On-Brand Behavior

sherrie-suski-officePotential candidates are interested not only in what they may bring to a future employer, but in what that future employer may bring to them.  With the majority of millennials believing its management’s responsibility to offer development opportunities, this demographic is looking for employers that will invest in their future. But they’re not alone; training is a top priority for all workers, particularly those who will need to enhance their skills in light of digital disruption. While many companies have training or Learning and Development programs, not enough have specific training that is meant to drive on- brand behavior.

Programs that address this topic are a win-win.  Effectively communicating a brand requires multiple touchpoints and Learning & Development programs are the perfect opportunity to drive this behavior. Learning and development is the clear internal expression of an organization’s external employer brand. These programs should be representative of and demonstrate the company’s value system.

According to Paul Hagen, senior principal at West Monroe Partners San Francisco, customer facing employees represent the company brand with every interaction they have. Yet, most receive little or no training or development to help them understand the actions and mindset that will have the most positive impact on customers’ perceptions of the brand. Good companies understand the drivers of customer and employee experiences and ensure L&D initiatives include guidance on how employees can help deliver on the promises made by an employer’s branding, he explained; “Great companies take it a step further. They understand that happy employees make happy customers.”

Ultimately, it is about connecting your internal culture to your external brand in a way that is meaningful to both your employees and your customers alike.  It should be the natural progression of doing what is right for your employees and having them understand and do what it right for your customers.

2019 Human Resources Initiatives

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Ushering in 2019 means pondering what the new year means in terms of HR initiatives.  Which were successfully put to rest last year, which will continue and carry forward and which are perhaps new initiatives this year based on the economic climate.

Top of the list is the tight labor market and lower retention many companies are experiencing.  We experienced the beginning of this challenge last year as companies struggled to find the talent they needed to fill positions to fuel their growth.  Companies will need to consider:

Flexibility in the workplace– More companies are finding ways to attract and retain workers with key skill sets by offering a combination of flexible work schedules.   Late starts, work from home, shorter in the office hours are all opportunities that will attract a different segment of the population than those able to work from 8:00-5:00p or more likely 7:00am-6:00pm.

Learning opportunities that span the entire workforce- Succession Planning programs are giving way to Talent Planning programs which encompass the whole organization.  Employee are looking for both lattice and ladder training opportunities. IDP’s (Individualized Development Plans) are becoming popular.  Instead of unleashing a plethora of online and webinar-based training opportunities, organizations are spending the time to develop individual training plans for each employee.  These are likely developed around core competencies that have already been established in the organization.

On-Boarding programs– not to be confused with the 1-3 day orientation programs, on-boarding programs will usually span 3-6 months and focus on quickly getting the new employee up to seed and integrated into the organization effectively.  Research links effective onboarding to reduced turnover and increased retention. In one study, employees were 60% more likely to remain with the organization for more than three years when there is a structured onboarding program.

Holistic Wellness Programs– wellness in no longer associated with simply the absence of disease, but has become a term that we associate with multiple forms of wellness.  Is your workforce physically, emotionally, socially and financially well and what can you do to support their efforts? Employee are looking less for balance between personal and work lives and more for integration.  One should not be exclusive of the other. Employees want time and training devoted to helping them learn how to meditate, eat healthy foods, manage their finances and generally live happy lives which, in turn, yield happy and more productive employees.  

Artificial Intelligence– no discussion would be complete without including AI.  HR technology companies are developing and promoting more and more Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities. Some of the technologies being developed can help HR professionals track and reveal troubling patterns in real-time to address such issues as employee engagement, turnover, and absenteeism (to name a few).  Automating repetitive tasks and improving workforce productivity are two of the top potential outcomes from implementing AI technology.

Each year brings its own set of challenges and opportunities to the HR profession.  This last year of the decade is no exception!

Human Resources Strategy

Once you have assessed your Organizational Culture and understand where you stand, you can move on to HR Strategy in support of that strategy.

The journey toward assessing and implementing your HR strategy may follow the same below five stages.

Functional

Minimal overarching strategies direct the HR team’s efforts. The HR team is largely reactive to the business stakeholders with respect to independent processes (talent acquisition, training, succession, compliance, compensation, etc.) The scope of HR’s roles and structure hold the function back from understanding the business and the employees. Several HR systems may still be manual. The team is focused on the day to day activities without understanding their impact on the organization.

Cross- functional

Strategies regarding critical HR functions (talent acquisition, management development and performance management) are project managed and process-driven, but they are not integrated. There may also be differing degrees of maturity. All functions within HR begin to engage more proactively with the business to ensure alignment, but efforts are not consistent, and change tends to happen slowly.  There are no launch plans and programs introduced, while valuable, may seem disjointed.

Building

Key HR processes start to become integrated as the organization recognizes the need for greater adaptability. Better alignment between the HR strategies and the business strategies is starting to take place. The cascading of organizational goals as a way to guide individual and team objectives and development begins to become pervasive.  Employees start to see the alignment between HR programs from various functions.

Enhancing

HR Programs such as talent acquisition, management development, succession, engagement and incentives are connected to one another in order to heighten the output of the organization. The business strategies are routinely translated into HR strategies, so the HR team remains in-step with the company.  There is a path that HR is capable of walking the organization down. An understanding of how each program introduced flows into and builds upon the one before.

Optimized

Sophisticated and integrated near and long-term HR strategies exist, usually in the 3-year range. Strategic objectives, which are typically cross-organizational, require HR leaders to collaborate cross functionally, creating shared goals and actions. Collectively these behaviors drive successful business outcomes. The strategy is continually reviewed to ensure it is on track with the business and averting unnecessary risk. When necessary, the strategy is rapidly altered based on data-driven inputs to stay on course.  Automation and data based decision making are key at this advanced stage.

Not every organization will achieve the optimized state, but it is, nevertheless, a worthy goal.  HR gains their seat at the table by being able to positively impact the business and align their processes to business outcomes.

Tech and Analytics Set Top HR Departments Apart

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According to recent research from The Hackett Group, an IT service management firm, “World-class HR organizations” achieve more than other HR operations by spending 26% less, relying on 32% fewer staff and embracing digital transformation.  The adoption of digital technology could help HR departments reach world-class status in fewer than five years and see progress in less than two years. To be honest, HR departments who fully embrace the use of tech and analytics can see progress in as little as 6 months.  

The study went on to find that top tier HR organizations are better at developing people and moving them into new roles; two-thirds of open managerial positions at these organizations were filled by internal candidates. The Hackett Group said world-class HR departments contain an estimated 33% fewer transactional employees and 34% fewer staff dedicated to employee lifecycle activities.  The old rule of thumb of having 1 HR person per 100 employees is falling by the wayside with the introduction of technology. Technology not only makes the bottom line look better, but offers opportunities to employees, previously solely devoted to administrative work, an option to focus on more meaningful activities and the opportunity for real growth and career path.

Among the study’s takeaways, authors found that world-class organizations use digital technology to improve the customer experience, develop analytics capabilities, transfer resources from low- to high-value initiatives, and provide expertise and insights to business leaders. Use cases include recruiting, compliance, staffing services and outsourcing.  

Imagine:

  • Being able to predict turnover down to the individual level
  • Having zero errors in your administration because all of it is automated
  • Guiding each of your employees through their own personal benefit enrollment process focusing on only the items important to them
  • Creating a flawless candidate experience where each candidate gets a “red carpet” treatment

World-class HR leaders understand the need to provide other business leaders with HR data and insight affecting their individual operations. This technology-based capability demonstrates HR executives’ knowledge of the business and financial sides of an organization, which can seat them alongside other C-suite executives and shore up employee trust in HR program.  Top HR departments around the globe are moving to not only use but embrace these tools. Have you started?

The Candidate Experience

Every engaging employee experience actually starts with an engaging candidate experience.  Candidates start their experience with your company the first time they hear or see something that reflects your brand.  It could be an ad for employment, but it could also be a press release, a piece of gossip, a Google or Glassdoor review or a group of employees standing in front of your building.  Every interaction with your brand is an opportunity to delight or to disappoint.

One of the best ways to figure out how to be on the right side of that equation is to put yourself in their shoes. What would you want if you were a potential candidate?  You might want to work for a company that is stable and/or one that has good growth potential.  Maybe one where the application process is easy. When you are writing your ads, take advantage of the job profile that can be created using one of the many behavioral assessment tools.  

Employment Ads

I personally find Predictive Index to do an admirable job.  Each ad could be written to include not just the job responsibilities but using words that capture the essence of your company and this particular role.  

Instead of using:

Leader sought to manage the Accounting team focusing on deliverables

Use:

Dynamic leader sought to ramp up and manage Accounting team focusing on superior level of performance

Or Use:

Detailed oriented manager sought to manage Accounting team of professionals, ensuring the accuracy of all journal entries and reporting

These three sentences say basically the same thing but would attract very different types of candidates.  You want your candidates to feel they fit long before they ever walk in the door.

 

Ease of Application Process

Make sure your application process is easy. Applicants should be able to apply using their mobile device so it is imperative that all of your systems are created with responsive design in mind.  Your ATS should be programmed for multiple touchpoints with a candidate to ensure they know you received your resume and, ideally, although few systems are programmed to do this, allow them a self serve option to find out where they are in the process.  

 

A Personal Touch

Although technology saves all of us countless hours of times, a personal touch is still appreciated in this highly technological world.  Never allow more than 24 – 48 hours to pass before you have contacted a candidate to provide follow up feedback from an in-house interview. Even if the response is negative, candidates appreciate hearing honest feedback on what they can improve on and why their qualifications did not land them the position.

There are many ways to improve your candidates’ experience and be rewarded with the right candidates at the right time to scale your organization.

Workplace Anxiety

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The numbers of people who are affected by anxiety are on the rise.  Recent reports estimate that 40 million people are affected by anxiety, roughly 18 percent of the nation’s population. 

While it is hard to tell whether this rise is an actual increase in those affected by anxiety or simply an increase in those willing to report it, one thing is for sure, uncontrolled anxiety impacts a person’s quality of life both at home and at work.  

 

Strategies for coping with Anxiety

  • Ensure that you have a strong support system both at home and at work.  Spending time with family and friends is one of the best ways to ease the stress of the day.  People who develop strong emotional connections at work have built in safety nets for diffusing some of that stress before it becomes harmful.
  • Exercise before, during or after work.  Everyone has a time when they feel their best.  Some may prefer to get up early and for others it is the perfect release after the end of a long day.  Some are lucky enough to have company or company sponsored gyms that they can take advantage of during the workday
  • Take a different perspective, remembering that not everything is urgent. Learning to laugh a little at how busy things can get, automatically eases the stress level.  
  • Try looking at things a different way the next time you feel stressed.  For example: Instead of rolling your eyes when yet one more person walks into your office, think of it as how many opportunities you have to impact someone’s life in a positive way.  The more the better!
  • Do something to lighten your own mood.  Maybe it’s wearing a funny saying under your work shirt or leaving yourself inspirational messages.  Whatever breaks to constant stream of stress, even for a few minutes, will be helpful
  • Keep a journal of all the crazy, wacky, unbelievable things that happen.  Then, after a particularly stressful day, you will be able to review the past happenings and realize that today was no worse than some of the past days have been.  They passed and you got through them.
  • Fake it until you make it.  Pretend that you’re not anxious or bothered by what happens at work. Because of something known as cognitive dissonance, the mind can actually adapt to the way you act. If you act like a great, confident, happy employee every day even when you’re genuinely not, you can start to feel the very same positive emotions that you’re pretending to experience, and ultimately reduce your anxiety that way.

 

The way you handle the anxiety is not as important as finding the approach that works best for you.  Don’t be reluctant to reach out for professional help if you have tried numerous approached and nothing seems to be working.  Left untreated, anxiety has a negative impact on your quality of life and you deserve only the best!

 

Human Resources Outsourcing

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With more and more focus on driving the business, operating strategically and automating the mundane and repetitive processes that make up the daily existence of many HR departments, the focus has shifted to what, if anything, can be outsourced.  Outsourcing, contemplated and implemented correctly, can be a win win decision from both a cost and efficiency standpoint.  This type of arrangement is not the PEO “Professional Employer Organization” where you outsource all of your employees to another organization in the hopes of saving material sums of money while still being able to deliver exceptional customer service. In my opinion, PEO’s are a poor choice for almost every organization. Here we will explore the primary reasons that HR organizations consider outsourcing.

In a SHRM survey the top reason that companies chose to outsource HR functions are as follows

1) 6% of companies outsource to save money- someone who does just one thing but does it very well is often more efficient.

2)  23% of companies outsource to focus on strategy – spreading yourself too thin with all of the administrative tasks doesn’t leave a lot of time for planning and strategy.

3)  22% of companies outsource to improve compliance – it is increasingly challenging to stay in compliance and increasingly risky to not meet requirements.

4)  18% of companies outsource to improve accuracy – if you’ve got too much on your plate accuracy may suffer.

5)  18% of companies outsource due to a lack of experience in-house – knowing your weaknesses is as important as knowing your strengths, so handing off a task you know you can’t handle properly to someone with expertise is a great business decision.

6)  18% of companies outsource to take advantage of technological advances – with big data worth tapping into, but costly technology needed to really delve into strategic analytics, outsourcing can offer solutions without a significant investment.

 

Almost all HR organizations currently outsource some aspect of their responsibilities, but it has become so common that many don’t even think of it as outsourcing.  Below are some of the functions most typically outsourced:

  1. Temporary Staffing- although the mark ups can be high, sourcing and staffing temps is something many take off their plates
  2. Background checks
  3. Pre-employment Physicals
  4. Payroll 
  5. Providing mandatory training like Sexual Harassment 
  6. Benefits Administration

There are significant benefits to outsourcing if you do your homework upfront, identify your potential cost savings and thoroughly vet your vendors.

 

2018 Canadian HR Trends

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It is always interesting to look at Human Resources Trends from around the world to explore the similarities and differences of varying cultural perspectives.  As our parent company is Canadian, let’s look at a few of the trends that are top of the list for 2018.  Morneau Shepell compiles an annual list of Canadian HR Trends:

Insights on what HR leaders are expecting in the coming year:

 

• Improving employee engagement is a top priority

Employee Engagement is top of mind for companies in the US as well.  Not only for altruistic motives, but for the sheer fact that engagement can be tied to better productivity and bottom line numbers all around.  Trying to tap into the discretionary effort each employee has is big business. http://www.snacknation.com/guides/definitive-guide-employee-engagement/

• Streamlining administration and absence management continue to be focus areas

Streamlining administration is a worthy cause in any country.  Streamlining can take the form of creating new processes or automation.  Robotic process automation has real potential to transform the mundane tasks in HR.

HR leaders continue to be cautious about salary increases.  Salaries expected to increase by 2.3 per cent in 2018.

While salary increases are trending just slightly higher in the US, there are still concerns about how to differentiate between average and high performers with such small increase budgets.

• Employers are looking at workforce data in silos, with very few looking at data in an integrated way

Data will be THE FOCUS in 2018 whether in silos or a more integrated approach. 

• Complex mental health claims are the top disability management concerns

Large claim management in general is a concern.  A few large claims can turn the loss ratios in the wrong direction.

• Manager training is a focus in managing absence and disability

Manager training is a focus for all companies.  It should encompass the hard skills like managing absenteeism and disability LOA’s, but should also encompass softer skills like having difficult conversations, confrontation and inspiring your employees.

• Organizations are concerned that their employees are not adequately prepared for retirement

This is a growing concern amongst many US employers as well.  Financial wellness training for the workforce is a partial solution.  Other approaches may include automatic enrollment in 401(k) plans and writing plan documents to exclude the popular loan provisions.

Companies around the globe have the same goals, to inspire their workforces, yielding a team of more engaged workers and better profits at the bottom line.

Predictive Analytics in Human Resources

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Data based decision making and predictive analytics are buzz words you are hearing a lot about these days.  However, they are emerging from the dark corners of the developer’s worlds and into the light of mainstream business operations. I was speaking at an Analyst update earlier this week and the question came up “which companies do you follow that are using predictive analytics in Human Resources?”   A great question, but the answer was, unfortunately, no one.  Although it may be some time before this data based approach becomes mainstream in the world of Human Resources, there are a plethora of reasons it should.  

Let’s start with a definition of predictive analytics.  It is basically just a script or a technology that learns from current data and then uses that current data to “predict” or forecast upcoming data or behavior. Think about how your credit score works.  The rating agencies use data, your past history of paying on time, as well as other data points, to “predict” your ability and willingness to pay on time for a new loan.

HR has massive set of data on its employees.  By applying predictive analysis to these data sets, HR moves toward becoming more of a strategic partner at the table.  Decisions become fact and data based instead of depending on someone gut feelings or instincts.  Predictive analytics allows HR to forecast the impact that different policies will have on their workforce and to get ahead of the curve on turnover, candidate success models and employee engagement.

From Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends Survey. While 71 percent of companies see people analytics as a high priority in their organizations (31 percent rate it very important), progress has been slow. The percentage of companies correlating HR data to business outcomes, performing predictive analytics, and deploying enterprise scorecards barely changed from last year.

Analytics is being applied to a wide range of business challenges: Recruiting remains the No. 1 area of focus, followed by performance measurement, compensation, workforce planning, and retention. We see an explosive growth in the use of organizational network analysis (ONA) and the use of “interaction analytics” (studying employee behavior) to better understand opportunities for business improvement.

Staffing and on-boarding tends to be an area that we think of first when it comes to utilizing Predictive Analytics.  We all want to be able to predict the success of the candidate in the role.  Progressive HR organizations are using interview data, careful parsing of job posting language, and candidate screening data to do just that. New tools that look at social and local hiring data can even help companies identify people who are “likely to look for new jobs” much before they are even approached by competitors.

Turnover is another area that could greatly benefit from this approach.  Capturing and reporting on it is nice, but what about getting ahead of it?  What about using data to be able to predict who is likely to submit their resignation within the next 3 months and conducting extensive stay interviews with those employees? Or being able to offer them an Individualized Development Plan to solidify their engagement?

There are a multitude of opportunities to utilize Predictive Analytics to help us make better decisions across the board in each of our organizations.

Compensation- putting the plan in place

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Last week we talked about establishing your Compensation Strategy and how to determine the competition and your rationale for certain recommendations.  Once you have a thorough well thought out strategy, though, you need to execute.  Careful, well thought out execution is every bit as important as developing your strategy.  Remember, it is likely that you understand compensation better than anyone else in your organization so start at the top.

 

Get your Executive Team Bought in

Keep in mind that executive teams have a lot on their mind and are likely not up to speed with why a compensation strategy is important, so start simple.  https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/compensation/Pages/AlignPay.aspx The payroll in a company is by far the largest expenditure and compensation touches all areas like candidate attraction, retention, turnover and satisfaction to some degree.  Pay ranks in the number three spot as to reasons why employees leave positions and the cost to replace that employee is anywhere between 100-200% of their base salary. https://www.appleone.com/Employers/SCALE/2017/EngagementTools/cost-of-turnover-calculator.aspx  Plenty of reason to make sure that compensation is NOT the driving force behind your resignations.

 

Train your Managers to have Compensation Conversations

Once your executive team is bought into your strategy, it’s time to train your managers to talk about compensation. https://hbr.org/2014/04/how-to-discuss-pay-with-your-employees  We have all heard or experienced firsthand the horror stories of employees finding out what their raise is when their paycheck comes out, never having had a conversation with their manager, or the manager walking into a group of employees, handing each a piece of paper with their raise on it and walking out, thus missing a critical opportunity to further enhance the employee’s satisfaction and level of engagement. https://compensation.blr.com/Compensation-news/Compensation/Compensation-Administration/Preparing-for-Compensation-Conversations-with-Empl/  The first step is to listen.  Listen to what the employee has to say, repeat back what you think you have heard.  Share critical information, such as the merit budget pool for the year and the compensation philosophy.  

 

Communicate the Process

Letting the team know up front and reminding them often of who will do what we go a long ways towards preparing for success. http://www.simplehrguide.com/compensation-strategy-key-content.html  Communicate the roles that HR will play-to establish salary grades and structures, to provide compa-ratios, to set the merit pool amount and to weigh in on any recommended market adjustments.  The first line managers will be responsible for recommending salary increase, justifying recommendations for promotions or market adjustments and communicating the approved increases to the individual employees. Your executive team has the responsibility to communicate and support the compensation strategy and philosophy they have approved. Employees, too, play a role.  They have the responsibility to ask questions and ensure that they get a satisfactory answer.  Make sure that they know their manager is their first stop, but if questions remain unanswered that HR’s door is always open.

Do you best to create an environment where compensation is not practiced in a black box, but is implemented in a thoughtful, straight forward way, where everyone understands what it is meant to achieve and feels comfortable offering suggestions to enhance the process.  A compensation strategy, created and implemented well, can enhance many aspects of the organization and the employee experience.