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HR’s Role In Controlling Sexual Harassment

The #MeToo campaign that recently hit social media has brought an important subject into the public’s eye – sexual harassment and sexual assault. This problem is one that stretches far and wide, but it is unknown how prevalent it really is. One issue that is particularly troublesome is that many employees don’t feel comfortable bringing their harassment complaints to the human resources department or any other representative of their employer.

Companies must ensure that they provide solid training for all employees as well as a clear plan for employees who are subjected to harassment of any sort. This strategy must also include a framework that ensures swift action to address the complaint.

Fear of Retaliation

One of the top priorities in these cases is separating the victim from the alleged harasser. Employees must be assured that retaliatory measures won’t be taken if they report sexual harassment, as this fear can keep a victim from speaking up. Anxiety over being fired or having to deal with other problems at work because they lodged a formal complaint can be a true deterrent in creating a positive work environment.

An estimated one in four employees are affected by sexual harassment while they are working, but experts believe that this is a low estimate because of the fear of reporting. Proper training regarding sexual harassment is one way to combat the problem of employees feeling fearful to report these actions.

From the employer’s standpoint, training can go a long way toward protecting the employer. One of the fastest growing complaint areas in which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission deals with now is complaints of retaliation. The liability that companies face from retaliation complaints is actually much greater than what they face for a complaint of sexual harassment.

Factual complaints are encouraged

Factual complaints are a key point in sexual harassment cases. As much as employers need to encourage victims of sexual harassment to come forward, they must also require that these complaints are based on fact and not fabricated.

One way that employers can encourage factual complaints is to ask that employees clearly document the incidents, reporting them as soon as they happen. Keeping track of the time and date, type of action and any witnesses to the harassment can help with the investigation.

Witnesses must be encouraged to give a factual statement about the events when they are asked about them. Speaking to them privately and ensuring them that adverse actions for factual statements won’t be initiated or tolerated.

The situation gets touchy when there aren’t any witnesses, but employers must still take these complaints seriously. The more information the victim can provide can make the investigation much easier and a bit faster for the employer.

What You Can Do Now

Providing solid training on what constitutes harassment is a vital element of a defensible position for your company. Make sure your sexual harassment training is fully compliant with all current laws and, just as importantly, make it easy for employees to complete that training, repeating it as necessary to ensure compliance. Ideally, your training should be available 24-7 and outline a specific and understandable path for complaints, questions, and other two-way communication on this topic.

To protect your company and your employees, your harassment training should also include other kinds of harassment such as workplace bullying.

Ultimately, sexual harassment complaints are a difficult spot for all employers as well as employees. Through proper training and a solid plan for handling these complaints, employers can help to make their workplace a harassment-free zone.

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How Virtual Reality Will Change Human Resources

human Resources virtual realityMost peoples’ experience or knowledge of augmented and virtual reality involves entertainment – for example, the Pokémon GO augmented reality app and the uber popular Epcot attraction Soarin’, which takes “riders” on a realistic virtual journey around the world.

Virtual reality (VR) has obvious entertainment value. And, as forward-thinking companies are discovering, it also has unlimited potential to revolutionize recruiting and training. Savvy human resources professionals are tapping into this technology to woo top talent, overcome geographic recruiting and training constraints, and cement their firms’ position as technologically advanced. The millennial and Gen Z workforces are drawn to cutting-edge technologies, and the “cool factor” of joining a workplace that embraces VR shouldn’t be underestimated. As the following five companies have discovered, VR is more than a gimmick: it’s a genuinely useful tool.

General Mills: Shows Rather than Tells

Most college students are familiar with on-campus recruiting events. Typically, they show up wearing their Sunday best and stroll from one table to the next meeting recruiters and collecting pamphlets or brochures. It’s necessary, but not necessarily exciting. General Mills has stepped up its recruiting game in a huge way. Candidates visiting with General Mills recruiters may be invited to don a headset and goggles and – thanks to a 360-degree GoPro video – take a VR tour around corporate headquarters and the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. They feel what it’s like to be an employee and experience the corporate culture first-hand. That recruiting approach is certain to leave an impression – a very positive one.

General Electric: Virtually Takes Candidates Where They Can’t Otherwise Go

Like General Mills, General Electric has discovered the benefit of using virtual reality in its recruiting efforts. For example, candidates can don a virtual reality headset to journey to the bottom of the sea and explore the company’s oil-and-gas recovery machines.

Lincoln Electric: Reduces Costs of and Increases Access to Training

Lincoln Electric has discovered that combining traditional and virtual training is a win-win for the company and employees. The company offers students the ability to practice on a virtual reality arc-welding trainer in addition to receiving traditional hands-on training. Studies show the combined approach leads to better communication and significantly higher certification rates.

Boeing: Offers On-the-Ground Flight Training

Boeing runs an Immersive Development Center in which its engineers test new parts and products, and pilots train in virtual reality flight simulators. Additionally, Boeing occasionally invites engineering students to the center so they can explore the company’s technologies, thanks to VR. All of Boeing’s engineers began as students, and the company’s recruiters hope that visiting students will one day return as employees.

Fidelity Investments: Researching VR App to Track Employee Benefits

With a realization that many people are visual learners, Fidelity Investments has created a prototype VR app to explain employee benefits. Users who don the headset are transported to a virtual boardroom populated with employees. Some employees are green, meaning their 401K investment strategy is sound. Other employees are red, indicating that it may be time to revise their strategy. The motivation behind the app is that viewing data in a three-dimensional matter makes it easier to digest.

Clearly, there’s widespread potential for human resources departments to embrace virtual reality. Companies are already using VR to recruit top talent, train existing employees and onboard new hires. How do you think these kinds of applications will change the way your HR and recruiting teams manage the future of your company’s talent?

Digital Marketing + Human Resources – What Top Companies Are Doing Now

Human Resources and Digital Marketing2017 will be blanketed by a myriad of digital marketing strategies for HR firms. From recruitment and onboarding to employee engagement – human resources personnel must be ready to embrace new trends, staying ahead of the curve and meeting the needs of discerning employees across the board.

Wait, back up the bus… did that just say – MARKETING? For human resources?

The job market is becoming increasingly competitive, with unemployment numbers continuing to fall. That means employers have to set themselves apart from other companies. It means communicating your company’s values, beliefs and the ways in which you’re working to be an employer of choice. In short, marketing.

So yes, today, marketing means digital marketing – and digital marketing is powerful stuff for human resources. Sending letters to employees homes is so 2015… now, you need to be online, transparent, and ready to embrace the demands of an entirely new kind of job-seeker.

Keeping Websites Up to Date

Employee-centric websites can serve as information hubs for recruiters and talent. In fact, your company’s website is usually the first platforms for job seekers scanning available opportunities and listings. With this in mind, your website must be up-to-date and reflect all the current and burgeoning employment trends. From industry developments to top hiring prospects, your sites should also include a wealth of resources for clients and talent. We’re talking about employment listings, growth reports and informative articles that correlate with several industries and niches. It is also vital to implement social media links and SEO strategies to secure brand visibility and awareness. In fact, meta tagging and keywords still play a pivotal role in connecting users to the services and information they need.

Beyond recruitment, HR will need to embrace digital marketing in the onboarding process. Begin with emails to your teams that keep everyone informed of any start dates for new hires. This makes sure your new employee has all the software, hardware, training, and resources they need to hit the ground running. Consider automated fulfillment of a gift of premium items, so that new employee will feel welcome and part of the team immediately. Add to that some relationship-building marketing emails for your new employee, helping them get acclimated without overwhelming them on their first day.

And look for places to implement a digital marketing strategy in every corner of your online presence by creating an interactive onboarding program that will allow new hires access to the information they need as they get started in their new position.

Newsletters and E-Mail Lists

Of course, regular email newsletters will continue to play integral roles in all HR marketing campaigns. However, these materials can also serve as mobile blogs for all your new and existing subscribers. This means the content should effectively attract and engage job seekers and clients – while addressing all their questions and concerns.

This is where knowledge of online content creation becomes important – what kind of voice do you want for your company in this arena? What topics are vital to cover, and how will you convey who your company truly is? This kind of digital marketing is what draws people to companies today – and repels them just as quickly. It’s important to truly reflect who you are and the kind of team you’re continually building to help your company reach its goals.

Your email content should always be easy to scan and digest as well. Creating memorable content helps generate a lasting buzz about your company

Social Media is Still Essential

As always, mastering the right social media platforms will be imperative in reaching the right people and drawing them to your company. Recent statistics show that 79 percent of job seekers use social media for daily searches. This includes Facebook and Twitter, along with other platforms and networks. With this in mind, your HR department should continue cultivate relationships on social media platforms relevant to the kind of people you hope to attract. This will help you reach your prospective team members on a large scale – while effectively marketing the things that differentiate you from your competitors to specific individuals.

Believe it or not, depending on who your company is, Instagram and Pinterest can both be especially helpful in establishing a visible presence for your company. Savvy HR professionals utilize these platforms for posting industry growth charts, pictures, videos, and anything that connects their company to what their kind of job seekers are looking for.

 

So, digital marketing strategies for HR doesn’t sound so far-fetched in 2017. Embracing these concepts can help you build a stronger company with an unbeatable team of engaged employees.

Directing the Narrative: Employee Communications During a Union Action

union organizing communicationsWhen a union has you — and your employees — in its sight, you need to be ready to respond. Union leadership had months to prepare, to start engaging your employees, and to lay the groundwork for a unionization drive. Your business can’t afford to cobble together a strategy once a representation vote is imminent; you need to have a well-thought-out communications game plan. Here are a few tips to help craft your message:

Do Your Research

Your labor team needs to communicate with employees during an organizing drive. But before they do, it’s vital to understand that the laws are explicit about what kind of communication is permissible. The team of people working to help keep your company union-free will be in charge of overseeing the message, understanding what is said, to whom and when. Beyond that, the labor team (even if it’s a group of leaders who normally have other primary responsibilities) must know what resources are available to them to help them communicate well. This includes attorneys, persuaders & consultants and those that provide video, web, and eLearning tools dedicated to keeping your company union-free.

So, do your research and know what’s legal as well as what’s recommended for your unique company and workforce ahead of time. Then, when you do have to manage a campaign to keep your company union-free, you’ll be well-prepared.

Train Your First Line of Defense

Next, remember that your supervisors are out every day interacting with employees… making them your best source of information about what’s going on with your workforce. Empower those in supervisory positions and promote positive employee relations by providing confidence-boosting training that helps them understand not only what cannot be said to employees – but what CAN and SHOULD be said during an organizing drive. Supervisors can state that the company is opposed to unionization, highlight the disadvantages of union membership, and point to misleading statements in union propaganda. Supervisors cannot prohibit employees from wearing union buttons or demand to know if they’ve signed a union authorization card. Provide them with the skills they need to conduct meetings with employees, recognize distribution of authorization cards, and implement other targeted communications.

Any team member that is expected to lead and to communicate with employees needs powerful leadership training to avoid mistakes – and Unfair Labor Practice charges – that could lead to fines and penalties for your company, and stress for your management team. This gives you time to prepare your response and make your case to your employees.

Create Internal Processes to Address Employee Grievances

Why are your employees even considering joining a union in the first place? If you can answer that question, maybe you can prevent this problem altogether. In a union-free environment, one option is to empower your supervisors to engage employees directly and solicit feedback. If there are consistent grievances, you may have your answer. A more involved option is to organize a “town hall” with executives to speak to employees and even the families of employees directly. This is a slightly more risky idea, but if your leadership is prepared and willing, this can put a more human face on your company.

Finally, your internal processes can include regularly conducted employee engagement or union vulnerability assessments and surveys. When conducted by an outside company, these processes can help upper management gain insight, understanding, and the ability to take action on the right things.

Have Prepared Communications Ready

The time to plan your communications strategy is before an organizing drive – not during. Whoever makes up your labor team – be it staff dedicated to this area or communications teams and senior management  – needs to sit down and create templates for several key publications: a response to an organizing drive so employees immediately understand that the company is aware and listening, educational information about the effects of unionization and why the company wants to remain union-free, and what to say once an organizing drive has ended (and what it means for the business going forward).

This pre-prepped communications plan applies to company emails and press releases, but if your labor team wants to directly engage and refute union messaging, the best medium can be a website, dedicated to the organizing drive – and addressing only that topic. This kind of site can be created and kept in a “dark” state until it’s needed.

Keep Your Message Positive

This is where your labor & communications teams earns their keep. Your internal and public communications need to be clear, consistent and positive. Your leadership needs to have the authority to control all management interactions with the media and ensure that no company leaders “wing it” and go off-message. That message needs to state the facts and avoid painting the dispute as bitter or unpleasant. Remember, all you need to communicate is where the company stands and that events are ongoing. Anything else is just noise.

Your message needs to be thoughtful, consistent and constructive. Every communication you release will be picked over by your employees, the union and, depending on the level of coverage, the media. What you say, and how you say it, will reveal a lot about how your organization is weathering the storm and how soon you can get back to business.

dark union free websites

How To Make the Most of Your Employee Engagement Survey

Employee Engagement SurveyConducting an engagement survey is a proven method of gathering actionable feedback. Hiring a professional to assist is always a good move, but if that’s cost-prohibitive for your company, you shouldn’t avoid it altogether. Instead, start small with a DIY survey and use the insight you gain to justify more in-depth data gathering in the future. When your data is used effectively, engagement and employee satisfaction increase dramatically, reducing the likelihood that team members will seek alternative means of resolving their concerns – unionizing, for example.

Far too many HR professionals begin the engagement survey process with the best of intentions, then find their strategy backfires because no meaningful change results from employee feedback. Remember: failure to take action is more discouraging for employees than passing on the engagement survey altogether.

Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting an Employee Engagement Survey

The first step in the engagement survey process is developing your strategy. Based on your population, does it make sense to conduct short, frequent surveys or to develop a comprehensive questionnaire that is administered quarterly, semi-annually or annually? In many cases, a combination of the two strategies is an effective option, if your budget allows.

Next, consider how you can best pinpoint specific, actionable engagement information. While general questions like “Do you expect to be with the company in one year?” are helpful on a longer form, right now it is better to know, “If you could change one thing about your work environment, what would it be?”

Once you know what you want to ask and how often you want to conduct surveys, select your survey application. This can be overwhelming as there are an extraordinary number of applications on the market.

Determine which software will best meet your needs by keeping an eye on your budget, the number of questions you plan to ask, the number of employees you will survey, and the type of analytics you want to see in your results display. Some of the most popular options include the following:

  • TINYpulse is specifically designed for short, frequent anonymous surveys, so you can compare results over time.
  • Culture Amp offers a larger suite of survey options, as well as comprehensive analytics and benchmarking reports.
  • Qualtrics has all of the survey features you expect, and if you need additional support, take advantage of Qualtrics’ consulting and support teams.
  • 15five has pulse surveys and weekly check-ins, which are helpful in monitoring employee engagement in real-time. In addition, recognition tools are incorporated into the application, making it easier than ever for management to provide real-time feedback.

Finally, communicate with staff members to ensure they understand the purpose of the survey. Emphasize that their identity will remain anonymous and encourage honest participation.

Creating Meaningful Change Based on Engagement Survey Results

While your first impulse may be to focus your limited resources on items that received the most attention in the survey results, this isn’t always the best philosophy. A single individual might mention a policy or compliance violation that could – if not addressed – lead to serious legal and regulatory issues down the road.

In some cases, a small number of individuals offer feedback on a particular concern, and it can appear that the problem isn’t pressing. However, this group may represent an entire team that is poorly managed, or it could be a few folks who are feeling powerless and disenfranchised within the organization. In both cases, these individuals are very likely next in line for jumping ship.

employer branding
Take specific action in response to survey results, and communicate the action and the feedback that prompted it. The communication is your opportunity to assure employees their voices are heard and valued, leading them to stick around through tough times.

High levels of employee engagement cement your status as an employer of choice. The positive impacts of a strong reputation are hard to measure. From increased productivity and employee retention to an ability to attract top talent for vacant positions, you can be sure that an engaged workforce will improve your bottom line.

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