How to offboard employees with care

How are your onboarding and offboarding programs? While many employers understand and accept the importance of having a great onboarding program, many lose sight of their offboarding program. Read on for more on how employers can offboard employees with care.


Employers understand the importance of onboarding new employees. A Glassdoor report found a strong onboarding process improved new hire retention by 82% and improved productivity by more than 70%.

Talent professionals place more emphasis than ever on creating positive employee experiences — and that pressure starts from an employee's first day. But should that same attention be given to an employee's last day? In a tight labor market, where referrals from former employees and "boomerang" employees are valuable sources of talent, HR might consider: What are the benefits of creating a strong offboarding process?

Offboarding: part of the employee life cycle

Onboarding has long been an important point in the employee life cycle, while offboarding has always been an afterthought, Jen Stroud, HR evangelist and transformation leader for ServiceNow, told HR Dive. But now, as the entire employee lifecycle is getting attention, offboarding is coming into focus, she said.

"If you have a great onboarding experience and you bring people to work for you and their employee experience and offboarding experience is poor, you spent a lot of money for onboarding that is wasted," she added.

Former employees, particularly those who left voluntarily, are ambassadors of your company's brand, Moses Balian, HR consultant at Justworks, told HR Dive. "A smooth and amiable offboarding is so valuable in maintaining employees beyond active employment," he said. "You never know when you want to rehire someone."

Offboarding may be fundamentally important to keeping potential boomerang employees feeling positive about the organization, maintaining good employer branding, establishing a network of former employees or helping current employees feel engaged despite co-workers' departures. Since offboarding is the final interaction a departing employee may have with an organization, how they're treated — good or bad — during that process can remain top of mind.

Offboarding involuntary separations respectfully

Employers may have a planned-out process for involuntary separations. Even if those employees are not the ones you'd rehire, they still should be treated with compassion, Angela Nino, founder of Empathic Workplace, told HR Dive in an interview.

"Planning for that is important, not just squeezing it into your day," Nino said. From making sure the conversation is done privately, determining if security or police will need to be on site, ensuring the employee has their personal belongings and can get to their car or has transportation home — these are important steps in the offboarding process. It's important that the termination conversation is not a shaming experience for the employee, Nino added. "Treat that person with respect and dignity, respecting the fact that [it is] about to be one of the worst days of their life."

With workplace violence as a concern, handling an involuntary offboarding process carefully is essential. "If you have been in HR, you know that the way that we treat someone on their last day of work or the way that we treat someone during a termination can be [the difference between] whether or not they bring a gun," Nino said.

But mitigating the potential of workplace violence needs to start before the termination meeting, David Moore, partner at Laner Muchin, told HR Dive. "I think it goes all the way back to the process and events leading to an involuntary separation," Muchin said. "Have we treated this person fairly? Have we given them notice of the performance or conduct issues? Have we given them fair opportunity to turn it around? Have we documented that to them so they're not able to say in their mind that 'no one told me that this was going to happen?'"

Offboarding voluntary separations: taking advantage of opportunity

An involuntary offboarding process may be prone to mistakes (i.e. benefits forms filled out and submitted), but a voluntary offboarding process is prone to missed opportunities, Balian said. Exit interviews for voluntary resignations are frequently a formality and employees don't feel their voices are heard. Balian noted that when he worked as in-house HR and conducted exit interviews, he would ask resigning employees, "are you running to or from?," to gauge their reasons for leaving. Combined with additional data gathered through surveys, this information may give HR an opportunity to identify and correct problems. Exit interviews also give employers a chance to show gratitude to the employee and interface with them on a human level, Balian said.

Just as a smooth onboarding process involves ensuring a new employee has a company ID, a workspace and appropriate equipment, a smooth offboarding process, whether for involuntary or voluntary reasons, makes sure those same details are planned for the outgoing employee, Moore said. Will the employee still receive a commission or bonus? When does the next paycheck arrive? Is severance offered? What is the benefits coverage?

Regardless of whether an employee leaves on their own or is terminated, the offboarding process can affect the employee's co-workers as well. If an employee has a poor offboarding experience and tells former co-workers, or if co-workers witness a poor offboarding process, it undermines the value the organization places on talent, Balian said.

It is critical not to think of offboarding as being in a silo or a one-off workflow process, Stroud said. "It is really about the lifecycle of an employee." Organizations that have the greatest impact have added offboarding processes to their considerations of employee experience, Stroud added. To initiate an offboarding process, start by examining the steps in the employee lifecycle and consider what actions are needed to create the best employee experience.

"All it takes is a little bit of time and investment and intention on behalf of your HR team," Balian said. "It doesn't cost anything except effort."

SOURCE: DeLoatch, P. (9 April 2019) "How to offboard employees with care" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.hrdive.com/news/how-to-offboard-employees-with-care/552053/


The talent textbook: 4 ideas for giving better feedback

Managers enjoy giving good news during a review, but how can reviewers take the sting out of negative feedback or even constructive criticism? Read this blog post from HR Drive for four ideas on giving better feedback.


"You got a promotion! You get a raise!" It's almost as fun for managers to say it as it is for employees to hear. Giving good news during a review is easy, but how can reviewers take the sting out of constructive — or negative — feedback?

Coaching an employee who needs to improve or who isn't quite ready for more responsibility, higher pay or leadership opportunities is perhaps the most difficult aspect of performance management, so in this installment of the Talent Textbook, we'll offer four guiding principles from experts for giving better feedback.

#1: Meet more often

Many talent experts today recommend retiring the annual performance review and replacing it with frequent feedback instead. Unlike annual reviews, continuous feedback sessions can lessen anxiety for managers and workers both, making the conversations less formal and more focused. They can help send the message that the company culture is one of listening and responding to workers' needs — and they help talent pros and managers minimize the risk that workers will be dissatisfied with or surprised by the discussion.

"That feedback should be coming constantly," said Jim Flynn, CHRO at Sitel Group. "Everyone should know where they stand constantly."

Flynn believes that frequency transforms the feedback session into a chance to reflect and recalibrate on priorities and goals. It can also ensure that workers are aware of their progress toward a pay increase, promotion or increased responsibility because their manager has reminded them more recently.

For Jodi Chavez, group president professional staffing group at Randstad Professionals, Randstad Life Sciences, focusing up frequently keeps managers better informed about workers' desires and expectations, potentially preventing turnover and keeping the feedback session from devolving into a bidding war.

"If an employee has a desire and a belief that they want this promotion or to be in that role, there can be instances where you won't be able to undo their desire to leave," she said.

"It can be easier if you catch that earlier on in the process — so constant communication, so they know what you're looking for and you can keep coaching them, is important. It only becomes an issue when no one knows that it's a desire until later in the process."

Just as you wouldn't assess business goals and objectives only once a year, talent pros should expect to assess people often to curb employee disappointment, Flynn said, and this is especially true for employees early on in their careers.

#2: Give a heads up and an open ear

There's still stress for talent pros and managers even when preparing to deliver feedback in a more casual session: Will they feel insulted? Will they disengage afterwards? The fears are relevant, so that's why the way reviewers deliver feedback matters as much as the frequency.

Chavez and Flynn agree that managers and talent pros should begin conversations with what they're going to cover in the session. They can continue to be transparent with workers by providing the reasoning behind the feedback and their expectations for the future, Flynn said.

"I think the old sandwich approach, employees see through that," Flynn said, referring to the tactic of "sandwiching" a criticism between two compliments. "I would rather be more upfront and honest, and that should be the manager's approach to everything."

In that same realm, honest feedback should never come with bias or malice attached. Jeannie Donovan, VP of HR at Velocity Global, wrote in an email to HR Dive that "clear is kind" when it comes to constructive feedback. Whether the manager is discussing goal setting or areas that need improvement, the employee's pay grade or their potential for a future promotion, Chavez said the same principle applies: stick to the facts and strive for objectivity.

"For new talent managers, I think it's important to stay very factual and to hear the employee," she said. "Don't lead with false promises, just very cut and dried — 'The role that you're in and the experience that you have puts you at this level [of pay.]'"

That's not to say that a manager should shut down further discussion, Chavez said. Discussing an employee's strengths and listening to their desires can help them visualize a realistic and reachable future for themselves within the organization.

"It's really important to sit down and talk about the positive things that the employee brings to the table — it's a non-defensive position to put the employee in," Chavez said. "Try to understand what is important to them, and let them tell you. 'I may not be able to be a supervisor, but I'd still like to learn more about how to manage people' — once you know that as a manager, giving them pieces that help fulfill that helps them stay engaged."

#3: Support your managers

Talent pros should focus on workers when they consider their feedback best practices — but managers need their attention and expertise, too. As Flynn put it, "sometimes you have to carry cold water warmly" when delivering feedback, and managers need encouragement, support and guidance from talent pros to pull it off.

"A good HR business partner should understand when those difficult conversations could be occurring," he said, noting that this partnership goes both ways. "If a manager is aware that it might be a tough conversation, it's always a good idea to give your HR business partner a heads up so they can be attuned."

Providing tools or suggestions for approaching reviews can help managers to execute conversations with employees with clarity and mutual understanding. For example, Donovan coaches her managers on the "stoplight exercise," which can be helpful when an employee is making a case for a promotion. She said that managers can take a pen to the job description for the role their charge would like to be promoted into — highlighting current responsibilities in green, responsibilities they have a slight grasp of in yellow and tasks they've never touched in red.

"This is a straightforward way to identify strengths, weaknesses, and gaps to assess readiness for that promotion. Further, if this exercise yields gaps, the results indicate where exactly to focus on growth," she wrote.

Donovan echoed Flynn's belief that managers and talent pros should partner in the feedback process, and that debriefing afterwards is as critical for retention as it is for employee satisfaction.

"Have that second set of eyes to be aware and look for signs of disengagement or other harmful behavior," said Flynn. "Some managers are hands off, so if they've had that difficult conversation make sure you're maintaining that personal connection and increasing your frequency of touch."

#4. Shift the focus forward

The last thing constructive feedback should sound like is a lecture. Reviewers should reiterate that the feedback is in service of plan to get that employee a promotion, salary bump, conference excursion, a chance to lead an internal workshop or whatever the goal is in the future, Chavez said.

"They should feel positive about what they have contributed and what they can continue to contribute," she said. "[It's about] what you can do to help foster that growth for them."

Flynn's approach is similar, keeping the conversation productive and goal-oriented: "I probably spend 25% of the time talking about past performance, and goals reached and past behavior, but I like to focus more on what are the strengths, what are weaknesses and where the potential is."

With the future in mind, Chavez points out that a transparent, frequent and collaborative review process could prevent promising talent from leaving down the road. It can even have ripple effects across an organization, according to Donovan, who saw that workers had a clearer vision of their goals when she transitioned to more continuous feedback.

"As a result of our laser-focus on more frequent performance conversations, our employees have a roadmap of what needs to be done and when, and this approach lends itself to higher productivity and a general sense of purpose across the board," Donovan wrote.

SOURCE: Fecto, M. (10 April 2019) "The talent textbook: 4 ideas for giving better feedback" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.hrdive.com/news/the-talent-textbook-4-ideas-for-giving-better-feedback/552276/


7 ways employers can support employee caregivers

Seventy-three percent of employees in the United States act as caregivers for a child, parent or friend, according to research from Harvard Business School. Continue reading for seven ways employers can support employee caregivers.


The number of caregiving adults in the U.S. has reached a tipping point.

As the baby boomer generation gets older, an increasing number of people in the workforce are taking on the role of unpaid caregiver for a family member or friend. Many also are in the midst of raising their own children, which means they’re pulled in many different directions, trying to keep up with work commitments and family responsibilities. In fact, according to researchers at Harvard Business School, 73% of employees in the U.S. are caring for a child, parent or friend.

What do all these statistics point to? They mean that employers have an opportunity to play a role in helping employees balance these often competing priorities.

The Harvard study highlights the impact of employee caregiving responsibilities on the workplace. While only 24% of employers surveyed believed employee caregiving influenced their employees’ performance at work, 80% of the employees who were surveyed admitted that caregiving had an effect on their productivity at work and interfered with their ability to do their best work.

The survey also found that caregiving can affect employee retention, with 32% of the employees surveyed saying they had left a job because of their caregiving responsibilities. In addition, employees who are caregivers are more likely to miss work, arrive late or leave early, which affects not only productivity, but also the employees’ ability to progress in their careers.

Employers can take a proactive role in supporting employees who are caregivers. That support, in turn, can have a positive effect on productivity, morale and employee retention. Here are seven strategies employers should consider.

Create an organization-wide understanding of the challenges caregivers face.

Employees who aren’t sure that their managers and leaders would understand the juggling they’re doing and the stresses they face are more likely to not only have problems at work, but — because they face high stress levels trying to get everything done at home and work — they also are at higher risk for a number of health problems such as depression and heart disease. By creating a culture that allows employees to openly express their challenges and ask for support, employers can not only keep employees healthy and productive, they also can reduce secondary costs associated with decreased productivity and chronic health problems.

Know what challenges employees face.

Regular employee surveys can help employers assess employees’ needs in terms of caregiving and tailor the benefits the organization offers to help meet those needs.

Communicate the benefits that are available.

In many cases, employers already offer programs and benefits that can help employees who are caregivers such as an employee assistance program and referral services for finding caregivers who can help when the employee isn’t able to. However, many employees aren’t aware these programs are available, so it’s important to continuously share information about them in company newsletters, emails and at meetings.

Consider flex time and remote work options.

Depending on the employees’ work responsibilities, employers can offer flexible work arrangements that allow employees to work different hours or to telecommute for a certain number of days per week.

Change the approach to paid time off.

Rather than dividing paid time off into vacation days, sick days and personal days, consider grouping all time off into one category. That allows employees to take time off for caregiving as needed. A growing number of companies, including Adobe, Deloitte, Bristol-Meyers Squibb and Coca-Cola, are also offering paid family leave benefits so that employees can take time off to provide care.

Connect employees with resources.

Beyond an EAP and referral services, employers can offer programs that connect caregivers with resources for both their caregiving role and for the self-care they need to remain healthy and able to handle both job and caregiving roles better. Those resources can include:

Beyond an EAP and referral services, employers can offer programs that connect caregivers with resources for both their caregiving role and for the self-care they need to remain healthy and able to handle both job and caregiving roles better. Those resources can include:

  • Advisory services that help employees connect with healthcare providers for their parents, children and themselves
  • Nurse managers, case managers and geriatric care managers who can help employees who are managing the care of a family member who’s living with a serious health condition or disability
  • Advocates who can help employees who are dealing with complex insurance claims for the person they care for, planning for long-term care, or managing the legal and financial complexities that can arise when a parent or spouse dies

Internal caregiver resources groups that bring together employees who are dealing with the issues surrounding caregiving so that they can share ideas and experiences

Measure how well your support is working.

The first step to supporting caregivers in the workforce is to implement policies, programs and benefits that offer them the tools they need to balance work and caregiving. An equally important second step is to regularly review what is offered, how much the offerings are used, and by which employees. Ask employees for feedback on how effectively what the organization provides is in helping them with issues they face as working caregivers and solicit ideas for new approaches and tools they’d like to have.

SOURCE: Varn, M. (25 March 2019) "7 ways employers can support employee caregivers" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/list/7-ways-employers-can-support-employee-caregivers


A guide to managing employee website usage

With remote workers, employers need to be mindful of the types of websites their employees are accessing on company-issued technology. Continue reading for key considerations and best practices to review when properly managing employee website usage.


Whether employees are working from home, the coffee shop or the office, employers need to be mindful of the types of websites workers are accessing on their company-issued technology.

New accessibility creates greater flexibility, but employers need to be vigilant to ensure workers maintain the expectation of productivity and workplace privacy. Now more than ever, the workplace heavily relies on technology and companies must understand how to manage it to avoid risk.

Nowhere is the tension between technology and privacy rights more prevalent than in today’s workplace. At the forefront of this discussion is whether employers should block access to certain websites on company-issued technology. Here are key considerations and best practices to review when properly managing employee website usage.

Creating boundaries between work and personal affairs, without invading privacy. Employees typically emphasize that their private affairs should not be accessed by their employer. But the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) states an employer-provided computer system is the property of the employer, so when an employee visits certain websites during typical office hours using company-issued technology, what is accessed by the employee becomes the employer’s business as well.

There is no denying that placing blocks on certain websites is an effective way to separate work and personal matters, maintain professionalism, protect the company’s security, respect company property and utilize work time appropriately. However, employers should beware of potential legality issues regarding privacy. For example, employees are given some protection from computer and other forms of electronic monitoring under certain circumstances.

Productivity distractions. Blocking certain websites will not prevent an employee from utilizing company time for personal reasons, but doing so reminds employees to have integrity, focus and discipline when it comes to using technology in the workplace. Some employees will use company-issued technology to visit a plethora of websites such as social media platforms, personal email accounts, instant messengers, financial institutions, sports, entertainment and music sites, as well as inappropriate websites. It is easy to become distracted with an overabundance of virtual activity at our fingertips, and blocking sites sends a serious message to workers that business technology and time is for business-purposes only.

Security of confidential company data and information. In today’s interconnected world, employers recognize the importance of protecting confidential company information. Employers often choose to block certain websites because of the risk of a security breach. Employers are concerned with the exposure of any release of its data, work products, ideas and information not otherwise disclosed to the public or its competitors. Blocking certain websites gives an organization an opportunity to decrease the risk of its confidential information being accessed by external influences.

What employers can do to be more transparent with staff

There are no foolproof methods to preventing an employee from using their work time for personal reasons or inadvertently exposing the company to security breaches.

Employees can still access many websites of their choosing through their personal technology. However, the aforementioned reasons are convincing enough for employees to take more accountability in using company-issued technology for business purposes only. An employer that endorses a policy and practice of business technology for business reasons sets a clear expectation for employees to remember and follow.

  • Enforce a written policy that sets clear expectations for in-house and remote employees about not using company-issued technology to visit certain websites and explain the reason for such policies. Policies and procedures should be well-defined, widely communicated and reviewed at least annually.
  • Inform new employees that certain websites are not accessible via company technology. Highlight the written policy for both new and existing employees. Again, explain the reason for this policy.
  • Offer training and other educational opportunities that motivate productivity during times when work focus suffers.
  • Work with the company’s internal IT department to ensure that websites are properly blocked.

Usually, when employers remain transparent with staff regarding why a policy exists, employees are more receptive. In general, employers are encouraged to consult with an experienced HR professional or employment lawyer to avoid any potential legality pitfalls in the workplace.

SOURCE: Banks, S. (11 March 2019) "A guide to managing employee website usage" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/a-guide-to-managing-employee-website-usage?brief=00000152-14a5-d1cc-a5fa-7cff48fe0001


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What Happened to Employee Retirement Plan Education?

As an employer, you are the universal platform for your employees’ benefits and retirement knowledge. Every day, you must communicate and educate your employees on the benefits you offer. Whether that is through verbal communication, an office chatroom, or a simple email, you should act as a bridge between the gap that is, “What do I get for working here? How am I protected? How can I contribute to my savings?”

There is no doubt how much pressure this puts on your shoulders. When it comes to educating your employees about their 401(k) Plan, it is inevitable that you may feel lost. You don’t have anyone to advise you on the topic (except Google, of course); you have no proper guide for navigating the benefits and retirement landscape. How can you provide the best resources and tools to your employees, if you don’t have access to them to begin with?

In this month’s installment of CenterStage, we spoke with Todd Yawit, Director of Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans at Saxon Financial Services, hoping to scope helpful advice for employers struggling with benefits and retirement education. The conversation led to a prime focus on the power of 401(k) Plans, and employees’ extreme lack of knowledge about them, and ended with this simple fact:

Providing access to A to Z retirement services for your employees is not something you should skip on; and could lead to lower health insurance premiums in the long-run.

“Too many Americans are getting to their retirement age with no funds or no ability to provide the extra income they’re going to need over and above Social Security,” Todd said. “There needs to be a mechanism or tool available for people to save money, preferably tax-favored treatment of that money.”

That tool is a 401(k) Plan. Providing 401(k) Plan education in the workplace is an easy way for employers to show they care about their employees’ futures. It gives employees opportunities to save for their retirement, ultimately bettering themselves and their loved ones in the long run.

Getting Familiar With 401(k)s

People by nature tend to stick to the rule, “Out of sight, out of mind,” and 401(k) Plans are the epitome of that rule. However, this is the wrong path to take. 401(k) Plans can be a great tool for employers to leverage.

“At Saxon, we highly suggest employers look at advanced plan designs, instead of just a basic 401(k) Plan,” said Todd. These plan designs can lead to better retirement-readiness of plan participants, which will better prepare them for retirement, and can potentially lower health insurance premiums for the business in the long-run. Todd continued, “Advanced plan designs may also increase business tax deductions; provide better benefits for business owners and key employees; and eliminate most discrimination tests.

Automatic Enrollment

Once an employee becomes eligible for a 401(k) Plan, they are automatically enrolled in one. This tool helps increase enrollment in the Plan, because studies have shown few employees “opt-out” once they are automatically enrolled.

There has been a push for employers to add Automatic Enrollment to their 401(k) Plans. Participation has been at an all-time low, meaning more and more employees are getting to retirement with nothing to rely on except their Social Security. Automatic enrollment, and employee education can be great tools to help employees reach their retirement-readiness.

Automatic Increases in 401(k) Contributions

When employees do get involved with their 401(k) Plans, it’s usually with the initial set up, then it’s often forgotten about. Knowing how crucial those savings are for employees’ future livelihoods, there has been a push for automatic increases in annual 401(k) contributions.

“Ongoing education will help employees understand how small increases in their retirement savings, especially when they get a raise, will have a big impact on their ability to retire at a reasonable age”, Todd explained.

Saxon Financial Advisors

Saxon Financial Services offers A to Z retirement plan services for Simple IRAs, Safe Harbor 401(k) Plans, 401(k) Plans, 403(b) Plans, and Cash Balance Pension Plans. Saxon can act as a 3(38) Investment Manager, which can reduce the employer’s fiduciary liability with respect to investment selection, monitoring, and replacement. We can create and manage custom asset allocation models for participants in this role as well. “This allows employees to focus on what really matters, saving for retirement and not worrying about picking and managing their investments”, Todd concluded.

If you currently struggle with the education and support of your 401(k) Plan, then call 513.573.0129 or email Todd at tyawit@gosaxon.com.


Millennials and money — How employers can be a financial literacy resource

Recent reports show student loan debts reached a $1.5 trillion crisis in 2018, leading many to believe Americans need a little help with money. Read on to learn how employers can help with financial literacy.


It’s clear that Americans need a little help with their money — in 2018 student loan debts reached a staggering $1.5 trillion crisis, employees continue to retire at a later age every year, and studies have shown that 65% of Americans save little to nothing of their annual income.

One subset of the American population that has even greater troubles with their finances is millennials, or those aged 23 to 38 as of 2019. This age group has lofty goals — 76% believe that they’re headed for a better financial future than their parents and 81% plan to own a home — but many millennials aren’t saving money in a way that actually leads them towards that future. In the last year, 43% of young adults had to borrow money from their parents to pay for necessities and 30% had to skip a meal due to lack of funds. Where’s the disconnect between millennials’ financial optimism and the reality of their financial circumstances?

Part of the problem lies in a lack of financial literacy. A study conducted by the National Endowment for Financial Education found that only 24% of millennials answered three out of five questions correctly on a survey looking at financial topics, indicating only a basic level of literacy. This same survey found that only 8% of millennials who took the test were able to answer all five questions correctly.

That’s not to say that understanding the intricacies of financial planning is easy. Everything from taxes to investing often requires professional advice. It’s no wonder that millennials are struggling with their finances: only 22% of those in this age group have ever received financial education from an educational institution or workplace. Millennials are struggling to pay for basic necessities and financial advice is simply not a priority. Many avoid seeking the help they need because they perceive it to be too costly.

This is an opportunity for employers that want to provide valuable resources to their employees, as financial wellness programs are likely to be the next employee benefit that millennials ask for.

Right now, millennials are the largest segment in the workforce, and by 2030 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that this age group will make up a staggering 75%. In a tight labor market, current job seekers can be more selective when deciding where they want to work. For employers, studies have shown that 60% of people report benefits and perks as a major deciding factor when considering a job offer.

To stand out from competitors and provide true value to young employees, companies should consider including financial wellness plans in their overall benefits package. The most comprehensive financial wellness plans generally include access to advice from a certified financial planner in addition to legal, tax, insurance and identity theft support. For millennials trying to get in control of their finances, these types of programs can be invaluable. For example, young employees can get assistance setting up a 401(k) account, dealing with taxes for the first time or learning to save and invest.

In 2019 and beyond, millennials are going to be looking for employers that support them not only in the office but outside the office as well. By providing financial planning tools in the workplace, companies can be a valuable resource to younger employees who will appreciate early and frequent conversations around how to manage their money.

SOURCE: Freedman, D. (19 February 2019) "Millennials and money — How employers can be a financial literacy resource" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/how-employers-can-be-a-financial-literacy-resource?brief=00000152-14a7-d1cc-a5fa-7cffccf00000


7 employee engagement trends gaining momentum

According to a Gallup survey, organizations with highly-engaged employees outperform the competition by 147 percent in earnings per share. Read this blog post for seven employee engagement trends that are gaining momentum.


Employee engagement is top-of-mind in the HR industry these days. In many ways, it might be one of employers’ biggest pain points. In this tight job market, it’s easier for employees to jump ship — and that’s a big headache for HR. Employers now are working more diligently to retain their key talent who are apt to go elsewhere to seek the working environment they desire.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, it costs a company, on average, six to nine months of an employee’s salary to replace her. So, for an employee making $40,000 a year, that’s $20,000 to $30,000 in recruiting and training expenses. Others predict the cost is even more: That losing a salaried employee can cost as much as twice their salary, especially for a high earner or executive-level employee.

Think about it. Salary and benefits are important, sure. But in this job market, employees can find what they are looking for in a compensation package. So, what makes the difference? It’s employee engagement — the extent to which an employee’s personal goals and interests align with the vision and goals of the company.

Organizations with highly-engaged employees outperform the competition by 147% in earnings per share, according to Gallup. More companies are realizing the effect that improved employee engagement is having on employee performance, retention and productivity. A G2 Crowd survey reported that in 2019, companies will increase their spending on employee engagement by 45%.

This year has all the makings of being a pivotal year for employee engagement with retention being equally, or even more as important, as recruitment. HR professionals, and companies as a whole, need to review employee engagement practices to make sure their strategy impacts retention, production and performance.

What’s ahead in 2019 for employee engagement? Here are my predictions.

Employers will put much more focus on employee engagement. An analysis from PwC says the new standard for employee engagement is fulfillment — the feeling people have when their work and their motivations are aligned and they gain a sense of meaning and purpose as a result. Others say it’s the employee experience — that it’s more than better perks and benefits. It’s ensuring that employees have positive, meaningful interactions with the organization at every step. Whether it’s employee engagement, fulfillment or experience, 2019 is going to see more employers, and the industry itself, paying much more attention to employee engagement.

Flexibility will be all-important. Millennials, the largest generation in the workforce, have made it loud and clear that they want more workplace flexibility including the ability to shift work hours (such as starting the day earlier or later) and working from home one or two days a week. Turns out that non-millennials are saying the same thing. Look for companies to incorporate more flexibility into company policies this year.

The annual performance review continues to be on its way out. The trend away from the annual performance review in favor of more frequent, real-time reviews and informal feedback will start to take hold in 2019. Ongoing communication is a much more effective tactic. Millennials, in particular, like at least monthly review format/commentary. In addition, steps for development, growth and mentoring can influence an employee’s satisfaction and desire to stay with the company.

Employee appreciation will move to a year-round activity. Call it what you want — recognition, appreciation, etc. But it’s not about an end-of-year holiday party or an employee of the month recognition. And it doesn’t have to always be about the cost of doing it — a manager’s thanks and lunch brought in at the end of a big project can go a long way. This year will see more attention to demonstrating employee appreciation on a year-round basis and rethinking the ways in which we can show it.

Companies will add benefits that satisfy employee lifestyle needs. Employee engagement no longer is one-size-fits-all. Employees have various lifestyle needs that companies can address that show they care about employee life stages. For example, more attention is being paid today to the needs of nursing mothers, and many companies are providing lactation services. For example, Goldman Sachs last year started paying for nursing mothers to ship breast milk to their homes when they travel. PwC introduced a phased return-to-work program following parental leave. Look for companies to identify and add more unique benefits in 2019 that show their employees they care about their life stages.

Employers will take a much more holistic approach to wellness. Gone are the days when employee wellness meant providing a gym membership and orchestrating an internal health fair. In recent years we have seen companies start broadening their wellness approach. Happy, healthy employees are generally engaged employees and that involves addressing all aspects of wellness. According to the University of Maryland, there are eight mutually-interdependent dimensions of wellness — physical, mental, emotional, social, occupational, financial, purposeful and environmental. They don’t have to be equally balanced, and employers likely can’t address all of them. 2019 will see employers studying the holistic wellness approach and making changes that fit their particular organization and their employees the best.

Gamification will be adopted more widely. Whether it’s for onboarding, benefits communication/understanding, wellness programs or other employee engagement tactics, gamification will be considered and adopted more widely this year. Gamification techniques can be used as well to increase use of intranets, social media platforms and mobile communication. Look for employers this year to create more apps and digital games to increase employee engagement.

Employees who feel their companies care about them are more engaged and dedicated to company success. Those of us in HR need to pay as much attention to employee engagement this year as we do to compensation and benefits in order to succeed with employee retention.

SOURCE: Roberts, R. (13 February 2019) "7 employee engagement trends gaining momentum" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/these-employee-engagement-trends-are-gaining-momentum


Top 4 HR trends to watch this year

HR departments are now looking to implement innovative strategies to better engage employees and maximize productivity. Continue reading this blog post for the top HR trends of 2019.


HR professionals can no longer rest on their laurels. They are now looking to implement innovative strategies to better engage employees, improve the company’s brand both internally and externally, maximize productivity and increase the organization’s profitability.

So how can HR professionals go about making this happen? The success of HR will largely be based on staying nimble, evolving their organization’s policies and leveraging technological advances to ultimately reshape their workplace practices.

With that in mind, here are the top HR trends that will take center stage in 2019.

The gig economy and the importance of flexibility. The gig economy, which is comprised of individuals with short-term or temporary engagements with a company, is substantially important to employers. Here, workers are seeking increased flexibility and control over their work environments. Since many questions remain unanswered regarding worker classification issues and the application of existing laws in the gig economy, look for the Department of Labor to issue an opinion letter or guidance in 2019 detailing how a company may compliantly work within the gig economy and not run afoul of existing independent contractors.

Flexibility also is important for all employees — not just for the gig economy. While telecommuting and remote positions are not new, they are being emphasized again to better engage employees and increase retention metrics.

The tech effect on future of HR. The strategic and consistent use of workforce data analytics to predict and improve a company’s performance has exploded over the last several years, with additional momentum expected in 2019. While most HR professionals rely on metrics for basic recruiting and turnover rates, more in-depth analytics and trend spotting has become the norm.

Once trends are identified in, for example, turnover rates, an HR professional should have the tools to dive into the data and analyze root causes, such as the need for manager training, review of compensation strategies or a change in the company’s culture. Using predictive analytics in the HR space is helping companies make better informed, dynamic and wiser decisions based on historical data, as well as placing HR on the level of other data-driven company departments, such as finance and marketing.

The collection of this enormous amount of data also poses challenges and potential risks to companies, including negative perceptions among employees about how their data is being used, employee privacy laws and potential security breaches. Strong and comprehensive security policies, protocols and controls are necessary to ensure employers are keeping their employees’ data safe. In 2019, a steady flow of communications to employees regarding advanced security and usage policies is key to prevent data misuse or misunderstanding regarding how information is collected and used.

Artificial intelligence also will continue to be a significant focus driving improvement in the HR arena. Determining which data to collect, analyze and protect will provide opportunities for AI to assume a larger role in HR. Also, in some large organizations, AI already is being used for more than just automating repetitive HR tasks, such as onboarding new employees. The future of AI for most companies will include creating more personalized employee experiences as well as supporting critical decisions. From analyzing performance data to eliminating biases when screening candidates, AI will continue to be a pivotal HR tool.

Strategies for successful recruitment. Running an effective talent pipeline should be the objective of all hiring endeavors. Pipelining is consistently gaining traction as a recruitment tool for new employees. The concept employs marketing concepts to ensure that companies have a diverse group of strong recruits waiting to be hired. Pipelining reduces time to hire and leads to better quality candidates.

Health, wellness and adequate employee training. Another area of importance is multi-faceted wellness programs, which focus on an employee’s total well-being, from nutrition to financial wellness. These programs often include a comprehensive employee assistance program, training and activities during worktime. The training can focus on anything from physical health to development of employees’ knowledge base and technology-focused education. A greater emphasis also is being placed on workplace communication coaching, such as collaboration and negotiation, which are critical to success in the workplace.

Continued training and heightened prevention of sexual harassment and discrimination will be another trend this year. Organizations big and small must ensure that compliant policies are in place and employees are trained on the policies. Several states including California, New York, Connecticut and Maine already mandate that private employers must provide harassment training to workers, and the number of states requiring this training is expected to increase in the coming years.

SOURCE: Seltzer, M. (29 January 2019) "Top 4 HR trends to watch this year" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/top-4-hr-trends-to-watch-this-year?feed=00000152-a2fb-d118-ab57-b3ff6e310000


How to Speak to Your Employees About Their Intimidating Benefits.

Employers spend thousands annually to secure and offer benefits to their employees. However, a small amount of time and money are devoted to ensuring employees understand and appreciate their benefits. Properly communicating – what you say, how you say it and to whom you say it to – can make a tremendous difference in how employees think, feel and react to their benefits, employer and fellow co-workers. In this installment of CenterStage, Jamie Charlton, founding partner and CEO of Saxon Financial Services, discusses the importance of offering sound education of benefits to employees, as well as how to effectively communicate their benefits in a clear, concise manner.

Through 18 years in the financial services field, Jamie has instilled a focus on stressing to employers the importance of communicating and educating employees on all that is available currently and what may change with each upcoming plan year. Jamie believes a focus on premiums leads to “next level benefits”, an offering Saxon delivers.

The Need for Benefits Communication

Clearly communicating benefits is an increasing issue due to the complex dynamics of benefits plans. Previously, benefits decisions have been made primarily by employers. As a result, employees have not become educated consumers about their benefits or on how to implement them. This absence of engagement, as Jamie notes, causes employees to enroll in benefits that don’t fit their needs, pay too much for their coverage and not discover the full advantage of their offerings.

Good communication is important and should cover all matters regarding plan offerings to employees and their dependents alike. The goal of a proper benefits plan, Jamie states, is to be enjoyable, comprehendible, and easily accessible. However, there currently exists an infliction point in employee benefits, and the entire process is changing.

This change is a factor of two main topics: (1) the continuing rise in medical costs and health insurance premiums and (2) a truly multigenerational workforce within the workplace. So how does an employer communicate their benefits to their employees?

Employers seeking to spread the word about their benefits offerings are continuing to seek out the expertise and experience found through Saxon. Understanding there is no one-size-fits-all method for every employer, Saxon delivers tools through tested methods to get your message across to employees. We explore your company’s offerings and assist you in crafting the perfect method to communicate and educate your employees on their existing plan offerings. Jamie gives the example of wellness programs and how to broadcast these offerings. Utilizing channels in which employees are bound to check – computers and smartphones – Saxon places the knowledge of how to display these offerings through informational web pages or email blasts.

Proper Benefits Education Begins with Saxon

While the methods above serve as channels for reaching employees, nothing compares to a direct, in-house explanation of your benefits to ensure your message is addressed and comprehended. Unique to Saxon is what Jamie notes as the “secret sauce” of Saxon’s employer and employee empowerment – the annual open enrollment meeting, which consists of nothing more than a step-by-step walk through of your entire health plan. This annual ‘seminar’ within your office closely examines the “nuts and bolts” of your plan to ensure everything is in-tact, working and done so with comprehension across the entirety of the organization.

Saxon understands the complexity of the modern healthcare scene and therefore is driven to provide the most comprehensive breakdown of your plan. Have more than one? No problem – We can compose a side-by-side analysis of your plans to show not only employers but employees where the strongest assets lie. Additionally, we stress the importance of shopping around at renewal time to make sure you get the best you can for your money. Jamie explained the goal of the meeting, as well as Saxon’s continued service year-round, is to “empower employees to have a choice.”

Empowerment from Saxon comes in many different forms. Just one of these many ways discovered through Saxon’s annual meeting is placing the power of online benefits administration at the fingertips of employees. Traditionally, when an employee needed to update their plan (i.e. having a new baby in the middle of a plan year), they were entitled to visiting their employer’s office and updating their plan by filling out a form. Risks associated with this older process included the “potential loss of documentation and therefore an inaccurate reading of an employee’s coverage needs”, said Jamie. The online method saves time, stress and paper.

How Can Saxon Help?

At Saxon, we want to invest in you. We begin by engaging experts that truly listen, building successful strategies that stay focused on your vision and goals. We strive to not be a name you turn to for assistance but a knowledgeable face always at your service. Saxon exists to care, cultivate and empower through relationships, expertise and exceptional standards of service. From finding a doctor, solving a complicated claim or partnering with an insurance agency to help protect your company’s sensitive medical data to ensure you are HIPAA compliant – with us; it’s personal.

To begin the conversation with Jamie on how to better communicate with your employees, contact him at (513) 573-0129.


Why employers should take offboarding more seriously

According to Glassdoor, 79 percent of job seekers use employer review sites during their job search. These sites provide a public stage for employees to rate and review their employers. Continue reading to learn more.


When it comes to layoffs in today’s online world, companies must focus on providing the best experience possible for departing employees, not only because it’s the right way to treat these individuals, but also because it can have a direct effect on the company’s public reputation.

Websites like Glassdoor, Fairy God Boss and Indeed provide a public stage for employees to rate and review their current and former employers. A whopping 79% of job seekers use sites like these during their job search, according to a recent Glassdoor study. Reviews can come in the form of happy employees who cheerlead and promote their employer, as well as disgruntled employees who take the opportunity to air out their employer’s dirty laundry.

In an economy with nearly full employment, where disgruntled employees can and do turn to public online review sites where prospective employees are sure to visit before an interview, organizations cannot afford to take their separation and off-boarding processes lightly.

Reviews by exiting employees have the potential to be very damaging to an employer’s reputation and deter prospective employees from even applying for potential jobs. This kind of transparency also offers a lot of benefit to job seekers; prospective employees can get a better idea of what it would be like to work for a particular company and have greater ability to select a company whose culture and values match their own. In fact, Glassdoor’s study found that 69% of job seekers would not take a job with a company that has a bad reputation – even if unemployed.

One theme that repeatedly appears in negative reviews centers around the topic of layoffs, including write-ups of various HR blunders made throughout the process, inadequate communication, and a lack of empathy and respect toward the departing employees.

While much consideration is given to the onboarding and retention phases of the relationship between employee and employer, the separation phase is often given far less attention. Whether due to a layoff, reduction in force, performance termination, or some other event, managing employee separations can be challenging and can easily turn for the worse, leaving the employee with a negative perception of the company – and an axe to grind on social media.

To address the organizational need for reputation management during a reorganization, many companies work with a third-party specialist to guide them through the necessary steps to maintain employee good-will and satisfaction. A consultative partner can offer added benefit by bringing a fresh perspective and specialized experience to a delicate situation.

For companies committed to attracting new talent, maintaining a strong online reputation should be a priority. Whether you choose to work with a partner-firm or not, ensuring that offboarding is carefully planned and managed will help your organization be more prepared and better equipped to manage a layoff action skillfully, in a way that leaves people feeling heard, cared for and appreciated.

SOURCE: Mellis, L. (21 January 2019) "Why employers should take offboarding more seriously" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/why-employers-should-take-offboarding-more-seriously?feed=00000152-a2fb-d118-ab57-b3ff6e310000