the feedback, especially the hard truths.

Adjust. Now that you have the information, it’s time to do something with it. That starts by deciding if you are OK with the feedback received. If the organization does not disagree or isn’t disturbed by the perceptions, there is no need to do anything. However, this isn’t usually the case. More often, organizations are horrified to learn what everyone thinks about them. You have to own the shortcomings in your organization that created those perceptions. Then you have to address the issues at every level. For awhile, all of your decisions and business actions will have to be scrutinized for culture alignment. Eventually, if you don’t give up, the culture you want will take root, blossom and grow.

Culture manifests itself either positively or negatively in the effort and attitude of the employees. Regardless of how it develops, we must know what the culture is – and take the steps to change it when it is not what we want it to be.

Photo Source: Victor1558

Don’t Let Your Top Employees Leave: 4 Tips to Encourage Employee Loyalty

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Do you know what it would take for your employees to leave your organization? If you ask them, the responses you receive might surprise you. The responses will also provide you with valuable information. Knowing the circumstances that could cause your employees to leave will help you find areas in which your company can improve. Instead of finding the answers when your employees leave your company, find time now to ask your top talent what factors would drive them to move to another organization.

Before you ask your staff members what would make them leave, review some of the reasons below why employees stay at their organizations. Are you providing your employees with these opportunities?

4 Reasons Why Employees Stay Loyal

Company Culture

The environment your company creates is a major factor that determines whether an employee will stay. Not every employee will appreciate or desire the same workplace aspects so it’s important to make sure you’re hiring employees that are interested in your company culture. For the most part, employees want to work for companies that respect their work/life balance and take a genuine interest in them and their career.

Challenging Work and Career Growth

Employees who are growing in their positions and like what they do find it hard to leave their employers. Make sure your staff members don’t leave because of workplace boredom, meaning their assignments aren’t challenging them. Meet with your employees on a weekly or monthly basis to gauge their thoughts on their job assignments and related performance. Help your team members grow by offering them opportunities to strengthen their skills, learn more information, and work on larger or more important projects.

Sound Leadership

Leadership is a top reason why employees decide to hold a long tenure with an organization. Many employee opinion surveys reveal that employees leave or are likely to leave because of the actions of their managers, supervisors or senior leaders. No one likes a micromanager or a leader who never checks in. Treat your employees with respect, be considerate of their time, communicate openly with them, and in return they will more likely stick with your organization.

Feedback and Recognition

Receiving positive and constructive feedback consistently is critical for the success of your employees. When employees don’t receive feedback, several consequences can result—employees feel frustrated, bad manager-direct report relationships develop, or employees search for new jobs that fulfill their needs. In addition to constant feedback, workers want to know that they are valued for the work they put into the company. Regularly demonstrate that you appreciate your workforce’s efforts. Whether you send them an email congratulating them on a sales win or take them out to eat on Friday, make it clear that they’re valuable team members.

For additional guidance for retaining your key employees, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Victor1558

4 Reasons Why Employee Appreciation Events Are Beneficial

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Looking for creative ways to engage and retain your workforce? Invest some time and resources into planning an employee appreciation event. Whether it’s a family carnival or an ice cream social, the effort you make in putting these activities together will show your team members that their contributions make a difference for the company. Small acts like planning these events have the power to increase morale and job satisfaction, especially when raises and bonuses are not financially feasible. Below are a few of the benefits you’ll gain from hosting an event to celebrate your employees:

 Shows Your Loyalty

Activities like these show your team members that your organization appreciates the work that they do. The time and energy you spend making your staff members feel like valued employees will make them more likely to show loyalty to your organization.

Levels the Playing Field

Employee appreciation events allow managers and their direct reports to interact with each other in a less formal setting. These events often show both groups that they are more alike than they thought. Learning each others’ similarities helps unite teams.

Blends Work Life with Home Life

Events that invite employees and their families to enjoy themselves demonstrate that as an employer, you care about their life inside and outside of work. Employees depend on and value the support they receive at home, especially if they are working longer hours or dealing with more tasks. Treating your team members’ families is a great way to get to know them better and say thank you for their service.

Strengthens the Workplace Community

Employee appreciation activities are great for team building. When employers dedicate time and resources to these events, employees can see that their company values them. Hosting staff parties and other events that support your workforce will unite your team and strengthen your organization’s culture.

For more ideas on recognizing your employees, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service–Midwest Region

Is Hiring the Key to Employee Engagement?

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Can it be that the only thing that matters in regard to driving employee engagement is hiring people with the right attitude?

That may be the case according to a new study that shows that 99 percent of highly-engaged employees say that they take personal responsibility for their engagement.  The study comes as part of the research that Timothy Clark did for his new book The Employee Engagement Mindset.   Clark and his team analyzed 150 highly-engaged employees in 50 different organizations representing 13 different industries.

In addition to taking personal responsibility for their engagement, the 99 percent also stated that they believe they, not their employer, hold primary responsibility for their engagement.  In contrast, a vast majority of disengaged employees believe that their employer is primarily responsible for their engagement.

So there it is in plain language, the key to employee engagement is finding and hiring employees who are willing to take responsibility for keeping themselves engaged.  It has been said that employers should “hire for attitude and train for aptitude.”  Nothing makes the case for this better than the findings of this study.

Too often hiring managers and HR professionals get so wrapped up in qualifications and demonstrated experience.  They choose the candidate with the track record over the one with the great attitude and the thinner resume.  Instead of playing to win, they are playing not to lose.  Sure, there needs to be a baseline skill level to qualify for a job, but does it have to be so high?

In these days when we can bounce from articles on the importance of employee engagement to the scourge of unemployment to the skill gap between available jobs and talent, it seems to me that a statistic like the one above just screams for a different approach.  If employers start focusing more on finding the right types of teachable people instead of demanding high levels of experience, won’t everybody win?

Of course, I’m not saying that employers should get a pass on creating a positive work environment and culture that encourages employees to excel and recognizes them for their success.  That’s an important element, as well.

Nor am I saying that tomorrow you should get rid of everybody that you think may have a bad attitude.

However, I am encouraging you to ask yourself during every hiring process you are a part of, not “Who has the best qualifications for this job,” but “Who will bring the best attitude to this job?”

Photo Source: Victor1558

Here’s What You Missed at CAI’s 2012 HR Management Conference

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

CAI hosted its annual HR Management Conference last week on February 21 and February 22. More than 380 HR professionals and company executives attended the event themed Crushing Your Competition with Your Culture & Talent.

Jack Daly delivering his keynote presentation.

Held at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh, the conference featured four keynote speakers. Each of them provided audience members with helpful tips to create a positive and productive workplace to keep employees happy and engaged. Listed below are the four keynote speakers and their presentation topics:

  • Jack DalyCorporate Culture: Is Yours by Design or Default?
  • Jeff TobeColoring Outside the Lines: Let’s Get Engaged
  • Michael Lorsch—The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
  • Kelly Swanson—How to Stand Up and Stick Out in a Crowded Market

“I’m actually the vice president of our operations company, and in my daily work what was really important to clarify is the dilemma between important and urgent. You do urgent things every day, but you don’t necessarily do the important things. This has direct impact not only to my world, but more importantly to the world of my people and the company culture they experience ,” said Max Henze, Vice President of AKG North America Operations when commenting on information from Jack Daly’s keynote session.

In addition to the keynote presentations, conference goers had the opportunity to participate in several breakout sessions hosted by leaders experienced in company culture and strategies to retain top talent. The 12 breakout sessions utilized role plays, surveys and real-world examples to help participants absorb concepts to take back and incorporate at their organizations.  Here are a few of the topics discussed during the sessions:

  • You’re Ruining Our Culture: How to Deal with Toxic Behavior in the Workplace
  • High Value Talent: How to Capture and Keep Them
  • Creating a Competitive Advantage with a Strong Corporate Culture
  • How to Influence Positive Leadership Behaviors that Impact Your Culture
  • Building Your Talent Pipeline
  • Coaching Supervisors and Managers to Solve Their Own People Problems

“I came primarily for the cultural enhancement of organizations. My organization has had some phenomenal growth over the last four years, and we’d like to position ourselves to be the employer of choice so to speak,” said Keith Workman, Vice President of Human Resources at Implus Footcare, when asked why he attended the conference. “With the speakers, Mr. Daly and of course Brad Geiger, who is superb, I noticed that they were focusing on cultural development, how to identify problem areas and ways to avoid them, so that was a very big draw for me.”

CAI CEO Bruce Clarke with the 2012 Ovation Awards Winners

CAI revealed the winners of its sixth annual Ovation Awards for HR Excellence on Day 2 of the conference. Local employers are encouraged to submit nominations year round for an innovative people practice they initiated at their company. The people practice must have made a significant and positive impact on employees and business results to win one of the three awards segmented by company size. This year’s winners include:

  • Caterpillar Building Construction Products Division in the Large Employer Category
  • Halifax Regional Medical Center in the Mid-Size Employer Category
  • Pate Dawson Company in the Small Employer Category

Leaders from the three winning companies presented their innovative people practices to conference attendees in small breakout sessions after the awards ceremony. Caterpillar presented on its workplace flexibility initiative, Halifax Regional Medical Center discussed its fast-tracking hiring process and Pate Dawson Company shared its high performance workplace training program.

Participants also received notebooks packed with information from each of the keynote speakers and presenters of the breakout sessions. The conference provided opportunities for guests to personally speak with each presenter and network with more than 380 of their peers.

When asked about his thoughts on this year’s conference, Keith said, “Oh it’s excellent, and it always is. I’m never disappointed.”

If you are interested in attending CAI’s next HR Management Conference in 2013, please contact an Account Manager at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

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.


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:


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.


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.


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.


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

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.


  • 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

Talking Workplace Culture with Jack Daly

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Experienced business leader and nationally-known speaker Jack Daly is scheduled to present a keynote session at CAI’s 2012 HR Management Conference on February 21, 2011 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh. His dynamic presentation focuses on workplace culture and the key components that employers need for designing environments that increase productivity and achieve business goals. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jack, and he shared great advice on the importance of maintaining a positive workplace culture with me.

There are two ways to look at culture, according to Jack. The first view has employers creating workplaces where employees want to work as oppose to have to work. The second develops an environment where workers do not just come to work with their minds and bodies, but they also bring their hearts.

“Because if we win over the hearts,” Jack said, “they will do things well beyond what we could ever direct them to do or command them to do.”

Finding elements that go after people’s hearts is key to establishing a positive workplace culture. To ensure that your culture is durable, Jack said four factors must be included: recognition systems, communications systems, personal and professional development systems and empowerment processes. A company that recognizes the efforts of its employees, communicates to them effectively and challenges them to make important decisions is a healthy and enjoyable place to work.

For any organization that is struggling to indentify or create its culture, Jack has a suggestion for its leadership:

“Go into the [workplace] trenches and become one of the many that are employed in the company, and then ask, ‘what would make me feel wanted and loved in this company?’”

Having members of leadership connected to entry and mid-level positions will help them see the importance of the four mandatory factors, as well as find several methods to incorporate each factor in business planning.

Culture at some companies just happens and evolves. Jack said that data, however, shows that organizations that critically think about their culture and design a great work environment for their employees are crushing the economy, their business sector and their competitors. The specific areas these companies are surpassing their competitors in are revenue, exit-value of the company, profitability and job growth for employees.

“The revenue line alone is worth over three times what it would be if you didn’t spend time thinking through culture,” Jack said.

Maintaining a positive culture is just as important as designing one. Assigning accountability and delegating roles to make sure the program lasts longer than six months is necessary for it to become part of the company’s fabric, according to Jack. He suggests that company leaders regularly ask questions like, “what actions have we been taking on our culture?” and “where have we missed opportunities for our culture?” Putting culture on the agenda of monthly staff meetings will guarantee the frequency of these types of conversations.

Outside factors can negatively affect a culture that is currently performing well if leaders lose control of their responsibilities. Jack has noticed that many companies spend less time on culture in bad economies than they do in good economies. He said this is the exact opposite of how they should react because leadership’s anxiety about business performance will negatively impact employees. In a good economy, there are more opportunities for raises and job security, so workers are more relaxed and happy. When the economy is tough, their anxiety levels go up. They then manifest their anxieties in their work and with customers, which can potentially impact business negatively.  

Making culture a priority, holding people accountable for their roles and incorporating the four main factors will ensure that employees give their hearts and their best work to their organizations, which will help increase the bottom line. When asked about businesses that ignore these concepts, Jack said:

“…you’re going to save some money and cut some expenses in the short term, but the long-term viability of your company is severely at jeopardy.”

To gain more valuable information on culture and to see Jack’s presentation, register for CAI’s 2012 HR Management Conference here: