Category Archives for Best Business Practices

Conducting an HR Audit

Creating a More Engaged Workforce With Improved Policies

Creating a highly engaged workforce has become a vital aspect of business success. Statistically, employee engagement has been poor in the last few years. According to recent data from Gallup, nearly 70 percent of the American workforce is disengaged; around the world it’s worse, with only 15 percent of workers engaged. When employee engagement is low, it can harbor dissatisfaction in employees, making them susceptible to reduced productivity, turnover and an increased presence of labor unions. Therefore, all organizations must have a system for checking that their labor and employment practices are conducive to a highly engaged workforce.

Our comprehensive guide to conducting an HR Audit can help you form a plan of action for making sure that your company is on the right track. Here are five incredibly easy (and practical) first steps you can take to develop workforce policies that promote improved employee engagement:

1. Review all Recruitment and Hiring Processes

The journey to greater employee engagement can be a difficult one, but it is easier to manage with a clear roadmap. This often starts before an individual actually begins work — in the pre-hire stage of their experience. When a company’s brand reputation emphasizes a positive culture where employees feel valued, it sets things up for long-term success.

What you can do now: The applicant tracking system and way candidates are treated throughout the interview, hiring and on boarding process makes a huge difference. Use the audit guide to help you to identify any areas that need to be corrected.

2. Improve your Compensation and Perks

All human resource teams must ensure that employees are receiving the best possible compensation and benefits in order to remain competitive. The 2017 PayScale Compensation Best Practices Report indicated that 32 percent of top performing companies have changed their compensation strategies as a result of employee engagement feedback. More employers are actively listening to what their employees are asking for and taking steps to ensure they get what they need.

What you can do now: Take the time to conduct a brief survey of your employees to find out if your compensation program needs improvement.

HR Audit Guide

3. Ensure Secure and Accessible Information

In today’s business world, everything from customer data to employee information is stored in a digital format. This often includes the use of scheduling, payroll, performance and benefit platforms. Ongoing monitoring is needed to ensure that data is accurate and up-to-date and that people are paid correctly.

What you can do now: Your organization should verify that all information systems are secure from information breaches, and accessible and easy-to-use for employees. A third-party auditing firm can often pinpoint potential issues.

4. Improve the Work Environment

Working conditions make a big difference in how employees view their employer. There are too many toxic conditions invading otherwise good companies. The aspects that human resources can control include: having clearly written policies to deal with things like employee grievances, anti-bullying, drug use, union card signing, and more.

What you can do now: Review employee handbooks and update labor law posters in employee break areas. For some objective feedback, ask employees during exit interviews what the company can do better.

5. Boost Employee Performance Management

When employees are recognized for their efforts at work, they tend to stay more engaged in their careers. Having a professional development program to guide employees through the various stages of career growth is one step in the right direction.

What you can do now: Review job types with management and create structured learning paths for each department.

By following this checklist , any human resource team can help to elevate employee engagement, productivity, knowledge and morale.

Looking For More? Download our FREE Guide to conducting a Labor & Employment Audit to help you make your workplace more positive & productive!

Never Mind the Alarmists: AI Isn’t the Workplace Apocalypse

Contrary to popular belief, artificial intelligence, or AI, is no longer relegated to science fiction novels and “think pieces” on future innovations. In reality, AI has already arrived and is much more pervasive than most people realize. For HR professionals, the technology is already providing dividends in the areas of recruiting, onboarding, and training procedures by significantly streamlining operations.

As useful as AI is already proving to be, it is already clear that it’s best utilized as an accompaniment to people in the workplace and not a replacement, allowing employees to perform their responsibilities in a much more efficient and effective manner. Despite how the vocal naysayers are reacting, AI’s negative impact on a workforce itself will be negligible, but could instead increase the overall health of many organizations. This is evidenced in the banking industry, where ATMs could have caused job losses but instead streamlined operations and reduced costs, allowing many banks to add staffed locations. This created a positive situation for workers and customers alike

That said, many union leaders are concerned that automation means workers will no longer have the ability to demand higher wages, which will in turn continue the decline in union membership. In the private sector today, just 6.4% of workers belong to a union. Contrast that with 1983, when about 17% of private-sector workers were in a union.
union-free technology

Practical Uses for AI in HR

The typical HR professional is being pulled in a thousand different directions at any given moment. In fact, no matter the length of the work day or size of the staff, the work always seems to continue to pile up. This unending accumulation of duties is exactly where AI can positively impact the workplace. Through various platforms, AI automates the bulk of the tedious responsibilities that are important to the organization but a tremendous expenditure of time and effort as well.

 

In terms of recruiting, an AI-based suite can administer any and all social media efforts, email correspondence and even interview scheduling with an interface that makes it difficult to tell if the communication is coming from a human or machine. Furthermore, all testing and training for onboarding and existing employees can be personalized down to the individual level to adhere to the training method that best fits a particular person. All of this functionality can be synced with current CRM and ERP systems to further streamline the entire process.

A Look Down the Road

Like most technologies, AI will only continue to grow and evolve in the future. As far as impact on overall operations and a workforce are concerned, it will work alongside humans to make them more efficient in their responsibilities. While specific tasks like email correspondence might be automated, it will always be under the watching eye of a human being.

In other words, while on the big screen AI might still enslave humanity in a zombie-like state of perpetual anguish, in reality, it will simply permit us to excel and reach levels we otherwise would never reach. That might not be as dramatic as the Hollywood version, but, at least for HR professionals, AI will undoubtedly be a welcome tool to significantly enhance productivity.

 

Recruitment Pros: There’s a 33% Chance Your HR Team Thinks You’re Failing

Recruiting New EmployeesIf you’ve ever felt your talent is suffering because of your recruiting and onboarding processes, you are far from alone. A recent study revealed that 33 percent of HR teams believe their organization is “not competitive in the battle for talent” because of recruitment failures.

The U.S. unemployment rate is hovering at low levels, recently hitting its lowest level since 2007. If your company is worried about the national talent shortage, know that avoiding some of the most common HR mistakes could yield a competitive edge.

1. The Wrong Recruitment Tech

Seventy-three percent of HR leaders feel they are not using recruitment technology appropriately. If your organization still scans resumes manually and uses paper checklists, you may have massive potential to become more efficient. From technology-assisted resume matching to automated candidate scheduling, smarter technology can significantly free up time for HR to focus on strategy.

Using the right recruitment technology is also one way to help your organization discover new talent pipelines, from social media candidate sourcing to benchmarking your organization’s openings against talent in your area.

RELATED: How Virtual Reality Will Change Human Resources

2. No Screening for Cultural Fit

Cultural fit is critical for successful employee performance at organizations of any size. Airbnb is one firm who attributes some of their success to hiring employees based on values. Experts recommend using personality assessments and “off-the-wall” interview questions to learn more about who your candidates are as people before making a job offer.

3. Not Setting Clear Expectations With Potential Recruits

Recruitment should be a mutual selection process. Onboarding, or a formal approach to acclimating new hires to your organization, can help your new employees succeed. However, onboarding is also an important way for potential hires to assess fit and determine whether they will thrive in your culture. Some highly successful companies use a “pre-hire orientation” video to acclimate their candidates to culture, values and expectations. Using standardized content, like a video, can introduce massive consistency in global or distributed organizations

Recruitment has never been an easy undertaking, and the nationwide talent shortage has only made it more challenging. Fortunately, there are a variety of technologies that can support comprehensive assessment and efficiency among HR teams.

employer branding

With smarter recruitment technologies, you can access new talent pipelines and tools to holistically assess your candidates. With the use of pre-hire orientation materials, you can also support your candidate’s ability to select the right match for their needs.

 

Here’s How To Avoid Pay Secrecy Violations

avoiding pay secrecy violationsThe “war” on wage gaps is raging and for good reason: Large wage gaps have historically existed in the United States based on gender and race, specifically when it comes to women and minorities. According to research conducted by the Pew Research Center, black men have earned 73 percent of white men’s hourly earnings since 1980, while Hispanic men’s earnings increased from 69 percent to 71 percent of white men’s earnings since 1980. Moreover, women — regardless of their ethnicity or race — have historically lagged behind men, whether in their own race or not. Today, women across the nation still make 76 cents for every $1 men earn.

As a result of statistics like these, pay secrecy has become a significant issue with serious ramifications for violations. That’s why it’s vital to practice effective methods of training management and staff on maintaining professional behavior with regard to keeping pay information confidential, while still abiding by the requirements of the NLRA. Here’s how:

1. Put It in Writing

Before communicating what your pay secrecy policies are, make sure you have it in writing. It’s vital to give your management team and staff something solid and concrete to reference should there be any questions. Additionally, ensure that your content is up-to-date. By having clear rules written and current, staff and management can have a better understanding of the company’s stance on pay secrecy and how to act accordingly so that information is kept in a professional manner.

2. Communicate the Law

It’s vital that management and staff understand the law to avoid any pay secrecy violations. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935 protects employees against pay secrecy and penalizes businesses that violate the law. While it may not cost much to violate the NLRA, a violation (and a history of it) can potentially push employees into organizing into a union and take up union card signing. Union avoidance is possible by communicating the appropriate behavior to have regarding pay secrecy and what the law covers.

Employees have the right to talk about what matters to them at work, including compensation, under the NLRA. Therefore, shunning employees for discussing pay is not acceptable. Incorporating a pay policy that penalizes your employees for discussing pay at work is a violation of the NLRA, even if they sign a nondisclosure agreement.

employee engagement
3. Listen First

Educate your staff that acting irrationally, such as terminating an employee, without getting the facts or going through a defined disciplinary process, especially based on pay secrecy, is not the appropriate behavior. It’s important that they listen to what the situation is first. Businesses can be forced to give employees that were wrongfully terminated the option to get their jobs back, and they also may be required to give them back pay for the entire time they were without the job under the NLRA. Therefore, it’s significant that your staff and managers understand the ramifications of violating the NLRA and what constitutes a violation. Certain states also have their own laws pertaining to pay secrecy, including Colorado, Maine and California, so it’s important to clarify state and local laws regarding pay secrecy as well.

Final Thoughts

Training your staff and management team to avoid pay secrecy involves communicating the correct information and having a plan in place. By taking these steps, you can be proactive and prevent your employees from being pushed away into union organizing.

Creating Your Crisis Communication Strategy

crisis communication strategyFrom General Workplace Crisis To Strikes: Creating a Communication Model that Works

Crisis is a part of growth, and could even be said to drive the world of commerce and business, as a crisis most often represents opportunity. Effective communication is essential to keep crisis manageable and prevent the escalation of crisis into conflict. Conflict, on the other hand, is bad for business, can be damaging to employees and can contribute to what human resources professionals refer to as a “toxic” working environment.

When teams work through a crisis and negotiate meaning and progress together in the workplace, they can accomplish goals, and promote the type of creative thinking and action that lead to innovation, prevent workplace injury, and create greater productivity.

Working with crisis models and communication protocols ahead of time, or on a regular basis, is business and workplace best practice.

First: What Does Successful Negotiation in the Workplace Mean To You?

Learning successful negotiation in the workplace means beginning to communicate in ways that are effective in achieving shared corporate goals. We negotiate within our companies every day — when we speak in meetings, when we write or respond to memos, when we “talk shop” on our breaks, and when we write or distribute written materials in the workplace.

Successful negotiation shows itself in action that demonstrates immediate corrective action that creates positive change. Establish what a properly managed crisis looks like for your company. This measure of success can take many forms – the number of team members involved, the length of time it takes to resolve the crisis… even the finanical impact of the crisis.

Next, Identify the Key Players in Your Workplace Crisis Resolution Plan

Successful crisis resolution protocols require sincere acknowledgment of the perspectives and unique voices of everyone affected by the workplace crisis. When sending out newsletters, briefs, tweets, e-mails, letters or press releases, consider as many perspectives as possible:

  • Company executives – various offices;
  • Employees – full-time, part-time, occasional, on-call;
  • Families of employees;
  • Members of the community;
  • Your business competition;
  • The Media;
    and finally
  • Union leaders – various offices, locals and locations.

Please note: Within a company with no union employees, similar crisis, negotiation and conflicts occur over work conditions, expectations and misunderstandings of communications. All of the strategies discussed here are effective for workplaces that are either unionized and union-free.

Remember: The Medium is The Message

“The medium is the message,” declared media guru Marshall McLuhan in 1977. His cryptic message is still a topic of animated discussion, but the truth is, every successful company and corporation must have a strong “mixed medium” communication system — a system of human intelligence and human resources, combined with a video, online and hard copy communications.

Demonstrating in a crisis that the company is prepared to use a variety of mediums to connect with key players can be a powerful way to de-escalate a crisis situation.

Create Your Plan: Stages of Crisis Escalation

There are a variety of “stage”-focused models of crisis development that illustrate levels of escalation and can help you guide effective response at each crisis stage. There are five stage models, seven stage models and a variety of other models recommended by academics and crisis prevention experts that are useful models for organizations to use to guide crisis intervention and communication protocols.

Knowing that there are various models to illustrate stages of crisis intervention can be an important factor in successful resolution of any type of workplace conflict. Learning new models allows you to craft a custom strategy that works for your workplace and your unique culture. Reviewing these differing approaches encourages innovative and creative approaches to crisis prevention.

Crisis Communication Troubleshooting: Strike in Progress Strategies

When a strike is possible, a signal is sent by all parties involved that negotiations have “failed” and “communication is no longer effective.” Moving quickly past that very real situation is paramount to workplace success. All commercial enterprises, regardless of industry and size, thrive on effective ongoing communications.

Re-establishing communication as quickly as possible is essential. A strike in progress affects all key players, families and stakeholders, as well as the broader community.

Crisis Communication Troubleshooting: Agent Provocateurs and Saboteurs

Agent provocateurs and saboteurs are not storybook characters — they are titles for people involved in a workplace for the purpose of damaging the company. Whether they are people in an employee, executive or union role, they have can a destructive impact on negotiations,  communication systems, and overall company success. A well-trained human resources team reduces the chances that these type of people are hired: They identify employees that are present for destructive purposes, and remove them strategically and immediately.

This kind of crisis can be avoided with attention to hiring practices. Communicating with the remaining members of a team when such an employee is removed is vital.

Crisis Communication Troubleshooting: Managing the Media

Managing the media should be an ongoing shared corporate goal and protocols for media communications should be in place before a workplace crisis degrades into conflict. This is true during union organizing, particularly when the union undertakes a “corporate campaign,” working to damage the company’s reputation or business. Crisis prevention should be a primary communications goal, and keeping in regular contact with local media is paramount. Regular press releases are essential. This regular contact facilitates communication during any type of workplace crisis, negotiation or conflict.

Finally, Long-Term Planning

Managing crisis in the workplace often involves many people, players in many roles and stakeholders. It also involves families, friends, and neighbors. Creative approaches to establishing your unique “stage”-focused model as well as ongoing development of innovative strategies are keys to long-term crisis prevention and successful intervention in the workplace.