Posts Tagged ‘Human Resources’

Creating a Successful Mentorship Program

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Mentoring is a tool to grow employees and accelerate their career development. Companies that offer mentorship programs enjoy many benefits, including retaining top talent, increasing company loyalty and keeping employees engaged. Overall company productivity is also improved when mentorship programs exist.

Employees who are mentored gain critical company knowledge, learn new skills and receive feedback on their career growth and goals, which help them to succeed in their positions. Senior staff members who mentor prosper from the experience, too. Researchers found that their work productivity increases, they have less stress and they feel revitalized in their careers.

Benefits are achieved only if the mentorship program has a strong structure and committed participants, so follow these guidelines to create a successful initiative:

Define the Goal and Structure

To make sure the mentorship program flourishes, it is important to have a strong program goal. Whether it is to help new hires acclimate faster or to cultivate potential manager candidates, one focus will help the program triumph.

Establish an end date as well. More people will participate if there is a specific time frame, and an end date gives a new set of employees an opportunity to experience the process.

Facilitating and Participation

A good mentorship program has a designated facilitator, often called the Mentoring Program Manager (MPM). The MPM creates the mentoring program and works to align the initiative with company goals. The point person sets clear expectations for both the mentors and mentees, which include the time commitment and level of engagement needed from all participants.

Ensuring all staff members are involved in some way or are aware of the program will help the initiative obtain good results. High-level executives should partake in the process—either to offer suggestions to the program facilitator or to serve as mentors themselves. Their participation will help others see the program’s value.

Mentees, Mentors and Managers

Specify criteria for those being mentored. Mentee candidates will help define the qualities needed for mentors. In addition to having excellent communications skills and a strong ability to relate with others, experts suggest that mentors should be at least two levels above the mentee. This requirement guarantees that they can offer great company information while understanding their mentees’ roles. This format eliminates competition for jobs or promotions as well.

Managers provide information similar to what mentors offer, but they have different objectives and job requirements when working with their employees. Managers want employees to grow and perform to help company productivity, and unlike mentors, managers can assign projects, conduct performance reviews and recommend raises or promotions.

Companies should avoid staff members mentoring people they directly manage because they act as key decision makers for their employees. Mentees might feel as though they cannot freely talk about their frustrations and weaknesses with their managers. Mentors who are not managers provide employees with a safe environment to discuss various topics.

Follow Up, Evaluation and Results

Facilitators should make a great effort in following up with participants throughout the process. Encouraging open communication and constant feedback will help the MPM get a gauge on the program’s progress.

Because it might take months to years to see direct results, patience is required when launching a mentorship program. Making sure you get feedback from participants is important when measuring its effectiveness. Surveys and interviews help evaluate success, and final results received will help your company determine if the program was a good investment and if there are improvements needed for a future initiative.

For more information or tips on successful mentorship programs, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Two Key Considerations When Performing Background Checks

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

When people fib about their work history, educational degree, job titles or salaries, criminal background and substance abuse habits – the top five lies told by job candidates – the results can be devastating for a company to have these individuals on staff. Performing a strong background check to weed out violent and dishonest candidates is essential if a firm is to work at top efficiency. In fact, one study estimates that the resultant annual ROI for using background screening to prevent business losses is more than 900 percent.

Potential employees can omit details that hide facts that can be difficult to uncover. To make sure your background checks are as thorough as possible, consider the following suggestions:

Hire a professional background checking company, also known as a consumer reporting agency – A CRA can help a business conduct background checks on candidates so that it does not have to devote extra time and resources for this process, plus it helps reduce liability. If you use a CRA, you must follow the federal law and tell the candidate on a document separate from the employment application that you are going to conduct a background check to independently verify the information provided, and the individual must first sign a document authorizing the background check. Turning someone down based on information drawn from a CRA requires that you give the applicant a chance to review the negative information, and possibly dispute the record before you make your final hiring decision. To know what you can and cannot do with a CRA report, review the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requirements.

Perform searches appropriate for the position – Hiring a CRA is only part of the battle. You must make sure that you are asking for the appropriate research.  You should start with some sort of name and address history search to independently verify the applicant’s basic information.  Then you should search for criminal records based upon the address history for some given “time window” – maybe 7 years.  Other types of searches should be based upon job responsibilities. Check on licensing claims, driving records, education verification, professional  and employment references, Medicaid sanctions, and other registries where needed to ensure that the applicant meets the minimum requirements for the job. Early discoveries can prevent much bigger later headaches if the person is lying.

For additional information on what to consider for background checks, please call Kevin von der Lippe at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo source: showbizsuperstar

2011 Ovation Award Spotlight: Rex Healthcare

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Winner of numerous accolades, including best hospital and best place to work, Rex Healthcare constantly aims to please its clients, patients and employees. Rex has always invested a significant amount of time and effort in long-term facility, service line and operational planning to keep its position as one of the leading health care providers in North Carolina and the country. To stay competitive in the health care industry, the hospital focused its attention on workforce planning.  Rex’s initiative to forecast and identify talent needs to support its long-term strategic goals earned the hospital the 2011 Ovation Award in the large employer category (companies with more than 500 employees).

Several years ago, strategic workforce decisions were made based on instinct instead of data. This approach led to faulty assumptions with little or no consideration for long-term implications of talent decisions. Realizing that proactive workforce planning would be critical in implementing strategies to support the community’s growing health care needs, Rex’s leadership and HR team developed an improvement plan.

The improvement plan included the following components:

  1. The senior leadership team conducted a SWOT analysis and used scenario planning to forecast worst case, best case, and no change scenarios.  The talent implications of each scenario were identified.
  2. The HR team engaged mid-level leaders in assessing Rex’s current labor pool and anticipating talent needs based on their future business plans.
  3. Leaders segmented positions as strategic, key, support and transitional to help better define important focus areas for future workforce planning.
  4. Workforce planning was piloted in one business unit before rolling out to the whole organization to make sure the program was solid.
  5. Special attention was placed on making sure that Rex’s HR team was fully prepared for the impact that the new initiative would have on HR processes, such as compensation, recruiting top talent and managing performance.
  6. The HR team was trained in the workforce planning process, how to hold strategic business conversations with business leaders, workforce data analysis and coaching of business leaders to use data to create a workforce plan.

After two years, one of the key outputs of the process—data integration and mapping into a new workforce planning tool—is nearly complete.   Rex expects to gain many new insights into its workforce once the hospital begins to analyze the data.

Many positive outcomes have resulted from the improvement program already.  Scenario planning revealed talent gaps and assisted in creating three high-priority workforce planning strategies that resulted in innovative solutions for developing and retaining employees in key and strategic roles.

In addition to helping the hospital win CAI’s 2011 Ovation Award, Rex’s initiative helped the hospital identify positions and processes to establish a competitive advantage in the industry. For more information on implementing a workforce planning initiative at your organization, please contact Theresa Brett, Director of Strategic Talent Management, at Theresa.brett@rexhealth.com.

CAI recognizes North Carolina companies for innovative HR/People solutions with Ovation Awards during its annual HR Management Conference in February.  If you’d like to be considered please send a 2-3 paragraph description of your program to doug.blizzard@capital.org.  The description should summarize the business need, describe how the solution was implemented, and highlight the measurable and/or forecasted business results.

Use Professional Development to Motivate and Retain Top Talent

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Many organizations believe that increasing salary is the most effective way to retain their stellar performers. Although higher salaries might keep employees at their jobs, it is not a cost-effective solution for employers. To help staff members remain content without maxing out budgets, companies can devote time to staff development and education.

Employees stay in their positions when they believe they are accomplishing their goals and advancing in their careers. Showing serious interest in the development of your staff demonstrates to employees that they are essential in achieving success for the company. Support within management to invest in workforce coaching will help your organization attain a lower turnover rate and strengthen employee morale.

The entire organization benefits when time and resources are allotted to professional growth and job preparation. Employees are satisfied and become more productive, which leads to increased efficiency and greater revenue. Here are a few tips to promote the growth of your team members:

  1. Help staff set goals. Have employees evaluate their responsibilities to determine their strengths and weaknesses prior to setting goals. Help them establish obtainable goals that align with their interests and strengths to support success. Goals should be measurable, and a timeline can track progress.  Personally praise employees when goals are achieved.
  2. Inform employees on training opportunities. Alert staff of different training and educational opportunities that benefit their position, and encourage them to participate. Offer to sponsor their attendance for different activities, such as conferences and seminars. If sponsoring is too expensive, partial payment still exhibits your vested interest in their career.
  3. Encourage membership in professional groups and associations. Organizations relevant to employees’ positions allow them to network with similar professionals, learn best practices and even gain new clients. To help facilitate their involvement, consider providing them annual stipends to partake in group activities related to their fields or reimbursing membership dues and other fees. Provide flexibility in scheduling and options to work nontraditional hours to allow employees to attend events as well.
  4. Recognize training progress. Employees need positive reinforcement when they continually perform their duties well. By attending training sessions, they invest in their career development as well as benefit the organization, so it is important to acknowledge their efforts. Take time to discuss what they learned from their experiences, and advocate that they integrate new knowledge into their responsibilities. Congratulating team members on earning certifications also promotes company loyalty.

Members of management should consider training options for themselves as well in order to set positive examples for all employees. Company leaders should also explain the value of continual education and professional development during staff gatherings or one-on-one meetings.

For more information on staff development and professional training, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746, or ask for an account manager to discover the different training options CAI offers.

Photo source: lumaxart

Informative, Engaging and Entertaining: CAI’s 2011 Employment and Labor Law Update Conference

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Three hundred and seventy-two executives and HR professionals traveled to the McKimmon Center in Raleigh on May 17 and May 18 to attend CAI’s 2011 Employment and Labor Law Update Conference. CAI’s annual two-day event is designed to inform employers on the challenging and ever-changing legislative and regulatory environment companies are up against.

During the conference, lawyers from Ogletree Deakins and CAI staff members updated conference attendees on pertinent information ranging from a variety of topics, including health reform, NLRB changes and tips for creating effective company documents.

First-time conference goers, like Joan Inman, human resources director of SouthData, explored the 2011 conference to get professional expertise and vital information related to employers’ issues.

“I’m just seeking knowledge, and I want well-informed people telling me what I need to know,” Joan said on why she attended.

Each year CAI works with Ogletree Deakins to develop educational and engaging program sessions for the attendees. Those participating at the conference also receive notebooks packed with PowerPoint slides, white papers and several case studies that all further explain recent legal changes. Not only are the legal and regulatory updates a huge draw for conference attendees, but HR professionals like Yolanda Dejesus, director of human resources for the Office of Strategy and HR at AICPA, said the conference is “well worth the value” because of the information provided and the opportunity to network with others, including attorneys and company leaders from the Triangle, Triad and Eastern North Carolina.

“[CAI] always has great training and conferences. I always learn something new,” said Erika Koteff, HR manager at District Distributors when asked about the updates supplied at the conference.

Participants also have the opportunity to receive legal counsel on their own employment issues during the conference’s panel discussion. Featuring lawyers and HR specialists, the panel gives expert solutions to questions raised by audience members. Popular topics addressed during this year’s session included questions about FMLA guidelines and staying compliant with government instructions regarding I-9s.

Entertaining the audience members was a must at this year’s conference as well, and during the lively Wild and Wacky Cases session, guests learned about unbelievable cases that occurred in 2010. This year, the popular session highlighted information on crazy bathroom break policies, jaw-dropping workplace fraternizing and outlandish professional dress. Another fun and highly interactive part of the conference was the trivia game. Once the final informative session ended, Matt Keen of Ogletree Deakins asked participants to test their knowledge on the information presented at the conference by using electronic devices to answer the game’s yes or no questions.

The 2011 conference evaluations revealed that attendees found this year’s topics relevant and applicable to the many issues they are facing in their HR departments. CAI members, such as the Director of HR at Haven House Jennifer Boyler, return to the conference every year to stay up to date on news affecting employers.

“It’s a can’t-be-missed conference,” she said when describing the valuable event.

Please see the Employment and Labor Law Update web page at http://www.capital.org/lawupdate for additional information on the topics covered.  The 2012 conference will take place on May 2 and May 3 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh.

2011 Ovation Award Spotlight: Novo Nordisk Pharmaceutical Industries, Inc.

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Novo Nordisk’s Clayton site began building a foundation for a strengths-based organization several years ago, and in 2008, the insulin production company decided to accelerate its use of strengths-based practices to build employee engagement and increase operating efficiency. The company’s approach and success of its initiative won the 2011 Ovation Award in the mid-size employer category (companies with 250 to 500 employees).

The Clayton site’s decision makers strongly believe that engaged employees desire to stay with an organization long term and strive to contribute to business success, which can lead to revenue growth. Through research, the organization learned that engaged workers are 20 percent more productive than those who are disengaged. With the Gallup Q12 Pyramid and the Clifton Strengthsfinder Inventory assessment already in use at the site, managers discovered that 85 percent of their own employees could be 20 percent more productive.

To implement the strengths-focused initiative, an OD consultant was certified by Gallup as a “strengths performance coach” to design a program allowing employees to discover their strengths and use their talents more effectively. Managers also developed and shared tools to learn employees’ strengths, such as using strengths language when talking with their direct reports.

Employees created individual development plans targeting their strengths. Novo Nordisk used the development plans to help employees gain skills and knowledge to become more effective contributors. The company also provided employees with strengths-based workshops, and all team members received one-on-one meetings with the boss to review their growth and development plan. The organization asked employees to reflect on their best work day in order to find areas of work that would energize them to recreate similar days.

Other strengths-based activities the Clayton site applied included:

  • Using strengths language during performance reviews
  • Creating teambuilding exercises
  • Requiring managers to track and record employee talents.

Once Novo Nordisk determined each employee’s key strengths, it redesigned its company structure to help them attain their goals.

Keeping the program’s momentum up, Novo Nordisk continued delivering its strengths-builder workshops to all 400 employees and created more teambuilding activities centered on appreciating the diversity of others. The Clayton site also developed a DVD showcasing best practices and tips for and from managers. Strengths-based activities are part of the company’s on-boarding process as well.

The organization has achieved success in several areas of its business since implementing its strengths-based program, and it continues to grow. The Clayton site has the shortest lead-time of all Novo Nordisk plants, is one of the premier new product launching sites, and its staff continues to break records on insulin produced per shift. Not only did the strengths-based approach earn the company a 2011 Ovation award, but the program helped the Clayton location remain the number one Novo Nordisk site based on high productivity and low cost.

For more information on how to implement a strengths-based plan for your organization, please contact Novo Nordisk’s Organizational Development Manager, Diane Cox at dncx@novonordisk.com.

CAI recognizes North Carolina companies for innovative HR/People solutions with Ovation Awards during its annual HR Management Conference in February.  If you’d like to be considered please send a 2-3 paragraph description of your program to doug.blizzard@capital.org.  The description should summarize the business need, describe how the solution was implemented, and highlight the measurable and/or forecasted business results.

Photo source: net_efekt

Government Audits: Readiness is Key

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Preparing your company for a government investigation is important as the current administration increases the amount of money and resources allocated to auditing companies from different industries and of various sizes. Although your company might follow correct policies and procedures mandated by the government, communication from a displeased worker or fault-finding town citizen can create cause for an investigator to review your workplace standards.

For some audits, such as an OSHA audit, inspections are conducted without advance warning to the organization, so attentiveness to rules and regulations is vital. Creating an action plan for the possibility of an inspection is critical to avoiding costs, penalties and loss of credibility associated with a bad review. Here are a few tips that are applicable to all audits and will ensure a successful evaluation:

  1. Keep Staff Informed! Even though some audits occur without warning, audits or investigations that are expected should be on everyone’s radar. Managers should be aware of the scope of the audit and when it is slated to take place. Company leadership should also inform employees that cooperating with the auditor is necessary to ensure a smooth review process.
  2. Organize! Organize! Organize! Employee documentation, computer files, financial information and similar records should be neatly arranged and easily accessible for the auditor. Retrieve records kept at off-site locations as well. Organizing documents before the auditor’s arrival will allow you to identify and locate missing or misfiled information. Failure to keep records readily available can result in a slower investigation process or several follow-up visits from the auditor.
  3. Take Interviews Seriously! No matter which type of audit your company encounters, preparing for questions that might arise is crucial. Some report that the initial management interview is the most influential part of the process, because it sets the course for the remainder of the audit. Demonstrating preparation during this component will alert the auditor that your company takes the investigation process seriously. For interviews with employees, allow the auditor to speak with them during work hours to avoid contacting them at home. Although you should avoid explicitly telling your employees what to do during an interview, it is important to make them aware of their rights during the process.

CAI offers an Investigation Survival Webinar Series for more information and tips that apply to audits. The program includes seven 90-minute webinars designed to guide you through various government investigations, including ICE, EEOC, Wage and Hour, and OSHA audits. Led by experienced professionals who have supported many employers through different investigations, the series will help answer any specific questions you have concerning audits. You can take the courses individually, or you can register for all seven and receive a volume discount.

For additional information or to register, please visit www.capital.org and use the search code CISWS.

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Are You Using Social Media for Employee Communications Yet?

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

The post below is a guest blog from Stephanie Clark who serves as the Marketing Coordinator and Social Media Manager for CAI’s employee benefits partner Hill, Chesson & Woody Employee Benefit Services.

Have you seen the social media traffic stats on the night of Sunday, May 1, 2011? While President Barack Obama announced to the world that a U.S. military team killed Osama Bin Laden, Twitter topped 5,000 tweets per second.  Care to guess how many of your employees updated their Facebook status that night? The news spread like wildfire on various social media channels, per CNN’s report, as details unfolded through reputable and highly-followed twitter users.

More and more businesses are jumping into social media to educate consumers and create brand awareness. At the same time, this way of communicating has also changed how organizations approach their own workforce, by offering another method of sending out information. A 2010 Watson Wyatt survey showed the most popular topics to engage employees through social media are collaboration and team building, adapting to change, and promoting health and wellness. On the other hand, for messages around business changes, employees widely prefer face-to-face communication. Social media provides another avenue to engage employees in a way they like to receive information.

Paper memos are a thing of the past. Long-winded emails may be going in that direction as well. Here’s a thought: Try pasting the next employee memo you compose into Microsoft Word and conduct a Flesch-Kincaid readability test. If your memo scores higher than a seventh or eighth grade level, some employees may not understand it. It’s hard for employees to genuinely care about what goes on in your company when information is presented at a level they don’t understand. Keep it simple if you want to reach everyone in your company with the message.

For years now, IBM has engaged with employees through social media, even before they used social media externally for marketing. Companies such as Virgin Media have gone the route of video blogging on a YouTube channel exclusively for employees. Viewers see and hear someone as if they are speaking only to them, and yet a wide audience is being reached.  Also, this offers workers the opportunity for commenting in a public forum.

Who doesn’t like to hold the remote? Like most individuals, your employees probably prefer to control their own communication experience. By asking questions, offering suggestions and learning other employees’ perspectives, they create news that is relevant to them on a level that makes sense. What is a better way to become a true stakeholder? Forums, blogs and social networks are a great way to encourage employees to connect and interact.

If you’re not using social media in your organization yet, internally or externally, it’s never too late to start. Many resources are out there to help you get started. A few helpful links are listed below.

How to create a LinkedIn company page
http://learn.linkedin.com/company-pages/

How to create a Facebook page for your business
http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php

How to create a YouTube channel
http://www.ehow.com/how_4493894_create-youtube-channel.html

How to create a Twitter account
http://support.twitter.com/entries/100990-how-to-sign-up-on-twitter

How to optimize your Facebook privacy for business
http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/12067/How-to-Optimize-Your-Facebook-Privacy-for-Business.aspx

Six non-fluff answers to your social media questions
http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/10268/6-Non-Fluff-Answers-to-Your-Social-Media-Questions.aspx

Benefits for Part-Time Employees

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

According to the U.S. employment statistics reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 26,560,000 employees working part-time in February 2011.  Approximately 31 percent worked part-time because of economic reasons (unable to find a full-time job, full-time hours cut to part-time or seasonal declines in demand).  The remainder worked part-time out of choice or due to personal reasons such as child care, attending school, limits on social security earnings, etc. Women accounted for 62 percent of the part-time workers.

Because they are not as common for part-time employees as they are for full-time employees, benefits packages can be a huge recruitment and retention advantage for employers with part-time workers.  Although involuntary part-time employees will be moving on to full-time jobs as the economy improves, voluntary part-time employees are likely to seek out part-time jobs that offer the best benefits.

The latest data available from BLS regarding benefits for part-time employees was released in July 2010.  From that data, here’s the percentage of employers who provided specific benefits to part-timers (working 1-34 hours):

Retirement plan         39 percent

Paid vacation             37 percent

Health care                26 percent

Paid sick leave           24 percent

The CAI 2011/2012 Policies & Benefits Survey reports that roughly half of employers provide some benefits to part-time employees, with some on a pro-rata basis.  The majority require a minimum of 30 hours per week to qualify for benefits (although some only require 20).

Approximately 50 percent of employers (total responses) who provide part-time benefits provide 401(k), medical and dental insurance, life insurance, AD&D insurance and bereavement pay.  Sixty percent of non-union employers provide vacation and holiday pay.

Benefits provided may vary by size of employer.  For full data on the local provision of benefits to part-time employees and other benefits data, please see the CAI 2011/2012 Policies & Benefits Survey.

Photo source: Earls37a

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CAI’s Ovation Awards: 2011 Spotlight

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

CAI has presented Ovation Awards to a number of diverse companies for their even more diverse “people practices” for the past four years. CAI created the Ovation Awards in 2007 to honor exceptional workplaces that have implemented innovative people practices that directly and positively affect their business results. Organizations are encouraged to showcase their HR tactics by submitting a nomination for one of the three award categories, which are separated by size of company: small (less than 250), mid-size (250 to 500) and large (more than 500).

Once nominations are submitted, a panel of HR experts reviews the different programs and selects winners based on whether the companies’ strategies solved an HR or business problem. Some examples of applicable programs include enhancing employee engagement and improving business productivity. Award winners are then announced during CAI’s annual HR Management Conference.

Past recipients of the Ovation Award have included Krispy Kreme (2010, large) for its “Healthy Lifestyle Program,” The Bank of Oak Ridge (2008, small) for its “e-Awards Program” and PPD (2007, large) for its “Employee Engagement” project. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Burt’s Bees and Capitol Broadcasting Company are also among previous award winners.

The panel of HR experts saw stellar submissions for 2011’s nominations, and at the 2011 HR Management Conference, CAI revealed the three companies that displayed outstanding HR practices for the year. The Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC) received the small company award for itsinnovative “Total Quality Improvement Initiative.” For the mid-size company category, Novo Nordisk Pharmaceutical Industries, Inc, won by building a “Strengths-based” organization, and Rex Healthcare collected the large company award for its workforce planning efforts.

To highlight the 2011 award winners’ accomplishments in HR planning and execution, CAI will spotlight each winner in a blog post that extensively details its award-winning programs.  In the meantime, please take a look at past award winners and their presentations here.

We are also always on the lookout for Ovation Award nominations, so if your company has implemented an efficient HR-related program, please consider submitting a nomination for 2012. We will post more information on the nomination criteria and deadline at a later date. Please contact Doug Blizzard at doug.blizzard@capital.org with any questions regarding the awards.

Image Source: Werner Faymann