Posts Tagged ‘engagement’

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.

8 Ways to Engage and Reward Employees Through the Cold Weather

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

winter weatherWith Valentine’s Day approaching at the end of next week, the season of sharing love and being cold is upon us. Showing love, compassion or empathy shouldn’t be reserved for only your family or friends. As an employer, it’s important to also show kindness and understanding with your employees.

Making your employees feel valued affects job satisfaction, staff performance and retention levels positively. There are several things you can do to reward your employees for their hard work and to also keep them engaged. Here are eight ways you can show your staff some love during the coldest time of the year:

  • Buy tickets for your employees to attend a local sports event. Basketball and hockey games are two winter sports that are always fun to watch.
  • Send each of your employees a personalized Valentine’s Day card. You can include candy, a gift certificate or even cash.
  • Coordinate an ice skating friends and family event. You can rent out a local ice house for a few hours and supply participants and their family members with a pair of ice skates.
  • Treat your staff to a winter-weather breakfast. Warm goodies like an egg casserole or blueberry muffins will pair nicely with hot chocolate, warm apple cider or freshly brewed coffee.
  • Buy tickets to a winter or love-themed movie, and encourage your staffers to see the movie with their friends or family members.
  • Have a clear and accurate work plan for dealing with inclement weather, such as snow or hail.  Being flexible with adverse weather conditions will be appreciated by your employees.
  • Throw a Valentine’s Day party for your staff. Hold the get together in the afternoon and supply sweet treats for a fun social break.
  • Keep an ample supply of free snacks and drinks in your break room or kitchen for employees who don’t want to go out in the cold to satisfy their hunger.

For additional tips on engaging or rewarding your employees, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: alex_ford

4 Ideas to Show Your Employees Appreciation During the Summer Months

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Summer activityThis Friday marks the first day of summer and calls attention to all of the activities that go along with warmer weather. Many of your employees will plan vacations during this time period.  For your staffers who elect to stay in the office, treat them to some summertime fun. Show them you appreciate the contributions they make to your organization by coordinating activities that are most enjoyable in the summer. Reminding employees that you value their efforts is helpful in increasing a number of metrics, such as engagement, satisfaction and morale.

Try some of the following fun ideas at your organization:

Company picnic with family and friends

The warm weather season is a perfect time for a company picnic. Encourage your employees to invite their friends and family to make the event more memorable for them. By allowing your employees to bring guests, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with the people who are the most important to them. Rent a picnic shelter from a local park, provide food, and make sure you plan activities that cater to all of the age groups that will be present.

Refreshing treats

The summer months provide plenty of opportunities for fun, but they also bring a long supply of blazing hot days. Help your employees get some relief from the sun. Stock your company fridge with popsicles or mini containers of ice cream. If you purchase these items in bulk at a warehouse, such as Costco or Sam’s Club, you won’t break your budget to provide your employees with nice refreshments.

Relaxed Dress Code

If your employees wear business casual or business attire each day of the week, let them enjoy a more relaxed dress code during the summertime. Giving them the option to dress more comfortably during the hottest months of the year will show your employees that you care about their happiness while they are at work. Whether you implement casual Fridays throughout the summer or allow your employees to sport sandals instead of loafers, this gesture will show them that you appreciate them.

Parking lot tailgate

Everyone loves a good tailgate! You don’t have to be celebrating a particular sporting event to incorporate some of the fun aspects of getting together before a big game. Utilize the resources you have by hosting the tailgate in your company’s parking lot. Set up cornhole, ladder ball or play Frisbee to create some bonding moments for your staff. Treat your team to traditional tailgating foods and drinks like BBQ, hamburgers, hotdogs, lemonade and sweet tea.  If you decide to provide alcoholic beverages for your staff, make sure they are of age and limit them to two drinks each for their safety and yours.

For more ways to raise employee morale at your organization, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-9222.

Photo Source: Rob Boudon

5 Ways to Have a Spooktacular Halloween at Work

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Halloween is less than two weeks away, and because this holiday is so popular, celebrating the fall day at your workplace is a great idea. Few people are offended by scheduling time to celebrate Halloween because the holiday isn’t tied to a specific religion or belief system. Halloween also will allow employees to let out their inner child and have fun instead of worrying about the stress that accompanies adult life. Most importantly, you can set a workplace tradition that almost all employees will enjoy year after year.

Use some of the ideas below to encourage your staff members to have a howlin’ good time this Halloween. Remember to keep participation optional:

  • Decorate your workplace to create a Halloween Wonderland. Add cobwebs to offices and meeting rooms, place pumpkins on tables and window ledges, and put out candy corn for your staff and visitors to enjoy.


  • Host a costume contest, and ask employees to make sure their attire is work appropriate. Have staffers anonymously vote for the winner. Prizes can range from a plastic Jack-o-lantern full of candy or a gift certificate to a nearby restaurant.


  • Carve pumpkins as a group. While your team works to dig out pumpkin seeds and carve ghoulish faces, they will naturally find themselves chatting and having a good time—strengthening their workplace bonds.


  • Treat your staff to a Halloween-themed breakfast. Include several food options that feature fall’s flavors. Some examples include Apple cider, pumpkin flavored coffee, pumpkin bread, apple muffins and turkey biscuits. Make sure you include healthy food options as well.


  • Organize a “trick or treat” potluck. Encourage each staff member to bring in a dessert item to share with the rest of their team members. Halloween-themed cookies, pumpkin pie or cupcakes with orange and black frosting are a few sweet treat ideas.

Establishing traditions at your company is a great way to engage your employees and keep workplace morale high. Please call CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 with any questions regarding traditions at work.

Photo Source: Jurvetson

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.

Coaching Your Managers Will Bring Business Success

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

“Do you view workplace interruptions as an opportunity to reconnect, to learn about problems and to sense the need for an idea or support? Or, do you see interruptions as the reason you must work late and take projects home?” CAI’s CEO Bruce Clarke asks his readers in his latest N & O Column, “The View from HR.”

In his December 18 edition, Bruce praises the message Doug Conant, the CEO of Campbell Soup Company, provides in his book Touch Points. Doug’s message infers that consistent, supportive and genuine communication between two people can work as a motivator and a problem solver.

If you polled all of your managers with direct reports, how would they respond to Bruce’s question? Managers hold several roles and are responsible for the work and career progress of the employees they supervise. Managers who view workplace interruptions positively encourage connections with their employees.

“Connecting is more than communicating,” Bruce says. “Telling somebody what to do is communicating, but connecting around their challenges is connecting. Communication is the foundation, but think how much powerful it is to truly connect!”

Echoing the importance of connecting with employees, featured an article based on a survey conducted by Bersin & Associates. The coaching-focused survey shows that organizations that effectively prep their managers to coach are 130 percent more likely to achieve stronger business outcomes. These companies are also 33 percent better at engaging their workforce.

Help your managers communicate and connect with their employees better. Having strong connections between coworkers at your workplace will raise employee morale, increase productivity and affect your bottom line positively. Here are a few areas that your managers should be coached in: 


Communicating effectively is a key trait that all managers should possess. Clear communication will help their direct reports understand expectations the first time they receive them, which will help bring greater and timelier success for projects.  Managers that have two-way communication with their staff are aware of individual strengths and weaknesses, and they can help determine the tasks best suited for their employees. Good communication also helps managers uncover problems early to find reasonable and lasting solutions.


Managers with direct reports should be good leaders because they are responsible for many items within an organization. Those with good leadership abilities will handle stressful situations by remaining calm and continuing to work to deliver results. Managers with strong leadership skills will make decisions with confidence and serve as exemplary examples of dedicated employees. They will support their company’s overall culture and work to help attain the goals of their supervisors and employees who report to them.


Managers should know that teamwork is essential for creating success, and they should understand how their team’s efforts contribute to their company’s bottom line. As a member of their departmental team or overall organization, they need to have good interpersonal skills to relay and receive information. Managers need to know how their team members work separately and together. They need to delegate tasks appropriately to help their team run efficiently. Additionally, good managers should be able to resolve conflict between team members quickly and effectively to keep productivity high.


A major cause of disengagement in employees is the failure of their employer to recognize the contributions that they provide. Good managers with engaged employees give positive and constructive feedback frequently. They actively listen to the concerns of their employees and try to foster environments that motivate their staffs to produce high-quality work. They help their employees feel valued because they say “thank you” often and reward them for their accomplishments. Managers who understand employee recognition also invest time in developing their employees’ skills and helping them reach their career goals.

CAI provides a number of options for companies looking to strengthen their coaching efforts. Please visit CAI’s Coaching page or call a member of CAI’s Learning and Development Team at 919-878-9222.

Photo Source: clogozm

Help Your Employees Save Money in a Down Economy

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

The cost for almost everything—gas, food, insurance, etc.—is currently rising. Unfortunately, due to the economic recession and other business factors, employees’ paychecks are not increasing at a rate to offset the higher cost of living. As an employer, there are several ways to help your workers keep money in their wallets. Helping employees save money will increase their job satisfaction and the company’s retention rate.

Here are a few tactics to help staffers cut down their expenses:Carpool

1. Carpooling

  • Today’s gas prices are fluctuating around $4 across the country. Help workers save money at the pump by encouraging them to carpool with their coworkers. Put a signup sheet in the office break room to make others aware of those interested in carpooling.

2. Flexible Schedule

  • Thanks to technology there are several ways to adjust the traditional “9 to 5” work week. To help employees avoid traffic, allow them to come in earlier or later and leave earlier or later. Additionally, agreeing to let employees work from home at least one day of the week could help them save a few hundred dollars in gas per year. Some organizations are even implementing 4 day weeks with longer work days to combat gas prices.

Lunch3. Staff Lunch

  • Although your organization might be unable to provide daily lunch for all staff members, offering a free meal a couple of times per month will be appreciated. Ordering in for your workers will help them save money on lunch and on gas.

4. Pre-Tax Accounts

  • Health Saving Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) allow employees to put money away in pre-tax accounts for health care services and goods. Offering this benefit will assist employees in the long run because it will help them take advantage of their earnings and increase their savings.

5. Retirement Plans

  • It is never too late to help your employees invest in their retirement. If a 401(k) p401(K)rogram is available at your organization, ensure that all eligible staff members know the advantages of opening an account. The contributions made for 401(K)s are pre-tax dollars, and the interest on the accounts are compounded to make greater profits.

For more information on helping your employees save money, as well as strategies to retain your top talent, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Richard Drdul, Matt Seppings, Calita Kabir

How Company Culture Affects Business Success

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Body language expert Julie-Ann Amos says that there are several broad categories of business cultures, including industrial, conservative, casual and academic. Within these broad categories exist many different business culture variations. She points out that if your manner of dress, attitude and body language is “out of sync with expectations in your business culture, you will likely be perceived as less capable, less qualified, and maybe even less trustworthy in some cases.”

It is important to understand your organization’s culture and how to fit in with the setting. As an employee, your productivity, satisfaction and level of success within your organization is often linked with how well you function within the business culture.

In some organizations, success is achieved in groups, decisions are made by committees and responsibilities are shared. In other organizations, however, success is centered on an individual endeavor that contributes to the business as a whole, and people are encouraged to be “stars,” or “leaders of the pack.” Self-sufficient and independent individuals thrive in such an environment. If success is considered a team effort within your organization, you do not want to be perceived as overly independent or a loner, and you may need to adjust your attitudes and behavior accordingly.

Productivity in your organization may be connected with speediness in project completion, or with creativity, accuracy, customer satisfaction, sales or any number of other factors. Know the performance norms at your place of business, and work at surpassing them.

If you are a manager or owner, be sure to justly compensate your top performing and most productive employees. If the employees whose productivity is below par are allowed to continue their bad habits and are compensated the same as everyone else, it can create a negative company culture that can be costly.

High employee satisfaction leads to high company productivity, because satisfaction is linked with retention, recruitment and training costs, as well as individual employee productivity. On the other hand, a culture where employees are unhappy and fearful can lead to the hiding of mistakes, the withholding of new ideas, poor morale and low productivity.

Your company culture directly affects its success as well as its customer and employee satisfaction, for better or worse. Take the time to foster a successful culture at your place of business.

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

Image Source: Mykl Roventine: Out & About

Employers Bring Back Job Perks

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Let’s be honest – everyone appreciates the perks that certain jobs can bring. At the peak of the economy job perks were as golden as the job itself. Perks like the famous end-of-year bonuses, continued education tuition assistance, lavish off-site holiday parties or discounts on day care costs and gym memberships are some of the big incentives companies have used to win employees and stand out among competitors.

In the midst of a game-changing economic recession, however, many companies had to place job perks on hold, with the focus no longer about all the extras, but about providing a reliable paycheck.

According to the research director of Forum for People Performance Jennifer Rosenzweig, job perks are beginning to return to the table. As the recession dwindles down and companies begin to see more positive profit margins, job perks are making a comeback.

The comeback of perks means that we are slowly, but surely digging ourselves out of this recession hole. It also means that to stay competitive and continue to attract talent, companies must get back in the perk game. Obviously salaries, benefits and internal relationships weigh heavily on an employee’s choice to stay long-term with an organization, but often it’s the small things that can make the difference. Job perks help preserve top talent, attract new talent, maintain company morale and build a reputation as a company that appreciates the hard work of all its employees.

What can you give your employees this holiday season? Maybe your budget won’t let you provide anything extravagant. Consider an in-office luncheon, a small holiday dinner, or handwritten thank you notes. It’s important to realize that this year’s gifts don’t have to be something grand.

Most employees understand the financial cutbacks and sacrifices that have recently been made. It’s the simple and small gestures that remind employees they are appreciated and valued, and that their efforts have not gone unnoticed.

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

Photo source: Kelvin Kay

Top 5 Ways to Recognize a Disgruntled Employee

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Everyone has seen or experienced a time of dissatisfaction at some point in their career – moments of questioning yourself, your role and your long-term position within the company. These fleeting moments are understandable, and are often expected. The problem is when the feelings linger and last longer than they should, and turn into a permanent state of mind.

Disgruntled employees can be seen as a lost opportunity for an organization. At some point, employees can become so frustrated that there seems to be no solution in sight. After taking the time to train, nurture and build employees into valued assets, the last thing any company wants is to have them walk out.

By recognizing displeased employees in advance, these problems can be avoided in the future. Consider the following signs as indicators of possible employee frustration:

Lack of motivation

For employees who once expressed a deep passion and drive for their roles, their company and their industry, a red flag should be raised when their enthusiasm and zeal have decreased. When employees stop trying and no longer give their best, it’s an obvious sign of discontent.

A breakdown of communication

If employees express their concerns but those feelings fall on deaf ears, there will always be a feeling of defeat. That lack of support can transition employees into shutting down, becoming distant and keeping their concerns to themselves, and the silence can be deadly.

A decline in employee performance

Are your employees’ results poor in comparison to the work they have produced in the past? A lack of pride and poor performance can be a sign of defeat, not just laziness. If people don’t feel their voices are being heard, or their growth is static, they may feel the extra effort is not worth it.

Responses from private employee surveys

These evaluations allow employees to speak openly and honestly about their personal and professional feelings towards management staff. By utilizing an anonymous tool like private surveys, companies can shed light on the true concerns internally because of the lack of judgment.

Communication between management and employees

Through regular employee discussions, updates and reviews, management can stay in tune with all staff members. This form of constant communication helps monitor and put a cap on in-house problems. Continuous discussion is probably one of the most effective ways to manage and prevent frustration from building up.

Communicate before it’s too late. Keep your eyes open. Don’t become complacent. Recognize that an essential role you play as part of the management team is to listen. Listen to what is being said, and what is not. You can avoid a percentage of the problems just by making yourself more aware of the day-to-day activities, emotions and actions that take place with your employees.

For information on how to prevent employees from becoming disgruntled or on how to turn around already disgruntled employees, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo source: Peter Alfred