Category Archives for Best Business Practices

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.

5 Tips for Getting Your Remote Team Up to Speed

Getting Your Remote Workforce up to speedTried-and-true methods of practicing business are not so true anymore. Technology and globalization have made the world smaller, while simultaneously opening doors to improve the ways we live and work — especially where and when we work.

In the past decade, more people have begun to work remotely – but even the definition of “working from home” has expanded. Today, remote workers may still choose to work from their homes, but they might just as well choose to share co-working spaces, work out of a coffee shop, check in from the beach or even work out of an RV. In recent years, the percentage of workers employed remotely has increased by a whopping 80 percent. This has put new pressure on managers, supervisors, human resources departments and executives to build productive, successful remote teams – and that doesn’t have to be as difficult as it might seem.

1. Set Definitive Goals

Clear goals foster accountability. This will give your remote team a solid footing on which to anchor their work. Make sure your goals are specific, with measurable benchmarks and stated deadlines.

2. Get the Right Tools for the Job

Your remote team’s work will center around technology. Carefully select from the plethora of available business apps and productivity platforms, and always vet your choices before committing to them. Keep in mind that you want to simplify your remote team’s workflow by reducing confusion while increasing productivity.

3. Break the Workload Into Manageable Assignments

Each member of your team needs to know his specific task and how it will fit into the overall goal of the team. Provide your team members with clear guidelines that can be easily referenced. Ensure your management tool includes a way for employees to track required milestones within project tasks. If feasible, include a flowchart that shows the impact of each member’s assignment on the overall project goals.

4. Get to Know Each Other

One of the perks lost when teams work remotely is the positive benefits of one-on-one interactions between co-workers. Your workers enjoy freedom and flexibility when working remotely, but it also deprives them of face time to solidify team dynamics. There’s no huddling around the water cooler with remote teams.

Make sure your team leader touches base with every member on a regular schedule. You can get one-on-one interaction and group brainstorming sessions via technology such as Skype. This will help build working relationships between team members.

5. Schedule Group Downtime

All work and no play make your team a boring group. Think of ways your team can get to know each other outside of work, on a more personal level. This can go a long way toward thwarting dissatisfaction with the job. Encourage collaboration outside of work hours, if possible. Meet up offline if you can, or offer your team digital happy hours.

Finally, make sure you’re connecting with your remote employees through excellent communication and training, with innovative solutions, including comprehensive orientation and onboarding strategies. Creating ways in which your team has common knowledge of the operation and what others do each day is vital to achieving your mission.