4 perks to make your employees' lives easier and less stressful

Recruit top talent with ease and confidence when considering these tips on attractive, creative and innovative employment perks.


A 2016 survey from Glassdoor found that 57 percent of people looking for jobs said benefits and perks are among their top considerations when weighing offers. So how can a company stack the deck in its favor when recruiting top talent? Although some companies limit their benefits packages to traditional offerings such as health insurance, 401Ks and paid time off, a today’s forward-thinking employers know they need to find more creative ways to offer benefits that make a genuine difference in employees’ day-to-day work and personal lives.

As competition for employees intensifies, the race to improve employer-based services is likely to result in better options for employees. Unconventional benefits options come in many shapes and forms, but they share one thing in common: the goal of saving time for employees, reducing their stress, and ultimately improving their health and satisfaction at work.

All other things being equal, companies that offer innovative perks that speak to the well-being of their employees are more likely to attract and retain the top talent in their field. Here are a few such perks to consider.

Expectant-parent counseling

You’ve thrown the baby shower, cut the cake, helped carry staff gifts to the car—and you’ve explained the company’s parental leave policy in detail. As you wave Julie from accounting off with best wishes, you’re confident she’ll come back to her desk in a few months’ time.

But the truth is that 43 percent of women who have babies leave the workforce permanently within a matter of months. Many say it’s because they don’t have adequate support at home to enable them to resume their careers. That is why companies like Reddit and Slack use a service called Lucy that provides expectant employees help before, during, and after parental leave, including 24/7 messaging and one-on-one sessions that can be done in the home or online.

As Reddit VP of People Katelin Holloway put it, “It’s not enough to simply offer parental leave; every child and family is different and has independent needs.” By helping expectant parents find resources that meet their specific needs, you’re making an investment in your workforce that pays enormous dividends in retention, productivity, and morale.

Caregiving support

A Gallup survey revealed more than 1 in 6 full-time or part-time American workers has difficulty balancing caring for elderly parents with their work commitments. This results in decreased productivity and frequent leaves of absence. Companies can help their employees cope and stay engaged with their work by providing concierge services that offer amenities such as taking elderly parents to doctor’s appointments and eldercare coaching when choosing between assisted living options.

To help reduce stress (and retain highly specialized employees), take a cue from companies like Microsoft and Facebook, which provide caregiver paid-leave programs to help employees care for ailing family members or sick relatives.

Dry cleaning at work

Sometimes it’s the little things that save time during the workday that can push the needle in your favor as a potential employer. It may sound trivial, but company-provided dry cleaning is a perk that’s proving to be a big draw in workplaces from Wall Street to Silicon Valley. Service providers pick up employees’ laundry or dry cleaning items from work and return them to a designated employer closet in their office building—one less errand, and no more lost tickets. “People have lives to live, so I try to make it easy for them to deal with any of those personal errands that could take up time for them,” said Experian CEO Craig Boundy, speaking about his company’s employee benefits programs in an interview with the The Orange County Register.

Car maintenance and service

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household owns 1.9 vehicles and spends around 1.5 percent of its annual income on auto maintenance and repairs. Cars are a significant investment for most of us, so the more you can help potential employees save time and money on maintaining their vehicles, the more tempting you’ll become as an employer. Growing numbers of innovative companies provide car repair services to help employees save money, find the best quality mechanics, and reduce stress associated with the entire process.

Some firms also offer on-site car wash services, giving employees peace of mind and a positive outlook as they drive home after work. Several big Silicon Valley corporations —including eBay, SanDisk, Cisco, and Oracle—use BoosterFuels to fill employees’ gas tanks while they’re at work. It saves employees time and protects them from potential accidents or robberies at gas stations.

SOURCE:
Weiss Y (31 May 2018) "4 perks to make your employees' lives easier and less stressful" Web Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://www.benefitspro.com/2018/05/11/4-perks-to-make-your-employees-lives-easier-and-le/


The Most Desirable Employee Benefits

When it comes to hiring new employees, benefits can make or break the process. Hire with confidence when considering these tips on attractive and affordable employment perks.


In today’s hiring market, a generous benefits package is essential for attracting and retaining top talent. According to Glassdoor’s 2015 Employment Confidence Survey, about 60% of people report that benefits and perks are a major factor in considering whether to accept a job offer. The survey also found that 80% of employees would choose additional benefits over a pay raise.

Google is famous for its over-the-top perks, which include lunches made by a professional chef, biweekly chair massages, yoga classes, and haircuts. Twitter employees enjoy three catered meals per day, on-site acupuncture, and improv classes. SAS has a college scholarship program for the children of employees. And plenty of smaller companies have received attention for their unusual benefits, such as vacation expense reimbursement and free books.

But what should a business do if it can’t afford Google-sized benefits? You don’t need to break the bank to offer attractive extras. A new survey conducted by my team at Fractl found that, after health insurance, employees place the highest value on benefits that are relatively low-cost to employers, such as flexible hours, more paid vacation time, and work-from-home options. Furthermore, we found that certain benefits can win over some job seekers faced with higher-paying offers that come with fewer additional advantages.

As part of our study, we gave 2,000 U.S. workers, ranging in age from 18 to 81, a list of 17 benefits and asked them how heavily they would weigh the options when deciding between a high-paying job and a lower-paying job with more perks.

Better health, dental, and vision insurance topped the list, with 88% of respondents saying that they would give this benefit “some consideration” (34%) or “heavy consideration” (54%) when choosing a job. Health insurance is the most expensive benefit to provide, with an average cost of $6,435 per employee for individual coverage, or $18,142 for family coverage.

The next most-valued benefits were ones that offer flexibility and improve work-life balance. A majority of respondents reported that flexible hours, more vacation time, more work-from-home options, and unlimited vacation time could help give a lower-paying job an edge over a high-paying job with fewer benefits. Furthermore, flexibility and work-life balance are of utmost importance to a large segment of the workforce: parents. They value flexible hours and work-life balance above salary and health insurance in a potential job, according to a recent survey by FlexJobs.

Eighty-eight percent of respondents said they’d give some or heavy consideration to a job offering flexible hours, while 80% would give consideration to a job that lets them work from home. Both flexible hours and work-from-home arrangements are affordable perks for companies that want to offer appealing benefits but can’t afford an expensive benefits package. Both of these benefits typically cost the employer nothing — and often save money by lowering overhead costs.

More vacation time was an appealing perk for 80% of respondents. Paid vacation time is a complicated expense, since it’s not simply the cost of an employee’s salary for the days they are out; liability also plays into the cost. American workers are notoriously bad at using up their vacation time. Every year Americans leave $224 billion dollars in unused vacation time on the table, which creates a huge liability for employers because they often have to pay out this unused vacation time when employees leave the company. Offering an unlimited time-off policy can be a win-win for employer and employee. (Over two-thirds of our respondents said they would consider a lower-paying job with unlimited vacation.) For example, HR consulting firm Mammoth considers its unlimited time-off policy a successnot just for what it does but also for the message it sends about company culture: Employees are treated as individuals who can be trusted to responsibly manage their workload regardless of how many days they take off.

Switching to an unlimited time-off policy can solve the liability issue; wiping away the average vacation liability saves companies $1,898 per employee, according to research from Project: Time Off. And with only 1%–2% of companies currently using an unlimited time-off policy, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), it’s clearly a benefit that can make companies more attractive.

Contrary to what employers might expect, unlimited time off doesn’t necessarily equal less productive employees and more time out of the office. A survey from The Creative Group found that only 9% of executives think productivity would decrease significantly if employees used more vacation time. In some cases, under an unlimited time-off policy, employees take the same amount of vacation time. We adopted an unlimited time-off policy at Fractl about a year ago and haven’t seen a negative impact on productivity. Our director of operations, Ryan McGonagill, says there hasn’t been a large spike in the amount of time employees spend out of the office, but the quality of work continues to improve.

Student loan and tuition assistance also ranked highly on the list of coveted benefits, with just under half of respondents reporting that these bonuses could nudge them toward a lower-paying job. A benefits survey from SHRM found that only 3% of companiescurrently offer student loan assistance, and 52% of companies provide graduate educational assistance. Although education assistance sounds costly, companies can take advantage of a tax break; employers can provide up to $5,250 per employee per year for tuition tax free.

Job benefits that don’t directly impact an individual’s lifestyle and finances were the least coveted by survey respondents, such as in-office freebies like food and coffee. Company-sponsored gatherings like team-bonding activities and retreats were low on the list as well. This isn’t to say these benefits aren’t valued by employees, but rather that these perks probably aren’t important enough on their own to convince a job candidate to choose a company.

We noticed gender differences regarding certain benefits. Most notable, women were more likely to prefer family benefits like paid parental leave and free day care services. Parental leave is of high value to female employees: 25% of women said they’d give parental leave heavy consideration when choosing a job (only 14% of men said the same). Men were more likely than women to value team-bonding events, retreats, and free food. Both genders value fitness-related perks, albeit different types. Women are more likely to prefer free fitness and yoga classes, while men are more likely to prefer an on-site gym and free gym memberships.

Our survey findings suggest that providing the right mix of benefits that are both inexpensive and highly sought after among job seekers can give a competitive edge to businesses that can’t afford high salaries and pricier job perks.

SOURCE:
Jones K (30 May 2018). [Web Blog Post]. Retrieved from address https://hbr.org/2017/02/the-most-desirable-employee-benefits


The Business Case for Providing Health Insurance to Low-Income Employees

Low income employees without health insurance could be detrimental for a business. This study explains why providing health insurance for low income employees is crucial for successful performance in the workplace.


After the failed negotiations over the repeal of Obamacare earlier in March, the Trump administration appears to be on the brink of proposing a new health care bill. While the details are still sketchy, it seems likely that the new bill will leave many lower-income Americans without access to health insurance.

I believe there is a case to be made that, should this take effect, the private sector has a strong incentive to step in. The provision of health insurance by organizations is a sensible business decision—especially for low-income individuals. In fact, a number of studies—including one that I co-authored—highlight that health insurance coverage can be beneficial to the bottom line of businesses, and should be endorsed by managers as good corporate strategy if they seek to increase their productivity.

Health insurance for low-income employees is good business for at least three reasons: it is linked with reduced levels of stress, more long-term decision-making, and increased cognitive ability, as well as (perhaps somewhat obviously) increased physical health — all of which are crucial components of higher organizational performance.

Health Insurance Can Reduce Stress

Among other positive outcomes, health insurance significantly decreases the level of stress employees experience, as a study described in a recent working paper shows. Johannes Haushofer of Princeton University and several colleagues worked with an organization in Nairobi, Kenya — the metalworkers of the Kamukunji Jua Kali Association (JKA) — and randomly allocated some employees to receive health insurance free of cost for one year. In other words, the researchers sponsored a health care plan for a proportion of JKAs’ employees, whereas others continued working for JKA as usual.

In addition to collecting data through surveys — for example on the employees’ self-reported health and well-being, and their household characteristics — the researchers did something rather unusual: they collected saliva samples from all respondents, which were later tested for the stress hormone cortisol. These measurements occurred at two time points, at the start of the study and at the end.

The researcher’s results were striking. Not only did employees who received free health insurance report feeling less stressed, but this decline correlated with a reduction in the cortisol measured in the saliva sample. The decrease in cortisol was comparable to roughly 60% of the difference between people who are depressed, and people who are not.

This is important for organizations because employees who experience higher levels of stress are more prone to burning out, and less likely to attain high levels of performance. Stressed employees hurt the bottom-line — and interventions that reduce stress benefit it.

Health Insurance Can Lead to More Long-Term Decision-Making

But health insurance can do more, too. A paper I co-authored with Elke Weber of Princeton University and Jaideep Prabhu of Cambridge University that was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesfocuses on one reason why low-income individuals have difficulties escaping their destitute situation. As research has found, we show that poor people are more likely to make decisions that favor the short term, even when these decisions involve smaller payoffs than larger payouts they might receive in the future.

In our study, we find that this is partially the case because low-income individuals experience more pressing financial needs than their richer counterparts. Because they are so pre-occupied with making ends meet, they are unable to even consider a possible larger payout in the future. This way, they remain captured in what Johannes Haushofer and Ernst Fehr of the University of Zurich so aptly call the “vicious cycle of poverty.”

However, we also find that interventions that serve to reduce levels of financial need that low-income individuals experience can make them more likely to make more long-term-oriented decisions. One such intervention may be the provision of health insurance. With a safety net they can draw on when health problems arise, poor people may be less likely to experience their financial needs as pressing — and as a result, make more long-term-oriented decisions.

This can lead to significant improvements for organizations as well. Companies require their employees to make many long-term decisions. In many cases, a more long-term orientation is necessary for companies to thrive.

Not Having Health Insurance Can Hinder Cognitive Ability

Finally, health insurance can give low-income individuals peace of mind. A seminal study led by Anandi Mani of the University of Warwick investigated the cognitive consequences of poverty. The researchers found — in concordance with an increasing body of evidence — that lack of money saps people’s attention. While they did not specifically study health insurance, it is easy to extrapolate their research to this question. Given that everyone’s attention is limited, the more people’s concerns weigh on their mind, the less attention they can pay to any one concern.

To illustrate this finding, imagine a case where a low-income employee uses her car to come to work every day. She lives paycheck to paycheck and depends on her steady stream of income. Every day, even when she isn’t driving, she worries about what she would do if her car broke down. Such thoughts circle in her mind incessantly — they are always there, no matter what else she tries to focus her attention on.

Obviously, such worrying thoughts have detrimental consequences for her performance. Constant ruminations make it more difficult to focus on tasks that matter in the moment. Now replace the car in the above scenario with her health; let’s assume she has a chronic condition that requires medical attention when it breaks out. This is not an uncommon case: over 34% of employees have chronic medical conditions, which are even more widespread amongst low-income individuals.

Although many of these physical ailments cannot be cured, their accompanying cognitive detriments can be. Thoughts such as, “How will I pay for the doctor? How can I afford my medication?” could be eradicated with the provision of health insurance. This is especially important for low-income individuals who are more likely to have such worries. And with an increased ability to focus on their work, employees are also more likely to be productive members of the organization. 

It is unclear what will happen in Washington D.C. in the next few months. Will Obamacare be repealed? Will millions of low-income individuals lose their health insurance? In the absence of a resolution, managers may have to step up. There is a business case to be made for providing employees with health insurance, which may make them less stressed, improve their long-term decisions, and lead to increased attention on the task at hand — and the case is especially strong for low-income employees.

SOURCE:

Jachimowicz J (29 May 2018). [Web Blog Post]. Retrieved from address https://hbr.org/2017/04/the-business-case-for-providing-health-insurance-to-low-income-employees


Boring Little Miracles

From SHRM, this article goes into the importance of "boring little miracles" in the workplace


The success of an organization is often borne on the backs of people performing boring little miracles.

Boring little miracles don’t make headlines. They, perhaps purposely so, fly under the radar, disguised as everyday tasks performed under pressure or work that doesn’t feel like much to the person performing it. People performing boring little miracles get the job done and then pack up and go home like it was no big deal.

But it IS a big deal.

Boring little miracles add up over time. They are the compounding interest of organizational productivity, and they are performed by people who invest early and often. These miracles sneak up on you and can quickly become the expectation rather than the exception.

Boring little miracles are still miracles.

They aren’t jobs or tasks that are easy, they just appear that way because of the person doing the work. Highly experienced and highly trained professionals doing what they do don’t have to sweat the work that other people dread. They just do it.

“Hey, she’s always been good at this stuff”," or “Well, he’s the only one who knows how to do it,” you might hear around the office. But you shouldn’t take it for granted.

Recognize and reward the behavior you want to see more of. Make space for the work that grabs headlines AND the work that doesn’t in your rewards and recognition structure. Pay special attention to the people who prefer to stay out of the spotlight; honor their work and contributions because it is important, not necessarily because it grabs attention.

Make recognition for this work specific. Make it count.

Do it well enough, and your team and organization might just become a boring little miracle itself.

Read the article.

Source:
Escobar C. (26 February 2018). "Boring Little Miracles" [Web Blog Post]. Retrieved from address https://blog.shrm.org/blog/boring-little-miracles


hand in the sun

10 surprisingly great places to retire in the U.S.

At Saxon, we care about retirement and offering you the best plans. In this article, we take a look at Forbes's list of the top 10 places to retire. Do any of these places sound peaceful to you?


Probably the biggest retirement decision you’ll face (after: Can I ever?) is: Where should I retire? To help, U.S. News has just come out with its first Best Places to Retire in the United States ranking of the 100 largest metropolitan areas. Some of its Top 10 spots will surely surprise you and you may also wonder why certain parts of the country failed to make the cut.

Credit: Shutterstock

“This is a much more comprehensive analysis than we’ve done in the past,” said Emily Brandon, U.S. News senior editor for retirement. “Before, we’ve done themed lists like 10 Places to Retire on Social Security Alone and 10 Retirement Spots With Year-Round Nice Weather.”

How U.S. News Ranked the Best Places to Retire

This time, U.S. News first asked people 45 and older to indicate the “attributes of a retirement destination that are most important to them” and collected responses from 841 of them. “What people told us was most important to them in a place to retire was 'being affordable' but also, they wanted to feel happy there,” said Brandon.

Based on the survey responses, the researchers then assigned weightings in indices of six broad categories — happiness living in particular metro areas; housing affordability for homeowners and renters; health care quality, based on the U.S. News Best Hospitals rankings; retiree taxes (sales and income); the strength of local job markets and what U.S. News calls “Desirability,” which means how strongly Americans said they’re interested in living in a given metro area. After all that number crunching, a Best Places ranking emerged.

The Top 10

The Top 10 best places to retire in America, according to U.S. News:

  1. Sarasota, Fla.
  2. Lancaster, Pa.
  3. San Antonio, Texas
  4. Grand Rapids, Mich.
  5. El Paso, Texas
  6. McAllen, Texas
  7. Daytona Beach, Fla.
  8. Pittsburgh, Pa.
  9. Austin, Texas
  10. Washington, D.C.

“Most of the places scored well on some measures, but not on others,” said Brandon.

That’s a fact. Sarasota had high scores for Happiness, Desirability and Retiree Taxes and decent ones in the other categories. McAllen didn’t fare well in the Job Market category and Washington, D.C. got a low ranking for Housing Affordability. El Paso and Grand Rapids were weak in the Desirability category.

Why Places Scored Well and Didn't

The reason four Texas metro areas made it into the Top 10? “Affordable housing, low taxes and above-average levels of happiness,” said Brandon.

The three winners in the Middle Atlantic states (Lancaster, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.) had high rankings because of happy residents and access to high quality health care, Brandon noted.

You may have noticed that the Top 10 largely consists of small- and mid-size cities and no California or New York City-area metros. “I think a lot of that has to do with housing prices,” said Brandon. “Almost no California places scored high in the list largely because housing prices are out of reach for many people with low- or even mid-range incomes.” California home prices are 150% above the U..S. average, overall. The highest-ranked California metro area in the U.S. News list is San Diego, which came in at No. 21.

What About the Weather?

Somewhat strangely, the U.S. News ranking didn’t factor in weather at all.

“We had some discussion about whether to include weather,” said Brandon. “It’s tricky because not everyone has the same preferences when it comes to weather. Some people want four seasons. Some find snowy winters terrible.” The upshot: the rankers left out this variable.

How the U.S. News List Compares With Other Rankings

The U.S. News list is markedly different from other recent Best Places to Retire rankings from Forbes and WalletHub.

The 25 places Forbes chose, after looking at 550 communities, were in big and small cities and skewed toward warm and moderate climates; its top places included Clemson, S.C., Port Charlotte, Fla. and Green Valley, Ariz. None of its 25 were in the U.S. News Top 10.

WalletHub looked at the retiree-friendliness of the 150 largest U.S. cities across 40 metrics and its top picks were mostly large ones. Three cities in Florida topped the list: Orlando, Tampa and Miami. Austin was the only one in both WalletHub’s Top 10 and U.S. News’.

What the Rankings Can't Rank

You won’t want to move to any place in retirement just because it’s on a Best Places list, of course. And no ranking can account for a key retirement location criteria for many people: proximity to family members.

Still, Best Places to Retire rankings can be a useful part of your research as long as you closely read their methodology, so you understand what the raters were rating.

“These types of surveys can be a great starting point in deciding where to retire,” said Brandon. “It all comes down to your personal preferences. Your criteria for what makes a best place to retire may be different than for others.”

 

You can read the original article here.

Source:

Eisenberg R. (2 October 2017). "U.S. News Offers A New Take On The Best Places In The U.S. To Retire" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2017/10/02/u-s-news-offers-a-new-take-on-the-best-places-in-the-u-s-to-retire/#4d26f87c60ec

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Owning Engagement in Your Workplace

Looking for ways to help increase your employee engagement at work? Take a look at this great article from Society of Human Resources (SHRM) for so great tips to boost employee engagement by Trish McFarlane

We’re going on well over fifteen years of thinking about employee engagement in organizations.  And after years of surveying employees and rolling organizational results into a macro look at our country, the results today have not changed much from when we first started the analysis.  What we know is companies that lose disengaged employees often see the negative impact of having lower profitability and higher recruiting expenses.
From a company perspective, there are always things that can be done to reach out to employees and make them feel valued.  What has changed in the last fifteen years is using technology to bolster engagement by creating solutions to aid in stronger organizational connections.  These can include solutions to:
Encourage mentor relationships- Employees who feel mentored know that someone in the organization cares about their development and career path.  This mentor relationship also creates an outlet for continuous communication, and feedback, so that the employee has a strong connection point.
Communicate more, not less- Being transparent, even in economic downturns, builds trust with employees.  They will be more likely to hang in there for the long run.  Additionally, letting an employee know how valuable they are to the company is key.
Allow and encourage some fun in the work day- Fun at work = employees who don’t dread being there.  You don’t have to be playing ping pong or foosball all day at work, but definitely encourage a culture of being able to step away from the desk to chat and congregate.  It also means providing technology to make collaboration and sharing easier.  And beyond the technology, having senior leaders who will use and champion the technology so that employees feel compelled to use it too.
But it’s not just about the company driving employee engagement.  In many organizations, employee engagement is looked at as the relationship between the employee and the company.  In actuality, it goes far beyond this and is the relationships that an individual employee builds with colleagues and clients that truly indicate how likely the employee is to stay with the organization.  Engagement is also a set of behaviors an employee must embrace in order to make the connections that will be lasting.  So, what can you do as an employee to build that relationship?
Ways to foster your own engagement
  • Volunteer to do more
  • Be more active (in the group, the topic, etc.)
  • Look for ways to improve, then implement them
  • Take ownership for what goes well and where you need to improve
  • Get “fired up” and use your passion
  • Be loyal
  • Build trusting relationships

The take away for me is it’s about focusing on the relationship, not the individual inputs and levers.

What do you think?  What would you add to the list?

See the original article Here.

Source:

McFarlane T. (Date). Owning engagement in your workplace [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://blog.shrm.org/blog/owning-engagement-in-your-workplace


The Evolving HR Leader

Article from the Society For Human Resource Management (SHRM), by Steve Watson

Leadership dynamics in Corporate America are undergoing major changes, and if todays’ leaders want to impact organizations tomorrow, they must adapt strategies, recognize and accept change, and boldly move forward with a new leadership style.

Among the forces influencing leadership changes:

Technology. We already know that technology has revolutionized work and enabled new ways of doing things. It has given rise to widespread global connectivity, provided instant access to data and information, from anywhere, anytime, and has led to the creation of collaboration tools, giving new competitors lower barriers to enter the competitive marketplace.

Organizational design. Mid-management layers have been eliminated so top management today is closer to individual contributors. Leaders must evolve with four different generations in the workforce with real diversity, multiple and different motivations, and mixed demographics. This brings challenges in attracting, developing, and retaining talent.

Further, some leadership practices have become, or on their way to becoming, obsolete, including:

  • Top down management
  • Doing it my way or the company way; being directive and controlling
  • Rigid management/micromanaging
  • Decisions made only at the top
  • Defined work with individual work units
  • More time in the office and in inner circles
  • Expected loyalty
  • Annual performance reviews and raises

A little over a decade ago, we didn’t have smartphones, Facebook, Chatter, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and other social media that have significantly altered the way people connect, communicate, and build relationships.

Leadership today must change and evolve with the times, and this means being able to relate to younger generations. Millennials, with numbers at around 86 million, now represent the largest generation in the workforce. Consider the following vis-à-vis Millennials and employers:

1. They are far less loyal to an employer than generations before them have been. No psychological contract exists between them and their employer. They have a different way of viewing work, and it includes incorporate other activities into their time (travel, leisure time, and community service, for example) that might have otherwise been reserved for “usual” work hours.

2. They are team- and group-oriented. Their work style is collaborative.

3. They want to hear from senior management via feedback, open communication, and recognition.

4. They want even more flexible hours and greater work–life balance.

5. They are creative and inquisitive. Knowing “why” is important to this generation. They are unafraid to challenge ideas, methods, processes, and the status quo.

6. They want to improve and grow professionally through training and mentoring.

7. They are service-oriented, care about the environment, and rely heavily on social media.

8. They want to make a difference in the world.

At the core of all of these changes is technology. It allows people to work remotely, collect information immediately, collaborate effectively, and gain access to global markets and information. Employees also can seek out new job functions, making talent retention more challenging today than ever before. So a workforce with technology at their fingertips presents daunting challenges for today’s leaders. In this world, it’s change or die.

Successful evolved leaders constantly adapt to the changing times. They tend to:

  • Be strategic thinkers
  • Lead by example and build relationships
  • Communicate the mission, vision, and goals clearly
  • Build high-performing teams
  • Serve as a coach and mentor
  • Be servant leaders
  • Look for ways to knock down barriers
  • Set ego aside
  • Be collaborative
  • Listen with empathy
  • Get input from diverse views, gain consensus, and get alignment
  • Embrace diversity
  • Be flexible and agile (and can deal with ambiguity)
  • Have exceptional communication skills
  • Be accepting of failure (and uses it as an opportunity to learn)
  • Move the needle, drives results, and gets things done
  • Exhibit resilience

Evolved leaders are front-and-center and welcome scrutiny from both employees and the public. They understand the need to leverage technological tools and harness cross-generational work styles, and they are astutely aware of the importance and influence of social networks.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Watson, S. (2016 November 14 ). The evolving hr leader [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://blog.shrm.org/blog/the-evolving-hr-leader


Is your culture keeping up with your growth?

Found a great read on the shift in culture within organizations by Ranjit Jose.

Original Post from SHRM.org on July 5, 2016

The other day, I grabbed coffee and caught up with a friend who is Founder & CEO of a fast growing startup here in San Francisco. The last time we had spoken, his company had around twenty employees. But over the last year, they have been growing at a torrid pace and are now at more than a hundred employees. While this has been an amazing ride for him, the growth has come with its own special brand of challenges. And according to him, the top one has been the question of how to maintain the great culture they have built through the tough first few years of the company.

His story reflects one of the key challenges most growing companies face: ensuring that the original corporate culture develops at the same speed as the business. Corporate culture is defined as “the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company's employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions.” A corporation’s ideologies and actions are not explicit but rather become clear over time.

At young companies like my friend’s, the founders and early employees are the ones that create the culture and company values. As long as the company is small, it is very easy to ensure that the culture is well sustained. However, as soon as the company starts expanding, and as new employees start filling the ranks, most businesses witness a dissipation of the workplace methods and beliefs previously practiced if the culture is not intentionally managed.

Here are a few chief signs that your flourishing company’s culture is in danger.

Lack of openness

As a company expands, it becomes challenging for the employers to keep in continuous and thorough contact with their employees. It is far easier to get feedback from a small team; when newer employees expand these original teams, the culture of open communication and direct feedback begins to dissolve.

This is often in part due to the previous workers’ unfamiliarity with the newly hired staff. Dr. Keith Denton, from Missouri State University, explains that when this lack of confidence exists, employees “are more likely to be evasive, competitive, devious, defensive or uncertain in their actions with one another."

With the absence of openness between team members, the initial trust that is developed at the foundation of a startup slowly dissipates. Make sure that you have mechanisms and tools in place to ensure that a thriving open environment is maintained.

Isolated Employees

Your employees should all be working together for the common goals of the company. Employees can reach common goals through department collaboration, regular team and general discussions, socializing, and consistent motivation.

When a company expands, contact between employees from different departments start becoming less frequent, and workers may feel as though their opinions and feedback are not heard. The Catalyst Research Center for Advancing Leader Effectiveness surveyed 1,500 people from six different countries and discovered that workers feel important when they “ feel that they both belong…[and] are unique.” Understandably, when the number of workers grows, employees may witness a decrease in attention and feel as though their opinions are drowned in the monotone of their many colleagues.

When this happens, they do not feel like a valued team member and may begin to isolate themselves to just get their job done. To prevent this, ensure that you have structures in place to encourage and promote interaction between employees across departments and seniority levels.

Cliques

Another sign that your corporation’s culture is not growing at the same speed as your workforce is the formation of cliques. Cliques form when employers are not in touch with all employees; workers with similar beliefs and behaviors begin to group together instead of maintaining the corporation's previously overarching culture.

David Parnell, for instance, a communication coach, legal recruiter, and author of In-House explains that forming groups is innately human: “minimal group paradigm studies have shown us to form groups within minutes in a novel situation, and if there are no salient reasons for doing so, groups will even form based on irrelevant criteria such as shirt colors.” To illustrate this, one CareerBuilder survey found that 43% of surveyed employees admitted to having a “work clique.”

More often than not, these subdivisions start with staff who have previously worked together. When the new staff enter the workplace, due to the differences in experience, familiarity, and opinions, the workforce divides further into varying groups, and a uniform employee culture begins to break down.

To ensure that the overall corporate culture is not compromised by the beliefs and actions of smaller groups, it is important that companies have methods of hearing from both experienced and newer employees so that a uniform intra-corporate culture is better circulated.

How to strengthen company culture alongside growth

A big part of safe-guarding your culture is ensuring your people are engaged across the whole organization. And in order to keep employees engaged, growing corporations must first strengthen their internal communications by giving their workforce a channel to consistently give their opinions and feedback. If employees know that their input is heard and respected by their company, they will invest more into the relationships with their co-workers. They will also feel heard and valued engendering a deeper connection with the organization, resulting in higher loyalty and retention.

Once you have opened up the ability to conveniently hear back from employees, it is important to track problems that arise, monitor engagement, and respond to any issues in a timely and strategic way. This will not only continuously improve your company, but show employees that their participation and feedback really matters, because it truly does!

All of this eventually serve to ensure that as you grow, your newer employees feel valued and as much a part of the team as the founding members. Recognizing any sense of disconnect with your people and acting to re-engage employees can ensure that, even as you grow, your culture grows with you.

Read the original article here: http://blog.shrm.org/blog/is-your-culture-keeping-up-with-your-growth

Source:

Jose, R (2016, July 5). Is your culture keeping up with your growth? [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://blog.shrm.org/blog/is-your-culture-keeping-up-with-your-growth


Bridging the Gap: What HR Managers Wish Their Front Line Mangers Knew About Effective Leadership

Original Post from SHRM.org

By: Paul Falcone

John is a successful manager, but he’s concerned about potential staff turnover in light of today’s hot job market. He’s wondering what he could do to proactively avoid employee resignations and is taking an objective, introspective look at his leadership style. So John reaches out to the vice president of human resources at his company for advice, and learns a lot more than he bargained for.

As John soon realizes, retention of key employees comes from both leadership offense and defense practices. More importantly, it stems from exercising leadership wisdom that allows team members to motivate themselves, find new and creative ways of solving problems and finding solutions, and, when necessary, removing roadblocks that may impede team growth. Minimizing the effects of unwanted turnover and building a team with solid tenure comes from each leader’s ability to foster motivation in teams and instill a strong sense of accountability. Therefore, as unnerving as it sounds, John realizes that he needs to reassess his own strengths and shortcomings in order to reinvent his relationship with his team.

Leadership Offense

Getting all your company’s managers on the same page in terms of motivation, employee satisfaction and engagement is no easy feat.

“But first get one thing straight:  Your job as a leader is not to motivate your employees; motivation is internal, and you can’t motivate them any more than they can motivate you,” said Jo-Anne Smith, outplacement executive, career coach and equity owner with Career Partners International in Southern California. “Your job as a successful leader, however, is to create an environment where your workers can motivate themselves.”

It may sound like a fine distinction, but it’s an important one. For example, try delegating what you enjoy most and are particularly good at as a means of professional development for the employee taking on the task (not of offloading work). Monitor what you’ve delegated by asking your employee how she’ll follow up with you and what the concrete and measurable outcomes will be throughout the delegation exercise. Then be sure to celebrate successes along the way.

Further, conduct “stay interviews” by asking your top performers what motivates them, what suggestions they have for improving the work flow and how you can help them prepare for their next career move.

“This is your chance to recognize and acknowledge their contributions, and employees will always feel engaged and excited when they’re making a positive difference at work while building their resumes,” Smith said. After all, top performers will always be resume builders, and learning is the glue that binds an individual to a company, despite offers from headhunters or competitor organizations. You’re always better off conducting proactive stay interviews rather than needing to make reactive counteroffers once a top performer has tendered notice.

While stay interviews are a smart longer-term strategy, you may have a turnover crisis that’s suddenly thrust upon you, and under certain circumstances, extending a counteroffer may make sense. Just make sure that if you’re going to make such an offer, you do it the right way.

According to Smith, “Counteroffers should always remain the exception, not the rule, because of their potential to backfire. After all, most employees [think], ’Why should it take my resigning to trigger a salary increase or promotion?’ ”

But if your strategy is to openly address what’s been plaguing the individual beyond money and identify ways where you can help the individual reconnect and regain a sense of value, the counteroffer may make sense.

Invite the individual to consider a counteroffer like this: “Even though I can’t promise anything at this point, I hope that you’ll allow us to explore some new avenues with you. If we can’t develop an overall career development strategy and growth trajectory that would motivate you to remain with us, then we’ll certainly support your transition to the new company. But we want to keep you, Sarah, and we appreciate your contributions every day. Would you be willing to engage in those kinds of discussions with us?”

Leadership Defense

One key reason for employee dissatisfaction that drives top performers to pursue greener pastures is a perception of unfairness or a leader’s inability to hold everyone accountable to the same performance standards.

John realizes he needs to develop some critical muscle around addressing subpar performance and certain poor behaviors that have calcified in his team over time. The wise vice president of HR counsels him, however, that suddenly addressing substandard performance and conduct issues can shock employees and potentially open up the organization and John personally to employment-related liability. Therefore, in a spirit of full transparency, John will announce to his team that he’s committed to reinventing himself as a leader in this critical area of accountability and setting high and consistent expectations for everyone.

Taking precautions to avoid litigation land mines protects the individual supervisor and the organization as a whole.

“While 1 in 4 managers will likely be involved in employment-related litigation at some point in his or her career, it’s important that leaders like John remain aware of potential pitfalls that might blindside an otherwise unsuspecting supervisor,” said Sharon Bauman, partner in the employment and labor practice group at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP in San Francisco.

Employees are very sophisticated consumers and often realize that the best way to protect themselves from managers’ complaints about their individual performance is to strike first by filing complaints about their supervisors’ conduct. John learns from the vice president of HR why he should run, not walk, to HR when he needs a partner to address a subordinate’s subpar performance or inappropriate workplace conduct. Leadership is a team sport, and it’s shortsighted to think that he can do it all on his own.

After all, whoever gets to HR first triggers the investigation—either focusing on John’s subordinate’s performance problems (if John gets to HR first) or on allegations regarding his conduct as a supervisor (if the employee gets to HR first). That’s when terms like “hostile work environment,” “harassment” and “retaliation” come into play.

John’s lesson? Don’t allow employees to engage in the pre-emptive strike of “pretaliation” by lodging complaints about him before he has a chance to speak with HR about problems that certain staff members may be causing.

Next, John is advised to avoid the biggest problem facing corporate executives today: grade inflation on the annual performance review. Too many unsuspecting managers take staffers through the progressive discipline process all the way to the final written warning stage, only to issue a “meets expectations” overall score on the annual performance evaluation. John now understands that by doing this, he’ll end up creating a major roadblock if the company wants to terminate the employee in the future.  After all, by giving a “meets expectations” rating, he’ll have validated an entire year’s performance despite the final written warning on file.

In short, it is John’s responsibility to demonstrate consistency between a subordinate’s corrective action history and overall performance review score. When these documents contradict one another, the company will likely have to continue with the documentation process in order to clarify the record. When both are in alignment, the company should have the discretion to terminate the employee upon a clean final incident.

John’s final lesson from the meeting with the vice president of HR: From a practical standpoint, you can’t just terminate, lay off or “give a package” to someone who’s not fitting in or otherwise contributing to your team’s overall success.

“The employment-at-will defense will not guarantee a summary judgment of a wrongful termination claim at the hearing stage, so you’ve always got to assume that a case will make it all the way to the trial stage, and that the jury will be looking for a really good reason to justify the termination decision,” Bauman said. Therefore, John recommits to engaging in those challenging but necessary conversations and to documenting his findings in the form of progressive discipline to reduce or eliminate the possibility of the claim coming back to bite him and his company in litigation. Bauman advises, “Remember, it’s not just the potential dollar cost of being sued; it’s the time and disruption of interrogatories, depositions, hearings, mediations and potentially trials that will zap your team’s energy for six months to a year—or more—after the termination that are the biggest challenges you face.”

As a leader, you can give your company no greater gift than a motivated, energized and engaged workforce. Spikes in turnover may happen from time to time, but what’s critical is your response, the counsel you seek and your willingness to reinvent yourself so that everyone benefits from the crisis. Follow these offensive and defensive leadership practices not only to cultivate your own leadership capabilities but also to foster an environment where motivation, engagement and satisfaction become the hallmarks of your shop. That’s the greatest workplace wisdom of all.

 

Paul Falcone (www.PaulFalconeHR.com) is an HR executive in San Diego and has held senior leadership roles with Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon and Time Warner. A long-time contributor to HR Magazine, he’s also the author of a number of SHRM best-sellers, including 96 Great Interview Questions to Ask Before You Hire (Amacom, 2008), 101 Sample Write-Ups for Documenting Employee Performance Problems (Amacom, 2010), 101 Tough Conversations to Have with Employees, and 2600 Phrases for Effective Performance Reviews (Amacom, 2005). His newest book, 75 Ways for Managers to Hire, Develop, and Keep Great Employees (Amacom, 2016), will be released this month. 

- See more at: https://shrm.org/hrdisciplines/orgempdev/articles/pages/effective-leadership-to-keep-and-inspire-valued-employees.aspx#sthash.10OS9KTt.dpuf


7 Tips to Get Your Team to Actually Listen to You

Original post entrepreneur.com

Right from the outset, entrepreneurs must pay attention to every communication and opportunity for sharing their passion and vision.  They must communicate effectively, so they can inspire others to come aboard.  They must speak honestly and in ways that reveal their personal character and genuine connection. Yet, this sort of communication style can be difficult and time consuming – especially when demands are huge and time is scarce.

There is far more to being an effective and authentic communicator than most entrepreneurs believe -- at least when they are starting out. Even if you think you’re good at speaking to your team and motivating them, there’s always more to learn.

Leadership communication is a discipline and a practice: The more time, effort and heart you put in, the more effective you become.  There really are no shortcuts.

That said, here are seven ideas that can help you focus your attention and improve your leadership communication.

1. Be authentic.

When you speak with your employees you must come across to them as real. This means sharing your beliefs and your struggles. Talking about moments of doubt but also explaining how you overcame them with more conviction and confidence than ever. Or perhaps share a story or two about a failure and disappointment in life.

The most convincing talks are when stories are shared about personal weaknesses and what one was doing to overcome them or disappointments and failures and how they were turned around.

2. Know yourself.

Dig deep.  Know your values and what motivates you.  If you don’t know yourself you cannot share or connect with others. People want to know what makes you tick as a human being not just as a leader. Share this and make yourself real.

3. Rely on a good coach or a trusted advisor.

Developing good communication skills takes time -- and in the rush of business, that’s scarce.  Having someone who can push you to examine and reveal your interests and passions is enormously helpful and the value is immeasurable.

4. Read up on leadership communication.

If you can’t hire a coach, read all that you can. This is an inexhaustible resource, and you should never quit learning anyway. Books, articles, the internet; the possibilities are endless.

5. Make values visible.

Effective, empathetic communication and a commitment to culture can provide a solid foundation for your ideas and contribute to making it a reality. Many of today’s most successful companies have gone through dramatic crises.  Their improvements often hinged upon genuine communication from the leaders.

For instance, think of Starbucks and Howard Schultz’s clear and genuine communications about the importance of managers and baristas being personally accountable for future success. Your employees want to know what you and the company stands for. What is the litmus test for everything you do? These are your values. Talk about them but you must always be sure to “walk the talk” and live by them.

6. Engage with stories.

You can't rely on facts and figures alone. It’s stories that people remember. The personal experiences and stories you share with others create emotional engagement, decrease resistance and give meaning. It is meaning that gets employees' hearts and fuels discretionary effort, thinking and desire to actively support the business.

Once someone was implementing a massive pricing cut. He could have presented reams of data about this change and why it needed to be made. Instead he invited in four clients of the firm who had written letters about why after more than 10 years they had decided to leave due to our pricing being noncompetitive. Everyone was engaged and quite horrified to hear this feedback. Getting the team’s support for the change was much easier after that.

7. Be fully present. 

There is no autopilot for leadership communication. You must be fully present to move people to listen and pay attention, rather than simply be in attendance. Any time you are communicating, you need to be prepared -- and to speak from your heart.  Leadership communication is, after all, about how you make others feel. What do you want people to feel, believe and do as a result of your communication?  This absolutely can't happen if you read a speech. No matter how beautifully it is written, it doesn’t come across as authentic or from your heart if you are reading it. Embrace what you want to say and use notes if you must, but never read a speech if you want to be believable and move people to action. (And yes this requires a ton of preparation).

Your speeches are visible and important components of your role as a leader. Successful entrepreneurs are conscious of that role in every communication, interaction and venue within the organization and beyond. They also know that while today’s world provides a wide range of ways to communicate to your organization -- mass email, text, Twitter, instant message and more --connecting is not that simple. Electronic communication is a tool for communicating information -- not for inspiring passion.