Category Archives for Best Business Practices

Understanding Ethics

Understanding Ethics: Does Employee Age Matter?

With employee perspectives on ethics shaped by very different sets of life experiences, it has never been more important for employers to engage employees across the generations. Baby boomer and millennial employees can understand common goals, even the company’s mission and vision, but understanding ethics can be an entirely different challenge.

Understanding ethics means making decisions on a daily basis with integrity, based on a values-driven workplace culture instead of just a compliant one.

The reality is that “Corporate Compliance” is often just a matter of checking boxes. Ethics can be a much more nebulous topic, and much more difficult for Human Resources teams to keep watch over. In an effort to succeed, employees feeling pressured sometimes strive to succeed in the wrong way. Consider the constant stream of news reports announcing ethical violations of theft and deception – sometimes starting at the very top.

The reports only scratch the surface of what’s going on. There are employees behaving in ways that are unethical, but the behaviors don’t rise to the level of a crime – backstabbing coworkers, job hopping despite commitments made at the time of hiring, secretly talking to disruptive union representatives rather than approaching supervisors, and on and on the list goes. Ethics is a pervasive principle.

Employee communication

Linking Ethics to the Generations

Do baby boomers and millennials have different perspectives on ethics? Multiple surveys suggest they do. Baby boomers operate best in a workplace where there are formal systems to incentivize ethical conduct, access to formal channels that can provide regular guidance, published standards of conduct for responding to questionable activities and ethical leadership.

Millennials don’t like boundaries, largely due to technology and globalization. They like the flexibility to handle situations, collaborative work and quick access to resources when advice is needed. They’re more open and transparent, thus more likely to discuss their employer and workplace conditions with a wide range of people inside and outside the organization, creating a setup for ethical violations. Since they’re more flexible, millennials tend to tolerate historically typical unethical or non-compliant co-worker behaviors more than baby boomers, like theft.

One reason they don’t report observed misconduct at times is because they have seen “whistleblowers” get punished for doing the right thing. Yet, millennials are more likely than baby boomers to access the person or office responsible for compliance and ethics. The lesson to learn is that they’re very social, so communication about ethics and compliance should include social interaction and ongoing support, like ongoing training, technology-based reporting systems and frequent communications from leaders addressing ethics, which could be social media postings, tweets, HR feedback systems and all the other tools that people use to stay in touch.

Union-Free Millennials

Expanding on What Ethics Embraces

Over the years, what is considered unethical behaviors has changed. Baby boomers that did report violations focused on things like fraud and financial manipulation. Millennials are more focused on workplace behaviors like sexual harassment, discrimination, biased talent systems, and corporate social or environmental irresponsibility. People were shocked when Google employees resigned to protest the company’s participation in Pentagon-funded projects. When employees question the ethics of their employers, engagement is negatively impacted.

A couple of surveys also found that millennials are more inclined to do some things you, as an employer, likely believe are unethical. They include tweeting or posting information online about the organization and keeping copies of confidential documents. These are the types of activities that can easily end up involving unions. With the more relaxed millennial perspective of ethics, the challenge for employers is developing an organizational culture that gives people the freedom to be different, while embracing generational diversity.

Make Understanding Ethics Local

Gallup’s research indicates that 70 percent of differences in employee engagement come down to local teams. This particular research addressed employees working in a variety of locations, but there is a lesson for all employers. All organizational leaders down to the lowest level must be ambassadors for ethics, driving the creation of an engaging culture that has ethics as a core value. Senior managers ordering people to act ethically via a policy may work with some baby boomers who are used to hierarchal orders, but it won’t be enough for millennials and it won’t create the ethical culture. Ethics must be “glocal” – local and global – whether talking about a particular department or an international business location.

Here’s the caveat: Millennials must have access to the right communication tools, like confidential online helplines before they are likely to report ethics violations. Employees in various generations reported bribery, kickbacks, and stealing, the kind of behaviors baby boomers have traditionally reported. However, other unethical behaviors reported by the 69 percent include misuse of confidential information, sexual harassment, and offering products and services that did not meet quality standards. Ethics goes far beyond compliance.

All About a Culture of Integrity

Of most importance is the fact the Ethics & Compliance Institute’s survey found that companies aren’t making progress in developing an ethical culture, which is the biggest factor influencing employee behavior. Only 20 percent of employees surveyed said their company has a strong ethical culture and approximately 40 percent indicated the organization’s ethical culture is weak. Developing a culture of ethics and compliance is crucial to maintaining an organization with a workforce that acts with integrity on a day-today basis.

A culture of integrity has certain characteristics, like a set of clear values, senior managers who behave ethically and regularly encourage employees to do so, and consistency of messaging. Your frontline managers should be engaged in reinforcing the culture on a daily basis. People at all levels of the organization should be held accountable for behaving ethically. Internal violations and other employee matters should be handled equitably, a key principle for keeping unions out of the workplace.

The organization needs to provide a variety of communication systems to appeal to multiple generations and provide consistent messaging. An effective communication system can send the message across generations in the format each generation prefers and by the people (i.e. CEO, supervisors, co-workers) each generation is most likely to pay attention to, i.e. CEO, middle managers, frontline supervisors and/or co-workers. That might be a video played in a meeting or the same video distributed via social media or shared via an email link.

Younger generations learn best by doing as they’ve grown up with tablets and smartphones in their hands. For younger leaders, interactive eLearning may be the best training solution. Baby Boomers are often fact-finders and may appreciate having all the Company’s ethics reference information on an easily readable website.

Ethical Culture Begets Employee Engagement

Creating an ethical and compliant culture brings a lot of advantages, like a more engaged workforce. It’s also the foundation of creating a UnionProof culture because an ethical culture is supportive of employees, believes in equitable treatment, and is supported by strong and regular two-way communication between employees and managers. People in every generation want to be treated fairly.

Think about this: Baby boomers joined unions decades ago because they perceived their employers to be unethical, profit driven rather than people driven, unjust and non-communicative about Human Resources matters, i.e. promotion systems, pay scales, etc. Today, if all team members know their supervisor, and ultimately their employer, will stand behind them when they make tough, ethical decisions, it minimizes the odds of unions taking hold in your business. It’s the best way to stay union free.

HR Audits

The Evolution of HR Audits

The following is a guest post from Ronald Adler, President-CEO, Laurdan Associates, Inc.

Evolution is a process of change. In recent years we have seen a significant change in the HR auditing process, in the value derived from HR auditing, and in the HR audit tools used. HR audits have evolved from a simple checklist of dos and don’ts or periodic affirmative action plans to a comprehensive, sustainable process that:

1) is an integral part of the organization’s internal controls, due diligence, and risk management;
2) is a fundamental activity of strategic and operational management; and
3) uses sophisticated auditing products and consulting services. Increasingly HR audits are conducted of HR rather than by HR.

This paper reviews the change in HR audits, discusses the external and internal forces affecting the process and use of HR audits, and provides information about the leading HR auditing process.

Overview of HR Audits

The HR auditing process is — or should be — an independent, objective, and systematic evaluation that provides assurance that: 1) compliance and governance requirements are being met; 2) business and talent management objectives are being achieved; 3) human resource management risks are fully identified, assessed, and managed; and 4) the
organization’s human capital adds value. Under this definition, HR audits are more than an audit activity that solely collects and presents evidence of compliance. HR audits are increasingly expected to look behind and beyond the organization’s assertions of sound and proper HR management practices and to assess the assumptions being made, to benchmark the organization’s processes and practices, and to provide the necessary consultative services that help the organization achieve its business goals and objectives.

External and Internal Forces

Numerous external forces and factors have had an impact on the demand for and scope of HR audits. First, in the global economy, human capital is becoming the single most important determinant of competitiveness, productivity, sustainability, and profitability.

Increasingly, the organization’s human capital is being recognized as the source of innovation and a driver of business success. Thus, to be effective in the global economy, HR audits must be diagnostic, predictive, and action oriented.

Second, a confluence of economic, political, and social factors, including corporate scandals, the failure of the financial industry to adequately assess risks, and increasing stockholder initiatives, have resulted in increased statutory and regulatory requirements, a call for greater transparency, and increased internal and external audit activity. Consider:

1) Sarbanes-Oxley requires effective internal controls. While Sarbanes-Oxley specifically requires effective internal financial controls, the financial and organizational costs of employment related claims and litigation can have a material effect on an organization’s bottom line, can have a negative impact on earnings per share and the organization’s valuation, and because employment litigation can negatively affect the organization’s employment brand, can impact the organization’s long-term sustainability.

2) Securities and Exchange Commission Guidelines require management to
“…exercise reasonable management oversight.” If human capital is one of the organization’s most important assets ─ it is certainly one of the organization’s largest expenses ─ is it not reasonable to expect that management applies the same level of oversight and due diligence to the management of the organization’s human capital as it does to the management of the organization’s other assets.

3) The U.S. Federal Sentencing Guidelines require that management demonstrate that it took reasonable steps to engender an organizational culture of compliance and to “monitor and audit” compliance activities, behaviors, and results. Ethical conduct and legal compliance, including nondiscriminatory employment practices, are achieved by management setting “the tone at the top.” Audits ─ including HR audits ─ provide the C-suite and boards of directors with important feedback about how effectively they are communicating this message.

4) Governmental agencies are attacking systemic noncompliance. The EEOC strongly encourages employers to conduct comprehensive HR audits as a tool to ensure that systemic discrimination does not exist. The OFCCP considers self-assessments a “best practice” and has issued its final voluntary guidelines for self-evaluation of compensation practices. The U.S. DOL considers wage and hour self-audits as a valuable tool in ensuring compliance, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and immigration attorneys encourage employers to self-audit their I-9s and hiring processes and practices to ensure compliance with U.S. immigration laws.

5) Venture capitalists, investors, and stockholders are scrutinizing organizations’ human resource management practices, processes, and outcomes and using HR audits to help them properly valuate an organization’s human capital asset, expose liabilities, and perform due diligence.

6) Recognizing the importance of the organization’s human capital asset and the risks associated with misaligned, mismanaged, and unlawful employment practices, internal auditors and risk managers are assuming a leadership role in developing HR auditing standards and in designing and conducting HR audits.

Designing and Conducting HR Audits

While an organization’s size, industry, financial health, commitment to becoming a “best place to work,” and business objectives and imperatives affect the scope and urgency of the HR audit process, we have noted some common features, attributes, and objectives in HR audits recently conducted.

1) HR audits are becoming increasingly complex and multi-dimensional. While ensuring compliance is still a basic goal of HR audits, other objectives

A. Ensuring the alignment of HR management and employment practices
with the organization’s business objectives.

B. Assessing the outcomes of the organization’s employment processes,
policies, practices, and procedures.

C. Developing the right human capital measurements and HR metrics to
allow the organization to calculate and measure the value added by human
resources, to determine the ROI and the return on the human capital asset, to measure the outcomes of employment policies and practices and the
achievement of EEO and diversity goals, and to benchmark best practices.

D. Ensuring due diligence, including: uncovering hidden liabilities and assets, identifying vulnerabilities to be corrected, and identifying opportunities to be attacked.

E. Developing HR auditing procedures that become an ongoing and
sustainable element of the organization’s internal controls.

F. Assessing and managing employment related fraud.

G. Developing HR auditing procedures that become an ongoing and
sustainable element of the organization’s risk management program.

2) HR audit reports are increasingly being used to report audit findings to wider audience. The distribution of the report on HR auditing findings is no longer limited to senior management. As noted above, an increasing number of third parties are expressing interest in the organization’s human resources management.

This list of external stakeholders includes not only investors, major stockholders, and venture capitalists, but also governmental agencies, NGO’s, civil rights groups, and plaintiff attorneys. Since HR audits findings include proprietary and confidential information and, in many cases, produce discoverable information, the implications of non-management stakeholders reviewing HR audit finding are significant and create a potentially serious problem for organizations. As a result, organizations are spending more time considering the format, content, and the
impressions created by their HR audit reports.

The Five Critical Components of the HR Audit Process

Recognized as setting the standard in HR auditing, the new edition of the ELLA®, the Employment-Labor Law Audit™, the leading HR auditing tool, incorporates the five critical components of an HR audit into the HR audit process. These five critical components, which should be addressed in every HR audit, are shown and discussed below in the HR Audit Model™.

1) Activities: The starting point of the HR auditing process is a review of
the organization’s activities, that is, the tasks and actions that create or implement employment policies, practices, procedures, and programs. Activities include such actions as the promulgation of an EEO policy statement, a sexual harassment policy, and other employment policies, and the posting of required employment posters. The Activities component of HR audits is typically evaluated by using a“checklist approach,” that is, the item is checked off when it is completed.

2) Behaviors: Behaviors in this context are actions and conduct that affect ─ either positively or negatively ─ the implementation or effectiveness of the organization’s policies, practices, procedures, and programs and demonstrate the organization’s commitment to stated goals and objectives. Examples of Behaviors include: the creation of a corporate culture that values and promotes equal employment opportunities, diversity, and compliance; the visible and unequivocal support by senior management for the organization’s diversity efforts; and the budgeting of sufficient resources to achieve EEO compliance and diversity goals. Behaviors are frequently assessed using qualitative measures, such as culture scan and employee satisfaction surveys.

3) Risk Assessment: Risk assessment is the identification of current and/or
future events that have the potential to cause loss, peril, or vulnerabilities, and management’s willingness to accept those risks. Risk assessment is also the identification of events or conditions that create new opportunities for the organization to achieve its business objectives.

Risk assessment provides management with the information to make an informed decision about the allocation of the organization’s human, physical, and financial capital and about effective ways to eliminate, mitigate, control, or transfer those risks.

Human resource management and employment practices liability related risks include: employment law and regulation compliance failures; lost business opportunities due to the failure to attract, hire, and retain top talent; intangible asset losses due to turnover and the loss of top talent and key employees; ineffective staff development and succession planning; and lower profitability due to the inability to control labor costs.

HR auditing activities include assessments of the external and internal factors that impact human resource management and employment practices, including: 1) the economy; 2) legal, regulatory, and litigation trends; and 3) demographic and structural changes in the workplace and work force.

4) Internal Controls: Internal controls are processes, tests, and assessments that help ensure compliance, manage risks, identify fraud, and help ensure the achievement of organizational goals. HR auditing activities include: 1) assessments of the effectiveness and efficiency of HR management processes, policies, practices, and procedures; 2) the reliability and accuracy of HR management reporting; and 3) the level of compliance with laws and regulations, industry and professional standards, codes of conduct and ethics, organizational policies, and budgets.

5) Outcomes: Outcomes are quantitative and qualitative measurements and metrics that measure and help assess the achievement of organizational goals and objectives. HR auditing activity includes the identification of metrics used by the organization to measure organizational and individual performance; the assessment of results by comparing actual results against projected results, budgets, and internal and external standards; and a description of the activities, behaviors, and internal controls that are needed to maintain or improve future results.

The value of the HR Audit Model™ is that it helps organizations: 1) assess current HR management and employment practices; 2) identify and diagnosis systemic problems; 3) evaluate and predict the impact of corrective measures; 4) develop a plan of action; and 5) determine the ROI of such actions. Using the ELLA®, organizations enhance the value of their human capital, reduce their exposure to employment-related liabilities, and
improve their ability to achieve business objectives.

Laurdan Associates, Inc., is a human resources management consulting firm specializing in HR audits, employment practices liability risk management, HR metrics and benchmarking, strategic HR, and unemployment insurance cost management. Laurdan is the developer the Employment-Labor Law Audit™ (ELLA®), the nation’s leading HR auditing and employment practices liability risk assessment tool — now in the tenth edition. For more information, contact Ronald Adler, President-CEO, Laurdan Associates, Inc., 301-762 -5794, radler@laurdan.comwww.laurdan.com

5 Ways You Can Drive a Culture of Engagement

A Culture of Engagement: 5 Ways the Best Employers Create an Engaged Workforce

Concerning results from Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report suggest that just 13 percent of global employees are fully engaged with their jobs. Additional research from Gallup indicates that absense of a culture of engagement costs the United States an annual $550 billion in lost productivity. The good news? It’s possible to develop a culture of engagement, as indicated below:

1. Run a Purpose-Driven Organization

Employees feel more engaged when they believe that their efforts actually make a difference. Hence, the greater satisfaction among employees at organizations that identify as purpose-driven. According to Path to Purpose author Bill Damon, to be purpose-driven means to possess a “long-term, forward-looking intention to accomplish aims that are…of consequence to the world beyond the self.” Research from Deloitte Insights points to a higher employee retention rate at mission-driven companies with a culture of engagement.

2. Give Employees a Say to Create a Culture of Engagement

Employees at all levels want to feel as if they have a voice. They appreciate corporate leaders who regularly seek their input — and actually consider or even act on their suggestions. The first step to creating a culture of engagement? Increasing the frequency of employee surveys and infusing them with open-ended questions that go beyond the usual multiple-choice format.

Create Engaged Employees With These Three Easy Tips

3. Recognize Employees Who Go Above And Beyond

From gift cards to social media shout-outs, employees crave recognition. High-performing employees push harder if they expect their efforts to be rewarded. According to a TjInsite poll, 35 percent of employees regard lack of recognition as the greatest roadblock to productivity. Recognition doesn’t always have to involve singling out select employees; entire teams may prove more productive if recognized or rewarded for their communal achievements.

4. Hold Managers Accountable To Create More Employee Engagement

Managers play a critical role in keeping employees motivated and keeping employee engagement high. Management expert Victor Lipman firmly believes that people quit managers, not jobs. The most effective managers understand the value of not only short-term productivity but also long-term employee engagement.

Providing leaders with the tools they need to improve engagement is a simple matter of training. Look for interactive programs designed to create better leaders with a wide variety of thought-provoking topics.

5. Provide Regular, Meaningful Training

Employees want to work for companies that have a culture of engagement and that are invested in their long-term growth. This means training not only with the intent of improving current job performance, but also in hopes of developing skills that will help employees make progress on their desired career trajectory. Training should equip employees with the skills needed to achieve challenging, yet manageable workplace goals. This, in turn, drives greater job satisfaction, and ultimately, an engaged workforce. Employee engagement is critical to productivity and innovation — and should therefore be a priority at organizations of all sizes and in all industries. A concerted effort to improve engagement could produce a satisfied, high-achieving workforce made up of individuals who firmly believe in your company’s mission.

Ready to get started? Begin with a powerful new employee orientation video, designed to introduce your company’s culture and values. By welcoming your new hires in the right way, you can reduce turnover, improve morale and succeed at creating a UnionProof culture.

5 Great Ideas for your Employee Onboarding Video

What makes an outstanding employee onboarding video? Of course, the content is vital – you want to make sure your new hires get inspired and confirm that their decision to come on board was a great one. But what makes your orientation video really memorable and impactful? Is it a great customer testimonial? A strong narrative? Good production values? The truth is, it’s all of the above. Here are five examples of killer onboarding videos that optimize employee orientation.


1. Dunkin’ Donuts Onboarding Video

Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t rely on fancy graphics to get their message across. This simple onboarding video features franchise owner Scott Fanning, who introduces the Dunkin’ Donuts brand and explains to viewers what it’s really like to work for the company.

The video then incorporates reconstructions of several common customer service situations that new hires will find soon themselves in — serving food, communicating with customers, handling payments, etc.

2. Trivago

Travel comparison website Trivago introduces viewers to its company culture with a behind-the-scenes look at its headquarters in Dusseldorf, Germany. This documentary-style onboarding video features a “day in the life” of new hires on their first day on the job. Essentially, new hires are watching new hires as they interact with each other and integrate into the company culture. Pieces-to-camera from members of staff punctuate the documentary footage.

3. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses a combination of on-screen graphics and pieces-to-camera to illustrate its values, objectives, and company culture. Clocking in at over seven minutes, this is one of the longest onboarding videos on this list, but it maintains the attention of viewers by explaining complicated concepts and legislation in an engaging manner.

The video is actually split into two parts: The first half explains why new hires should be proud to work for the organization, while the second half details how the agency operates.

4. Innocom Technologies

Now for something completely different. Singapore-based software solution company Innocom Technologies has created an employee onboarding video that uses animation throughout. This colorful, creative clip features several animated slides that tell viewers about the company’s long-term strategic goals.

Innocom Technologies starts by declaring their company mission before introducing the current solutions they have incorporated into their business. Animated characters appear on screen as the company presents important information about its structure, core team, and core values. The video ends by asking viewers to contact a member of staff if they have any questions.

New Hire Orientation

5. Waste Management Services, City of Edmonton

This onboarding video from the City of Edmonton covers a day in the life of their waste management department. With high production values, the video introduces new hires to the department’s various members of staff. It tells viewers what Waste Management Services does and what it plans to do in the future.

A narrator engages with the audience and speaks to them directly as if she were in the training room. “You’ll find out why waste staff go home at the end of each day and feel good about what they do. And soon, so will you.” With this onboarding video, the City of Edmonton has done the unthinkable. They’ve managed to make waste management exciting.

Pieces-to-camera, animation, voiceovers, graphics –the organizations above use various filming and editing techniques to introduce new hires to their company culture. These organizations all have one thing in common: They don’t skimp on production values.

Remember, your employee onboarding video could be the most crucial component of your orientation process and set the tone for an employee’s entire tenure. This is why you need to hire an experienced, professional employee communication company to produce a video that’s as good as any on this list.

Twitter for HR

To Tweet or Not To Tweet: Twitter for HR Pros

Twitter for HR. Seems like something we should have already conquered, but the truth is, knowing exactly which 280 characters will attract the best talent to our organizations is a tall order.

Today’s job seeker can afford to be highly selective. Those with exceptional skills are often looking for a new position while continuing in their current one. With risk low, job candidates can take the time to research any company they’re considering thoroughly – and yes, that includes following the Company on social media.

More than70% of employers now use social media as a research resource to find out more information about job candidates, and at least 62% of millennials visit company social media sites to look for job openings. Twitter, in particular, can be useful when disseminating information and generating awareness about open positions. However, at the same time, it can also be challenging to use Twitter for HR the right way.

These Twitter for HR tips will ensure you use social media in a way that helps build your brand and establish your Company as an employer of choice:

Tweet about Job Openings

The most straightforward way you can use Twitter for HR is to tweet job openings. Create a unique hashtag (e.g., #companyhiring), then make sure you include it with all job openings. Use relevant global hashtags that will draw in job seekers who aren’t already familiar with your company. Include #JobListing, #JobOpening or hashtags about your geographic area or industry. Hashtags about your jobs will help attract people who are using Twitter to look for open positions.

Use the #HireFriday Feed

#HireFriday is a popular Twitter feed that job seekers often follow. Tweet on Fridays with the hashtag #HireFriday to help your open positions get more exposure at the end of each week.

Stick to Your Brand Identity

To truly have a reputation as an employer of choice, always maintain your company’s voice and tone. Include Tweets that reflect the company’s vision, mission, and values. (In fact, those make great tweets all by themselves!) Make sure that your Twitter account helps to solidify your brand image–not detract from it. When in doubt, reflect on the company’s stated values.

Avoid Controversy When Using Twitter for HR

Actively avoid questionable activity on Twitter. Having a cautionary mindset means you should avoid engaging in anything political or religious (including following public figures, liking or retweeting polarizing posts, and posting anything controversial yourself). Keep Tweets strictly about your company to ensure you don’t alienate outstanding job candidates.

With the proliferation of technology today, HR professionals have a bounty of resources at their fingertips that can help them recruit and reach the best candidates for open positions. One of them is Twitter. By understanding how to use the platform and what pitfalls you can avoid, you can ensure that using Twitter for HR will help you do your job more effectively and efficiently and that you reach just the right audience.

Attract talented employees

1 2 3 9