Posts Tagged ‘workplace’

Is it Time for a Workplace Clean Up?

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Nobody would accuse me of obsessive neatness.  Clutter and Creativity both start with “C” for a reason!

Even I agree there are some important HR functions that need an annual power washing.

Old Policies

Most companies have old workplace policies that no longer function, like two left shoes missing the rights.  Often a written guideline is tighter (or looser) than actual practice, or we are doing something altogether different than the “handbook” states.  Paid time off, sick days, adverse weather, expense reimbursement, call-in pay, vacation accrual, after hours work and dress codes may have changed over the years.  Check your policy closet for all the things that no longer fit.

Performance Reviews

What rating would you give to your own performance review process?  Does it meet or exceed expectations?  Most HR managers say “no”.  Too often, reviews are defensive or perfunctory.  If you accept inadequate reviews because you believe they will support you in a future employee claim, think again.  The opposite may be true.

This year, ask what you expect from a review process.  Is it about rewarding the right people for the right things?  Is it about tying company goals to individual behaviors?  Is it simply a way to ensure managers and employees are talking about important things?   Get clarity around the purpose of reviews and you will find the right method for you.

Stop the Insanity

Data is a funny thing.  Most of us have more than we will ever use, like that out-of-date case of alfredo sauce from Costco (“it was a good deal”).  Data can create important insights or become a source of confusion.  Every year, judge how well you collect, access and use data in your workplace.   Smart business leaders say useable, meaningful data is important for solving people challenges and making better decisions.  So often, data about hiring, employee retention, market pay, satisfaction and exit interviews prove our gut instincts wrong. (Alfredo sauce is cheaper by the single jar in the long run.)

Let’s be Different

We spend so much mindshare benchmarking with others.   Each Spring, consider how your workplace can be different.  Do you have an answer for the candidate who asks “what makes this place special”?  Is it hard to find great people for key roles?  Maybe you look and act too much like everybody else.  Paint your front door a bright color and add a catchy door chime.  Be different than your competitors for talent!

Merit Pay

Merit is defined as “superior quality or worth” by Webster, so why do we call our annual pay increases “merit” raises?  This Spring, away from the pressure of pay review time, decide if your system is working.  Is it overcompensating some roles because of the power of the annual “merit” raise?  Is it making you non-competitive in the market for scarce skills when the dollar pool is spent on all those non-merit raises?

Few enjoy the clean up process but all appreciate the results.

At CAI we build engaged, well-managed, low-risk workplaces. If your company could use an HR partner, please contact us at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 or learn more at CAI.

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

Is Your Office Space Repelling Good People?

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Millennials are considered by many to be the first generation since the 60’s to come with their own set of preferences as to what they desire in regards to various aspects of their daily life – including their work environment. An interesting position to take, considering the ups and downs of the economy, but this group of individuals also bring the technology, innovative thinking, and energy to the table, creating a very competitive recruiting atmosphere in which their desires must be taken into account.

For this reason, companies are working to understand what does and does not appeal to this latest generation to join the workforce.  Office space is being specifically designed and re-designed to attract these highly sought-after workers.  Large, closed-in office space with more doors than windows is quickly losing popularity in favor of open work areas with space for collaboration over traditional conference rooms.

Desks which can be raised to accommodate employees who prefer standing part of their workday are being introduced, along with desks that stand over working treadmills to encourage a healthier environment.  Smart boards are being used to record brainstorming notes, and then send them to a computer or printer with the press of a button.

In addition, on-site fitness centers complete with showers are now common in many businesses. Millennials are researching potential employer locations to determine what amenities they currently provide “on campus”.  Are there bike racks?  Are there walking trails?  Are restaurants and retail shopping options within walking distance?  Are mass-transit drop points within walking or biking distance from the office?  The millennial generation is known for living a healthier lifestyle with an affinity for convenience.  Speaking of convenience, another popular feature with millennials at the workplace is a resident concierge to handle things like travel arrangements, massage appointments, pick up/delivery of dry-cleaning and order in lunches.

You may ask yourself, “Do they really need all that?”  A better question would be “Does my company really need all that?”  There are several things to consider here:

  • Is it more cost efficient to retrofit your current space or to simply give up your current office and move to a more modern facility?
  • Would the increased and improved collaboration from a more modern work environment lead to more innovative thinking and creativity among teams?
  • Does your business model dictate a more traditional or forward-thinking atmosphere?
  • Which type of environment will appeal more to your clients / customers / business partners?
  • How do you want your company to be viewed – both internally and externally – by your competitors, your peers, your current and future employees?

That’s right, take a look at your competitors and peer companies.  What are they doing?  Ask your employees for their opinion on the current work environment and any suggested improvements.  Write down a list of amenities your office has to offer new recruits.  Is it enough?  If you were interviewing with your company today for a job, would it be enough for you?  Answers to these questions might provide you with some ideas for change, even small changes, which could be very important to fueling your business growth in regards to your workforce.

CAI delivers HR, compliance, and people development solutions to 1,100+ NC companies to help them build engaged, well-managed and low-risk workplaces. Contact us to find out how we can help your company.

 

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

Are You a Micromanager or Macromanager?

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

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

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

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

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

micromgr.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

renee

 

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

The Important Messages of Body Language and Leadership Style

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

When leading a team, body language as simple as eye contact or the crossing of the arms can convey a significant positive — or negative — message to employees.  There are two sets of signals a business leader can communicate using just their body language.  The first type of signal translates the leader’s status and authority.  The second type of signal can convey warmth and empathy to the team members. body_language_gesture

Status and authority can be seen in how a leader carries themselves.  For example, a person’s posture when entering a room or sitting at a meeting can give off a signal of power and authority. Open hand signals, nodding one’s head, and making eye contact can promote feelings of warmth within a leader to the rest of the team.  Stand or sitting up straight, making expansive gestures, and hold your shoulders back exudes a confidence in your leadership skills and what you are saying. When feeling less confident or uncertain people tend to shrink, minimize the space they take up.  Legs and arms crossed, pulled in tight or slouching is a way to send a message of lack of confidence or even discomfort in the situation or discussion.

For the most part these gestures are unconscious.  Recognizing and being aware, paying attention to what your body is saying is important if you want to be seen as a leader. Awareness of your body language, projecting a positive and even powerful body language can actually transform how you see yourself.

There is no good or bad body signal per se, but these signals can be used to either unknowingly or deliberately support or sabotage a message when relating to the team as a leader.  As an experiment, a very gifted speaker delivered an incredible speech and concluded by asking if there were any questions and then crossing his arms. Not a single question was asked. The audience, without realizing it, saw this gesture as a complete contradiction to his request for questions.

Similarly, if a leader or speaker is less than 100% confident and certain of the message they are delivering to their audience, it will show in their speech, their body language, and even in their choice of words.  In order to appear confident, leaders have to believe in what they are saying and assure their non-verbal is congruent.

Signals of warmth and empathy are equally important qualities of a good leader. Communication during one-on-one time with an employee, or when delivering a difficult message to a group of employees is crucial to gaining support and trust.  Showing emotion through eye contact and facial expressions will tend to level the field of authority with your employees, and give them the confidence and feeling of trust they need to be honest and open with their leaders. You want to be a trusted leader with your employees and by projecting true empathy and approachability, your team responds accordingly.

If you have any questions regarding communications as a leader, please contact CAI’s Advice and Resolution team. We know that providing excellent direction in effective leadership is the very core of effective management.

renee

 

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

Drug Testing Can Greatly Reduce Workers’ Compensation Costs

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

According to CAI’s most recent Policies and Benefits survey, 30% of employers are not conducting drug tests.  Besides the obvious benefits of having a drug-free workplace, another side benefit from drug testing is that it may reduce your workers compensation costs.  On the one hand, employees who are under the influence are more likely to experience injuries to themselves or others.  So the knowledge that you conduct post-accident drug and alcohol testing will dissuade most employees and therefore reduce accidents and costs.drugfreezone

Also, under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, no compensation will be paid for a workplace injury or death if it was proximately caused by, among other things, the employee’s intoxication, provided the intoxicant was not supplied by the employer (company social event) or being under the influence of a controlled substance listed in the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act (G.S. 90-86) unless it was prescribed by a doctor and the prescribed dosages were being followed.  Note, there isn’t an automatic denial of claims due to intoxication but odds are in the employer’s favor unless it can be proven the accident was in no way related to the “altered state” so to speak.

The best way to increase the odds that such claims will be denied is to incorporate a comprehensive drug and alcohol testing policy. Without such a policy, denial of workers compensation claims due to being under the influence may be harder to achieve.

North Carolina employers who drug test are required to comply with the NC Controlled Substances Examination Regulation Act which regulates notice requirements to examinees, requires approved laboratories and chain of custody safeguards, specifies conditions for applicant and employee testing, requires confirmation tests on positive samples, and entitles an employee who tests positive to have a retest, if requested, of the same sample at the employee’s expense.

Many states have a provision in their Workers’ Compensation law disqualifying an employee for compensation if the injury was caused by being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  A number of states also give discounts on Workers’ Compensation premiums (generally 5-7%) for implementing a Drug-Free Workplace Program.  CCH, the Members-only resource, provides State Law Summaries on Workers’ Compensation laws.

The US Department of Labor has resources for developing a drug-free workplace program.  While this is a requirement for federal contractors, the resources are helpful to all employers.  Consult the state law for specific requirements in other states.  Our drug-testing partner, PDSS, is also a resource for policy development, testing, and in-depth expertise in this area.

CAI encourages drug-free workplaces. Learn how drug testing programs can increase the efficiency and productivity of your organization at CAI.

4 Tips to Beat Summeritis and Keep Your Employees Productive

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

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

Plan for Vacation

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

Utilize Flexibility

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

Delegate When Needed

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

Have Some Fun

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

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

Photo Source: turbulentflow

Workplace Friendships: Reap the Benefits and Avoid the Negatives

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Companies hire people based on the skills and knowledge they can offer to help achieve business goals. Forming strong friendships with others is usually not a job requirement, but when considering the number of hours employees work together, office friendships are likely to occur. Understanding both the benefits and harm that workplace friendships can create will help your organization maintain a professional work environment while creating a friendly atmosphere that positively affects business performance.

A 2010 survey from recruitment company Randstad revealed that a majority of American workers are happier at their jobs because of their office friendships. Survey participants credit work friends with making their jobs more fun, enjoyable, worthwhile and satisfying. Not only do office friendships benefit employees, but they also provide organizations with several advantages. Here are a few examples:

  • Friendships create a more enjoyable workplace, which promotes greater employee engagement and increases individual productivity.
  • Friends give each other feedback. Receiving constructive criticism from peers versus supervisors is sometimes easier to digest and correct.
  • Work gets stressful and talking to friends who have similar responsibilities provides workers with positive outlets to release frustrations.
  • A friendly work environment yields creativity because employees feel comfortable being themselves and are able to think more freely.
  • Team members who know each other on more personal levels might work together more effectively and efficiently than with those who do not.

Although there are many positive outcomes that come from office friendships, knowing the negatives will help your company establish boundaries and guidelines for staff members to follow if they plan to pursue friendships. Watch out for these situations:

  • Too much non-work chatter can turn focus away from work and lead to decreased productivity.
  • Office friendships that end unfavorably can create tension for all parties involved. Backstabbing and sabotage can happen as well.
  • Coworkers who form bonds can create cliques and leave others out to create favoritism.
  • Inappropriate behavior from colleagues, such as tardiness or not completing work, might be ignored or enabled by staff members who are friends.
  • Pals who have negative views about their employers have the potential to get others to share their views, which can result in decreased company loyalty.

Organizations wanting to prevent the adverse effects of workplace friendship sometimes implement strict fraternization policies, but employees are often capable of finding ways around restrictions. Here are some guidelines to present to your staff in order to uphold a professional work environment and allow employees to be friends:

  • Work pays the bills, so stay focused on your assigned projects and tasks. Time at work should be professional and focused on driving business—not socializing.
  • You received your assignments for a reason. Do not miss deadlines or lose sight of your goals to help friends who are behind on their projects.
  • Office gossip is not tolerated. Information that you would not tell the boss should not be told to colleagues.
  • Do not share too much personal information with your coworkers. Private topics, such as salary history or performance review results, should be avoided in conversation.
  • Respect personal and professional boundaries with your colleagues. Just because you have a personal relationship with a coworker does not entitle you to put them in an awkward position inside or outside of the office.

For more information on how to handle workplace friendships, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo source: peyri

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

Top Seven Management Myths

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Bruce Tulgan of Rainmaker Thinking, Inc. will be delivering one of the keynote presentations at CAI’s 2011 HR Management Conference. Bruce is a well-respected expert on leadership and management and is also internationally recognized as a thought leader on young people in the workplace.

Bruce’s presentation for the HR Management Conference is entitled It’s Okay to Be the BossTM: Developing the Managers that Your Employees Need. He will focus on what he calls the biggest problem in corporate America – an under management epidemic affecting managers at all levels.  Participants will be challenged and given tools to help their managers spell out expectations, monitor and measure performance constantly, correct failure quickly and reward success even more quickly.

As a preview to Bruce’s presentation we will be posting a series of three videos here on the Workplace Insights blog.  In the first video Bruce highlights the top seven management myths.

Transitioning Returning Military Service Members to the Civilian Workplace

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Men and women represent our country every day as they serve in the military on our behalf. They are praised for their courage, loyalty and leadership but often return home to face a new set of hurdles for which they may be ill-prepared. One hurdle involves jobs.

Finding stable, secure civilian employment has been a challenge encountered by returning veterans, military spouses and wounded warriors.

Why is it that serving our country can act as a risk for future employment? The training and discipline military service provides should make any veteran an asset to future organizations. Veterans exude responsibility and professionalism, knowing their role is vital and that they represent something much larger than themselves. The leadership and work ethic they develop through their service are essential skills not easily taught in the workplace.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, numerous companies recognize the benefit of employing veterans, but though there is an expressed interest, the process has been complex. Organizations have found difficultly both internally and externally. They are unsure where to begin their search, or how to prepare their staff to better accommodate and assimilate veterans into their ranks.

The Department of Labor has taken a proactive role in responding to this growing crisis by establishing an outlet to connect veterans with potential employers. The following six-step process acts as a reference guide for companies seeking veterans to employ and absorb into the company culture.

The Veterans Hiring Toolkit

Design a Strategy for Your Veterans Hiring Initiative – Become familiar with veteran employment by identifying the benefits procedure, the tax incentives and the recruitment and retention process.

Create a Welcoming and Educated Workplace for Veterans – Current employees can better relate to their veteran coworkers if they have a grasp of military culture, experiences and trauma through the proper training and education.

Actively Recruit Veterans, Wounded Warriors and Military Spouses – As with any employee, recognize the specific target audience you are pursuing and how best to reach them.

Hire Qualified Veterans and Learn How to Accommodate Wounded Warriors – With the appropriate orientation plan in place, plan to hire not just any veteran, but the right veteran for the position and for the company.

Promote an Inclusive Workplace to Retain Your Veteran Employees – The needs for recognition and challenge, and the desire to be successful in an organization don’t change for those returning from military service.  Therefore, it’s best to apply the company’s current retention plan across the board.

Keep Helpful Tools and Resources at Your FingertipsEffective and accessible resources can act as one of the strongest assets when hiring and retaining veterans. 

Thousands of military personnel walk away from active duty each year. After all that veterans have sacrificed for us, as a society it is our duty to incorporate them into the civilian workforce and lifestyle to the best of our ability.

For more information on veterans in the workplace, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo source: U.S. Air Force